Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Enjoy What You Do

Slowly managing to catch up with 'The Good Cook' on iPlayer. Might not always wish to cook what the chef is demonstrating, but just love the way he enjoys what he does, especially when eating the end results. He also seems to take it leisurely, and have to say it is changing my approach to cooking - might even make a proper meal for myself more often. Think the prog. must be filmed in his own kitchen, for it is a bit 'cluttered', unlike Nigel Slater's which has everything hidden away behind closed doors - yet his cooking too inspires me. Probably much has to do with the cook than the actual food.
Other cooks that inspire me are Jamie Oliver, Hugh F.W., and Rick Stein. The very first cook that set me on the road to cooking anything more than 'meat and two veg' was Fanny Cradock. Can you believe that? Since then tend to watch cookery progs more for pleasure than expecting to learn very much. The cooks seem to do everything so fast (even Jamie O), which doesn't help novice cooks. Who and why are your favourite cooks?

Thanks for comments. Can't remember the title of the prog on cleaning products Kathryn, but it was shown on Monday at 7.30pm BBC2 (remember because as B was out I was able to miss Corrie to see it - he is a Corrie fan).
Am sure your mother will have never been as happy and contented in her house as you are with yours, for snobs (my mother was also one) are always ready to criticise and always trying to improve their lot without ever seeming to end up enjoying what they have. It's as though they have the need to put folk down so they can make their own life seem a lot better. My mother didn't criticise me directly, but it was always clear that I hadn't reached the heights she hoped I would (like marrying someone with a title!!). Still, we all want the best for our children, and possibly many of us push them further along roads they don't wish to travel.

The price of sugar Sairy is the same on the Tesco website as you told us, and as the 2kg bags work out at £1.20 (60p per kg) as against the 1 kg bags at 82p, means that buying the 2kg gives a saving of 44p! Can't understand why the 5kg bags are more expensive per kg. At one time they WERE the cheapest way to buy. But like every product that is packed in different sizes (coffee, pulses, oatmeal etc...) always best to check the price per 100g or kg (whichever is appropriate) before we buy - for some larger sizes can work out dearer by weight.

Good to hear from you again Frugal Queen. As you say, getting children to help with the cooking in their early years sets them on the right path for their future when it comes to feeding themselves and their families. As it is the summer holidays now, a good time to teach all school children how to cook, even to the extent of making their own supper from scratch.
Certainly today we would never be allowed to let children chop wood and light fires, yet in my youth we seemed to be allowed to do most anything that today would be deemed dangerous. Remember well (and this in Coventry so must have been about six) holding a sheet of newspaper to cover the fireplace so that the just-lit fire behind could suck up air from under and start burning faster. This often meant the paper itself would suddenly catch fire in the middle, so a wonder I didn't end up in flames either. We only have to get burned once to understand how dangerous fire can be.

For some reason, the one thing that worried my mother most was not fire, sharp knives (for I also had to shave down blocks of salt for her regularly using a very sharp knife - still aged around six or younger) was getting knocked down by a bus or car. Not that there were many cars in those days (due to petrol rationing during the war) and all of them went at lower speeds than they do today. This meant she would walk me to school then collect me every day even up to the age of 10 - much to my embarrassment.

When I went to another school at 13 my mother - for some reason - allowed me to ride there on my bicycle, and considering the way I would sail down the hills with my feet on the handlebars, and be a bit careless on the major roads, certainly this was far more likely for me to have an accident. But never did, and she never saw watched me ride.
It was when I began to take up horse-riding that my mother then began to worry again, and this time probably rightly, for one day had to change horses as the one I normally rode was ill, so was given a flighty ex-racehorse to ride (mainly because I was too tall for the other horses). This kept bucking, and eventually bolted with me, and as we approached a wall with a big tree behind it (that had a branch in the right place to knock my head off if the horse jumped the wall) I decided to deliberately fall off when it next bucked as I could see what would happen. Landed on the ground still in a sitting position, knocking the wind out of me, and jarring my spine. The horse continued and jumped the wall without me on its back. Suffered bad backache off and on since then, but at least have still kept my head on my shoulders. Was not allowed to ride again, although they made me get up and remount the horse once it had been caught, and ride it back to the stables - in agony!

Now that the courgettes are thriving, there will always be too many, and so no reason - later in the season - to let some of them continue growing into marrows. At one time used to make marrow and ginger jam for a friend who LOVED it, and if using a can of pineapple pieces and cooking the marrow in the pineapple juice, then adding the pineapple and bits of crystallized ginger, could turn this into almost a pineapple jam (which she enjoyed even more).

