Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Replies, a recipe and an Index

Almost a record number of comments received over the past 24 hours, and do thank you very much, especially for your concern re my state of mine re moving. It is true, I do not want to move, and have never wanted to move, it is just that when I was ill the rest of the family decided it was time for us to downsize, and however much I pleaded, they were adamant. After a while I grudgingly accepted the situation, but as time has gone by, and the housing market as it is, even although we have two provisional purchasers, they still cannot sell their own property, and the estate agent wants us to bring down the price even more.
Had we taken the cash from a property developer early this year (more money that we would get now) we would have moved and been settled in our new place. My husband is keen to get as much money as he can, and knowing that we will never be able to sell for the price he wants, had myself settled into a false sense of security feeling we would not now be moving for years. Now he is doing a U turn, thinking he should grab the first cash offer, however low, and move a.s.a.p. and live in a caravan or something similar until we find a place we like. That idea fills me with horror.
Even the process of packing up is giving me nightmares. Our main potential purchaser, who loved our house, was prepared to buy much of the furniture we had, also books, and I did like the family very much, so would have been happy to leave my lovely house in their hands. Now it seems he may have to pull out, and so it all starts again. Not much I can do about it except cry on your shoulders from time to time.

Thanks also to all of you who sent the missing addresses. Apologies to Janet, who had previously told me where she lived, so took another look and discovered I had written her name down twice on my 'readers list'. Morgan, thank you for telling me where you live - my grandson also used to live there - and have heard that March has an excellent farmer's market.

Yes Kathryn, we do have brushed cotton bed linen for winter. We have one patchwork blanket, another patchwork throw (made from scraps of cotton and old sheets) and did once make a king-size patchword duvet cover (using a sheet for the underside). Much prefer the old days when we slept between sheets, blankets and a quilt, but now we mainly use duvets and in winter throw a blanket on top and tuck in the sides. It is much more comforting to be tucked in, although a bit difficult to do it for yourself.
As to storing jams. These should keep for at least a year, probably longer if kept airtight and as long as the jars and lids have been sterilised. On the odd occasion a spot of mould may occur on the top of jam (perhaps a drop of water fell in from the lid when potting up - and a good reason to seal the top using those waxed discs). Just remove the mould with a spoon and the rest of the jam should be fine. Even the long stored apricot jam, if unopened, should be fit to eat.

Thanks again SweeterRita for details of how to make leaf compost. It brought back to mind the garden when I was a child. It had loads of fruit trees and leaves fell everywhere in the autumn. My dad used to drag them up from the lawns with an implement like a big rake, sort of fan-shaped (think normally used to drag moss up from lawns). Many of the leaves he would just throw onto the soil, especially the veggie plots and fork in where he could. He said the worms would do the rest of the work. It is true, even here, with our two huge apple trees in our very small garden, the wind blows them onto the soil, the soil then holds them in place and within a few days the worms have dragged them down. Not sure if the worms eat them, but when digging the soil the next year, any leaves that were there have disappeared, either eaten by worms or rotted down naturally. Possibly this is why the worms are there in the first place, nature providing the right creature for the right job. In woods the leaves build up making a peaty type of layer around the trunks.

Thanks Moira for providing the missing pieces in the 'Cook's Companion' jigsaw. Forgot all about split peas (and always keep those), and at least one tin of evaporated milk. As you say, plain flour is really all we need as we can turn it into self-raising with the use of baking powder. For some reason I just keep both.

In the old days Janette, it did seem that larger kitchens were the hub of the household. Even when split into two parts: scullery with the sink and a larger room with the range, it was always in the larger room that had a big table to prepare food and later sit round to eat. We seem to have lost that space in the newer houses, and some do not even have dining rooms, ending up with people sitting on a couch eating what we used to call 'TV dinners'. Perhaps one of the reasons why I don't wish to leave our Edwardian kitchen as it can be used for both cooking, and eating. We even have a dining room and a hall that at Christmas used also be used for dining (taking the excess family - we had sixteen for Christmas dinner).

