Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Stir Crazy, Lamp, Cruise, Points,

I have just realised I have gone stir crazy. What on earth is she talking about I hear you ask. My thinking is pretty convoluted. In England we have many slang words for jail and prison time. Stir being one, porridge being another. I have actually gone nuts about porridge lately which, to most North Americans is known as oatmeal. Quaker do a Quick Oatmeal which is just as good as the oats we used to cook forever for breakfast in the morning. They take 1 minute in the microwave, you then stir, I add some local honey and a little milk - deelicious. You can buy them loose, but I get the box containing packets which are just the right size for my breakfast. I always used to enjoy 'porridge' when my father used to make it in the mornings and over the years I have made it for myself, but it always took so long involving pans and cooking tools etc. Not any more. I doubt anyone could tell the difference. Well I certainly can't.

Partly due to Alex's advice (see yesterday's comments) and partly due to laziness, I ended up ordering myself a lamp from This means I will not have to do without a reading lamp for a while when the old one is being repaired. I suppose I could have shone a flashlight on my book but....

Last night I printed up my calendar for March, January being over today and I always keep a print up for 2 months. I saw a note about passports and wondered what it was about. Guess what, ours run out in March. However, I don't think I will bother to renew. We don't go anywhere these days. I toyed with the idea of booking a cruise on our granddaughter's ship (there's a sale on) but apart from the cost of the cruise, parking at the harbour costs $20 a day, that's a  lot of money to add on to all one's expenses. The ship's home port is Bayonne, New Jersey, so not really worth flying down which would be pretty expensive anyway. I would so like to go though and I know Matt would love to see his granddaughter. Except when I mentioned it later he went nuts and said we can't afford it, I could go on my own, etc. etc.

Then went shopping this afternoon (Tues) and bought a few extras, not many, for birthday meal on Saturday (him, not me)  and it all came to $158 so I had $50 in points so only $108. I love this system of points. I earned another 9,000 odd today too. $9.

I received an unexpected phone call from my cousin who lives in the San Francisco area. His wife, whom I have never met, apparently reads this blog and when my cousin was looking for an English Sherry Trifle recipe for his regimental reunion, he came to me. He said as far as he remembered there were certain ingredients and he listed canned fruit - canned fruit??? No no no. This is the recipe I sent him. One thing you really need for trifle is English (or at least European) cream which is thick and rich and to which North American cream cannot hold a candle. But.... It says strictly for grown ups, but actually doesn't include much sherry. Personally I would put a good slurp more than 6 Tbs. You can also sub brandy or champagne. Also, you can sub any fruit you want, but not canned please. I must admit most people would use Bird's Custard though. I did suggest my cousin could fly back to the UK (he used to go a lot at one time) and get some real cream.

Traditional English Sherry Trifle - Strictly for the Grown Ups!

8 single trifle sponge cakes or 8 -12 ounces stale sponge cakes
4 Tbs raspberry jam
6 Tbs sweet sherry
12 oz frozen raspberries, partially thawed or 12 ounces fresh raspberries
4 oz ratafia biscuits or 4 ounces amaretti or 4 ounces macaroons

1 pint milk
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
1 Tbs caster sugar, plus a little
caster sugar, for sprinkling
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour

3/4 pint whipping cream
2 oz sliced almonds, toasted
glace cherries or fresh raspberry, to decorate
silver dragees, to decorate

1. Split the sponges in half then spread each half thinly with raspberry jam.

2. Sandwich each half back together and cut into quarters.

3. Place in the base of three and a half pint (2 litre) glass trifle bowl.

4. Sprinkle the sherry over the sponges and spoon over the partially thawed raspberries and their juice.

5. Roughly crush the ratafia biscuits and sprinkle over the raspberries.

6. Chill for 3-4 hours.

7. Place the milk and vanilla pod in a small pan and slowly bring to just below boiling point.

8. Transfer to a heatproof jug and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

9. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk.

10. Place the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl and whisk together.

11. Whisk in the milk, then strain the liquid back into the rinsed pan through a fine sieve.

12. Cook over a gentle heat , stirring constantly until the custard starts to thicken, being careful not to allow to boil.

13. Cook gently for two minutes unit the custard is a thick pouring consistency.

14. Quickly pour the custard into a cold bowl to prevent further cooking.

15. Sprinkle the surface with a thin coating of caster sugar to prevent a skin forming.

16. Set aside and leave to cool.

17. Spoon the cold custard onto the raspberries in the trifle bowl, spreading to the edges with a palette knife.

18. Gently whip the cream until it nearly holds its shape, then spoon three quarters of it on top of the custard and carefully spread to the sides of the bowl.

19. Whip the remaining cream until it holds its shape.

20. Pipe swirls of cream around the top of the bowl and decorate with flaked almonds and cherries, silver dragees or raspberries.

Servings: 8


Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo - glad you're getting your reading light sorted out - it makes a difference having the right light in situ. The sherry trifle looks delicious - and a really good one is just magical ... for some reason the jelly entices me .. but I see you haven't put any in here ... the fruits will do as well. Good cream - an essential ... expect your cousin will enjoy this recipe ... cheers Hilary

    1. It certainly does Hilary. I'm not sure I've ever eaten it with jelly. Probably, just don't remember. If only we could get English cream here.

