Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It Doesn't Have to Cost a Lot

Shorter blog this morning as it is Norma the Hair day, and with my groceries timed to be delivered shortly after Norma has left, that's my morning taken care of.
Will first reply to comments, then - if any time left - will carry on as long as possible. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Thanks to Susan G. for passing on her recipe. Regarding Brussels sprouts (particularly when large). My grandson refused to eat sprouts so one day I shredded them up as I do with cabbage and he then ate them thinking it WAS cabbage. Afterwards he said he thought it might have been sprouts after all, but served that way he quite liked them.

A welcome and group hugs to Theresa. It's lovely to have readers in other countries and who will take time to send in comments, for every nation seems to have a different way of life and it's always good to hear domestic news from as many countries as possible. Am pretty sure in the US tht each state differs in some ways when it comes to food and the way they live. Even here in the UK - tiny though it is compared to others, each county/region differs either in dialect or traditional food - as well as architecture and landscape.

No name left from an Anonymous, but do understand that smoking is not just for fun, but grows into an addiction. Having been prescribed amphetamines by my doctor in the 50s to help me lose weight (in those days these could even be bought over the counter) know well how - after several years when they were later banned - I had become so 'addicted' to them (even though never taking more than the prescribed dose) it took me years before I managed to drag myself back to almost normal.

Pleased you enjoy reading comments from readers Urbanfarmgirl, and like you say (think I mentioned this above) it is very enjoyable to hear about life 'over the pond'. It has often been said that the USA is just as foreign to us as (say) Japan, China, the only thing we share is a common language (and in many ways we differ in that).

Regarding cellphones (we call them mobiles - the Germans call them 'handies') Lisa. Myself also find the cheapest way is to 'pay as you go'. Was given my as a present two years ago just after we moved here so that I could carry it around with me and if I fell down etc could instantly call for help (that was when B was away and I was less mobile than today but it could still happen). It had £20 of call-money already paid up when given me, and since then have only topped it up twice, making it about £50 - £60 total over the two years. Admittedly do send regular texts to our daughter who is ill, but as she only has a mobile and no land line it is cheaper for her to text than phone me.

Had forgotten about the Minack books minimiser deb, but have read several in the past and they are very good AND interesting. Although the meals might be considered boring if eaten on a regular basis, this is turning my mind back to my childhood when our meals when each day would have a 'set' meal, so we knew what to expect (roast on Sunday, cold meat Monday, Cottage Pie Tuesday, chops on Wednesday, stew on Thursday, fish on Friday, egg and chip Saturday - then repeated and repeated for YEARS). Good plain food, but still 'boring'. Herbs and spices were not used so much in those days, and any recipes for 'ethnic' foods had not seen the light of the British day.

Well, ceredwin, you have given me a challenge to sink my teeth into. Give me a few days to have a think and hopefully little grey cells will start working and I will come up with some ideas.

The 'Food Stamps' in the US sound a bit like our wartime rations Margie. In those times every one had a 'ration book' with little coupons (probably dated) that the grocer would cut out to send back to headquarters - say one coupon per week would entitle us to an inch cube of cheese each. The larger families were more fortunate as Mum would take all their books to the grocer and probably come back with the equivalent of six cubes of cheese - this could be grated and go a whole lot further than just one cube if you lived alone. But this type of rationing was more to do with the amount of food that we were each allowed, and nothing to do with the price. Food Stamps sound more like a set amount of money then people can buy the food they wish with them.
It would be interesting to know how they spend their 'stamp money'. Do the stores provide 'basics' only to be exchanged for stamps, or can a customer buy junk food with them if they wish?

Goody, goody. Replies now completed so have another hour left before I depart. Not sure why but the right side of my face started swelling up during the night. Might have been something I ate (did add a cuppa soup to a pan of home-made soup, could have been the additives in that) or it might be stress.

Our daughter called in yesterday with her friend and what a tale she had to tell. Very recently she had two more hospital visits for tests (her doctor requesting the results as rapidly as possible),and went to visit the consultant in Preston yesterday morning - by which time he would have had the results (they had been typed up our daughter was told several days ago when she phoned to check). He refused to acknowledge the tests as it wasn't he who had requested them (they hadn't been sent to him anyway and now seem to have been lost!!). Unfortunately there had been a mix-up and our daughter was earlier phoned by the hospital prior to this and told there was a cancellation so she could see a specialist earlier - which is what she did. It was this specialist who arranged the tests - and for some reason because the appointment had originally been booked with the other one, they can't 'share' the results. Our daughter has to have the tests taken all over again - even though the results will be exactly the same. This means more waiting, and even more waiting after that to see the consultant. She is rapidly getting worse, so think it's time to stamp feet, 'heads will roll' etc. over this. We expect the medical profession to help not hinder. Too much bureaucracy, although can myself see it from the consultants angle. For some other specialist to see an (accepted) patient (as yet not seen), it's a bit like the patient changing horses in mid-stream I suppose, even though the patient was only doing what had been arranged for her in the first place. Fault lies with the system.

