Friday, October 07, 2011

Testing Times

This morning we will be seeing our daughter, she has had some results from her lumbar puncture. It may be - from time to time - and for all sorts of reasons (illness, visitors, blogger getting another wobbly etc) my blog may be missing a day here and there in the future. Hope will be able to let you know in time, but if I do disappear for a short while, you will know why.

Goodness me - I have just counted seven magpies sitting side by side on the fence in our garden, there may even be more as the fence goes past where I can see through our window. I know there is "One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, and Four for a boy", but SEVEN?!!! Never before have I seen more than three together.

Weather yesterday couldn't have been much worse. High winds, very cloudy and dismal with lots of rain, then - during the evening - a sudden rush of extra strong gale followed by bright lightening and an almost immediate thunderclap, but thankfully the thunderstorm moved away and didn't last too long. Today the wind has died down with - not yet - a breath of wind, so who knows what comes next. Certainly it is getting much colder, I was resorting to cuddling a hot water bottle yesterday afternoon, and B put the heating on last night as he too felt cold.

There are many strengths of 'heat' with a curry Lisa, Korma being one of the mildest (but there are others that have even less heat), and the one you mentioned: Vindaloo we expect to be one of the hottest (believe there is another even hotter) and few Brits can take that on, unless 'conditioned' by working their way up from mild through hot to very hot over many weeks. The name probably derives from one of the ingredients, which is vinegar, the chilli peppers giving the heat, and it is one of the easiest curries to make as there are not that many spices needed. We can always reduce the heat by using less chillies, so am including a recipe for this dish today. To reduce the heat of a too-hot-and-spicy curry we have eaten, we are advised never to drink water (it makes it worse), but to eat yogurt (which is why Raita is often served with a curry). Sugar also helps.

For some reason the name 'vindaloo' always makes me think this should be the name for a Roman 'water closet' on Hadrian's Wall, but only the Brits would probably understand why my mind turns in this direction.

Your split peas were probably quite old minimiser deb if they failed to soften when cooked. Most pulses harden as they age, and at some point are almost impossible to cook down. Although best before dates can often be ignored up to a point, it is always worth keeping an eye on the date shown on pulses, then try and use them within a few months after that (which reminds me - have some dried butter beans that perhaps I should soak and cook very soon). At least with moving, know that nothing in our larder is much over 2 years old, so practically everything is still fit for human consumption.

Do hope you are satisfied with the D.R. meat T. Mills. Not sure what you bought, but if the 'braising offer', have found our recent purchase very good and so tender when cooked slowly. The 'gravy' made after cooking most of the braising meat in the same stock, after chilling set to a thick gel, with a layer of 'clarified dripping' at the top, and clear jelled stock in the middle, with thick dark stock with meaty bits in it underneath. B is spreading some of the darker jelly on his toast instead of dripping. He loves it.
The good thing about the DR meat is that it is vacuum packed with b.b. dates that show it will keep frozen well over 12 months and often longer. Not that it gets a chance, but at least know (unlike home-frozen meat) it will keep in good condition to see us through this winter and probably next.

Beloved had lamb shank with new potatoes and peas for supper last night. The price remains the same for the shanks (2 for £5) which is pretty reasonable compared to the butchers (the ones I buy come from Tesco and are already cooked with gravy to re-heat from frozen - takes 1 hr. 10 minutes). As prices rise, so the lamb shanks seem to have slowly decreased in size, but there is always ample meat on one shank for one person, so am ordering extra next time as all meat prices seem to be rising rapidly. Did not myself have any supper other than a ham and lettuce sarnie as have gained a few pounds due to 'eating for comfort' over the past few days, but already this extra weight is now disappearing again.
Always after a 'weigh-in' tend to let myself go for a bit - knowing it will be six months before the next 'weigh' -, and so plenty of time to settle back again to eating less and losing more. I've been doing this for the last 2 years and its always worked.

Here is the recipe for 'Komdi Vindaloo' which comes from Goa, and can be made with either chicken (as shown), pork, beef, lamb or prawns. Known all over the world as a medium hot curry (in Britain accepted as a VERY hot curry), it has come to denote a certain level of chilli heat in a dish.
Spicy Goan Chicken Curry: serves 4
6 tblsp sunflower oil
4 small potatoes, peeled and halved or cubed
2 large onions, finely chopped
8 pieces chicken, skinned
6 cloves
8 black peppercorns
6 whole cardamom
4 green chillies (see method below)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tblsp malt vinegar
to make the curry paste:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
4 dried red chillies, de-seeded and softened in water
First prepare curry paste by grinding the ingredients together. Then prepare the green chillies by slitting lengthways to expose the seeds, but not breaking the pods in two.
Commence making the curry by heating the oil in a frying pan, then fry the potatoes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the oil in the pan add the chicken and fry this until well browned, then add the sugar and salt and stir-fry for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the curry paste followed by the potatoes and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, then stir in the vinegar. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then serve hot with boiled rice.

Here is another curry - certainly suitable for American cookery as gourds, squash, pumpkin etc are used as the base ingredients. Almost certainly less 'hot' than the Vindaloo above and makes use of split peas and several herbs, so with Hallow'een coming at the end of this month, we could use this recipe to make use of the pumpkin flesh when we carve out the lanterns. Although this is called 'mutton' dish, lamb is used in this recipe, which is a famous Parsee dish that is served with brown rice (made by cooking white rice with a little caramel).
(sorry hit the wrong button and published, but will continue so come back if it stops here)

Mutton Dhansak: serves 4
2 large onions, finely chopped
5 oz (150g) chopped tomatoes
5 oz (150g) bottle gourd (or butternut), finely chopped
4 tblsp red pumpkin, chopped
4 tblsp fresh fenugreek leaves, chopped
6 tblsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
6 tblsp mint leaves, chopped
5 oz (150g) split yellow lentils (or split peas)
10 oz (300g) lamb, trimmed of fat and cubed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
pinch salt
1 tsp sugar
15 fl oz (450 ml) water
4 tblsp distilled vinegar
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
Put all but the last three (NOT the vinegar, oil and cumin) in a heavy pan and cook until the lentils and lamb are tender. Taking care not to break the meat (it may be best to remove it) mash the vegetables and lentils with a wooden spoon, then stir in the vinegar (replacing lamb if removed). Heat the oil and fry the cumin seeds then pour this over the curry. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve hot with 'brown rice' (see above).

Well, after that kerfuffle (why do I keep hitting the wrong button - and still have to work out which one publishes....) it is now time for me to leave. All being well will be back with you again tomorrow, and let us hope the trade mag comes this week. Will probably discontinue taking it after Christmas as it tends to be a bit erratic re delivery (and is not that cheap), but at least - so far - it is has given us a very good idea of how the stores pull our strings and what we is likely to happen on the food front over these next few months.

Until tomorrow then, with the hope you will join me again. Enjoy your day - whatever the weather throws at us.