Here is a recipe for basic marrow jam. Just stir in snippets of crystallised or stem ginger prior to bottling. Lakeland sell a ginger extract - mainly for cake flavouring, but a teaspoon of this added to a preserve (orange marmalade, marrow jam etc) really gives it a bit more ginger 'boost'. The recipe originally was for 8 lb marrow, but as it makes 10 lb jam, have cut the proportions by half as then this might fit into using up larger courgettes.
Marrow Jam: makes 5 lb
4 lb marrow
zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 lbs sugar
Peel the marrow and remove pith and seeds. The marrow flesh should then weigh 3 lb. Dice the flesh and put into a steamer and cook until just tender. Put the cooked marrow into a bowl and pour over the lemon juice and zest. Add the sugar, then cover and leave to stand for 24 hours before putting into a preserving pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and continue cooking until the marrow is transparent and the syrup thick (setting point). Bottle up in the usual way.

Just come across an old recipe that would be perfect if we have home-made yogurt we wish to use up, some left-over egg yolks and some home-made chicken stock. Together these make a refreshing and extremely nourishing and 'healthy' soup.
Because yogurt 'splits' when boiled, it is necessary to stabilise it. To do this blend a teaspoon of cornflour with a little water and gradually beat this into 12 fl oz (350mm) natural yogurt. Pour this mixture into a pan and bring slowly to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes until thickened.
Chicken Yogurt Soup: serves 4
12 fl oz stabilised yogurt (see above)
1 pint (600ml) chicken stock
3 large egg yolks, beaten
2 tblsp ground almonds
salt and pepper
1 - 2 tblsp chopped fresh mint
small knob butter
Bring the chicken stock to the boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour a little of the stock over the beaten eggs, blending them together thoroughly, then stir this into the remaining stock. Return to the heat (very low heat) until just beginning to simmer - stirring all the time, but do not boil or the eggs will curdle. Keep stirring until the soup thickens, then gradually stir in the stabilised yogurt, then fold in the ground almonds and seasoning to taste. Saute the chopped mint in the butter for a couple of minutes, then fold into the soup just before serving.

Final recipe today is a favourite dish of Napoleon and served to him every day for his lunch whilst exiled in St. Helena. Made using dried haricot beans that have been first soaked for 8 hours, this recipes could also be made with a similar pulse such as cannellini or pinto beans. If using pre-cooked beans then adjust the recipe accordingly. Methinks it is more the flavouring gained from the other ingredients that make the dish, rather than the choice of beans to be used. The herbs mentioned in the recipe are: parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives or spring onions, but we could use others if we wish.
Napoleon's Bean Salad: serves 6
8 oz (225g) dried haricot beans
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, quartered
bouquet garni
salt and pepper
a good half pint finely chopped mixed herbs (see above)
5 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp caster sugar
Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Then drain and put them into a large oven-proof casserole with the onion, carrot, bouquet garni and plenty of black pepper. Add water to cover the beans by half an inch. Put on lid and cook in the oven at 150C, 300F, gas 2 for 3 hours (or simmer on the hob for 2 hours). If necessary top up with hot water during cooking so the beans don't dry out.
When cooked, season with salt then cook for a further five minutes. Drain the beans, removing the veg and b.garni, and put the beans into a serving bowl. Add the chopped herbs, oil, vinegar, mustard and sugar and stir to blend everything together as thoroughly as possible. Cool, then chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Finishing early today as Norma the Hair will be here this morning. The weather seems to have brightened up. Yesterday started badly, but the sun came out during the afternoon so sat in the sun for half an hour. Have never before managed to acquire such a good tan. But only on my arms, a slight tan on my face, but the rest of me is kept covered. Wish my support stockings were a deeper brown colour, but can't have everything I suppose.

Before I clear the conservatory of B's stuff (AGAIN) to give room for Norma's hair dryer, will go and water my toms. Meant to do that yesterday when picking toms and lettuce leaves for B's supper, but forgot to go out later and do so. B chose CMP for his supper, but had only ham, pork pie and sausages to go with a rather good salad. Offered corned beef, but B (thankfully) declined (or I'll soon have none left in my larder).

Did make B a 'sort of' Tiramasu for afters. Basically layered some sponge fingers (that had been dipped in hot strong black coffee) over the base of an oblong dish, covered these with a layer of cream cheese that had been beaten with a bit of double cream (and a dash of Cointreau), sprinkled this with grated chocolate, then covered with another layer of dipped sponge, topped with the remaining cream cheese and more chocolate on top plus a sprinkle of sugar as had forgotten to put any in the cream (but there was sugar on the sponge fingers anyway). Didn't ask him if he liked it, but he demolished half quite rapidly, and will no doubt eat the remaining half today. Am planning to thaw and reheat a Butter Chicken curry made a few weeks ago and stored in the freezer. Served with rice and a few 'accompaniments' this should satisfy B. Am hoping he doesn't ask for something else instead. Don't feel much like cooking today.

With that I leave you, hoping to meet up with you all again tomorrow. See you then.