Friday, 29 June 2007

Garden photos from 2 weeks ago

Whilst I was hunting for the photo of the courgettes, I thought you might like to see some roses. This is part of our "hedge" between our garden and next door's. The non-existent wall at the bottom right is next-door's responsibility.

And a close up. Beautiful, aren't they?

Here are the courgettes. We've eaten all the ones visible here and there are more growing:

And last, but not least, my very first broad bean! Look carefully, it's on the left parallel to the stem.

- Pam (proud gardener)

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Quick & Low Fat Courgette Lasagne

I've got yellow courgettes (zucchini) growing in my vegetable patch. This is the first time I've grown them, so it's been a bit of a learning curve. Anyway, last week I harvested the first four and made this lasagne. It's based on a recipe from Rosemary Conley's Low Fat Cookbook. (I still haven't unpacked my copy since we moved 4 years ago, so have no idea how much it differs.)

I'll post a photo of the courgette plant when I have access to the camera.

Quick & Low Fat Courgette Lasagne

Serves 4. 3 WW points a serving.


1 teasp Olive oil
lasagne sheets x 6
150ml yoghurt (this is half one 500ml pot - 500ml weighs 300g)
1 egg
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tablespoon red wine
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 courgettes, sliced
2 x 14oz cans tomatoes, pureed in blender
1 teasp dried basil


1) Heat the oil in a deep pan. Fry the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent (if it starts to burn splash in some water).

2) Add the courgettes and fry until they soften.

3)Stir in the tomatoes and the basil. Bring to the boil then simmer until the sauce is reasonably thick (20 minutes or so).

4) Combine the red wine with the cornflour and stir into the tomato mixture. Bring back to the boil and, stirring constantly, simmer for 2 minutes. The flour stops the tomato separating and should thicken the sauce further.

5) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

6) Beat the egg into the yoghurt until both are combined.

7) When the sauce is thick, assemble the lasagne, in a lasagne dish:

-spread a small amount of tomato sauce (no courgette) across the bottom of the dish, then cover with 2 sheets of lasagne.
- pour over 1/3 of the courgette mixture and cover with another 2 sheets. Repeat.
- cover the last two sheets with the remaining courgette mixture. Spread the yoghut mixture evenly over it to cover.

8) Bake at 200C for approximately 40 minutes or until lasagne is cooked and the top has solidified.

- Pam

Friday, 22 June 2007

Aloo Gobi

Several days late, but here it is: my Aloo Gobi recipe. Much kudos goes to DH who came home from work yesterday to find me tearing the lounge apart, muttering about a missing cookbook. He found it for me sometime after midnight.

This recipe is based on the one in the Weight Watchers' cookbook, Low Point Spice, by Joy Skipper. I've checked it against other versions and, as far as I can tell, the spicing is authentic. The recipe makes a huge quantity - I usually end up freezing 3/4 of it, since 1/4 makes a good sized side dish for 2 or 3. You could easily halve the ingredients, but I'd keep the spicing the same. Oh, and in case you didn't know, "Aloo" means potato and "Gobi" means cauliflower.

Another tip: the recipe calls for 2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro. Buy it by the bunch - it's cheaper that way - and do what my Asian friends do: wash it well, chop it up roots and all, and freeze it loosely packed into bags. Then when you need it to flavour something, either sprinkle over a handful or add it by the tablespoon.

The entire recipe is 5 WW points or 540 Calories.


Low-fat cooking spray or oil spray (or use 1 teaspoon oil)
3 onions, chopped
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm/1 inch cubes
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or use 2 ginger "cubes" see here for details)
1 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground chili
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam marsala
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small bunch fresh coriander/cilantro including stems, chopped (enough to make 2-3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste


1) In a small bowl, combine the chili, turmeric and ground coriander with a little water. Mix to a paste.

2) Spray a large saucepan with oil. Over a low heat, gently saute the onions until soft.

