Sunday, August 14, 2011

Frozen Assets

Surprisingly, managed yesterday afternoon to achieve enough to satisfy even me. Beloved was messing around the kitchen in the morning, so instead watched The Good Cook on TV, did the crossword etc, then returned to the comp to reply to some emails before taking my bags of canned foods etc into the larder to place them on the shelves.
Once B had taken himself off to the boat house to 'assist' with the fitting of a new steering wheel in the safety boat, the decks were then cleared for me to start cooking. Not a lot of actual 'cooking' was done - other than the turkey 'roast' (this I cooked in a roasting bag to prevent it drying out too much).

In no particular order I assembled the Rigo Janski and put that in the fridge to keep chilled. Blitzed the cauliflower 'soup', and - as expected - this made a thick puree, so put that into two containers to freeze.
The three packs of frozen Summer Fruits (on offer from Tesco) were sorted. For some reason, this time there were loads more blackberries, I counted a minimum of 45 in each pack, and most of them HUGE. Going back to what I said previously - in previous years when fresh blackberries were bought as in a box as fruit in their own right, working out at 5p each, this little lot has 'saved' me nearly £2 - with the rest of the frozen fruit in the packs then 'free'.

Previously the packs seemed to contain equal percentages of fruit, this time there were more blackcurrants and raspberries and very few redcurrants - this of course didn't matter as we have loads of redcurrants in the freezer from our own garden, so carefully removed several of the blackcurrants to freeze separately, also some raspberries, and then turned the remainder into a pan with a little water and sugar to soften in readiness to make four individual Summer Puddings.

Strained the juice from the fruit to dip the bread into and this worked well as any small gaps could be filled by squashing the bread slightly with the fingertips to spread slightly. Covered with cling=film and weights put on top, chilled overnight, three will be Frozen, Beloved can have the fourth tonight.

With plenty of bread corners and crusts left after cutting the shapes for the pudding containers, these were blitzed together to make crumbs, and now have two packs of breadcrumbs in the freezer ready. Most recipes use only the white crumbs, but as it was bought bread and therefore very soft, tend to crumb the edging crusts as well (end crusts kept for toasting).

The second loaf of bread (bought at offer price) was bagged up, 5 x four slices per bag, then frozen. Again the end crusts left to use for toasting. As the bread fitted into small freezer bags with about an inch left at the top was able to heat-seal them with a little gadget bought from Lakeland.

After that, went out into the greenhouse to find yet another bush tomato had toppled over, fortunately not damaged, but stayed in there removing as many leaves as I could from all the plants which revealed quite a number of tomatoes in various stages of growth that had previously been hidden behind the leaves. The large luscious ones (think the plant is 'Shirley' - well it would be, wouldn't it) are now turning red, so look forward to having a taste.
In the Daily Mail TV supplement yesterday, Monty Don was saying that it's been a bad year for tomatoes, but there is till time for them to improve. He said that almost all the foliage can be removed and it won't harm the fruit. Certainly noticed that a lot of the flower heads already there had not 'set', so removed these, leaving only the remaining flowers.

Last year grew some cherry tomatoes in boxes along the side of our house, then what with slugs etc, and probably because - at that time - was not as mobile as I am now, they ended up being left without water - other than any rain that fell. This made the leaves die down and fall off and all that was left was the stems - yet each were covered in small red fruits that were really tasty. Apparently outdoor tomatoes can stand being roughly treated, and in the hotter countries often left to fend for themselves, which - allegedly - gives them a sweeter flavour. So never despair, if your toms are not thriving too well, leave them alone and see what happens.
A couple of my plants are plum tomatoes which am hoping will have a deeper flavour than the others. Certainly they are larger than the cherry 'Tumbler'. Have brought a couple indoors to finish ripening off on a sunny (??!!) windowsill.

The turkey seemed to cook well, it was cooled and is now in the fridge waiting to be sliced today on my machine (could do it by hand but will get more slices if the machine is used). If there are any tiny scraps left, they can be made into turkey 'paste' to spread on bread/toast.

