Posted in cooking, Debate, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Home, nutrition

Sausage, Apple and Cider Casserole.

I decided to use apples in a main savoury dish and this is my own recipe, after looking at some ideas on Pinterest. Apples are in abundance in September and whilst I bought my cookers from the supermarket, you will find these being sold from private growers along roadsides and garden corners. The price I saw was 0.50p a bag. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop to buy.

Why we should eat more apples?

The health benefits of apples here on Pinterest.
Ingredients:

This will make you two casseroles, so you could have a meal for two days.

12 Tesco finest pork and apple sausages.

One medium sized onion.

Two cooking apples.

1/2 of a butternut squash.( tip: I cut the butternut squash, scooped out the seeds and cut the flesh away from the very tough skin from the inside of the vegetable. Peeling the skin is hard work.)

Potatoes, ( I used six but amount can vary depending on how many potatoes you want in this recipe).

Two carrots,

Five large mushrooms,

Handful of frozen peas.

350 mls of cider divided into two casserole dishes.

Two tablespoons of fresh basil chopped.

1/2 teaspoon of mango chutney mixed into an instant gravy granules gravy.

Method:

Simply layer the potatoes and butternut squash covering the base of the casserole dish.

Add the diced mushrooms and carrots.

Fry the sausages for five minutes to give a brown appearance and lay on top of the vegetables.

Fry the onion in the oil used for the sausages and add on top of the sausages.

Place the uncooked sliced apple on top.

Add the cider and pour gravy into the casserole dishes.

Add the handful of peas.

Add chopped basil.

Cooking times:

I have an electric fan oven, so set an intial temp of 200C but then turned the oven down to 180C after about 30 mins. Cook until the vegetables are soft. For me this took about one and a half hours. For the last 15 mins, I left the casserole dish top off to reduce some gravy juice and to give the sausages a final brown.

Family tasting:

Everyone really enjoyed this and we have just finished it up today. For all the cooking I have done recently, either with recipes or without, this has been the most favourite dish to date with a good thumbs up from the family. Generally, it was considered that I had the right flavour combinations and the correct amount of cider. The pork and apples sausages’ flavour was enhanced and there was not one ingredient that overpowered the rest.

What could have been improved?

I would have liked to have added a Yorkshire pudding for a contrasting crunch.Black pudding has also been suggested.

Next month will look at starters and snacks. I want to use Tumeric, as this appears to be one of the most talked about spice at present and its anticancer properties is a hot topic in nutritional circles at the moment.

Please feel free to share your ideas here with apples or sausages.

Thanks for stopping by. See you again I hope next month.

Advertisements
Posted in Change, Children, Commitment, Debate, families, goals, Health, Home, Modern society, Thoughts, Uncategorized

I Am Seriously Worried

Yesterday, I started to really look and notice something for the first time. Walking along the seafront, my eyes wandered around the people and their outlines. Many were overweight, and the striking thing of all was that many young and middle-aged women were not just overweight but clinically obese. Yes, the word most Women I am using here, from what I saw yesterday. And overall women appeared to be fatter than men. I wondered why.

That word fat is an awful word isn’t it. We don’t like saying it, as it potentially portrays a negative comment about an individual. It conveys that we have no self-control. That it is our fault we are just big. Fat is bad both in word, shape, image and representation. It is an ugly word and you just don’t say it. We avoid it and look beyond it to another conversation. TV programmes have aided this invisibility of weight. Being in love with your curves, dressing to enhance the natural shape are the things to do. Yet, I know several women who have tried to “diet” another bad word. Like me, they can fluctuate from weight loss to weight gain and then stop and start.

Against this, we have a tide of programmes showing us every aspect of cooking. People like to watch Masterchef, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Olivier showing us to how to cook. We have no shortage of inspiration tips and advice. Cooking on a budget, cooking something different. Cooking healthy nutritious meals, it’s all there. Sadly, most of us appear to be using it for entertainment against the reality of true cooking or not, as the case may be.

We have had a lot of media coverage about the ailing health service struggling to cope, the time bomb of heart disease, the labelling of food and a food industry that is committed to serving us fat, sugar and salt. The simple truth is we are losing the battle on eating a diet to give us health. A newspaper report this week showed stark figures that our children will die before we do, as their weight and lack of exercise spirals out of control. The not so hidden rise of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease (yes, as we consume ever dangerous amounts of alcohol) is causing greater alarm bells than ever before. We simply won’t have a health service able to cope. Societies health is going to collapse and the infrastructure to support it unless we take some radical action now. This is what is going to happen and that is why I am seriously worried.