We used to have a large chest freezer in the kitchen originally disguised as a Welsh Dresser - it can be seen on the cover of The Goode Kitchen cookbook - but when filming the series it had to be removed to our hall (fortunately we have a large square hall) so the cameras had room to stand. In the end the freezer stayed in the hall for the next 20 years, still steadily working until time to replace both the freezer and fridge with Boris, our American style fridge freezer (sited back in our kitchen). Wish we hadn't for now could do with more freezer space than Boris can provide. Adequate for a normal family, but when it comes to me - downsizing doesn't always work. Bringing me back to the point I intended to make - fridges and freezers do not have to be kept in the kitchen. Garages can often take a freezer, a small fridge could fit under a unit. As mentioned, a freezer could be disguised as a side-board and end up in the living room. Just stick wood panels onto the front to resemble doors and drawers. A cloth to cover the lid.

Flo, thanks for telling us about your early days - it made good reading. Was horrified at the way you tried to retrieve a baked bean from your radiator with a fork. You could have killed yourself. Don't worry about waffling on, I do it all the time. As you say one thought leads to another, and when chatting to someone often forget what I began talking about in the first place. At least when writing it down can look back to find out.
A second posting from you mentioned a pie eaten as school. Think this is the one called Gypsy Pie and somewhere have the recipe for that. If I can find it will post it up for you.

Now Julie, why should I mind when you change a recipe? This is what this site is about, read a recipe than turn it into a version of your own. This makes cooking far more interesting. Your pizza topped mushrooms sounded really good. Keep up the good work.

Lucky you Rosemary to be able to pick quinces. At one time was given several bags of these and spent quite a bit of time cooking them down and freezing as a puree, and also turning them into a jam. On their own quinces have an unusual taste, but work beautifully with apples, each enhancing the flavour of the other. Still have a pot of quince paste that I made years ago, and still use from time to time.

While I remember, last night wrote out the September '08 recipe index on Word, so that I could cut and paste them onto this site first thing - you will find this at the end of today's posting.

My main chat today is to do with Jamie Oliver's new series "The Ministry of Food". Hope that many of you were able to watch for it was most interesting. The pyramid system that he hopes will work, may or may not (we will have to wait until the end of the series to find out). For those who have not seen it, the idea was for Jamie teach a person how to cook something, then they do the same with two more people, each of who pass it onto two more. After several weeks, in theory, thousands of people will be cooking the demonstrated dish.

Up to a point it seemed to work well. There was the obvious question, "how to show people how to cook a meal when you can barely afford to buy the ingredients to cook it yourself?" One lady was almost giving up due to the strain of others worries such having debts and bills to pay, and she was so stressed she had to light a cigarette to compose herself, and seemed then quite rapidly to throw it out of the window before she had had more than a puff. This might have been due to editing, but either way, a waste of money. You can guess I don't smoke, although do 'eat for comfort', which I suppose is another way of wasting money. It just irritates me when people fret about not having any money to pay the bills, but are prepared to spend a fortune on cigarettes. But then, as I have said, am not addicted to the weed, so should not be so damning in that respect. Live and let live.

In another house, there were small children around the oven, and the mother was getting harrassed. In my day we put toddlers into playpens, just so that we could get on with our chores. Toddlers also used to wear reins when walking out with mum, so they could run free but still be controlled. Haven't seen a child in reins for YEARS. Sometimes old ways made life far easier for the mother and no reason why they shouldn't be used today.

Was I envious when I saw one kitchen that had a six burner stove, that apparently had never been used. Have always wanted one of those. It seemed ovens were rarely used, as in almost every case, the food was brought in the food ready made - either to be heated up in a microwave, or bought mainly from a takeaway. When - under Jamie's tutition - the mums did begin to cook, the children loved eating her food.

There has been a lot in the local press and TV about the take-away shops in the region complaining bitterly about Jamie's programme, purely because if more cooking is done at home, then the T-A's start losing sales.
Poor them. But doesn't this just prove how so many people have begun to rely on them far too much? At one time all we had was the fish and chip shops. It was natural in the old days to buy in fish and chips once in a while for an evening meal, or just eat them out of the newspaper walking down the street on the way home. These 'chippies' have stood the test of time. Now we have to include Pizzas parlours (including the home delivery) the McDonalds, Wimpeys, Chinese and Indian take-aways, the Subs, and numerous other places where we can buy the ready-prepared. Ocassionally yes, but most of the time it seems we never need to cook at all, and this cannot be a good thing.

