Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Causes and Effects

Woke this morning to a very swollen face due to my allergic reaction to something as yet not known. As I hardly ate anything yesterday other than food I normally eat, and didn't even touch any plants, just don't know why this happens to me. Normally, if I now take a couple of antihistamines instead of the one normally prescribed (then two more later in the day - as the doc told me to) it can stop it before it gets 'full blown', but having slept through the early stages a bit late now. All I can hope is that the pills just taken will have some effect soon, I can barely speak my cheeks and lips are so puffed up. Difficult even drinking my coffee and taking my numerous pills.

Our daughter is no nearer to finding out the cause of her problem either. She has to see more specialists (in different fields), and as she has to wait weeks (sometimes months) to see each one, its going to take a very long time before there could be any improvement. If improvement there will be. At least she doesn't seem to be getting much worse, so fairly stable.
Yesterday she tried out my scooter (the rain having kindly held off until mid-afternoon, and then it poured down), and took a scoot along the prom and found it very good. Having four wheels it is more stable than the three-wheelers, and this she finds gives her a feeling of security for her balance is very poor at times.

Yesterday had a good cooking session. As I wanted to make and bake another loaf of bread, this time decided to add 250g of strong white bread flour to the 500g pack of brown bread mix, plus half as much again of the water (525fl oz instead of 350fl oz if I remember correctly).
My bread machine managed to handle the extra as I was only making the dough, not baking the loaf in the machine, and when it was ready removed one third of the dough to put into a 1lb loaf tin, the remaining dough into the 2lb loaf tin. Both cooked beautifully. As I guessed, there was enough yeast in the bought mix to allow the extra flour to rise, and didn't have to wait any longer because of it.

Wish I'd taken a photo of the two loaves, but gave the smaller one to our daughter to take home. She also took the yellow courgette plants and a couple of lemon 'trees', plus a tub of ready-to-eat mixed salad leaves. She enjoys gardening and is showing the youngsters in her community how to grow from seed (we give her our empty lemonade bottles to make into mini-greenhouses for the children to use).

It really does seem worth adding more strong flour to bought bread mix. Even though my mix was brown (Tesco's @ 69p for a 500g pack), the white flour just made the bread a bit lighter in colour. The flour was also Tesco's own brand, strong white bread flour for 60p per 1.5kg bag (40p per 100g, as I used 250g this worked out at 10p). Whatever way it is costed out: 69p for a 2lb loaf, and then the added 10p to make that extra 1lb loaf, or add the two costs together before dividing to make it around 52p for the large loaf and 29p for the smaller, it proves that making bread at home is far cheaper than any bought. Well, yes I know we CAN buy really cheap bread, but this really isn't worth eating (although quite useful if you want to make breadcrumbs to store in your freezer).

Just for interest I weighed both loaves after baking and the 2 lb loaf weighed around 800g - this being less than the 900g of the large loaves on sale, but then these supermarket loaves are so 'damp', am sure the extra weight is only added moisture. The smaller loaf was also slightly less than the supermarket 'pappy' bread would weight, but certainly mine looked the correct size and had a good crumb, not too full of air and not dry. Just perfect in fact.

For supper cooked one of DR's 'mini-roasts', this one being lamb. It did cook well with a lovely crusty 'crackling' to the fatty top. This I served with new potatoes and green string beans (and the usual mint sauce and redcurrant jelly). To add a bit more colour to the plate (and as we had an extra 'guest'), decided to halve a couple of red bell peppers (cut through from top to bottom to make shallow 'cups'), removingthe seeds and membrane so they were ready to stuff. But stuff them with what? I had four mushrooms that needed using up, so chopped those finely and fried them off with a small chopped onion. It didn't look enough to fill four pepper halves, so added the crumbs grated from a crust of white (home-made) bread that also needed using up. Still a bit low on amount, so cut a couple of tomatoes in half, scooped out the seeds and chopped the flesh, added these to the mushrooms/onions with the bread, and then slung in some frozen peas for good measure. Plus plenty of ground black pepper. For added flavour/texture decided to add a few chopped walnut pieces and the total amount was enough to fill all the peppers (well they were big ones and only 40p each from Lidl the other week).

When the mini-roast was cooked (at 160C for 2.5 hours) removed it from the oven, covered it with foil, then bumped up the oven heat to 200C and popped in the peppers to cook. Meanwhile cooking the beans on the hob and reheating the spuds (already cooked). The peppers were ready in 20 minutes, and by then I'd sliced the meat, managing to save some 'jus' (once all the fat had been poured off) - this 'jus' just enough to share between two, then served the meal.

