Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Over to You

With summer on the horizon, many of you may be taking self-catering holidays. If so, I always suggest taking your own kitchen utensils because you can be quite sure the ones provided won't do the job. If they did, someone would have taken them home. So take your own sharp knives, scissors, can-opener and anything else you need to rely on.
If wishing to take frozen foods and you have a chest freezer - then put your cool box into the freezer a couple of days before leaving. Pack with frozen foods (frozen milk is always useful) the night before leaving and they will stay frozen in the box far longer than if it hadn't been chilled. In some ways the box has become a mini freezer. Incidentally, don't freeze the lid if it has a plastic carrying handle because the handle, once frozen, will easily break. I did this once and the handle snapped when I picked up the heavy box. Put the lid on at the very last minute before lifting the box from the freezer. I know I have said this all before, but newcomers to this site may not bother to scroll back.
If possible, plan your menus according to how you have packed your cold box (or vice versa). Use the top foods first - the remainder will stay frozen if not removed - and replace the lid as speedily as possible.

A couple or so years ago I went to stay in a cottage in Ireland which had very few kitchen essentials. Even the cooker was leaning to one side. A lot of improvising had to be done if I wanted to make a good meal. Several thicknesses of kitchen foil made good baking tins for pies, quiches and Yorkshire Pudding. So worth taking a new roll of foil on holiday too. Oh, and don't forget matches. You may find the cooker runs on gas.

My favourite kitchen 'thingy' is a clear plastic roll-top container (I have two, one larger than the other). I think they was originally meant to store cheese, but are great for keeping sarnies fresh outdoors (keeps the flies off too), and - in the early spring - I raise my seedlings in one (standing it on the window sill). The larger one I always use for raising bread. Once the dough has been made and put into the tin I pour some hot water in the base of the container, pop in the tin and the dough rises beautifully in the moist atmosphere. If necessary I can add more hot water as it cools down. Even if the weather is hot, I still add warm water to give that damp air around the dough which it seems to thrive on.
The containers have even been used at a car boot sale where small precious items could be kept under cover but still able to be seen - then no-one could steal them from the stall when attention was elsewhere.

Time now for me to go down and plan my day. I think a few hours will be spent trying to sort out which books to keep and which to dispose of. Not a job I am looking forward to.