Thursday, August 25, 2011

Want or Need?

Today is the local Farmers' Market, held about half a mile from where we live. Each month mean to go, and really intended to this month, but when the time comes always have to ask myself "do I need anything?", the answer being normally "No!".
It would good to buy some seasonal fruits - plums etc, but we still have loads of jam on the shelves, so plums are not a necessity. Plenty of blackberries now in the freezer (filched from those packs of frozen summer fruits), Apples beginning to fall from the tree, autumn raspberries still producing, not to mention a few pears soon needing to be harvested. Even our small garden is helping us stock up.
With plenty of root vegetables in the fridge, and a big basket of onions, plus salads, cauli, white cabbage and Chinese Leaves, don't really NEED anything. Wanting to buy something from the F.Market is a different matter. I'd love to go, just to see what they are selling, but then KNOW I will buy something I don't need, so should I, shouldn't I.
It's a gorgeous morning, not a cloud in the sky, so perhaps worth a scoot down on Norris, just for the ride. Me, being me, won't decide until I've written up today's blog, and then will have to see how I feel. Luckily don't have much money in my purse (think about £10) so at least controlled in the spending direction.

Before I move on to replying to comments and a few more recipes, had an email yesterday from an agent about a new cookery programme. Have the chance to have an on-line 'chat' with Valentine Warner (this not of interest to me) but his forthcoming programme am hoping I'll be free to watch (if no footie match on that evening as happened yesterday). The programme is a tw0-parter called "Valentine Warner Eats the Sixties", and will be on UKTV's "Yesterday" channel (Freeview 12/Sky 537/Virgin 203) on Wednesday 12th and 19th October (not sure if the time was given).
The foods we used to eat in the sixties will be demonstrated and talked about, such as Prawn Cocktail, Black Forest Gateau, fondues, and Vesta curries etc. Also amention of TV cooks of that era - the Queen Bee being Fanny Cradock. It certainly will take me back, for it was in the sixties that my interest in cooking (with the help of Fanny C's weekly 'partwork') took off.

Thanks for your words Les. Probably eating too few calories (but deliberately( is the reason why I do feel cold. I eat less to help me lose weight (as suggested by the doc). Also have to avoid eating fats if at all possible (as they wish me to lower my already normal cholesterol). Sugar is out due to diabetes, so probably quite normal for me to feel colder than most. Eating three meals a day would not work with me as once food passes my mouth tend to want more - although it depends what it is of course. So try to confine myself to a brunch and then an early supper (again with the permission of the diabetic nurse). As losing weight will help to reduce blood pressure and also diabetes, this has to be the prime target in my life at the moment.

At least yesterday, decided to bring out my quilted cuddle blanket again and pop this over the top of the light 'fleece' one that I've been sitting with these past days. Couldn't believe what a difference the two together made, I was as warm as toast. So that is one problem solved.

Do both arm and leg exercises whilst sitting in my chair Susan G, but doubt they burn off enough cals to make much difference, although probably help my circulation.

Always have thought that yellow courgettes taste better than the green Woozy (slugs also seem to agree with this), so don't know why I bother to grow the green at all. Their bright colour too adds so much to a dish.
Although I don't always weight myself daily, when finding I have gained weight, then tend to keep a daily check until it falls again. It is normal for weight to fluctuate by one or two pounds (mainly due to water retention) and have read we all hold around 7 lbs of 'disposable'' weight in our bodies due to the food eaten over the last 24 hours (or longer).
A 2 lb gain doesn't bother me, but if I check the next day and shows another gain, and then next day another (as is happening at the moment) this is showing me that eating 'normally' (even small amount) is not working. I'm just one of those very cheap models to run. Hardly need any food to keep me alive, especially now I am not so active as I used to be.
We were still in the days of wartime rationing when I was lucky enough to be able to play tennis almost every afternoon for hours and hours (seemed to have dry summers around that time), and then table tennis in the evening (the tennis club being the other side of the road where we lived), and hardly seemed to eat anything, but my weight stayed stable, even then was 'strong-boned', but certainly not fat. Other times would cycle or walk for miles. At that time my measurements were 35.25.37. Being almost six feet tall, looked slim enough, but with 'good, child-bearing hips' (which proved to be true as having our babies was as easy as shelling peas).

