Monday, November 29, 2010

Still here

Just been having a lot of laptop problems.  After a week of trying to recover what files I could I ran out of space on the few data storage devices I had and decided I would just have to get a new one for the last few things.  No big deal, a usb stick isn't that expensive and always useful.  We got paid today though, which includes my bonus payment and so I've taken a lot of the money I was going to use to treat myself this month and have treated myself to a new laptop.  Or at least another second-hand one from work.  Luckily as the entire company has been upgraded to windows vista recently, there were a few available so I got a four-year old machine that hasn't been quite as extensivelz used as the last one I got, which was, if I remember correctly, six years old.  So, 150 gone that I wasn't planning on spending, didn't need to spend and probably shouldn't have but I seem to be unable to deal with complicated situations at the moment without having a melt-down so I think it was probably just the best thing to do.  I need to get myself sorted out properly with regard to data back-up and that kind of thing though as I cannot count on having money to buy another computer any time soon.  Not to mention that work are unlikely to have many second-hand machines for a while now since everyone just got new ones and I have already bought a couple and they started talking about limits today (in reply to which I have offered to bring back the ones that don't work any more to prove to them that I'm not just selling them on or something).

Otherwise, I transferred money to my Irish account (the overdrawn one) and to my annual expenses savings account immediately after we were paid today so at least that is now more or less removed from reach.  I knew that I had to do it that way, otherwise it would just get swallowed up by things I need (for which read things I could really do with having but can survive without for another while).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Feeling lost

I feel very lost at the moment.  I'm struggling with feelings like having wasted my life, not getting anywhere, not knowing where I want to get , not caring (but deep down really caring so much I'm scared to let it all out).

I can talk about my plan to pay off my debt by the end of 2011, save for a few months and then go travelling/wwoofing for a year or two.  But at the same time I would really like to be settled somewhere.  To have found my 'home', the place where I can put down deep roots and stay.  I tend to put down roots wherever I go anyway, I've always been like that.  But I haven't yet found 'the place'.  And a very, very big part of me cannot get rid of the feeling that it's not actually the place, it's the people that will make that decision for me.  Or rather one person.  That special man who will complement and complete me and me him.  Lots of people say you can have a very full life on your own, you don't need a man to be fulfilled etc., etc. and I agree.  And that's the way I live my life.  I'm not sitting around just waiting for Mr. Right to turn up so that I can start living my life.  And I'm not dolling myself up every weekend and hitting the pubs and clubs desperately going through a long line of frogs in the hopes of turning up a prince.

But deep down in my heart and soul I do feel that I would be better as part of a couple.  I feel like I badly need to be loved and, perhaps even more so, need to love.  I need to have an outlet for all this love and passion that feels trapped inside me.  And no matter how much I love my family and friends or my hobbies/lifestyle, somehow that's a different kind of love and passion or perhaps it's just simply not enough of an outlet.  It's something of a paradox to not believe that everyone needs to have a special person in order to be whole while more and more coming to believe that I do.  Or maybe it's not.  Maybe that's just the most trite kind of thinking.  If there's one thing I'm good at it's sitting on the fence and trying to have all things all ways.

At the moment, I'm also questioning my reasons behind wanting to go travelling/wwoofing because I realise that a lot of it stems from the fact that I am not happy in work (changing jobs is not an option until my debt is paid as I am not likely to find a similar salary anywhere else).  And I wonder if I would feel more settled here or perhaps would allow myself to settle here more, if I liked going to work every day.  While I'm fairly certain I don't want to stay here forever, perhaps telling myself I'm going to move in the next couple of years is part of what is preventing me from feeling at home here. 

