Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Co-Op Spanish Red Wine - Wine Review

We don't purchase wine from our local Co-Op regularly, but when we do we're usually pretty happy with it, and this bottle of Spanish Red Wine was another good buy.

Co-Op Spanish Red Wine. Wine. Red wine. Spanish wine.

This wine was reasonably priced, had a lovely fruity aroma, and a pleasant rich spicy flavour.
I can't say more than that, and I know my description is a bit vague, but I can't remember exactly what this wine was like - as we drank it quite a while ago.

Co-Op Spanish Red Wine. Red wine. Wine. Spanish wine.

From the label -
Shiraz, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
This spicy full-bodied wine has a firm and savoury feel, with ripe fruit and a soft finish.
Easy-drinking, it can be enjoyed on its own or with pizza, pasta, red meats and cheeses.
Have you tried Co-Op Spanish Red Wine?
What did you think of it?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

You Are The Universe in Ecstatic Motion - Rumi

Stop acting so small.
You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.
- Rumi
Love. Doodle. Heart. ��

I really like this quote attributed to Rumi; Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī.
It's definitely one of my favourite quotes.
We should all remember we are wonderful, we're all made of stardust.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Share it in the comments. :)

Mind Controlling Lurcher - Always Hungry

Barley, our lovely Lurcher is a funny fella.
He has so many funny little character traits, and I'm not completely sure that he knows he's a dog.
He is unlike any dog I've ever known, and I've known quite a few.

Mind control is just one of the things Barley likes to do. By which I mean he seems to enjoy trying to control my mind. Seriously!
Like right now, for example, he is curled up in his bed, looking all relaxed and comfortable, but at the same time he is super alert. He is staring at me so intently I am beginning to feel very hot; he's trying to take control of my mind.
Why? Because he is hungry and he wants me to go and make his dinner, but it's not time yet, so I thought I'd quickly write this blog post about my favourite furry fella.

I love him. ��❤️☺️ #blog #blogger #blogging © #Lurcher #dog #sighthound #rescuedog #ILoveMyLurcher #ILoveMyDog

Poor boy is always hungry, but I guess most dogs are always happy to eat.
I tried to take a photo of Barley looking at me with his intense stare, but as I got closer to him he sighed very loudly, and hid his face. Ha!
Possibly feeling slightly bad for trying to gain control of my mind. Hehe!
So, I posted a photo of his gorgeous face instead. Isn't he a beauty?
Does your dog try and control your mind? 
Scary isn't it? ;)

Venison Sausages with Cranberry

I am not a supermarket snob, neither is Mr.R - which is just as well because he is the one who does all of our grocery shopping, mainly at Lidl.

Sausages. ���� Venison and Cranberry. Thank you Lidl. ��

These sausages were another top choice from our local Lidl.
Very tasty venison and cranberry sausages.
Mr.R cooked them a few nights ago, with a baked potato for our dinner.
In my excitement, I don't get out much, I completely forgot to take any photos of the packet, or the sausages before they were cooked. Not that raw sausages are particularly lovely to look at, unless you're a dog - I know our dog, Barley the Lurcher was most interested in them.
Anyway, here's a shot of them in the oven, and also on the plate, chopped up and served on top of the baked potato with a tangy homemade tomato and Parmesan cheese sauce.

Venison and cranberry sausages. Homemade tomato and Parmesan sauce. Baked potato. Food.

We really enjoyed these venison sausages from Lidl.
They were meaty, had a lovely strong venison flavour, and no bits of gristle. We couldn't taste cranberry, but the decent meaty flavour and nice texture meant that didn't matter.
They were so nice, I wish Mr.R had bought another packet, or two, because our local Lidl doesn't stock this type of food very often, or for very long.
Have you tasted Lidl Venison Sausages with Cranberry?
Did you like them?

David Cameron Says He'll Cut benefits Cap at £23,000 and Deny Housing Benefit for Unemployed 18-21 Year Olds

David Cameron has once again proved he has absolutely no idea what he's doing, or that he cares about his actions.

