Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Use What We've Got.

Went to the Smokehouse yesterday to collect the salmon, and what a whopper it was! Paid a bit extra to have it filled for us which made it then easy for me to cut each across into individual 'steaks'. Ended up with ten large ones plus two fat tails and some strips trimmed from one edge thick enough to be cut into chunks and go into a 'fish risotto'. Removed all the 'pin bones' with a pair of eyebrow tweezers, then wrapped each piece of fish tightly in kitchen foil and put into the freezer where - miraculously - was able to find enough space.

Whilst at the Smokehouse bought a pack of frozen scallops for B. He just LOVES scallops. These were huge, six in the pack each the size of golf balls. Far too expensive, but when I declined (for this reason) the assistant knocked £2.50 off the price (possibly because she remembered how she'd caused us a bit of inconvenience the day previously, or maybe that they didn't have a cat in hell's chance at selling them at the price on the pack). As they have a 'use-by' date of May 2012, felt happy with that. Despite them being expensive they will be enough for two 'meals' (if you can call a few scallops a 'meal'), as being so large each could be cut in half, and two then will turn into four. They even have their 'coral' (roe) still attached.
When Beloved and his mates used to go scuba diving in Scotland, almost every day they would bring back a bag of scallops they had picked up from the sea-bed, then cook/eat them for one of their meals the same day. How they took these 'free treats' for granted at that time.

Another purchase yesterday was a pack of smoked mackerel (enjoyed by both B and me) and for some reason the charge for the lot was about £5 less than it should have been, and when we pointed this out they said it was OK. One of my luckier days. Anyway, as I told myself, the purchases were 'free' as 'Ernie' had given me the money to pay for them.

Had to smile yesterday when Beloved came into the kitchen to see how supper was progressing. Was making a spag. bol and he said I'd made too much for him to eat, and "can you divide it into three and freeze some?" he asked. I said that this time I'd made it to share "so we can have half each". He frowned and said "divide it into three and I'll have two-thirds and you can have a third". So I said "tell you what, when it's ready I'll let you know then you can take what you want and I'll have what's left over - as I'm used to eating the crumbs from my master's table" - hoping this might give him realise I have a right to eat too.
When the meal was ready, B took most of the pasta (he normally doesn't like a lot but for some reason this time wanted more) and at least three-quarters of the meat sauce. What was left was (because of my now smaller appetite) enough for me but even so....
As said yesterday, any threat that someone might take food from B's mouth and he makes sure he has the lion's share first. Not a problem really as I do have control over the food so can eat what I want when I want, it's just that I've got used to putting B's foodie need first, and he's also got used to that.

Had a disaster yesterday when B wanted another loaf of bread making and when I was about to use the multi-grain mix he said he didn't like the grains, so I sifted them out. A surprising amount of grains- nearly half a pint, so used less water but even so, when the machine had finished making the dough it almost poured out of the bowl, so had to add some strong plain flour to bring it back to kneadable level. Even so had my doubts it would work. It took ages to rise, and then seemed to shrink back into the tin as it cooked. It hasn't yet been cut, but feel it will be too heavy to eat in the normal way and will have to turn it into breadcrumbs or a bread pudding or something as nothing ends up binned in the Goode kitchen.
Even the grains will probably be soaked and then cooked to eat in the same way as pearl barley, porridge etc. Possibly it might turn into the 'frumenty' mentioned in The Mayor of Casterbridge'.

As Frugal Queen has reminded us - we should use up what we've got and keep away from the shops. As you know, this I have done many times, it is just recently that I've become more lax. Decided over the last couple of days to take note of how many 'larder' foods are used along with the 'fresh' (from fridge and freezer) each day when cooking a meal. Very few if you discount the sauces and salad cream/mayo. A tin of corned beef was brought out to serve with other cooked meats a couple of days ago. Rice used with the Rogan Josh the day following, and yesterday it was pasta penne AND a can of chopped tomatoes. Have myself had a tin of tuna and a tin of sardines recently and almost certainly a can of baked beans, but other than some flour, sugar and chocolate to make cake, everything else eaten has been 'from fresh/frozen' (although perhaps a newly baked cake could also be called 'fresh').

