Thursday, December 01, 2011


Went onto the comp this morning and discovered that I couldn't get onto the Internet. All due to Beloved using 'my' side of the computer to watch iPlayer (on Chrome) when my Internet was set to Internet Explorer. Although our daughter (on her visit from Ireland) set the comp so that I could get directly onto iPlayer through Chrome, she still left the others settings as they were. B has obviously done something - he always 'does' something. and altered it, for now when I click 'start' then 'Internet' it comes up Chrome and now goes directly to iPlayer. He won't - of course - remember what he did. Fortunately I could connect to this site via another setting, but heads will roll when he returns ( he has already left to take his car in for an MOT).
Thank goodness he didn't go to my second 'side' (we have three on the comp, one for B two for me) so could connect to B.Band and read my emails. Don't know why it has to be reconnected to Broadband when I change sides, it never used to, but now it does.

Why am I bovvered! At least I can use the comp as intended, it could have been a lot worse. Just wish Beloved could understand what buttons to press and not experiment. All through our marriage, whatever he has attempted, he has either broken or got it wrong - one louvre door hung upside down to its neighbour for instance ("oh it doesn't matter"). Curtains measured wrongly so they are too short ("oh, it doesn't matter"), foods brought from the supermarket, not as requested ("oh, it doesn't matter"). Are all men like that or am I just unlucky in love?

Not sure whether Stevan Fry wrote and directed his programme on America Lisa, but almost certainly a lot was edited out. Trouble is - what interests him does not always interest others - he is a bit high-brow at times. But lovely.
If you can get to see Billy Connelly's Route 66 think you would find that more interesting. At least I found it so. But again not too much shown about the domestic side of US life. Are we really interested in a tour round a 'barbed-wire museum'? Or a large collection of derelict automobiles completely covered by graffiti? But I suppose it is the unusual that is supposed to have more attraction to viewers. Perhaps it is only women who wish to take a peek into the family way of life.

The US Food Stamps (EBT) seems not the best way to encourage people to eat healthily if they can buy almost any foods with them. Other than soda (or alcohol). My first thought was bicarbonate of soda (used in baking AND cleaning), but then thought it was possible the fizzy drink. Or soda a blanket name for all sorts of fizzy drinks that in the UK we call lemonade, orangeade, sparkling (usually mineral) water etc.?

Paying for carrier bags I believe also happens in some stores now, although not Tesco (at least not on-line). By this I mean the cheap bags, we have always had to pay for the heavier quality that they sell at the checkout (at a price even with their logo on them), but these are meant to be reused of course. Our government is trying to crack down on the amount of 'plaggy bags' given out by the stores, and many people now do take their own bags to fill up at the checkout.
Even so, there are still many people not deterred by paying 5p a bag, and this just goes to show how easily pennies are discounted. The way I look at is go to a store, fill five bags (most consumers -feeding a family - fill at least this number) and after four trips (which could be in one month) that's £1 spent on bags. Big family, maybe £2. We're looking at anything from £12 to £25 plus spent on bags in a year!! A LOT of food could be bought for that money. So why spend money at the supermarket on something that cannot be eaten?
For that matter, we can't eat the wrapping/packaging around certain foods bought, and there is very little sold these days that isn't wrapped. The cost of all these is hidden in the price we pay, and when we think of a ready-meal for example, the cost of photographer, food stylist, designer, printer, and machinery to get the packet made, plus the advertising and all other overheads, not surprising that the actual food/ingredients in the meal can cost as little as a fifth of the price charged to us.
It is often these "little' things - believed to be so cheap as to almost not worth noticing - that can really do damage to our budget. One reason why home-cooking from (almost) scratch is to be recommended.

Mind you - we can still recoup some of the money spent on an inedible part of our food purchase. Myself open card packets and - is light enough colour inside - cut them up to use for shopping lists (or even Christmas decorations). Glass jars (and their lids) always washed and used for storage. Larger jars store things like pasta, rice, sugar, smaller jars used for home-made preserves.
Even the the meat from DR delivered in large polystyrene boxes are used either as a 'cold box' in the car for packing frozen or chilled foods from a supermarket/fish shop/butcher etc, or - more normally in my case - used as containers for growing vegetables (and they work well with a few drainage holes pushed though the base).

When a work place has fridge, toaster/oven, microwave etc - as mentioned by Theresa, then
can never understand how people don't make more use of them. Just loved the way she took eggs and cheese to work to make a lunch in the kitchen at work. With sandwiches able to be frozen, another suggestion would be to freeze cheese sandwiches, then toast them at work.
A good tip to make a really hot cheese sarnie with a runny filling is to microwave the sarnies for a minute before toasting to soften the cheese, then they will be hot both inside and out.

Homemade soups can also be frozen, taken to work still solid, they will begin to thaw out during the morning and can then be defrosted (if necessary) and reheated in the microwave. Home-made 'ready-meals' can also be frozen, taken to work and thawed/heated in the same way. But how many are prepared to do that? Am sure readers of this blog do this, but it does require some thought and planning, and maybe that is not the mindset of the younger folk today - at least when it comes to food.

The groceries were delivered yesterday. Was pleased with substitutions as got the same thing in different form/size but 'price-matched' so £1.40 saved there. Not as many reductions as expected, but still the order was less that expected, probably because many products were now in Tesco's 'Price Drop'. However - well pleased with my purchases, many for the larder of course. Bought plenty of sugar (it keeps going up in price but keeps forever), also three bags of flour (on offer). Also bought 9 packs of jelly (remember I said gelatine was now rising in price) in assorted flavours as there was a reduction in price when 3 were bought. Thing about jelly is it is still very cheap, and can make quite a good dessert/trifle/mousse/cheat's panna cotta etc. with the addition of very little else.