His latest idiotic plan is to slash the annual benefits by £3,000, from £26,000 to £23,000, if the Conservatives win the next general election.
With the election only 100 days away, Cameron also said he plans to deny unemployed people aged 18-21 any housing benefit.
He went on to say that the money saved will be spent on new apprenticeship schemes.

I was watching the Daily Politics programme on BBC2 earlier today when they were discussing this news.
I can't remember much of what was said, or more accurately, I don't know what they were saying, because I was fuming, talking over the politicians and the presenter Jo Coburn, as they talked about this topic.
Mr.R and I were both seriously frustrated by this news.

It may make sense on paper, but then you can pretty much make anything look good on paper, but in reality, what this idea will mean, if the Tories are elected in the upcoming general election, is that once again the people who need the most help will be squeezed even more financially.
There are already so many people struggling to survive that I genuinely fear for them if the Conservatives are allowed to carry out this outrageous plan.

David Cameron.  I no artist - clearly.
(I don't have anything relevant to this blog post, other than this doodle of David Cameron, to break up the text ;) )

I'm not sure why, but whenever I listen to any politicians, not matter what political party they represent, I hear the same prejudice opinions about people who claim benefits.
The politicians all seem to think that benefit claimants are lazy, work-shy, greedy, people who just want to sit about watching Jeremy Kyle on their wide screen TV's.
This is just not the case, it's not true.

Obviously it doesn't help that the politicians never venture far from London, let alone the South of England.
If they did, they may gain a small insight into the everyday lives of people who are seriously struggling with day to day living.

I'm not naive, there probably are some people who claim benefits, who just don't want to work.
But the majority of unemployed people who claim benefits, are forced to. They can't work because of the short-term contracts that have become all too common in the UK. How can the government expect people to live with such uncertainty?
One day you've got a job, the next you haven't - because the short term contracts, give the workers no rights, and the employers permission to treat their staff badly, and fire them without warning.

Where we live, there is a lot of poverty.
I mean serious poverty.
We live in an ex-mining town, and once the mines were closed down the majority of local people were out of work, with very little, or no hope of ever getting another job.
People here are struggling to live.
It's all very well the government saying, 'get a job!' But what about when there are no jobs.
I mean genuinely, no jobs!
For example, in this area, there are very rarely any jobs available, which isn't surprising when you consider that when the mines closed down, that was it, industry was gone. There were no other businesses to replace the mines, no plan was made for the thousands of workers who were previously employed by the mines. They were left with nothing.

In our street alone, I know of only one person who works.
That's one person, out of all of the houses on our road.
Admittedly, not all of the properties are inhabited, some are empty, boarded-up.
But this street is not alone, the whole area is the same, street after street of people who are forced, by circumstances beyond their control, to claim benefits. Benefits to survive. Not doss about living a life of luxury. They are living basic, lives, with hardly any prospects, and little hope.

So, basically, David Cameron wants to starve these people, doesn't he?
He must do.
Because that's exactly what will happen if the Conservatives win the next general election, and David Cameron caps benefits at £23,000. And makes claiming housing benefit for 18-21 year old unemployed people, impossible.
He just does not care.
Well, he doesn't care about the people, he does care about himself, and his cronies.

I am not exaggerating about the severity of life where we live, for many people it is tough.
On many occasions we have had people asking us for basic essentials like milk, and water.......
I doubt David Cameron is even able to imagine being so impoverished.
He really doesn't have a clue about life in the UK for people who aren't millionaires, like himself, and his friends, family, etc.

And, I haven't even mentioned that main point I intended to say when I first started writing this blog post, which is that the majority of people claiming benefits aren't even unemployed - they are employed.
Yep, that's correct!
The government has done such a great job at looking after the people who pay their wages, that decent, law-abiding, people who work hard, are still unable to survive without help.
It's may not sound true, but it is. Don't believe me? Research it for yourself.
Benefits claimants are not lazy, work-shy, scroungers who don't do anything for this country. Most of them are working hard right now, but they are not being paid a decent wage, so they have no choice but to claim additional benefits.
It's odd how all of our politicians bang on about benefit claimants, always in the most negative manner, insisting that they're costing the country a fortune, and yet they never address the real problem. They don't try to find any solutions, of which there are many.

