Sunday, May 31, 2015


Kippers and England go together.

Kippers are delightfully delectable smoked fish that are traditionally served as part of an English breakfast.  I use them as a substitute for smoked salmon and mix them into cream cheese to spread on toasted bagels:  to die for!

But, there is another type of KIPPERS to be found around Great Britain  (indeed the world it seems) these days.

Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings

We are talking about adult children who, for some reason or reasons, are living at home much later and longer than tradition would dictate.

And, least you think these young people lack ambition, check out the following information.  Staying home with mom and dad is not necessarily their first choice.  It might be their financial necessity.

BTW, the heavy lifting of providing the facts for this blog comes from a wonderful blog named Can't Swing a Cat.  I was just struck by the information she shared and wanted to try and help get the word out.  It is so easy to judge without taking the time to understand why.

The average cost of renting a home in the UK is £862  ($1318) a month across the UK and £1,412 ($2160)  a month in London alone.  And, these are smaller on average than homes in the U.S., much smaller.

75% of  British KIPPERS have jobs, but most of the jobs are part-time, low-skilled and often poorly paid. In fact, 47% of university graduates find themselves in jobs that bear no relation to the degrees they worked so hard and spent so much to get. 

The average salary for the average worker working full-time  in England is just £21,000 ($32,120).  If you spend over £10,000 of that for rent only, the chances of saving anything after everything else is paid for drop to almost zero.  And, if you are living in London, you may be spending £26,000 of that on rent but chances are you have roommates just to make eating possible.

And, many graduates that leave university earn much less than the national average in an effort to create a better future for themselves. Some work unpaid internships, despite having already graduated, in an attempt to gain more experience and a leg up in the job market.

If the cost of living is not enough of a challenge, student loans add an additional debt and cost that many graduates have to face the reality of paying for the next twenty or thrirty years.  So, where do you find the wiggle room in your budget to save for down payments or get approval for a mortgage?

These young people may be looking at a minimum of 7 years if they are very lucky and cut their expenses to the bone  or about double that if things don't work out perfectly.  In London it could take 25 to 30 years before you could look forward to paying off a 30 year mortgage , by age 75 or 80.  REALLY!?

So is it any wonder that young adults are living in the family home longer?  It seems to be their only hope of every having the life they and their parents have dreamed of for them.

Yes, statistics show that  having these young adults living at home with them cost these parents an additional   £3700 (about $6000) a year to feed and pay extra utilities and such.

And yes, these same parents are saving for retirement.

BUT, speaking as a parent, I cannot imagine that they begrudge that cost.  Helping our children towards a better future is in our DNA and in our hearts. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How is Mount Vernon related to a pub?

The Cat and the Cabbage is an Army pub in Yorkshire whose name is a tribute to the regimental badge of The York and Lancaster Regiment who fought valiantly in the Boer War, WWI and WWII and the Suez Crisis before it was disbanded in 1958. It's regimental  cap badge pictured a cabbage rose and a tiger, leading to the regiment's nickname of the Cat and the Cabbages.  So raise a pint to their memory and courage.

The Drunken Duck in Cumbria got its name as the result of a duck found motionless on the cobblestones behind the inn.  The frugal innkeeper's wife decided to turn the duck into dinner, taking it into the kitchen and plucking it in preparation for cooking.  However, the kitchen warmth soon revived the duck who began vocalizing his indignation.  A closer look into the matter showed that a keg of the inn's best had  broken in the yard earlier and the thirsty duck, rather than being dead was only dead drunk.  The innkeeper's wife knitted him a cover to wear until his feathers grew back.  As would be expected, this fact got around and attracted many, many visitors to the pub.  The innkeeper, no fool he, soon renamed the pub in the duck's honor.

The Admiral Vernon's sign is the unusual image of a large human ear out of which a sailor is using his telescope to check his surroundings for the enemy.  Why would a pub have such a sign?  In the 1700's relations between the Spanish and the English were less than harmonious.  One skirmish was the result of the Spanish boarding the vessel of one Robert Jenkins, tying him to the mast and cutting of his ear as an example of what they would eventually do to the King of England if given the chance.  In 1738 Jenkins presented his severed ear to Parliament.  The War of Jenkin's Ear, which was fought from 1739-1742, made Admiral Vernon, who was sent to wage the war, a national hero.  The pub sign is a reminder of this time in British history and the hero of that time. As an aside, Mount Vernon was named in honor of Admiral Vernon.  Remember, the citizens of the colonies were still proud Englishmen at that time .

