Thursday, November 03, 2011

Two Little Words!

It's now exactly 9.00am, and only just started the blog today as I was deep in another - very detailed - dream which I hoped to stay with. Unfortunately woke up before it got to an even better conclusion. But that's life. Then B came to me with my mobile to say I'd had a text from 'a magazine' (at least could have sworn that's what he said') but it was only a message from my daughter. As I'd entered a mag. comp thought I might have won it. But another pipe dream it seems.

As there was a footie match on last night, had to miss several progs I hoped to watch, but spent this time at the comp catching up with emails and trying to get B's side back onto the Internet again. Managed the latter -eventually - as it turned out B had (for some reason) typed in the password he uses to hide his emails from the eyes of others (I need no password for mine as they can all be read by anyone if they wish). He has done this before and it is NOT the same password he needs to use the Speedtouch connection. But will he remember? Anyway, after an hour, managed to sort it out and went and told him he was 'back on again', and all he could do was lift up his head with an "oh, right" and then begin watching TV again. Not even a 'Thank You'. But then that's not a word in B's personal vocabulary, although he makes enough fuss when someone else won't give him thanks if (when) he does something for them.
I always thank B when he brings me in a coffee, and sometimes even saying that annoys him, not sure why. He sometimes snaps back saying "you don't have to keep saying thanks", but then as I was brought up to be polite, it's a sort of habit that is hard to lose.

Let's face it - B is just one of those many men who grow up grumpy. The older they get the grumpier they become. He'll never change, and by now have got quite used to his 'little ways', am just sorry he never seems to be able to find as much happiness as I can out of the life we have. Whatever he has is never enough for him. Sad that.
Bet some readers think I'm a real shrew the times I go on about my Beloved. He could be so much worse and I should be thankful for what I've got, but quite honestly, he irritates me so much these days that it's a real help to have a shoulder to cry on "a trouble shared is a trouble halved" if you know what I mean. There have been days when I've moaned loads on this blog about B, then wiped it off before it was published. That helped to get it off my chest a bit, but somehow not as good as spitting my venom for real.

Was horrified last night when I went onto my own email page (blogger sends your comments to me directly on this page) and realised I'd had so many the couple of days that I was absent, that they had over-filled the email page, so several I'd missed replying to. So apologies to those who were not replied to yesterday, and am now catching up.
To those who sent in short comments concerning only my health, and - as there were so many - hope you will accept a 'group' thanks. The remaining comments have content that can be replied to in more detail.

Alison your 'camping meal' sounded really good. Do start making it at home for am sure you will enjoy it. Or maybe all foods tastes better when eaten in the open air, so next time you could try cooking it on the garden barbecue.

Liked the idea of serving your one-pot meal with couscous Susan G. There are so many grains and different pastas that are on sale now that can be used instead of rice that are worth serving as an alternative (and often much cheaper). Such as bulgar wheat, couscous, quinoa, pearl barley, and 'orzo' (this is a pasta but looks like rice), all giving us a variety of choice. Other pasta shapes are also a good alternative to rice, and not forgetting the Chinese noodles (of which there are also several varieties).

Chemists usually keep a stock of nappy pins Jo. Probably could order some for you if they normally don't keep them. Because of the expense of using disposable nappies, the powers that be are trying to get mothers to go back to using the terries, as the disposables cannot be recycled once used), so the pins should soon be more available. Useful for other things besides nappies. At the moment the skirt I'm wearing is now far too big for me so have had to take the waist in by 8" (in the form of a big pleat- held in place by a nappy pin - to stop it falling down to me feet every time I stand up. bet Delia Smith (or even Kirsti Allsopp) would never stoop so low as to do that!

Two more new names to welcome with our group hugs. Very pleased to hear from you Paper Roses, Justine, and bilant. So many new names have popped up over the past few days wonder how my site managed to reach you. If you wish comments to be read by regular readers always use the box on the most recent site when replying, for using one from an earlier posting means your comment will be shown only under that particular one. However, as far as I am concerned I get all 'new' postings sent directly to my email page so it doesn't matter which posting was used to send it. In other words I will always be able to read it, but other readers will miss it, unless I refer back to the previous site (which I normally don't unless you wish your comment to be read by others - in which case tell me. Readers are able to see all the current comments when reading back the current posting (may need to click on Archives if they have not appeared at the bottom of the page).