Our daughter had brought three pieces of her home-made cake for us to try (one she ate for her 'lunch'), the other for B and myself. B decided that this would make a good pud, and he asked our daughter if she wanted some heated with cream and she said no. So he said he'd have the remaining two pieces. One was supposed to be for me and when our daughter reminded her Dad, B put on his 'little boy sulk' (standing with drooping shoulders and hung head and bottom lip stuck out - don't men EVER grow up?), so I said B could have my share as well, as long as I could have just a wee taste. The cake had been made with some 'Christmas flavoured sugar' that had reached it's b.b.date (sugar lasts for ever anyway), and this did give a lovely flavour to what would normally have been a fairly plain cake.

Thinking about it, there was one stuffed pepper half that B didn't want (once he'd taken the major share of just about everything else - its a good job our daughter has a small appetite). So I ate this later and perhaps it was the walnuts that caused my allergy. Nuts don't normally affect me, but then I don't normally eat them, and never eat walnuts as I don't like the flavour, but yesterday I did. Who knows, it could just have been stress that caused my allergy to return. At least it doesn't happen with such regularity as it used to (like once every 16 days. I can now go for several weeks (even months) without a flare-up and then only have a wee one.
Already I can feel my face returning to a semblance of normality due to the double dose of antis. I am supposed to take one of these every day anyway, but unless just before whatever it is that starts it off, these don't really do much. Once an attack has happened then 3 antis a day have to be taken for at least a couple of days after. Must remember to do this today and tomorrow.

Replying to comments....
Do let us know Sarina, how you found those 'breakfast muffins' you will (I hope) be making soon. Can't say I've got into the US habit of eating muffins/scones for breakfast, toast and marmalade is the nearest us Goodes tend to get. We Brits are a bit traditional (well us older ones are), and it's either porridge or cereals (including muesli), the 'full English', or perhaps an egg in some form (poached on toast, boiled with 'soldiers', or scrambled), and almost always toast and butter, spread with marmalade (or jam or Marmite or honey) after that. Sometimes (and more often than not) only toast and its toppings, and do without the rest.

You sounded as though yesterday was a very busy day for you Jane. Thinking about it, am sure we women work a darn sight harder (and longer hours) than many men. Even more if a 'working girl' has to fit in all the chores on her return home.

Yesterday was watching snooker and had a think about the roles women play, especially when it comes to sport. Asked B if there were still any sports that men played and women did not . Myself could only think of American football (and possibly some women do play tha in the US). I know there are women's soccer teams here, not sure about Rugby, and other than 'mixed' doubles in tennis, don't think there are any sports where men and women play together.

Although horse-racing and other equestrian sports are a 'shared' sport. In this year's Grand National there was at least one female jockey and she very nearly won (only beaten by a nose) so that's something I suppose.
Myself feel that there are many sports that both sexes could take part (in the same teams or in opposing teams), but is it the 'macho' thing that prevents this? Can you imagine what would happen if a team of women suddenly started to beat a male team. Like often!! It would never be allowed, and we would be hated even more if this did occur.

My advice to any girl who plays a game in opposition to a man (be it cards, chess, tennis or other sport) is to let him win the first game, and the last (even if you would have easily won), in fact let him win the majority of games, otherwise he will never play with you again. As I have found to my cost with my B (my son is not keen on losing either).

The only game that I've felt comfortable with when playing with a man is bridge. Probably because it is a male-female partnership, not a competition. On the other hand, when playing with a female partner, competing against two men, and we win - then although congratulated, this is usually said with gritted teeth and with pained faces, and all too often mutterings of 'they must have cheated' as the pairs move on to the next table. Makes you laugh really.

Quite honestly am fed up of the way men think we are always the 'weaker sex', and take advantage when they can. Where would they be without us I like to ask? If we stopped giving birth, then the male sex would soon die out (so would we I suppose, but then we don't now need men anyway to reproduce females, just stockpile the necessary in test tubes. Perhaps it's time they remembered that. The nation won't get anywhere until we have another Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. Women are good at housekeeping, whether on a domestic level or national. Women understand what is needed, what is necessary and they'd get rid of all the stupid 'elf and safety' rules that keep on coming and make all our lives so difficult.

Perhaps a lot of the fault lies with us. We do tend to spoil our sons and husbands, and let the male sex get away with lots of things just to keep the peace (they know what pulls our strings as much as we know what pulls theirs), and probably we quite enjoy 'mothering them', so probably they expect this to continue right through their married life.
Am sure younger readers will disagree with much of what I say purely because the 'new man' of today is becoming much more domesticated and woman are far more 'equal' (although that is debateable - I've always believed women to be better than men).

Must stop rambling on about men (sorry!) but do have a bee in my bonnet about them sometimes. I now carry on with my replies to comments...

