Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Experimenting

An early start this morning, it was 4.45am when I woke so decided to get up anyway as I have LOADS to do. Lo and behold - it was raining! Mind you we need it, and am hoping it will clear away for this weekend's Celebrations.

Went to Morrison's yesterday afternoon at 3.30pm. A good time to go as the car-park was half empty and again not a lot of people there. Nearly had an accident when walking through their very wide revolving doors, some young boys (should have been at school) were with their mother, but they were running in and out as I got there and although I was the only one in that part of the door, just as it got to the bit where I could walk out (and normally walking into the 'revolving door' the timing is right so you carry on walking and you reach the opening at the right time, the doors suddenly stopped and so I walked right into the glass at the edge of the door. Luckily didn't hurt myself and the mother dashed in quite concerned (and rightly so), but I didn't make an issue of it.

Managed to get some good bargains (prices were already being marked down although the store didn't close until 9.00pm!!), and especially pleased as they had a 'reduced' set of shelves at the bakery section and a man was putting on bread products, so I picked up a fruit loaf (B loves this sliced and toasted) as it had already been marked down from 99p to (I think) 56p, but as I lifted it from the shelf, the man took it from my hand and slapped on another ticket that reduced it down even more, so I got it for 25p! That was really good timing. Quite a few of the displays in the fruit/veggie section had been cleared, not sure why, it seemed very early to starting removing products.
From now on think I will start shopping in Morrison's at that time for not only is there room to scoot round (and the scooter worked perfectly this time thank goodness), but the chances of bargains seem greater.
However, I was only in there for the extra ingredients needed for my 'cook-in', so tended to concentrate on those, and did buy a bag of gluten-free flour. Have a g.f. recipe for Viennese Whirls that I will be making, also one for chocolate brownies, and am hoping to make some gluten-free pastry for one of the quiches.
Have to say the g.f. flour is very expensive compared to the ordinary flour. A 500g bag of g.f. was £1.60p! Am sure it would be cheaper to make it myself (only I didn't have all the ingredients it is made from - tapioca flour, rice flour, potato flour, xantham gum...). Am wondering if yam flour would be a substitute for tapioca flour. Anyone know?

When we came out of Morrison's, and while B was loading up the back of the car at the 'picking up' bay, in front was a type of 'mobility van', the back doors were open and two men were trying to push a man in a wheelchair up ramps, but one of the rubber tyres had come off a wheel. The two men were unable to put it back on however hard they tried (one of the men helping had lost a leg below his knee, wearing one of those artificial metal 'sticks' with a false foot on the end). Loads of people were passing and not even bothering to offer to help. Beloved had a lever in the back of the car so got it out, took it to the chair and he managed to get the tyre put back on and then the chair rolled up easily into the van. That was three 'good deeds' from B yesterday, firstly the voluntary help at the RNLI in the morning, then driving me to the store and helping me load up the shopping into the trolleys etc (and guiding me round the store for now he knows where EVERYTHING and I still don't), and then helping put the tyre back on. He deserves a gold star!

My kitchen table is absolutely full with all the 'necessary' for my cooking over the next three days. Will have to get B to get the ironing board from the lobby cupboard and put it up in the kitchen for me so I can put everything on that and then take what I need when I need it. It will a continual 'bake-off' today and tomorrow, and Saturday will be the same as then I will be making the quiches, the cakes, leaving just the scones to be freshly made early Sunday morning.
Have to pace myself as am much slower due to my bad back, had to use two sticks to walk from room to room part of yesterday, but nothing I can't cope with, having 'been there, done that' more than once before.

Will be missing both 'street parties' because of my back and the time needed to spend cooking for the second, but would not have gone to the Sunday one anyway. B knows that and my daughter will be his 'companion' for both. Am not a 'party' person anyway, and my enjoyment comes from taking part working 'behind the scenes' and out of sight, feeling acutely embarrassed (and uncomfortable) when anyone publicly thanks me. What is there to thank? I'm only doing what I enjoy doing the most.