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I'm Tired

Mom?  My feet and legs are tired.  I'm too tired to swim any more.  Please, can hitch a ride for awhile?

Sure, just climb on board for awhile.
Make room guys.  We have a couple more to get up there.
You're the last one in line, let's get on board.

                          Who says animals don't love their babies.  How much cuter could you get?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Wigan 22

Pearson's Canal Companion says of the Wigan locks, and I quote, "If there is a more grueling flight of locks in the country, it does not spring readily to mind. "  

Getting down the 22 locks of the flight took us from 8:30 this morning to 2:00 this afternoon, nonstop.   

We traveled over 200 feet down towards the valley and the city of Liverpool over a distance of less than two miles. Two miles in 5 and 1/2 hours seems slow, I know. But there is a  lot more than just the distance.

Each lock has four paddles at each end and heavy gates to open and close.  The first couple locks don't seem like much but then the enjoyment begins to pale. 

By number 20 you are just looking forward to being done and having a rest and maybe a pint.  You have earned it.

Make no mistake, getting through these locks is hard work.  "Masochists excepted, most people are delighted to arrive at the bottom of the flight".

To celebrate, tomorrow we are taking a day off and exploring the town of Wigan and its charity shops and coffee shops.  A good day will be had by all.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blackburn to Wigan

Blackburn is not the most beautiful of canal areas.  My recommendation would be to travel through quickly if that is possible. 

The Beatles, in their day, referenced Blackburn in their song A Day in the Life when they sang "I read the news today, oh boy, 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire."  They were referring to the 4000 potholes throughout the city of Blackburn.  The more things change, the more they remain the same, even 50 years later.

As mentioned before, this stretch often resembles a garbage tip more than a scenic canal.  We moored here for two evenings so that we could travel to see friends and do some shopping.  We were lucky enough to find a spot at Eanam Wharf that is now home to a pub and restaurant (and two homeless men who like to sleep under the Wharf's overhang).  This was a little disconcerting to walk past at shortly after 8 Friday morning and again at about the same time on Saturday.  But one can't blame them.  The restaurant has two comfy couches under the overhang that just call out as a place for a comfortable kip.  I just would never want to actually sit on those couches now that I know the use they are put to during the night.
Image result for eanam wharf images    Image result for eanam wharf images   Image result for eanam wharf images
The wharf is a great place to moore since there are gates at either end that are theoretically locked in the evening and reopened in early morning.  If true, someone has a kind heart and is turning a blind eye to the couch sleepers.
Image result for blackburn mills images    Image result for blackburn mills images
Blackburn Locks is a series of 6 locks that take you almost 55 feet towards the valley below.  As you go through the locks you have plenty of time to observe the countless mills that line the canal, leftover from when this was a great cotton cloth producing area spinning US cotton into cloth sold round the world.

Image result for blackburn locks images   Image result for blackburn locks images
Johnson's Hillock Locks, a series of 7 locks, are much much more scenic and tranquil. These locks are surrounded by cow and sheep filled pastures that do a lot to sooth the soul.  The seven locks lower you 65 and a half feet towards the valley as you progress towards Liverpool.
Image result for Johnson's Hillock Locks UK images   Image result for Johnson's Hillock Locks UK images  
Image result for Johnson's Hillock Locks UK images

Locks, Locks and More Locks

We have spent the last two days opening and closing 13 locks:  6 on one day and 7 on the other.  We did get to chat with some nice people along the way and two young  ( 12 or under) helped me open and close the gates on two of the locks.  But, never the less, by the end of the day and after making dinner and doing laundry and such I was more than ready to swallow a couple of pain relievers and crawl into bed.  Let us just say my knees were speaking to me loud and clear.

Today we are positioning ourselves at the top of the Wigan Flight of 22 locks (no that is not a typo) that we will take on tomorrow.  Luckily, there will be a couple of people to help us down so I should still be walking, if not happily, at the end of it all.

