Sunday, March 04, 2012

Best of British?

Am hoping to get today's blog written/published before Gill phones at 9.00, so will first reply to comments then move directly on to this week's 'trade news'.

Your suggestion of being able to collect together useful hints/tips and recipes on this blog was attempted before Mabel, but over time blogger used to delete many of the early postings of each month due to limited space (well I do write reams don't I?). However, am in an arrangement with a company to set up another website for me that will allow for 'back-tracking', and am hoping this will shortly be published. Was hoping to get it started in January, but due to ill health of two of my offspring had to put it on hold for a while.
Will let everyone know when this site it is up and running. It will be basically just the nitty-gritty: cost-cutting recipes, all will photos, hints and tips to help save money, and no 'ramblings' as happens on this site. It won't be written up every day as is this blo, but updated probably once or twice a month (maybe weekly). but as this site will still continue you will then have a chance to read one or t'other, or (hopefully) both.

Certainly that thermospatula from Lakeland seems extremely useful Urbanfarmgirl, and anything that has more than one use is a winner in my book.
Not sure if you meant the salmon 'scraps' were oddments of smoked salmon (these are always good value), or scraps of fresh salmon, but as many recipes require just chunks/pieces of fish, then why pay more (by weight) for a whole piece of fish when the scraps are far cheaper?

A welcome to Dembones. Although we can usually get a few chicken carcases free from a butcher (but only if he has them in the first place, some buy in their chicken already portioned), it is worth finding other sources, and as you got yours from Bury market, then maybe a farmer's market, town market is another good place to seek these. If there is plenty of meat on 'dem bones', then paying a £1 for 10 makes the chicken carcases a good bargain.

Yesterday made B his pot of 'Jewish Penicillin' (aka chicken stock/soup). After it had been simmering for 2 hours (he felt pretty poorly and kept asking if the soup was ready) removed the winglets and carefully removed all the meat, putting the bones/skin back into the stock to keep adding more 'nourishment' and flavour to the liquid. Then put all chicken flesh into a small saucepan with a few ladles of the chicken stock plus some of the now softened onion and celery (left the carrots and remaining veg in the stock). To this small pan added a third of a packet of chicken 'cuppa soup' mix (to help thicken it slightly and add even more flavour) plus a good shake of black pepper, and brought it to the boil before pouring into a bowl for B to eat. Did have a taste myself and it was lovely despite it being mainly what I call 'stock'.
About an hour after eating the soup my Beloved took a turn for the better and other than having a very scratchy voice, he said he felt much better, so either this was coincidence or the soup really was 'medicinal'. I like to think it was.

During the day made a batch of brown bread dough to which I added about 250g of finely chopped walnuts. With this made 8 of those mini-loaves and this time not a 1lb loaf but a 'flat' one - a bit like a focaccia. The latter dough being flattened a bit like a thick pizza base and then placed on a metal plate and left to rise. It baked into a flattish loaf that can then be sliced or split horizontally to be toasted or eaten spread with something.
B has already eaten three of the small loaves with crispy fried bacon, and liked the bread very much. This morning I used one to make some tiny cheese sarnies for my 'brekkies'. The brown bread WAS very good. It seems to bake and keep better when made into small loaves than made into larger loaves.
To keep the mini-loaves from drying out I put them in pairs in freezer bags and twist the ends to keep out the air, then leave them in the bread bin (or they could be frozen). They then keep moist for several days.

Never did get around to making up the pack of pastry that I'd thawed out. Am hoping to attend to that today, but who knows - something else might attract my attention (like watching TV) that I prefer to do instead.
There is still some stock/soup left so will boil it up again this morning, then either B can have it or I can have it, or might just end up straining it thoroughly, then chilling and freezing it as chicken stock (the veggies I will eat probably mashed together as part of my lunch/supper, or maybe ALL of my lunch/supper. Really am trying to lose those extra lbs weight gained, and so far have lost five of them).

Now to 'trade news'. A fairly thick supplement came with the trade mag, this covering the question 'What is British?'
Myself like to eat products that are British made, and do find I tend to choose these if given a choice (at a price I can afford). Yet not everything that we think of as 'British' is made in this country, and even if it is, no longer owned by us Brits but by foreign multinationals.
Of the 150 biggest-selling grocery brands in Britain, 91 were 'British born', but only 42 are still British-owned. Was sorry to see that Pukka Pies were not on the list, as I do know they are British through and through (for reasons given previously), but perhaps these are not yet one of the 'biggest selling brands'.

When I read that 'New Covent Garden Soup' was sold to a US organics company it made me feel a bit insecure about our 'sound British' products. This doesn't' mean the soup isn't still made in this country, and "there is little to suggest that shoppers really care when a British brand is bought by a foreign company - if indeed they notice...and 'if consumers like the brand, and the quality remains the same, they'll continue to buy it'."

