Monday, June 27, 2011

We Start Again...

Thanks for comments. Let us know how the fruit cake turned out when made in your bread-maker Cheesepare, I (personally) have my doubts it will as good as oven-baked, but then as I've never made cakes in mine, how would I know?

Recipe for using chicken should now have appeared back on site Woozy (March '09), the one covering chicken salads had to be wiped to give room for the other 'meats', but enough there I hope to satisfy your needs.

Not sure how warm it was here yesterday. Beloved went off to Leeds to meet up with his old sailing mates at their annual 'Commodore's Weekend' (with buffet), so left early. As I had two packets of crisps left from the previous day that B had brought me, decided to start the day with those. Half an hour later discovered they upset my tum, so had to take to my bed where I lay shivering until at least noon. The sun came out later, and it did seem a bit warmer, but even though I got up early afternoon, still did not feel too good, so went back to bed and stayed there until this morning. Now feeling completely better of course.

If only Beloved would do as he is asked. I requested he brought me in Walker's crisps as these seem to give me no problem whatever the flavour (and B was told this), so what did he do - bring me in a big mixed pack of spicy-flavoured crisps of another brand! He dangled these in front of me and said "will this be OK?" and I said "I suppose so". Did eat some on Saturday and had no problem, but the two remaining were a different flavour, so perhaps that is where the problem lay - different spices.
From now on think I'll stop eating crisps altogether.

Anyway, the good news is that today discover I have now reached and dropped below that 'mile-stone' I was telling you about. So once I have lost another 6 lbs will happily eat what I wish just aiming not to gain enough to put me back 'over the top'.

At least, lying in bed gave me ample time to consider my blog and where to go next with it. Thought it might be a good idea to see how much can be made from 'basic' ingredients I already have (this means no actual money need be spent), yet still work to a set price (say £5). This means costing out just the amounts used. A photo will be taken of the ingredients before used, another after they have been 'made-up'. But that's not the end of the story. Then comparison costing will be done to find out how much the products made would have cost me if bought over the counter. Only then will it prove how much cheaper it is to make at home rather than buy, as well as showing how our stores can 'work for their living'.

Once that is done will - within the next few days - probably do a 'meat challenge': possibly buying a chicken, a small gammon, and some brisket. Photo these raw. Then portion the bird, then make stock, show the meat from the carcase, cook the gammon and brisket, slice both and show how much, then again compare prices against the supermarket packs of similar. May leave the chicken breasts on the carcase, then roast and slice these too.
Supermarket packed cooked meats, and also chicken joints are very expensive for what we get, so am hoping that by showing in photo-form what we can end up with (and the savings made), might inspire others to have a go.

Forgot to cancel the trade mag, and it appeared on our doormat with the paper, and have to say it may not be everyone's idea of a good read, but to me - the Queen of Cost-Cutters - it does give some useful information.
This week (maybe every week) they give a 'shopping basket' of 33 items, showing how much each cost at the four major supermarkets. Now, don't know who makes up this basket, but at least a quarter of the items would never see the light of day in my trolley as these would probably be bought only by those who have the money in the first place, such as: Bahlsen Leibniz Biscuits (cheapest at Asda for £1.35); Guylian Belgian Chocolate Sea Shells (again Asda £3.00); Magnum Classic Ice-cream (Morrison's £2.29); Mr. Kipling French Fancies (Morrison's £1.20); Oyster Bay Wine (Asda £8.98); and several others that I wouldn't buy but you might (sweet potatoes, Orangina, finger rolls...).

My ghasted was flabbered when I saw that Tesco's own brand sardines had risen again by another 8p, their price now being 49p a can (Asda price 41p). But still these are far cheaper than the branded sardines. Sooner or later these will be 'on offer' (says she hopefully), time then to buy a dozen more cans (we still have 9 left in the larder, bought when they were 35p).

An advert amused me. This for "an exciting innovation in salad". Shows different packets of assorted salad leaves (iceberg, mixed, green leaf etc), and on the bag it says "simply washed in warm and then cold water to guarantee natural freshness for 2 days once opened".
Well, excuse me for breathing, but surely bagged salads on sale now normally keep that long anyway once opened (when kept in the fridge). Considering the price charged for these 'prepared' leaves, it is far cheaper for us to buy (say) a whole iceberg lettuce (which is about the same price as one bag of leaves), keep it in the fridge, then tear off the leaves as needed. An iceberg, properly stored, will keep well for at least two weeks (in our fridge often 3 - 4).

In the newspaper yesterday there was a "seed alert over E.coli." Apparently a seeds merchant had (allegedly) supplied contaminated sprouting seeds (whether in just seed form or sprouting was not said, and am assuming they were already sprouting), which led to several people in France being made ill. The advice now is not to eat any sprouting seeds raw (such as alfalfa, bean sprouts, fenugreek etc) but that "they should be cooked thoroughly until steaming hot". Which sort of defeats the object as their useful (and soluble) vitamins then end up in the cooking water. Perhaps steaming them is the best way.

