Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bits and Bobs

A shorter blog today as Norma the Hair will be arriving at 9.00am. Keep forgetting Wednesday comes after Tuesday, should have given it a mention yesterday in case I got up late and my blog would not then be published until around noon.

Three photos today, the first shows the batch of little loaves made recently from half a batch of bread dough (the second half made a 1lb loaf - still in the oven when I photographed these). This half-batch made six mini-loaves, two seen in their reusable cardboard 'baking boxes, the other four removed from their boxes. Four more were made in my metal dariole moulds (one still in the mould). All are a perfect size to serve individually with (say) soup.Below you see one of the loaves that I sliced to make those mini-sandwiches I raved about the other day. This time managed to cut 10 thin (but not too thin) slices that I hope you can make out, the two end crusts at the top. Again these could be toasted with cheese to float on top of French Onion Soup. Or just eat as a toasted cheese snack or canape base.

Final photo today is of my Beloved (as requested by Susan G.) after asking B's permission to take it and put it on my blog.
It is a very good likeness, and was taken yesterday evening as he was sitting watching TV. Must try and find a photo of both of us so you can see what we looked like in our twenties. To me B never looks any different now as he did then because I still view him through rose-coloured glasses even though I keep 'going on' about him all the time.
Now to reply to your comments.
I have tried the EasyYo ice-cream mix Jane, but this was years ago when it was first on sale. Have to say I was a bit disappointed. It was OK, but not (to me) tasting as nice as bought (or even home-made) ice-cream. It may have improved. The EasyYo yogurt mixes to me seem BETTER than bought yogurt. Myself like to blend EasyYo fruit flavoured (or caramel etc) made yogurt with the same amount of Italian meringue and then freeze it. This is even better than ice-cream.

Yes, thought there must have been a Superscrimper missing Susan G. Now that I've been on ITV Player see that I can watch the ones already missed (if I really want to, and have to say I really don't), but there must be more ways to save money that I don't already know about.
Doesn't that make me sound smug and clever? Don't mean it like that, it's just that the prog is pretty basic, and suppose having lived most of my life 'cost-cutting', perhaps becoming interested in what I was doing led me to learn that much more than I would have otherwise.

Interesting hearing about the weather in Missouri Lisa. It does seem so very similar to what we have here at the same time.
Was very interested to hear about your family 'gene-bank'. When it comes to families, we always get 'throw-backs' with children, who then resemble ancestors of the past, often long past. With two of your children looking like ones in an Italian painting, it could be the people in the original portrait were related and came from the same area that your ancestors did.
In the old days, when people didn't move around much (marrying a girl from the same or next village was as far as they wandered), often we get facial features that are still the same in the same regions. Over here it is easy to recognise what I call a 'Scottish face', or a 'Welsh face', and and 'Irish face' (all Celtic and there are more than one 'types'), also those whose ancestors descended from the Vikings (me being one), and the Romans (both who invaded our country many centuries ago).
I've a very good book (out of print) called 'The Blood of a Britishman', and this explains the regional differences that are here now, due to the different cultures (Romans, Jutes, Saxons, Vikings etc) that came to our shores a thousand (or less) years ago. Many of their descendants still remain in the area they first settled and enjoy the different foods and entertainment from their mother countries. Suppose much is the same now in America as there are areas where the many different nations have settled.
When we visited our daughter in New York State, it was very obvious (names over shops etc0 that the area near Kingston was (and perhaps still is) habited by the Jewish and German communities. How thankful I was when I discovered that many of the 'bakers shops' were German-family owned - their gateaux and bread are out of this world!
Am presuming the New England States were settled by those who emigrated from England, and America (esp New York city according to the films I watch) seems to have a lot of Irish people living there.

