Saturday, May 15, 2010

Final result for bolognese

Just moved the sauce into tupperware for storage - I've got 24 ladlefuls. Given that two ladlefuls is a decent sized portion, that gives me 12 meals worth. And five days. Two meals a day each day so - will alternate between pasta and bread, hot and cold, with cheese and without cheese. Would love some potatoes as well but it doesn't make sense to go and buy more fresh stuff now. Actually, I can count six days I suppose as if there's any left by Friday, it'll come along in the train as lunch. As I doubt I'll be in much of a mood to cook for the next few days, it'll be very handy and I reckon I'll get to three or four days before I'm sick of it. Must remember to ring and tell my sister not to plan spag bol or lasagne for dinner when I arrive.

Am really glad now that I cancelled choir - my voice has gotten progressively worse over the day. There's a stage at the beginning of a cold that actually ends up giving me a lovely tone when I'm singing (I always got my best marks in school in the years I had a cold during the test) but I've gone beyond that to a horrible croaking. I've been sitting here catching up on reading blogs and listening to Bon Jovi on youtube (I do love Bon Jovi) and I stopped singing along a while ago. You know things are bad when you can't even stand the sound of your own voice.


Still struggling along with this cold. I didn't even go into work yesterday - I felt slightly better than the day before but decided that getting better was more important than slogging through a day at work (not to mention not wanting to listen to the Germans moaning about me infecting them all). I dozed until midday and then got up to heat up some soup and put a wash on. By the time I'd managed that, I was really glad I hadn't gone into work because as soon as I was up and moving, the sniffles started. Sniffles is too mild a word for it really and I'm really missing mansize tissues. I can only get boxes of ordinary size ones here. Usually I use cloth hankies but I don't have enough to deal with a bad cold and after all the reading up on how to deal with flu that I did last year, I'm fairly convinced on the hygiene aspect of using disposable tissues when you're really sick. Similarly I would switch back to disposable loo roll for the duration if I had diarrhoea. Of course, using paper tissues means I'm having to deal with a sore, red nose at this stage. These things happen.

I called in sick to the garden today and also to let them know I wouldn't be there for the next couple of weeks due to holidays and I cancelled on choir as well. I feel slightly ashamed of myself for being relieved that today I sound much more like I'm snothered with a cold. There was definite disbelief in the voice of the colleague in work who I phoned in sick to yesterday - just because I didn't sound hoarse enough obviously. So it was nice to get a bit of sympathy this morning from both the people in the garden and my choir conductor. Feels like my little pity party isn't just me anymore :-)

I did go out for a few minutes today to post a birthday card (four days before the actual birthday - that must be a record for me although given that two of those days are the weekend I'm still not sure the card will arrive on time) and to buy some mince from the organic butchers up the road. I am so grateful to be living on a street which has everything I need within a few minutes walk. I also went into the bio supermarkt to get some onions for the bolognese and got some ginger while I was there. My choices were small ordinary onions from Egypt at something like 1.50 a kilo, shallots from France at over 5!!! euro a kilo and huge giant onions from Spain at 2.10 a kilo. I got two of the big ones from Spain but the quality was not great, they were the only two I would have bought at all out of the box of about twelve and if I hadn't known I was going to use them immediately, I wouldn't have gotten any at all. As it was I had to discard some bits once I had peeled them. I've obviously been spoiled by the freshness of the produced I buy at the market. Still, the ginger, honey and lemon tea was very nice. The ginger was all the way from Thailand - I must ask Herr Lessing from the fair trade shop if he can source it from somewhere. The thing is that keeping fresh fruit or veg isn't really too feasible for him. It has been great to be able to get bananas again and he has them most of the time now but traditionally Germans are just not prepared to pay a lot for food and the fair trade prices (50c per banana as opposed to maybe 2 euro a kilo for example) are a bit on the steep side for a guaranteed customer base for fresh stuff all the time I imagine.

I took all the tomatoes and tomato sauces out of the freezer this morning and made up a quick bolognese sauce. The two big onions, about half a bulb of garlic sauteed in some goose fat that also needs to be used up. Then the mince browned and thrown into the pot with the onions and garlic and a small packet of bacon bits that I picked up in the butchers as well. Then all the various tubs of tomato from the freezer:

I doesn't look like that much in the photo but that's about four litres worth of sauce there.

