Monday, April 16, 2012

Fingers Crossed!

Just thought you might like to take a look at the little squirrel that comes each day to sit on our fence and eat nuts (or something provided by next door). We do get quite a bit of 'wildlife' sitting on our fence, other people's cats and numerous large birds. Even once a sparrowhawk (unfortunately was not in here with the camera to photograph it).

Need all my 'spare' time this week, so came onto the comp early and blow me! The broadband wouldn't connect. Said there was a fault. This has happened before and often happens when a lot of people connect up at the same time, so have come back at around 9.00am and luckily - it now works!

Today ill have to keep this blog short as you can appreciate, as this week have a lot more than usual to do. Please note tomorrow's blog will be late (if the broadband works), as I have the very early surgery appointment. Likewise Wednesday due to Norma the Hair arriving at 9.00am. After that will be taking the rest of the week of as will be knee deep in the preparations and cooking of the 'curryfest'. Might even take Sunday off as I will be late home on the Saturday (and worn out!!!) so may have a lie in. In which case will be back Monday and able to let you know how it all went.

Some very good(e) news! Yesterday decided to do a trial run of keeping a pan of boiling water hot as long as possible in one of those DR polystyrene boxes I mentioned previously. I didn't bother with bubblewrap, just put a folded towel in the base of the box, Boiled up a 4 litres of water (200F) in a stockpot and immediately put it into the box with a lid, then tucked more towels around and on top. Placed on the lid and left it. This was at 12.15. Decided to check after five hours and it was then 175F, another check at 7.45pm and it was 150F. This morning (18 hours after putting it into the box) it was 105F!! Used it for washing up!!

As it was necessary to check 'catering' temperatures, was very pleased to see that the 'holding temperature' of food (to keep safe) was 135F (or above). This means - as the stockpots will be full of food at a higher heat than boiling (two of these fitting into one box - one helping to keep the other hot) the food will then 'hold' safely for at least four hours (probably seven!) this gives me plenty of time to tuck the curries and rice up and plenty of time to fry the samosas and bhajis.

Decided also to do some 'portion control' for the curry servings. Doing this means I know exactly how much to make (and then more to be on the safe side). So decided to make a sweet and sour vegetable and prawn curry for B's supper (cheated by using the 2 minute microwave rice). I filled a half-pint mug with the cooked rice and dumped it onto B's plate (this was almost the whole pack of rice that was supposed to serve two), and he thought it was ample. Used the same mug filled with the sweet and sour mixture and this too seemed ample (only a little left of both added to B's meal after my initial check). Considering B's meal was served on his 'meat platter' of a plate, and the club will be serving meals on plates slightly smaller than a normal dinner plate (leaving room for the samosas, naan bread, poppadums, bhajis, dhal, salad, raita.....not that everyone will have everything) feel that the diners will certainly have their plates piled high.

Serving by 'the measure' (not by weight - although having also checked this, the above 'serving' was more than if a curry 'ready-meal' had been bought), this means it is easier to know how much (by capacity) each of my stockpots will hold. Whatever the final number, am aiming to provide AT LEAST 10 extra portions just for the few who might feel the need for 'seconds' (B of course being one). Any left can be packed in foil cartons (which I will take) and taken home to reheat/freeze by the club committee members.

So - that's another useful thing sorted. If serving 50, will need two stockpots of rice, one of Butter Chicken, one of Vegetarian Curry, and one of Lamb Kofta Rogan Josh (plus a bit of extra B Chicken as it think this might be the favourite). Sorted!

Thursday sees the Tesco delivery arrive, and from then it will be a matter of working my way through the various lists, and doing what has to be done when it should be done.

I've found a pack of those sticky-top labels in my desk drawer this morning, so can write down what needs to be done, timings etc. and stick them on the kitchen cupboard doors to remind me (saw someone do this on 'Come Dine with Me' and it's quite a good idea. Although will also have lists to remind me. But such a lot needs to be done in a short time that it is essential I concentrate only on one thing at a time so that it is done at the right time and PROPERLY!

Today have already made a litre of Greek Yogurt (ready to use for the Raita), and when that is ready can use the EasyYo thermos this evening to make a batch of rose-flavoured yogurt for the 'kulfi' (using some evap. milk instead of all water). Tomorrow will make a batch of coconut yogurt, then that's all done, and a final mango.

Today will be clearing up the remaining 'clutter ' in the kitchen, putting all the recently bought 'curryfest' ingredients together, gathering all the bowls that will be needed, ditto pans (these can go onto the conservatory table). The rest of the day making several different Indian 'sweet' (to hand round after the meal). Banana 'fudge' (halva), and coconut 'ice' will be today's main 'cooking'. Stuffed dates will be made later, and also coconut marzipan. Plus some tiny chocolate cups (empty, given me by someone and never used) filled with (probably) coconut yogurt or maybe tiny bits of tropical fruit (from a can). Plenty of time to decide, just as long as some is made in advance.

Really do have to finish now as the day is fast moving on. When once the days seem to drag, am now finding there are not quite enough hours in the day to accomplish what I wish. But getting there. It is amazing how I have suddenly been able to summon enough energy. I can't stop working. All the adrenalin flowing I suppose. Long may it continue.

Quick replies to comments. Suppose you are right Campfire, the East coast may now be too cold in the winter for my old bones, it would be nice to have two properties, one at the E.coast for summer, the other on the west coast for winter (our next door neighbour lives 6 months of the year here in the summer, and the remaining 6 months in Barbados where she also owns property! All right for some!).

Yes Karen (in Spain), I am the Shirley Goode that used to do budget cookery on TV (think I began in the late '70's), am not myself a registered 'subscriber' to but would appreciate anyone that is giving my blog a mention on their 'Forum' to remind others that I'm still going strong. Myself do not wish to do more TV. It was stressful enough when 40/50 years old, and now having just started my 80th year, feel that stress is something I can do without.

One good thing Frugal Queen, is that although having had great mobility problems (since my illness some few years ago), since losing weight am now finding movement considerably easier, and can walk around (but using a stick or something to lean on like a shopping trolley) as long as it isn't too far. The more walking I do, the easier it will become. Trouble is I'm just too lazy and prefer the trundle round on a scooter. There is nothing worse than my back seizing up, or my knees starting to pain when I've been able to do only half the shopping (or whatever).

I'm fine if there is a chair or bench that I can sit on when I get aches, just a few seconds sit then ready for the next walk.

Oh for those days when I loved walking so much that I walked home from the centre of Leicester right up to Oadby village (where we lived) and further on to Great Glen, before returning home to my home. But only when it wasn't raining (although have walked to Leicester and back in very 'pea-soup' fog (in the days when we had such fogs) when it was so thick that you couldn't even see the edge of the pavement, so unsafe for any buses/traffic to run).

A reminder that tomorrow's blog will be later due to early surgery appt. Hope to see you then.