Sunday, April 08, 2012

Time Moves Too Fast...

Despite going to bed early - then waking at 4.30 so deciding to have another couple of hours in bed - it was nearly 8.00am when I woke again!!! The older I get the faster time moves on.
This means - because Gill phones me in 45 minutes and I have a busy morning - this blog will be shorter today than usual. But then being Easter Sunday, probably everyone has other things to do than sit in front of their comp!

Thanks to Les and Jane for their comments. Freecycle sounds good - I've heard of it before, but never chased it up and there are lots of things we (or rather I) own that could do with having a good home 'for free'.

These charity shop, car boot, and other 'cheap' finds (and now we must include 'freecycle') reminded me how in my early days of 'poverty', it wasn't food that kept the wolf from the door, it was the endless knitting and sewing and making of gifts etc for us two adults and four small children (plus family members when it came to gifts) that saved money. In those days ('50s) food was VERY reasonable in price compared to what it is today. Also all baby food, toddlers food etc was made at home, and terry nappies were used, not the disposables.
Only this week saw an ad on TV showing the new 'toddlers' meals with the words "just like the adult's meals" - so why don't mums give the toddlers the food she was making for herself and any other adults in the family? Perhaps those mums also buy adult-sized 'ready-meals' and never bother to cook at all.

So in a way I've far more experience of 'handicrafts' than I have of 'cost-cutting cookery', although this had to be learned (with difficulty) from scratch when the need came. If I remember it was around the time we 'turned decimal' that food prices rose (they weren't supposed to, but they did), and probably also the time more mothers went out to work instead of staying at home caring for their children (as was the norm in earlier days), the 'ready-meals' came onto the scene plus other numerous 'convenience' foods, and with little time to cook (or even knit and sew), home-cooking rapidly became a thing of the past. If enough money was earned to buy the 'readies' - then why bother to slave over a hot stove at home? Made sense at that time.

In recent years what used to be fairly reasonable prices (bus fares, postage stamps, rail travel, holidays abroad, gas, electricity, not to mention food...) have now gone through the roof, and unless we bring back at least SOME of the old skills, we are doomed to a life of 'feeling deprived'.

As ever, the remedy is (literally) in our own hands, and I don't think we realise how most of us can make so much from so little once we put our minds to it.
Thankfully today we expect (even urged) to re-cycle, unlike in the past when everything had to start from 'new'. So it's become 'fashionable' to make patchwork quilts from second-hand fabric, also cushions, even clothes. Hand-knits can be unravelled, wool washed to remove 'kinks', then the yarn knitted or crocheted into something else.
By now think we are all aware that the most wonderful Christmas decorations can be made from 'metallic' paper (I cut up empty crisp packets - these are shiny foil inside), and many MANY of the plastic boxes that hold supermarket foods can be used as plant containers or drip trays , some even able to be used in the microwave, others (cream cartons etc) as plant pots.

There is a great deal of fun (not to mention sense of achievement) when we 'use up' what we have, whether it be fabrics, plastics, wood, paper, and - of course - food. Myself tend to save just about everything that could have a second use, and it is finding the places to store it all that is becoming a bit of a problem.

At the moment I have a deep clear plastic round container that once held ready-to-eat poppadums. Having used similar containers in the past just KNOW this is one to keep. When the inside is polished up with a clean tea-towel, then the base and sides coated with melted chocolate, once this is set the inside filled with a lemon or chocolate mousse, it can easily be removed from the 'mould' and makes an impressive dessert. Must make one sometime and take a photo so that you can see what I mean.

Paper muffin cases (or the slightly smaller fairy cake cases) can also be brushed with chocolate on the insides to make a 'chocolate case'. When doing this it is best to have several paper cases stacked together as they more firmly keep their shape, and as it is only the top one that is chocolate-coated, the rest can still be used once the choc has set. The best way to make the case more solid is to turn it upside down while the chocolate is still runny, then the surplus flows down to the rim making a thicker edge as it sets. These little cases can also be filled with a mousse or some creamy mixture to make individual desserts.

Just time to give one recipe today - and because it is Easter and the right season, this dish is made using asparagus. Use canned asparagus and reduced-price cream and it is almost within the means of everyone. Certainly worth serving to guests, and for a treat for ourselves.
Creamy Asparagus Pasta: serves 4
1 can asparagus
9 fl oz (250ml) double cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed (opt)
3 oz (75g) Parmesan cheese, half grated, half flaked
12 oz (350g) tagliatelle pasta
Carefully drain asparagus from the can and remove the tips - set these aside. Put the stems into a food processor with the cream, garlic, grated Parmesan and whizz to a puree. Then tip into a pan to re-heat later.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, meanwhile reheating the puree. When the pasta is ready, drain and add the asparagus tips, pour the creamed puree over, toss gently, then serve in individual bowls with the Parmesan flakes scattered over.

And that's my lot for today as Gill will be phoning in just one minute. TTFN.