I can’t begin to answer all the questions that could be posed here as to what could be done about it. What I do know is, how hard it is to lose a few pounds. How when you go out to eat, in the vast majority of typical restaurants, you find it almost impossible to eat low-calorie, low-fat, tasty food. I know full well how easy it is to throw food in the supermarket trolley just because your are tired after a day’s work and just want to get home. And once you are at home, you just throw something quick and easy into the oven because it’s just too much bother. How you need time to shop wisely, how you need positive energy to make the changes. Healthy eating and weight reduction is hard and it can be costly. Many people on ever tighter budgets can’t do it and the apathy is, I just don’t care. I do my best, I eat what I can.

We eat for comfort, we treat ourselves to chocolate as a reward to ourselves for a hard day. I am not judging overweight people at all. Everything is stacked against us. I am not overweight but I am in the same boat as most of us. I will be sharing on my next blog what changes we have managed to make here as a family. It’s not been easy and by no means has the battle being won yet but we are trying. This is being done because quite simply we can’t rely on our health service to patch us up. It isn’t going to there for much longer. We have to look after ourselves now the best way we know how.

Posted in Change, Debate, goals, Home, Law, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Living Wage

Good morning.

I am no politician and I am no business women either but today I want to talk about something that seems so obvious to me that concerns both.
From today, changes are taking place that will many affect many people in relation to their incomes and standards of living. For many, these changes will bring even more hardship, stress and unhappiness for many people having to rely on the State to help them live in terms of income.

The government think these cuts are fair, as they don’t want to continue a culture where being trapped in the Welfare State ensnare people into poverty. Apparently, a crucial factor to be out of poverty is to be out of its benefits culture, to be independent and to be free. Plus it argues, the welfare budget has to be chopped due to enormous spiralling costs which the ordinary tax payer can’t be expected to pay. In a way they are saying, do the maths and the sums don’t add up. You could say that is reasonable.

Well, I am not a mathematician either but to me one of the key answers is to create wealth and my simple formula goes something like this.

If you pay people a wage that they can actually live on, then they can pay their own council tax, rent or mortgage. They can go to the shops and spend a little on consumer goods. This means that business benefits from their spending. Tax is generated from their shopping with VAT and businesses may start to see a little more profit on their spread sheets. This means businesses who are struggling may struggle less, which means they can pay their bank or their creditors the money they owe. Meanwhile, the government who have generated more income tax by higher wages have more in the treasury pot to play with and can start to look at its own debt and spending needs. Businesses productivity is increased and the need for new jobs. More jobs, more income tax and so forth. The spiral goes on.

In the meantime, people start to feel a bit  happier, can begin to feed themselves properly- buy less horse meet at a £1 for eight burgers and actually start to feel better; loosing some weight may be (obesity epidemic, major health crisis) and eating a few fresh fruit and vegetables. Children can actually go to school with breakfast inside them perhaps and be more productive in the classroom. Existing health-conditions caused by stress ( I don’t know of any chronic disability not affected by stress) may actually ease a little.The country feels more upbeat and the Government of the day may not be seen as quite the Mr Nasty anymore. I could go on and, anyway, many people are saying this already, nothing new here really.

Ah, you say, but there is a problem and I know exactly what you are going to say. Businesses can’t afford the cost of paying people a living wage. Yes, for many small businesses this is true. My own brother, only last week, has had to let his 15 year old shop business go under because of an inflated renewal of a shop lease he could not pay. less people not coming into his shop to buy greetings cards. His lease holder, unfortunately, could not be sensible enough to give my brother a fair deal given his dwindling takings. He just wanted an ever huger slice of money from rent ( typical property owner!!??). My brother could not give him that rise of double the rent. Now there is another empty shop in the high street somewhere and both people have lost out. He and his wife are another two statistics about to “sign on” and get £111 a week as a couple. He is not one of the so called scroungers either. he has worked all his life and is in his late fifties.

So yes, from his conversations, I know how hard it is to give people a living wage who are in business. But he tells me that not only this government but the last government too taxed small businesses to death and to help them we need to give them a break. This government needs to help ease the burden that small companies face. 

