Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Still Here!

Had to re-arrange today, so not now leaving the house. This means can now have my morning chat, with the hope that at least one to two readers log on to see if it's there.

Still very cold. Some snow has fallen in various parts of the country, mainly on the higher ground. Not sure why, but once snow has fallen, this makes me feel warmer that the, cold and wetter weather does.
Used to love waking up in the winter (at any age) and just KNOW it has snowed as it is deathly quite outside, the snow blanketing all sound - other than the crusty crunch of the milkman's 'float' (later he had a car/trailer) as he came along the road in the wee small hours of the day.
That sound made me cuddle myself up even tighter under my sheets, blankets and quilt (later just the duvet, that - although keeps me very warm - has never been so comforting as the old-fashioned 'layers').

Yesterday made Beloved a chilli con carne for his supper. Made enough for two good portions, my idea being that I would freeze half for another day. Silly me left it in the pan for B to take his half and he ate nearly all of it. Still, enough left for me to stuff into a jacket potato for my lunch today.
Not that I went without supper yesterday for decided to make up a pack of Batchelor's Beanfeast Mexican Chilli - a veggie version of B's meal. Have used these 'Beanfeasts' years ago and enjoyed them then, but this time they must have altered the recipe for when I began eating thought I'd served myself from the wrong pan. It tasted and had the same 'mouth-appeal' as if made with real meat. Unbelievable.
Can't now remember the price of the pack, but am sure it worked out cheaper than if made with 'real' meat. It also had all the 'extras', flavourings and even some red beans. Took only 15 minutes to cook - a great deal less time than if serving the meat version. Did add some extra beans (taken from the can of beans used for B's version). Will definitely be buying more packs of this (possibly also their Spag. Bol if they still make it.

Often in a family, or when entertaining, one person may be a vegetarian while the others are not. So a pan each of a meat chilli (or spag.bol meat sauce) could be made, and a pan of the Beanfeast version. Once the non-meat eater has been served, the remaining veggie version could be mixed with the meat version (and make an extra helping or two) and who would know when eating it? Another way to make a little 'real' meat go much further.

Despite my larder almost bursting at the seams, am still very tempted to buy more. Would just LOVE to go to Morrison's to use their scooter and pick up a few Christmassy treats, but must take control of myself. Am perfectly able to make 'treats' myself, so will roll up my sleeves and do so.
As uncertain what will happen this Christmas - our daughter wishes to stay in her own home so we may have the dinner with her - always supposing she feels up to cooking (she wishes to do that herself - roast pork etc, -and she says much of it will be prepared the day before. But if not feeling up to it she says she will probably stay in bed, so we just have a quick visit and return home - me taking over her kitchen would make her feel worse!!!). Anyway, have a small turkey crown in our freezer, packet stuffing, plenty of sausages (frozen), bacon in the fridge, breadcrumbs in freezer for bread sauce. Have a half gammon frozen that can be cooked, jar of cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts in the freezer (also peas) and large potatoes for 'roasties'. Carrots and parsnips in the fridge. Have I missed anything? Am sure I have it anyway.

Just to make it easy for myself tend to cook the turkey some days before the meal, then when cold, slice it and box it up with some of its gravy, where - if being eaten within the next couple of days it can then stay in the fridge to be re-heated, OR boxes of cooked turkey (with and without gravy) can be frozen for several weeks to be eaten as and when. Slices of cold turkey (without gravy) goes well with other sliced, cold meats (beef, ham, tongue, corned beef, Spam....) making up my Cold Meat Platter (which also holds cold cooked pork sausages, and wedges of pork pie).
A useful way to serve small amounts of each meat to more than a handful of people.

You sound on the ball Urbanfarmgirl. A few more purchases and you should see yourself set up for a long cold winter, without the need to shop again until spring??!! That's the ideal anyway, but as you say - it's still not 'fashionable to be thrifty. Let us hope 'frugality' will become the new kid on our national block this coming year, and everyone has a bit more sense and set a food budget and keep to it - or, even better - try and spend less of it each time they shop. It can be done.

