Thursday, November 24, 2011

Instead Of - Why Not Try...?

Had a really busy day yesterday, divided the fruit cake up into six small individual ones (part iced) some more that were larger, then baked several gingerbread in small oblong flattish 'boxes' that I got from Lakeland, the cakes can be baked in the cases and left in to give as gifts etc. They look really 'professional'. am baking a batch of individual mini-loaf shaped Lemon Drizzle Cakes on Saturday (similar boxes) for the Craft Fair (Sunday) - a way to raise funds for his sailing club (not quite a 'charity', but am calling it that.

Today will be making marmalade (orange and lemon). Also some jam. My plan is also to bake some Fork Biscuits ( orange flavoured and also chocolate ones) between now and Saturday, maybe also some shortbread. My life does not always go to plan, but even if I have some cakes and preserves to send, that should help.

Beloved is out both Friday night and Saturday night at the club social, one to 'socialise', the next evening to help behind the bar (which is much the same thing I suppose - having worked as a barmaid can speak with authority) where the local diving club will be having a 'Rocky Horror Night'. Sunday he will be out helping with the 'charity' Craft Fair. Must make the most of my free time!!!

Asked B yesterday what he was making to raise money for the club charity funds, and he said 'nothing'. I suggested he gave some money in lieu and he really grumped about that. He won't of course. Seems he is quite happy for me to roll up my sleeves and provide, and I'm not even a member. He did go to Morrison's for me to fetch a couple of bags of self-raising flour (as I had only plain flour in stock). He was going anyway to buy his lemonade. I didn't check the carrier bag - left in the kitchen, but yesterday when I went to begin baking discovered he had bought PLAIN flour!!! Yet I definitely stressed it HAD TO BE self-raising (probably - and unfortunately - adding "I've plenty of plain flour already"). Mentioning two of anything is always a mistake as B inevitably brings the wrong one. Didn't think he needed to write down what I needed as didn't expect him to 'forget' just one thing.

Doesn't really matter - as according to B he bought the plain flour 'because it was on offer'. Was that supposed to be an excuse? Doubt he realised there is a difference between plain and s.r, and anyway can always add raising agent to plain to make my own.
The gingerbread was made with plain flour anyway, so not a problem on the day. No real need for me to make an issue out of it, but it gives me something to ramble on about. Or should I say 'moan'.

Your comment Suzi, reminded me of my mother who was always convinced people were looking at her (in a critical way). She was a very beautiful woman, so shouldn't have minded anyway. "What a pity you take after your father" she used to say to me (he was the double fo Captain Mainwaring in 'Dad's Army', so myself felt I had cause to hide in the shadows.

Think my mum must have had a lack of self-confidence for when we entered a room crowded with people and she heard someone laugh, she always said they were laughing at her. We could never convince her otherwise. Of course they weren't, they usually had their back to us anyway and we hadn't been seen (yet). What was there to laugh about anyway? When she went out (which wasn't often) she made sure she looked the bee's knees, so in some way it was as though she wanted to be seen, admired, but couldn't bear to feel embarrassed - even by me (so I had to be dressed to the nine's as well so as not to let her down). She never really forgave me when I got married and ended up 'poor'.

Mind you, I did come in useful after my father died and my mother only wanted a few groceries (like two rashers of bacon, or one lamb chop), and she used to send me into the butchers whilst she stood outside because he knew I was 'hard-up', so expected me to buy only a small amount of anything. She wasn't short of money, but of course didn't need much as she lived alone (moved to Leeds to a house only a few yards from where we lived), so why she couldn't understand that shopkeepers understood that I don't know. Suppose it's like me - still living with memories of how it used to be and finding it difficult to catch up. Even now tend to think that anything over 10/- (aka 50p) is over-priced. Have still not caught up with how much things cost NOW compared to what they did in the 60's (before we went decimal). Giving a money gift of £20 would seem (to me) like giving a fortune, yet to a youngster today probably only enough to pay for one trip to the cinema.

Have to say, when I'm on my scooter, just love the sensation. It has never crossed my mind that people might feel sorry for me. Always it is the personality and character of a person that makes me either like or dislike (or feel sorry for) them. Doesn't matter if they are able or disabled, good-looking or plain (the plain ones are more fun to be with).

Morecambe is almost a 'retirement' town (a bit like Eastbourne in that respect). If anyone saw the 'Cocoon' films, Morecambe reminds of that - all 'old biddies' living it up in the best way they can. So disability scooters, wheelchairs and elderly folk hobbling around with sticks is just about the norm here, so I fit in happily. Might not have been so easy if we still lived in Leeds where the yobbos would probably happily tip my 'buggy' over if they felt so inclined.

Again interesting to read facts from across the pond. Suppose we too have levels of 'budgeting'. Can't remember all the names given to residents here but 'middle income' and 'poverty level' come to mind. Some higher than that of course. Our income (state pension) apparently is one pound too little so we fit into the 'poverty level'. Have to laugh as can hardly call our life 'poverty', perhaps because have been used to real hardship in the past, the comfort we now have is deemed (by me) 'luxury'.
The US 'thrift' level is more our Middle Income I would say, but again - it's all relative to money earned.