I ground up a good bit of pepper and threw in a small dried chilli as well - something spicy should help this cold along as well I think. That all went in along with the last handful of beansprouts I had left in the fridge. Bizarre addition to bolognese perhaps but it seemed better than throwing them out. Had only one carrot left but it was beyond useful so just didn't bother and also had to throw out the last piece of chard left from last week, which I was supposed to add to my stirfry the other day and completely forgot about. I've just about cleared out the fridge and freezer now and the bolognese is definitely going to keep me going for the week - my 13 litre stockpot was nearly half-full. I threw in the best part of a small jar of chutney as well just to see what it would be like as well as loads of dried herbs. It smells okay (what little I can smell through this stuffed up nose anyway) and tastes okay too I think (my tastebuds aren't working too well either at the moment). Finished the rest of last week's soup for lunch and have had the bolognese simmering away for a couple of hours. Couldn't feel less like eating now though. The cough part of this cold is starting to get bad - don't need to be coughing a lot but it really hurts when I do. Oh woe is me. I stopped at the chemist earlier as well and got a cough syrup for night time as I havent slept well the last two nights so I will be having an early night I think.

Hopefully I will feel better enough tomorrow to be able to go into work tomorrow for an hour or two. Not going in yesterday is going to put just enough pressure on my last week before holidays that it would be good to get a bit ahead before the week starts. I have a document to edit that should probably take about an hour as well as a fee breakdown to compile which I had started last week already. I just need to copy the invoices from last year and then do the actual breakdown, which should normally be the quick enough part of the exercise. It's the digging through five years of files to pull the information out that's time-consuming and that is mostly finished. But I'll see how it goes. I also need to get my tax return done as that has to be submitted by the end of May which means I need to get it done before I go away. I still haven't done my 2008 one, which should have been submitted by the end of May 2009 but when I went in in December (I thought it had to be done by the end of December you see) they told me I should have had it in by the end of May but to submit it anyway and see what happened. Of course instead of doing it immediately I have procrastinated (actually, mostly got sidetracked by having my lodger here and getting depressed but procrastination is accurate enough on the whole I think) and now am under pressure to do both. Both years involve the major expenses of my having moved here so if I have any hope of getting something back I really need to do them. I'm slightly nervous of ending up having to pay more taxes but am not really sure if that's likely to happen to an ordinary worker with no other income. Just need to get it over and done with - it will be a load of my mind if I can.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting ready for holidays

I had great plans to be super-organised in work and at home so that when I head to France at the end of the month, I wouldn't be leaving a mess behind me. Time is flying though and I somehow just realised that last week of the month is not really end of the month. So despite feeling like I've loads of time left, I've only a week before I go. Lots to do in work but I think I should get through it all if no new big things come in next week. It's a bank holiday today so hopefully tomorrow will be quiet enough as lots of people take that bridging day off.

I was really tired on Monday evening though and on Tuesday didn't feel great all day, seemed to have the beginning of a headache that never fully developed and by the time I got home from choir was completely wrecked. I woke up yesterday with a stuffed head and the beginning of a sore throat. Just what I needed! It's not much worse today although the sniffles have started. I seem to be able to go a half-an-hour or so between bouts of badly needing to blow my nose though so I think I probably will be able to sing this evening - none of our pieces are longer than that and there will be organ playing inbetween. I'm going to have a nap shortly and how I feel after an hour or so will determine if I'm up to it. Of course, not feeling great means that I haven't eaten as much as I thought I would. Still have lots of soup left.

I wanted to clear the freezer and fridge out before I left for holidays and was doing well but still have quite a bit left in the freezer. There are a couple of cobs of corn, some stirfry veg (actually I moved that into the fridge yesterday evening so I have to eat it for lunch today), some broad beans, some bread crumbs, three portions of tomato sauce for pasta and two lots of tomato sauce for pizza. I really thought I'd have gotten a proper oven by now and was looking forward to inviting some people over and cooking huge pizzas. The small oven I have at the moment would be able to do about enough for one person at a time. So now I think I will just take it all out at the weekend and make a giant pot of bolognese sauce and that will be all I eat until I go. I still have cheese left as well so I'm all set. I'm not going to go to the market this weekend because I will only be tempted into buying more fresh stuff and I need to finish what I already have on hand.

This, by the way, is the photo of what I bought at the farmer's market last week:

Swiss chard (including one of the most giant bits of chard I've ever seen), milk, yoghurt, a huge block of cheese, chives, carrots, apples for eating, rhubarb, eggs, half a loaf of bread, braeburn apples for stewing (up on the draining board) and strawberries. I couldn't believe it when I saw the strawberries and had already paid for my apples when I couldn't resist any longer. I had a smell and despite being quite pale, they smelled fantastic so I forked out the horribly expensive 3.80 they were asking for a punnet (in the height of summer last year it was only 5 euro for three of those punnets). They have a few polytunnels and that's where these were from. They weren't as sweet as I know later strawberries will be but they were sweet enough for me and oh so tasty. In the background there you can also see some mung beans sprouting - have them in the fridge now to add to my stirfry later.

