Saturday, April 14, 2012

Computer Hiccups?

Don't know why, but the computer seems to be slowing up. Normally it takes about 2 minutes to 'warm up' before getting the the first 'page' I'm seeking. Today it has taken me 15 minutes! Maybe it is reaching the end of its life. This is all I need at the moment, but better to warn everyone that if it does fail completely I will get Steve (or Eileen) to let you know, and then there will be a wait before I get another...!!

Yesterday managed to make the rest of the Lamb Koftas (a total of 100 made, and all now in the freezer, so no more concentrated work to do until later next week, starting Thursday, then more on the Friday, and finally the Saturday when the foods will be delivered and served.
Although in the meantime will make some Indian sweets (which don't need freezing) and some Kulfi (which does need freezing), to save time. They won't let me know until late Wednesday whether they want the desserts (or sweets), but it doesn't matter, B can always eat the ice-cream and the sweet could go anyway to hand around.

This morning the plan is for both B and myself to go to Morrison's, as I feel like having a change of scene and it will be good to choose the foods myself instead of relying on B to get the right ones. Not that much is needed at the moment, but can at least begin the 'stocking up' of certain (keeping) veg that will be needed such as butternut squash and LOTS of onions. Might also find some at reduced prices.
Want to go early to make sure Morrison's scooter is available for me, the store is too large for me to walk round, even if pushing a trolley.

Our daughter has lent me two of her large stockpots, B was delighted "You won't need to buy those for you now, will you"? he asked hopefully. "Well I could do with at least one more of my own" I replied. He beamed, my pressie now would cost only half of what he expected. Well, it makes sense, if it's OK for me to be tight fisted when it comes to food budgeting, then why should he be expected to pay more when not necessary?

Its an absolutely gorgeous morning today, let us hope it stays that way. The pear tree is covered in blossom, the apple tree has now got its leaves just beginning to open, and the deep red acer leaves are now on the bush. The small lilac is covered in buds, so in another week or two the garden will be more colourful.

Although much of my day is now spent in the kitchen, when the sun is shining do sometimes take a minute or two off after lunch and walk through to the conservatory to have a few minutes sit down. Yesterday did just that and the time wasn't wasted as I then found the growing plants needed watering (again!). Can't believe how fast they have grown in less than a week. The courgettes need re potting as their roots are growing through the holes in the base of the pots, the salad leaves just about ready to start picking, and the herbs now just about able to tell which is which (for I forgot to label their pots!!!!). The little lemon trees are also getting sturdier.

Have to say that although I often feel I can't be bothered with 'gardening', seeing things grow does make me feel good, and want to continue, so anyone who also feels it could be a chore could at least start by growing herbs on a windowsill, then move on from there. Noticed in a gardening catalogue (think it was Suttons) they are selling tomato plants that are especially min-sized for growing on windowsills, but that do have a large crop of fruit. Am tempted, but as already have six tomato plants growing from seed, although eventually (perhaps) too large for the windowsill, can find a place for them against the sunny garage wall (or in the plastic greenhouse) and so this will avoid the temptation of spending money on tomato plants.

I've a boxful of umpteen packets of vegetable/herb/salad seeds, some part used, other unopened. Many have been gained 'free'. Enough there to keep me in veggies for years if I can be bothered to sow at least some. So this year will try to do better than last when I gave up after the slugs ate all my courgettes, and the tomato crop was poor. Every gardener has a bad year, and maybe this one will be better. Give it one more try anyway.
But not bothering with 'outside' until next week is over and I have more time on my hands.

Have to say it is very good having something to do for a change. Like 'being useful' again. Hadn't realised how much I have missed 'catering' (which I did for great numbers several times a year). If I was twenty (well, maybe thirty) years younger - and knowing what I know now - I'd seriously think about opening an 'eating house' here in Morecambe (although twenty years ago didn't realise Morecambe existed so we might have finally settled in the Yorkshire Dales - or my favourite region - the east coast).

With food on my mind perhaps time now to pass on a few more recipes before I depart for Morrisons...(if I can persuade B to read the newspaper later).
The first dish is similar to a curry but also has leanings to a 'tagine'. Although (perhaps) more suited to a colder day (and our British weather may still throw a few of these at us before it settles down to slightly warmer weather), like any spicy dish - this eats well at any time of the year.
This recipe makes good use of those cheaper chicken joints (that anyway have more flavour than the more expensive breast), the amount used depends on size of joints (and the price). When we need to penny-pinch I suggest use less chicken and more veg).
The vegetables are those that most of us have at this time of year, and cut into large chunks, rather than small (this helps to make the servings look more substantial). The 'harissa' (Moroccan spice) is optional, but does add the traditional flavour (and it is also fairly 'hot') if you have none and still wish for the same 'heat' then you could add, chilli powder or chilli sauce to taste.
Moroccan Chicken with Roots: serves 4
4 - 8 chicken portions (thighs and/or drumsticks)
2 tblsp olive or sunflower oil
4 carrots, cut into chunks
3 parsnips, peeled, cut into chunks
1 - 2 onions, cut into chunks
1 tbsp harissa paste or powder (see above)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1 x 440g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
Take a large bowl and put in the chicken, vegetables, harissa, and the spices with seasoning to taste. Add the oil and toss everything well together so that everything has a spicy oily coating. Put into a roasting tin and roast at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 45 minutes, given the pan a shake two or three times during the cooking time. Remove from oven and place the chicken on to a plate and keep warm.
Put the roasting tin (with the veggies still in it) onto the hob over high heat and add the chickpeas and tomatoes. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium and boil for a few minutes to reduce and thicken the liquid. Spoon onto serving plates and top with the chicken joint/s. Good served with rice or flatbreads.

Final recipe today is mainly from the storecupboard (although you can cook diced fresh new potatoes in the milk instead of using canned).
Sweetcorn and Haddock Chowder: serves 2
1 oz (25g) butter
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
15 fl oz (400ml) milk
1 can (12oz) new potatoes, drained and cubed
8 oz (225g) frozen smoked haddock (skinned)
1 small can sweetcorn kernels
chopped fresh parsley (opt)
Put the butter in a large pan and fry the bacon until just beginning to brown, then add the onion and cook until softened. Add the haddock and leave to poach gently for 8 minutes, the break up into large chunks. Stir in the potatoes and sweetcorn and cook for five minutes (by which time the fish will be cooked. Spoon into individual bowls and garnish with the parsley (if using). Serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Beloved has agreed to an early visit to Morrison's, so will grab the chance to go right now. This means a shorter blog today. Gill will be phoning tomorrow, and hope I can get my blog written before 9.00am otherwise it will be nearer noon before it is published.
Next Tuesday have a VERY early appointment for my check-up at the surgery, so not sure what time the blog will be that day. Same with Wednesday (hair day). What with the rest of the week being mega-busy may find it necessary to take a few days off from blog-writing', but not quite yet. Will of course let you know.

Who knows what 'box of delights' Morrison's may have that I will find tempting. Log on tomorrow to find out if I have managed to control myself! Doubt very much as though I will be able to. See you then.