Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Should We, Shouldn't We?..

Before I even begin my blog proper, just want to show the pics I took of a gammon cooked whilst the phone line was down. Have shown similar before, and as this time I paid full whack (£7) for the 1.5 gammon (it weighed slightly more - and normally buy these only when on sale at half-price), am not comparing prices of home-cooked ham against pre-packed bought (per 100g). This is just to show our recent readers how many slices come from it.The photo above shows the gammon after cooking (now called 'ham'). Although normally simmer it in just water, this time added some of the veggie trimmings saved (and mentioned in a previous blog), plus a couple of star anise (as recommended by chefs). This seemed to darken the ham, and - personally - I did not care for the slightly different flavour, although Beloved liked it - and I have to say the more I eat the more I do like it.
The pic above shows the ham after it had been sliced, and because of the way it was rolled, it fell into half slices as you can see. This was enough to fill 8 packs of ham, 7 half slices in each - each quite enough to feed two if served with other cold meats (Cold Meat Platter), or for sarnies.
This wasn't the end of the story, as (annoyingly) there was a pile of ham scraps left (this doesn't usually happen, but again the way the gammon was rolled, and maybe even the way I set it on the slicer), so photographed these separately (see below) with the made up packs of ham placed behind, and one pack of ham at the side (for that night's CMP), and as I made myself a ham sarnie with some of the scraps, have to say that these were perfect for the job, giving a good thick layer that seemed so much more substantial than when using sliced ham. Enough 'scraps' to make about 8 rounds of sarnies if not more. The bits could also be used in pies etc.

Now to the blog proper, and it is so good to be back with you again, and thank all those who sent in comments. So many that it's another 'blanket' thank you, with just a mention of the comment sent by Marjorie (is that the M who lives in Canada? If so, a very welcome back, have missed hearing from you. Expect you are still knee deep in snow. Here it is unseasonably warm at the moment).
I used to have a flour shaker, made it myself by making lots of holes in the plastic lid of a round container by stabbing with a hot skewer (heated over a gas flame on the hob). Used it for many years then suddenly it disappeared! Must make another one.

A very big thank you to Eileen for holding the fort whilst I've been 'off line'. She is my rock. Was not sure whether Stevan had managed to put up a message as he has been ill with the flu. Another problem last week was - after the land line was disconnected - was my mobile also suddenly stopped working. It was then I realised how much we take the communications system today for granted, and for a day felt very insecure. All sorted now thank goodness.

A reply to Lisa who asks if we can buy bottled beetroot juice in the UK, and yes we can, it is quite expensive,but only a small amount needs to be drunk each day to aid blood pressure. No doubt eating cooked beetroot each day would work out cheaper.

Over here we can have a kitchen gadget called 'Sodastream' - that works a lot like a soda syphon. It hold a container of compressed 'gas', and you fill a bottle (that comes with the equipment) with water, and fit it into the holder and press a button, then the water become 'fizzy'. We can then add all sorts of different flavours to make the drinks we like (bitter lemon, orange, etc. etc.). The gas cylinders are expensive, but can be returned and the next cylinder is then very much cheaper.

The Jilly Cooper I mentioned is not a chef/cook (as far as I know), she is a wine 'expert'.

Beloved threw a curved ball at me last Tuesday. As I was preparing his supper of sausage, egg, chips and beans he said he didn't want any chips as he wanted to lose some weight (apparently he had gained half a stone over Christmas, not surprising as he ate a huge family-sized tin of mixed chocolates all by himself over three days, not counting all the other treats!!!).

I explained it wasn't the food served for his suppers that made him gain weight, it was all the snacks he kept making for himself after that was the problem. My suggestion was that from now on his meals would be served on a normal sized dinner plate (instead of the large meat platter he preferred - as it held more food!!). He agreed to that.

Supper was then two thin sausages instead of two thick ones, a few less chips, one egg instead of two, and the normal baked beans. Quite enough to fill a normal plate.

