As you know Becksie and Ian aren’t exactly Charlie Dimmock and Alan Titchmarsh! We both really want to really enjoy gardening but….. at the moment we don’t. We’ve dabbled with grow your own but as Grandad Gray is so good and it and generous with his grows we fail to get motivated.
Broken and weedy hanging basket – oops
Our garden at Team Pugh is a lovely garden but its not the garden we currently want. We want space for Lizzie to play and grass and our little cottage garden isn’t making us want to garden. We stand in our garden and feel overwhelmed by what needs doing.
Weedy path – great sock and shoe combo. Lizzie before she was a walker
However a few days ago Grandad Gray came to sort it out! An hour in and it looked much much better. Two hours in and it was looking great! Four hours, one trip with Lizzie to Faringdon (for Grandad), one trip to the park for Lizzie and Grandad…
and one lunch break for Grandad and…… our garden is an absolute delight!
Wow thank you Grandad we promise promise promise to try harder!! We might even try to grow something. At the very least we’ll water and weed. Although thinking about it makes feel tired! And……. we still only have one painted garden chair!!
So……this weeks shop is a tad fragmented but…… boy are we glad it was. Firstly it was a trip to Highworth Market with a total spend of £24.50. Then a chicken and some yogurt from the butchers / deli in Lechlade. Then it was a few extra bits from Millets after a meet up with some friends. It was just before we did our shopping that we made a fabulous discovery!
What did we discover……… well……..Becksie was DELIGHTED to discover a FREE pop up theatre tent for children! Now….. Becksie and Ian have always loved the theatre and are both really really lucky that they grew up in families that took them as small people to lots of theatre shows. Ian likes the theatre so much that….. he even studied Theatre Arts at University. Becksie and Ian love all kinds of theatre and since having Lizzie have really missed what was a VERY regular habit.
We have in our time seen some truly FABULOUS AMAZING WONDERFUL theatre that has transported us to different worlds (we have also to be fair seen some pretty dire productions that have had us falling asleep in our chairs – Dracula at Derby Playhouse on a £4 ticket in our student days is a particular shocker that still makes our eyes close at the thought of it). Both Ian and Becksie adore musicals and have been known to try to see new musicals in the week they are first shown. Theatre is what Ian and Becksie would chose to spend their money on over fancy cars, dream holidays and designer ‘stuff’. So as you can imagine, the fact that our small person is currently to wee to hit the West End is a tough thing. We have even argued about what Lizzie’s first West End production should be. We are both really excited to take her to her first production and she will have a fancy dress, a posh ice cream and definitely a programme and a go with the binoculars (yes we really are excited about this day). So…… imagine Becksie’s delight when just before popping into get our food shopping we spot a large tent that says ‘ Oxford Playhouse’ Plays out! Yes that right folks we stumbled upon a FREE theatre production for small people.
Now Ian and Becksie used to regularly visit Oxford Playhouse and would often after work chance our luck on some cheap tickets and have a quick tea and a spur of the moment theatre trip. We were also vaguely aware of the concept of the Playhouse ‘playing out’ but….. we had never been fortunate enough to see any of the productions. That is until today (now you wouldn’t get that at Sainsbury’s would you?).
The tent is almost like being in a dream with artwork by Anna Bruder. The set is totally absolutely wonderful and fantastic and upon entering the tent Lizzie (and Becksie) were absolutely enthralled. So…….. the production began and Becksie realised with pride that this was Lizzie Pugh’s first ever taste of theatre. The production was all about tea time and two character’s adventures along the way. It was well scripted with a great humorous twist for adults. The two characters were acted to an EXTREMELY high standard and we stood and watched and we both laughed.
In what seemed like no time at all the play was over and Lizzie was clapping frantically. It was at this point Becksie looked at the time and was really shocked to see that the play had lasted an hour. This means that she had stood holding Lizzie on her hip for one hour (Lizzie is heavy at the best of times) and even more incredible than that was that Lizzie at 14 months had watched her very first play which had kept her attention for a whole hour (those of you with very small people or who have had experience of very small people will know this is no mean feat). To say 2/3rds of Team Pugh are impressed is an understatement. And…… did we mention this was FREE! FREE that’s right no money, not a penny! We can highly recommend it and would like to congratulate Oxford Playhouse on a brilliant idea, a fabulous set, wonderful acting, directing, costumes and props. Thank you.
The good news is there is more productions happening and more information can be found here. Oh and……this weeks shopping cost a total of £42.49 including two free tickets to a great theatre show.
Part one – we also got some lovely pies from the bakery stall 7 for £5 but for some reason put them in the freezer before we took a photo – doh!
When Ian and Becksie lived in halls someone owned a set of knives that had various food names cut out of the middle (weird or what?). They were possibly the worst set of knives in the universe but….. they provided a good source of humour. There was one that said cheese, one that said pizza and one that said ‘otamot’! Or…… so a visitor called Sam thought to our halls! We’ll never forgot him inquiring as to what an ‘otamot’ was!