3) Add the cauliflower, potatoes, ginger and the spice paste mixed in step 1. Stir well to coat the vegetables in the spice paste. Fry until the aroma rises. Pour over the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover and and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

4) Stir in the garam marsala, the cumin seeds and the fresh coriander. Cover again and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt to taste.

5) Serve hot as an accompaniment to an Indian meal or to accompany a plain meat dish, e.g. grilled steak.

- Pam

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Random thoughts from a long road trip

Today's recipe, Aloo Gobi, is going to have to wait until tomorrow. I'm too knackered to work out where I put the recipe book.

In the last 30-odd hours, I've driven 554 miles for work, split 230 + 10 yesterday and 130 + 180-odd today. On the minus side, I couldn't find another Terry Pratchett book on CD to listen to so had to get something else; on the plus side I've clocked up over £230 mileage allowance.

The trip was mainly a show-my-face PR stunt at Site, followed by a meeting in the Manchester office (130-odd miles away on the other coast of Britain to Site).


The poppies are out. Particularly yesterday morning, several fields were completely covered in them. They look exactly like some of the illustrations in the Country Diary Book of Crafts, which I always thought were too garish until I saw them in real life.


Unable to get a Pratchett that I don't already own, and unable to replace my old copies on tape with copies on CD (I'm stuck in limbo with the taped ones), I purchased Torchwood - Another Life at the bookshop on Saturday. Quite a good book, although obviously set before the second series was written.

It lasted the journey up so this morning I listened to Radio 5. It might be talk radio but unlike most of the music radio stations, the presenters don't equate being cruel with being funny. Ever wonder why Capital Radio declined after Chris Tarrant retired? It's mainly because his replacement, Johnny Vaughan, thinks being nasty about someone is funny.


Thank God for Test Match Special this afternoon. I listened to the cricket all the way home: England versus the West Indies. (England won.) TMS is a national institution and has been broadcast for the last 50 years. Their whole ethos is to recreate the effect of a group of friends sitting around at a cricket match chatting and giving a running commentary to their mate who's gone to the bar/tea tent/toilets/is blind. It works, too.

The presenters have their own special group of fans, mainly women, who deliver an endless supply of homemade cakes and snacks. Doesn't matter which country they're in (TMS follow England to matches around the world), a cake will miraculously appear at the door of the commentary box with a note from one of their admirers.


Somewhere along the M62 between Leeds and Manchester is a sign which proudly proclaims it to be "Britain's Highest Motorway" at 1228 feet. How sad is that? 1228 feet is nothing to boast about - I'm sure the Hume Freeway in Australia goes over double that height on it's way over the Great Divide (if not triple), and there are dozens of main roads in the US that do the same.


I love the M6 Toll Road outside Birmingham. Yes, it now costs £4 each way, but it cuts at least an hour (if not 2) off the drive from the North West. You can go the old way down the M6, which is free, but it just isn't worth the hassle. Average journey time for me to travel the toll road is 30 minutes, complete with a toilet break at the services.

About half way along is the Lichfield Canal Aquaduct. As far as I can tell, it's still a disconnected trough designed to hold the canal but without a connection to either side. It's one of my Seven Wacky Wonders of the World (no, I don't really have a list).


To keep going on the drive home, I drank a can of Red Bull. Yes, it works as a kick-start, but it's disgusting stuff. It may give other people wings, but it always gives me heart-burn. However, it was either that or take a second dose of Thyroxin.

- Pam

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Reclaim You Self

I have a friend who is going through the pain of divorce. Watching from the sidelines is bringing back some memories of when I divorced Dumbo. It also reminds me of when other friends have split up. So I thought I'd share some of the things I learnt from the "been there, done that" club.

The most notible lesson I learnt is that you trundle through life thinking "I'm an intelligent, independent person who stands up for herself and never lets herself be put down" and then you discover that in the effort to retain your relationship with the ex, you've allowed him to do exactly that. For the past xxx years, he has dictated how you live your life, what you listen to, who you see. You jump through hoops, just to make him happy.

In the case of one friend, it meant buying a motor-cycle and riding it into London to work everyday, even though she was terrified of the journey. From the day they split up, the bike has sat at her parents unused.

