Friday, July 01, 2011

Hopefully Back

For some reason blogger wouldn't publish yesterday. Maybe they had closed down for more repairs for a while. All my - rather lengthy - post was wiped out, so have to start again.
Anyway, did a 'test' this morning and it published. So will catch up, firstly with replying to your comments.

Woozy, accurate weighing is not always necessary, but as some cake and biscuit recipes use differerent proportions of certain ingredients, then any alteration just makes the 'end product' alter in both taste and texture. Different flours absorb more (or less) liquid, sugar differs both in consistency (from icing, to caster, to granulated and on through various 'browns') so the right amounts may be used but if slightly different this will also make a difference.
In the old days most cooks used to measure 'by the eye', and gauge whether more or less liquid was needed to gain that 'dropping' consistency (from the spoon) that is about right for all cake batters. As I also (now) 'throw ingredients together', and they work well enough, then carry on. Given enough experience we should know that a bit more (or less) of this doesn't usually matter too much. When you think about it - that's the way cakes and biscuits have evolved into different varieties. They (nearly all) use flour, butter, sugar etc, and its using different proportions that make the changes.

Self-raising flour is used only for convenience, plain flour will always do as long as the correct amount of raising agent is added when needed (recipes already using S.R. flour sometimes need even more baking powder or bicarb, so allow for that as well).
American all-purpose flour can (I have been told by a relative in America) made by us if we blended equal amounts of our plain flour with our strong plain flour. It's not a mixture of plain and S.R. With that little extra gluten content it could work quite well when making pastry or certain cakes.

Wen, if you have any old or 'free' CD/DVD's (we occasionally get them free with our newspaper), then hang these from a bit of string above/amongst your fruit bushes/trees. If no discs, then make some using cardboard shapes (any shape) and cover with foil. It's the shiny metal (esp. in a breeze) that frightens off birds.

In idea came into my mind yesterday about using those unsweetened chocolate muffins. Certainly they were fine when soaked in a little syrup then heated in the microwave and eaten with cream. But also they can (and will be) made into crumbs (perhaps also with a few of the banana ones), soaked in golden syrup, put into a pastry case and baked to make a Chocolate Treacle Tart.
They can also be sliced, sugar (or sugar syrup) added, and used as the base of a cheesecake. Not forgetting the crumb base of a Queen of Puddings. Almost worth making the unsweetened just for this purpose.

Going back to 'check twice before you buy'. Noticed that Tesco were selling their 'half-moon' gammons (normally £4 each for 750g) on offer: 'buy 3 for £10, or 4 for £12' (the latter saving £4 on their total RSP). Nearly fell for that, then discover their 'full moon' gammons (1.5kg) were also on offer 'buy two for £10' . Together these were the same weight (3 kg) as four of the 'halves', but buying these would save a further £2.

Nescafe (original) also on offer saved a good amount. A 200g jar with 50% free worked out cheaper (per 100g) than the 300g jars. As it was just a month since my last order, and to take advantage of the 'free' £9 (plus reductions) that I got if I ordered this week, did send in an order so bought two of the large gammons and four jars of the coffee (which because of the 50% free came in 300g jars anyway - so when empty, give me more to add to my collection of 'storage jars').
Total reductions (the 'free' plus offers) reduced my bill by 25%, so that pleased me. As ever, am now well stocked up, but as I still have another £9 'free' voucher, will probably send into another order next month (for milk, eggs, cream and long-shelf life items, plus some fresh produce to take advantage, and after then sit back and wait to see what happens.

Thanks to Eileen for letting you know about the comp. problem. If I was ill, would probably get Steve to let you know, but if blogger is 'disabled', then no message could be shown (either by posting or by comment). Probably blogger did return later yesterday, but it hadn't when Eileen phoned, so didn't bother to check again. If I can't write early, then I don't write at all. So there!

Have to say that if this messing me around (not personal but it often feels like it) continues, will probably change to another blogsite. Not sure how to do this, but it really frustrates me beyond measure when I can't write to you, and yesterday - after all the time spent editing previous posts - then finding I couldn't continue, felt that at least there was now enough for everyone to read, so I might as well take a few weeks off before starting with another blog company. But how would I let you know?