As far as money goes this month I am doing okay so far. I'm still on course to have money going away, which is good. And as I have nothing to buy this week except some mince, I am hoping to not even spend what I have budgeted for. I am going out for dinner with friends on Sunday evening and about half of my budget for next week will go on that I think.

Better go and get some rest before I have to figure out if I'm well enough for this concert this evening. Happy Thursday all!

Sunday, May 09, 2010


All day long I have been telling myself that any second now I will head in to work to get something done. I even arranged to have a laptop so that the task I want to get done will be easier to handle (have to be in the office but not actually in my own office so having a laptop saves me having to run back and forth to my desk). Now it's after seven in the evening and I still haven't done it. But because I've been meaning to go I haven't gotten anything else done either. Aaaggghhhh. I hate it when I'm like this. I just keep reading 'one more chapter', then just updating my budget spreadsheet (which badly needed to be done it has to be said, missing a whole week is not good), then since I'm on the internet just watching something stupid that I don't really want to watch but it stops me thinking. I'm thinking a lot of deep thoughts about life at the moment but can't get much of it clear enough to be able to write deep philosophical posts.

I took a photo of what I got at the market yesterday but haven't even the energy to get up to get the camera to load that photo or the others I took at home last week. I very nearly did go to work about an hour ago but I knew if I did I wouldn't cook when I got home so I put it off again so that at least the food I bought won't be wasted.

Have soup on the go at the moment cotaining:
- carrots - bought yesterday but obviously we're getting to the end of the farmers store of carrots as they're starting to head a bit towards woody
- three-quarters of an onion - part of the last two onions I had, was too late to the market to get any yesterday although there aren't many left anyway
- some garlic
- the last five potatoes I had - I'm not sure but I think I may have bought these in February, they badly needed to be used.

I also stewed the rhubarb I got with some sugar and a small amount of dried orange zest in a glass of warm water with a lump of preserved ginger which was in an open jar in the fridge. Haven't eaten any yet but did accidently get some on my finger which needed to be licked off and it was yum! I was going to make the rhubarb crumble frmo the Jamie Oliver at Home book but forgot to halve the amount of liquid even though I only had half the rhubarb. So that's when I lobbed the ginger into the stewing rhubarb instead and decided I'd just have it with custard during the week.

And finally I have a tomato, chard, onion, chives, tuna sauce on the go as well to have with some pasta and then use to make a pasta bake tomorrow evening.

I have choir rehearsal in a nearby town, Wuppertal, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with the concert taking place there on Thursday (which is a bank holiday here). Then on Sunday, another concert in Dusseldorf. I'm feeling okay about the stuff we're doing in Wuppertal but am really not that confident about the stuff for Sunday (which is just my own choir so less people to cover up any mistakes and it's a capella so no orchestra to hide behind either). Lunches this week will be pasta bake and in the evening I'll have bread and cheese on the go. The soup will be for if I feel like eating something when I get home after choir and lunch for Thursday. I got apples and bananas and a thing of yoghurt as well so I'm hoping that despite the busy week I will have a better week food and budgetwise than last week (which involved buying lunch out eveyday, two pizzas and schnitzel with chips for dinner on various nights as well as a lot of chocolate out of the machine in work).

Some of my thoughts on my life - just need to get them down on paper as it were. Maybe someday I'll get around to writing more meaningful posts which expand on the points. Or maybe not.

- I want to fall in love with someone but I can't decide if I want someone to fall in love with me more than that.

- My self-confidence is at an all-time low - nothing I do seems to quite work out the way I intended and I seem to have lost the ability to be sympathetic or selfless

- My job is utterly meaningless and the people I work with range from difficult to get along with, downright unpleasant and arrogant to just so totally different from me that I feel like I'm from another planet.

- I'm thirty-five but it's not so much my age that's bothering me as the fact that I've done so little with my life but am stuck in this downard spiral again that leaves me with no energy or will to do anything.

- My inability to express everything I'm feeling is getting me down but it's not just that. I feel like I'm losing my language skills. My ENGLISH language skills!

- I hate that I am waiting for someone else to come along and change my life and don't understand why I cannot find any discipline to just change things myself.