Have heard that rapeseed oil is better for us than olive oil Susan G. Think its just that few people would think of making a Christmas Cake using oil. Margarine maybe, but even that is now frowned on by nutritionists who have done a U turn an tell us that - after all - butter is better. Maybe not for our cholesterol, but some (not all) margarine is still made using certain fats that do us more harm to us than those in butter. Although myself do use Stork when baking cakes, would always use butter for the Christmas Cake - mainly due to it giving the cake a better flavour.

You found some good bargains Alison. Although you had planned to use the meat for a goulash, it could have been frozen, also if the cream was double that would also freeze (whipping cream and single cream do not freeze satisfactorily). Either freeze double cream in ice-cube trays, then bag them up once solid - these are useful if wishing to use only a small amount of cream at any one time - or whip the cream with a little icing sugar and box up before freezing - when thawed this can be served or used for baking as we would whipped cream. In the past I used to pipe whipped cream rosettes onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and open-freeze them. Once solid they would be bagged up or put in boxes to store. Best used within a month as after that they tend to get a 'freezer-taste'.

In the past have made 'freezeable' trifles. I get a small (individual) container, spoon in some whipped double cream, then on that spoon some canned ready-made custard (this doesn't split once frozen), and then cover with jelly that has been mixed with some Quick Jel (this 'Jel' also won't split when frozen). Wrap the whole container in clingfilm and freeze. Dipped in warm water for a few seconds, the pots can be inverted over a serving dish and the contents should slide out. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so, or in a cool room to thaw completely before eating. Some chopped canned fruit could also be layered between the custard and the sponge if you wish - these may take longer to thaw.

Not quite sure of the rate of exchange between the US $ and the UK £ but those chicken quarters you buy sound really inexpensive Lisa. Am envious.
Thanks for telling us about the US currency. You are lucky is still having 'paper' money for some of the lesser amounts. We find our 50p pieces (quite large) and £1 coins (much smaller but thicker) weigh very heavy, and together with the other coins of varying sizes make a man's pocket sag when he carries too much 'change. We women keep our 'loose change' in purses (believe in the US they call a handbag a 'purse'. In the UK we call a hand-bag a hand-bag, and a purse is a small bag kept in a handbag. A 'wallet' holds paper money, credit cards, driving licence etc.
Any loose change that B and I have usually goes into our respective 'piggy banks'. Beloved's 'money-box' is large plastic 'Bertie Bassett' with a slot in the can (it once housed liquorice allsorts and given as a 'seasonal gift', so very useful ever after). But B saves only the small coinage - up to the 'sixpences'. Myself save only the 'silver' (from shillings upwards - and sometimes £1 coins too), giving B the lesser amounts for his own 'piggy'.

Your mention of growing purple carrots Lisa made me cringe. Don't know why this should, as purple was the original colour of a carrot before those who know better decided it would look better if it was 'adapted' to orange.
We now have purple potatoes, yellow beetroot, also yellow potatoes, courgettes, and tomatoes. Although am happy with yellow courgettes, preferring them to the green, do find the others don't appeal to me - even if their flavour is good. Perhaps I'm just old fashioned. I like a raspberry to be red, a tomato to be red, beetroot to be purple, and recently hearing we will be able to buy white strawberries, am not a happy bunny when it comes to all these new colourways. They make me feel insecure.

So pleased you enjoyed Midsomer Murders. They made lots of episodes - Barnaby's side-kick was played by different actors over several years. We are still getting repeats and I still watch many of them. Once John Nettle left the series (earlier this year), it has never been as good, although his 'side-kick' still remains which helps. Much prefer the older episodes.