Now to wealth distribution: there are big companies with massive profits. Tesco is one such company, along with other supermarket chains, and we all know how little their workers get, with fewer full-time paid jobs to go with it. Could the government not legislate that for those companies, with an turn over of X billions, that they should see less profit for the few at the top and more wealth distribution for the workers at the bottom? Ah, but that would squash a free-market enterprise! Big money would take off oversees. Well, we have to put people first before big money I am afraid. Simple as that!

This all seems, perhaps, a bit of an Utopian and simplistic view or perhaps rather a socialist position. Well, I am not a socialist, in fact that is the scary bit. I don’t know whether I really trust in any of the main stream parties anymore, there lies the danger. When there is discontent extremism can flourish. I am not saying we are going to have a revolution but this is where more extreme parties can take a hold. Recent By-election results? I think you get it.

So don’t be a April Fool Mr Government. If you want any chance of surviving- currently you are on life support, then start having an agenda to start paying people a real living wage. Don’t try and tell us that by taking us off Welfare, that the very nature of that decision will makes us suddenly not poor anymore because we are not in receipt of it( Yesterday’s BBC news). People on the minimum wage are poor and they can work 80 hours a week and will still be poor, especially if they are on their own with children. I know them, I speak with them. People who can’t genuinely work because of disability can’t work. Don’t take away the main life- line they have had. We are supposed to be a fair and civilized society arent’t we? Nothing civilized or fair about this is there!! Wake up and start listening to the people who voted you in. We can easily vote you OUT!

 

Posted in Change, Debate, families, Home, Human Rights, Law, Modern society, Politics, Thoughts

What’s the alternative to our main three political parties?

George Galloway’s 10,000 runaway majority in Bradford West for his new Respect party should come as hardly any surprise.  News coverage informed us that Labour were dismayed by this victory given the Coalition present unpopularity and current policy making. George choose to seize the discontent felt by many members of British Society, by creating what he felt to be an alternative to the political autocracy currently being displayed by the Tory Government. His party’s name Respect speaks volumes about how people want to be treated by those they elected.

I had great hopes for this Government when first elected. I was pleased to see at last the Lib-Dems have some chance to finally be involved in central decision-making politics; hoping its softer central stance would tame any extreme more right-wing views of previous Tory administrations. I had sympathy in what they had to do. Labour had left us billions in debt. My brother, a small business man, said to me recently as he understood it, that Gordon Brown was borrowing £420 million a day to keep us all going?. In-appropriate taking on of American debt, non-regulation of banks and greedy speculators had left much of the developed world in a huge debt crisis. Greece which has spent millions on their Olympic Games had virtually bankrupted themselves and Ireland, Spain and Italy were all struggling keeping up with the Euro. Thank goodness we never joined into that system which is still far from stable.

So I knew there would be have to be cuts and it would be hard and it would be unpleasant and probably very necessary. However, what I don’t like is the whole way in which this Government is completely ignoring its own people by not listening to anyone or anybody. Laws and bills being pushed through against a tide of legitimate concern. The Health and Social Care bill, the biggest NHS shake up in years is one such example. Why, when to make this legislation have any chance of being accepted at all and for it to work, do you have every major representative of the NHS shut out from its consultation. This is absolute nonsense and totally bonkers. On a local level, we are seeing Government policy giving us an incinerator nobody wants, closing local schools and Post-offices, the later being made ready for a nother privatisation. This country will have nothing left of what it owns at this rate. Our voices protest loudly and yet no-one listens. Democracy. What democracy. it doesn’t feel that way.

However, It is also the total arrogance and the most worrying of all, a right-wing autocratic element which is now making headlines such as “This is what happened in China/Iran”! Proposed laws in the name of security and antiterrorism is now being unveiled on our right to personal privacy by proposed snooping on internet conversations, texts, phone calls and e-mails. And to cap it all the astonishing hypocrisy of such a decision, given that both the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems opposed a move in 2006, when the then Labour government tried to introduce the same legislation and failed because the internet companies would not bear the cost of the set-up.

And why are we so concerned about terrorism? Well, we have not helped our selves very much have we? Being the USA’s little friend and going into countries of which there was no UN mandate for- Iraq. You wait for Iran to kick off. We have seen nothing yet. America will want to tie us in to that nuclear quarrel. We really will be in trouble then. And then I hear today that we are having to spend billions on security to get us safely through the Olympics. We can’t afford the Olympics. Look at what has happened to Greece. They could not afford it either and look what has happened to them. Thinking of all the billions that could have been spent helping getting us out of this financial trillions of debt we are in, instead of waging war and hosting the Olympics. Bonkers to me. Do the Swiss bid for the Olympics or get involved in costly wars, or belong to the EU? No, they have more sense and they are rich enough to stand on their own two feet. OK, ok I know full well the Swiss are rich due to banking but I have a point.

