Sunday, February 28, 2016

White Bean Pasta Alfredo

I just made a wonderful pasta dish for dinner.

It is based upon a recipe from The Prudent Homemaker blog.

But, as Mike will tell you, I am genetically unable to follow a recipe exactly .  ( It makes for some interesting meals .)

So, here is her recipe:
     2c. Cooked white beans
     Half a cup of Parmesan cheese
     A can of evaporated milk
One and a half tsp garlic powder

Blend all ingredients using an immersion blender and then heat
Serve over 1 lb. Pasta

Here is what I did:

I cooked my beans from dry in the pressure cooker, adding 3 large garlic cloves, a tsp of vegetable bouillon and a tsp of fennel seed

When the beans were done I added a Tbs of nutritional yeast (it adds a cheesy taste) and some dry milk powder to the remaining liquid.

I also added some peas for color.

It is wonderful!  Creamy but low fat. You can't beat that.

I had Parmesan to sprinkle on it but you could leave that off and have a delicious vegan meal.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Message?

Our new battery is in and our engine now starts.

For the uninitiated, that means we now have electricity and hot water. ( If you are interested, I claimed first dibs on the shower. It was wonderful. )

We then headed three locks down the canal before mooring for the night across from a lovely field of sheep.

We now have three locks, a double and a single, before we make a left turn into the Middlewitch branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

 We were informed via email last night that the first lock there has been temporarily closed due to a boat being hung up on the lock's cill. ( A cill is a ledge found at the front and back of a lock. It sends your boat from a horizontal plane to a diagonal plane rather abruptly.)

Another message from God that our Ireland trip is not to be?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dying Battery

We are currently plugged into shore power at a marina outside Chester. We have been having problems with the battery that starts our engine. And now it has been given last rights.

A battery that fits our boat had to be ordered, of course. Tomorrow at noon it should be in and will then be installed.

Our string of delays is making our trip to Ireland during the first half of March less and less likely. We just seem unlikely to make it back to Atherton on time to make it work.

And I am beginning to think God is telling us now is not the time.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Day Off

No dish washing.
No cooking.
No laundry.
No cleaning.
No locks.

Charity shop visits.
Lunch out.
Leftovers for dinner.
Mike did the dishes.
I ignored the dust and dirt.
The laundry pile grew.
We stayed put for the day.

Lovely day.
Thanks Mike.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bread, Scones, Upside Down Cake and Chowder

It has still been wet, windy and cold so I have pulled out all the stops on making warming comfort foods to warm us inside and out.

 I figure the heat from the oven augments the wood burner and brings the temp up a degree or two inside. I do know it helps warm the kitchen section of the boat which can be a good four degrees colder than the living area.

For breakfast I mixed up some oatmeal raisin scones that I served with butter and marmalade.

Then it was time to do the dishes and face the day.

First, I mixed up some multigrain bread with flax.

While it was proofing I made a half size pineapple upside down cake and put it in the oven.

Shortly after it was done the bread was ready to go in to bake.

I then decided it was a soup and sandwich day so I sorted out all the ingredients for a small pot of corn chowder, minus the bacon since it was a Friday in Lent.

  Tuna sandwiches rounded out the comfort food meal.

Also, yesterday we took advantage of a dry spell in the late afternoon and cut, split and stacked logs.

 That wood warmed us up while we were working on it and will do it again when we burn it. A twofer.

Speaking of wood, our supply I'd dwindling. We hope spring arrives soon or we may have to resort to coal. And here we thought we were well stocked.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ellesmere Port

We are now moored at Ellesmere Port.  It was wonderful getting here, for me, because between here and Chester there is not a single lock!  In the rainy, cold weather we have been experiencing, this is a wonderful thing!

Ellesmere Port is at the end of the Shropshire Union Canal, adjacent to the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. To get here you must pass through a derelict industrial area. Not a beautiful thing.

So why come?

Because here you will find the excellent National Waterways Museum. The museum, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, traces the development of Britain's canal system from its beginnings through its glory days in the 1800's.

You can see examples of traditional commercial narrowboats and learn more about what it was like to live and work on the canals when they were to the transportation of cargo what trucks/ lorries and railroads are today.