I don't actually have any point to any of this, no conclusions to draw.  Just have to start getting some of this out of my head.  We had a 'coaching' session in work on Friday - I work with two other secretaries in a so-called team.  Which is to say, I should be with one other secretary working for my boss but because of budget cuts that position wasn't re-filled and so the two secretaries across the hall had to take on part of 'my' work.  And one of them in particular is a very difficult person to deal with and also works very differently from me and makes no attempt to hide the fact that she finds me lacking in just about every way.  They complained about the "atmosphere" and so one of their bosses organised an external professional to come in and help us work on it.  It was a very intense session and really not much came out of it except that they have a very low opinion of me and, in my opinion, a fairly over-inflated view of themselves.  There was no practical aspect to it at all, such as coming up with ways to improve things although I was able to slip in a suggestion that we have a meeting once a week to catch everyone up on everything.  We're not supposd to talk about our communication or working together or any of it for the next four weeks (when we will have a follow-up session).  One thing it did make clear to me though is that although my boss and the rest of the team I work for are extremely challenging and difficult and just sometimes downright annoying people to work for, that's not actually what I hate the most.  It's the personality clash with this other woman which makes me not want to go to work every day.  My boss told me again on Friday that I am working too much and he is very nervous that I will work myself to a point of no return where I just give up and a few months later quit and nothing will change my mind (someone ratted me out and told him I was there last Sunday).  But what is clear to me now is that it's not the amount of work.  It's not even the fact that I don't get paid overtime anymore (officially I'm not supposed to do any at all).  I like working.  And if I go in on a weekend to get some stuff done in peace and quiet, they tend to be the kind of tasks I really like doing and it's fun because there's no pressure on.  But what does stress me out and would send me towards that point of 'I have to get out of here no matter what' is a bad atmosphere and unfriendliness and not being able to get on with someone.  We'll see how it goes over the next four weeks but I am hopeful that things are getting busy enough now that the budget cut decision from a year and a half ago will be reversed and I'll just get a second secretary working with me and not need to work with those other two at all. 

For now, I have a pile of cleaning and cooking to do and I brought a book back to the library yesterday and treated myself to a few silly films on DVD.  I have a couple of scented candles lit, the washing up and first general clean-up in the kitchen is done and now I'm going to lie on the couch, cover myself with a blanket and watch a film (I watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night and sitll have Burn After Reading, The Odd Couple, Pirates of the Carribbean 3 and Stealing Beauty on offer). 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Food Waste Friday - 19 November 2010

The oops I nearly forgot about it edition.  I did go through the fridge this morning and even took a photo but now I can't find my camera so that will just have to wait.  I've been sort of distracted by reading bits and pieces of the news from home and although there is some humour to be found (see previous post), overall the whole situation is very worrying.  I heard that the army have had all holiday time suspended for the 7th and 8th of December, which is when the budget is due out - possibly an urban legend but if it's an indication of the mood over there, that in itself is troublesome.

Foodwise this week I had not a lot of waste really but annoying nonetheless.  Last weekend I decided to make beetroot and chocolate brownies - although as usual I ended up making this in my flower shaped silicon tray so slicing into brownie squares wasn't possible.  But it's not as if I'm a purist or anything so that's okay.  When it had cooled slightly after coming out of the oven I had a quick taste, even though it was kind of late and I certainly wasn't hungry.  It was delicious.  The kind of delicious that requires all sorts of willpower to put the knife down and step away from the cake.  Had a big slice on Monday in work and it was yum.  Had another on Tuesday and the taste of beet was starting to really come through, which I hadn't noticed before.  By Wednesday, the smell of beet was quite strong when I opened the container it was in and the taste was stronger again.  By Thursday morning, I couldn't even face the thought of it.  So while this is a great recipe and really, really good to eat when still a bit warm from the oven, I don't think I'll be making it again unless I know I have enough people around to finish it off straight away.  With 250g of butter and 250g of chocolate in it, this is a definitely a speical occasion only recipe I think.

The two beets that I had cooked and not needed to use for the brownies/cake also went out today - I couldn't face using them.  Should have grated them and put them straight into the freezer to use when making this some other time but.....hindsight, it's a wonderful thing!

Apart from beets and beet-related stuff though, I have nothing to report.

Food Waste Friday is hosted by The Frugal Girl

Ireland for sale


Ireland for sale on ebay....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mouldy apple sauce

Just noticed while chopping up some apples for the dehydrator, that one of the jars containing apple sauce from a couple of weeks ago has starting a mouldy patch.  Picked up the one next to it and it has the same problem.  The jars are still on the table because I haven't even gotten around to putting labels on them or filling in the total number to my log.  Oh well.  These two jars were ones which I didn't process in a water bath so obviously removing most of the juice must also remove a lot of the acid which allowed to do this before.  It's a pity as the water bath processing for apple sauce is a pain.  However, I've gotten some tips on how to manage it better so hopefully next time will see an improvement.  In the meantime I'm a bit annoyed because the two jars that have spoiled are leifheit jars with two part lids and that's just a waste of good lids!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A very German dinner

Determined to start incorporating more cabbage into my diet, I've started the week off with red cabbage with onions, bacon bits and apple.