For me, it was putting up with the intolerable. Several intolerables. My opinions were worthless; my music was trash (to this day, I hate "Blue Oyster Cult" on principle and I'm not that fond of Bach); hell, he's a chain smoker and I used to buy him cigarettes (and I am anti-smoking), it was just easier than arguing. I'm not the tidiest person in the world - I don't have the eye for neatness - but I like to think I keep the house clean; I lived in a pigstye for several years, because I refused to tidy up after him and he wouldn't clean up after himself. When we moved, I put up with crap lighting because he liked the light-fittings, which meant that I couldn't do the crafts that I loved. Oh, and I lived with his infidelity for far longer than I would have thought possible, because he made me feel trapped. And worthless. As far as I'm concerned now, it was emotional and mental abuse.

What I'm trying to say is: don't let your "self" be lost in a relationship. No partner is worth it. The right partner will treasure you as you are and encourage you to grow.

DH has had the pleasure of watching me reclaim my knitting and my singing - they are part of what makes me "me". He saw the look of amazement on my face the day I said "hey, I'm back", when I felt like long-dormant parts of me had re-awakened. One of the reasons I love him is that he always encourages me to be me and has never tried to mould me into someone else.

- Pam (who vows to graft the toes of his socks tonight - he deserves to wear them)

Friday, 15 June 2007

The answer to the LBYM Challenge

So what is the answer to the LBYM Challenge? How would I live on £275 a month?

It's a really difficult question to answer. I've been round and round in my head trying to work out the numbers. As Stephanie said in the comments, the numbers are too tight. The problem is that the article doesn't actually explain what was in the budget set for the family involved. Also, I realised that you can only do it with the $275 remainder IF you don't have commuting costs or if there is an emergency fund already built into the figures.

Here is my best shot. The things I would do on this LBYM Challenge, mainly in order of attack:-

1) Here's how I'd splilt the money:

£100 general grocery budget
£ 20 Christmas (food and presents)
£ 20 Monthly allowance for both preteen girls (£10 each)
£ 30 Monthly provision for girls' expenses and the baby's (again £10 each): clothes, school supplies, etc
£ 50 Parents allowance (£25 each)
£ 25 Petrol/gasoline (yes, I know, that isn't even one tank in my car)
£ 5 Garden supplies/bulk food fund
£ 25 Emergency fund

It is extremely tight. I have to make the assumption that the father's commuting costs were accounted for in the budget. Ditto something for car repairs and road tax (annual car registration fee).

2) The baby is due in August, so the mother still has the best part of 6 weeks work left. I am assuming she finishes work at the end of July, which means she'll receive her June and July pay packets and that these haven't been accounted for as income in the budget. In the UK on a salary £35,000, her take-home pay would be about £2,000 per month. Of that £4,000, I'd set asside £300 for her commuting/work related costs, £600 for after school/holiday clubs for the girls (a quick search found a website quoting £9 per pupil per day), and £200 for baby related costs (see below). £100 would be set aside for bulk food items and the remaining £2,800 would go straight to the emergency fund.

3) From part of the £300 set aside for mum above, I'd spend about £30 on the following essential books:

The Complete Tightwad Gazette aka the "LBYM Bible". It is inspirational, even if you don't agree with all her ideas.
How to Feed Your Family for £4 a Day, by Bernadine Lawrence (or the updated £5 version. ) You'd have to track this down second-hand. BTW, the first Amazon review is mine. The book originally cost me £3.50. I use this book about once a week.
Cheap and Easy: Vegetarian Cooking on a Budget by Rose Elliot. This contains basic vegetarian recipes and is a good place to start. My flapjack recipe is from this book.
Not just Beans by Tawra Kellam. A collection of American frugal classics. Tawra has produced an updated version called Dining on a Dime . Both are available on her website, I'd go for the older book simply because it's cheaper.

Other cookbooks/advice books, I'd borrow from the library. I'd particularly check out books on Indian and south-east Asian cooking.

