Wormy’s kitchen: Boiled ham

boiled ham 3
Picture: Diane Wordsworth

One of the most popular features on both the blog and Facebook seems to be “Wormy’s Kitchen”.

The poet is a very good cook who loves to experiment. We also enjoy making a lot of our own meals from scratch so we know what goes in them. And we like to forage, and see what we can make with free ingredients.

He tends to make the savoury stuff and I tend to do the baking. But he likes to have a dabble in making the bread and pastry too, both of which I’ve supervised, of course. ūüėČ

Eventually, there will be a whole series of entries for Wormy’s Kitchen, along with recipes where relevant, which we will hopefully turn into a book, with extras. We’ll have to cook it all again then to get some decent photographs too.

One of our regular staples is boiled ham.

Cooked ham/pork/chicken/beef/turkey/etc was on the shopping list every week, but it’s quite watery and seems to go off quite quickly. And we didn’t think it was that tasty either.

For the previous 2 Christmases my mother-in-law boiled us a ham joint. But last year the poet decided he’d have a go himself, and he got some practice in before Christmas 2015.

There are several types and sizes of ham we can buy, including smoked, unsmoked, bargain-buy, a half-a-joint and a round joint. We started with the half-a-joint unsmoked and he boiled it for 2 – 3 hours, or until it was tender.

After a few goes he started to wrap it in tin-foil, which keeps a lot more flavour and moisture trapped within the joint. Then at Christmas we bought a round joint, cut it in half (so we have round slices instead of half-round slices), and put one half in the freezer. We still have that half, waiting to be defrosted and cooked.

Boiling our own ham and then slicing it ensures that we have a good supply of boiled ham for at least a week, and when we can cut it in half and get 2 weeks out of it, for less than a packet of cooked ham, then we’re happy. It’s tasty, we know it doesn’t have any extra additives (or extra water), and it keeps well.

Product review
As and when we get a new gadget to try, I’ll include a product review here. As we happily use the bog-standard saucepan for boiling ham (is there another way?), I won’t bore you with a product review this time.

My fat year: And so it begins

Mute swan hissing at dog. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today’s picture is purely for decorative purposes as the only “my fat year” pics we have at the moment are our “before” pictures – and you ain’t seeing none of them yet. (Dialect intentional for those pedants out there … ūüôā )

So, having both slimmed down sufficiently for us to feel comfortable on our honeymoon, we both also managed to put it all back on by Christmas. Well, actually, I’m still 5lb lighter than when we started and the poet’s also a few pounds lighter. But we’re not as slim as we were back in May.

I’ve tried lots of diets and the only ones that have been really successful have been those where I’ve only exercised regularly (Rosemary Conley DVDs and classes based on her DVDs)¬†and¬†the 5:2 diet (Kate Harrison’s version). All the poet has to do is eat less.

Over the Christmas break, one of the things I did was start to research the various diets that are currently going around, and – to be honest – I wasn’t impressed. I’ve tried fad diets. They don’t work – for me. They don’t even work temporarily. The only thing that works is cutting back my calories over a week, rather than per day, and exercise.

During my research I was quite surprised to see that the Rosemary Conley brand had suffered some significant financial setbacks. But I also discovered that she’s found alternative financial backing (I presume) and relaunched her website, at least, some time in the past year. And then I saw that she has adapted the 5:2 diet to suit her own beliefs.

Online annual membership to Rosemary Conley seems to be one of the cheaper ones at the moment, plus there was a £10 discount *and* a free copy of her book The 3:2:1 Diet. You can also pay monthly or quarterly, but working it out, £60 for the year (plus a book) is a lot better value than £13 per month.

Because I’m a bit of a gadget freak, I like to *see* my progress on charts and in colour. And, other than me not finding any nutrition charts, which I also like to see, this site seemed to be the best fit¬†for me.

So I signed up, measured myself (and the poet), set up my profile, and logged my food/calorie intake for one week. On average I’m consuming around 2,000 calories on an exercise day (or walk day) and around 1,500 – 1,600 calories generally. My recommended amount is 1,449.

After the first week, the poet lost 3lb. I lost 0lb.

So yesterday evening I decided to go for the 3:2:1 diet, whereby you have 3 “light” days in the first week (I call them “starvation” days, everyone else calls them “fast” days), 2 light days for the duration of the diet, and 1 light day for maintenance purposes. But I’ll go straight in to 2 starvation days, I think.

The other differences are to try to maintain the less-than-5%-fat “rule” on ordinary days (“feast” days), and instead of 500 – 600 calories on light days, you get 800 calories (it may be more for men, I’ve not looked yet). ¬†And she has 3 types of menu to choose from: comfort eating; feast eaters; and grazers. (I’m usually a grazer on starvation days for blood-sugar regulation.)

I’d like to lose 2¬Ĺ stone (35lb). The poet wants to lose “a couple of stone” (28lb).

If you’d like to join us, let us know how you’re getting on in the comments section below. Otherwise, wish us luck!

Product tests
Oh yes, I almost forgot … We’ll also be testing various products over the course of the year. If you’d like us to review your product, let us know via the contact form.

Kitchen garden: Umming and ahhing (list alert)

Our back garden from halfway down the garden (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

One of the new regular features in Baggins Bottom will be our new kitchen garden, which we’re starting from scratch.

This picture was taken from about halfway down the garden and I think there’s a lot of wasted space there. (There’s even more grass behind this picture, about the same distance again to the fence.)