Good to hear from you again Margie. Keep writing even if you haven't anything to say. Well, you know what I mean. Otherwise 'out of (written) sight, out of mind" could happen and that would be a pity. At the moment we are getting the wind coming up from the south on the right hand side of the depression, so it remains very mild, but as it passes over, we will then have the wind on the left coming down from the north and the forecast now is that this coming weekend will be much colder. But, as ever with this country, we have to wait and see. Our weather is not like any others. That's why it is the main topic of conversation when meeting strangers.

Suppose it was a temptation to think I'd 'jinxed. myself' Rachel when saying I felt so well, and the next day fell ill, but at least did know there was a real reason why it was so. Think a lot of 'witches' managed to cast their 'spells' because they knew a lot more about facts such as the above (3 day incubation period etc) than did the lay person. So they could 'make' someone ill the next day when they would have been ill anyway.

Another word of yours that flummoxed me Lisa. What is 'blinking milk'? Am assuming it was just about to go 'off'. In the old days, before homogenisation, milk would 'turn' (especially when a thunderstorm was imminent), and could be strained to make curd cheese with a bit of salt added. Now when milk is 'off' it's really 'off' and best chucked away (or so we are told).
Fiftythree Trick or Treaters!!! My goodness me. Is that a total of callers, or just knocks on the door?. If we get eight visits that is too many (most come in groups of 2 - 6). Perhaps because our favourite 'soaps' are usually on TV at the time of calling, and we hate to have to answer the door to miss any part (or is that just B and me?). Although we have always 'celebrated' Halloween in this country, it has usually been more with gatherings of family and friends, who play traditional games. Only fairly recently has Trick or Treat has caught on in this country, pushed like crazy by the retailers who see a chance to make a profit from all the sweets, masks, dracula teeth, capes, pumpkins etc, that are sold, and most adults would really wish this aspect had remained 'over the pond'.

An elderly man was hurt by some kids throwing a big slab of stone at him after he remonstrated with them because they were throwing eggs at his house (he was disabled and not able to buy sweets for them at Halloween). This night is now being called 'Mischief Night' , although when we moved to Leeds in 1969 discovered that Yorkshire also had a 'Mischief Night' this being the one before Bonfire Night, and mostly things like gates were lifted from their hooks and taken down the road to be searched for by the house occupants the next day, and sometimes muck thrown over cars, but nothing 'dangerous'. Nowadays it seems anything goes, and unfortunately not a lot of it is 'good clean fun'.

Having to cope with 65lbs pumpkin is a marathon task, but once in the freezer should be enough to last several months I would think. Sairy is asking for pumpkin recipes, and some will be given today. Pumpkin needs a bit of 'something' to spice it up, and if ginger is not liked, then cinnamon or cumin could be used depending on the dish. Any recipe that has butternut squash as an ingredient would happily take pumpkin as an alternative.

Liked the idea of chilli flavoured (canned) potatoes Eileen. Thanks for sending us that tip.

Final reply goes to Pear Tree Log (or would you prefer me to call you Elaine in future?). Am always amazed when readers like my 'ramblings' (for I do go on, and on, and on.... and on!) and this is one reason why I'm starting a food only new site in the New Year. Then I can ramble on even more on this site about the 'other side of cooking' such as shopping, and the various other culinary happenings in the Goode Kitchen.
So if readers prefer to read just the recipes, they will be able to find plenty on the new site (details to be given later), and for those that like this site as it is, will find it really won't have changed much. Probably not at all.