4) Go on a
spending fast, an idea I've shamelessly borrowed from Tama. For the first month, I'd get them to eat as much as possible out of the pantry/store cupboards whilst I'd research ways to buy food/household supplies more cheaply. In my case, that would mean checking out local markets (we have a wholesale vegetable market about 3 miles away), the asian supermarkets in Southall, Wing Yip , any farm shops and all the supermarkets in the area. Also hairdressing suppliers. With the exception of the farm shop at Osterley Park (where I go to get veggies), I'd try not to buy anything in the first month. These are research trips.

5) I'd ask myself what can I do differently to save money? Could I put up a clothes-line? Wash in cold water? Washup by hand instead of using the dishwasher? Use
microfibre cloths instead of expensive cleaning products (I paid about £15 for two different sets of cloths at Lakeland)? Cut my electricity and gas bills? (OK, under the rules of the Challenge, I woudn't see the effects for quite a while, but it'd still be worth it.)

I'd also search through websites such as the Motley Fool (in this case, the
UK version since it's free) and The Dollar Stretcher for money-saving ideas.

6) Baby stuff. I'd go for the absolute minimum and second-hand if possible. As-new baby stuff is frequently sold at car boot sales for pennies compared to the original price. Also, several of the councils around here have a scheme promoting discounted cloth nappies (diapers). I think you can get a baby's-worth for £50.

7) Plant a vegetable garden. It's a bit late in the year for most things, however there are still some quick growing veggies that could be put in (pak choi for instance) and others that could be over-wintered for spring next year (purple sprouting broccoli needs to over-winter, whilst broad beans can do so). As a starting point, I'd study this
Dig For Victory planting scheme from World War 2.

I'd rope the husband and girls in for a trip to some local stables to collect horse-manure to compost (also, possibly, pick up some free pallets to use to build the compost bin).

8) The Girls. They're in for the biggest cultural shock, so I'd sit them down and explain the constraints of our new frugal lifestyle and try to get their buy-in and help. We'd have a family brain-storming session about how to find cheap clothes, cut down on cleaning costs, cooking, how to manage their allowances and what they'd be expected to buy from their allowances, etc. They would also need to buy or make Christmas/birthday presents for all their friends and family from now on.

The girls will have to take their lunches to school and either walk or cycle or use their free bus-passes (in London, they'd get free travel from the GLC). So we'd also have to brainstorm lunch ideas. I've assumed they are at local state schools, but if not then it's time they were moved.

And I'd expect them to figure out ways to earn extra money. However, I think it is illegal here to employ a child under 14 for most tasks (including paper-rounds).

As well as their allowances, I've set asside £10 month each (plus £10 month for the baby) for the parents to spend on them. This money should be saved as far as possible and used for the bigger expenses - mainly school related. Unless there is a really cheap vocational course nearby (hairdressing at the local college), the girls are going to have to grow their hair and mum will have to learn to trim the ends.

9) Dad. He's going to have to figure out ways to make his optician's business make a bigger profit (it doesn't say in the article, but I'm assuming he owns his business). If the business is within 5 miles of home, I'd expect him to stop driving and start cycling to work (if he doesn't own a bike, then he's going to have to buy one second hand). And he has to take his lunch to work every day.

His monthly allowance is only £25, which must cover clothing, haircuts, beers with his mates, etc. No more toys unless he saves up for them.

10) Mum. Most of the LBYM activities are going to fall on her shoulders simply because she'll be the stay at home parent, so I'd expect her to read the suggested books until she knows them word-perfect.

She needs to find a way to earn additional money without compromising her real job (she may or may not be able to work part-time for another employer). In the first instance, I'd get her to talk to her employer about doing part-time work at the weekends once the baby is 3-6 months old. Maybe she could man the check-in desks on the early shift for a while before going back to flight-crew.

Again, she only gets £25 a month to spend on herself. Haircuts will need to be DIY or from the local college. No new beauty treatments or cosmetics. Clothes worn until they fall apart. Ditto shoes.

11) Walk through the house/garage and catalogue:

a) What can be sold to raise cash via a car boot sale.
b) Available storage space for bulk purchases.
c) What is already there that can be used for the baby.

