Monday, June 20, 2011

More to Read

Spent another day laboriously working through back postings. During the evening decided to work down from 31st December 2007 (instead of up from 1st), and managed to get rid of enough to make almost the whole month readable. Same with November. Having already done (I think Jan-Sept) only October of that year needs to be 'brought back'. Unfortunately a few blogs in the early part of the months are still missing (although a few have intentionally been deleted), so will have to read through a few again and if their content can be wiped, then missing ones will return. Otherwise have now retrieved lots more to read.

Heavy clearing of 'undergrowth' meant a lot of the 'happenings' in the Goode life have now disappeared, but many readers have stayed with me over the years and (hopefully) enjoyed reading about them. But this site was set up to talk about food, and it is the the foodie hints, tips and recipes that are the most important part.
Will still 'ramble on' as many of you seem to enjoy this, but as I said before, these 'extras' will eventually be deleted leaving only the culinary bits. So when newer readers come to this site they will find the older blogs have far less 'chat' than the most recent. Hopefully this doesn't mean they will be boring.

Several complete postings had to go, so you will find many missing days. Am hoping to put up the concise index that was begun (half still missing) a year or so ago, and am hoping that most of the recipes will still be able to be found. Am only removing recipes that aren't really THAT interesting, or that I know have been repeated months later.

The annoying thing with the blogger 'edit' list is that is still holds all the postings with nothing to show what has been deleted and what has not. On the other hand I can still find them if needed. So am now starting to keep a note of the date of the postings that have been completely deleted (or how will I remember?). Practically all the rest have had something taken out. But this seems to be working, so will continue. At this rate should be up to date by the end of this month, whereas I thought it would be winter before I got to (say) July 20011. Much depends upon the weather, if it rains (as yesterday), can spend all day in front of the comp. If sunny, time will be spent in the garden.

Yesterday B made another loaf. Asked him to place it in a warmer place so that it would rise faster and could go in the oven once his sausage and chips had been taken out (he heated the beans and fried the eggs himself). But of course it wasn't nearly ready in time, so the oven had to go out and be put on again. As before, the dough took over two hours to rise after being put in the tin (when I make it, it takes no more than an hour). Realised the reason when B came in to say the machine had bleeped so he was now going to put the dough in the loaf tin and put it to rise, then fifteen minutes later he came in and said he had just put the dough in the tin.

As moving dough from machine to tin takes no more than 3 minutes (remove to floured board, shape and put in tin), asked B what he had been doing for 15 minutes. He said "kneading the bread". He didn't seem to understand this is what the machine had been doing for the last 45 minutes, so all the air that was now in the dough had been firmly knocked out of it, so it had to start rising again from scratch. Not that this would harm the bread (double kneading can often improve it), but it will take longer to rise (again).

Then of course B forgot to remove it from the oven after the 45 minutes baking time. I was working on the comp at the time and noticed it was an hour after the bread had been put into the oven, could really smell the bread, so called out to B and he said "just about to get it out" (he had either nodded off or too engrossed in TV and forgotten, probably the latter). Very brown the loaf was, and am hoping it won't now be too dry when toasted. As B hates me 'interfering' when he is cooking, perhaps I shouldn't have reminded him and let it burn. Nothing like learning hard way. But hated to see a loaf go to waste.

Now to replying to comments.
Pity you had to dump some of the softer cheeses you had bought Aileen. If they were of the unflavoured 'Philadelphia' cream cheese type, these make good cheesecakes which can be frozen. The more savoury 'softs' like Brie can be heated to make a sort of 'fondue' (hot dip), or added to pasta and other dishes where they should soften into a sort of 'cheese sauce'. Probably also be able to blend them down with some yogurt to make cold dips. Pate can usually be frozen, if it doesn't say otherwise on the pack.

When freezing dishes, be aware that any food that contains water (tomatoes etc) will 'split'. The water content frozen into ice crystals, so once thawed there seems a lot more liquid than first went into the freezer. This can be quite useful, as - when drained away - the flesh left of the tomato (or other) then has a more intense flavour. Adding tomato puree helps to thicken when freezing a dish using canned chopped tomatoes.

Anyone who has a surplus of home-grown tomatoes can freeze them as-is. They then end up looking/feeling exactly like red snooker balls. It is easy to remove skins from solid-frozen tomatoes by just dipping them into hot water for barely two seconds, the skins then almost slide off. When the tomato is thawed the ice crystals melt, the 'water' can then be drained away (or added to a soup - it may have a little flavour), and the resulting 'pulp' is excellent for making a thick tomato sauce. This once cooked can be frozen with lesschance then of it becoming 'watery' once thawed.

Regarding the trade magazine mentioned a day or so ago. Have checked on their website and it can be read on-line, but to do this I would have to 'subscribe'. Should be cheaper than buying over the counter, and will probably do this once I have read the small print.

Seems you are already 'back-tracking' to read some of the first missing posts Woozy. Hope you are finding the contents useful, each day more should be appearing, and by the end of today all of 2006 (as only began late September) and most of 2007 should have returned. When I have brought back as much as possible, will then 'refine' the search in the hope of deleting a few bits and returning more recipes that could still be missing.