 I'd show you a photo but blogger doesn't seem to want pictures this evening.

I sauteed an onion and lots of garlic sauteed in some olive oil, bacon bits added to that and then red cabbage (which I’m sure I didn't chop nearly neatly enough for a proper hausfrau) with a dollop of butter. Steamed that lot for a few minutes and then added a good splash of red wine and another of red wine vinegar with some salt and pepper. And last came some thin slices of apple. Now just waiting for some potatoes to boil before eating. Although I have to admit I was very hungry and a few olives didn’t quite satisfy so I’ve already had a bread roll schmiered with the free piece of leberwurst I got the other day. Very yum indeed. This cabbage had better be nice, I don’t have time to drink the rest of the bottle of wine just to be able to stomach my dinnner :) 

On a completely unrelated note, I just received an email with a link to Fish Fight.  Haven't looked at it in detail yet but it seems to be about a campaign to stop perfectly edible fish being thrown back into the sea (dead that is, throwing them back alive is something else obviously).  Might be interesting for some people. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not quite so lazy weekend

I'm not sleeping too well at the moment, which means if I get the chance (like at the weekend), I'm sleeping a bit later in the morning.  The rain continued all day yesterday so I knew not much would be happening in the garden.  I did need to go there though to return a book to somebody.  First I went to the market to pick up the suet I had ordered - not there for the second week running.  I have to ring the farmer in the middle of the week to remind them to put it aside for me.  I bought some beets so that I can make some of these brownies, got some hazelnuts to make honeyed hazels and a couple of sausages to put into a bean casserole this week.  Then I dropped a pair of trousers off to be repaired and headed to the garden.  There were, as expected, only a couple of people there, having a coffee and a chat rather than really doing much work.  I hung around there for an hour or two and was happy to take a few leeks home with me then and took a small red cabbage as well (need to start expanding my range of 'kohl' recipes - let's face it, in this climate eating locally in winter means eating a lot of things from the cabbage family!).  But then before leaving one guy went out to pick up windfalls so I ended up also bringing home a bag full of them.  Will have to try and find time to do something with them too.  I get my dehydrator back from the person I loaned it to tomorrow so will have to put that back in action.  And I want to give the chili apple cheese mentioned here a try too.

After getting back from the garden all I wanted to do was soak in a hot bath and get some of the cold, clammy, wet feeling out of my feet but before I did that I decided to put another wash on, then I hung up the washing that was done, swept the floors, washed the floors, cleaned the bathroom and after all that decided a shower was all I had time for before heading out to film club.

This morning I slept late enough then got up, hung up the rest of the washing, thought about doing the washing up and went to work instead. Only intended to stay for an hour or two but got stuck in to clearing out my to-do tray, which was mostly full of already done stuff just waiting to be filed properly. So I didn’t actually get the two things done that I wanted to but it’s a huge relief to have done what I did because it means I’m sure that there isn’t something lurking at the bottom of the pile that I should have done and forgot about. Never mind the fact that it took me closer to six hours either. I have a nice tidy to-do list ready for tomorrow so that’s something anyway.

I ate an apple on the way home but since all I’d had all day apart from that was a käsebrötchen, a few kinder schokobons and spicy peanuts (very healthy I know) I was pretty hungry. But I had bought a couple of bread rolls this morning on the way into work and so didn’t let myself just stop somewhere and pick up a pizza or chips or anything and came straight home. Took the cheese out of the fridge and then decided to just do the washing up before I ate. So now that’s done, I put the beets on to boil, sat down to have some bread, cheese, turkey salami, chutney and a beer.  That was about two hours ago, I've been reading blogs and catching up on emails so now I have to get up and make some brownies.  And chop up the beet leaves to add to the onions and tomatoes I'm also going to use to make a sauce for pasta.  And cook some pasta.  Then put all of it into tupperware for lunches this week.  And it's nearly half-nine.  I must be mad.

Edited to add a couple of photos.  It's eleven o'clock now but as well as cooking I also spent 20 minutes on the phone to a friend who phoned and have done almost all the washing up. 