Vegetarians may be interested to know that Quorn are now about to offer us some 'fish-type' products. Can't say the thought appeals to me, but it might to some.
And (this I can't believe to be true but it is), a company is now about to launch an egg brand targeted at home bakers "to tap into the growing consumer interest in home-baking". Hence The Ella Valentine eggs (£1.29 for six) that are 'being rolled out to the multiples over the coming weeks). Apparently the egg market has discovered "a gap that isn't being exploited is the way in which eggs could be used".
It just shows that when suppliers feel we need to be told that an egg should be used when baking, and then supplies us with "the right ones", something very wrong is happening in the food industry.

A minor point of interest is that 69% of consumers had bought raw baking ingredients in the past year, with four million shoppers baking from scratch at least once a month. In my mother's day it was 100% buying the raw ingredients, baking done AT LEAST once a week, probably a lot more often. How things have changed (and not for the better).

One final little gem. A new range of 'apple jam' will be arriving on Tesco's shelves shortly. Apparently "apple and jam are the two most iconic products enjoyed by the Brits, yet the two have never been combined as a commercially made food". There will be quite a range of flavours (all with apple) to spread on toast or to eat with meats and cheese. My interest lies with the 'Apple and Strawberry', and 'Apple and Blueberry', mainly because with 'apple' being the first name, more apple is probably used that the other fruits named, and as apples are much cheaper....! Say no more. Nevertheless, for this 'new idea' for preserves, these will be on sale at £1.99p for a 295g pot (less than 12 oz). So why don't we start to make our own?
(A footnote to this, one of the varieties mentioned is "Apple, Rudebarb and Ginger". Was that a spelling error? Or a name to catch the eye? But then I've been making Rhubarb and Ginger jam for years, so now will add a little apple as well, and with home-grown 'rudebarb' (will now always call it that) and apples, it shouldn't cost much more than 25p a jar.

Methinks today will be baking day, so had better get my thinking cap on and decide what to make. The sun is shining, so hope will also find time to go and sit outdoors, but work comes first. Really should finish off the last of the 'post pruning', but as when too much of the same food ia eaten within a short time, I've lost the taste for it, so will deal with that later. At least plenty has been brought back to read again (or maybe even for the first time).
Believe it or not re-discovered many hints and tips that I'd completely forgotten about, so reading these again has helped me too.

Time also that I peeled away the veil of invisibility from my eyes and took a long hard look at the living room and this dining room, both sadly in need of 'tidying up'. It's surprising what we don't care to notice, but when the doorbell rings - suddenly we see the mess in all its glory. Have always admired Quentin Crisp who once said "if you leave the dust lying for a month or two, then it never seems to get any worse". How true!

Apparently half the weight in our well-used pillows comes from all the dust, dead skin, dead mites etc these have collected over the years (even when covered regularly with a clean pillowcase). Wondered why my pillow seemed to be getting heavier, thought this was because I was getting older and weaker. Perhaps time to buy a new one. But then, me being so old, why bother? As long as I can lie there and not hear something moving under my head, then should be safe enough.

It's only just after 9.00am so if I make a start now, and the weather holds, just might manage to have the afternoon free for a bit of sun-bathing. It's about time, the past weeks have been more like November weather, and that's being unkind to November, perhaps I should say February. It would be so nice if we could have a climate where we knew it would be fairly warm and dry for a few months (as in some countries). We have to wait for eleven years between our 'summer droughts' (due to sunspots).

Have read that in either the spring or autumn (or maybe both) of 2012 (that's next year), there will be solar flares of magnitude that could disrupt our communication systems for a while. That'll be fun. Only noticeable these days because we now have such advanced technology that these 'flares' will affect. But as solar flares are very common (but the larger ones do not appear so often - and probably few in our recent life-time) normally pass by unnoticed (unless you are lucky enough to see the Northern Lights). In the old days, when no-one had mobile phones or computers, it was probably only the 'mains' electricity that 'blew its fuse' and only then in some countries. Before that - when there was no electricity, no-one would ever know there had been a 'flare'. Yet, as an inch of snow on the ground can cause our nation to grind to a halt, when anything disrupts out life, panic can start. Believe me, there are worse things in life than doing without the use of a mobile phone for a day or two. Stock up with household candles (and matches), read a book instead of watching TV. Cook on a barbie instead using an electric oven. Enjoy life as it used to be. Discover that every cloud has its silver lining.
Not that things will probably happen anyway. Just gives me something to write about.

With that will leave you for today (it is now 9.30am) and will go and clear the kitchen decks to start my latest 'challenge'. Hope to have something useful to report back to you tomorrow. Hope to see you then.