Thursday, October 20, 2011

Future Events?

Had the strangest dream last night, it was about property that housed elderly people, and a very large tree a short distance away suddenly fell right over the property, but fortunately landed in a narrow passage between two buildings. I then 're-dreamed' the episode, viewing it from different angles. One time I was in a large field behind the house and the tree apparently got struck by lightening before it fell, another time the tree burst into flames. Mentioning this, as - in the past - I used to get dreams which seemed to foretell future events. So now have to wait and see if a large tree falls close to some housing.

Settled down to watch Kirstie last night and for some reason could not keep awake. Did manage to see the end bit where she had entered her cakes etc into a competition. Let us hope it will be repeated, although am more interested in watching her 'handicrafts' than cooking. Next week she makes things with paper - and this I will find (more) enjoyable. If I can keep away and there is no footie match that B wishes to see.

After Kirstie managed to stay awake to watch Paul Merton on a gynormous cruise ship. Myself quite liked it - and because it seemed so stable (the chandelier didn't sway and the snooker balls didn't roll around the table) felt seasickness would not be a problem. Due to the miles of corridor, it would only work for me if a mobility scooter (or similar) could be used. Did see P.M riding a cycle along the lower deck passages, so probably scooters would be available/allowed.
Beloved didn't like the vastness of the ship, but then it wasn't really 'sailing', but to me it was more than a floating hotel, it was more a floating town. Bet it was expensive (I would want an outside cabin as I get claustrophobic). Wonder if they have lifeboats on the cruiser, or even life-jackets. With thousands of passengers it would be difficult to cope if they suddenly had to leave the ship in the middle of the ocean. Bad enough on the Titanic, and think they said the cruiser was four times the size of that sunken ship.

Have just learned (via email) to expect visitors this weekend, not yet sure whether they arrive Saturday or Sunday, and with B going away early Sunday, have now to work out the easiest of meals to prepare - possibly in advance - to suit all contingencies.

A thanks for your comments. Usually it is the same publishers who reprint their books Les, especially those they have 'commissioned'. Although I do own the copyright of the recipes, it would be too expensive for me to have the books re-printed (bave to be with different covers and illustrations) if 'self-publishing'.
As to suggesting a low GI diet for your Sarah, not sure if you meant something she could eat AFTER her teeth had been extracted (in which case would suggest a fairly slack porridge, milk puddings etc) or just generally.

As Urbanfarmgirl and Stephanie both commented - both having been taught to cook, knit and sew - these really are important as they are the building blocks of learning how to be thrifty. Until the schools get their acts together, suppose it is up to us who know how to, to pass the knowledge onto as many as possible. Surelty there are some people out there who wish to learn the 'old' skills.
Agree too that 'the basics' such as learning how to read and esp. arithmetic are also important, and - as was said - we can learn almost anything else we wish to know from books. Myself am a great reader, and although learned very little at school, have managed to absorb a lot of knowledge through reading my choice of books. Perhaps if children were each allowed their own choice of books to read about any subject - maybethe age of history they are interested in, or which area of the world they wish to find out more about, or even which (classic) literature they wish to read, they would then be far more interested, rather than having no choice and everyone having to learn exactly the same.

Do remember myself learning 'times tables' from an early age. We all used to sit and learn one, before starting another, chanting them out parrot-fashion until we remembered them all. Even now I can recall any two numbers (from 2 - 12) multiplied. Some are easier to remember than others - 'seven twelves are eightyfour' to me comes to mind faster than 'twelve sevens....etc). Yet 'twelve eights are ninety six' seems easier for me to remember than eight twelves....). Seems sometimes have to switch the numbers round to find the easiest way to remember the answer.

We also used to do a lot of mental arithmetic in school (at a young age), this also helped when later we added up columns of figures. It's far easier these days to add up money - as now no need to convert pennies into shillings and shillings into pounds. Now it is just putting the decimal point in the right place. Suppose 'the metrics' are also simpler when it comes to cooking, but still prefer to use the lbs and oz (most of the time). When it comes to measurements, can never remember much more than 1" - 2.5cm, and 8" = 20 cm/9" = 23cm (because that's about all I need when it comes to measuring baking tins). Otherwise still measure everything in inches/feet. Do know my handspan is exactly 8"/20 cm, so tend to use my hand as a guide when working in the kitchen. An inch here and there doesn't really matter THAT much. Or so I wish to think.

Today's recipes are economical because they use seasonal (and very 'basic' ingredients). The first recipe is for a meatless version of rissoles or burgers. Similar to Glamorgan Sausages, this version uses leeks (but onions/shallots could be used instead) and the joy of this is we can vary ingredients to give different flavours. Use different herbs (be sparing with the 'strong' herbs, such as sage) or different (but well flavoured) hard cheeses also rings the changes. If we have no mustard powder, 'made' mustard could be used instead (taking our pick from strong English, wholegrain or Dijon according to our taste). We could even add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, capers, grated pickled onion, chopped Peppadew, and why not a pinch of spice? The variety of flavours we could end up with is almost endless. So use this recipe as a guide, then go and have a 'play'.
Vegetarian Rissoles: makes 8
5 oz (150g) fresh breadcrumbs (plus extra for coating)
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese grated
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 tblsp chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, sage etc)
1 tsp mustard powder (see above)
salt and pepper
2 eggs
milk to mix (only if necessary)
plain flour
oil for frying
Put the breadcrumbs, cheese, leeks, herbs and mustard powder (add made mustard later with the liquids). Add seasoning to taste. Break one egg into a bowl and separate the second egg, adding its yolk to the whole egg (the egg white will be used separately). Beat the whole egg and yolk together (with the made mustard if using) and stir into the breadcrumb mixture, if necessary adding a little milk to form a mixture than can be gathered together into a slightly sticky (but not wet) ball.
Divide into eight and form each into equally sized sausages (or flatten into 'burgers'). Cover and chill for at least an hour (or longer until needed).
Put some plain flour into a dish, fresh breadcrumbs into another, then lightly beat the egg white and place this between the two. Dip each sausage/burger first into the flour, then into the egg white, and finally into the breadcrumbs.
Either deep fry at 180C, for five minutes or shallow fry for slightly longer making sure all sides are golden brown and crispy. Remove to kitchen paper to drain, then serve immediately.