12) Food and groceries. I could go on and on for hours about food and cheap grocery shopping, but I'll leave it to a few main points. DH and I live very well on a really tight grocery budget, but we're consumate shoppers (and have been known to buy two cases of toilet paper when it's half price). I think the average family in the UK spends about £250/month on groceries; we spend £150: split £100 supermarket/farm shop, £30 meat (at a Kosher butcher), £10 bulk fund and £10 Christmas food. To us, that doesn't seem tight, but I cook from scratch most of the time.

If I was restricted to £100 a month, I'd split it £65 groceries at the supermarket, £15 vegetables and £20 meat. And I'd try to shop only once a month. With these sums, it means shopping with the calculator in your hand. When you get to £65, you must stop buying, so careful shopping is vital. That means own-brand products, long-life skimmed milk or dried milk if it's cheaper than fresh (long-life tastes almost the same as fresh), porridge oats for breakfast, lots of "something and rice" for dinner.

On the vegetables front, I found out years ago that buying from a market stall or from the farm shop is cheaper. The vegetables are fresher and last longer.

The first month or two have to be mainly vegetarian food, since that is cheapest. I'd borrow a couple of Asian cookbooks from the library and try out the recipes. Then, in month 3, with £60 I'd go to a proper butcher's shop and purchase as many things as I could from the meat shopping list shown here . Since items on that list are half the price at a normal butchers, they'd be able to get most things.

Spices have to be bulk-purchased and the asian supermarkets are the best place to shop for these. Ditto rice and bags of pulses.

I'm assuming they have a reasonable freezer, so buying say a case of mushrooms and one of onions and then cooking up a load of Base to store in the freezer isn't a problem. Ditto buying big bags of pulses, cooking them up and freezing them for later.

- Pam (this has taken hours to think about and write)

Thursday, 14 June 2007

And in a change to our published schedule.....

I doubt I'm going to get my answer to the Big LBYM Challenge finished today. I'll have to do it in the morning when I've got the house to myself (yes, guys, I'm skiving*/taking Friday as leave).

Me, I blame Tama. I love her blog. I'd love to have her as a real-life friend (watch out if I ever get to California), but I've just spent the best part of an hour searching back through her posts to find the one about the spending fast. (It's OK. I forgive you really. The trip down memory lane was SO worth it. Particularly when you fell in love with the Roomba.) I've found it.

- Pam

* How do you get those cross-out marks on words?

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

LBYM Challenge - what would you do?

Over on the Fool, Electrasmom posted a link to a financial makeover article in the Dallas Morning News. Today's story involves a forty-something couple with two preteen daughters and a baby on the way. They're deeply in debt and have very few assets, but she wants to stay at home with the baby.

The Financial Experts have given them a tight budget, which leaves them with $275 of discretionary income for the month. It got me thinking - how would I live on that amount of money in their circumstances? So I thought I'd throw out a challenge: how would you manage living on $275 a month? What 10 things would you do?

Assume the following:-

- Your circumstances are the same as the couple in the article, right down to the baby due in August.
- All currencies are equal. It's $275 or £275 or € 275.
- The money is for food, clothes, parties, hobbies, petrol/gasoline, car repairs, hair cuts, health insurance co-pays, prescriptions, etc.
- Local taxes and other housing costs are already built into your budget.
- Ditto your utilities and insurance which are on a pay-monthly budget plan (you pay the same amount each month for the next year). At the end of the year, you may get a refund.
- You have no emergency fund.

Answer in the comments or post a link there to an answer on your own blog.

I'll give you my ideas tomorrow on what I'd do.

- Pam (taking the challenge too)

Cauliflower & Pea Terrine

Today’s recipe is perfect for a cold starter for a dinner party or for the main course on a hot summer day. If you are tempted to serve it hot, good luck – the only time I’ve turned it out hot, it collapsed and started slithering down the side of the kitchen cabinet! That version only had one egg, so next time I made it I doubled the quantity of eggs.