For B's supper decided to cook a pack of tuna that Gill had brought me. Not canned tuna, 'fresh' tuna in a tomato sauce in a sort of 'tetra pack'. The b/b date on it was 2013 so well within its life span. Unfortunately all the wording on the pack were in Spanish (or Portuguese) but managed to work out that the pack had to be opened, the contents then put onto a plate and then microwaved for just one minute. It could also have been heated through in a frying pan on the hob for 2 minutes, likewise in a casserole type dish on the hob. Was just pleased that instructions came also with little sketches to show the various methods of cooking.
B decided to have it with oven chips, so after cooking the chips it took just the minute to heat through the tuna, and that was B's meal made. Didn't ask him what it was like as I didn't make it myself - more a matter of heating/cooking the ingredients. He did - however - enjoy half of the Rigo Janski that he ate later.

Later sat and read the trade magazine. There was nothing good in there to cheer me up. Quite a few pages were given over to the problems both independent stores and major supermarkets had with the recent riots, and as far as food goes, "Britains' favourite cereals have fallen out of favour with shoppers, with eight of the top ten recording a drop in volume sales".
Apparently the great British consumer is now turning away from Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes etc to eating a continental type breakfast of yogurt, croissants, pain au chcolat etc. and almost certainly because they can be held in the hand to be eaten on the way to work, or at the work-desk itself. Considering these are more expensive than the 'ordinary' breakfast cereal, one wonders why this change during this credit crunch. Seems that because people are taking more continental holidays and becoming accustomed to these breakfasts, this is the reason why.
Apparently Buxton mineral water "is the perfect thing to accompany breakfast on the go" says their marketing manager. So we will now see folk on buses, the Underground, and walking to work munching away on croissants, scattering crumbs as they go, washing it all down with bottled water, then chucking the empty bottle away. Bring back breakfast as we knew it - either the full English, or cereals followed by toast and marmalade and a cup of tea or coffee - and - eaten sitting at a table. We managed to do this generations back when longer hours were worked, so why can't we do it now? Seems today we are too lazy to get up half an hour earlier. Perhaps because the previous night has been spent boozing away in night clubs (or for those less affluent, stuck in front of a computer playing games or Twittering).

A new comparison website is being tested. This site: analyses people's favourite foods then suggests healthier alternatives. Just love the explanation..." works by assessing consumers online shopping histories and applying an algorithm to generate suggestions for products that are healthier. Shoppers access the website using the log-in details of their supermarket online shopping account... The suggestions shoppers receive are calculated on the basis of nutrition data and shoppers initial choices of of brand, flavour and pack size, so the product suggestions are reasonably similar to shoppers' original choice of products.....also using "the principles of psychology of behaviour range" in determining which alternative products to recommend "to ensure that the suggested swaps are within the range of products the shopper is most likely to consider swapping to".

What I would need to know is what happens next, do we have to trawl through all the choices to find the right ones? Seemingly not, for the article then goes on to say "Once healthier alternatives have been identified, shoppers can choose to add these to their supermarket online basket directly through the Smartswaps website".
Almost certainly 'healthier alternatives' will be more expensive, and doubt very much that I even need to hunt out the options, for probably know them anyway - it usually the price that determines my choice at this present time. Some people may find this site useful. Let me know what you think.

When it comes to 'offers', the supermarkets are now offering fewer and fewer due to price increases now hitting them hard. This decline may continue, so we should keep an eagle eye open to make sure we buy now the foods that will almost certainly to rise in price. Sweetcorn is one, sugar is another, also dairy foods.

Asda still remain top of the major supermarkets when it comes to the cost of the 33 items in the shopping basket. The Asda total came to £61.12. For the same items you would pay £65.66 at Tesco, £68.87 at Morrisons, £70.59 at Sainsburys, and a whopping £72.92 at Waitrose. But - as ever - this can be misleading, for a bottle of Avocaat (and how many of us pop that into our shopping basket) may be only £10 at Asda, but £11.69 in others.
New Covent Garden Soup is £1.50 at Asda and Tesco, but £2.15 at other stores. Mangoes are £1 at Asda, but anything from £1.65 to £2 at others. None of the products quoted would be those bought by thrifty shoppers, so myself feel this gives a false reading when it comes to really knowing which is the store that sells the cheapest foods.