A very interesting letter in our newspaper today re the value of eating porridge for breakfast. Seemingly "The Royal Society of Chemistry says a 'toast sandwich' is the cheapest meal available". Now, if I remember, this 'toast sandwich' is what it says on the tin. Two slices of bread with a slice of toast between.
The correspondent says "The cheapest pack of oats I can find is 75p kg, and the serving suggestion of 50g made up with water would yield 180 calories at 3.7p"
Double this portion and it would provide more calories for the same price of a toast sandwich.

Still comparing like for like, the letter goes on to say "Porridge would provide 11g of protein against 9.5g in the toast sandwich, 60.4 carbohydrate against 50.2, and 8.6 of fibre against 4.5g. The only macronutrients on which the porridge loses against the toast sandwich is fat....but this might be a positive point."

Other points made were that porridge oats have a much longer shelf life than bread and therefore prove more economical, and certainly more practical for those on a budget. Also (as can happen too with the 'toast sandwich', porridge can be 'improved', "by adding milk, salt or sugar, and - if you wish for more - honey, dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, even cinnamon. And reducing the amount of oats and adding a small amount of any ingredient would barely raise the cost and would add significant nutritive value and interest to the meal".

How many times have I said that porridge is the cheapest and best breakfast we can have, but not had the word-power to say it as clearly as above. Shows what an amateur writer I am. But now you have the facts, and let's hope that more of us start the day with a bowl of porridge especially during the colder months of the year, for - as the title of this posting says - a good meal "doesn't have to cost a lot".
Incidentally, If we soak the oats in milk (or water) overnight, they then take less time to cook - thus saving fuel.

Made myself a big pan of vegetable soup yesterday, the usual diced carrots, onions and celery, with added diced parsnip, and a diced potato.. Wanted to thaw out some chicken stock to add flavour but once thawed it turned out to be cauliflower puree (made from the leaves, core and stems of a bought cauli - cooked in milk then blitzed and frozen to dilute later to make soup) so added that too, with a little extra water. Surprisingly it worked well - the cauli puree worked as a 'thickener' for the soup and the flavour blended well with the other veggies. As our daughter, friend and B went out for lunch to a carvery, I had some of the soup for my lunch, and as B had a giant meal for lunch he didn't want an evening meal, so I had the remainder of the soup for my supper. Remember now I added a chicken cuppa soup to give a more 'chicken' flavour to the soup and it might have been the additives/preservatives in this that has caused the allergic reaction and made my cheek swell up.

Regular readers will remember that at one time my face swelled up regularly (but not always the same side) with usually 16 days between each bout. Having now cut out many foods that have preservatives (bought bread, cuppa soups, certain brands of potato crisps etc) this seemed to help, but all of a sudden the allergy seemed to almost disappear. Could be several weeks between bouts, and then usually only a wee one that almost disappeared before it began. Today's is not so wee, but having taken 2 antihistamines instead of one, am hoping it keeps it from spreading across to the other side (then I look like a hamster with cheeks full of food). So hopefully - if careful what I eat - this may be the last until early next spring.

Tomorrow evening our daughter is having a wine-tasting at her house. Not my scene as I now rarely drink alcohol, but B will (of course!) be gong. I'm providing the 'nibbles' to eat at the end of the session, so today and tomorrow will be making these, then B can take them with him. He will be able to taste all the wines (and I bet not in moderation) because he is being collected and driven there and back.

So far have decided to make the following 'nibbles'. Smoked salmon on (home-made) brown bread (with lemon to squeeze over), might put cream cheese under the salmon.
Will be making "sun-dried tomato palmiers' and 'pesto whirls' (puff pastry spread with filling and then rolled up in various ways). Also a batch of Parmesan 'crisps', and possibly an oblong cheese quiche that can be cut into oblongs as 'finger food'. If not the quiche, then cheese on sticks with grapes or cherry tomatoes. Might even make a hummus served with tortilla chips.

Having hit the wrong button and all the words on the page becoming enormous and no way to bring it back to what it was, had to resort to going into edit and continue via the 'draft'. For some reason, once the posting is in 'draft' there are huge gaps between each paragraph, so had to scroll down from the top and move everything up, piece by piece. This has taken time, so now have no more left to continue my chat.
Time to publish, but hope enough written to give food for thought. Again, many thanks for your comments, always look forward to hearing from you.

Please join me again tomorrow when I hope to have more of interest to chat about. See you then.