Sunday, March 25, 2012

Carrying On The Saving

Despite the lost hour, think I've just time to write my blog before Gill phones me at 9.00.
Thanks to Urbanfarmgirl for her comment (hope you manage to 'eat out' in your gazebo this weekend. As long as the weather is warm , eating 'al fresco' can be done in a gazebo even if it is raining. So enjoy your new 'garden restaurant'.

Metal filing cabinets are always useful Lisa. During the winter (in Leeds) we kept ours in our porch and used the deep drawers to hold the extra foods (milk, cheese, butter, and many root vegetables) that we needed over the Christmas period (in those days we had 16 round the table eating Christmas dinner. Hugh F.W. has made an old filing cabinet into a 'smoke-house' where he smokes fish, gammon, chicken etc. Wish we'd brought ours with us, it could have 'lived' in the old stone 'shed' on our property (which we never use) and I could possibly have used it for growing mushrooms (or as a 'smoker').

More veggie recipes today that I hope will be useful to you Jane - and of course to all others. We don't always need to eat the more expensive meat.

Having said that, realised - after watching Rationbook Britain - that in those days vegetables were very cheap (as were most foods I suppose), but nowadays the price of even these has rocketed so we need to be cautious about what we buy, and either buy in season (when veggies SHOULD be at their cheapest) or wait for those packs at 'reduced prices' that the stores are now offering us.

The obvious way to save is grow our own veg, and this is something I do intend to do more of this year, albeit in a limited way.
Yesterday brought out my little box of seed packets, many of them already open and part-used but still 'have a life'. After I'd done my blog sowed two packs of tomatoes, one a cherry the other a small 'plum'. Only a very few seeds in each pack (although one was a 'freebie') so sowed them all. Also planted three seeds of yellow courgette. We don't really like courgettes (certainly not the green ones), but the yellow ones are very colourful and can be eaten raw when really small.

Last year was a disaster with the courgettes, they got mildew AND all eaten by the slugs, so this year am having one more go in the hope for at least a small crop. Other things I will be growing are French Beans and mange-tout peas. Not to mention continuing crops of those mixed salad leaves (I seem to have about 10 packs of assorted 'leaves - so didn't really need to buy more, but they will all get grown and eaten up, and when they are will have made a massive saving against the bought.

Did anyone watch 'The Little French Kitchen' shown on BBC 2 last week. I missed it due to B wishing to watch something else,but caught up with it on iPlayer yesterday evening. If nothing else it proves that you don't need a large kitchen to cook good food. The girl didn't even have a proper stove, just a small oven (I think) and a sort of twin-ring gas hob that she kept on a low shelf when she wasn't using it (no doubt used bottled gas).
The dimensions of her kitchen were shown as the width of her outspread arms - in both directions. She lived in a one-room apartment in Paris where she slept on a futon - this having to be folded up each morning, but even so managed to then assemble a (fold-up) table and use the futon on one side, a chair on the other and serve meals in her 'two person dining restaurant'. Considering all the rules and regs we have over here - most coming from the EU - it just shows how people on the continent seem to be able to ignore all these and enjoy the pleasure of running their own restaurant from what is basically their bedroom (with the kitchen in the corner). Good for her!!

As time moves relentless on will now give today's selection of meals to make. The first is meatless 'koftas/keftades' that can be served as 'balls' but also flattened and pushed onto a skewer to cook. The balls go well with sauce, the skewers eat well with a crisp salad with a little relish spooned over. The recipe serves 4 as a 'starter' but if served with a sauce and maybe pasta, making a few extra it could turn into a main course.
Myself make these using the vacuum packed beetroot that is always in my fridge (I buy several packs at a time as they keep for months when unopened).
Beetroot Koftas: serves 4 (see above)
8 oz (225g) cooked beetroot, grated
2 spring onions, chopped (incl leaves)
2 oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated
2 oz (50g) Feta cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper
3 oz (75g) breadcrumbs
3 oz (75g) plain flour
Put the beetroot, onions, cheeses, egg, and herbs into a a bowl and mix well together. Add seasoning to taste, and some of the breadcrumbs to bind the lot together, then cover and chill for a good hour.
Form the mixture into ping-pong sized balls (if too wet bind with a little of the flour). Put the rest of the flour in a dish with a little seasoning and roll the balls in this until coated with the flour.
Shallow fry the balls in hot oil for 2 - 3 minutes, shaking the pan often so they roll around and get cooked on all sides, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot in any way you wish.