For afters made him a huge fresh fruit salad (clementines, kiwi, apples, grapes....) enough for two helpings but he ate the lot during the evening, but managed to stay away from anything more 'fattening'. Also made him some blackcurrant jelly and blackcurrant EasyYo yogurt for desserts later in the week. By Friday he had lost 3lb!

Am still trying to keep his food within normal levels, but he is sneaking back into the kitchen to snack again, so am just hoping he has enough self-control to hold off from time to time. Even using a smaller plate might just be enough. Let's hope so.

At least the 'free' time I found myself with was used sensibly. I sorted out all the drawers in my kitchen cupboard (a little one that just fits under one end of the table, handy for me to reach) where I keep all my baking 'aids' such as different sized plastic bags (for freezing, boil in bag, for soup etc), the foil and baking parchment, cling-film and layering tissue, and also my scone cutters. Now I know exactly where everything is.

Even found time to go into the bedroom and sort out boxes that hadn't been cleared since we moved in over 2 years ago! Found the booklet that explained how my camera works, and now realise I can zoom in and out and also take close ups (even videos and sound if I want). Hopefully better photos will soon appear on the blog because of this.

Perhaps the best thing to happen during the past few days was when I decided to cook salmon for B's supper, served with spicy couscous in Sweet Gem lettuce 'cups'. I'd made too much couscous, so made enough for two helpings of the 'spicy', with still half a bowl left over.

Having saved one helping of 'spicy', decided to experiment with that first, so added a beaten egg and popped it into the frying pan in the hope of making a type of 'tortilla/frittata, but the couscous was too moist, so broke another egg on top and stirred this in, and as this began cooking immediately it touched the hot food, it ended up very similar to egg fried rice. This I found worth a mention as the idea could be used if you have run out of rice.

Next day decided to use up the plain couscous, and again make it into something 'that would fry'. So to firm it up added some dry Smash (instant potato), which then made it far too crumbly, like breadcrumbs, so then added a good gloop of brown sauce, which then made it a bit too moist, ending up tipping in a little plain flour which made it just right. You will understand by then I felt as though I was Goldilocks.

Have to admit the reason why I was able to add the above was that I'd left all of them on the table (begin too lazy to put them away at the time), so was reminded to use them. Another useful tip. Keep things where you can see them!

The mixture was able to be moulded together to resemble a beefburger (or two), and these I fried. Because of the brown sauce they looked like they were made of meat, even tasted as though they were, so this is another useful 'make-over' that might suit vegetarian palates. I certainly enjoyed them. Very much.

The trade mag this week is massive, being a 'special' due to it celebrating its 150th anniversary, so have marked the interesting bits, and will be mentioning these over the next few days.

What is perhaps more useful is this bit of info read in our Sunday newspaper - from an article about the rising cost of food, this showing the best time to shop to get the cheapest prices. As I buy on-line this is not something I've checked myself, am presuming the discounts are on fresh and chilled produce, but any readers who have shopped during the times below and have discovered them to be the most 'money-saving', then please let us know for it seems we can save a heck of a lot of money once we get our timings right.


25% off between 12 - 1pm

50% off between 4 - 6pm

75% off after 7pm


25% off 1pm

50% off 5pm

75% off after 7pm


25% off - individual stores decide

50% off 4 - 6pm

75% off, after 8pm


25% - varies, but run discounts all day, and... hour before closing time up to 95% off


Individual stores decide, some can cut 15%...

,,,as early as 8.30am

Can make cuts up to 80% between 2.30 and 3pm

Due to a late start (Norma doing my hair etc), will wind up for today as have a loaf of bread to bake, plus B's supper to plan (also mine) and also have to reply to the many emails sent to me (when off line) that have not yet been done. There are times I think my life is more like unpaid office work than being 'just' a housewife.

Still with a feeling of insecurity, am just hoping the gremlins stay away to let me have my normal chat with you again tomorrow. If so, hope to see you then.