So from now on will include the 'makings' when writing about the meals that have been prepared each day, so you can see how my stores are used up. Yesterday when making the spag bol was generous with the meat as this time did not add cooked carrot and celery, just fried an onion before adding the minced beef, later adding a can of chopped tomatoes, a small tub of 'rich beef stock' (home-made) thawed from the freezer, plus a good dash of HP sauce, same of Worcestershire sauce, and a teaspoon of sugar to counteract the acidity in the tomatoes. Later added six sliced button mushrooms. It certainly tasted good and meaty. The pasta was boiled in salted water with a knob of butter added after draining, then served with a blend of grated Parmesan and finely grated Red Leicester cheese (which I keep in the freezer). For afters B ate the last of the Rigo Janski with a great pile of 'squirty' cream all over it. Well I did ask him to use the 'squirty' (which had been in the fridge many weeks) as I had wanted to make the double cream last as long as possible (he normally gets rid of a pint of that within a few days).

The weather was terrible, rained most of the way to Glasson and back, although the sun did break through early evening. For a while. The skies seemed to clear a bit during the night for the moon shone into our bed-room, and this morning have woken to clear blue skies and sunshine.

Had a bit of a fright when I came to use the comp today. No light on the screen to show it was switched on even though the hard-drive started working when pressed. There is a row of buttons on the bottom of the screen frame and pressed the one on the right as this worked once before (thanks to Stevan telling me what to do). This time it worked again, although had to switch the hard-drive off then back on again to get it working properly. Since then, every so often the screen switches off again and I have to press the little button so not sure if this comp is giving up the ghost. If my postings suddenly stop you will know I have probs with the comp.
Our daughter and husband (who live in Ireland) are planning to visit us early September, so if the problem persists they (being very computer literate) may be able to sort it out for me. If the worse comes to the worse, will have to get another screen or even a lap-top (prefer a more 'boxy' screen). But thought I'd warn you. If the worst happens, will phone Steve to let him put up a note as the reason for my absence on this site just to let you know (am just hoping today's will publish).

When we moved house Alison, the removers told us that we could leave food in the freezer as it wouldn't have thawed by the time it took to move from one house to another. Suppose this depends upon the size (and weight) of the appliance. As it was, because I was 'moving out' before B and our son (who finished the clearing a few days later - I was so upset about leaving I couldn't face empty rooms), I had already cleared out most of the food on the freezer side of 'Boris'. However - when I moved into the new property discovered that there were a couple or so bags of frozen veg that had been left in there and B said they were still frozen when the fridge-freezer arrived.

Think I also remember Jamie O saying something about onion soup being 'English' Woozy, although not sure his version was quite the same as the French Classic.
Normally I try to use seasonal produce when putting recipes on this site, and although a lot of the 'chat' in the old postings have now been edited out, this has given room for many recipes to be able to be brought back again, so always worth checking the month we currently in previous years (this blog was started in Sept 2006) to find other ways of using up gluts.

You will rarely find me including anchovies, artichokes, asparagus; turbot, lobster, scallops, crab and oysters; fillet steak, venison, and sirloin in my dishes as these are the more expensive foods. Tend to use the cheapest foods that I can without losing the quality. This normally means buying only when 'on offer', but it works. Think you will agree that my Beloved eats very good meals considering the fairly tight budget I work with. When serving one of his more 'expensive' meals try to alternate these with a much less costly meal (such as a fish risotto made with rice, home-made chicken stock with white fish, smoked salmon and fresh salmon 'trimmings' - stored in the freezer) to balance out the costs.
Not all quality meals HAVE to cost a lot. Most savings come with home-cooking any dish and boosting the flavour by adding a few 'secret ingredients' (such fresh home-grown herbs, citrus fruit zest, and/or a splash of wine or spirits - bottles of these arriving on my shelves as a requested gift at b.days and Xmas).

Today will again be making a meal from the freezer. Not sure what, but this will give me something to think about whilst sitting under the hair dryer. Possibly will make B that Black Forest Gateau as there is chocolate cake left that needs using up (a tin of cherry pie filling in the larder, also a jar of grated chocolate, and cream in the fridge. If all the makings are to hand - why not?).