The plants in your '3 sisters bed' are not the ones traditionally grown in this country Lisa, although now we are having a go at growing some squashes and corn. 'Pole beans' might be what we call those green 'runner beans' (to eat freshly picked and cooked or frozen), or yours might be more the speckled varieties where the seeds are dried.

Yesterday, B was looking out of the conservatory window and said he thought it would be a good idea to grow some runner beans up against next door's fence. I asked him why, and he said someone had said they would grow well there. "Probably would" I said "but you don't like to eat runner beans". "But I was told they would grow there" B said. Sorry about this but another man-moan coming up. When B is 'told' something, and as long as by someone else and not me (he will always dig his toes in when I suggest anything), he always thinks he should copy the ideas, even if he can't afford it and it doesn't fit into his life.

There are countless times when B has copied someone who (for instance) kept stamps (philatalist), collected ceramic plates, ran a special type of car that B wanted (and he then bought but couldn't afford), and B has pruned numerous bushes and trees because someone said they needed pruning (but they then forgot to tell him how and so B did it at the wrong time and cut in the wrong place and ruined the plants/trees). Do remember a time when he kept talking about how his boss paid for a flat where he kept his mistress (unbeknown to his wife), and wondered how long it would be before B tried that as well!

Fortunately, at the moment B has met up with people who like to take photos and go bird-watching, so after buying an expensive camera B now toddles off happily several times a week to watch birds and take photos, and he has taken some really good ones. He did try the boat thing, but found it scary sailing a dingy on 'real sea' (he was OK on a small lake in Yorkshire), so now just steers the safety boat. So far the only other suggestion he has taken on board is the 'growing beans', and luckily have managed to persuade him not to pursue this line (perhaps grow Sweet Peas instead?).

Oops. Still thinking men. And now I have one to reply to, so ignore all above comments Michael Turnbull, you are of course one of the few exceptions. Michael mentioned the 'Live below the Line' challenge that is currently happening. People can sponsor those who try this, and the aim is to spend no more than £1 a day on food and drink - and this for five days. Michael gives a link if you wish to find out more and try the challenge for yourself.

Your memories of your Grandma making pies on Sunday Campfire reminds me of how - in the old days - our grandparents (or at my age my mother) would have set days for just about every household chore. Whatever the weather (an no washing machines in those days), washing would be done on a Monday, Tuesday would be 'ironing day', and no doubt the rest of the week was given over to other housework. Each week one room would have an extra special clean, the other rooms just being dusted and swept. At the weekend the main baking for the week would be done (bread, cakes, pies etc), and then back to 'washing on Monday' again. Monday being mega-busy, took advantage of the Sunday 'roast', and it would be cold meat and jacket potatoes for lunch as easy to prepare. Everyday of the week had its own 'set' meal (usually using up the rest of the joint, but always fish on Friday) and probably egg and chips on Saturday. Domestic life then had a very strict and set routine, and perhaps in many ways this worked well, but could also end up a bit boring. The food tended to be very boring especially when not fond of the 'meal of the day' (which was always the same on that day). The only difference was maybe the meat used (beef one week, lamb another, then pork. Sometimes veal, rarely a chicken unless for special treats, and then back to beef again. Vegetables would change according to season, also the puds, although never was able to enjoy things like stewed prunes or plums (the only pleasure from these was telling my fortune (future husband) by counting the stones lined up around the rim of the dish: 'tinker, tailer, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief....'.
I blame my mother for always giving me six prunes, otherwise I'd have not ended up having to spend much of my life counting my pennies.

If she'd only given me five fruits instead of six. Married to a rich man - what would I do then? Certainly have a cleaning lady, gardener, and all the labour-saving household appliances I can think of. Plus a large house and perhaps my own horse and also a tennis court (I used to play tennis almost every dry day when in my late teenage years - the tennis club being only a few yards away from where I lived). If it rained we played table tennis in the club-house.
Would I be interested in cooking if married to a wealthy man? I doubt it. Probably buy lots of expensive foods that require little cooking, and have someone to cook them for me. Certainly we'd be 'eating out' at expensive restaurants a lot of the time, and holidaying abroad several times a year. Also going out shopping and buying lots of new clothes, shoes, and jewellery and things like that. And do you know, I'd soon get bored with all of it. Think however hard life has been for me in the past, it has taught me so much and I'm all the better for it.

Today has begun again with sun and blue skies. As it did yesterday - and this lasted until noon when the rain arrived several hours later than it should have done. Maybe it will rain again today, but as I am not intending to go out (although might get B to drive me to Sunderland Point to see the very, VERY high tide), the weather can do what it likes. Not even sure if I want to bother with the tide, it's only water anyway. I'll wait for a tsunami before I get interested.

