Saturday, June 04, 2011

Trials and Tribulations

Yesterday was both good and bad. We ( that's me, Beloved, and our daughter) went out for a drive - it truly was a wonderful day, the view across the Bay to the Lakeland hills was superb, we could see range after range of hills quite clearly.
Instead of just having a coffee, we settled for a light lunch as B would be out at his sailing social club in the evening, and therefore I would not need to cook him a 'proper' supper. My choice was Tuna Melt in Ciabatta bread, with a small side salad. Chips to share were also ordered. The 'melt' was lovely, as was the salad, but again too much bread. Although we didn't need 'afters' we did have dish of ice-cream each (two scoops!), as the brand they sell is lovely.

Problem came about an hour later when my dyspepsia returned (it didn't help as I hadn't taken my Rennies with me), and can only think it was either the warm bread or the chips that caused this. Recently have found that 'bought' bread and chips do now seem to upset my stomach, and because I love chips (and some bread) often keep forgetting this. It does seem it is only food purchased away from home (bread and take-away meals: Chinese, fish and chips etc) that seem to upset my tum. Anything home-made and I'm OK with, so hoping it is the preservative or other additives used in processed foods that my digestion has taken a dislike to, rather than something more serious.

Anyway, after a lovely meal and arriving home, had a sit-down to watch 'Doctors', planning to spend the afternoon in the garden, but felt steadily worse and so took to my bed as lying down often helps. Felt better later so watched a bit of TV ( EastEnders and Corrie too good to miss at the moment), then came in here and attempted to put the photos up on the blog - which EVENTUALLY managed to do (so scroll back and you will see them posted above yesterday's blog
By then it was 10.00pm and nearly dark, so went outside and gave the bedding plants (still in their boxes) a good watering, also the plants in the greenhouse. Did not zip the greenhouse door up as it was still very warm outside and there was no wind at all, not even a slight breeze.
Today the plan is to get those bedding plants in the pots, re-pot the last of the tomatoes into their final big pots, and put the courgette plants into their final bed. The nasturtiums also need planting out, and the small bay tree (bought this spring) already once potted on, is now so big it needs a much larger pot. Looks like being a busy day.

After having a few hours good sleep last night, and now feeling back to normal, am planning a Cold Meat Platter (cold roast beef, honey-roast ham, and sausages) with salad for B's supper. Will almost certainly make a cheese quiche to go with, probably bake another loaf (this time a white) as B is wolfing his way through the wholegrain. He said yesterday that homemade bread was far nicer than the bought, and he's not wrong there. Also hoping to make a batch of profiteroles. Can I find time to do it all? Have to wait and see.

Certainly the salads we have in the fridge are OK as we've already eaten some of them - but the Ecoli scare is making me think twice about buying salads in future. Wish they could pin it down to exactly whether the danger lies more with the washed and bagged salad leaves, or all types of salad (including whole lettuce).. Seems that if the produce was picked by 'dirty' hands (tomatoes, cucumbers etc) the bug could then be first on human skin and then passed to the skin of the produce picked, so we should wash everything. Even more sensible to grow our own produce. If the problem began in Germany, then perhaps it was German produce that was contaminated (they eat a lot of sausages in Germany so perhaps it wasn't salads), although like most European countries they probably import foods from warmer climes when out of season. We should be safe enough if we buy locally grown (local as in these isles, not necessarily within 25 miles of where we live). When it comes to food these days, always seems we have something to be concerned about.

Now that it seems that photos can be put on this blog again, the aim is to show more. Anything particular readers wish to see? A speedy way to see past pics is to log onto Taste the Goode Life via the search box where I see there is a list at the side. Think it says 'images' or a word meaning much the same thing, and when that is clicked on, pages of photos come up. Not sure why - considering it was my blog I searched for - but not all the photos are mine - but the words under each one state the name of the person/blog that it relates to, so easy enough to sort out, although many blogs seem to have a similar name to mine, so don't get mixed up.
If a picture is deemed interesting enough to read more, then just click onto the pic and the posting that it first appeared should then come up, so you can read more about it. The photos put up yesterday should now be in that list, and somewhere should also be other photos taken when a previous batch of chicken stock was made. Certainly there is at least one photo showing a vast amount of ham that is able to be sliced from a (small) home-cooked gammon. Nothing as good as a photo to prove a point - unless you are able to be in my kitchen at the time to see it for real.
My daughter (et al) thinks I should start running cookery courses in my kitchen. Not much use to readers who live far afield, but it is a tempting thought. If only we lived in a larger house, could have 'residential' courses.