Have heard about (and mentioned some time back) 'Approved Foods'. Almost sent in an order, although the postage and packing is a bit expensive, and only free (or certainly less) if a large amount (total) is ordered.
Many years ago was given some catering packs of sponge cake mix and scone mix (by a neighbour who ran a large B & B - she had apples from our tree in return). Found that - unlike the cake mixes we buy from supermarkets - no eggs were needed, dried egg being in the mix (the idea being behind 'domestic' mixes is that if the housewife has to add an egg, then the feeling is the cake can be counted as 'home-made').
With both cakes and scones made with the catering mixes there was a definite and fairly unpleasant 'after-taste', somewhat like the one we get from scones we buy from the supermarket. Too much raising agent. Really don't advise buying these.

The catering pastry mixes might be OK. Yet, having bought the 'domestic' packs of pastry mix in the past (I cannot make good pastry from scratch), still find these not as good as the 'jus-rol' packs of pastry that I can freeze and use when I want. Even professional cooks buy the chilled/frozen puff pastry rather than having to go to the effort of making it themselves. Anyone who can make a fairly decent pastry themselves, will found making up their own 'pastry-mix' is best.

Some time back did see some near-best-before-date packs of bread mixes sold from Approved Foods at a very low price (think around 39p each (to make one large loaf). Did think about that as I know from experience that bread mixes have a longer 'shelf-life' than that given, but as I didn't want anything else, the delivery charge would have put the price (per loaf) up far too much.
The Approved Foods seems to be a good site, and possibly very useful to those who can club together with family, friends and/or neighbours so that the bulk buying can be shared. But for the moment am going to stick with the local supermarket offers.

A welcome and group hug to Polly who has just discovered this site, and at the right time as she can now catch up with practically all the info given on the very early Challenge of mine. One thing to remember is that the prices given then could well be different now. For one thing, the Challenge was done in the winter (so seasonal prices of fresh produce could be different), and since then (four years ago) prices have risen, so if anyone wishes to keep within the £12.50 per person per week budget (which was how it worked out at the end) some tweaking of purchases may have to be done. However - we did eat very well during those ten weeks, and with my husband not deprived of his massive servings, no doubt there are plenty of ways to cut down without cutting out.
If there are any queries, please ask.

As so many economical recipes have previously been given, and will able to be retrieved once the big index is also back (give or take a few still missing ones), not really much left to keep adding to this site, so am hoping for more queries and requests for recipes to suit a specific need, rather than me just put any one that takes my fancy. This site is for YOUR benefit, not mine. I could, of course, start another challenge. Anyone any ideas?

Had a sudden thought. If a posting has to be deleted (or still missing), as I can still read it in the 'editing section' and also on the files my firstborn save for me, can always give missing recipes again, so nothing will then be 'lost'. So if you remember one that hasn't yet appeared, can still give it to you.

Rising prices, credit crunch, cutting down, cutting out... these are all on my mind at the moment. Yet most of us can still afford to cook a meal we wish to eat. In other (deprived) countries, often there is no choice.

Remember seeing a programme about Ethiopia where the poorest in rural areas were given one sack of dried beans to last the month (the same sized sack per family whatever the size, if there were a lot of children, hard luck). Usually the beans were cooked and eaten within the first two weeks and then the families had to live on foraged 'wild lettuce' that grew around their rural 'shacks'. They did keep chickens, scrawny things that lived mostly on the food/insects they could find, and the ground around their houses was quite fertile (but not used to grow things. Odd that.)
Why they didn't eat beans one day, lettuce on alternate days I don't know. At least this would have made the meals more 'balanced', and kept their internal 'pipes' working better.
As we saw chickens running around, presumably they had eggs (no mention of these) and about once a year one chicken was killed and cooked as a 'feast' for the whole community! Myself felt it would have made more sense to cultivate the earth, even just to sow a few of the beans so they had even more, hatch a few eggs to get more hens, and kill the surplus cockerels to give more meat. Apparently their poor life-style was all to do with lack of 'education'. No one had been taught how to 'farm', or even think about nutrition and 'balanced meals', so they stayed in the rut they had got stuck in.
At least we have so many advantages above and beyond the above, yet how many of us bother to 'step outside our box' and get on with improving our life using our own efforts? Instead we tend to be very alarmed about the cuts we will have to make, not realising that we still have so much to be thankful for. The one good thing being that with the store wars the supermarkets will fall over backwards cutting prices low enough to keep our custom. So no need really to worry too much at the moment. Just avoid the offers that are normally on junk foods, and zoom in on those most useful to ourselves.

Don't know whether it's my age, or am not eating enough, but yesterday felt so chilled I had to wrap myself up in two cuddle blankets AND fill a hot water bottle to first cuddle, then place under my feet (it does seem that warming feet is the best way to feel warm all over). Our sitting room faces east, so maybe that is why it seems chilly. In the end put the central heating on for 2 hours just to heat up the room. That's all it needed. Bit it won't help our annual fuel bill, as normally our c.h. is off at the end of May and only put back on again at the end of October. Let us hope we soon have a return to our normal warmer 'summer' weather, even if the sun doesn't always shine. Today it IS shining, with lots of blue sky and few fluffy clouds, so let us hope it stays that way.