Below are some snaps taken as we moved down the canal and through the locks.  Enjoy

 Beautiful tranquility along the canal.

Looking down to the road we were driving on yesterday as we crossed over today in the boat via an aqueduct.

 Mama and Papa and babies along the canal path watching the world go by.

Mama and Papa geese with their four babies giving passers by the moon.  No manners, this younger generation. :-)

 Mama, Daddy and four baby cygnets out enjoying the warmer sunny weather.
Mama on her nest with Daddy standing guard and one visible cygnet on the nest with Mama.

Friday, May 22, 2015

We Are At Blackburn

After 4 relatively easy swing bridges (easy ones have been rare recently with some of them so out of balance I felt like I needed to hire a strong man to cruise with us to help me move the road out of the way which is exactly what one is doing when you move a swing bridge) we are now moored at Blackburn. 

Today we will pick up a rental car and head to a Commissary and then to dinner with our friends in Wittington.  I have a list for the Commissary of things we can't find locally so we should be set for quite awhile for things like white vinegar, borax, baking soda and sugar free products.  These are very hard to get here, if available at all.

After our shopping spree we will head for dinner with our friends in Wittington.  They have a Friday fish and chips dinner their with friends every week that is quite delightful.  I am looking forward to some fried roe, which the local fish and chips place does quite well, and to some nice conversation.

These same friends also accept delivery for us of our Approved Foods orders and we have three waiting for us in their shed.  Two are to restock our kitchen cupboards and one contains yummy gift items for my Dad's birthday and Christmas.  Those plus the Commissary shop should fill the car quite nicely.

We will be taking to them a dog bed I made for their wonderful Branston out of an old turtle neck sweater and some apple butter and dandelion jelly, being in the form of a thank you for allowing us to use them as a local address.  I also add the odd food gift from Approved Foods for them or for Branston.  

Blackburn is also the home of a few charity shops that I am looking forward to taking a look at.  I still have a list of items I am hoping to find but have so far been  unsuccessful.  Things like another coffee pot (we seem to go through them much too fast, a tea kettle (ours now has a leak that can get messy)  and such.

So there is life for us the next couple of days all sorted.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Picture of This and a Picture of That

A plaque explaining the use of tow line rollers and a picture of one of the said rollers along the canal.  These used to allow the horse towed canal boats to make the often sharp turns found in this part of the canal.

A sketch of our travel up the Pennines, across the summit and back down the other side, which is just what we have started to do.

Mama swan and her six babies.  We are still wearing our winter coats and lighting fires and these poor little things are trying to find their way in this literally cold world.

Another mama duck, not the one from our roof, and her three babies traveling down the canal.

The Pakistani store where we found our great bargains to help get our budget back in line.

The sign along the canal that greeted us as we passed from Yorkshire to Lancashire.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pakistani Cash and Carry

The place where the boat was moored for so long was not the best place for our grocery budget since the only store for groceries was not exactly cheap.

To try to get us back on track I was pleased to find conveniently placed cash and carry with a lovely and inexpensive green grocery section.  The bargains abounded and I took full advantage of them.

We are now the proud owners of
  • 4 K of onions
  • 12 cans of garbanzo beans
  • 400 g of garlic powder
  • 1 lb. of freshly ground chicken mince
  • 1 L of olive oil
  • 30 large eggs
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 long English cucumbers
  • 4 fresh apricots
  • 400 g of organic natural yogurt
  • 7 fresh tomatoes
  • 2 small heads of fresh cauliflower
  • 1 large can of spinach
  • 20 bulbs of fresh garlic
  • 12 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 12 cans of kidney beans
And, what did all this bounty cost us:   £37!
There is a lot of good eating, now and later this summer from the canned items, for a fairly small outlay.
I think our budget is well on the way to being back in hand.

Foulridge to Nelson

We are now on our way back down the Pennines on our way to Liverpool.  Yesterday we transversed the seven Barrowford Locks, passed the Barrowford Reservoir, and made our way into Nelson.