Thanks for comments sent in. There is no 'ball' on the mouse we are using Ciao. A previous one had - and yes, this did need cleaning quite often. The one we are using at the present time has an indentation in the base showing a red light, and appears perfectly clean. Am sure the main problem lies with the comp. but it is not as bad as previously.

Thanks for the advice re putting up photos MimsyS, although you have picked up that I probably would find it a bit confusing to do (I truly am a bear of little brain when it comes to computers - they frighten me to bits). But as you see, have been able to put up the photos in the normal way again. Problem yesterday was I'd forgotten to click twice on them. Only clicked once, so that's why they weren't picked up in the posting. Silly, silly me.

Is it a welcome back to Alison (from Dorset)? If you are a new reader then the usual group hugs for joining our happy band of 'commenteers'. Good to hear from you anyway. Pleased you enjoyed yesterday's recipes. More yogurt ones coming up, and keep in touch.

Browsed through my Indian cook-book yesterday and discovered a recipe that is a combination of the traditional Indian sweet called 'shrikrand', and mango pulp. The thought occurred to me that those readers who have the 'EasyYo' equipment might like to use the mango-flavoured mix to save buying a fresh mango, although it could also be used with fresh (or canned) mango ) - the more mango the better in my opinion. As you will see - the dish starts with the yogurt being put into a muslin bag and drained overnight to turn it into 'cheese'.
Tip: when wishing to make a firmer set EasyYo, use a little less water when making up. If intended to use when making sweet desserts, add some powdered sugar sweetener (Canderel) to the yogurt powder. This often means further sugar need not be added, and makes a dessert that can be eaten by diabetics.

Traditionally 'chirongi' nuts are used as a stoping to this dish, used often in Indian cookery as they have a nutty, musky taste - sometimes added to curries and kebabs, but more often sprinkled over desserts and sweetmeats. We cannot buy these nuts here, so have suggested using toasted flakes almonds instead. You may be able to think up a more interesting alternative. Popping candy perhaps!

Amrakhand: serves 4

1 1/2 pints (900ml) full fat, set yogurt (suggest Greek)

6 tblsp caster sugar, or to taste (see above)

half pint (300ml) mango pulp (canned or fresh)

toasted flaked almonds

Tie the yogurt in a clean cotton (muslin) bag and hang up overnight in a cool place to drain off the whey (this can be discarded or used in another recipe). When the (now) yogurt cheese is quite dry, untie the bag and tip the contents into the bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or whisk, adding the sugar a little at a time.

When light in texture, fold in the mango pulp, then chill in the fridge. Serve cold, sprinkled with the (chosen) nuts.

Once we have discovered the delights of curry (not all curries are hot, many are just 'fragrant'), we like to try as many different 'curry dishes' as we can. Am offering this next recipe (a Creamy Dumpling Curr) for you to have go at making, firstly because it uses very few 'main' (and cheap) ingredients. the rest are mainly spices. It's also a very unusual dish that comes from the state of Uttah Pradesh, and eats well with rice or 'rotis'.

Pakodewali Kadhi: serves 4

half pint (300ml) yogurt

8 tblsp gram flour (see earlier note)

1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

half tsp turmeric

2 tsp sugar

pinch salt

4 tblsp sunflower oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

8 black peppercorns

4 cloves


5 oz (150g) gram flour

pinch bicarbonate of soda

1 onion, finely chopped

half tsp each fenugreek and cumin seeds


Beat together the yogurt, gram flour, chilli, turmeric, sugar, and salt. Put the oil in a heavy frying pan and stir in the cumin, peppercorns and cloves. Add the yogurt mixture, reduce heat and simmer until the consistency of a very thick batter. Remove from heat.

