Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Thoughts

With Beloved away am now free to let my thoughts flow without any interruption, and yesterday (of course) a lot came to mind about why many today don't cook any meals at all. We (that's most of my readers I expect) can't understand why, but then going back through history, suppose practically everything was made by hand, either in our own homes or by someone else.
It could be that people grew their own wheat, ground it themselves, then baked the flour to make bread. Or kept sheep, sheared the lambs, spun the wool and knitted garments.

Pigs would be kept, slaughtered in the back yard and every bit (except the squeal as they say) was used as food or fat (for frying). Maybe the skin would also be treated to make 'leather' (belts, bags, shoes).

Some people were better at some skills than others, so they would then 'specialise' and make only certain things. Other folk would do the same they they would barter their wares. As we became more civilised and especially after the industrial revolution, bartering stopped and we were paid in 'tokens' (aka money) for work done, which could be exchanged for anything made by someone else.

Certainly in the last hundred years we have turned from using our own skills to purchasing what we are still capable of doing, but now never seem to. Its perfectly acceptable now to buy ready-made clothes, machine- knitted jumpers/sweaters, shoes..... Not to mention cleaning products. Even I do this.
Buying ready-prepared foods/meals is just the next step and probably more noticeable because it is the last 'change' from home-made to bought that has been done. So why do we think it is wrong to do this? Perhaps - if we could afford to buy the best quality foods/meals, then we might as well do so. Use the time saved to better advantage.

Thing is - although we seem perfectly satisfied with buying cheap clothes, and furnishing our house with 'flat-pack' furniture, wonder why we do this? There is much quite old, solid wood furniture that can be bought at auction sales for only a few pounds. And in perfect condition. We can also now buy quality clothes that have been given to charity shops (again in good condition and sold for a very little money). When it comes to food - we now seem to be satisfied with the cheapest. Quality has flown out of the window, and the reasons why we eat at all have been quite forgotten.

Luckily - due to the recession - we have the chance to have a rethink, and begin to realise that when a lot of love and care goes into things 'hand-made', this really does filter through to whoever ends up with the product. You can't say the same about anything made/prepared by machine/robots.
This is why - certainly when it comes to home-cooking, a 'skill' such as this really proves to our family how much we care. This 'nurturing' can also spread further afield to visiting guests, friends.... Surely this makes for a happier family life. Can't see why not. So go for it.

Sorry, Cheesepare, missed replying to your query yesterday re pearl barley. Almost certainly the reason why it ended up like 'cattle cake' was that you had used too much barley and not enough liquid. Myself make barley risotto using the dry grain, and it does absorb more liquid than rice, and also takes longer to cook. Pre-soaking the barley can cut down the cooking time.
Have another go and see if there is any improvement.

Also forgot to come back to minimiser deb re her comment on a neighbour selling his surplus produce (to eke out his pension). To everyone this would be a brilliant idea, but unfortunately the laws of this country do not allow people to sell their 'gluts'. So as long as it is done on the quiet, then fine. My suggestion (and a very naughty one) is for the neighbour to have a charity tin close to the door - with money in it (or even a few pebbles) so that if someone 'on high' knocks on the door to find out what he is doing, he can rattle the tin to 'prove' the money he gets from selling his produce goes to charity, for he would be allowed to sell as long as he doesn't' himself reap the rewards.
There are all sorts of ways of getting round 'legalities'. We can't collect seeds from the flowers/veg in our gardens and then sell the seeds, but we can give them away. On the other hand, if we bought some really cheap ball-point pens (say 10p each), then sold these for a £1, each purchaser being given a 'free' pack of seeds, we are allowed to do this. But sell the seeds with a 'free' pen, and this is illegal.

Sorry Stephanie, don't know of anywhere that sells gooseberry jam other than perhaps a Farmer's Market or a W.I. stall. It just might be that some of the better quality jam manufacturers do sell it - but probably not at low price as found in supermarkets. Can any reader help re this query?

Thanks Lisa for your info re the American states. As one comment mentioned, we can find out almost everything we need to know via the Internet, but somehow it is more interesting hearing it from someone such as yourself, or even reading books.
Incidentally Yorkshire (where we used to live) is our largest county, and Wensleydale is part of Yorkshire, not a county in its own right. There are many 'dales' in Yorkshire (these being the areas below the many hills, often named after the rivers that flows through them. Airedale for instance (river Aire). Don't know whether everyone knows this, but there is a river Crimple in Yorkshire, and the fabric 'crimplene' was so called because is was first made in the local factory there.

Some of the areas of our country have very strange names. There is a moor in Yorkshire called 'Blubberhouses', a village called 'Stanks', and another called 'Wetwang'. Some names are quite long and have been shortened or are pronounced in a different way to the spelling. Never did learn how to pronounce many names in Yorkshire.
In other parts of the country Warwick is 'Warrick', Leicester is 'Lester', Beaulieu is 'Bewly', and the same goes for surnames. Mainwaring is 'Mannering', Cholmondley is 'Chumly', and St.John is 'Sinjun'.
Depending upon whether we come from the north or south, Newcastle is pronounced 'Newcassle' or 'Newcarsel'. Bath is 'Bath' (the 'a' as in 'bat') or 'Barth'. Myself used always to pronounce words the 'south' way, but since living 'up north' now find have changed to the local way.