Nothing much happened yesterday except a smaller than usual grocery delivery, cooking one of the gammons (firstly on the hob, then removing the skin, slashing the fat and spooning over a blend of honey and whole-grain mustard, then finishing off in a hot oven for 20 minutes to crisp the fat). Weighed the 1.5kg gammon before cooking - this in 'old money' being just over 3 lbs - and it came in at 3 lb 10 oz. So even more for my money! After cooking on the hob, it lost only the weight of the skin removed.

Although not quite cold, B had several slices of this ham with his supper (a mini-Cold Meat Platter: ham, corned beef, sausages (no chicken or beef this time), with watercress, tomatoes, beetroot, mushrooms. The ham tasted wonderful with the 'glaze'. The rest now tightly wrapped in foil, sitting in the fridge to be sliced later (the other gammon has been frozen to cook later).
Reminds me - the mushrooms were also on offer. A large Value pack with BOGOF. Yippee!!

Stocked up with canned tuna, and also bought some dried pinto beans. Baked beans also on offer but as there are still at least one 4-pack in the larder (plus several 'loose' cans) felt I didn't really NEED them (this time). Did buy more flour and have to admit to making a very grave error - for the bags that arrived were small ones. I didn't check the weight when ordering!! For some reason always assumed flour was sold in the larger bags. So not such as saving as was meant to be. Just shows how 'check before we buy' is now vitally important. Having already given that advice and not taking it, can only hang my head in shame. What does that make me? Silly, silly Shirley in spades.

So not a lot to write about today. Decided not to write again what was lost yesterday (mainly about strikes and things) for I was having a real moan, and well - it's over now. The only way we can gain any pleasure out of our 'credit crunch' is to find ways to enjoy it, not continually find the gloom and doom (as I seem to do more and more these days - put it down to age).

We hear (and read) about people who are now so strapped for cash they are just having to make the most of what they have, with home-cooking and 'growing their own' now part of their life-style, and they all say they have never been happier. Suppose - in a way - it's like being given a gift that is so shabbily (and dirtily) wrapped that it was more than a disappointment, but when opened - inside was discovered the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
As I keep saying - as long as we have the right attitude - this recession can prove the best thing for us Brits than sliced bread. We really did need something like this to kick-start us into taking responsibility for our own lives, instead of always paying for others to do things for us. Money doesn't make us happy, having less money usually does.

The recipe today uses cooked ham (and am hoping we now do cook our own), also yogurt (ditto), and the rest of the ingredients should (says she hopefully) be always in our stores (or reasonable substitutes). So a fairly quick and tasty summer dish to make.
Myself prefer to buy canned pineapple rings rather than chunks. When drained, the surplus are frozen and just one ring can be cut into chunks to add to fruit salads, Chinese stir-fries or a dish such as this. They can juice/syrup can also be frozen (add to sweet and sour sauces, jellies, fruit salads etc). Wholewheat pasta is recommended, but the ordinary 'white' will do. Lemon juice could be used instead of the vinegar. Use the 'syrupy' part of the mango chutney, any 'fruity bits' can be added to the finished salad if you wish.
Devilled Ham and Pineapple Salad: serves 4
8 oz (225g) pasta penne (or other shapes)
5 fl oz (150ml) natural or Greek yogurt
1 tblsp cider or white wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard (or Dijon)
half tsp caster (or icing) sugar
2 tblsp mango chutney
4 oz (100g) lean ham, diced
1 x 200g (7 oz) can pineapple chunks (see above)
2 ribs celery, chopped
half bell pepper (any colour) seeded and diced
1 tsp flaked almonds (pref toasted), coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta until 'al dente', then drain. Rinse with cold water, drain well and leave to cool.
Take a large bowl, and use to make the dressing by mixing the yogurt, vinegar, mustard, sugar and chutney together, adding seasoning to taste, then add the pasta and toss the lot together. Add the ham, pineapple, celery and bell pepper (and mango bits from the chutney if you wish), lightly fold together, then transfer to a serving dish, scattering the almonds on top.

Forgive me for not writing in my usual 'free-flow' manner. Am still in a slight state of shock after yesterday's posting disappeared from my screen, not even kept in draft. Am still doubtful that today's will be published. The only way to find out is 'publish and be damned'. If it does, then if blogger doesn't play silly bees again will be back again tomorrow, with more interesting things to write about. See you then. (and if you can - keep those comments coming, I need cheering up!!!).