There will always be people who enjoy making something to eat, even if that has not moved much beyond baking cakes and biscuits, and once cooking is enjoyed then it easy enough to persuade anyone to progress further. Perhaps 'cooking' is not quite the right word, for with me it was more the discovery of how cheaply a meal could be prepared when made at home that started me off. It was starting off with no money but a cupboard full of stores, that led me todiscover that any time I needed money, the best way to find it was to spend less on food - this then led me further to where I am today, still not always enjoying the actual cooking, but having a darn good time experimenting to discover the most economical way to get good food back on the table (such as finding out the outer leaves and stem of a cauli plus the rind from a piece of Stilton can turn into a splendid soup). When cooking becomes a wee bit boring, then time for me to set myself another task - these I call Challenges . Nothing really changes, apart from having a goal, still cook the same meals, but give more thought to what I am doing and the reasons why.

Expecting people to begin cooking who have never cooked before - this could be difficult and can Jamie achieve this? Am sure all of us hope he does.
We should do our bit, trying to persuade at least a couple more people to begin cooking at home. Would like to believe that during my numerous demos have done this myself, and possibly something very simple may have been tried by one or other in the audience, but probably only by people who already do cook. In the same way this site is read by people who already know about cooking and wish to find ways to save money whilst doing so. People who do not cook will never be interested in a blog such as this (and countless others that are similar). Believe me I have tried to get non-cooks to begin to cook, and it is a very hard road to tread.

It also became apparent to Jamie in the first episode that when someone has never cooked, they cannot follow a recipe unless every last little detail is given - such as 'switch on the hob'. This gave me food for thought, what with my 'saute the onions' etc., do I hear someone say "what's saute mean?". Readers, never be afraid to ask if there is something you do not understand, it took me years to understand a lot of things myself, have just got into the habit of writing down what I know now, rather than explaining in finer detail (and this perhaps should be done - if so let me know(, although I do sometimes give explanations in the method of the whys and wherefores. In fact, the more questions asked the better we can all understand. There is still a lot I do not know, so seeking an answer for you will help me as well.

Yesterday Beloved went into Tesco to buy his diet lemonade. Asked him to bring me in a couple of cans of own-brand Sweet and Sour Sauce (26p) to keep in store, having used it the other day and found it remarkably good. Was upstairs when he came back, but soon after he rushed up to tell me he had seen and also bought some curry sauce at "guess what price?". You all know the answer - 4p a can. Bless.

Last night we had Chinese again, tonight am thinking egg, beans and chips. Did fancy CMP but that would be twice in one week if I remember correctly, or maybe not - time moves so fast these days. Would be much more sensible if I made up a week's menu at a time, but have always been a 'spur of the moment' girl when it comes to cooking, so rarely do I plan ahead. Even supper tonight maybe something other than my first thought. Occasionally I do write down a list of about ten dishes and then let Beloved take his pick, but usually by the day, not the week.
Must make a chilli con carne some time soon. Have put the red beans in front of the place where I sit at the kitchen table to remind me to put them in soak today. Ince cooked I can make the chilli, and freeze away surplus beans. Or freeze away all beans and make the chilli later. A reminder: keeping beans in the fridge for more than a couple of days is not a good idea. Did this myself and the fridge started to smell and discovered the beans had begun to ferment and had to be thrown out. Cannot now remember whether the beans were soaking in water or had been cooked, but either way keep an eye on them.

