Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Scrimpers Unite!

Up early enough to write something before Norma arrives, so here goes....

Thanks Les for your suggestion, although as I tend to buy beans in packs of 2 x four, eggs in 2 x trays of 15 etc, flour in 2 x 1.5 kg bags, this is probably the minimum I would start with anyway. Appreciate that not everyone buys 'in bulk', or even has much storage room in the kitchen, but the idea of the 'challenge' is to stock up with as much as possible then see how long it lasts.
Perhaps Les, if you don't normally keep much food in stock, you could do a 'small-scale' challenge on the same lines and just see how long you can keep going without buying more. Then - after one month, two months, report back and let us know how you got on.

Had to smile Lisa when you mentioned your corn starch slurry. 'Slurry' is what we usually call cow muck cleaned from the milking parlour with water is then put into a tank and sprayed over the fields. Mind you cornflour (US corn starch) is slaked with water before stirring into liquid to thicken it, so your name sort of makes sense.
Quite a few people remove bones from canned salmon and sardines, but the recommendation is to just crush them (they are very soft) and eat them as they contain calcium, essential for us to make our bones strong.

My friend Gill goes to the cinema each week on a 'pensioners' day Susan G. Suppose its a good way to have a 'free' day out for her (she drives here friend to the cinema and supermarket and her friend pays for lunch and 'the flicks'). It's not the cost that prevents me going, although still prefer to watch films on TV, but the fear of picking up a flu bug or winter cold. I have almost a phobia about 'catching something'. Don't know why.
In winter, especially when visiting the surgery, I tend to wear gloves, wrap a scarf around my face that covers my nose and mouth, and as my eyes are covered by specs, believe that all entries to my body are 'sealed'. Seems to work.

Regarding left-over turkey T.Mills. It is always better sliced before freezing otherwise you would have to thaw out the complete half and then can't freeze any left-over after that. Pack enough slices to use at any one time (I tend to pack four slices per bag as I can always thaw two bags or more if needed), then remove as much air as possible before sealing. Several bags of sliced turkey can be then put into a larger bag to keep them together - again remove as much air as possible to prevent the meat drying out.
Even though you intend eating the turkey as 'cold meat', you will find odd scraps, slices, dark meat probably that could be made into a pie, even served as a 'roast'. Put these into a container with a little liquid (or cold gravy that is 'fresh'), and just thaw and make a hot meal from them.

After writing my blog yesterday, spent most of the rest of the day in the kitchen. Quite a busy bee for once. A small half gammon (thawed from the freezer) was put on the hob to simmer (later chilled and will be sliced today). Lemons were turned into lemon curd (using my speedy microwave recipe). The two lemons that had the zest removed were cut in half. One used to wipe round my (clean) mixer bowl as I was intending to whip egg whites and needed to be sure the bowl was grease-free. The remaining lemon shells were bagged up and frozen to add to the other citrus peel (to make candied peel in the new year). The shells that had the zest removed (incl the one used to clean the bowl) were put in a bowl of water and microwaved - this being a quick way to clean the inside of the microwave - just wipe off the steam and any spatters of 'stuff' that is there comes away easily.

Three whites were saved from eggs when making the lemon curd, and adding these to the two saved the previous day meant that I got a HUGE bowlful of Italian meringue made. Some of this I spooned onto baking parchment laid on a baking tray, to dry out for 'meringues' (made 12 large ones). These were put into a very low oven (50C) along with a cake airer that was covered in quartered/halved mushrooms that needed using up. The mushrooms dried sooner than the meringues, so added to others dried before, so I ended up with a big coffee jar full of dried mushrooms. These should last me several months.

Half the Italian meringue was then folded into some toffee EasyYo yogurt along with a sprinkling of grated chocolate and a dash of rum. This filled a 1 lt ice-cream tub. Then I divided half a pint of long-life double cream, beat some strawberry Nesquick into one, chocolate Nesquick into the other, then shared the remaining meringue between the two, again folding together. This made enough to fill another litre tub, strawberry one end, chocolate the other.
How long it will last once B gets his hands on it I don't know. Have suggested he TRY and make it last over Christmas. He has already worked his way down one jar of lemon curd made yesterday.

Beloved asked me what I wanted for a Christmas present and I said I'd think about it. Later had a brainwave and suggested a gift that wouldn't cost him anything. His face lit up, until I told him what it was. "What I would like" I said "would be for you to make ME a meal one day a week. It would be such a treat". B's face fell. "Suppose I could" he muttered. "But don't blame me if it tastes awful". Another of B's little 'trick's (again learned from his mates during his formative years) if someone asks you to do something, then make a mess of it and they won't then ask you again. This worked really well when we lived with my parents, every time he was asked to wash up (or dry) he dropped a plate, cup or bowl, and very soon my mother suggested he didn't help any more!
So I guessed how B's mind would be working, and said that if he DID make a mess of it, then the following week I'd still want him to cook me a meal, but this time another dish, but the same week have another go at making the one he got wrong. That way he'd have to cook me TWO meals.
B said OK 'on condition'. This being all the ingredients were put there for him to use, the table top was cleared for working space (I said what's wrong with the unit tops? I only use the table because I need to sit down), and a few other things he thought up in a hurry.
I know what will happen, I'll be sitting watching a cookery prog, and B will keep coming into the room to ask question after question after question. Seems it would be less hassle if I carried on doing all the cooking after all.

Time is moving on, but before I leave you must mention some little money-saver I jotted down yesterday. Probably have mentioned this before, but the way the financial world is today, every penny counts.

All modern recipes are now published giving only metric weights, and as ingredients are also sold only in metric weights, it is easy enough to roughly gauge (say) half the amount without using scales. A recipe would probably suggest using 100g, 250g.... of something, this then means there would be no eventually bits leftover in a 500g/1kg pack. On the other hand, old recipes using imperial weights means we would expect to see 4 oz, 8 oz.... As a 250g pack of butter is equivalent to 9 oz, then many times we use a 'metric' recipe, we might use 1 oz more than we really need (the same 'over-use' goes for the rest of the main ingredients in the recipe). As long as we keep to the metric or the imperial, then the balance will be correct, but over time (say when using rice, pasta.... which don't upset the 'balance' too much) we now often find we use very slightly more than we need, and by keeping to the imperial weights here we will then end up with a few ounces or grams left in the packet. Like pennies, these add up and very soon we will have collected enough to make a meal without having to open a new pack.
Am sure I could have said this in fewer words, but hope you get my drift.

Have now to dash. Back again tomorrow and hope to see you then.