Sauteed onions, garlic and the stalks from the beets.  Added the three tomatoes from the garden and a tin of tomatoes with some pepper and herby salt.  Then added the rest of the beet green and have covered the pan and turned the heat off.  The residual heat with be more than enough to steam the greens.  I cooked some pasta in my tupperware poacher while all that was being prepared so I'm all set for lunch tomorrow.

The brownies were incredibly easy to put together.  They're supposed to go into a 20x25 cm baking tray but I just used my flower shaped tupperware, which is 23 cm across so close enough.  Looks good and smells good.  And I have two boiled beetroots leftover - I may make another half batch tomorrow :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Food Waste Friday - 12 November 2010

Food Waste Friday is hosted by The Frugal Girl

I'm not long in from work, bought myself a kebab for dinner on the way home and have no interest in going anywhere near the fridge or tidying up or clearing out in any way.  That's the way it goes sometimes.  I know I do have a very small amount of cream cheese left - I brought the rest of the tub to work today and bought a breadroll and had it with that for lunch but didn't quite finish it.  It was fine though so I think it might do on a slice of bread for breakfast tomorrow morning.  Apart from that I don't think there was anything to get rid off.  I'm not doing much in the way of shopping this weekend either as I have a few things to get use up and it's just easiser to do that sometimes if you have no choice about what to eat and just have to use what's there.

I do have tomatoes that I bought last week - I still haven't gotten around to making the kasundi relish that some Australian friend asked me to try making.  I have great plans to do things in the evenings but by the time it hits four or five o'clock I'm getting so tired in work that I can't even contemplate doing anything apart from going home to bed.  It hasn't helped that it's been raining for a couple of days now.  At least we're not getting the ferocious storms that are hitting Ireland and Scotland - leaving people without electricity even.  Actually I need to get working on figuring out how to light a camping stove type thing.  I bought a couple of small ones on ebay last year, even bought a bottle of spirits and since then haven't been brave enough to try it out (with a  large dose of I'm not really sure what to do).  Wish I knew someone who was into camping who could just come over and teach me this kind of thing.  I have plenty of candles stashed in two or three easy to get to places (with boxes of matches also stored with them and in a few other places too) so light wouldn't be a problem if the electricity ever did go out here.  But having something to heat up water or cook with is something I don't have until I figure out how to light those camping yokes.  Come to think of it, I should buy some replacement gel burning things for my fondue set too, there's nothing says that cheese is the only thing you can cook in that pot.  I think living on a main road with lots of restaurants and pizza places and the like nearby means I assume I'd be fine even if something did happen.  But it'd be nice to feel like I was prepared myself too. 

Hmmm, that was a bit of a tangent there, where was I?  Oh yes, kasundi.  Well, maybe I'll get to that tomorrow.

So, not much food waste this week and a few tasks tomorrow to keep things under control.

Edited about half an hour later:  as soon as I'd written the above I was overcome with an unbearable need to get up and check that I really did know what was in my fridge (I also remembered I still had some milk and decided to drink a cup of that to help finish it off).  I couldn't have been more wrong about very little food waste this week.  What is the matter with me?  I made lovely vegetable soup nearly two weeks ago, have looked in the fridge numerous times since then for various things (including FWF last week!) and somehow managed to do it without even seeing that jug of soup.  Ridiculous behaviour!

I also found these:

Some apple/nectarine jam which is starting to mould, some quince juice which looks fine but based on the state of the apple juice behind it, I'm not taking any chances on it.  The quince juice was supposed to go toward making some jelly and the apple juice was the leftover bit from my steam juicing efforts and was supposed to be a nice treat for my breakfast the next morning.  It got shoved to the back and has been there for over two weeks as well (since I gave the juicer back two weeks ago, it has to have been at least that long).  I think I just didn't look at an entire shelf of the fridge at all or something.  I'd like to say I just need a holiday but I'm not sure that would be enough.  I definitely need something!  Honestly, how many other people would have this growing in their fridge and not notice?

