Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Name of the Game?

Grantham Gingerbread is not at all like the gingerbread made in the North West (which is more like cake), and the story goes that in the mid sixteenth century a baker in Grantham was making the hard flat biscuits (called Grantham 'whetstones', these made to give to travellers to eat on their long carriage journeys), and he got the recipe wrong (know the feeling)! This is not the only traditional dish that first saw the light of day because of an error when making. But whatever, this mistake improved the biscuit so much that these are still made the same way today. So never worry if what you bake hasn't turned out as it should. Chances are it has ended up even better. Always think positive.

Grantham Gingerbread: makes 30
4 oz (100g) butter, softened
9 oz (250g) caster sugar
1 egg
9 oz (250g) plain flour
1 rounded teaspoon ground ginger
Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg. Sift the flour and ginger together, add to the creamed mixture and beat or fold together until smooth.
Take two heaped teaspoons of mixture and form into a ball and place well apart on greased baking sheets to allow room for spreading (you may need two or three baking sheets).
Bake for approx half an hour at 150C, 300F, gas 2 until very lightly browned. Leave on the baking sheet for five minutes before removing (this helps them crisp up), then remove and cool on a cake airer. When cold store in an airtight tin for up to a week.

For those (like me) who clutch their purse as though it should never be opened, here is another dish from East Anglia that uses a cheaper cut of pork, and good eating especially for the colder days.
Extremely easy to make, a one-pot dish ready to take straight to the table. And goody, goody, no need to get out the scales and weigh things.
As an alternative to red wine vinegar you could use balsamic vinegar or even raspberry vinegar. If you don't like prunes, use sultanas.

Pot Roast with Red Cabbage: serves 4
half a small red cabbage, finely shredded
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 red (or white) onion, sliced
3 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tblsp demerara sugar
handful of pitted prunes, chopped
salt and pepper
2 lb (1kg) boned pork shoulder, trimmed
Put the cabbage, apple, onion, vinegar, sugar and prunes in a large ovenproof casserole, add seasoning to taste and mix well.
If necessary, wash the pork and pat dry, then grind a little pepper over (some cooks add salt, but this tends to toughen the meat so I don't). Place the meat on top of the cabbage, pushing it firmly in to bed down, then cover and bake for 2 hours at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until the meat/cabbage is tender.
To serve, slice the pork and serve on a warm platter surrounded by the cabbage. Good eaten with mashed potatoes.

The cost of the meals I make always balances out over a week (not really balance as the 'money scales' tip down to the cheaper end) , for instance this week the Monday lamb meal was a bit more expensive than usual, the fish risotto next day just average, being made partly with salmon trimmings, and the 'almost gourmet' supper B had yesterday was 'a real cheapie', the fillet steak taken from a large pack that came free of charge with a recent Donald Russell order (as did some packs of beef rib trim mentioned the other day that came with another order. Just love 'freebies'). The 'Value' mushrooms were chestnut mushrooms but the same price (and weight) as the normal white not-quite-closed cap mushrooms, so a saving there. The sherry was from a bottle that B had bought, and the rice - think he also bought that in case he fancied making his own supper 'one day'. The Peppercorn sauce mix was a BOGOF.
So meals don't ALWAYS have to be frugal. Just make sure they balance out at regards cost and the 'good the bad and the ugly' should then always fit into your budget (it's usually me that ends up eating the 'uglies').

It has got to the point where I cannot now be bothered about how much food costs (unless specifically working to a 'challenge'). As you know I like to buy quality meat and fish (but only when on offer), and make savings along the way to pay for this. It really boils down to just keeping within my food budget each month and altering what I buy to achieve this. If I find I have spent too much when shopping for groceries on line, then I remove items until the total is the same as previous orders (this seems to have remained the same over several years). Normally end up with a lower total anyway because of all the reductions taken off at the end.

Looking at back statements, realise that I rarely buy the same things each time I order probably for the above reason, some ARE the same, milk, eggs etc, but when it comes to tinned and packaged foods, or bacon, cheese, butter... (foods that have a good shelf life), even with some fruit and veg, all are bought when 'on offer' or reduced for some reason. So I might buy several large jars of coffee 'at the best price' which will see us through until the next offer come round, or even the offerafter that. Same with most things as generally they are 'on offer' at least twice a year.