Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Routines

Nearly forgot to come and have my chat. Strange how a routine, almost set in stone, can alter so quickly. My (recent) past life seems to have no bearing on the present one. But after a cup of coffee and watching some baby seagulls in a nest between the chimneys in the house opposite, have come down to earth and come in here to write to you.

Thanks for the comments. Kathryn, apparently ducks lay eggs fairly regularly, and of course they are larger than hens eggs. In my youth we were told never to eat duck eggs, possibly for the same reason that we were once told hens eggs were suspect, but if cooked the duck eggs will be fine.
As to the differences between food processors and liquidisers/blenders. Generally the liquidisers will blitz up contents a lot more finely than the processors, making them more suitable for liquids such as soups and smoothies, and the food processors have attachments for grating and shredding. I do use a liquidiser to break down granulated sugar into caster sugar, and the caster sugar (in small amounts) down into icing sugar. This machine also makes a good batter for pancakes and Yorkshire puddings. and I have also blended the cream from Channel Island milk to make butter - leaving the buttermilk to use for scones and breads. The very name (either liquidiser or blender) gives an idea of the best use for it - mainly dealing with liquids.
Used 'dry' it will also chop nuts and grind up dry bread to make crumbs, although over-blitzing will turn them into powder, so according to needs possibly better done in a food processor. Some liquidisers come with a smaller grinder and this is good to grind up coffee beans, alternatively use this to grind up spices.

As you discovered, adding all the ingredients for cookies or cakes to the processor in one go can work, especially when using the 'all in one' cake recipes. Myself (again using only dry ingredients) use a food processor to make bulk amounts of pastry mix, scone mix and crumble.

You mention courgettes, and do know there are many recipes using this vegetable on this site, and suggest you look back over the past years in the July/August recipe listings to find a dish using them, and they will be in season now.

The trick with moving house Moira is to get the packing done well in advance and label each box, firstly which room it is to be placed on arrival, and also what is in each box. Having a few days break before you move will make it far less stressful for you. Then all a matter of unpacking once moved.

To look up muffin recipes on this site Silversewer go over to Archives and click on 25th May ('09) where there will be the 'cake collection' which also covers muffins.

Am pleased to report the last of our "kitchen" boxes has now been unpacked and my larder is full. A chair has been included and yesterday B saw me sitting in there and said "we will have to call the larder a SCZ (Shirley Comfort Zone)". It is so nice in there surrounded by all the food. The other day got B and my daughter to go in the larder while I sat in the kitchen and they called"where are the sardines"? "where is the gravy browning? and so on and so forth. I knew exactly where everything was (and still is).
Need lots of hooks to put under the shelves to hang utensils, as unlike our previous home, there is nowhere to hang things in the kitchen unless we cover a wall with hooks - and the only useful wall is too far away from the hob.

As you say, Moira laptops are not the easiest things to cope with. The keyboard is normally smaller than the ones with a larger comp. and hardly need touching. I tend to bash the keyboard as though it is a typewriter, having used a real typewriter since I was 17 and my firstborn gets so annoyed with me as my fingers continually rub the letters from the keys. Able to touchtype, this is not a problem for me. So many people do use laptops that I suppose it is just a matter of getting used to them.

AmythestDragon is a name new to me, so welcome. Agree the butcher in Bare is excellent (we live in Bare, barely a hundred yards away from the shopping parade), and the other day cooked a piece of silverside, then after it was chilled sliced it using my electric slicer and was able to get 50 slices from it. Some we had for supper (part of a cold meat platter) and have to say it had more flavour than topside and was extremely tender. The surplus was packed in either five or ten slices at a time and frozen away for later use.
The remains of the roast chicken were added to the platter and it also had a wonderful flavour (like the meat, bought from the butcher in Bare). As I had already made stock from the carcase and trimmings when I portioned out the raw chicken (frozen away for later use) was intending to discard the cooked carcase, but decided to bag it up, freeze it and make stock with it at a later date.
Thanks for letting me know about the Farmers' Market on the 4th Thursday of each month, am hoping to visit the next one.