Many of us felt sad when our iconic Cadbury's chocolate was acquired by Kraft in 2010, and despite sales not falling because of this, myself had a very bad feeling about the new owners when they promised (yes, it was in the contract) that they would not close any factories and cause job losses, and very shortly after they did close one of the Cadbury factories.

A list of the 150 top grocery brands is given, each name with the owner-nation's flag at its side, and although most appear still to be made in the UK (the list gives "made UK?'), there are products that I have always assumed to be British throughout and are obviously not.
Here are a few of my 'surprises' with the nation of the parent company given in brackets (can only give the nation when I recognise the flag, otherwise have to put a ? - these maybe a Scandinavian or Swiss company or other),
Walker's Crisps (US); Whiskas Cat Food (US); Galaxy Chocolate (US); Kit Kat (?);
Princes Fish (Japan); Maltesers (US); Quaker (US); Richmond Sausages ( ?); Dairylea (US);
Rowntree's (?); Quality Street (?); Seriously Strong Cheddar (?); Cadbury (US); Milkybar (US); New Covent Garden (US); Fairy (US); McVitie's Digestives (US and ?) al.

On the good side it seems we still own Warburtons, Hovis, Kingsmill, Lucozade, Robinsons, Cathedral City (cheese); Young's Frozen Fish; Mr Kipling, Ribena, Silver Spoon sugar, Finish. Air Wick; Weetabix; Thorntons; Irn-bru; Bisto; Clover; Glade, Twinings; Aunt Bessies potatoes;
Pizza Express; Country Life; Yorkshire Tea; Goodfella's; Yeo Valley; Butchers; Dettol; Highland Spring Water; Vimto; Vanish; Tilda. Also part share a few products with companies from abroad.

Much of the trade mag seems now to be given over to new products about to appear on the supermarket and deli shelves. So not surprisingly (even in this time of recession) that some 29 varieties of sandwiches and pastries (all from one group) have been introduced. Reading just a few varieties given such as 'the all-day breakfast' sarnie (made with sweetcure bacon and free-range egg) selling for £3.99p; tuna and sweetcorn sarnie (£2.79p); and a sausage roll and steak and onion slice (£1.60p), make me wonder why people are still prepared to pay that much for something they could easily make at home for a quarter (or less) the price. Seems we cannot pull ourselves out of this quicksand of 'convenience'.

You won't believe this, but as it is not yet April Fool's Day, it has to be true. 'officially launching at Cruft's next week wil be tubs of an ice-cream style treat for dogs". With flavours of strawberry and apple, banana and carrot. Contains no milk.
"Dogs need exercise and a healthy diet and, like humans, can enjoy a treat from time to time" says the founder of this product. Apparently Nestle - who last year launched an 'iced dogs treat' called 'Frosty Paws Bite' in the US say they have no plans to bring this product to the UK. Well, the US weather can be a lot hotter in certain states than here in the UK, but even so - when it comes to pets and children, why start offering such 'luxuries' in the first place? The way I see life (and food) is "what you've never had, you never miss".

Vegetarians will (possibly) be pleased to know that Quorn have expanded their range and introduced a new Sticky BBQ and Sticky Chilli and Lime (rsp £2.59p). Can be cooked in either an oven or barbecue.

Am almost pleased to see that Wagon Wheels 'are being reinvented for a new generation of teenagers' as well remember enjoying these myself even when older than a teenager. Some products are worth bringing back.

Not much else to report, but then haven't read the trade mag as closely as I should. Will peruse it again today and tomorrow give a mention to anything that we might find useful to know or just 'interesting'.

My sowing of seeds in the conservatory has been delayed, mainly due to the weather suddenly turning much colder, this giving me a good excuse to wait a day or two. Just hope I get around to seed sowing before it is (AGAIN) too late. On the other hand, nature being such a good 'mother', she usually rushes through late sowings so they catch up with others sown earlier, and if we have to wait a few days/weeks or even a month longer before we harvest crops, then at least we have something to wait for. Nothing like the flat feeling that comes once we have gathered in what we've sown and already eaten it all. Successional sowing over several weeks seems the name of the game.

With that thought I will leave you for today having just given myself enough time to check spelling and do any editing - then publish - before Gill phones. Despite having several sunny hours yesterday, heard it raining in the night, and it is still raining, albeit lightly. Let us hope most of the rest of the country also gets their much-needed rain. Doubt that the north west of the UK ever does have drought conditions, although here in Morecambe - despite the rain - we do get lots of sunny days. Did read once that we came top of the sunshine hours in this country. Have to say it is always good to sit and bask in the sun on our prom watching the rain falling over the Lake District hills on the other side of Morecambe Bay. Doubt those who live in the Lakes would feel the same.

Enjoy your day and keep those comments coming. Hope you will join me again tomorrow - if so, see you then.