Then we have a corrupt Government being exposed. Cash for Access and  ????influence in some decision-making , if the sum is large enough has been exposed this last week. The same old rhetoric when something exposed:

“let’s have a full internal enquiry on the subject”.

We know what crap that is in reality. Things go underground and the same old cogs go on. No wonder people are saying why bother voting, This governement is full of its own sh..t.

People are hurting over welfare, tax credit cuts and changes to the law regarding claiming benefits. OK, I am not for people at all NOT trying to make an honest living, and the Welfare Bill does have to be manged more efficiently and to be looked at- as it takes a third of all British Tax Payers money. However, it feels like a sledge-hammer for all. Housing benefit being cut completely when someone is trying to work, but not being employed enough hours to stand on their own two feet. The need to do Workfare and to get your stamp paid, even when you have manged to get a part-time job. This means that you have to be available for full-time work, or your right to sign on and receive what little help there is is denied you. People having a dire choice. Stop the work you have manged to secure to go on some scheme which guarantees you nothing of any certain long-term employment, if you want benefit. What nonsense is that!! Well, I suppose it drives the unemployment figures down????????????

So what is my point? My point is, that people like myself are saying none of the three main parties have delivered within the last 10-15 years. Do we bother to even vote and for whom? I chuckled when I read a tweet comment about the Lib-Dems. “Go back to your consistencies and prepare for vapourisation” it said. How true. The Lib-Dems are finished and Nick Clegg will go after the next election. Ed Milliand, he seems a nice guy but I would have prefered to see David in the top slot. Ed is too governed by the Unions that brought him to power. The Greens, a nice bunch too but no one sees them as a credible alternative yet, and there are still not enough people out there ” green enough” to give a stuff about the environment and a more sustainable Britain.

So we see George Galloway tapping into part of real Britain, the ethic minorities who reside in many cities in vast numbers. I don’t know anything about him or his polices. I know he has shaken hands with Saddam Hussein, OK, that’s very dubious to say the least, but he has done something to capture the imagination of many people with this recent by-election victory. That for me is the worrying thing. Are we about to entre a phase where new and possibly extreme parties start to gain ground? The BNP and so forth.

There is enough political and social material out there to make people boil over with resentment and anger for all sorts of reasons. The riots may have been opportunistic theft, lawlessness and no respect for the law or fearful of its consequences. Interesting that word respect. Perhaps, that is why George Galloway choose that name for this party. There is no respect for Government any more. I certainly feel that way and suggest many others feel the same.

And sadly we know it’s going to get a lot worse. Be very afraid. I am quite frankly!

( PS, Dear Goverment- do take a read, you are never going to be re-elected next time. Have you got that? And if you want to be,time to start listening now)

Posted in Environment, goals, Home, Ideas, Modern society, Thoughts

Reducing Energy Bills.

My husband wanted me to post this to my followers on twitter and our followers elsewhere on the internet re: an idea to reduce your energy bills.

Hello to everyone from the UK.

We have put this link here for your benefit so that you can get a cheaper price for your energy bills:

 

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/the-big-switch#petition

Please look at the 38 degrees shortcut and show this to your friends, relatives and neighbours.

See the video by Jonathan Maitland from ITV on:

 

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/the-big-switch#petition

Thanks From David and Helen.

 

 

Posted in achievement, Art, Change, families, goals, Home, Personal Growth, Skills, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized

Goals six months on.

Six months ago, I wrote a blog about what I hoped would be my goals for the next six months and whether I had achieved or stuck to them. I wanted to simply look back and recap on what they were and the results.