But one must remember that the boatman lived on the narrowboat with his family. Their accommodation was not palatial:  60 square feet!

Why so small?  The maximum amount of space needed to be delegated to the paying cargo, usually coal.

Life was, shall we say, cozy. Storage was built in.  Tables and beds folded down. There was one double bed and one extra long single bed that doubled as seating during the day. There was a stove that provided heat and a space to cook the family meals.

Families of 4 or 6 or more would live their lives in these cozy conditions. I'm sure the mothers were more than pleased to have their offspring spend time outside.

The women on the canal boats , as were most Victorian women, were very proud of their miniaturized homes.  Their stoves were blackened. Their woodwork washed.  Their brass polished. And, there were lace trimmed curtains at their Windows.

One can only imagine how they managed their domestic responsibility with the work expected of them on the canals, usually leading the horse all day along the canal path.

But manage it they did.

I will try to no longer even think of our 262 square feet as small. Or my domestic responsibility as anything but small.

Those were tough but proud ladies!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mike's Views from his Chester Walk

Mike went on a walk along  the wall of the city and came back with these pictures that I thought I would share with you.  I hop you enjoy or learn something from them.

From the top of the wall around the city looking down to the canal below.  The canal used to be the moat that protected part of the city.

Here is the tower from which King Charles I watched his troops unsuccessfully confront the troops of Cromwell in the English Civil War. 

Views from the Eastgate.  The principle entrance into the city of Chester.

A Feast for My Love on Valentine's Day

To appreciate this you must realize that my usable kitchen counter space is no more than three feet. 

That I have one large bowl that must be washed between uses. 

That, although I have four burners on my cook top only two can be used at the same time because of the size of pans and using one at a time is definitely preferable.

And, my oven hold a maximum of two small  or one regular size baking dish at one time.

Remembering all of that, today I made the following menu for my Valentine of 42 years:
  • A Starter of Three Gourmet Cheeses and Pate
  • Beef Stroganoff Wth Brown Rice
  • Oven Roasted Sprouts (his request)
  • French Bread
  • Decadent  Milk Chocolate Cream Pie in a Homemade Crust

I guess that shows I intend to keep him around for awhile longer.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Ever since we started narrow boating when people suggested places we must visit it was only a matter of time before they all, and I do mean all, said Chester was a definite must see.  Now we know why.

Chester is just this side of the Welsh border in Cheshire, England.  The city was founded by the Romans in AD79.  The Roman walls built to protect the settlement and later extended by the Saxonsin an attempt to defend the city from the Vikings, are amazingly and thankfully still mainly standing making it one of the best walled cities in England.  Only 330 feet of the wall is missing making them to all purposes generally complete.  The walls show the boundaries of the medieval city of Chester

Chester is a magnificent city with one of the few preserved city walls that used to be around almost all major cities for protection but have disappeared over time.  Not in Chester.  The city wall grows up out of the canal path and towers over the canal.  Even today it gives you a sense of protection just by seeing it looming over you.

In the city you will fine the King Charles' Tower where, during the English Civil War, The soon to be ex King Charles I watched his Cavalier's be defeated by Cromwell's Parliamentarians.   

The cathedral in the city is said to be built upon the site of a 10th century place of worship.  It was in the current cathedral that Handel first performed his magnificent Messiah in 1742.  A definite claim to fame.

Image result for chester cathedral

Image result for chester cathedral

Chester is blessed with a large number of medieval building but the tourist must remember that not all of the black-and-white buildings in the city are medieval.  Some are Victorian buildings built to evoke the Tudor buildings of the past.

Image result for Chester UK

The Rows are continuous half-timbered galleries, that house shops on both the first and second storeys  The shops on.reached by steps to the second row of shops above those at street level  They are found. along Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street. The Rows are unique in the world to Chester, and nobody is quite sure why they were built in this way.

Image result for the rows Chester UK

If you are a shopper, there a lots and lots of high end shops here to take your business.  For people like myself who have pledged to buy from the used market, we are not left out.  There are about 20 charity shops to visit.
I have visited almost every one so can attest to the fact that they are small but still worth the look.