Monthly Archives: October 2010

More apple recipes: apple sauce and apple upside down cake

Despite the glut of apples taking up a corner of my kitchen I was foggy enough to BUY some on Friday. So they need using. We had apple sauce with Sunday Dinner today. That’s really simple to make.

Peel, core and chop apples and put them in a smallish saucepan.

Add a little water and cook until soft. Mash them up and there’s the apple sauce. If the apples are tart add a little sugar. I added a dollop of apple jelly instead and stirred it in. Very nice.

Then I peeled and cored even more apples and sliced them. In a larger pan I melted a large dab of butter (about 3oz) with a little olive oil. I always add oil to stop the butter burning-and it does work. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of good cinnamon in and then add the apple slices and cook them until just about soft.

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Light a little candle in the dark.

I’ve never read Dante, although it’s on my “To do” list, but I do like his idea of circles for heaven and hell and I assume there are even circles of purgatory; though as I said, I haven’t read his work yet. (Is that a terrible HE mother admission or what?)

As Fr Ray points out, the Church doesn’t presume to know who is in hell and therefore there have been those like von Balthasar who suggest hell may only be populated by Satan and his fallen angel comrades. But I think if we are realistic and look hard at Free Will, (and listen to Our Lady at Fatima and other places and other saints like St John Bosco) we know that ain’t so.  The angels were all in heaven before the Glory and Love of God and still a third of them chose to nose dive out of there, at the point of St Michael’s sword; so it’s only

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Blist’s Hill a little Vicotorian world.

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We went to Blist’s Hill Museum on Thursday. A good time was had by all.  The photo of Josh and his dad standing in exactly the same pose, drinking their tea made me laugh. Neither of them realised what they looked like together.

I loved the posters and Alex loved the chip shop, with their lovely cooked in beef fat chips.

Heleyna enjoyed the moment she nicked my seat. Cheeky child!

Anyway – a lovely place;  not cheap but not overpriced. I recommend it. If you can get the Passport you can visit all the museums in the Ironbrdge area for next to nothing really.

Apples everywhere; recipes to take advantage.

I don’t know what it’s like around your neck o’the woods, but around here there has been an abundance of apples this year. As usual they haven’t all grown big, shiny and Euro approved looking, but there are lots that can be done with an apple glut.


You can use cookers like Bramley that haven’t quite made it or crab apples or any apple that’s tart and hasn’t bothered to grow big. (For bigger apples there are better uses I think).

You will need a preserving pan or cauldron for this.

Take all the apples and chop them in half or chunks leaving the core and pips in. the pips have pectin and that will help the jelly set later.

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Stupid quote of the day on Fibromyalgia.

The NHS put out a little booklet put together by ARC the Arthritis Research Campaign about Fibromyalgia. Although Fibro comes under the umbrella of rheumatology, it has very little to do with arthritis so I am at a loss as to why ARC produce the booklet in the first place. 

It’s not a very accurate booklet in lots of ways but this quote really gets me:

There is no cure for fibromyalgia but with the help of your doctor and family, it may be possible to find ways of managing your symptoms so that you can continue with your normal activities. Your doctor may be able to help you by making the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and reassuring you that despite all the pain, you don’t have a condition that will cause permanent disability.

The bold is my emphasis. The first time this was read to me I was sitting in my wheelchair!

Most people with fibro only get their dx once “normal activity” has become next to impossible. We just have to learn to adjust to a new “normal” for us. Being in daily pain for the rest of your life IS a permanent disability- and that’s before so many of us need crutches and wheelchairs.

The booklet also assumes that all fibro sufferers also have depression. In fact around half of those dx with fibro also have depression, some before the onset and some in reaction to the constant pain. As around 50% of us don’t have depression there has been some initial research into whether those of us without depression suffer less pain or are able to deal with it better – but there are no answers yet.

 The last flare took a little more away from me. It’s harder to walk and I’ve had to get used to more pain on a daily basis. I can do it. But to have some “expert” write that I can have “normal activity” (it took me 3 hrs to make a shepherd’s pie yesterday) and that it wont disable me is not just inaccurate. It’s shockingly cruel.

Obscure but fascinating people: Claudia Procula

As far as we know Claudia Procula was the granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus. She had been born in rather dubious circumstances to Claudia the third wife of Tiberius. However the young Claudia Procula was deemed a good girl by her grandfather who had her live in Rome under his guardianship.

Meanwhile the politically savvy and utterly corrupt Sejanus had grabbed the power of Rome sending the paranoid Emperor to live in isolation and continued fear on the island of Capri.