Image result for leeds liverpool canal town of Nelson ukImage result for leeds liverpool canal town of Nelson uk
Nelson is a conglomerate of several small villages that were combined in 1800's to form an industrial city whose main industry were the weaving mills that lined the waterway.

We are now heading into the textile towns of East Lancashire and leaving the beautiful rural open spaces of Yorkshire.  As we get into Nelson the industrial nature of the area is easy to see when you observe all the rubbish that floats in the canal, as if the locals use the canal as a garbage can.  It is so unfortunate since they are converting something that could be a positive attribute to build upon into an unattractive and uninviting area to tourists and holiday makers alike.

Nelson was historically part of the weaving tradition although now only one mill is still actively in use by William Reed producing material for parachutes and hot air balloons.

Nelson is an awkward mix of old and new with cobbled streets and mill chimneys cheek and jowl with the not so attractive aspects of a more modern urban area.  There are shops selling clothing catering to the local Pakistani population, take out fooderies, green grocers, and Halal butchers but not the normal quota of  good pubs or restaurants.  There is also an impressive mosque to serve the areas predominant migrant population.

The area has a somewhat forlorn aspect with redundant mills and the terraced housing that went with them in their glory days.

Image result for nelson uk abandoned mills         Image result for nelson uk abandoned mills

  Image result for nelson uk terraced housing

The Barrowsford Reservoir, at the summit of the canal, holds surplus water to be doled out to the canal as needed.

Image result for barrowford reservoir images
The seven Barrowsford Locks dropped us 70 feet down towards the valley below and were named for the weaving village to the west of the canal.

This area also gives access to Pendle Moor, Pendle Forest and Pendle Hill.  The phrase Pendle Hill is rather
redundant in that pen is Welsh for hill, del is Old English for hill and the final syllable is the modern English word, hence hill,hill, hill.

Image result for pendle moor

Image result for pendle witchesThis area is also known for its tales of witchcraft and sorcery: the famous Pendle Hill Witches of 1612.The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous in English history. The twelve accused were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft. Of the eleven who went to trial (one died in prison awaiting trial) ten were found guilty and executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.

Many of those who did indeed consider themselves to be witches, in the sense of being village healers who practised magic, probably in return for payment, but such men and women were common in 16th-century rural England, an accepted part of village life.  One of the accused had been regarded in the area as a witch for fifty years.

Some of the accused Pendle witches seemed to have genuinely believed in their guilt, but others protested their innocence to the end.  Elizabeth Southerns died while awaiting trial.  Alice Grey, was found not guilty. The rest were hanged as was then the law for those convicted of witchcraft.

In modern times the witches have become the inspiration for Pendle's tourism and heritage industries, with local shops selling a variety of witch-motif gifts: a beer called Pendle Witches Brew, a Pendle Witch Trail running from Pendle Heritage Centre to Lancaster Castle, where the accused witches were held before their trial, the X43 bus route run by Burnley & Pendle has been branded The Witch Way, with some of the vehicles operating on it named after the witches in the trial and, Pendle Hill continues to be associated with witchcraft, and hosts a hilltop gathering every Halloween.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Barnoldswick to Foulridge

We have been traveling today through a gorgeous landscape of dry stone walls and gently rolling hillsides inhabited by sheep and, this time of year, frolicking lambs.  I was awakened this morning by the baaing of lambs in the field opposite our mooring.

We are crossing the summit of the Leeds Liverpool Canal and will then begin our journey back down the Pennines by transversing a flight of seven locks.

Barnoldswick, where we started from, is the home of a Rolls Royce factory doing experimental work with airplane engines and is the town's main employer.   The first aircraft fighter jet engines were developed here near the end of WWII.

Bancroft Mill, powered by a 600 hp steam engine with two boilers used to be the mainstay of the village but is now only open for steaming and weaving demonstrations.

Foulridge, pronounced Foalridge, is where we ended up the day and is the site of a 1640 yard tunnel that took 5 years to create.  In bygone days, due to the lack of a tow path for the donkeys, the crew had to "walk" the boat through the tunnel by using their feet to push it through the canel from on top of the roof.