Now we come to a really lovely curry dish where the basic ingredient is potatoes. Having said that, it works equally as well if we use butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes or any similar vegetables that will absorb flavours well (or why not make it with some of each). Waxy potatoes are suggested as these won't collapse when cooked (salad potatoes and 'new' potatoes are 'waxy').
When it comes to 'the other' ingredients, some we may not normally keep in our larders, but don't feel we have to go and buy them. Understand why they are there and - if you wish - use an alternative that gives a similar result. Where I can I've bracketed suggestions as to substitutions..
Curried Potatoes: serves 4
4 - 5 cloves garlic (or to taste) crushed
1 oz (25g) fresh root ginger, grated (OR use...
... chopped crystallised or stem ginger
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 tblsp butter
6 shallots, halved lengthways (sliced onion)
2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
2 tsp sugar
2 cinnamon sticks (1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala (or curry paste)
1 lb (500g) waxy potatoes, cut into chunks
cold water
2 tomatoes, peeled and quartered (remove seeds)
salt and pepper
8 fl oz (250ml) Greek yogurt
1 tsp red chilli powder (paprika powder)
finely chopped coriander or mint for garnish
1 lemon, quartered (for serving)
warm flatbread (chapatis, tortillas etc)
Mix the root ginger and the garlic together (grind to a paste using a pestle and mortar if necessary).
Put the oil and butter into a pan and heat until the butter has melted, then fry the shallots and chillies until 'fragrant', then stir in the garlic/ginger paste and the sugar, until the mixture begins to colour. Stir in the cinnamon sticks (or powder) with the turmeric and garam masala, the add the potatoes. Stir well together so the spuds are coated with the spices.
Add just enough cold water to cover the potatoes, bring to the boil then reduce heat heat and simmer until the potatoes are 'al dente' (almost cooked but still firm). Add salt and pepper to taste, the stir in the tomatoes. Heat through then fold in the yogurt. Spoon immediately into a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the chilli (or paprika) and the chopped herbs. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over each helping, and flatbread to help scoop up the curry.

Final recipe today is a variation of Russian Salad, and although originally a summer salad, as the veggies are now available all year round (fresh or frozen) this is one we can make any time of the year, and - of course - use up the veggies we have already in store (the don't all have to be the same as in the recipe - just use this as a guide). We could use canned new potatoes for instance instead of the 'fresh'. Meant to be eaten cold, it can still make a good accompaniment to something hot such as a Cornish Pasty for a main meal (especially if a warming soup was served as a starter, or hot pud as dessert (or both...). We could mix some cooled Quinoa into the salad to give extra nourishment. Quinoa is packed with protein and a grain that cooks in a much shorter time than most others. Rice, bulgar or couscous could be used instead.
Russian Salad: serves 4
8 new potatoes, peel left on, quartered
1 large carrot, diced
4 oz (100g) string beans, cut into short lengths
3 oz (75g) peas
1 red (or white sweet) onion, chopped
4 gherkins, sliced (opt)
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 tblsp capers, drained
2 (oz) black olives, pitted and halved
juice of 1 small lemon
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
5 fl oz (150ml) mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes and carrot in a pan of lightly salted water until just tender (don't overcook), then add the beans and peas and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until all are now tender. Drain well then tip into a large bowl. Add the onions, gherkins, bell pepper, olives and capers.
Mix the crushed garlic with a pinch of salt and stir into the mayo with the lemon juice, season to taste with pepper, then pour this over the vegetable mixture, tossing the lot together until well combined. Chill before serving.

We had a sunny day yesterday, and although today has started sunny, dark clouds are now appearing, so not sure what will happen next.
Beloved enjoyed his Chicken Tikka Masala yesterday, served with samosas, Raita, and a choice of pickles (Mango chutney and Lime Pickle). Pilau rice accompanied the dish. He had one of the individual trifles for 'afters' (I had the other one!). As B will be taking our daughter to Preston this afternoon to visit the consultant, they will almost certainly decide to 'eat out' and have an early supper en route before returning home, so no need for me to prepare anything for B. (If he doesn't 'eat out' almost certainly he will bring back a take-away for himself). At least that gives me time to do 'other things'.

This morning - after putting the laundry into the washing machine - am planning to give this room a 'purge' and get it back into order (it has never been right since Gill visited us and used it as her 'bedroom'). Several weeks of dust are lying on the flat surfaces (the shame of it), and as the walls are panelled, no doubt every panel has it's own dust layer, so the feather duster will be active today, as will damp cloths to gather up the worst. Notice there is a small Christmas ornament on the mantelpiece (left from last year) so do I put it away to bring about again in December, or take the easy way and leave it where it is? Well, there are so many more important things to think about than whether we should put 'house-pride' first, don't you think? Or is that just my excuse? Yes, well....

Anyway, the job HAS to be done, so might as well get on with it while am in the mood (for am never likely to feel this way again until at least March (spring-cleaning and all that. What's spring-cleaning?). So forgive my early exit from this blog. Just think of me slaving away, while you drink your coffee and read this.
Hope you will all join me tomorrow - see you then.