This is perfect if you aren't that keen on vegetables but want to ensure you get your five servings of veggies a day. The cheese tones down the sulpherous taste of the cauliflower - not my favourite vegetable. I've yet to meet someone who doesn't like peas. Don’t know what to do with the other half of the cauliflower? Make Aloo Gobi (recipe next week).

The original version of this recipe is in Rose Elliott’s Cheap & Easy Vegetarian Cookbook. I think hers uses more cheese, too. The method below is all mine.

This recipe serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a starter. A main course serving costs 2.7WW points.

If you want to try a different version, I'd suggest broccoli instead of cauliflower, coupled with sweetcorn. Drop the mint and put the cheese with the corn, not the broccoli. The points would remain the same.


40g/1oz Butter
50g/1.5oz strong Cheddar Cheese grated
125g/4.5oz Green Peas (frozen is fine)
30g/1oz flour
2 Eggs
300ml/½ pint milk (skimmed if doing WW)
1/2 cauliflower
1/4 teaspoon dried mint


1) Preheat oven to 180 C

2) Line a loaf pan with non-stick silcon paper/greaseproof paper

3) Break the cauliflower into florets, place in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes

4) Meanwhile cook the peas in boiling water for 5 minutes.

5) In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Remove from heat. Wisk in the flour and blend until smooth, forming a roux. Return to heat, stiring all the time. When the roux is foaming, gradually stir in the milk and wisk until smooth. Bring sauce to boil, stiring constantly. Once boiled, simmer for 10 minutes, stiring ocasionally. (Sauce very thick).

6) When vegetables are cooked, drain them carefully.

7) In a blender/liquidizer/food processor, combine half the sauce with the drained cauliflower, all the cheese, and one egg. Blend until smooth. Pour into the lined loaf pan and smooth out until even.

8) In the blender again, combine the peas, mint, the other egg and the other half of the sauce. Blend until smooth. Pour over the cauliflower mixture and smooth out the top.
9) Bake at 180 C for at least an hour, until firm. Allow to cool in tin before turning out. Serve cold.

- Pam

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Decision time

OK, my final post of the day. :o)

Whilst I'm writing about things knitting, I've decided what to do with the pink cotton yarn.

Over on Yarn Addicts at the Fool, Fluff kindly suggested a lacy cabled sweater. Unfortunately, the lace would be torture, since this has no give whatsoever. However, I started thinking about cables and trawled through my knitting books/pattern collection. On Sunday, I rediscovered this:

It's "Rossdale" and comes from The Jean Moss Designer Knits Collection published in 1991. This book was one of the ones I purchased on my infamous trip to Hay-on-Wye. Here's a closer view, showing the neckline and some detail of the cables:

There are problems with the design, it's basically from the 1980's so it's oversized (and the pattern comes in one size only). Oh, and it's short sleeved. However, I think I can copy the basic shape and cable pattern and make a long-sleeved cardigan.

Whilst I was looking at the book, I also found this:

It's perfect for the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk DK that I've been lusting after! The shade I like is 06-06, half way down this page. I better get in quick, though, Debbie's own website doesn't mention this yarn at all! (I'll buy it from John Lewis - I won a £10 gift voucher at work, and I've been working up "ticks" as a reward for the WonderWoman Project. 10 ticks = 1 skein of yarn. )

- Pam

Yes! I can block!

Proof that I can overcome my trepidations and learn how to block a sweater.

This is my Snowflake Sweater, designed by me and "star" of my Disaster post from April. The blocking board is the one I purchased from Webbs. Note - the dark patches are damp spots from me steaming the sweater.

That's the back view and here's one of the left front. (Yes, it's a v-neck and I haven't knitted up the boarder yet.)

Here's a close up of the snowflake design.

And one of the boarder.

- Pam (one sleeve down, one to go)

White Fish Curry

Today's recipe has the unglamorous name of "White Fish Curry", so called because I generally cook it with the cheapest bag of filleted fish found in the freezer cabinet at the supermarket, usually pollock or coley but frequently just labled "white fish fillets". You could use cod or bream or even flake (that's shark to you non-Aussies).