The houses (you can see 2 of them in this picture, but there are 5 here and another across the courtyard) are 17th century. They’re not quite Jacobean, as they were built in 1629, 4 years after that period. I think they’re classed as¬†Carolean, which is also referred to as Caroline – I think. The manor house (the one across the courtyard) might be a little older.

So while “Elizabethan knot garden” screams at me, it’s actually miles too late for that period. But I think that Carolean/Caroline gardens are far too grand. And while the “potager” garden is probably perfect, I don’t believe that’s strictly historically accurate either, and it’s French – but I think it’s what we’re going for.

Now then, I’m a bit loathe to spend a lot of money on this plot of land as it’s unlikely to be our “forever” home. Or, then again, it could be. Who knows? So one of our quandaries at the moment is how much to spend and how permanent to make the features.

The garden is very, very wet too. You can see it’s on a slope and it’s part of a larger hill. So all the water runs down through the land, making it very boggy at this time of year. Next door have had lots of sophisticated drainage put in, but we don’t want to spend that kind of money.

Here, then, are some of the decisions we need to make:

  1. Because of the drainage, or lack thereof, we’re going to build raised beds. But do we make them regimental? Or do we put them on the diagonal? Or do we make an architectural pattern of them? Or do we make one big one …?
  2. For crop rotation, we need at least 3 raised beds. But I have a hankering for 4 … for some reason (OCD?). The raised beds will be one of the poet’s many projects. If we don’t go for raised beds for the moment, we might consider a series of pots, barrels and herb wheels on the patio instead …
  3. We need to move that washing line as it blocks our view from the living room window. I don’t like rotary washing lines, I’ve always preferred a long line, but I like a path for the line to follow, so I can hang out and fetch in washing without my feet getting muddy. But the garden is 100 feet long, and a path will not only slice it in 2 but also cost a lot of money. Opposite the kitchen window might be the ideal place for another rotary line, one we can bring in when not in use (this one doesn’t fold down). But we might have other plans for that area …
  4. To greenhouse or not to greenhouse? There’s an ideal spot for one, opposite the kitchen window, in the top right-hand corner of the “lawn” (I use the term loosely, it’s actually “grass”). But we need to build up the floor so it’s level with the patio, and that means shuttering and concreting … and that means more money. If we don’t go for a greenhouse, we can put a temporary part-greenhouse against the wall …

And something else for us to consider is that this is a grade II listed building, so we have to be careful what we do on the outside. The patio is crumbling, so if we put up a retaining wall, it has to be “in keeping”, and anyway, we’d prefer to do that in any case.

So we have lots of things to consider, and we need to get started this month. We’ve started by taking the “before” pictures, we’ve measured the garden, and we have a pad of graph paper so we can start drawing and playing with (loose) plans. The next step is to make some of those decisions.

Product tests: As we find our way around we’ll be using all sorts of equipment, so watch out for product tests and reviews too. And if you have something you’d like us to test, use the contact form to get in touch.

Wish us luck. ūüôā

Walk: Bempton Cliffs

Ian, Scott and Becky (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The new year brings a new look to the blog and it goes from being a “blog of all trades” to a “lifestyle blog”.¬†This is mostly¬†for the benefit of our¬†friends and family, who perhaps aren’t as interested in the work side of my life, but also for anyone else who is still interested in what we get up to in our off-time.

There’s a new blog for the writing and editing side of things, words worth writing, which – again – those who are interested can find here.¬†This is for those people only interested in the writing/editing side of things and, again, for those who are still interested anyway.¬†And then the gig list is still where it’s always been – here.

Heap big thanks to those friends who made the suggestions – you know who you are.

Most of the posts on this blog will then be categorised, with the category preceding the title just before the colon: “Category: Post title”. And the various categories can be found listed in the sidebar.

Bempton Cliffs
Following the festive excesses, and the day after the poet’s family all came to visit, son #1 and his g/f stayed the night and we went for a walk on the Monday.

It took us almost 2 hours to get to Bempton, at¬†Flamborough Head, and we stopped off to get food just in case the visitor centre was closed. The visitor centre was closed so we were glad we’d taken advantage of the facilities at a local Morrison’s too.

I came to Bempton a very long time ago, all the way from Birmingham. But in the 12 years I’ve been in Yorkshire, this was only the second time – and the second time ever for the poet too. Each time the dog has been with us¬†so, naturally, it’s a place we hope to go to more often.

Bempton is a birding trip for us, as it’s known for the cliff birds that live there, some all year and some when they’re just visiting. It’s a good place to see gannets and guillemots all year round, but I want to go again in the spring to see the puffins.

Last Monday there was a brisk wind blowing along the cliff and the ground was quite muddy underfoot, so we didn’t stay very long. We walked one way to see what looks like the newly refurbished “grandstand” viewing point, and then the other way as far as the first station there.

I think we all enjoyed the trip out, but it was a long way to go for a stay of just under one hour, and just under a 1¬Ĺ-mile walk. However, it was a nice start to the new regime.

Most of the walk posts will include a gadget/gear/clothing review or product test. If you would like us to review or test a product of yours, please use the contact form to get in touch.

This week’s “gadget of the week” is MapMyWalk, which is actually an app on my phone. I’m sure I’m not using this quite as much as I could as I’m still finding my way around it and – for example – I’ve just noticed that it tracks the terrain too. When I’ve learned more about it, I’ll revisit it in a later post.

However, if we don’t have something to review, each walk will be illustrated instead with the desktop screenshot of our walk.

bempton mapmywalkI hope you like the new ideas. Do let me know what you think, either in the comments section or via the contact form.