Shudder, shudder, shudder.  I will be scrubbing out the fridge tomorrow, that's for sure.  Eeeewwww.  And what a waste of some really delicious food!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's all connected

The muscles in your back I mean.  Turns out that I don't only have a problem with my shoulder/neck but also my lower back. When the orthopaedic doctor said earlier in the week that the acupuncture I had been getting was mostly to deal with my lower back pain I was a bit surprised. I thought he had only put that down so that the health insurance would pay for it (I had heard that they don’t always pay, it depends on where the pain is) because when he asked me about lower back pain I just said, no more than usual. At my weight and sitting down all day it’s sort of inevitable that my back gets very tired and sore anyway. So today I went for my first physio session. He asked me to go back to the same place that I went for massage and heat therapy during the summer and it turns out the masseur I had before when I went to this place is probably just the grumpy one because the guy I had to day was lovely. He introduced himself before we got started and asked me questions about where and how it hurt as well as explaining what he was doing the whole time. What a difference.

Anyway, before starting the physio he said he wanted to check exactly how the muscles felt so I lay down and he started poking and prodding. He asked as well about my lower back so I tried to explain about that and then he started poking there..”does that hurt?”…”a bit, not much really”…”does that hurt?”…”nah, fine”…”does that hurt?”…”flippin heck! ow ow ow ow OUCH!. Yes.” So it loooks like I really do have a problem in my lower back as well and the pain I thought was sort of getting better is mostly getting better because I’ve just stopped moving my arm in any of the ways that I know are just going to hurt. He said I’m actually still too bad to start doing physio so today I just had a massage again. He won’t start exercises until the pain has reduced a bit because he said that just causes more damage than good – working through the pain in this case is apparently not worth it. Well, okay then. Have five more sessions over the next two weeks and we’ll see how it goes from there.

I also went to the shoemaker to sort out my new arch supports. He took the box of my foot impressions that I got from the orthopaedic doctor the other day (that was strange, it's like a shoebox filled with an oasis-like substance that I had to stand into) and then I also had to stand on this glass plate set into the floor. It was basically like a fancy foot photocopier. He said that the arch supports I have are actually completely wrong for me, I need softer ones with more support under the ball of my foot. It’ll be interesting to get them next week and see what, if any, difference they make. And at 5.61 I think the price is right, too!  The physio/massage will cost less than 20.  I may moan about how much I need to pay for health insurance every month but when something is wrong (except, obviously, for dental work) you get what you need without having to worry about where to find the money to pay for it all.  And when you've got a pain in your back, you need all the silver linings you can get :-)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Taste the Waste

Just heard about a documentary that was shown on telly here a couple of weeks ago (I don't actually have a television so have just read about it online now).  Trailer here.  Apparently there will a full length film in cinemas next year.  Looks interesting and the statistics given in that trailer - no idea where they're from or how reliable they are but they are shocking!

What would you like to know?

I have dozens and dozens of things floating around in my head that I would like to write about.  I've started some posts and need to find some time/get more organised so that I can actually make writing a proper part of my routine.  I've definitely kept up this blog far more consistently (despite sometimes long gaps) and for far longer than any other diary I have ever attempted.  Part of the reason for that is, I think, that although I do for the most part write this purely for myself, the knowledge that people might read it, helps to keep me away from the worst of my teenage drama queen self.  Trust me, I have on occassion re-read some of the stuff I wrote in the few diaries I tried to keep - cringeworthy stuff, all of it.  I have to admit that typing also helps as I can type far faster than I ever could write and so I can have some hope of getting my thoughts down before my mind has flitted away to something else or my thoughts have gone off on a tangent, leading me so far away from my original point that I forget it.  That still happens of course, but not as much. 

Some day when I have a bit of time I will have a read back through the archives as I have a feeling I am guilty of fairly often saying things like 'more on that later' or 'I'll post an update in a few months' and then never actually doing that.  I know I am long overdue for an update on my no-more-shampoo experiences for example.  My new plan is that if I ever do write in a post that I will post an update or something similar, I will immediately start a new post and thus have a draft saved and sitting there as a reminder for me.  We'll see how that works out.

In the meantime, I thought I might take this opportunity to see if anyone who does read along with me wants to know anything in particular, would like me to expand on something I have already written about, has a topic they'd like me to post about - so, any questions? 

Friday, November 05, 2010

Food Waste Friday 5 November 2010

I nearly had a no waste week but there was some mozarella in the fridge that I ended up not using when I bought it and all of a sudden, it's nearly a week past it's best before date.  I'm generally fairly flexible about dates but mozarella and feta cheeses are two things I just can't convince myself don't taste or smell a bit funny once they're past their dates.  So out it went.