You certainly start putting up Christmas decorations early in the US Lisa. By the way, think today is your Thanksgiving, so let me wish you a happy one and hope your meal goes well.

We once went to America to stay with my cousin (and later our daughter) for Christmas, and not knowing of the US way of decorating early, found that immediately the 'Day' was over, that was the end of it. No Twelve Days of Christmas over there, many folk went back to work on Boxing Day. My cousin (at that time) worked in a large department store and she said it was 'traditional' for everyone to take their presents back that day and exchange them for something they 'really wanted'. Found that a bit sad, but suppose sensible.

Also was told it was common to serve cold meats on Christmas Day as people already had eaten turkey at Thanksgiving, and that Thanksgiving was much more a time of family gathering than was Christmas. This seen from the viewpoint of a dyed in the wool traditional English girl.
Every country has its own traditions. Each to his own.

Reminding readers that the news series about the Amish is on this evening - think Ch.4. I will be glued to the TV whilst it is on (although may have to knock it back an hour to Ch4 + 1 as B may want to watch something else).

Before I leave your comment Lisa, what is 'Black Friday sales'? At one time in the UK we had only 'January Sales' - this sometimes starting after Christmas but before New Year. In the old days these were normally 'white sales' where white sheets, pillowcases, table cloths, napkins (aka serviettes), towels etc were sold at low price. Old stock I suppose. In those days we didn't have coloured bed linen etc. Now it seems almost everything is 'on sale' ALL THE TIME. We can furnish our house at half price, fill the kitchen with half-price 'appliances', even clothing we can pick up for pennies (these more often from charity shops than the High Street). Many large stores have had to close down and the High Street over the country possibly have more empty shops that those still retailing. The supermarkets have taken most of our custom as these now have moved from food into providing most of everything else we need.
Storekeepers are so desperate to make sales it is often possible to haggle the price down.

Pleased to read you enjoy Morecambe Campfire. The Midland Hotel has a good website (click on Midland Hotel Morecambe), and you will find at least one of their entries shows several photos both of the outside and internally. Not the cheapest place in the world to stay. But very 'iconic'. Their (private) car-park is always full and I believe a lot of corporate meetings are held their (as well as antique fairs and 'themed' evening dining such as Murder Mysteries, 1920's Dine and Dance etc).

Loved the sound of your cauliflower soup minimiser deb. This comment was a good reminder to readers that parts of a vegetable we normally discard can also be packed with flavour (often containing more flavour), so should always be used. Myself love parsnips, and as these need to be peeled, the larger ones also needing the internal 'core' removed, these 'discards' alone, when simmered in a little water until softened can then be pushed through a sieve to give enough 'puree' to flavour a soup.

Have myself made a 'sort of' version of Boursin cheese by emptying a carton of cream cheese (Philly type) onto a sheet of cling film, spreading it out slightly to make a thick oblong, then sprinkling it with black pepper (you could also work in some garlic before spreading). Then sometimes sprinkle over chopped fresh parsley or other herb, then roll it up. The 'roll' can then either be rolled in chopped herbs or ground black pepper. Can't quite remember the way Boursin is 'presented' but you get the idea.

One recipe today as Beloved is collecting our daughter this morning and we hope she will be well enough to go out to lunch with us. So must make a start on the marmalade at least.
This recipe is another way we can make something if we don't have the usual ingredients, and believe this cake - as well as being great to eat - is also gluten free. Ground rice is slightly coarser than rice flour - rather similar to cornmeal if I remember. To make sure the cake turns out easily from its tin, first grease the tin, then line the base and sides with greaseproof paper, then grease this as well. If using baking parchment there should be no need to give the second greasing.

Rice Cake:
4 oz (100g) butter, softened
8 oz (225g) caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3 eggs, separated
8 oz (225g) ground rice
Cream the butter, sugar, and lemon rind together until light and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks before whisking a little at a time into the creamed mixture. Be generous with the beating as this will help the cake to rise. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then carefully fold them into the cake batter, alternately with the ground rice. Be gentle as you need to keep in as much air as possible from the whites.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin (see comment above recipe) level the surface and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 1 hour. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cake airer.

And that's it. Doesn't time fly? I have just under 2 hours to make marmalade - and hopefully can fit in the jam as well. First have to find enough small jars (must have loads somewhere) to decant the preserves into. Have bought new lids as don't wish to 'advertise' the maker of the original contents of the jar (even though it will have been thoroughly washed and sterilised).

Another fair day by the look of it. Seems we are having unseasonably warm weather, even though a smidgin of frost on an occasional night. This is going to make the winter seem short as believe it is only a month now to the shortest day. Once the sun begins to peep over the horizon earlier each morning, our spirits naturally will lift - even if the snow falls and lies on the ground. We KNOW spring will not be far behind.

Until tomorrow when I hope we can all meet up again. Keep comments coming.