Any curtailment of exercise, then I immediately gain weight, even if I don't eat much. So now its very difficult for me to lose weight at all, and only if I eat hardly anything, although what I do eat is nutritionally good food, and - it has to be said - eating more of the very expensive protein and cutting out the cheaper carbos (Atkins diet) is the one that works best for me. But only stay on that for a short time to avoid the problems that would eventually occur. At least it gives me a kick start.

Oh Scarlet, you must have been devastated when you discovered your allotment had been stripped of most of its fruit by thieves. Let us hope they were lads who were so deprived of their 'five a day' that the urge was too great, although probably they intended selling their 'proceeds' to others.
Were other allotments also 'burgled'? It does seem today this is becoming very common. Why buy when you can steal?
Perhaps time for us to take a re-think. With an allotment grow only the foods that are less appealing, and also less visible, like 'greens' and root crops, and grow the soft fruits and similar in our gardens. We would all have more money if everyone was law abiding and we didn't have to insure ourselves against loss due to theft etc.
As it is, the worse things get, and the more claims that come in (as with the recent riots), the insurance companies then raise their prices to ensure they keep in profit. It doesn't matter if we have never had a car claim in our lives, even allowing for this discount - the price eventually increases.

How lovely to have a polytunnel Urbanfarmgirl. Was watching part of Hairy Bikers yesterday and the chef they were working with went into his 'tunnel' to gather what he needed and he said it kept him in fresh produce for 10 months of the year. Do you find the same with yours?

Thanks for the dietary tips and eating fibre Polly. This is something I try to do. Your mention of eating potato skins (for their fibre), reminds me how so many people leave the skins from their 'jackets' on the sid of the plate, eating only the flesh. To me, the skin is the tastiest bit. Give me a bowl of hot baked 'skins' and a bit of butter and salt and I'd be in seventh heaven.
As with all vegetables, the vitamins like just under the skin of root veg (or in the outermost and darker leaves), so I rarely peel, just give a scrub and then cook. When I do peel, aim to remove as thin a layer as possible, and often these peelings are put into a pan with others to cook down to make vegetable stock (some vitamins being soluble in water, so never throw the cooking water away if you can use it in soups etc).

Today's recipes are what I call 'thrifty', in that they use less ingredients than 'normal' recipes. This doesn't mean they don't taste so good. Just slightly different. As these come from a collection of old 'farmhouse' recipes, it would be good to bring them back to get a taste of the past. Especially at this 'harvest time'.

The first recipe is an economical way to make shortbread, quickly made and keeps well in a tin. It is necessary to use moist brown sugar as the normal white doesn't work. As so often happens with recipes of this type, a measure is used instead of weighing. A breakfast cup hold probably about the same (or a little less) than a standard mug (which is 8 fl oz).
If you have a processor, the ingredients could be whizzed together until just 'crumbly', it shouldn't go as far as fine crumbs.
Ginger Shortbread:
2 breakfast cups flour
1 breakfast cup moist brown sugar
8 oz (225g) butter
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then work in the butter until the whole becomes crumbly. Tip this onto a well-greased dripping tin (a Swiss roll tin would be OK), and spread into an even layer. Bake in a moderate oven (180C, 350F, gas 4) for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly, then cut into fingers and carefully lift and place on a cake-airer to cool. Store in airtight tins.

This next 'cake' is unusual, and myself would probably make it using up scraps of shortcrust pastry saved from previous 'rollings'. If you have only a small amount of pastry that needs using up, just use that and make less of the 'filling''. No reason why you couldn't save some of this filling, keep in the fridge and then spread it on toast (as we do with Nutella), or as 'icing' on a cake.
Chocolate Targets:
approx 12 oz (350g) shortcrust pastry
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
1 oz (25g) cocoa powder
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
Cream together the sugar, cocoa and butter. Roll out the pastry into a 12" x 9" strip, and spread the creamed mixture on top. Roll up like a Swiss roll, wetting the last edge to seal it in place. Cut into 12 slices and lay flat side up on a baking tin. Bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate (180C...) oven.