Otherwise, I failed miserably on my second batch of applesauce cookies and now have a big tupperware container of crumbs at my disposal.  Very tasty crumbs mind you.  I had a friend over for dinner yesterday and she suggested I use them to make something else, which is a great idea.  She mentioned a brown betty (and I have to laugh because I remembered that today as a betty brown and googled it, getting a load of hits for a Texas politician which left my wondering if I had given my friend one too many glasses of wine with her dinner!).  So I might give that a try.  Or perhaps make a trifle type thing.  Or a cheesecakey type something.  So hopefully part of next week's waste won't be to report a load of crumbs going in the bin!

Food Waste Friday is hosted by The Frugal Girl

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I've updated my totals on the side.  My goals, set at the end of August, were fairly arbitrary really and it doesn't look like I will achieve them.  Or at least not in the way I was thinking.

  1. Reduce cc debt to 3,500: still 350 left to go on this one, if I gave myself a budget of almost nothing for December I could manage to do this.  But I won't.
  2. Reduce overdraft to 2,250: just over 100 left to go on this one - achievable, this is only slightly off-track
  3. Save 400 in annual expenses account: won't be achieved as I hadn't accounted for one expense that needed to be paid. 
  4. Save 20 each month for my birthday present: haven't managed this at all
  5. Have 40 no-spend days between 30 August and 5 December: completely forgot to start counting these - probably managing three a week on average
What will make a difference is that we actually are going to get a bonus in work this year and this will be paid out at the end of November.  I've gone through various options of how to allocate this money but what I have decided to do is throw almost all of it at my overdraft, keeping just a small amount as a 'treat'/birthday/christmas money.  Many might say that I shouldn't do that because I haven't 'earned' it but I know myself and I know that letting myself do this will make January and February much easier.  I have a tendency to overspend in January, it's one of the months I've always been most likely to reach for the credit card and it's better to try and get myself into a position where I don't feel under pressure.  Allowing myself to have a bit extra during December, regardless of whether I actually spend it or not, is the right thing to do as long as I don't try to fool myself into thinking I can spend recklessly.  I'm not talking about keeping hundreds aside!

I hope to get some tax back soon as well and think I can also send in my application to get some of the money for my tooth implant back soon.  Work have a scheme where you can apply for one-off financial help in unusual circumstances.  There's a certain budget set aside for this every year and a committee decides on each case individually as far as I understand.  However, one of the things that they do help out with, is expensive dental work (crowns, implants, bridges and so on).  It's limited to about one thousand euro and they may deduct an amount equal to how much you would have paid for a supplementary insurance which would otherwise have covered the cost, or some of the cost of the work.  So hopefully I might be able to get something under that scheme as well.  So by January or February I might be very close to clearing my overdraft.  It would be nice to have one debt less!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Steaming and bottling/canning apples

Last week I borrowed a steam juicer from the bio-garten and also brought home three large bags of apples (mostly windfalls). I am very in love with this piece of equipment and will be keeping my eye out to see if I can pick one up second-hand once I have a bit a money.

Basically you chop the apples up small (wash them first and chop the 'hairy' bit of the end and remove the stalk but leave skin on and use core too), then put them into the top colander-like part of the steamer, like so:

The very bottom part gets filled with water:

Then as the steam from that moves up into the main part of the pan (through a funnel arrangement) the apples slowly start cooking and releasing their juices down into the middle part:

And you can then collect the juice out of the spout. The juice is pasteurised when it comes out and will keep for a long time so long as you put it into sterilised jars or bottles.

We had done this a few times at the bio-garten but each time they just dumped the pulp remains onto the compost. I asked if it wasn't possible to use it for something else and the main consensus was that it was mostly lack of space and jars that stopped us from doing anything else with it in the garden but at home, you would just put the pulp through a mouli, making applesauce and then put that in sterilised jars too. Or mix a bit of honey into the pulp, spread it out thinly and dry it as a fruit leather.

So, when I had the steamer at home I decided to give it all a go. The first lot, I juiced and got three litres of juice plus one smaller jar. I put the pulp through the mouli, adding in the juice from the smaller not quite full jar just to use it up. All went into sterilised jars and seemed fine.