Today, a system of colored lights of red and green control boat passage through the tunnel.  One side allows you to begin passage between the time of the hour and ten past.  From the other side you may begin passage through the tunnel on the half hour until 40 minutes before the hour.  Since it takes approximately 15 minutes to move through the canal this heads off head on collisions.

A local story often told is of a cow named Buttercup who fell into the canal at the mouth of the tunnel and decided to swim through the tunnel.  Upon reaching the other end she was revived with brandy,  from the local pub would be my guess.

Foulridge itself is an pretty hamlet of stone houses and a few shops including a butcher, hairdresser and florist.  Also there is a gift shop and a cafe that serves good coffee as well as the specials of the day.

Tomorrow we are on through the locks.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mama and Her Babies

Image result for images mother and three ducklings            Image result for images mother and three ducklings         

Yesterday we discovered that Mama has had her babies.  She must have had them the day before since they are now in the water and that usually happens a day after their birth.

I wish I could have seen them get from the roof of our boat to the water.  Someone we were talking with says Mama would call to them and they jump and flap their little wings like crazy on the way down.  That must have been so cute.  Sorry to have missed it.

Of the 10 eggs only 3 chicks appear to have been successfully incubated. 

But, for personal reasons that some readers will understand, I think that is the perfect number.  I have named mama Bess and the babies Sophia, Peggy and Lucy.  May they enjoy their wonderful time together.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

I had hoped the name would be Victoria Elizabeth Diana (Doesn't Princess Vicky sound nice for a child) but I got two out of three names right so I am happy with that.  Isn't she a little sweetheart?  This small island and the world at large is awash with all things Princess, as is only fitting.

The birth certificate of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge which was signed by her father, the Duke of Cambridge at Kensington Palace today

Below is a picture of the 89 year old Great Grandmother arriving to meet the new princess.  Am I the only one who thinks wearing pink and maybe a smile would have been appropriate?

 And doesn't every new baby deserve a cannon salute?
View gallery

After spending three days at Kensington Palace the Cambridge family traveled 120 miles (with dad William driving) to their home on the Queen's Sandringham  estate where they are expected to remain throughout the summer and for great periods of time as the children grow up.  The lack of media scrutiny and the privacy Anmer provides make it ideal for protecting the privacy of the two youngest HRHs.

The Duke and Duchess are returning to Anmer Hall in Norfolk, where they will set up residence with their new daughter and Prince George

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Using A Curtain Rod to Help Save the Environment

I just finished dishes and as I was cleaning up I glanced at the narrow diameter curtain rod that is on the window above the sink.  It was meant to hold up the bottom panel of a kitchen curtain.  Ours, however, has found an alternative use.

Currently it is home to 7 washed and drying Ziploc bags, 2 washed and drying shower caps in gaudy colors, 1 washed and drying sheet of aluminum foil and our extra cloth napkins just folded over the rod.  The washed and drying items are attached using wooden clothes pegs purchased at a £ store.

I have been reusing Ziploc bags for over 20 years (not the same ones :-) and I use them until the writing has disappeared and they have leaks:  they can be used over and over and over.  That saves me a cent or two but more importantly it stops them going into the landfill before their time.  Yes, I could just stop using bags all together but you do remember the size of my refrigerator don't you.  Items in bags take up less space that items in containers.  Ergo, I will use bags for a little while longer and just live with the guilt.

The gaudy shower caps are used to cover those food containers that do end up in the fridge.  They last much longer than the caps sold for the purpose and since I do not micro with them and they rarely if ever touch the actual food I have made my peace with them.  I can find them very cheaply at the $ store when back home so I stash some in my suitcase when in need.  Six or so usually last us about a year before they tear or the elastic just dies.

The aluminum foil was used to hold chocolate (low sugar)  covered almond clusters.  I simply washed off the smatterings of extra chocolate after convincing myself it would just not be dignified to lick them off.  Once dry it will be folded and stored to be ready for another use when called upon.

Not up on the curtain rod but in the same vein is a piece of parchment paper I used to cover a pan when I baked low carb oopsie buns (yep, that's their name) to eat with last night's bean soup.  I simply folded the paper and am storing it for the next time I need to use parchment paper.  I can get a few uses before it is time to "retire" it.