This next recipe is rather like a flat fruit pie, but given the name of 'Fruit Cakes', as meant to be eaten as a 'cake'. Different soft fruits could be used according to your personal 'harvest'. The recipe starts off by making pastry, but you could use ready-made and roll in the sugar. It doesn't say how thinly the pastry should be rolled, but considering the amount it is supposed to make, am presuming this is 'roll thinly'. Read the recipe then you 'll get the idea.
Fruit 'Cakes': makes 16 pieces
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
4 oz (112g) butter or lard
1 tsp sugar
8 oz (225g) raisins
8 oz (225g) rhubarb
1 cupful sugar
piece of butter size of a walnut
First put the raisins and rhubarb into a small pan with the cup of sugar and butter and cook gently until softened. Leave to cool.
Rub the butter into the flour and tsp of sugar and make into a stiff paste with a little water. Roll out, divide into two and place one half on a shallow baking tin. Spread with the fruit mixture and place the remaining half of pastry on top.
Brush with milk and bake for half a hour in a brisk oven (200C, 400F, gas 6). When cool, sprinkle with sugar and cut into 16 pieces.

Even though lemon curd is one of the lovelies of 'spreads', it can be expensive to make. For a much cheaper version, here is a recipe that am sure will fill plenty of culinary uses where lemon curd is called for, possibly also worth using as a filling for a Lemon Meringue Pie.
Mock Lemon Curd:
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teacupful of water
1 teacupful of granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp cornflour
1 small piece of butter or margarine
Put the lemon zest into a saucepan with the water, sugar, and butter. Heat gently and when the sugar has dissolved bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Blend the cornflour with the lemon juice and stir this into the pan and cook for a couple or so minutes longer to thicken. Remove from heat, leave to cool slightly, then mix in the egg, return to the heat for a short time to cook the egg, but do not boil or the egg will curdle. Pour into a pot, cover and keep in the fridge. Best eaten within a few days.

Next recipe is for "a filling equally as nice as lemon cheese". Both this and the next recipe are based on marrow - perfect for this time of year. No doubt very large courgettes could be used in the same way.
Marrow Cream:
2 lbs (1kg) marrow
2 lbs (1kg) gran. sugar
4 oz (112g) butter
zest and juice of 2 large lemons
Peel the marrow, remove seed, cut the flesh into chunks and boil/steam until quite soft. Strain well, put the flesh into a saucepan and mash to a pulp, then work in the butter, sugar and zest and juice of the lemons. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Use this as you would lemon cheese/lemon curd.

The amounts needed for this recipe depend entirely on the weight of the marrow, so will give the recipe as printed then you can sort it out for yourself. Worth making as there is not much difference in texture between marrow and pineapple, so you can fool yourself (and everyone else) into believe all pineapple and no marrow has been used. Am pretty sure the words "without syrup" means the weight of the marrow without the 'syrup' formed from its juices and sugar, and not the syrup from the can of pineapple. But it could be vice versa.
Marrow and Pineapple Jam:
"Peel a marrow, remove seeds, cut the flesh into small pieces (the size of pineapple chunks), weigh, and to each 1 lb (450g) marrow add 12 oz (350g) sugar. Put into a stone jar (suggest a glass bowl) and leave overnight. Next day add pineapple chunks - 1 small tin to each 2 lb (1kg) marrow (without the syrup). Cut the chunks into 3 - 4 pieces, then boil for a couple of hours or until the chunks are soft and the jam sets. Bottle up and store in the normal way for jam.

Yesterday - perhaps because he wanted to watch the footie, Beloved said he'd get his own supper, choosing bacon, eggs and beans (with maybe a salad - didn't watch him make it). He brought me in the remaining half a can of beans for my supper. Gee, thanks! (at least he'd decanted them into a bowl) Later, because the footie was becoming too one-sided B allowed me back into the living room to watch most of the prog about Buddhism. Almost inspired me to try this religion as one not yet attempted.

What a glorious day it's turning out to be. Should I go to the F. Market? Or should I spend an hour in the garden sunning myself. Think the latter as it will prove less expensive. No point in window shopping where food is concerned. There is always next month.

Noticed in our local paper there is a day train-trip up to Oban (via a scenic route through part of Scotland) in mid-October, leaving about and returning late evening. Am sorely tempted, although would prefer the first-class as it give more leg (and hip) room for me. Is it worth paying £25 more for the comfort? Buffet is included. If only the weather could be guaranteed to be good on the day, all the lovely autumnal colours. Have to have a think about it.

Time to wind up for today, have a wander outside, wave a leg or two up and down (for exercise), and maybe even scoot out with Norris for a bit this afternoon. Who needs Scotland when Morecambe is bathed in sunshine?
Looking forward to meeting up with your all again tomorrow and hearing your news. See you then.