Second dish today is a type of roasted veg that has a spicy 'kick' to it. Choose different vegetables if you wish (butternut squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips... go well with this instead of aubergines...)Served with either bulgar or couscous it eats well hot or warm. Certainly a good dish for 'al fresco' eating.
Spiced Vegetables with a Lemony Salad: serves 2
2 tblsp sunflower oil
2 tblsp runny honey
2 tsp harissa paste (or chilli sauce)
2 small aubergines, cut into wedges
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
salt and pepper
5 oz (150g) bulgar wheat (or couscous)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
handful mint leaves, chopped
Greek yogurt for serving (opt)
Mix together the oil, honey and harrisa, the spoon half of this over the prepare vegetables and add seasoning to taste. Heat a griddle pan and cook the veg for 10 - 15 minutes, turning half-way through until lightly charred and tender (they could also be oven-roasted for half an hour at 180C).
Put the bulgar or couscous into a bowl and pour boiling water over to about an inch over the grain, then cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes. By then the grains will have plumped up and softened. Drain then return to the bowl and fluff up with a fork. Mix the remaining dressing with the lemon zest and juice, and the mint and pour this over the bulgar/couscous, adding extra seasoning if you wish. Toss to mix then serve with the roasted vegetables on top. An optional garnish is a drizzle of Greek yogurt.

Yesterday gave some examples of 'wrapped' meals using flatbreads. Normally we would use bought flour tortillas, but here is a recipe for gluten-free flatbreads that we could make. Use ordinary s.r. flour if not gluten-intolerant. These eat well with spiced dishes, curries etc, as well as using as a 'wrap'. Although cooked under a grill, these can also be cooked in a dry frying pan - just make sure the pan is not too hot or they will burn.
Toasted Spiced Flatbreads: makes 8
14 oz (400g) gluten-free self-raising flour
1 tblsp cumin seeds, toasted
salt and pepper
half pint (300ml) natural yogurt
4 fl oz (100ml) water
Mix the flour and cumin seeds together, add seasoning to taste, then stir in the yogurt and water. Mix well to a soft dough then divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape each into a circle or oval about half a cm thick (or thinner if you wish). Dust lightly with flour and place on a baking sheet (also dusted with flour). Grill for 3 - 5 minutes on each side until puffed and golden. Serve warm.

Managed to force myself out of the house yesterday and had a happy half our in the company of Norris. We only went down to the shopping parade where I called in at the chemist to get some eye drops 'for tired eyes' (and these really have helped), and some iron pills which they did have (behind the counter) when B said they didn't. These have also made me feel better.

Of course I had to do some other 'shopping', so called in at the butchers to get some lamb's liver (I bought 2 lb and then divided this into five 'servings' when I got home, four have been frozen, B will have the fifth tonight for his supper with the usual bacon, cabbage and new potatoes.
Also bought a slice of tongue and a slab of pork pie with egg for B's yesterday's supper (with salad and some home-cooked ham).
Even though I've not been down to the shops for a few weeks, three stores have changed hand (including The Coffee Shoppe), we now have several empty shops, another selling everything off at half-price, and a new gown shop opened (not that we needed one, they only seem to sell small sizes). Even the cake shop had the shutters drawn down (not that I'd have bought anything from there anyway).
The wine (plus spirits and beer) now seems to have a deli selling Glasson Smokehouse products, and 'free tastings' were being offered yesterday. Thought of trying some out but knew if I did I'd come out buying half the shop, so instead stayed sitting on Norris's lap and turned round to call in at the butcher's on the return home.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday, and for once I didn't feel cold when zooming along at the highest speed allowed (around 8mph max) so if today is as pleasant might just go out again and scoot along the prom. It is always more fun to go out when the sea-front has many people walking around. During the winter months I could go out and there would be hardly any one to see at all. Seaside towns are always better when the sun is out and brings in the day trippers - at least it makes me feel it is more like being on holiday than being stuck in a bleak and lonely place as it tends to seem here during the bleak mid-winter.

In five minutes Gill will phone, so will grab the chance and publish this before she does. Enjoy your day and hope to meet up with you all again tomorrow.