What have you done lately to rescue things from the landfill before their time?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lincoln Logs for Mama Duck?

I have always liked Lincoln Logs. 

It appears Mama Duck might benefit from having a set of her very own.

We have been hearing all kinds of thumps and bumps on the roof coming from the kindling box.

When Mike went out to investigate this is what he found.

Do you think she is building a fort?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Bad Time to be a Pundit

Yesterday the airwaves were full of post election commentary and news.  It appears the pre election pundits were tuned into the wrong wave length.
  • David Cameron is back at #10 Downing Street and the Conservatives are a clear majority in Parliament
  • The leaders of UKIP, Labor and the Liberal Democrats all resigned as a result of their party's horrible showing in the election
  • The SNP or Scottish National Party had a WONDERFUL time taking all but two of the seats in contention.
This is the election people will be talking about for days, weeks, months and maybe even years.

But all is OK because Mr. Cameron has vowed to be the Prime Minister of the entire United Kingdom.  Tell me, isn't he supposed to do that no matter what?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Silence in Remembrance

70 years ago today at 3:00 Prime Minister Winston Churchill broadcast a speech announcing the long awaited and prayed for end of WWII in Europe. 

Today, Great Britain marked that historic event by two minutes of silence. You could have heard a pin drop. 

These people still remember and realize how different their world could be if England and her Allies had not won the war. It is an understatement to say that personal freedom, societal mores and oh so much more would have been so different, and not in a good way.

It is fair to say that the entire world would have changed, not just Europe and the United Kingdom.

We owe a debt to those brave men and women, both military and civilian, who refused to believe in nothing but victory; Who gave up so much, including their lives and the lives of loved ones; Who did without so much including the basics of food, shelter, clothing and fuel and did without it well into the 1950's.

The British Empire bankrupt itself to fight and win this war both for themselves and for the rest of what we now call the free world.

We should all say an heartfelt thank you for such courage and self sacrifice. This was truly one of the greatest ,if not the greatest, acts by a nation and her people.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

And Now There Are Ten

Mama Duck now has 10!!! eggs in her nest.

Mike discovered that this afternoon when we went up to check on why she was rearranging the wood on our roof.

She was, in fact, pulling wood bark chips off the stacked wood and adding them to the nest to cover and further insulate the eggs, all 10 of them.

We saw 1 egg when we got back and for a couple of days afterwards.  Then we stopped looking. 

So, we don't know if the first egg became non-viable and she then laid another clutch of eggs, as they sometimes do, or if she laid the other nine eggs after a bit of a gap between the first and the rest.  This would be unusual.

Mama Ducks usually lay 1 egg per day so the clutch was probably finished about two weeks after we got back.  Incubation is 28 days.  So, they have been incubating for only about a week.  We could have 3 more weeks left!!!!! before they hatch.

What are the odds we will remain here for another 3 weeks?  I would guess slim and none but I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Throwing It Together, Again

 For many reasons I won't bore you with here, this winter has been a tough one on my waistline.  I can still get my clothes on but let us just say they aren't as comfortable and don't look nearly as nice (can we picture an over-sized muffin top).

So, I decided to fall back on a way of eating that has worked for me in the past and try to eat a higher protein/lower carb and higher fiber diet.  I did fine with it for the first 4 days (I know, a not so impressive show of strength) but then my craving for carbs threatened to derail the whole thing, hence the previous recipe/invention.

But, I am a breadahollic.  There should be a 12 step program and a support group for that.  Just saying.

Yesterday afternoon, rather than eat the bread I had baked for Mike ( I blame the smell of it baking for kicking this off), I decided to try and make my own super low carb bread. 

I have made similar breads in the past but I have always had to include some flour in order for the resulting loaf to be something other than a brick door stop.  This time I wanted to skip the flour all together since all I had left on the boat was white.

Below is a close approximation of what I threw into the bowl.  And no, I did not write it down as I went along.  This recipe is from memory. 

I know, I need to try to remember to write it down as a go along.  But since I have been telling myself that for decades and I have yet to listen to myself I wouldn't hold out much hope if I were you.