Other foods in the list can be obtained cheaper from other stores than Asda. Lettuce is shown at 40p from Tesco, but cost 78p from Asda. Broccoli, crumpets, chicken tikka/masala with rice also cheaper from Tesco, so it's almost impossible to buy everything at the lowest possible price for the week at any one store.

Another snack product on the market targeted at kids. Tiny cubes of cheese in 18g packs (nine packs for £1.99p). The mag says 'The retail selling price may be a little high but convenience adds a lot to the value". Which tells us a lot when it comes to how so many of STILL prefer to pay over the odds for the 'ready-wrapped' rather than prepare and pack something themselves.

There is a bit of good news, but even this depends upon the prices we are charged. This year sees a bumper crop of apples and pears across Europe. Even so, bet most of the fruit grown in this country never reach the shelves because they are the wrong shape or size. Each year we see mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables that is perfectly fit to eat, but not perfectly proportions to suit the supermarkets, just thrown away/dug into the ground/used for animal feed. If we have now been able to stop the senseless throwing into the sea of caught fish that is not the right size, but dead when they dispose of it, and presumably this will now be able to be sold, why can't they do the same thing with fresh produce. Considering the rising price of foods, the amount that is thrown out by the farmers and supermarkets is criminal.

Because food in store does give me a feeling of security I can get in no other way, you can perhaps understand why I like to keep my shelves well-stocked. Yesterday was checking on the best-before dates, and in most instances the new stock has the same dates as the older ones (of the same variety/brand etc). Probably because the supermarkets buy so much at any one time and it takes years to get rid of it.
Fortunately this can work to our advantage, for I see that the tuna, sardines and salmon still several years to go before the date is reached (and they will keep in good condition even longer than that). There is very little on the shelves that have less than a year to go before they are past their best. This is somewhat comforting, as there will be nothing so old that it needs to be treated with suspicion.

You will smile at some of my purchases. Think there is enough sugar to last several years (including that for making jams, marmalade and other preserves). Enough rice to last a LONG time, and a good supply of different flour. We tend to keep flour to make cakes, pastry and biscuits, but it can also make pasta and yeastless bread dough (for Soda bread, pizzas, chapatis and other flatbreads, etc).

Another miserable day today. Still a humidity of 74 (down slightly but still high), and a temperature of 64F (that's in our bedroom). It is - of course - raining again. Not sure if it is the rain or the temperature or what, but all my lovely containers full of Busy Lizzies are now devoid of flowers, only the Lobelia seems to be still blooming. The B.L's seems to have all been eaten by slugs, certainly only the stalks seems to remain. The big pots of geraniums have also fallen prey to the weather. Many of the red blooms have turned black. Have a feeling this is the last of our summer display.
At least the front garden - full of perennial plants seem untouched. The Fuschia, Hydranges, Montbretia, Golden Rod all in bloom with others name unknown. As these are rarely seen due to us using the side door to leave and enter, the front window in the living room partly obscured, it might be worth moving some of them into the back garden.

Gill will be phoning shortly, Beloved leaving in another hour - with not too much wind today sailing is more than a possibility, although B will drive the safety boat to rescue/aid those that capsize (he has himself capsized so often he now wishes to sell his dinghy).

With the morning free, will get on with more culinary activities, and if I reply to comments then get this posting 'spell-checked' now, it will be published before Gill rings - otherwise you will have to wait another hour before reading it.

There is nothing like a new fridge-freezer to get us busy making things to fill it, so hope Urbanfarmgirl you have a productive weekend baking. While your grandchildren are there, why not get them to weigh up bags of flour and sugar ready for your next bake-in.

Was so pleased to hear about your 'glut' of veggies Woozy, and with a freezer none will be wasted. Good to read about the uses you put them too.

Finally, a welcome with our group hugs to June who has just discovered this site. Do hope you continue reading. Because a lot of my blog is 'chat' and 'ramblings', the postings are usually too long for blogger to leave them in situ, so they remove the earlier ones each month. However, have been able to bring back some of the missing recipes etc from postings in earlier months/years and on 28th Nov. 2008, and 2nd August 2007 you will find more recipes using blackberries.

Hope you all have a pleasant day (whatever the weather) and look forward to meeting up with you all again tomorrow. See you then.