Did say I'd give recipes for using up pumpkin, but perhaps a few 'suggestions' might be useful before I begin. Pumpkin is much improved in flavour if it is roasted. So cut wedges and remove any seeds (the skin can be left on and the flesh removed later if you wish - roasted and served as a 'wedge' these make a good accompaniment to a spicy chilli con carne). Drizzle the pumpkin with a little oil and roast in the oven until beginning to char, then use the flesh as required.
Cubes of roasted pumpkin are lovely used in a vegetarian lasagne. Interleave lasagne sheets with a layer of pumpkin and a tomato sauce (a well flavoured home-made sauce is best - the pumpkin doesn't have much flavour of its own), followed by a layer of (say) well drained wilted spinach and a cheese sauce (grated nutmeg makes a good seasoning for spinach). Keep alternating layers until you have as many (or few) as you wish, then top with either sauce and a good sprinkling of grated cheese, then brown off in the oven until heated through. If using hot ingredients, then it only needs to be finished off under the grill, but myself prefer to assemble the dish earlier in the day (this gives the lasagne sheets time to soak up some of the moisture) and then cook for about 25 mins at about 180C, 350F, gas 5 until heated through and the cheese topping is golden and bubbling.

Alternatively, serve the diced roasted pumpkin again with a tomato or cheese sauce on top of a bed of cooked pasta shapes (or mix the lot together).

An interesting and tasty way to serve pumpkin is in a 'tortilla' (Spanish type of omelette). We can use different spices or herbs to 'lift' the flavour of this vegetable, so why not experiment?
Use any cheese that can be fried to give a crispy coating (such as halloumi or feta) otherwise use a mature Cheddar. If spiciness is not what you are looking for, then omit the chilli/Peppadew and use the milder bell peppers instead. As this type of 'omelette' accepts many different ingredients, we could include some peas, tomato, fried onion, even diced canned potatoes. The more the 'content' the fewer eggs needed.
Pumpkin 'Omelette': serves 4
2 tblsp light olive oil (or sunflower)
6 oz 'frying' cheese (see above) sliced
1 lb (500g) pumpkin flesh, diced
1 red chilli (or Peppadew) seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (or cider or red wine vinegar)
handful mint leaves (or parsley) finely chopped
4 - 6 eggs (depending upon size), beaten
Put a little of the oil in a large frying pan and cook the cheese until golden (omit the frying if using a cheese likely to melt), remove from pan and put to one side.
Add remaining oil to the pan and stir in the pumpkin, cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until softening and beginning to change colour. Add the vinegar and place in the cheese (and any other vegetables you wish to use). Scatter the chopped chosen herbs on top, then pour over the beaten eggs. Give the pan a shake so the eggs settle through to reach the base of the pan, raise the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes until the base has set, then place the pan under a pre-heated grill and so the top can cook - this will take about 5 minutes, and the omelette should then be golden and a bit 'puffed up'.
Can be served hot, warm or cold and very good eaten with salad and/or cold meats.

Next recipe is a salad that can be eaten warm, but equally good eaten as a cold lunch (so one to take to work). This - taken with a glass of orange juice - is a 'five a day' all in one meal.
Originally, the recipe used one butternut squash (flesh only and cubed) that had been drizzled with oil and roasted for half an hour, so you'll have to estimate the amount of pumpkin that you need. I would suggest about 2 pint measure of roasted pumpkin (or possibly less). Well, I can't work EVERYTHING out for you all the time (my excuse for not having to this time!!).
Myself prefer to use the (what I call) green lentils instead of the Puy. Don't use the split red as they end up a bit too 'mushy'. Alternatively use another cooked pulse such as cannellini beans, red beans, or chick peas instead of the lentils. Just as long as you can 'feel a pulse' when eating, doesn't really matter which it is.
Pumpkin Salad: serves 4
Roasted diced pumpkin (see above)
2 oz (50g) brown rice
2 oz (50g) Puy lentils
1 head broccoli (or cauliflower) cut into florets
4 oz (100g) dried cranberries or cherries
1 oz (25g) pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon
Cook the rice and lentils as per packet instructions in plenty of boiling salted water (they may able to be cooked together if you wish and the timing is right), and add the broccoli for the final 5 minutes of boiling time. Add the dried fruit for the final minute, then drain well, stir in the roasted pumpkin, adding seasoning to taste, and finally add the pumpkin seeds. Drizzle over the lemon juice and serve.