Three litres of juice and 1 x 1 litre jar, 3 x 3/4 litre jars lus 1 x 450 ml jars of apple sauce.  Annoyingly, I know now first-hand why it is important not to bump against or touch your jars as they are sealing.  I did this not long after bottling this stuff up and the seal popped down almost immediately on the one I hit against.  I reckoned it wouldn't seal properly so was very surprised the next morning to see that all were sealed tightly (took rings off and held jars up by lid, no problems).  But a week later and I have just checked those jars again as I still need to put labels on them (yes, I tend to collect jars of stuff to the point where I'm going to lose track of what's where before I get around to putting labels on).  And surprise, surprise the big jar of applesauce is not only a bit loose, it's not even close to pretending to be sealed and there's a lovely layer of furry stuff on top of the sauce.  I can't actually remember if this was the one I did knock against but it seems likely.  Sigh.

But moving on.  When I did the second lot I was a bit pressed for time so I got just over two litres of juice out of a pot and a half full of apples and then put the rest through the mouli (i.e. far more liquid than the first lot). I put a small amount of this into sterilised jars immediately but the rest went into a big bowl as I didn't have time to deal with it.

The next day I decided to look up t'internet to see what people say about bottling applesauce the day after you've made it. Didn't see anything suggesting it wouldn't be possible but almost everything I read insisted that it should be processed in a water bath (unlike what I had been told before). So, to be on the safe side, I heated up what I had made the day before, put it into jars and processed it in a waterbath. It took a while for it to come up to boiling and then I let it boil for just over ten minutes. Took them out and one had definitely opened as the water was looking decidedly applely.

I had used one glass jar (with rubber ring and glass lid) and the rubber seal seemed to have slipped so I was putting it down to that. The rest were leifheit jars with the two part lids. I tightened up the rings and on one of them, apple squished up around the edges. Ok, I thought, so one of them was too loose and now two jars won't seal. Fine.

This morning I checked to see and the glass lidded jar didn't seal as expected. The leifheit jar which I thought wouldn't seal did but one of the others didn't.

ALL of the leifheit jars, though, had apple around the inside of the rings when I took them off. Like this one:

But despite this, the jars are sealed even though I assume there is apple stuck under the seal as well and I'm not sure if that's a big problem or not.  If any of you more experienced canners out there have any advice, I would very much appreciate it.

Although I don't have the steamer any more I do still have some apples left and I was going to just make ordinary stewed apple and bottle it. I've done that once before and didn't process it in a water bath and it was fine months later, which is what the people in the garden had also said. So I'm curious if people here have done that too or do you always process it in a water bath?

I'd really like to put up enough stewed apple/apple sauce/dried apples this year to do me through the few months in late spring and summer when fresh apples just aren't so nice.  But this is just making it seem like more work than I'm able for at the moment.

Still, on the positive side, I will be making applesauce cookies today.  I can freeze some of it as well as I have very selflessly made space in the freezer by eating the last of the vienetta for breakfast. :-)  I've loaned my dehydrator to someone for a couple of weeks so can't make any leathers at the moment.

Apart from that it's a new month so I'll post another budget update in a day or two once all the usual transfers and payments have gone through.  I did take advantage of the shops being open yesterday (normally shops only open on Sunday two or three times a year here) to go into a shop for larger ladies (the name of which would translate as 'All Round Chic' - can't decide if I hate it or think it's amusing) that is usually closed when I am passing.  I badly, badly need new trousers for work and managed to get a pair of navy trousers, which means I can wear those navy shoes I bought years ago, just before my then only pair of navy trousers gave up the ghost.  So I don't need to worry about buying new black shoes for work for the moment either.  At 69.95, they were a very reasonable price as well.  I haven't bought many clothes for a while (apart from my summer lifesaver 2 for 10 euro t-shirts) but based on what I see in shop windows and what I hear people talking about I was thinking that if I came away with change from a hundred I would be very lucky.  And since I was in town I popped into one of the big department stores and bought a nut cracker.  For the past two years I have bought fresh nuts when they appear in the market and then never gotten around to actually using them because I don't have a nut cracker (or floors hard enough to take the strain of a nut being hammered into submission on them).  I actually still have the hazelnuts and walnuts I bought last year.  So those I bought on Saturday will be shelled very shortly and I might even try one or two from last year to see if they've gone completely rancid or might still be something edible.  If I can get more hazelnuts next week there will be a couple of jars of honeyed hazels in my future.