Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Can Be Done - if we Try!

Have to say the early morning hair appointment turned out much better than expected. Despite me rising later than intended, was able - in the hour before Norma arrived - to prepare my 'brunch', make two individual trifles (so far just the sponge, jelly and fruit chilling in the fridge (custard and/or cream to be added later). Also did all the washing up left from yesterday's supper, drank a few mugs of coffee, got some pastry out of the fridge to make a cheese quiche and also apple pie, brought out a Chicken Tikka Masala from the freezer to reheat for supper, plus three samosas (these will be cooked when thawed). Put some eggs ready in a pan to hard-boil, and made a litre of Greek yogurt (EasyYo) which will be set by suppertime (some to be used to make Raita to go with the curry). None it took THAT much time, but has saved a lot more 'preparation' time if I had to do it later in the day.

Yesterday was 'interesting' as regards meals made. Felt cold, so decided to open a can of condensed tomato soup and have half of it diluted with home-made chicken stock for my lunch. The remaining condensed soup was used when making a beef lasagne for B's supper. Although the pasta was no-need-to-cook, being cheap knew that it was better part 'soaked' before being baked, so put some diluted soup in the base of the container and laid pasta sheets on top, with a bit more soup to cover. This then started the first layer of pasta to soften.
In the meantime, sliced a large onion, and several mushrooms, then fried these before adding a pack of D.R's minced steak (thawed of course). After this was browned, added the remaining condensed soup with a bit of water and some seasoning, covered the pan and let it simmer for an hour, before adding some 'spicy pasta sauce', heating it through then spooning some of the meat.mushrooms, onion over the pasta already in the dish, topping with more pasta then some of the tomato sauce in the pan, and more of the meat mixture, with a final layer of pasta on top covered by remaining sauce), covered lightly with foil and left it to cool.

Later put the lasagne in the oven to heat at a lowish temperature (to make sure it was heate through) before making some cheese sauce the quick way (using Bisto granules) then spooned this on top of the lasagne with a very generous sprinkling of Parmesan to cover. This then placed in a hot oven to brown on top. It made quite an amount. B ate a third, I divided the remainder into three, ate one part for my own supper (it was very good), froze one and the third will be today's 'brunch', heated in the microwave.

Had a really guilty feeling yesterday when I heard on the news that inflation had risen over 7%, as this is the time they decide on the amount the state pension will increase next year, so while very good news for us 'wrinklies', not much help to others who won't be likely to get a rise. The good thing is - even if the fuel prices go down (which am sure they won't), we will still get the increase in our pension, but - as they said - not in time to cover the extra fuel costs we expect to have to pay this winter.

There was also a bit on the news showing a young woman who had (I think) two small children, certainly she had a small daughter - barely more than a toddler. She was a lovely girl, well made up, nice clothes, but said she was on benefits and has had to contact Barnardo's for help. Also said she now had to make the choice between buying new clothes OR food. For me that's a no-brainer, and would have been more sympathetic if her choice had to be between paying for fuel to keep her home warm or buying food. NEW clothes? Not really top priority.

It's easy enough for me to be critical, because I was lucky enough to be taught sewing first by my mother, then at school (although not taught to cook - perhaps due to it being war-time and no spare food to experiment with). Shortly after our first child was born learned how to adapt paper patterns and make clothes for myself as well as for our children. Initially, sewing was done by hand, later I got an old Singer sewing machine, later still got an electric one. Today very small and basic sewing machines are on sale and don't cost that much, so no real excuse not to start making clothes. All we really need is a needle and cotton, a thimble and a pair of scissors. Measuring tape and material.

Children soon grow out of their clothes, so always worth seeing what charity shops and jumble sales have to offer before panic sets in. Even an adult's garment will give enough material to make at least one (and maybe two) dresses (or coats) for a small child. Others can be altered to fit, and luckily buying secondhand is not 'shameful' (as it was in my day), as today t's considered the fashionable (no pun intended) thing do.

Considering my rather poor schooling (not going to a 'proper' school until I was 13 - and then only for 2 years), any history, algebra, geometry, physics and chemistry, and to some extent English literature (Shakespeare), and geography (not forgetting botany) that I was taught has never been any use to me at all in my adult life. All that was really helpful was arithmetic (basic 'sums'. weights and measures etc), learning how to spell, and a smattering of French. My mother had taught me to read and write well before five years of age so no problem there. Also taught me how to knit and sew/embroider. My dad taught me how to grow things. After leaving school learned shorthand and typing, but only typing has ever been of any use to me. Anything else I felt I needed to learn I got by reading books.
So let's hope a lot more emphasis will now be given in schools to the basic domestic skills. Every girl (and even boy) should at least know how to cook, shop thriftily, sew and knit. Also growing produce, and how to save money, not spend it. Boys (and girls) should learn a bit about household maintenance (cleaning, changing light bulbs, where the stop cock is etc...).

Even if this does happen, there will still be a generation (even two) who have not had this type of tuition, and it will be these that are finding it that much harder for them to cope during this recession. If children have grown up not knowing that milk comes from a cow, or can't recognise a cucumber, (or even thread a needle and darn a sock) then it's going to be a long hard struggle to understand even a simple recipe or learn to stitch on a patch.

Because of the later start today, will not be giving recipes - just replying to comments.

See that Jo has mentioned a fourth book in the 'Hovel...." series. Have read the (first) three, didn't know there was another - can anyone tell me the name of this?

Hope the weather has improved up your way Urbanfarmgirl. Was interested to read about your essay/course work. What course have you been doing? Myself keep wondering if I should take an OU course on (perhaps) social history. Or am I too old to make it worth while?

Being that it's now on its way to 11.30am, with not a lot more to write about other than the weather has improved and today see the sky is blue with barely a cloud, so lots of sunshine again. Cooler outdoors, but then as I'm not going out don't really care what the temperature is.

With the supper already (almost) prepared, am going to do a bit of tidying up, then sit and watch two cookery progs this afternoon. Kirstie Allsopp's new series begins tonight, and fortunately B is not very interested in the footie match on at the same time, so is graciously allowing me to watch Kirstie.

Last night - for want of anything better to watch - did see a prog on Channel Five about a 'bijou' flat in London having a make-over (which cost £12,000!!!). It was a bit 'colourful', but not THAT bad, and have to say that once 'made-over' suppose it was very trendy - all subtle colours (taupe being one of them - if they said that name they said it 1,000 times. They pronounced it 'tope', which is not how I was taught to say it - which was similar to 'torpe' - and, as it isn't even in our dictionary, they may well have been right).
To cut a long story short, think I preferred the way the apartment use to be - the final result being a bit too clinical for my liking. But then I'm not young and trendy, so again possibly I'm completely out of touch with today's world.

So - that's enough rambling and criticising for today. Hope you enjoy any good weather that might come your way, time also to start thinking about preparing for Hallow'een. B will be taking a short break away from home (leaving Sunday - returning Thursday), so that will give me time to start making some flapjack and gingerbread ready for the Trick or Treaters (both improve with keeping a few days), and 'on the day' will also make some chocolate or ginger muffins.
It will be treat to have several full days (and nights) on my own again. Then I can eat what I want when I want, don't have to cook B an evening meal each day, and can see all my favourite TV programmes.

Please join me again tomorrow - if all goes well, back to the normal time. See you then.