Watched the first of the Great British Bake-In yesterday evening. Not sure whether it was in that prog. that I saw Courgette Cake being demonstrated, it could have been on the Hairy Bikers earlier. Either one - think I nodded off at the time, so was not able to make a note of the recipe.

Much later in the evening watched the end of a programme about a woman that hoarded just about everything. Her children decided she had to have a clear out of most of her stuff (and believe me it needed doing - and I thought I was a bit of a hoarder. No way compared to this lady). However, it was almost heart-breaking to see how upset she got as she didn't wish to get rid of anything, although most of it was rubbish with no use whatsoever. But I felt for her, as found it heartbreaking when I had to get rid of all my blue-white collection of pottery, Victorian jelly moulds, silver and plate to raise money. Not to mention most of my book collection (a few thousand - many of them cookbooks) due to us 'down-sizing'. I still miss them.

Maybe, deep down within me there is a 'squirrel' instinct to hoard (this being common in old times when people didn't have fridges and freezers, so gathered and preserved foods for the winter in the old ways), then - because food was more readily available, all year round - then transferred this instinct into collecting other things. If we'd stayed in Leeds, might still be adding to my pottery and books instead of lining my larder shelves, because certainly here I have food in store than ever before. It could be that 'collecting' is an instinct that I'm finding hard to control.

Nevertheless, from now on with PROMISE to live off what I've got, and always let you know if I fall by the wayside. Just allow me to top up with fresh milk and eggs and other 'necessaries' when the need arises.

After the 'lady that hoards' programme, watched another about babies and young children that seem to live on nothing but junk foods. What did seem to come across was that although some of the parents did try to get their offspring to eat healthy foods, they did give in too easily when the child refused them. What was worse was seeing young mothers give their child nothing but 'take-aways' since weaning. As one girl said, she didn't have time to cook, it didn't fit into her life-style (which was teenage clubbing, and all that goes with it). All the children who at the 'junk' were diagnosed with anaemia, and even 'baby teeth' were going rotten.

Here am I expecting that all folk will be happy to start home-cooking and learn how to spend less but still eat well, but now beginning to feel that the majority of the public don't care a jot about this, much preferring the easy route of buying the 'ready-prepared'. Maybe most of them get enough money (even those on benefits) to be able to pay for all this. Or maybe I'm just old-fashioned and set in my frugal ways. All I hope is that sooner or later schools start teaching home-skills again, and get us back to a life of good living that is rarely seen today.

Also watched a programme last night about astronomy. Part of me was almost sickened by the billions of pounds/dollars spent on equipment to view the far reaches of our visible universe. This may delight the scientists, but those of us with our feet firmly implanted in our good Earth almost certainly need this money to prevent the huge amount of poverty and starvation that the majority of 'residents' still have to put up with (especially in the Third World). Can't space 'exploration' be shelved for a while for the better good of all? Seems not.
One thing though - seeing what was 'up there', and the various descriptions given, made me realise that there has to be some sort of supreme 'intelligence' that brought it into play. Almost a though 'someone' had been given a super-sized chemistry set and then told to see what could be made with it. We are part of the whole, and possibly our 'intelligence/soul/spirit' (call it what you will) could also be part of a whole. If we make something, then we like to see it in action don't we? They say our 'eyes' are the windows of the soul, so What better way to view the word than seeing our bodies with a bit of our 'shared spirit'. Or isn't it as simple as that?

Just noticed I put 'word' instead of 'world' in the last sentence. Reminded now of the first sentence in our Bible..."In the beginning was the Word..." perhaps not a typing error after all - maybe my 'soul' prompted me to write it as it is.

Gone all philosophical again haven't I? Not sure what brought that on. Anyway, despite a few clouds appearing with the threat of rain to come, these have now disappeared again so hoping for a good day. B will be out both morning and afternoon, so will make the most of it. Spending my free time in the kitchen of course. More about that tomorrow. Hope to see you then (if the comp behaves itself).