Another pumpkin dish is a version of 'crumble', but having said that we could change the topping to more of a 'cobbler', or even use a pie crust. Chestnuts are seasonal but probably expensive (rarely use them myself), so suggest using another nut such as pecan or walnut in which case soak the hard nuts overnight in cold water, then drain, and add to a pan of boiling water and cook for 15 minutes to soften. Alternatively, just use them chopped dry.
Brown rice is always the best - as it is very 'filling', but takes longer than white rice to cook, and (suppose) another grain could be used. As ever, your choice.
Pumpkin and Nut Crumble: serves 4
1 lb (500g) diced pumpkin flesh
1 tblsp olive oil and a knob of butter
4 oz (100g) cooked chestnuts, chopped (see above)
8 oz (225g) brown rice, cooked
5 oz (150g) butter
3 tblsp plain flour
1 pint (600ml) milk
salt and pepper
3 oz (75g) Cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz (175g) wholewheat flour
4 tblsp mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds
3 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
Put the oil/butter into a large frying pan with the pumpkin, nuts and cooked rice, and toss gently to coat with the hot fat. Fry for a couple of minutes then set aside. Make a white sauce by melting 2 oz/50g of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then stir in the flour and stir/cook for one minute, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to the boil and - whilst still stirring - simmer for 5 minutes until thickened and the taste of flour has disappeared. Add a little seasoning, then the grated Cheddar and when this has melted pour over the pumpkin in the pan and stir gently together until the pumpkin is coated.
Tip this mixture into a shallow casserole dish and set aside whilst making the crumble topping. To do this, put the remaining butter, the wholewheat flour, the mixed seeds, Parmesan and seasoning to taste and give a quick blitz in a food processor to make 'crumbs' (you can mix by hand if you wish). Sprinkle this loosely over the top of the pumpkin and bake for 30 - 40 mins at 180C, 350F, gas 4 (or a bit hotter if you wish) until bubbling and golden. Serve hot or (at least) warm. Good with a hot green vegetable or crisp cold salad.

Final recipe is almost 'posh nosh' but of course without the expense. Originally meant to be served as a vegetarian alternative at a festive feast, but no reason why we humble folk cannot enjoy it at any meal during the winter. As butternut squash is normally used - probably because it can be sliced thinly into rounds - we can of course make this with pumpkin, using overlapping slices of any shape. The recipe makes just one portion, so if you wish to serve more, make several individual ones or one larger one. Note that this can be prepared the day before cooking if kept chilled in the fridge, and will also freeze uncooked.
Pumpkin Pithivier: makes 1
5 oz (150g) puff pastry
1 tsp mustard (pref whole grain or Dijon)
4 tblsp cream cheese (Philly type)
1 tsp fresh breadcrumbs
4 sage leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
about 9 oz (250g) pumpkin, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
Halve the pastry, but make one half slightly larger than the other. Roll out the smaller half to a circle about 15cm dia (not sure what that is in inches). Spread the mustard on top of this circle, leaving a small gap around the edge.
Put the cream cheese, breadcrumbs, sage and garlic in a basin and mix together. Add plenty of seasoning.
Arrange a few pumpkin slices (these can overlap) on top of the mustard, then spread some of the cheese mixture on top, repeat, making slightly smaller 'circles' of pumpkin/cheese to give a shallow domed effect, finishing with the last circle of pumpkin.
Roll out remaining pastry thinly (it needs to be large enough to cover the filling) and place this over the 'dome', gently pressing down to remove as much air as possible from the filling. Dampen the pastry edges and seal together (at this point it can be chilled to cook the next day or frozen for up to a month - defrost before continuing).
To cook, brush the pastry surface with the beaten egg, and make a small steam vent in the top middle to release any trapped hot air. If you wish you can lightly mark patterns on the pastry (looks good when entertaining). An optional garnish to the pie is to dip a few sage leaves into any egg remaining and stick these 'attractively' on top.
Place on a baking sheet (personally I'd put the first pastry circle on the baking sheet before assembling if cooking the same day), and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 35 - 40 minutes or until a skewer stuck through the steam vent goes through the pumpkin easily. If it needs more time to soften, then tent the pie with foil (shiny side up) reduce heat slightly and cook for a little longer.

Hoping the above suggestions are of help - at least have moved away from the ubiquitous pumpkin puree/soups that first come to mind.
Please join me again tomorrow, and enjoy the rest of your day.