Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back to Basics

Had one of those revealing moments yesterday, realising that with all animal life (as far as I know) the female seems to do most of the work! Even King of the Jungle, the magnificent lion, just lies there while his harem works their socks off chasing and killing so that he has something to eat. Most of the time male animals fight to protect their territories and to prevent new blood coming in and taking their 'womenfolk'. All in the cause of making sure of survival of the fittest so that life continues. So who am I to dig my toes in at that sound sense? There must be a good reason (as yet undiscovered) for this great scheme of things, so from now on will bend with the wind and try and suffer in silence. Still not fair though.

Thanks to those who sent in comments - and areas in which they live. Am now compiling a list and when the map goes up will take a photo of it.
Nice to hear you agree with my grumbles T.Mills, next time you write (hope you do) let us know which part of the country you live. Not obligatory of course, but it helps to make readers less 'impersonal'.

Debbie in Essex, are you the same 'Debs' that writes in? There are several readers who share the same name, so do not want to get any of you mixed up. Lynn in S. Staffs, is presumably not the Lyn who also sends comments. We also have several 'Sue's' sending messages, so would like to make sure these are not mixed up either, although when sending in a query, suppose it doesn't matter if there is a mix-up as long as an answer is posted up (that all can read).

Regarding where you live LizBeth. Er - Texas, USA: Even when we know you live at the top of that state (the bit called the Panhandle ) this is still a bit vague. Being that the Panhandle on its own is probably larger than all of England, do I pin your flag in one of the corners, or in the middle? Mind you, America will not be on my map of the UK, so perhaps a teeny weeny North American map can be pinned to the side as believe there are several readers in the US, and at least two in Canada, in which case Panhandle won't be much larger than half a postage stamp (or even less), so perhaps no need to be that specific. With maybe more readers who live abroad making themselves known, might be a good idea to have a world map pinned up as well. This could be fun.

"Bangers" (in this country) is our affectionate name for all sausages Lizbeth, although not called this until the last war, when sausages were made in wartime filled with hardly any meat (and lot of rusk and water) and so 'exploded' when fried. Well remember the time my mother was convinced it was a mouse tooth she found in a sausage she had bought then cooked. Funny how things stick in your memory.

Because sausages now have strict rules on the amount of meat they must contain (the best quality having the most meat, lower quality less - but still within limitations), once the meat percentage goes below a certain level they not to be sold as 'sausages', but allowed to be sold under the name of 'banger' (some of these are so dreadful they contain very little meat at all, and no guidelines to how little it need be). Maybe some really good sausages are still packaged with a given name followed by ".....Bangers", to tempt those who remember this 'traditional' name, but it is worth checking the percentage of meat in all sausages before buying (this is printed on the pack) so that we get our money's worth.
Yes, maybe I got some of the above wrong because the info was gleaned via the media, but am sure someone will let us know if I did.

Adding a little cornflour to yogurt will prevent it 'splitting' when simmered, although not sure whether this is normally mixed into made yogurt before cooking, instead of adding it when making. Do we have an extra-fine cornflour in this country? Not sure. Just the basic one I think (US cornstarch). We sometimes use arrowroot (sold at the supermarkets) as a 'thickener' when making clear gravy or sauces. This is especially good used with fruit juices due to the 'clarity'. Using cornflour the sauces end up opaque.

Good to hear we have readers in the Midlands. Envy you living in Warwickshire Donna, as that is the county of my birth, and many generations on my mother's side. My dad came from Staffordshire. Have always wished I could return to my roots to end my days. A farmer once told me this is a common thing 'in the animal world', so maybe am more like a wild creature than I care to admit.
On the other hand, it seems much further back in my family tree, ancestors came from Cumbria, so maybe am living in the right area after all. Having said that, am pretty sure there is Viking blood in me, so probably the end result of a bit of raping and pillaging! Quite like the thought of that. With nine grandchildren no fears of our line running out (although no sign yet of our first grandchild).

My dad came from Staffordshire Lynn, so a small connection between us there. The way our country is, those of us who have a family line that goes back to the days of King Arthur, if we go far enough back, many of us may find we share an ancestor. Stranger things can happen.

A pity that you didn't get to watch any cooks demonstrating at the Good Food Show Lynn, and feel a bit sorry for Gordon Ramsay who's bubble has really burst. He is a clever cook, and worth watching if he can button his mouth and stop all those four-letter words. Mind you, he is not one I would choose to watch, preferring a cook who has more my way of thinking: making the most of what we've got that cost as little as possible.. Not a lot of those about I suppose.

Central heating can cause the air in a room to be too dry, leading to chest problems (or making them worse). Many people fit 'humidifiers' over their radiators (filled with water that evaporates when warmed up). An expensive way to do this I've always thought, and so (as other readers do) prefer to hang my washing in front (or over) radiators to dry it off during the winter.
N0-one likes to see racks of washing standing in a room when using the room, so used to load up the airers prior to going to bed, and then put them in the warm room to catch the last of the heat. Or put them in another room that is not being used. To keep the air moist, a shelf above the radiator with a dish of water on is a good idea.
Sleeping in a dry room really gives me a sore throat, one reason why we always keep the small top window slightly open, even if this cold weather. Our 'smalls' are dried off over the bedroom radiator during the evening, so that helps too.

Managed to buy Nella Last's book (life in the 1950's) from the boat museum in Barrow when we visited recently - in fact bought all three publications of her diaries. So far have read the first two, and am half-way through the third, although found the first one the most interesting. In the later books, she (like me) tends to ramble on a bit.

Our daughter asked me if the 'Housewife 49' drama had brought back bad memories when they showed the time of the blitz. Did not see this, so obviously shown in the first hour of the programme which I missed. It may well have affected me, and - in a way - hope it did disturb my daughter as she would then know what life was really like in my childhood days. All youngsters should know what their parents went through when times were hard (in war or recession), for they were much, much harder times than they are today.
Parents tend to shelter their offspring from things like that, as long as children are fed and clothed, and can still play games, they often never seem to notice the hardships that cause adults much worry.
There are some things that a child cannot be sheltered from, and living in Coventry during the first part of the war, the Blitz there still remains in my memory, and can be instantly be taken back in time by unexpectedly hearing the sound of a siren, the scream of a bomb dropping, or a plane flying very low overhead. Even now - 70 years later - these can get me instinctively wrapping my arms tightly around my body, screwing my eyes shut, and my heart races.

But enough of the past, it is too beautiful a day to drag up bad memories. We appeared to have no further snow last night, and the sky at the moment is a cloudless blue. The outside temperature was expect to be - 20C in Wales last night. so maybe not much higher further up the coast (where we now live). Much the same weather that our ancestors haven't had to deal with, and without all the mod.cons. of today. Think survival of the fittest really stood for something then.

Beloved had his lamb shank, new potatoes, green peas and the usual tracklements for his supper. Myself made myself a Spanish omelette (fried onion with diced new potatoes and then beaten eggs poured over). To which I added a few rashers of crispy bacon. Lost another half pound of my continual weight loss overnight, although hoped for more - perhaps it was the toast with my 'brunch' soup, and the spuds in the omelette that slowed it down. Today must try harder.

Time has fast moved on (due to me getting up later than normal) so no recipes today, and hope to come up with something more interesting tomorrow. For those of you who will be logging on - see you then.