Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good News for Consumers

Thanks for comments. As gillibob has had problems also with blogger - probably they are having another of their 'wobblies'.
Hope your headache is now better Woozy, and Lisa A - it was your mention of Clam Chowder Soup that let me to believe you live in the US. We don't have that here (or at least I've never seen it on supermarket shelves).
Pleased the polytunnel info was useful Urbanfarmgirl, do let us know is you are able to keep harvesting the crops (now to be sown) throughout the winter.

Your mention of plum and blackcurrants was timely Alison, for much time was spent in one of my dreams last night gathering blackcurrants! Why I dreamed about those I don't know.

Having had my bread machine for must be well over 10 years now Les, it's not 'new to me', and did come with a very comprehensive instruction book. Still think I will stick to using it just to make bread dough (although various kinds). Normally the 'workings' of machines I don't find interesting, although suddenly I have good hooked on the programmes 'How It Is Made' (on Quest). The other night it was showing how they made both the tubes (containers) and also the stacking 'crisps' (aka 'Pringles' et al). Very interesting. Seems the 'crisps' are made with 2 parts dried potato, one part water, then rolled out to a dough and cut into thin ovals which are then shaped and fried. A lot more than that in the prog, but basically it was the 'makings' that interested me. Quite a lot of those programmes are to do with food, others with crafts (such as saddle making, or making bagpipes...), but am even interested in those dealing with machinery - like jet engines!

Didn't do much cooking yesterday, but did pack all the over-night slow-cooked beef rib trim and shin beef into various boxes. Although I had added only one pint of water to the beef, ended up with one and a half pints of really good and thick (lots of meaty flakes) of beef stock. This also packed into smallish containers, now all in the freezer.
This is the good thing about cooking meat in liquid, there is no waste at all, unlike when roasting in the oven where the end weight is a lot less than when it started - due to evaporation of liquids etc. The meat is also very tender and moist when slow-cooked, so much my favourite way of cooking meat now. Not that I can afford a large joint any more.
This time ,when I cook one of the briskets, will slather the top with some clarified beef dripping in the hope this will gather up the meat juices as it melts and be somewhat similar to the beef dripping that comes from a 'roast'.

Did try to melt the Hokey-Pokey down yesterday, popping it into the oven as it heated up (I was about to bake another loaf). It did melt down, but left it in too long as it burnt. All that can be done with it now is to crush it up, dissolve in a very little water, and then use as gravy browning. But am not going to bother with that. As the cost of the sugar and syrup was not much more than 10p (I was only making a little bit), think this is one thing that will end up being binned. Oh, the shame!

For supper, thawed out some spag.bol.meat sauce that had been made a few weeks ago, which Beloved ate with pasta penne and salad, plus Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. Myself had the salad, with dressing and a small bit of Parmesan sprinkled over, with a bit of the meat sauce at the side. No pasta as was avoiding carbos. Luckily this has meant my weight is practically on the stone, so am hoping today that can get below it as tomorrow is the 'weigh-in' at the surgery.

Now to consumer news. The trade mag seemed to concentrate more on 'green issues' this week - which were the more eco-friendly stores, such as those who use rain water to flush their loos etc. However, there was some light at the end of our gloomy food-price tunnel which may brighten the lives of some of our readers, and I feel this may continue until at least Christmas as the stores really need our custom. what happens after that remains to be seen.

Here are some quotes:
"Tesco was this week dramatically forced to reveal plans for a £500m price offensive, as details leaked of its strategy to hit back at rivals who have seized the initiative on price.
Following a week of speculation, the supermarket announced that the prices of more than 3,000 products would be slashed from Monday, with many more to follow in what it pledged was an 'indefinite' battle." Tesco revealed it would be cutting the price of bread, fruit, vegetables, and a host of other staple goods. Mid-priced own-label products would be pitched at up to 50% cheaper than other brands.

However this 'Big Price Drop' will also see the end to its double-points on its Clubcard loyalty scheme from the end of October (but this does give us a few weeks to stock up at the lower prices). But then we can't expect everything.

Another store came back with "this is classic smoke an mirrors - giving with one hand and taking with the other. Removing double points will save Tesco £350m." It does seem though that now all the stores will be forced into matching the lower food prices. So we should now be able to rub our hands will glee.

A small column that mentions TV was critical about the new series "Real Food Family Cook-off", and said "it was just plain bad". Not that I saw it, but what I read I was not impressed by the sound of it. Did any reader's watch it? If so, give us your opinion.

Good news for those who care about chicken welfare. Morrison's are introducing improved lifestyle for all its chicken standards in a bid to make higher-welfare poultry more affordable for mainstream shoppers.
Under the new standards, being launched next week (think this now means this week), chickens will be housed in barns with better lighting and be given perches, toys and pecker blocks. Despite these improvements, retail prices will remain the same.

Eblex (think this is something to do with meat promotion) is looking to tempt shoppers to buy more beef and lamb this autumn with a promotion offering shoppers vouchers and prizes. Under the Come Dine 4 Free campaign, shoppers can win a £100 shopping voucher every day for a three-week period when they enter an on-pack code at In addition consumers can win smart pads (what are those?) if they email in details of a successful meal prepared with Red Tractor beef or lamb.
This promotion will run on different dates in four of the mults until November and there will be leaflets at meat counters and stickers on packs of Red Tractor meat.
Without forcing anyone to buy meat when they wouldn't normally, IF you do so, then perhaps worth choosing Red Tractor packs and enter the comp. Someone has to win. Could be you.

Dairy commodities prices are on the way down! Due to a weaker consumer demand after month of record high prices, leading to an increase in supplies. Just goes to show that when we (en masse) stop buying, this always brings the price back down.

The rest of the mag concerns itself with pages on 'sports drinks', and as these have no interest to me, assume this could be said of the readers of this blog. What do energy drinks contain that we cannot get in another cheaper form? And do we really need them?

As have had my usual phone call from Gill this morning (delaying me by an hour), this means - due to other commitments - now have to wind up for today.
Tomorrow - being my visit to the surgery, thankfully early - my blog will be a bit later than normal, but hope to get it published between 11.00 and noon. Much depends upon whether Beloved wishes us to drive elsewhere before returning home, so if (again) a blog is missing, this time it will be my fault and I will be back again on Tuesday. But log on tomorrow late morning just in case I've managed to find time to write to you.

Looks like we are going to have an Indian Summer next week, and there was me thinking winter was almost here. A lot of the trees have already shed their leaves - last year it was November before this happened. So what sort of winter we will have remains to be seen. Everything is pointing to an early and very cold one, but then nothing seems as certain as it used to be in the 'old days'. Could be we have a really warm (but very wet and windy) winter. Given a choice, think I prefer the cold.

Hope to meet up with you again tomorrow, if so - see you then.