  • I grew some lettuce and planted some onions and carrots. The lettuce was an outstanding success and the carrots and onions are still in the ground but have grown poorly. I have not received any harvest from them. From this, I intend to lauch into tomatoes in pots next year.
  • The swimming was stopped for while and my aim is to return soon. I can still swim on my back but haven’t made any further progress. However, I have had little opportunity to go into the pool over the past few weeks.
  • Transition town activities kept going right on into the summer and we attended a big launch garden day and were fully active. However, since then we have stopped going for personal reasons but kept in touch with some people who still attend.
  • Working on family relationships has been ongoing and only last week, since my Father had a stroke and one of my best friends diagnosed with cancer has it really sunk home how important those ties are. This is a renewed goal and one which will have even more focus in the next coming few months.
  • The history of the arts pursuit had a lazy start but has probably been one of the most significant goals achieved. Having seen the series Desperate Romantics, concerning the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, I then went on to visit the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in August where Isabella and the Pot of Basil by William Holman Hunt was exhibited and then to the Tate British to see more of the whole brotherhood’s work. I read the book accompanying the TV series by Franny Moyle, and then visited the Fitzwilliam museum to see a Darwin exhibition of art. This was excellent.
  • I have made some progress on the gardening and am trying desperately to still decorate the house. This is due to start any day but illness from the summer and other busy events has meant it just hasn’t happened.
  • My relationship with money is still fraught more times than not, but I have continued to save and are financially “better off” than I  was six months ago. I try not to worry about money so much but still feel that my finances are on a constant elastic band. Just stretched out to maximum all the time with no slack. Still, have negotiated a better mortgage and hoping to cut some work hours soon.
  •  I have continued to develop my English skills and had one English lesson from a friend. On the whole though, writing and blogging has had to be put to one side over the summer and I haven’t written as much as I hoped too. I want to work on that still
  • I nearly got to visit FORWARD and had the AGM on the calendar and booked. But sadly my Dad had a stroke and he was the priority. I still haven’t made it there yet and this was the third year running something had come along to stop me going. This is disappointing. I plod one with my efforts in my causes. But I am now running and hope to raise money next year for charity by taking part in the GEAR race in King’ Lynn.
  • The photography is coming along, all be it a bit slow. However, the arrival of Photoshop and a mate to help me out with it has been invaluable. The photos are starting to progress and I did have a wonderful photo shoot with my Sister-in-Law  in the summer.

So there you have it. I don’t think it’s too bad at all. Some success at least. And a very worthwhile exercise to do this was. There has been one more significant thing to tell, and that is I have enrolled to study with the Open University next year.

I will now think about my next set of goals for the next six months. Know what some of them are already, like changing my job. Let’s see how they shape up.

Posted in Debate, families, Home, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized

My Diary of Week

For those of you who know me on Twitter, these are the results of my week long exercise of how I spend my time. I wanted to do this to see how I can fit 16 hrs of study in a week from next year with the OU.

It was a very interesting thing to do and overall, the work life balance, whilst very hectic at certain times, appears to have some leisure as well, variety and balance. 

The results are as follows for one week:

Work including travel 35.45 hrs. (30 hrs paid, 5.45 unpaid).

Computer time.( essentially e-mails, Internet and twitter, no flickr or blog). 12.16 hrs.

Housework. 6.04 hrs.

Leisure time( going out, chatting, resting and reading). 18.35 hrs.

TV.( wanted to do a separate log for this)  4.10 hrs. 

Phone calls. 3hrs.

Personal grooming 2.10hrs.

Shopping. 1.25 hrs.

Eating and drinking 4 hrs.

Dog walking 4.40 hrs.

Biking 25 mins.

Running 1.25 hrs.

Miscellaneous( car to service) 15 mins.

         ( meal planning for the week) 30 mins

Driving husband to work 1.15 hrs.

Usual time getting up approx 7am average.

Bedtime 23.30.

As a result of this, the following has been so far devised to help cut unpaid work, housework and meal preparation.

A new system of work to collect  stats each day. I do this now on each visit and not have to duplicate the information. I now am working with no headache of the form to do when I get home. Also being tighter on time and when I go home, not squeezing in one more thing, which can go over to the next day, eg, non-urgent phone calls, or faxes.

End of month mileage returns being collated weekly, not the headache of leaving it all until the end of the month which takes longer.

Daughter now taking up the reins of 2 hrs a week of housework which is now her earned pocket money.

Tidying up at home,as I go along. Eg, phone charger for phone not left, but put back in the draw each day before I leave for work.

Planning the week meals in advance, knowing who is cooking/ doing what and when. Having a shopping list. Shopping is quicker, less waste, so far have saved £40 on a 10 day’s worth of food on last shopping trip.

Planning left-overs meals so cooking time is less.

These are just a few pointers.

 I have sat down and taken a typical week and thought when am I going to study? Currently, I have planned one full day off a week and blocks of 2 hrs study at night when working, 3 one night when day off and 4hrs on one day off a week. It still looks pretty exhausting though. Ideally, I need to lose a day of work but I can’t see that happening yet.

Already, I have seen my organisational skills improving, both at work and at home.

That’s a good start.