Homemade Low Carb Bread  

2 cups wheat bran
1 cup oat bran
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 egg
1 Tbs low sugar maple syrup
1 Tbs oil
1 tsp salt
2 T yeast
about 1 cup warm water

I mixed the above together and added some additional gluten, maybe a quarter of a cup, to get the consistency I needed.  I then formed it into a loaf shape and put it in a well greased loaf pan. 

I let it rise (this was a slow process) in a warm place until about doubled.  I then put it in a cold oven and turned the oven to 425F to bake until done.

The result was a dense but quite eatable and enjoyable bread .   I slice it as thing as possible to get as many slices as possible and to keep the carb count per slice lower.  It makes great toast.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Rooftop Noises

It has been quite rainy here.  That has given me plenty of time to enjoy the sound of the raindrops on our metal roof.  It makes being inside feel even more comfy since you can almost hear each and every individual rain drop as it lands with its little plop.

I have also been listening to the whirring sound of mama duck as she leaves and returns to her nest.  Since our roof is a little crowded with wood she lands on the more open run way of the boat next to us and then does a short "local hop" over to the flower box and her nest.

When sitting at the table and looking out our window we can see the flower box reflected in the window next door and keep track, somewhat, of the goings on in the nest.  If mama is all curled up with her head tucked into her wing you cannot see her.  But, when she moves or sits up she is reflected in the window.  We can observe without disturbing her which is always nice.

Yesterday there was a great deal of movement to be heard but still no sign of a duckling.  We have been back on the boat for 20 days and she was firmly on her nest when we got back.  Hopefully, D Day or should I say B Day for the duckling will be soon.  Keep you posted.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Making It Up As I Go Along

I have a bad habit as a cook.  I make up recipes.  When they work, I have a problem:  I haven't written down the amounts of all the ingredients I used so remaking the dish gets a little dicey.

I did it again, today.  This morning I threw together a pan of chocolate chip brownie type bars.  I was trying to create something low carb and low calorie and with a lot of fiber and protein.

When they cam out of the oven, as the cook I was forced to sample them to make sure they were edible.  It's a tough job but I forced myself.

I thought they were good.  So I asked Mike to take a chance on them.  He liked them, too.  Now I have a problem.  How can I make them again?

Here is what I think I baked:

1.5 cups of almond flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 c oat bran
1 cup flaked almonds
2 ounces sugar free chocolate, chopped fine
2 eggs
1 box of sugar free chocolate pudding (vanilla would have worked but I didn't have any)
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
2 T baking powder
1 cup low cal maple pancake syrup
1 cup wheat gluten

I know those are the ingredients and I am 99% sure those were the quantities.

Mix them all together and bake in an 8 by 10 greased pan until a toothpick comes out clean.
DO NOT OVER BAKE or they will be very dry because of the fiber.

Man, are they good and I don't have to feel too guilty when I eat one..

Friday, May 1, 2015

May DayTthis Year Feels Closer to Mayday

Today is May 1st or May Day, a traditional day of celebration.  We are supposed to be celebrating the arrival and enjoyment of spring.

Really, this year it feels more like we should be sending out a mayday distress call to discover where our spring has wandered off to because I think it has gotten lost and can't find its way back.

Sure, we had a few warm days.  But only a few. 

I am still waking up to inside temps of about 5celsius (about 40F) and I am still building fires.  Most days, we are keeping that fire alive all day long.  Granted, in the afternoon it does not need to be roaring and generating waves of warmth but still!  I thought I would be done with all this by now, have the inside of the stove all cleaned out for the summer and the outside all blackened, shiny and handsome.

Instead, we still have ashes, I may need to make yet another round of fire starters, and the newest batch of wood cut and stacked on the roof is being used this year rather than giving us a head start on next year.

And the weather, to say the least, is unpredictable.  I am not exaggerating when I say it can be sunny one moment, rainy the next, then sunny, then sleeting, then sunny.  And, that cycle can repeat itself many times over the course of the day.  Literally, if you don't like the weather just wait a few minutes and it will change, and change, and change.  But at least we are not receiving snow, although we have had frost.  Some places in Scotland are still being snowed upon.  How is that for spring weather on the first of May.

Yep, this year May Day may be closer to Mayday.  It keeps life interesting.