Know what you mean Susan G about traffic on the motorways when travelling, especially at holiday times. But we have enough 'scenic' routes to get from A to B in this country without touching the main roads (other than crossing a few from time to time). When we lived in Leicester we used to travel down to Bristol on the old Fosse Way. We hardly ever met any traffic, and perhaps this was because we set off early in the day (arriving at Bristol about 10.00am), but no-body bothers with these roads any more, always preferring to put up with heavy traffic on the motorways. When I used to visit Leicester from Leeds, would go down the A1 as far as Clumber Park, then drive down another Roman Road to 'the Six Hills', and again hardly every meet any other traffic. Beloved would drive to Leicester down the M1, and having done this myself, found it saved only about 15 minutes and was a horrendous experience (I hate traffic).
The A6 (possibly part of this is an old Roman Road) I've seen signposted at Carnforth (close to Morecambe) and do know this ran through Leicester right down to London. Again an easier route (for me to take if I still drove cars) than B's way of travelling down the motorway.
Never myself do see the point of trying to save an hour's travelling time, if doing this can cause stress - let alone the pollution in the air given off by the other vehicles on the same road. With me it's change the route to 'scenic' and start an hour earlier and enjoy the countryside whilst driving through.

Now for 'trade secrets'. Seems that one week before one supermarket slashed its retail milk prices, it reduced the premium paid to its dairy farmers. We may be pleased that we can now buy even cheaper milk, but this isn't fair to our farmers who need every penny to cover the rising costs of animal feed.

The Co-operative group - who already have a home-delivery service for customers who spend over £25 in store - are planning to launch an on-line grocery service within the next year.

Iceland is bringing back its frozen sandwich platters this Christmas 'due to popular demand'. For those who are interested in comparison costings (bought v home-made) "a £5 platter will contain 30 frozen sandwich quarters that have been blast frozen".
The sandwiches come in cheese and onion, tuna and sweetcorn, and ham and mayonnaise flavours. "These take away the hassle and time-consuming need to make them at home".
Just remember that 30 frozen sandwich quarters is really 7 and a half 'rounds' before cutting, so easy enough to work out the price for the same if 'home-made'. Is it worth buy them? You tell me.

Students who rely on the almost-instants for their 'meal of the day' will be pleased to know that there will be a limited edition Christmas dinner-flavoured pot noodle snack. "The festive version of Golden Wonder: The Nation's Noodle - which even comes with a sachet of cranberry sauce - has a turkey flavoured sauce and contains vegetables including carrot, cabbage and broccoli. And forget the effort associated with Christmas - the produce requires only boiling water and five minutes of the consumer's time".
Rolling out to stores over the next couple of weeks in a 90g version (rsp 95p) that will be stocked by Morrisons, and a 115g 'Normous' pot (98g) to be sold in Asda.
Have to say, if B is away again at Christmas this year (he usually is), myself might even consider feasting on the above 'Normous' pot noodle (because it appears we get 25g extra for just 3p more! A feast indeed.

Am sure I remember several readers saying they had a bumper crop of blackcurrants this year. But the trade mag says that "fresh blackcurrants and products such as blackcurrant cordials and jams could become more expensive following poor harvests in Europe and New Zealand.
The price of blackcurrant concentrate - used in processed products - has more than doubled since the beginning of 2011".
Possibly worth growing our own in future. And if already, plant another bush (or take cuttings from one you already have).

New ranges of meat products are being launched to help retailers offer competitively priced lamb and beef, even though global prices are soaring. So look forward to new named 'cuts' such as 'lamb rosette', 'lamb chunky', and 'Victoria roast'. With beef seek out alternative cuts such as 'flat-iron' and 'Denver steak'.

Quite a thought-provoking article about shop-lifting in the trade mag. Seems that its now not just the usual common or garden thieves, but "include people who - in a bid to maintain lifestyles they can no longer afford - are resorting to stealing everyday items such as cheese, which now has the highest 'shrink-rate' (stolen) of any grocery product.
Retailers are now placing security tags on all sorts of food (normally not tagged) such as cheese, and even bars of chocolate.
The article goes on to say "More people are stealing and they are stealing more. The problems with the economy, society, politicians, and the banking industry have led many people to say 'its' alright to steal. I've got to look after myself because everybody else is looking after themselves'.". And "It's no longer just the hard-up that are shop-lifting. You might have a good income and lifestyle and want to maintain it.... There's no typical shoplifter anymore".

This gives me the feeling that people will just not give up their 'luxuries' (which they consider to be the norm), and so resort to crime to keep their status quo. What's so wrong with tightening our belts and having a little less, or even a lot less. We all have had too much for too long anyway.

Blogger has pulled up an error. Think it's Ok now so will hope to publish while I can. Please remember tomorrow is early hair day so this blog won't be started until late morning. Hope you will join me then.