The recipe serves 4 and "costs" 2 Weight-Watchers points per serving. Serve with rice.

Like many curries, this uses fresh root ginger. The best way to store ginger is to turn it into ginger ice-cubes. Buy a large root, peel and grate it. Spray an ice-cube tray with oil (helps stop sticking) and then put a tablespoonful of ginger into each slot. Freeze overnight. Turn out the ginger cubes and store in a Tupperware container in the freezer. 1 cube = 1 tablespoon or roughly 0.5 inches of ginger root.

Also, the corn flour is there to stop the yoghurt curdling when it reaches boiling point. Any flour will do.


Large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
100g-150g Mushrooms, sliced
1 or two carrots, sliced
2 Green peppers, diced
500g/1lb skinless white fish fillets
1 cup plain, fat-free yoghurt
1 teaspoon olive oil


1 teaspoon ground chilli (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon corn flour


1) Combine spices in a small dish. Mix with cold water to make a smooth paste.
2) In the frying pan or the large pot, heat the oil. Fry onion with garlic until clear. Add the peppers and mushrooms, and fry until mushroom water disappears and peppers are soft.
3) Cut the fish into chunks, stir into mixture in pan and fry until the fish starts to turn white. (About a minute.)
4) Stir in the spice mix. Fry until the aroma rises.
5) Stir in all the plain yoghurt. Add the carrot, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Serve.

- Pam

Monday, 4 June 2007

Winding Doooowwwwnnnnnnn

I'm convinced that I'm on the wrong level of Thyroxin and I'm getting more and more symptoms to prove it. The most compelling is that I'm tired all the time, again. On Friday, I left work at 1pm feeling shattered and ended up having an afternoon nap. Yesterday, I was ready to go to bed when we got home from the Club at 8pm. Today, I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open and it's only 9am as I type this (it'll be later when I post it).

Also I'm hungry but I'm not hungry (if that makes sense). What I mean is that part of my body registers that it's hungry, but my brain is too tired to pay attention. On Saturday evening, I didn't realise how hungry I was until I put some hummus and pita out for DH and guest to nibble on. It wasn't until I started eating that I realised I was hungry.

Then there is the feeling like I'm on "time delay". I see and hear what is going on, but I don't necessarily register it until a few seconds after everyone else. Or things just go straight passed me - my brain wasn't quick enough to catch them. Fortunately, this symptom isn't a permanent feature of my days yet; I'm safe to drive. (I may be a zombie on Wednesday, though, when I go to a meeting in The Netherlands. The 4am start will knock me out.)

I've phoned my GP and asked for a blood test (thyroid function tests). Will pick the paperwork up on Friday afternoon, then head to the hospital to get them done. On Friday, when I can see his diary, I'll book an appointment to see him in when the test results are back - don't hold your breath though, they'll take 3 weeks.

- Pam

Saturday, 2 June 2007

View from my Commute

Four years ago, when Annie/LaVerne was dying (my God is it that long ago?), the Fools did a whole series of posts for her on "views from my window". Annie had always wanted to travel but with her limited time left, she wasn't able to, so we told her what we could see. Some time in the last couple of weeks, I read a post on the Fool that Bobbie, her mother, had died.

In memory of both of them, I thought I'd start a thread on the view from my commute. Play ball with me, people, and join in.

Every day, as I drive out of London on the M4, I see Windsor Castle in the distance. It's one of my morning landmarks. Some days, it rises out of a sea of fog; other days, it's nearly obscured by the rain. If I'm feeling playful, I say "Morning Queenie" as I whizz past (at a distance of ~5 miles). Frequently, I feel imensely priviledged that I have the opportunity to live near such an ancient and historic place.

I don't usually see the Castle on my drive home from work. It's visible, but I usually can't take the time to lift my eyes from the tail-lights of the cars in front of me. When I do, I see something similar to this:

Particularly at the "corners" of the year, when sunset is around six, the Castle is bathed in a warm, honey glow.

- Pam (So what do you see on your commute?)