Sunday, February 19, 2012

Meals in Minutes?

One hour and a half before Gill phones, so must get the replies out of the way, then this weeks' 'trade secrets', ending with yesterday's 'Goode life'.

A welcome and group hugs to Catriona. Loved the way she mashes up vegetables to mix with mashed potatoes. Children can be easily tempted to try almost any food if it is colourful enough or a shape that pleases them (like funny faces, dinosaurs, footballs etc), they then seem far more inclined to eat what pleases their eyes, so this a good way to feed them veggies (that would refuse if in their recognised state) by 'stealth'.

While potatoes are in my mind, B took daughter to Morrison's yesterday and she brought me in a 1kg bag of 6 good sized baking potatoes priced at (wait for it!) just 30p!! that's 5p a spud! Even cheaper than Aldi's four baking potatoes for 50p, so it's always worth shopping around if we can find the time.
Once this week is over and B's 'birthday bash' is out of the way, will begin to visit several supermarkets and see what is on offer, buying only the best buys from each (being foods I would normally be wanting anyway). Maybe I won't need to have home deliveries from Tesco again - at least for several months by which time they will probably have given me more money-off vouchers to 'persuade' me to return. Seems that this could be turning into quite a lucrative game as far as my food budget is concerned.

Thanks mimSys for your suggestion as to how to eke out the EasyYo mix with dried milk powder, will be trying that myself later this week, and if it works (well, it does for you so why not for me?) will then have a go using less powder. Maybe others already have - is so please let us know as these are moneysaving ideas that are worth knowing about.

Lucky Urbanfarmgirl to own a Kenwood Chef. This was one of the first mixers I treated myself to (paying for it weekly through a Freeman's catalogue I was running, so got the extra discount). Later, when I began to teach myself to cook from scratch, it really came into its own and over time saved me even more money that it cost me to buy. Must have lasted 30 years before it gave up the ghost. I still have its mixing bowls (one plastic, one metal).

As to freezing hummous. Not sure but I think I may have frozen bought hummous, but see no reason why it shouldn't freeze as it contains no water (other than that held by the chickpeas). My suggestion (as with any freezer query) is when next making, put a small portion into a container and freeze, then leave for a week and see what it is like once thawed. Unfrozen hummous should keep reasonably well - if covered - in the fridge for up to a week.
If you do try this, please let us know if freezing the hummous works.

The trade mag has slightly changed since its 150 celebratory issue, not to the advantage of the consumer (that's me folks) as more is written about wholesale prices and world trade. Plus a lot more about tobacco products and all types of drinks (especially booze).
However have managed to find something of interest, starting with chocolate.

Keep an eye on chocolate on sale for the biggest name brands are still hiking prices AS WELL AS SHRINKING THE SIZE OF THEIR BARS - this despite the falling prices of raw materials.
The excuse being 'it takes time for commodity changes to influence retail prices and....'chocolate on shelves was made a long time in advance, further delaying the on-shelf impack of price changes'.

A supplement (more an advert) with the mag deals with 'bakery' (main bread and bread products), with sandwiches remaining the most popular lunchtime choice amongst consumers. "With a range of options from a healthy (bought) 50/50 roll stuffed full of delicious grilled chicken and salad, to an indulgent Doorstep Bacon Butty, it's no surprise that the humble sandwich remains so popular".

Advice is given by on how to maximise bakery sales. Expand the range, and 'important for retailers to ensure they have a wider range of Waffles and Crumpets on display ready for when mums call in on the way back from collecting children from school. Also display Toasting Waffles and Pancakes 'to cope with the breakfast rush'.
Interestingly it says that Scottish consumers love pancakes - they account for 12% Scottish bakery take-home favourites compared to the 6.6% in the UK. Seems that different regions prefer different breads. The largest number of Pancakes sold in Scotland, Seeded bread in London, Rolls and Baps in Scotland, Bakery 'favourites' in East of England, and English Muffins in North-East England.

You might also be interested in the most popular meal choices of this nation. The favourite comes first, the rest follows in decreasing order.
Starting with sandwiches;then soup; assorted pasta dishes; roast meat, roast potatoes and veg.; pizza; toast; toasted sandwich; cheese on toast; beans on toast; fish, chip and veg.; egg on toast.
Doesn't say much for the nation's interest in good food. Seems we have become a nation of preferring 'things on toast' rather than cooking more elaborate food. Can't believe that fish and chips are almost bottom of the list.

Quite a large article about Pepsi. Not myself concerned with the drink, but what the article has to say about other things, especially about how 'healthy eating' is not always a profitable way to go...."healthy snacks don't necessarily mean healthy sales".
"As Jamie Oliver has discovered, health is an even harder proposition to sell Stateside, with 'healthy crisps' being in freefall".
"Introducing food that's healthy and that people actually want to eat are two notions that are very hard to put into one product".
"There are very few healthy snacks that taste right.