While editing old postings, as well as removing a lot of the 'unnecessary', sometimes add a few words that might be 'useful'. Such as when celery was mentioned adding "that eating two sticks (I call these 'ribs') of raw celery daily has now been found to help lower blood pressure (by quite a lot)". So this is something I'm now doing. Normally don't like celery that much, although do use it cooked in many savoury dishes. Not sure if it lowers the b.p. when cooked, but for the moment am now eating it raw, and when the 'curves' are filled with low-fat cream cheese, they make a very good 'snack' ( even my 'light' lunch) , and these 'ribs' are also good used as a 'scoop' when eating dips. As it takes more calories to digest celery than in the celery itself, another good reason to eat it. Believe this veg also helps those with rheumatism (or is it arthritis?). Whatever - it sounds a good 'superfood'.
After my next check (September) we will see if my b.p. has reduced, my weight less, and my aches and pains lessened, then report back.

Having lived in what the young call 'the olden days', can remember that the meals then were so much simpler than today. War-time rationing caused them to be even more frugal, but before and after rationing our meals still remained much as our parents (and even ancestors) used to serve. It was the advent of the 'convenience' foods that started the rot. We did HAVE convenience foods before (custard powder, gravy granules, and many others previously chatted about), but nothing like frozen foods, chilled foods, ready-meals, and 'just heat 'n eats'. Practically all meals had to be made from scratch.

Today we have hundreds of new cookbooks published each year, numerous cookery magazines, lots of cookery programmes on TV, and more and more products appearing on supermarket shelves, so no wonder we are becoming 'food obsessed'. It seems as though everyone is out to get us to buy and eat as much food as possible. With so much 'done for us' (making it easy to put food on the table), and so many burger bars, pizza parlours, and ethnic take-aways, why do we need to bother to cook at all? But we still enjoy eating. No wonder we are becoming an obese nation.

It's unlikely we will ever return to the 'good plain meals' our mothers (grandmothers, great-grandmother's) cooked. For one thing our country cannot now provide enough home-grown/reared to feed our ever-expanding nation. We have to import a lot of fresh produce (as well as meat and fish), much of it fairly 'new' to us that our ancestors never had the chance to taste.
In my day rice was for puddings, and 'pasta' was macaroni (for macaroni cheese and macaroni puddings). When our children were small, canned spaghetti in tomato sauce was the next step. Now look at the variety of different rices and different pastas that can be bought, not to mention the different dishes we can make using them. How meals have changed.

We are actually blessed when it comes to the variety of foods we can buy to make a meal. Many of them still cheap enough for us not to be concerned. Perhaps it is the media (TV, books, mags) that are leading us up the path of belief that we should all be serving the meals they suggest, and that £5 is how much it costs to make a meal for a family of four. My advice is to use these recipes only as a guide, and to 'cut our coat according to our cloth'. In other words reduce the more expensive ingredients, making up the shortfall with the cheaper. Usually the dish ends up tasting much the same. Certainly it should cost a great deal less than £5.

If anyone is in doubt as to how cheaply we can feed our families these days, all I can say is log on to the wonderful website where you will find out how to feed a family for four for £25 a week. Some wonderful recipes given and loads of good advice.

The other day heard (again) about the factory farming of cows to produce milk. This is done in America, and the cows are all kept indoors , and never get to amble freely over the fields as they do here. Concern was felt about the welfare of the cows, but was told that the cows are perfectly contented kept in their 'bays' happily munching away. All warmth, food and water provided. This apparently was against 'animal right's'. To be kept permanently penned up, never to be allowed 'out'.

Yet how many of us hear about children constantly playing computerised games for hours in their bedrooms, or (older children) almost always clamped to a mobile, or Twittering on the comp (again in their bedrooms). Probably munching pizzas or some other snack someone has brought up to them. Never, ever eating a meal sitting round a table with the rest of the family. Possibly also being taken back and forth to school in the car.
Shouldn't they too be given their 'rights' and 'let out' to run freely in the fresh air? When it comes to food, it has to be said the penned cows were probably better (and more nourishingly) fed than many of these 'almost penned' children we hear about today. "Ah, but the cows don't have a choice" would probably be the response to this. Does choice come into it with children? Maybe they do choose to stay indoors, but this doesn't make it the right and healthiest way to live.
Or - you could say - if it's OK for children, then why isn't it OK for cows? Perhaps we should be getting ourselves and especially children living in healthy conditions and eating sensibly and not show more concern for animals (that generally have a better life than many of us anyway - yes, I KNOW all about battery hens etc, but you know what I mean).

Enough for today and not even a recipe. This means today's post can be wiped completely in several weeks from now. Perhaps I should keep the 'rambles' to the earlier part of each month, leaving the recipes to the end, then these should remain.

Finishing early so I can spend more time bringing back missing posts. Although the above is more 'rambles' than of interest, hope readers will still keep logging on, for this site will improve, this I can promise you. And soon. Keep sending in comments as I love to hear from you (even if you don't have a query), and hope you will all join me again tomorrow. See you then.