Am intending to do a lot more baking - if only to satisfy B's need for something to snack on. Have discovered he buys his 'treats' but often pays for them out of the 'penny cash' meant for the occasional extras that he buys for me from Morrisons'.
As you know, butter does give a luxury taste to (say) biscuits, but when it comes to cake-making find the soft margarine works - and to some extent - tastes better. Butter is bought in quantity for B to spread on his toast (he won't use any other spread, but at least has found that Tesco's Value butter tastes as good as Lurpak). Even then this Value (cheapest) butter is now £1.19 for 250g. Stork margarine (my favourite for baking) is £1 for 500g. That's less than half the price of butter.
Another thing I discovered when purchasing some eating apples is that Tesco's Value pack of Apples (six in the pack) at 71p was a much better buy than the 'normal' pack of eating apples (again six in the pack) that cost £1. And both were Gala apples.

Because gingerbread/flapjack etc store well once baked - and a favourite of ours, also good to sell for charity - needed to buy more Golden Syrup and Black Treacle. In the past have always bought those iconic tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup (907g for £1.33p), but noticed that Tesco had a Value Golden Syrup (in jars), 680g for 77p so bought three jars of that instead.
Interestingly Lyle's Black Treacle is 54p per 454g can, which also works out cheaper (by weight) than the Golden Syrup.

Comparing prices, a 2 kg bag of granulated sugar can cost (£1. 79p - it may vary store to store), but the same weight bag of caster sugar is priced at £2.28p. That's 49p (say 50p - it sounds more!) difference. Yet - anyone who has a liquidiser/blender can whizz their granulated down to caster all by themselves. Is it worth it? Some might not think so when only a few ounces are needed at a time when baking. But as I said above - small savings soon mount up.

The weather is turning very cold, certainly the weather maps on TV show Scotland coloured blue (this means cold!). Had a dream last night about it beginning to snow.
We have the central heating on daily now, a few hours early in the morning so we can get up to warm rooms, then it goes off until late-afternoon and on for a few hours during the evening. The rooms then staying warm enough until we go to bed. However, on cold days we often over-ride the heating and put it on mid-afternoon (or even early afternoon).
The 'meter-reader' came yesterday, so next week should receive the quarterly bills for both gas and electrics. More statements than bills as we pay a set amount by Direct Debit each month, and either end up in credit, or owing. Normally in credit, but who knows what will happen now the fuel prices have increased so much.
The pension system gives us £200 extra fuel allowance so we 'oldies' can afford to keep warm. For some reason not paid 'per house', but as two separate payments, £100 to me, and £100 to Beloved, although it is paid directly into one of my accounts as this is the one from which all bills are paid and so under my control (thankfully). Yesterday B was wanting me to give him 'his' share of the fuel allowance (£100) for his 'pocket money' (which has happened in the past and I have given it to him - how weak am I?). This time told him that with the rise in fuel costs, the extra fuel allowance had to be used for that. He sadly agreed, but could see he wasn't happy about it. Suppose if the bills next week show we are still in credit (they are addressed to him so he will read them first), he will then expect me to let him have 'his' share after all. Might even do that, on condition that at the end of the twelvemonth, if we then owe any money, he then has to pay it me back. He will of course then say "Oh dear, can't do that, I've spent it". Hard luck!

Made Beloved a Fish Risotto for supper. After frying onion in a little butter, then stirring in risotto rice, giving it a short time to become 'transparent', then adding white wine, went to get some chicken stock from the freezer. Couldn't find it where I thought, but did find some small boxes with what looked like chicken stock, but once thawed turned out to be lemon juice (don't I always give the advice to label everything that is to be frozen? So why don't I?). So added that instead, which turned out work quite well as it was then diluted with water as the cooking progressed.
Used a pack of Fish Pie Mix (almost equal quantities of Cod, Smoked Haddock, Salmon), adding these 'chunks' about five minutes before the end of cooking. When these were cooked and the rice had absorbed most of the liquid, sprinkled over some chopped fresh (picked a few minutes earlier) parsley. Much enjoyed by Beloved. I kept a very small portion for myself, and it was good.

Thawed out a joint of DR's brisket yesterday and - after searing in a pan on the hob - put it in the slow cooker with some rich beef stock (also from the freezer) with some red wine, and left it overnight to cook. It is now cooling in the liquid, then will be chilled and sliced (then frozen) to use later. The liquid will be cooled in the fridge and the fat skimmed from the top. There was a little fat on top of the brisket, and I melted some clarified beef dripping for the searing, so am hoping to end up with something set on the surface of the stock that will tastes like 'proper' beef dripping and that Beloved can spread on toast.
Which reminds me. Need to make another loaf of bread today. As well as making nine different varieties of 'nibbles' for my daughter's drinks party tonight. So had better put on my apron and start cooking.

This means no time for a recipe today. Sorry about that, but sometimes I do have other things to do that write my blog! At least B will be out tonight so no fight for the TV remote button, and can watch the two programmes (one on penny-pinching, the other on the Amish Channel 4) without Mr Grumpy sulking because he wanted to watch something else. Trouble with me is I am perhaps what is called 'a sensitive', for can easily pick up the someone's 'vibes' even if they do nothing and say nothing. Worse when I know the person really well. So whenever something has displeased my Beloved (even if nothing to do with me), if we are in the same room can pick up on his feelings and they then burrow into me, and even if he has 'allowed' me to watch my choice of programme, I then don't enjoy it so much because his 'vibes' are not nice.

If I'm not careful will start rambling and not leave myself enough time to do what I wish. So must love you and leave you, but already looking forward to tomorrow when we can meet up again. See you!