When we wish to be posh, call our leek and potato soup 'Vichyssoise' (pronounced Vishy-swars). Helps to impress guests (perhaps more important over here than in the US - some cooks/chefs can still be a bit 'snobby'). It's amazing how giving a dish it's French name can 'lift' it to restaurant level. Michelin star level even. This is why one of my 'signature' dishes is always called (by me) 'Poitrine d'agneau au Chou'. Sounds SO much more tempting than the English translation which is 'Breast of Lamb with Cabbage'.

As you say Cumbrian, almost certainly many shoppers - desperate to fill their trolleys with Christmas Fare - will have much left-over after the festive season.
At one time we did tend to 'stock up' - usually to see us through the Twelve Days - as many shops did not open as early as they do now. When Christmas fell on a Monday, this meant the Tuesday - being Boxing Day - the shops would remain shut, so all the shopping had to be completed by the previous Friday, as it was far too hectic to even try to shop on Christmas Eve (the Saturday.

Because most of us still tend buy more food than we need over the Twelve Days, almost certainly we will have plenty left. Luckily - with fridge/freezers and cold weather means most of the surplus can be stored, so the New Year is my favourite time for the 'challenge of living off what we've got' to begin. Mind you, I seem to have been doing a lot of this several times over the past year, but still have the thrill of looking forward to 'starting again' once Christmas is over.

Several of you will have probably read in the papers and heard on TV about the way that the major stores have been leading us into believing that larger (or multi-packs) work out cheaper weight for weight) than when buying smaller sizes of the same thing. It maybe the stores will even be prosecuted for doing this. But it does give us 'food for thought'. We now have to be so wary when it comes to purchasing almost anything - always asking ourselves whether we could buy the same for less? This really isn't fair - as if we haven't enough to think about without having to make sure we are not being cheated. Still, now this has come to light feel that the stores will now not dare to mislead us further. It will be interesting to see what the trade mag has to stay about it in next week's issue.

Mentioned yesterday about a lot being written on cheese in this week's mag. A lot was written about the different varieties of Cheddar - myself feel it is personal taste that guides us to choose the one we wish to buy. But as it is still cheaper to buy cheese than to make it ourselves (and a darn sight quicker), myself was interested in reading about the 'flavoured' cheeses now appearing on the market. Think the Long Clawson's Clawson Stilton Gold (this contains real gold liqueur as well as gold leaf) will have to be given a miss by the Goode's as it is priced at £608 per kg. (£60.87 per 100g) - about 67 times more expensive than regular Stilton. Not yet being sold in the supermarkets (yet) it has attracted interest from 'consumers' such as a Gulf based oil sheikh and a pop star (according to Clawson). Whatever turns you on.

There is a 'speciality' Clawson cheeses that might be within our price range, such as a Cheddar marbled with port and brandy, or their White Stilton with Cranberries and Raisins.
published in error. am continuing so if just logged on, return in a hour to read the rest.

Other, more unusual flavours are: Christmas Pudding Cheese; Sticky Toffee Pudding Cheese: and Apple Pie Cheese. Even a Wensleydale with Crushed Ginger and Orange Biscotti, or you may prefer White Stilton with Chocolate and Ginger. Expect to pay around £14 per kg. Those who prefer something 'simpler' such as cheese flavoured with Branston Pickle or Marmite can find these too.

Reading that "adding meat to cheese is another possibility. Indeed blending cheese with charcuterie is something 'Wensleydale ought to look at' says one spokesman." But then think even I might enjoy a cheese that is flecked with chorizo. Maybe one day that will appear on the deli counter.

Today looks as though it will be fine and sunny. Plenty of blue sky and just a few fluffy white clouds. Wind from the west so that should keep most of the snow and ice away. But the wind can change (usually does) so tomorrow we could draw back our curtains to see a white world after all.

Should be back with you again tomorrow. usual time. Hope to meet up with you then.

p.s. Sorry Lisa, I never give my private address via my blog. Having had problems in the past when this has been leaked (some many years ago when on TV and before starting my blog) found it safer to keep such info to myself. But thanks anyway for your offer of your Amish cookbook.