Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More Food for Thought

Short blog today due to rising late - this because I was deep in a dream where I had won £1,000,ooo on Ernie, and want' that thrilled due to I'm not happy with money to spend (unless properly earned). Woke up just after I had said to B "now I don't need to have to have my shoes repaired, as can afford to buy a new pair now". Says a lot about my life at least.

Thanks to Les for his wise words, and also to Sairy re her comment on tea leaves. Never realised that teabags were more expensive than tea leaves, or maybe much has to do with the brand, for teabags are made from the tea 'dust' rather than quality leaves. Worth using the used tea leaves to sprinkled over carpets and rugs, then brush in and then brushed out again (or vacuum) as they clean away all the grime (as was done in the old days by servants), saving the expensive of buying carpet cleaning materials.

With Norma the Hair coming in just over an hour, have only time to give some more details from the dairy supplement of the trade mag that came late. Worth knowing about as some relate to the way the trade feels we should think.
"So often in dairy, it's not the consumers palate that changes, but the way in wish people wish to consume familiar products. Take pouring yogurt, which is cited as an innovation that responded to the trend of eating yogurt with cereal."

Later I read "A huge percentage of new product's don't work....In the dairy category in particular, there's a habit factor with consumers - they buy what they're used to buying".
Seems as though this is not always the case - if so why bring in unnecessary idea from America? "sliced and grated cheese commanded a huge section of the US cheese fixture long before it began to gain traction in the UK." and "I think this area will grow as people buy into those products on a more regular basis". Could it be the flavour of US cheese is really dreadful compared to our own national cheeses, and the only way they can eat their cheese is in small amounts when added to something else?

An interesting article about the 'soft cheese' categories (Philadelphia type). One brand (Kerry Foods) has launched a mature Cheddar spread as a versatile snack as well as an ingredient in cooking. "The packaging has been developed to be microwavable, which means it can be heated up and eaten hot, for example as a fondue" (I presume this means the contents are eaten hot, not the packaging itself. In which case the package could be saved when empty, cleaned and used as a microwavable container for other things).
Philadelphia efforts in the UK have focused on savoury varients such as sun-dried tomato and basil, and grilled peppers - Kraft is tipped to launch sweet flavours. In Germany, Kraft already offers chocolate and honey varieties. Primula is launching a new range of Cheddar spreads which can be used as an alternative to butter or margarine on bread.

A big article of flavoured milk did not impress me, especially when my eye caught "...although flavoured milk contains more sugar and therefore more calories than plain milk, scientific studies show the nutritional benefits children get from milk outweigh the harm done by added sugar". Jamie Oliver quest to improve school dinners in the US included a stunt in which he filled a bus with sand to show how much sugar was consumed by school children through flavoured milk. This drink is a bigger part of the US dairy market than in the UK (so far), but it does make you think.
Obviously we should encourage our children to drink milk, and by all means flavour it as naturally as we can - aren't we already doing this when we make them fruit 'smoothies'? Do we need chocolate milk, fudge brownie or cookie dough in the range of commercial flavours? Personally feel little harm would be done if we coloured milk ourselves using a touch of 'safe' food colourings - which we use when colouring cake icing anyway.

Goodness me, yet another demographic to 'target' is those who live alone, this time apparently they don't buy a 250g pack of butter because it is too much. They probably don't buy it because eating it is bad for their cholesterol. In the fridge butter keeps long enough, but obviously the manufacturers believed it would 'help' if butter was packed in 50g blocks - each selling for 50p. That's 1p per gram. Convert that to the 250g packs and that would make it £2.50??? Cheaper to buy the larger block anyway?
This idea failed of course and was withdrawn from sale, but tried again selling six x 50g packs for £1.95 (still dearer than buying a whole block - and considering more was bought when the idea was to buy less - what's the point?) and this idea also failed and was withdrawn from the market.

Quite a bit written about 'fro-yo', the trade name for frozen yogurt that is now 'a new contender on the British high street'. Taken a long time, for I remember taking our two eldest children on a three-day trip to show them the sights of London, and more than once we went into Harrods to sit at a little 'bar' to eat some of their frozen yogurts, at that time 'new' to this country. This must have been in the early to mid '70's.