You can tell I'm a bit 'off' today with my grumps and moans. Put this down to my swollen face, and feeling a bit 'off' (as happens when my allergy arrives). Am even getting some delight as I look through the window and see a cat has climbed into our apple tree, almost to the ends of one of the branches where it is trying to catch a magpie. The magpie has flown to another branch the other side of the tree, and a blackbird has also flown into the tree and it is as if they are taunting the cat who now seems a bit stuck as its managed to work its way along a very thin twig and now is afraid to get back. For all I care, it can stay up there all day, just as long as it doesn't knock off any of the apple blossom.
I'm not a cat person as you have probably guessed. I'm a dog lover. Especially Labradors (or any of the gun dog breeds). Heck, there is another cat now climbing up into the tree, wonder if they'll end up having a fight. They are now sitting curled up together, perhaps they are from the same family. A few magpies gave arruved to tease them, and it's quite funny to see the antics. Sometimes its good (almost theraputic) to just sit and watch nature at it work.

Having forced myself into 'food mode' can at least offer a couple of recipes to round off today's rather bleak blog, and this is really just 'putting things together' than actually 'making' from scratch, although having said that, as I do make my own yogurt and make my own lemon curd (and grow my own raspberries), it depends where you decide to start. You could use other soft fruits if you prefer. Or top with sliced bananas, pineapple chunks. As ever you make the final choice.
Incidentally, folding equal quantities of lemon curd and Greek yogurt together, and then freezing it will make an excellent and very easy-to-make 'ice-cream'.
Lemon and Raspberry Fool: serves 4
half pint (300ml) lemon curd
1 x 500g carton Greek yogurt
76oz (175g) raspberries
1 tblsp icing sugar
Put the lemon curd and yogurt into a bowl and fold gently together, aiming for a rippled effect than full combining. Divide between four individual serving dishes (pref glass) and chill.
Put the raspberries in another bowl with the icing sugar and give a stir, crushing them slightly to let the juice flow a bit, but still hold their shape, then spoon this on top of the lemon 'fool' and serve with sponge fingers or shortbread wedges.

Rice pudding is a bit 'old fashioned', so never sure whether it is still made so often today, but it is still an economical pud (and very tasty when made with some - if not all - evaporated milk) so worth 'tarting up' the leftovers to make this dish. Or make it specially for this. You could of course used canned rice pudding. But as ever - always cheaper to make your own. Canny cooks make up apple sauce in the autumn (from fallings) then store it in their freezers. They also pick 'free' blackberries and freeze these too. As with the above recipe, we can use different fruits according to season, then all we need to do is make the rice pud. then assemble the dish. Although this recipe is intended to be eaten cold, it also heats up well. So if 'some like it hot', then place in microwavable dishes and heat up for a few minutes before serving.
Apple and Blackberry Rice Pudding: serves 4
1 lb (450g) cold rice pudding
7 oz (200g) apple sauce
5 oz (150g) blackberries
2 tblsp soft light brown sugar
Take four individual glass dessert bowls and form layers of rice pudding, apple sauce, and blackberries. There should be enough to give a repeat layer, finishing with the berries.
Scatter the sugar over the top then leave for 15 minutes in the fridge to chill or until the sugar has dissolved. These can also be left to chill for up to 2 hours before serving, but keep them covered whilst in the fridge.

That's it for today. Really must spend a few minutes making up some lemon curd, and also hope to find time to bake some cake (to freeze). As to supper - it all depends on what B feels like eating, and won't know this until he has risen and fully awake (he went to bed at 9.15 pm yesterday so this means as it is nearly 12 hours later, he should soon be up). Me I got up this morning at 6.00am, after going to bed at 11.00pm. What's the point of sleeping much of the rest of my (possibly short) life away?
With eight hours sleep a day being the norm., we do seem to spend a lot of our lives in a coma. With B's almost life-long ability to sleep very long hours (and catnap when up) he must have spend at least 40 years of his life asleep. Sobering thought really when we realise our lives are not really that long anyway. How much of life we don't then reach, although in my case it does seem as though most of my hours asleep are very much 'alive' as when dreaming. Even then only a short time is taken up dreaming (it is said), although it always seems I can 'live through' full day's 'happenings' in just five minutes (or less) of 'dream time'.

Enough about me. It always seems to be 'me, me, me' when I write these days. How boring can I get? Remember when I used to write weekly letters to Gill (and she to me) I used to have to go through my letter with a fine toothcomb removing the 'I' from the start of many of my sentences, and try and make them less personal. Have to do this with my blog at times as well.

With this thought 'I' must now wind up 'my' blog for today and 'I' hope that many readers will return to read 'my' thoughts again tomorrow. If so 'I' hope to see you then. Have a good day.
(forgive errors, the spell check has crashed again).