Friday, February 23, 2007

Take Five

At the moment I am tearing my hair out trying to make evening meals more interesting. Yesterday we had liver, bacon, cabbage and potatoes. I had thawed out too much liver by mistake so cut them into thicker 'gougons' (strips) than I would normally have done. This pleased Beloved who, previously, had always seemed to prefer them cut more like matchsticks tossed in flour and then fried. I have to agree with him, they did taste more succulent, moreover a pile of them on a plate gave a man-size helping. Lambs liver is a worthwhile buy as there is no waste, and it is also lower in price than most other meat.

Today should be a fish dish. We haven't had fish for what seems like ages (unless you count sardines on toast). I can choose from salmon, smoked haddock, kippers. So it may be a kedgeree, a paupers Paella, or a quick fried salmon with potatoes and peas. Ah yes, I could make a fish pie or even a chowder. But I couldn't decide. Perhaps Beloved should be given the choice. He is still asleep in bed. Why did I buy kippers? Because they were very inexpensive is the short answer. Also make good eating, perhaps best for breakfast, but they also make a good pate.

Kipper Kedgeree:
12 oz (325g) cooked long grain rice (4oz before cooking)
2 oz (50g) butter or marg.
1 onion, chopped
2 kipper fillets
2 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped
1 dessp, sultanas soaked in the juice of a lemon
Firstly, put the kippers in a heatproof jar and pour over boiling water. Leave to stand for a few minutes then pour away the water, remove the skin from the kippers and discard. Chop the kippers into small chunks. Put them in the pan with the onion and rice, heat through. Stir in the sultanas and any lemon juice left over, finally add the eggs. Season to taste.

In the freezer I have discovered a pack of meaty chicken wings saved from the last batch of free chicken carcases the butcher gave me. Also a good supply of home-made chicken stock. And one pack of the ccoked meat stripped from the bones. So an opportunity to come up with a meal there.

You will notice a shortage of fresh fruit eaten during the last few weeks. But with plenty of vegetables this has not bothered me too much as I aim to serve five different varieties a day.
(When on my own the other week I took a multi-vitamin pill a day as much of what I prepared for myself lacked vegetation. Now, does that count as cheating?)
Fruit bought has been mainly bananas, plus some cooking apples, and I have now been buying the occasional carton of orange juice from the milkman whenever I have reason to cancel some other item (just so I don't overspend). Again, I am getting overstocked with milk, cheese, eggs, Greek yogurt, creme fraiche, cottage cheese and cream, so next week will probably be another 'cancel delivery' week, allowing me a further £10 to add to my budget.

Previously there had never been much need to cancel dairy foods, so why now? Thinking back I used to make a lot more (milk) puddings, ate more porridge (I've now taken to eating brunch),
and made more cakes and dips. We used to eat a lot more cheese with biscuits and grapes, and this AFTER a pudding, now it is generally cheese on toast for brunch/lunch. Or grated in sauces for pasta and, cauliflower, or sprinkled over salads. Anything grated always seems to go a lot further.

I have to say the bananas keep so well sitting on the kitchen chair, pushed under the table. I have some left from the 'eat me keep me' bag bought nearly 2 weeks ago, and a further bag still not yet touched, half still green. Never throw away ripe bananas, as - although the flesh can turn brown, all it is doing is gaining sweetness. Mash with peanut butter for sarnies. Or make this treat:

Banana Bread:
8 oz (225g) self raising flour
1 level tsp. baking powder
3 oz (75g) butter or soft margarine
3 oz (75g) sugar
1 egg
1 heaped dessp. apricot jam
2 or 3 ripe bananas, mashed
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Cream together the fat and sugar until fluffy, add a tsp. of the flour, add the egg and beat together. Fold in the rest of the flour followed by the jam and finally the bananas. Pour into a greased and floured 1lb (450g) loaf tin and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 45 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Check after 30 minutes and if browning too quickly, cover with a tent of foil shiny side uppermost*. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
*(To prevent browning put foil shiny side up - this helps to reflect the heat away, to aid browning put shiny side down).

Tip: Nothing to do with cooking - but still on the reflecting qualities of foil. Cover a large piece of card with foil, shiny side out, and slide behind a central heating radiator. This prevents the heat from being sucked up by a wall, and instead reflects the heat back into the room.