Not sure how commercial frozen yogurt is made - maybe just freezing flavoured yogurt with nothing else added. Do know that by folding equal quantities of yogurt into Italian meringue makes a really lovely 'fro-yo', but will try freezing 'just yogurt' and see what happens to that. Feel it might end up very hard, and start to 'split' when left to thaw. But always worth a try.

Quite a lot written about unflavoured milk, also butter (did you know we can now buy butter with honey so that we can spread both on toast without having to buy a jar of honey?). Mostly about brands, prices and how the price of milk is kept as low as possible (to bring us into the store no doubt - and then buy other things), and the price of butter is continually rising. Plenty also on cheese - mainly the way that there are so many different brands of Cheddar. Plenty also on adding flavour to cheeses, but this is something we can sort out for ourselves.

The trade magazine is immensely helpful to me for it proves to me just how much we are being 'manipulated' by the various manufacturers and stores to get us to buy their wares. A loose page ad for coffee highlighted this as it showed a set of shelves with the various types of coffee displayed at the right height according to what they want to sell the most. The coffee beans on the top shelf, because if you bought beans only then they can be placed away from the rest. The cheapest coffee on the lowest shelf - and the premium and instant that gave the most profit on the middle shelves where our eyes would first light on them and - presumably - look no further.
It is true, especially when in a rush and with no shopping list to work with, we tend to pick something from the shelves at waist height. We see this all the time in TV progs where they show people shopping. How many reach up to the top shelf or bend down to the lower ones. Perhaps in a film it looks 'neater' this way to buy from a middle shelf, and maybe in documentaries the food has been placed there for the filming, but it's worth making us think a bit harder about how we shop at speed, and why we choose what we do.

Made a couple of steak and kidney pies yesterday (put the cooked braising steak and chopped up kidneys with some cooked potatoes in gravy to reheat, and baked the puff pastry topping - to fit the top of the pie dish - separately to keep it crisp). The second pie filling is in the dish, which has been bagged up and the uncooked pie lid packed separately to freeze and cook another day.
Plenty of gravy left from the crock-pot so also freezing that to add to a casserole etc. (or maybe heat and drink as soup).

Yesterday also ordered TWO of the Donald Russell 'braising beef and mince" pack that was on offer. The last one (same variety of meats) was good value, with of course excellent quality meat. This time the 36 free meat balls that came with one pack (I checked I would get another with the second pack - which I would), could mean a extra 12 portions (meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta). These will be delivered Friday, and again will be gaining an extra and large (free) container in which to plant winter flowering pansies, or some winter salads to grow in the greenhouse.

The weather is cloudy with threat of rain, and rather windy. Does not bode well for our daughter's trip back over the Irish Sea (this probably tomorrow), but she is not bothered as any delay doesn't matter on a return trip as it did when coming here. They say the weather will be fine tomorrow, so hope to have a scoot out on Norris, and did intend dropping in at the Farmer's Market, but as I don't need any fresh produce at the moment (and no money in my purse once I have paid Norma) perhaps not a good idea. Almost wishing my dream had come true after all, then I can start up my own 'Farm Shop' selling to the public at rock-bottom prices.

Seems our economy is on the down again, and said to get worse. Did hear one politician say it would be as bad as during last war (or was that also in a dream?). We older folk can remember those days and also the aftermath so have memories of how to manage and knowing that we can. So anyone younger - don't be too concerned. All we need to do is bring back some of the old skills: cooking, handicrafts etc, and believe me - we can cope. No problem.

It really makes me cross. Mega-cross when I think about how we give our money to the bank to keep in safe custody, yet get only half a percent interest back, yet the same bank lend OUR money to someone else and charge them 19% for doing so. If I won millions on the Lottery would set up my own bank and lend at a rate that people could afford to pay back. Like pay 4% to put money in my bank, and charge 5% max for borrowing money. I would make 1% profit and think how much that could add up to with plenty of lenders and borrowers. The banks must be rolling in money. So where it is all now when we need it? Probably in the fat cat's pockets.

Back to normality and striving to exist. Not a hard task at the moment, but as Norma will be here shortly, have to dash. Hope to meet up with you again tomorrow.