To make the dumplings, mix all the dumpling ingredients together to form a thick batter, then heat enough oil in a deep pan to near smoking point, the drop in a couple of teaspoons of the batter. Fry until golden, then drop into a bowl of water to soften a bit, then remove immediately, squeezing out any water that may have been absorbed in that very short time. Add to the yogurt 'curry'. Make the rest of the dumplings in the same way. Traditionally served with a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander leaves and two tblsp melted butter that has has half tsp chilli powder added (do not stir). Serve hot.

One more yogurt recipe coming up - this seen recently in a cookery mag (they use strawberries, but so that I don't copy the recipe exactly, am using another fruit). Also using standard yogurt (not the 0% variety they stated). It's up to the cook to choose how low-fat an ingredient has to be.

Frozen Berry Yogurt: serves 5

5 oz (150g) raspberries (or other summer berries)

half a 450g can of 'light' condensed milk

1 x 500g tub Greek yogurt

Whizz half the berries in a food processor, or mash up in a bowl, then stir in the condensed milk, followed by the yogurt. When well blended fold in the remaining fruit (chopped into small pieces if large).

Put the mixture into a container, cover and freeze until solid (will keep frozen for up to a month). Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.

A few more recipes (this time yogurt is NOT an ingredient), given purely because they are quick and easy to make, also very tasty. Even my Beloved should be able to make these (but doubt he will ever wish to - although he would happily eat them). Basically they are all 'storecuboard' dishes, so ones to make when time is short and shopping is not an option.

The first is a dish to make when we can't be bother to do much more than open a tin and chop an onion. Takes only 20 minutes to cook. Given it this name as it is cheap enough to make.

Mean Bean 'Goulash': serves 2

2 tblsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tblsp smoked paprika

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes... half the can of water

1 x 400g mixed beans, rinsed and drained

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onions for about 5 minutes or until they are beginning to soften. Stir in the paprika, fry for a further minute then add the tomatoes. Rinse the can out by filling half full of water and also add this to the pan. Bring to the simmer and cook for 10 minutes until thickened to a glossy sauce. Add the beans and cook for 2 or so minutes to heat them through, then serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche and toasted 'bruscetta' drizzled with olive oil.

Curry in a Hurry: serves 4

1 tblsp sunflower oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 - 2 tsp Thai red curry paste

1 x 400g chopped tomatoes

1 x 50g sachet coconut cream

14 oz (400g) frozen cooked prawns (thawed)

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and ginger and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a further minute, then add the tomatoes and coconut cream. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. If becoming too thick, add a little boiling water.

Stir in the prawns - they should heat through quite rapidly depending upon size (too long in the pan and they will become tough), then serve piled on a bed of plain rice.

Note: raw frozen prawns could also be used, in which case they are added to the dish 5 - 10 minutes (depending upon size) before serving.

Final recipe is one for pasta lovers. A bit like a carbonara but without the egg. Use chestnut mushroom if you can as these are much meatier than the normal 'whites' (and am assuming you do have some mushrooms in the fridge), although 'ordinary' button mushrooms can be used.

Bacon and Mushroom Pasta: serves 4

14 oz (400g) pasta shapes (any shape will do)

8 oz (225g) chestnut mushrooms, sliced

8 rashers streaky bacon, cut across into strips

4 tblsp pesto

1 x 200g tub cream cheese (or creme fraiche)

handful basil leaves, torn into shreds

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions, then drain (reserving a little of the cooking water) and set aside. Put the bacon into a pan and over a fairly high heat cook the bacon until it releases its fat (or add a little oil) then stir in the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until golden. Add the pasta and about a tablespoon of the reserved water and stir-fry for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese and most of the basil (if the 'sauce' is too thick, add a little more water). Fold in most of the basil and then serve, scattering the remaining basil on top.

Finishing earlier than usual today as have yesterday's work to catch up on. This means my day will be spent feverishly cooking and gardening. Maybe even taking a photo or two (but only if worth your attention). The forecast does not look good - in that the clouds will return, so must make the most of the sunshine today (and hopefully tomorrow) when - once my 'chores' are done - might be able to scoot out again with Norris and mingle with the tourists that flock in at weekends.

Oh dear, the wind seems to have returned, so had better go and make sure the greenhouse is not taking off. Hope you all managed to enjoy a good weekend, and look forward to hearing from you - hopefully tomorrow. See you then.