Maybe the government thinks that by constantly bashing benefits claimants, and moaning about the billions of pounds they cost the UK we will forget about how much the biggest benefits claimants cost us; the politicians, the royal family, and also the billions we give away in foreign aid - but that's a topic for another day.

Apprenticeship schemes are not a good solution.
They are good for the government, because if you're on one of these schemes, you won't be classed as unemployed, so the unemployment figures will look more favourable.
The schemes are also pretty good for the employers, who once they're finished with your cheap, or possibly free labour, will not offer you a full-time job, because they'll just give your 'job' to the next years training scheme apprentice, and so on.......

This country has the potential to be a truly wonderful country to live in, but until we the people actually get a say in how its run that's never going to happen.
Our whole political system needs to be changed.
We do not live in a democracy, and if you honestly believe that we do, well, I feel very sad for you.
Yes, I know we are much better off than many countries in the World, but that's not relevant to this topic.
We need equal representation.
At the moment we have a general election every 5 years. We vote, and then that's it.
Once a party has been elected that is it. They are in power until the next general election, with us having no say in anything they decide to do.
And that's another thing, the lies they spout during the election campaign, are exactly that - lies.
Once the party has been elected, they never do anything they said would do if they got into power.
Surely that's shouldn't be allowed?
I think the manifesto of every political party should be adhered to, in the strictest terms.
If they say they'll do something, then that's it - they have to do it.

Oh my God! I could go on and on about this for, well for a very long time, but I won't.......
More fool us, the people, for letting our government get away with behaving the way they do.
Isn't it true that people generally treat you slightly worse that you treat yourself, that they treat you as badly as you let them?

Right, that's me all ranted out, for now.
I wish I hadn't tuned into the Daily Politics programme, because before that I was having a nice day; the sun was shining, the birds were singing, but now I'm concerned about the millions of people who will be so much worse off if these new benefits caps become a reality.

If you haven't already, and you'd like to read more about this topic you can check out these newspapers -

David Cameron to reduce benefits cap to £23,000 immediately if he wins the election - via The Telegraph

David Cameron vows to slash benefits cap to £23,000 and remove housing benefits for under 21s within first week of general election win - via the Independent 

Conservative health chair criticises David Cameron’s welfare cuts plans via The Guardian

Disclaimer: I am still fuming, but slightly less so than when I started this blog post, which is why I haven't re-read it and checked it for grammar and/or spelling errors. My blood pressure won't thank me if I dwell on this any longer.
As often happens with me, I only intended to write a short paragraph about David Cameron capping benefits at £23,000 and Denying Housing Benefit for Unemployed 18-21 Year Olds, but I've rambled on and on....... I just find it all so fecking frustrating.
Do you care about this issue?
What are your thoughts about it?

Sonnet 43 Bourbon Milk Stout - Beer Review

We drank this stout a while ago, but I've only just remembered to blog about it.
Sonnet 43 Bourbon Milk Stout is made in Coxhoe, quite close to where we live.
It's a very enjoyable stout with aromas of chocolate, coffee, and brown sugar.
It pours a lovely almost black colour with an off-white head.
On the palate it has pleasant malty flavours of roasted cocoa, coffee, toffee, a hint of vanilla, and a sweet milky taste, but a slightly bitter finish. We couldn't detect any bourbon flavour.
It's only 4.3% abv but its depth means it feels a lot stronger.

From the label -
Dark malts give this sweet stout an almost black body with a tempting dark tan head. 
Brewed using the finest ingredients gives a rich, full-body and aromas of bitter chocolate and oak as well as multiple flavour levels comprising delicate sweet bourbon, silky chocolate and dry oak. 

Sonnet 43 Milk Stout. Bourbon Milk Stout. Craft Beer. Real Ale. Ale. Stout. Brew House Coxhoe.

''This time to me is a quiet release, 
It's a hug and a handshake, a break and belief.
In gathering together with people we trust,
We all take a moment to remember and fuss.
Sit back and smile and wonder -
Stand up and laugh about blunders.
Lean a bit closer and gather round beer,
Making a case that you all have to hear.
''Another'', is cried from across the bar,
It's gusto, it's guts, it's all taste and heart.
So, create those moments around you,
When building big plans with a nice view.
Bring me a sonnet, a song, and my wallet,
I love it when beer is the right brew.''