As it is my early appointment day today, just time to give one recipe. This for a cheesecake that is baked in the oven. Instead of curd cheese, use a home-made yogurt cheese, or sieved cottage cheese. A reminder than tubs of cottage cheese that have been frozen, once thawed you will discover the lumps have broken down and the whole tub can be mashed up to end up very similar to curd cheese.
Bavarian Cheese Cake: serves 10
5 oz (150g) butter, softened
10 oz (275g) caster sugar
1 1/2 lb (550g) curd cheese
4 eggs, separated
4 oz (100g) ground almonds
4 oz (100g) sultanas
2 oz (50g) semolina
grated zest of one orange
(icing sugar to serve)
Beat together the butter, sugar and cheese until light and creamy, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the gr. almonds, sultanas and semolina, the orange zest and juice. Leave the mixture to stand for 15 minutes to allow the sultanas to plump up and the flour to thicken slightly (this also helps to prevent the sultanas from dropping to the bottom when cooking).
In a clean bowl, beat up the egg whites and fold 1 tblsp into the creamed mixture to slacken it slightly, then fold in the rest of the whites as lightly as possible to prevent the air collapsing out.
Spoon into a greased and lined 9" (23cm) loose-bottomed or spring-form tin and bake for one hour at 190C, 375F, gas 5 or until firm to the touch. After the first 30 minutes cover the top loosely with foil (shiny side up to reflect away the heat) to prevent the top browning too much.
Once cooked, turn off the heat but leave the cheesecake in the oven for a further hour. Once cooled completely remove the cake from the tin. Carefully peel away the paper and dust the top with icing sugar prior to serving.

That is it for today. The Septemer recipes follow. Back tomorrow.

recipe index for September 2008

Spicy fillets in Yogurt dressing
Fisherman’s ‘meal in a bowl’ Soup
Turkey Turnovers
Italian Bites
Gardener’s Quiche

Rowanberry Jelluy

Bramble Jame
Mess ‘n Bless Terrine

Elderberry Cordial
Golden Jackets
Bolognaise Sauce (method)

Fried Green Tomatoes (method)
Polenta Pizza
Hubble Bubble Bars

Slow Cookers
Slow cooked Red Pepper Sandwiches
Potato and Sausage Crock Pot Supper
Buffet Meatballs
Slow Shrimp Chowder
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings
Capuccino Chocolate Chip Bread

Three Cheese Gnocchi
Beany Bolognaise
Rustic Char-grilled Hot Sandwiche
Veggie Toast Toppings (3)

Creamed Chicken Moulds – basic plus four flavours

Squash, Barley and Pepper Risotto
Vegetable Couscous
Spicy Paste (Harissa type)
Biryani made with Vegetables

Potted Chicken
Pilchard Bake
Peasecod Soup
Asian Cheese Rice
Bee and Bee Savoury Pudding
Pork Galantine
Chicken Croquettes
Pain de Choufleur
Apple Froth
St.Clement’s Mould
Dark Chocolate Mousse

Spice Biscuits
Crispy Ginger Hollows
Christmas Chocolate Cake
Butterscotch Popcorn
Chocolate Popcorn
Basic Granola
Walnut Honey and Prune Cake
Granola Bars

Blackberry and Orchard Fruit Frangipane

Black Butter
Apple Cheese
Windfall Marmalade
Apple and Marrow Chutney
Apple Dumplings – method
Drying Apples and other fruits
Chunky Monkey Cake
Apple Crumble Cake
Apple Cake filling

Warm Green Bean Salad
Green Bean Quiche
The Adaptable Biscuits

Fruit Butters
Damson Cheese
Gooseberry Cheese
Damson and Blackberry Cheese
Cranberry Cheese
Zuppa Pomodoro
Carrot and Lentil Soup
Lentil Soup with Bacon

Courgette Cake

Seasonal Hash Browns

Herb Gnocchi with Parmesan
Herb Soup
Steamed ‘nutmeats’
Brown Sauce
Red Wine and Sage Sauce
Potato, Apple and Walnut Salad

Recycling from the kitchen
Greek Yogurt Cake
Cheese and Celery Bread
Soft Cheese and Walnut Bread
Apple Scone
Tutti-frutti Cake
Walnut Layer Cake

Free (hedgerow and garden) foods

Cheaper cuts of meat
Tomato ketchup
PetticOAT Shortbread
Oatie Cheese Biscuits
Oatmeal and Chocolate Cookies

Mushroom Paste (Duxelles)

Pasta and Beef Layer
Moussaka with Cheese Topping
Lamb Meatballs
Kipper Quiche
Nut Rolls

Pork Pie4

Horlicks Loaf
Cheese, Herb and Pepper Loaf

Storecupboard ‘essentials’
Bacon Pizza
Bacon Roly-Poly
Omelette Arnold Bennet
Basic sauces
Souffles – basic method