  2. I'm sitting here shuddering at the mere thought of porridge. It's the texture that gets me and not only porridge unfortunately.
    Good that you've got the lamp sorted. There's nothing worse than not having good lighting.

    1. How funny Helen, I love the stuff. Not much I don't like I guess.

      Yes, I am pleased I decided to buy a new light.

  3. Jo, I have enough trouble with my conscience eating our 36% fat heavy cream, let alone the English 48% fat, LOL. I am curious about what you are having for that birthday dinner that costs so much, though I know your prices are higher than ours. About that oatmeal, I buy the flavored packs for Charlie. He really likes the apple and cinnamon. He's skinny and needs the calories. Maybe I should feed him whipped cream. I enjoy the plain oatmeal with some grains of brown sugar. Yum.

    1. Well you don't have to eat it every day Denise LOL. I am planning on a Portuguese (again) pork stew which is something we both enjoy. Had to buy the pork and I got some frozen lava cakes - too unfit/lazy to make my own these days. Never tried the flavoured oatmeal - I like my honey with it. But then I like good honey with a lot of things.

    2. I've made a lava cake in the slow cooker and my boys loved it. Recipe must be here someplace.

    3. Never heard of them made that way Denise, we have made them in past years, Matt more than me, and they were very good, but then so are the one's from the store. I would be interested in the recipe though, if you find it.

  4. I've made trifle but I take as many shortcuts as possible. haha Did you ever see the Friends episode where Rachel makes a trifle from scratch but she accidentally also read ingredients for a shepherd's pie? So the layers were lady fingers, custard, jam, meat w/ peas and onions, custard and jam? It was so funny.

    1. Nope JoJo, never watched friends. Does sound as though it could be funny. I haven't made trifle in years I must admit.

  5. I haven't had oatmeal in years but was thinking of getting some of those small individual packets and seeing if my grandson would like them. An easy morning breakfast for sure!


    1. Well this Quaker Quick is good Betty and only takes a minute to cook. Healthy breakfast too unless you overload it with sugar of course.

  6. I eat oatmeal every single morning. Have for about a year now, still not tired of it. I just always mix up whatever I put in there. Makes for a great breakfast.

    A sherry trifle... that's completely new to me. It does sound good, though (but yes, no canned fruit!).

    1. Always know when you have a post Bryan because you turn up on mine LOL. Have you tried honey on your oatmeal. So long as it's good local honey, it's delicious.

      Never come across sherry trifle before? You do surprise me. If you make one, use the richest cream you can find.

  7. Hey Jo! I say porridge too. But I also say oatmeal. It depends on how I make it. I've been making my own quick oats, did a video on it to come. Super yum!

    Am I reading correctly? Hubby's birthday? If so, Happy Birthday!

    1. Do you Ivy? That's a surprise. Will look forward to your video.

      Yup, he's 82 on Saturday. Thanks.

    2. Yes. Of course, it's porridge. But also, I was raised not by a non-American grandma.

    3. Yeah but porridge is an English word, your grandma was Hungarian? Can't quite remember.

    4. She is but I still say porridge. But only when I make porridge. When I make quick oats, they don't come out the same as porridge does (for me).

      Tim is Irish, he says porridge as well as oatmeal.

      When you get time, I've got new videos up. The cereal one was make with rolled oats! Though I do love me some groats, too. But just not for what I made there.

    5. Saw them Ivy, didn't have time to watch. Will go back later.

    6. The full oat one isn't out yet but the cereal I made with rolled oats is. Tim asked me to make more for the weekend, along with slicing bread and pizzelles. Pizzelles are done and the slicing bread is proving as I type. Granola cereal up soon.

      Have a yummy weekend!

  8. Glad you decided to just get a new lamp!
    Sorry you can't go on the cruise.
    We eat oatmeal in the packets like that. I used to hate it. Now it's between tolerance and all right.

    1. Me too Alex, you were right.

      Pity - maybe I should try "go fund me" LOL.

      What do you mix yours with, makes a difference.

  9. I love quick oats too. I always have some in my cupboard. I'm so content to stay at home it worries me sometimes. Thinking of visiting a sister on the other side of the country this summer.

    1. I am getting a bit that way too Susan, but would like to have visited granddaughter and seen her performance on board the Anthem of the Seas. Hope you make it to see your sister.

  10. I love oatmeal. I just add hot water though.

    What a shame you can't take that cruise. I love cruises and hope we go on another one in the next couple years.

    1. Yes, guess you don't drink milk Diane.

      It is a shame, would love to see granddaughter.

  11. The cruise does sound nice when you can celebrate with family and you only live once??:) I make oatmeal but never with water, always with milk and, in about 5 or so minutes, it is done. I always feel it is healthy and sticks to your bones as my dad used to say. The recipe sounds delicious

  12. We use porridge oats (from large bags) but cook it with water in the microwave so its quite healthy! Suex

    1. I used to have a bag of oats Sue but just for me it was a nuisance so I find individual bags so easy, they take a minute to cook.