The gas maintenance man came yesterday and showed B how the Combi boiler worked. Not sure that was a good idea for during the evening all the radiators started heating up and even though B turned down the thermostat knobs he forgot the one in the kitchen. This morning I took a look and 'sort of' managed to find the problem. B had set the radiator clock to come on morning and evening, but hadn't let the boiler know he didn't want heat during the summer. For some reason he thought it worked that out all by itself. We managed to stop the combi heating the radiators, but hope we haven't stopped it heating the water for the sink/shower. We will have to wait and see.

In one hours time I will have been living in this house for just two weeks. Surprisingly most things are placed where they should be, and we setting ourselves a new-ish routine. Sometimes it feels as though we have been here for years. Our upstairs 'neighbours' return from a holiday in the Baltic this coming Saturday, so we have to wait and see if there is any annoying noise. They say they have soundproofed many of the floors with the exception of their living room which has wooden floors and no carpet. But hopefully rugs. We can cope with a little extra noise having lived next door to a family that had three boisterous small children. The rooms above do not match ours. Their kitchen is over our dining room etc. etc.

Keeping our carpets clean was a concern. The complete ground floor apartment where we live is carpeted (even the kitchen) in much the same colours: pale fawn/cream/off white. Luckily we found huge pieces of carpet offcuts left in the house, so we have made runners and mats to put in front of chairs and over the carpet near the back and front door entrances and along the main walk-ways. Being the same type of carpet in each room they are not really noticeable. We also have some patterned rugs that have a background of a similar pale cream, so all in all are lucky in that respect. Still plenty of spare carpet left, so as one strip gets dirty (probably in the winter), we can replace it. Generally we leave and enter by the back door, so can wipe our feet on the carpet squares we have laid for the purpose. It goes without saying, we remove our outdoor shoes the minute we come indoors.

After a wet night, the clouds are moving away and am hoping to get the washing on the line and dry before the next shower arrives. The good strong breeze should speed up the drying. Not sure what we will be doing today. Feel that a drive and exploration might be on the cards for this afternoon.
Beloved is planning to put his collection of plates on the Delft rail in the dining room - hopefully this morning, and that will be one more job done. In a couple or so weeks we may be ready to have our 'house-warming' party, although personally am not in a hurry for that as my mind still has to bring itself back into cooking mode. Between you and me, microwave meals, take-aways (delivered to the door), plus a stack of Wiltshire Farm foods in the freezer, and 'eating out' several times a week could be a way of life I might find most enjoyable. No doubt I will soon get back to 'real cooking', but the sun and the sea keep enticing me out and am finding the garden, garden centres and the prom far more interesting than the kitchen at the moment. Instead of washing up at the kitchen sink, I prefer to sit in the sun and skim the pondweed from the pool.

My main attempt at cost-cutting is the amount of water that we might be wasting while we wait for the hot water to reach the tap. It takes almost a bucketful before it gets warm, so have a number of jugs put at the side of the sink, filling them up with the initial cold water and this can be used to top up the electric kettle, used for cooking vegetables, or for watering the indoor plants. Having a water meter makes me not wish to waste a drop. We also have a water butt outside the back door (with a cover over and flowering plants on top it looks quite attractive), and doubt we will ever need water for the garden shrubs. There will be enough rain in this region to take care of that I am sure. It will be interesting when the quarterly bills come in to see how much they differ from our previous property. At the moment amounts have been estimated to allow for Direct Debits to be paid monthly, but so far we have been asked to pay more for the water (but this should change for the better after the next reading), and our dual fuel (previously with Staywarm and now with British Gas) has been estimated to be half what we used to pay. Our house and contents insurance is less, and the council tax slightly less, so financially our running costs will be lower.

Must go and hang out the washing as I see the sun has just about reached the washing line, and with very high, almost mackerel, clouds should not have a problem with rain for a few hours. They say Morecambe has a micro-climate and it can pour with rain over the hills and still stay fair here, and so far this seems to be true. We did have a flash of lightening and a roll of thunder yesterday (or was it the day before?) but that was the only bit of the storm we had, although lying in bed last night kept thinking I could see lightening, but at first light realised it was just the little green light that kept blinking now and again on the carbon monoxide detector we had just bought. The combi boiler being in the bedroom, this also has to house the c.m.detector. With two telephone extensions in the bedroom, plus the boiler, detectorand the cold water stopcock, you can see this property is quite unusual. Who knows what we will discover tomorrow. Log on and find out. See you then.