Of course an ‘otamot’ is a rather lovely fruit that masquerades as a vegetable! The tomato as its often called is an awesome thing. In the kitchen they have a squillion uses. There is nothing quite like the taste of an otomot from the greenhouse, there is also nothing quite like the smell of otamots growing in a greenhouse. Grandad Gray used to work at a National Trust property with the most amazing tomato greenhouse and perhaps it was here Becksie got her love of tomatoes!
Fresh Tomatoes do in fact give Becksie instant mouth ulcers but…… she adores them and is prepared to take on a large mouth ulcer attack in order to enjoy their delights. Cooked tomatoes however don’t seem to do this and….. tinned tomatoes (with bacon) on toast are one of Becksie’s favourite meals in the world and happen to be one of Mammar’s signature dishes! Now….. Mammar has a secret which we are about to reveal that will change the way the nation cooks tinned tomatoes forever. Next time you cook a tin add the following:
A spoon full of sugar.
A few shakes of salt.
A few twists of pepper.
Its quite an art form to get the balance but practice makes perfect and this is one culinary skill you’ll be glad you mastered. You see tinned tomatoes need this trio like the deserts needs the rain, like John needs Edward and like Ant needs Dec!
Of course this rule can also be applied to fresh tomatoes that are to be baked……
Cut up your tomatoes and pop them into a baking tray.
Add a dash of oil and a really good squeeze of lemon.
Add a healthy sprinkling of sugar ( on this occasion we added dark brown sugar), a twist (or a few) of salt and pepper.
Place in a hot oven and bake for about 25 minutes.
This recipe is one you need to practice until you have the salty sweet mixtures spot on for your taste but…… trust us (if you like tomatoes) this recipe is AMAZING!
There is a strong chance we have blogged about this delight before but…… as its such a delight it’s worth a second post.
All you need is a lazy morning. A pot of coffee and……. some bread, some eggs, some milk, some cinnamon, some nutmeg, a bit of butter, a heavy bottom pan, some electric or gas, a plate, a knife, a spatula and a cup and…… you’ve got yourself a fantastic breakfast!
1/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
A very generous grating of nutmeg – Team Pugh LOVE nutmeg!
Put it all in a bowl and mix well. Add your slices of bread and make sure the eggy mixture is well soaked into the bread.
Add a good knob of butter to the pan and then add the bread. Fry until golden brown.
Serve with butter, golden syrup (or maple) and a healthy selection of fruit!
Man Alive that’s good!
Grandad Gray it’s over to you……………
You may remember in a previous guest blog how I had made my vegetable garden larger, partly to help with the war effort over at Team Pugh. The new part of the garden has been very productive and as virgin land it has produced very good crops. There has been a fair amount of grass coming up as weeds, seeing as this was turned over lawn, but once a week with my hoe has kept it tidy. The carrots under fleece are especially good as there was no manure or compost spread on my carrot patch and the soil is very deep. The Japanese onions which I planted as sets have just matured and have made good solid onions, most tennis ball sized or larger and the seed grown onions which I transplanted in March are bigger and still growing. One of the real successes on the new plot has been my shallots. I bought these not as ‘sets’ but just as a reduced item at a supermarket (yes I know but I am a Team-Pugh supporter not an actual participant) I got a 500 gram bag for 50p.
I whacked them in straight away and got two good rows. The applied wisdom with shallots is to set them on the shortest day and harvest them on the longest day. I think it was near Christmas when I planted so it could well have been the 21st Dec. By March they were all greening up and after a couple of re-plants because of our friendly Jackdaws I had 100% take. They weren’t quite ready to harvest in June but the recent hot weather finished the foliage off and I was able to lift them. Each bulb had made 6-10 shallots so I had a bumper crop. I always like to keep the biggest ones to use as whole onions, amazing in winter stews or just as a side vegetable. The rest are brilliant as pickled onions, so on Friday night it was a mini-food factory at Chez Gray. My wife is a great collector of useful items so she was able to supply me with some suitable jars. These were washed and put in the oven to dry and sterilise.
One of my tips is to buy cheap malt vinegar and spice it up. This is much cheaper than ‘pickling vinegar’ and much more tasty. I melt 4 teaspoons of brown sugar in a little boiling water in a jug. Pour in the pint of vinegar and stir. To the empty bottle add 10 black peppercorns, 4-5 bayleaves, some marjoram flowers a sprig of rosemary and one sage leaf. Leave to infuse for at least a week. I try to leave mine a month or more.
Having peeled the shallots, wash and pat dry and then sprinkle with salt on a large plate. Leave for an hour and then fill the clean jars with as many shallots as possible. I do a mixture of sizes this way you can get as many in as possible. The more shallots in the jar the less vinegar you use. Now pour on the spiced vinegar, seal and leave a couple of months, then enjoy. Try not to eat a whole jar at a session, very difficult.
Last tip. Once the jar is empty decant the spiced vinegar into the bottle and use on your chips. Mmm-moreish.