Sonnet 43 Milk Stout. Bourbon Milk Stout. Craft Beer. Real Ale. Ale. Stout. Brew House Coxhoe.

Sonnet 43 Brew House,
Durham Road, 
County Durham, DH6 4HX, UK
TEL: 0191 377 3039

We like stout, and this was an enjoyable one, and the fact that it's a local brew made it a bit more interesting for us.
Have you tried Sonnet 43 Bourbon Milk Stout?
Did you like it?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Homemade Pickled Beetroot

A while ago one of our neighbours gave us lots of lovely home-grown beetroot.

Our neighbour gave us beetroot. Lots and lots of beetroot.  #blog #blogger #blogging © #beetroot #beets #homegrown #growyourown #vegetable #vegetables #food

I put off doing anything with the beetroot for a few days, because, well, because I'm a procrastinator.
And I couldn't decide exactly what I wanted to do with it.
I thought about roasting it, making beetroot soup, eating it raw, or pickling it, but I couldn't force myself into the kitchen to actually do anything with it. It's not my room - Mr.R does all of our cooking. Thankfully!
I can cook, I just don't particularly enjoy cooking - not that making beetroot edible is cooking...........

Anyway, one afternoon when Mr.R had pooped out I suddenly felt the urge to finally do something with the carrier bag full of beetroot. I decided to pickle it.

I've never pickled anything before, well, not by myself. Although I do have lovely memories from my childhood of helping my mum pickle various foods.

A quick Google search and I'd found a recipe for pickled beetroot that I liked the sound of.
Although as I've said before, on the rare occasions when I do cook, that I don't like following recipes, so I usually find one I like, and then ignore it, and make it up as I go along. Hehe!

Right, so here's what I did to pickle the home-grown beetroot our neighbour had given us.
I started by washing, and then boiling the fresh beetroot, until it was tender.
Once the beetroot was cooked, I left it to cool down, before I peeled it; rubbed the skins off.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

Whilst the beetroot was cooking I washed several jars, and sterilised them by heating/drying them in the oven.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

I boiled the jar lids to sterilise them, and left them to dry.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

Then I made the pickling vinegar.
Being limited by what's available in the local shops, I had to use basic white distilled malt vinegar as the pickling base.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

I then added a few other ingredients from the cupboard to the vinegar, including -
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Black Peppercorns 
  • Juniper Berries
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Fresh Chili
  • Sugar - small amount added by taste
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
The pickling vinegar only took a few minutes to heat, stirring gently to help mix the ingredients.
It smelt really good.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

By the time I'd added the vinegar and the other pickling ingredients to the saucepan, the beetroot was cold and ready to be peeled.
I gently rubbed the beetroot skins, which came off easily.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

Now it was time to chop the cooked beetroot, ready for the jars.
I decided to chop my beetroot quite small; julienne, because I thought it would save time cutting it in the future when we'll eat it on salads or in a sandwich etc.
Plus I thought the smaller the surface area, the more the pickling vinegar could impart it's tangy flavour in the beetroot.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

Then I filled the jars with the cooked beetroot strips, topped the jars with my pickling vinegar, and sealed the lids tight.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

Beetroot.  Homegrown.  Grow your own.  Vegetable. Food.  Pickling beetroot.  Pickled beetroot.

And that was it, job done, I placed the jars in the larder to do their magic.

I'd read various recipes about how long you should wait until eating the pickled beetroot, all of which seemed to state different times from one week, to one month.

I waited about a month, turning the jars upside down occasionally to make sure all of the beetroot was getting a good soaking in the spicy pickling vinegar.
Finally, unable to wait no longer we opened one of the jars of beetroot to taste it. It was seriously delicious - perfect!
In fact the beetroot was so tasty that despite promising some to family, I decided to keep it all for ourselves.
Just in case you are wondering; the neighbour who generously gave us the beetroot didn't want any of it back, he had lots of his own to eat.
Do you like beetroot?
Do you like pickled beetroot?
And finally, do you pickled your own beetroot, and if so what ingredients do you use?