With the whole Empire in his hands Sejanus set about handing over nice little titles and places of work to his personal cronies. Most of these men had reputations as vicious and corrupt, and it has to be said that Sejanus friend Pontius Pilate of the Equestrian rank fitted the bill nicely.

It seems as though Claudia was married off to Pilate to help solidify his political possition and then he was given the Governorship of Judea, arriving there with his wife in about 26 AD. It has been suggested that as Claudia actually accompanied her husband rather than staying in Rome, that their marriage was a happy one. Legend has it that they had a son Pilo who was disabled in some way, and was apparently healed in the Church.

If that had been the sum of Claudia’s life, she would have been a mere footnote in obscure history, but the thing that brought her just a little more attention was the dream she had one fine siesta around Passover in the year 33AD (ish). She dreamed something about a Jewish rabbi who was behaving and speaking as though he was King of the Jews.

The High Priest who had very coincidentally remained in power while Pilate was there had the man in question standing for trial. Claudia sent a message to her husband begging him to have nothing to do with the man on trial because of the dream she had just had.

Pilate obviously valued his wife’s opinion and must have taken her dream seriously because he spent a great deal of effort trying not to have this Jesus of Nazareth crucified.  But in end he had to agree to it all.

Pilate had Christ’s title written on the board for the cross; Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews and he refused to change it. He then went on to break with the normal treatment of crucified criminal in allowing a relation of Christ’s, Joseph of Arimathea and his friend Nicodemus to receive the body for proper entombment.

While some of Pilate’s caution may have been to do with his shaky political position under Sejanus at this point, there is pretty well grounded speculation that Claudia Procula encouraged her husband to behave the way he did.

The Vatican Archives have a first century letter that was apparently written by Claudia. It was found in a monastery in Belgium and has been translated into English.

From the Gospel of Nicodemus and Acts of Pilate, apocryphal books, it is suggested that Claudia was baptised and became a follower of st Paul.

The implication is that she separated from Pilate, and served God with the other women. She is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox churches and her feast day is today,.

But there is also a story that suggests Pilate was also baptised and was even martyred. His is a saint in the Coptic church alongside his wife.

We will probably never get to the whole story of Claudia Procula, but I think it’s fair to say that traditions often have a huge amount of truth to them.

Claudia Procula’s feast day is today.

Home Education: the joys and memories of childhood (part 2)

  Education is for life. It is a way of gaining the tools to live, work and find contentment and even happiness. I had a conversation with Ronan who is 7 where he asked me why I read and listened to so much stuff. I told him it was because i was still learning. He was surprised and said “Don’t you know everything yet?” Cool

When we are doing what we are supposed to be doing there is a peace of mind and soul that isn’t all that easy to explain or describe, but which when you have it, you know you have it, and when you don’t, you might not know you don’t but you know something is missing.

Part of the importance of education for children must be in the building of joy and memories so that they have that precious, but somewhat intangible thing “childhood”. We adults know all too well when this goes wrong. We say “They grew up too soon,” or “They never had their childhood.” But it is much harder to describe what “childhood” should be, despite the number of books on the subject such as the Neil Postman books.

I hear parents complain that they can’t fit all the childhood stuff into their busy weeks. It’s what Dr Ray Guarendi describes as the manic “go, go, get, get, do, do” approach to childhood. The children are in so many clubs,m activities, extra lessons and tuition that they barely have time to eat and sleep, and there is certainly no time for family life. Meanwhile Unicef (an organisation to be treated with caution imho) found that Britain’s children were the most miserable in Europe. I remember that many in interviews said they wished they could be with their parents more often.

Much of the stuff and activity is aimed at adulthood and that all important CV which will get the child into University or high wage employment. There are so many parents and grandparents of very young children who are putting the children’s childhood on hold while every spare penny and moment of time is spent making sure there’s some kind of account to pay for University.

Finding the balance is so difficult for many of us. Being afraid of the future is endemic within our culture it seems to me, and it’s that fear that seems to drive the “do, do, go, go, get, get” childhoods. And all that costs so much money that if there are both parents they both work, often long hours, to provide it all.

I have come across more than one HE mum who says that her child has had a friend wistfully say somnething along the lines of “I wish my mum loved me like that.” It’s tragic.

In the end we have to decide between what is good, better and best for the children and beware of giving so much good that it becomes bad. It is a long haul thing to work out the right priorities and be prepared to change direction if it all starts going wrong.

Having the family time so that everyone can just be together, eat together and muck about doing not much together is important. Perhaps that is one way home education works so well. School doesn’t take up so much of the day and we aren’t left with children who have learned so little during the school day we have to get tutors in the evening or weekends for them to do extra on top of all the homework.

There’s a call for the Freedom to Home Educate, and I think there needs to be encouragement for free time for family (and friends).