Pleased that the photos of the Cassata were useful Cheesepare. Once made and ready to serve no doubt it would look better if it was chocolate coated, but as it is very rich anyway (because I whip the cheese with double cream), tend to serve it as-is. Possibly it could look similar to brown bread ice-cream, but although it will freeze, the Sicilian Cassata isn't an ice-cream (although some ice-creams ARE called Cassatas) and needs thawing before being eaten.

When the weather is clear the block of flats at Bare are easily visible from the Lakeland side of the Bay, and if they were not there possibly you might have been able to see the roof of our house as this is on higher ground not much more than a quarter mile behind the flats, quite close to the railway station.

Making a meal to serve four with a budget of £3 is the type of challenge I enjoy, so thank you Mabel for the query.
The way I would plan this is to probably (almost certainly) serve a three-course meal, for that way the main course can be smaller (starter and pud being the 'fillers'). Soup is an obvious 'starter' as these are very inexpensive to make, probably no more than 50p to serve four on a good day. OR serve home-made chicken pate with slices of toast (again costing not much more than 50p for four).
Then I would choose an 'economical' pudding. Steamed sponge is probably one of the cheapest (and most filling), but pancakes are also very cheap to make and these can be filled with stewed fruit. Dare I even mention serving profiteroles with chocolate sauce for as we now know we can make these (cream-filled) for less than 5p each.

Am assuming (serving the above) there would still be around £2 left to make the main course (or to be on the safe side allow £1.50). If we can avoid serving meat, then this should be enough to pay for the ingredients to make either a vegetarian curry or lasagne (or other pasta dish).
This amount of money would be enough to make a vegetarian chilli con carne using a Beanfeast mix plus half a can extra of red beans and chopped tomatoes. This I made the other day and it made more than enough to serve four.

With eggs on sale for 8p each (based on a tray of 15 from Tesco), eggs too can make a 'main course' (curried eggs etc). Also there are many dishes where canned tuna or sardines/pilchards can be used. It doesn't cost a lot to make some super fishcakes using canned fish (and instant potato or breadcrumbs), and if we stay with soup and main course and omit any dessert this gives us 50p or more to play with and we might even be able to include meat in the 'mains'.
Don't forget that if we get those free chicken carcases that most butchers are happy to give away to their customers, these too will provide 'free' meat to peel off the bones once cooked, and this can be made into pies, curries or whatever you wish.

When we grow our own Mixed Salad Leaves on the windowsill then we can provide the necessary vitamins (aka 'greens') for hardly any cost at all (one packet of seeds for 99p is enough to sow 9 boxes of salads, each providing at least 2 - 3 'crops' (each 'crop' serving four).

The above is the way my mind works when it comes to working out what to make on a set amount of money. If I'd been asked to make a meal for four for a lesser amount (say £1.50) could probably come up with something. Already my mind is thinking 'cheap to make' such as that classic French starter: 'Pissenlit au lard' (dandelion leaves served with crispy bacon - dandelion leaves are 'free', only a little bacon needed to give flavour). For the mains almost certainly would be pasta based. Perhaps Carbonara with ham scraps/egg/cream. Pudding something like 'Poor Knight's of Windsor', these being basically jam sandwiches cut into strips, fried in shallow fat (pref butter but oil would do) then drained and immediately tossed in caster sugar. With custard.
Haven't priced out the above to the penny, but having done the same in the past (for a mag) know that we really don't need to spend a lot to put a meal on the table. Whether a low cost meal can always be satisfying or not is debatable, but then as so many people can spend a fortune eating 'nouvelle cuisine' in a top restaurant (this being a teeny-weeny portion but beautifully presented), eating to satisfy the appetite is not always the reason why we eat.
What we have to remember is that the amount on our plate is no indication of its nutritional value. We don't need to eat a lot to keep ourselves healthy, but we often do - and one reason where there is so much obesity around these days. So we need also to consider this before we start worrying about not 'providing enough'. We managed with meagre war-time rations, we can manage now.

Have to dash, time has caught up with me. Hope you can join me again tomorrow. If so - see you then.