Much of the article is given over to mentions of the larger companies who buy out the smaller ones. However much we (in the UK) associate Proctor and Gamble with cleaning products (think that's how they started) they now own all type of food companies, and now have sold Pringles to Kellogg's. The word in the US is "The lesson from the UK is basically - buy up everything you can and then make it really hard for anyone else to make money." At least in the US "they need to tread carefully as there is a lot of support for the little guy in America. People are passionate about their snacks and there could be a big brouhaha when they realise that a big multinational has bought their favourite brand".

Think the above proves that food is big business both in the US and in the UK, and probably all over the world. Making money is the name of the game, and if people want unhealthy snacks they they will still be provided with them.
But it all comes down to 'snack' foods again. A short article about a smaller store in Coventry says that the store "receive new products every three weeks or so", but on the good side "they are stocking more scratch cooking ingredients in recent months as this is a really big trend at the moment and looks set to continue to grow".
"Reflecting the rise in scratch cooking, a lot of customers now come into the store and ask for products that are used on cookery-based TV shows such as Jamie Oliver's, so we watch shows such as this to find out what products and ingredients the TV chefs are using and then act on this information and bring these products into the store".

Nothing wrong with that of course, but have you noticed how - all of a sudden - there are lots of new 'bakery garnishes' for sale. The Dr Oeker range (which I have yet to discover, Tesco don't have them on their on-line site), seems to add more and more to sprinkle over the top of the ubiquitous cup-cakes we are all presumably making.
So it's almost guaranteed that the more home-cooking we do, the more 'extras' to lighten our load will be manufactured and on the shelves in the very near future.

In the 'brief news' column have just seen "Eggs for Baby". In my day it was normal to soft-boil and egg and feed it to a weaned baby by dipping bread 'soldiers' into the yolk. Then due to the salmonella scare that really never was, it was deemed unsafe to feed lightly cooked eggs (or any foods made with raw eggs) to young children and the elderly.
With the little red lion on our eggs (showing they are salmonella free), possibly we may now be able to give our 'littlies' boiled eggs and soldiers again. The UK Egg Producers Assoc. has produced a leaflet called 'Eggs for your Baby' encouraging parents to include eggs in their children's diet.

Final extract refers to a recent TV programme Britain's Favourite Supermarket Foods (which I unfortunately missed seeing). But as the article says "Who would believe that tea was such a cocktail of happy chemicals, including flavonoids, which help cut our chances of heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer? If only we left the bag in for at least 3 minutes instead of whipping it out after 40 seconds".

Also..."baked beans, if served on wholemeal toast pack as much protein as a steak; eggs - which contain cholesterol hadn't markedly increased (the amount in the body trial) after a fortnight of eating four eggs a day; and milk, which contains as much potassium in a glass as 41 bananas, helps your muscles recover twice as fast from exercise as a sports drink".

This next bit I like. "Crisps are not as salty as we think (there's the same amount in a bag as in six slices of bread) and contain potassium - which handily counteracts salt." Not that I'm suggesting we start snacking on crisps (but I do love 'em). But the above facts are interesting.

At least we 'home-cooks' are able to control how much salt we use when cooking, and reading the list of 'favourite meals' it is good to know that in almost every case we can make them all from scratch (incl. the bread), just buying the meat/fish/cheese/eggs and fresh veg (we can even grow the veg ourselves, and if we keep chickens also have our 'own' eggs).

Yesterday's - after some thought (I was planning soup again for supper) - ended up with me making a speedy Kedgeree. I'd poached some smoked salmon, then finely chopped an onion, fried this in butter, then added some of the water the fish had been cooked in. When this had reduced down, opened a pack of Lemon and Rosemary 2-minute microwave rice and added this to the pan (it doesn't HAVE to be cooked in the microwave), with a little more 'fishy water'. When heated through added the flaked fish and the juice of 1 lemon. Decided to add a little double cream (as had a bit left in the bottom of a tub), a little more butter, and ended with a good sprinkle of chopped freshly picked parsley, and then garnished the dish with halved hard-boiled eggs. This was greatly enjoyed.
'Afters' was a big bowl of fresh fruit salad (red and green apples, orange segments, halved green grapes, sliced kiwi fruit, plus a can of sliced peaches and it's syrup to make enough to keep B happy later in the evening. Served with a jug of double cream.

Just enough time left for me to edit then publish before Gill rings. After that will be making the first batch of profiteroles to freeze.
As this could be a busy week for me (what with B's birthday earlier, Norma the Hair midweek, more profiteroles and other baking to do, plus the two desserts made in bulk for the social on Friday, and with more family arriving I may take a few days off from writing this blog from mid-week, but will let you know. It all depends on how much I can do today/tomorrow.

Another lovely sunny day with a lot less wind than yesterday. Hope you all get to enjoy it, and by now most of the snow should have disappeared elsewhere. Let us hope we don't get more for soon it will be time for 'garden-work. Please join me again tomorrow. See you then.