Also tend to feel that street parties and Jubilee Celebrations are mainly for the young (or middle-aged). Possibly there are some older folk who also enjoy such festivities, but these 'special occasions' are to me a bit like the eclipse of the sun and moon, or the Northern lights. Been there, done that, and never found it very interesting at the time.
In 'my day' did celebrate the Coronation, the ending of World War II (in Europe, and later in Japan), to some extent the Silver Jubilee. Have to say I did enjoy my personal and annual celebration when Wimbledon was on - this for many years - eating strawberries and cream with a drink of Babycham whilst watching the finals. Until my favourite players didn't play any more and since then hardly ever watch (although do when Andy Murray is playing).

A couple of comments to reply to (hope I haven't missed any - please remind me if you'd sent a query and I haven't given a response).

Hope you enjoy your Jubilee tea-party at the local college Catriona. I'd be interested to know what they offer in the way of food. Liked the sound of the students being told about learning new skills (demonstrations given etc?). There are so many 'skills' today that are dying out, and so great opportunities for earning good money if youngsters could take up an apprenticeship in each of the trades. A few come to mind, blacksmiths (who make gates, brackets, door latches, etc), farriers (who shoe horses), thatchers (who thatch a roof), dry-stone walling, hedge-laying, and of course many, many other skills that are still needed (possibly more now than in recent years).

Took a look at the crochet 'throw' (photo on your website) Campfire. Looks the perfect size to 'throw' over your knees when sitting in the chair on a chilly day. Have a similar one (different pattern) which I use almost every day, winter and summer, drawing it right up to my chin to cover the tops of my shoulders and my arms to snuggle into on really chilly days. Certainly helps keep me warm.

Have found a recipe for plum chutney, and although this doesn't contain ginger, you could include some grated root ginger if you wish. Not sure that ginger and plums would go together, but having never tried it, am not really in a position to tell.
You can use 'ordinary' vinegar and pickling spices as per recipe, or omit spices and instead use ready-spiced 'pickling vinegar'.
Plum Chutney: makes 4.5lb (2.25kg)
2 level tblsp pickling spice (see above)
2 lb (1kg) plums, stoned and chopped
8 oz (225g) tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1.5 pints (900ml) malt vinegar (see above)
1 lb (500g) onions, skinned and chopped
1 lb (500g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 oz (100g) sultanas
1 lb (500g) demerara sugar
1 level tblsp salt
Tie the pickling spice (if used) in a muslin bag and and place in a pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for about two and a half hours, stirring occasionally, until thick. Remove bag of spices. Spoon chutney in pre-heated jars and cover immediately with air-tight vinegar-proof lids.

Once upon a time I used to make 'real' lemonade, and was often asked to make 'n take this to bridge parties when the summer was hot. Although not the recipe I used (can't now remember which this was), here is a very quick and easy recipe that could make very pleasant drinking during the hot weather (if this returns).
Speedy to make Lemonade: serves 4
3 unwaxed lemons, roughly chopped
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
1.75 pints (1 ltr) cold water
Put the lemons, sugar and HALF the water into a food processor and blitz until the lemons are finely chopped. Pour this through a sieve into a bowl, pressing through as much juice as you can, then add the remaining water. Pour into a jug and chlll (or add a few ice cubes) before serving.

That is it for today. An early finish to my blog means I have gained up to three hours that can be used to cook my gingerbread et al. Could make a lot more in a shorter time if I had a lot more ovens! Do have two ovens (a much smaller one under a larger one, but it is the larger one I use most when baking as I am far more familiar with it - the smaller one doesn't cook cakes nearly as well). It's really a matter of making something, then clearing up and gathering ingredients for the next whatever, and carrying on until the day's cooking is done. Then when everything cooled, some put in tins (must find enough tins), some put in the freezer (must clear a drawer for those), and some wrapped in paper and foil (gingerbread etc) to store at room temperature.
It will no doubt all get done, after all I still have today and tomorrow to do the cooking for the Saturday, and part of tomorrow and most of Saturday to cook for Sunday.
Not a problem. The secret is with the organisation. Make lists then start working through. Easy as that!

Will probably be able to make time to write an early blog again tomorrow, but Saturday will be too busy to do more than cook, and as mentioned previously, the Sunday blog will be written later in the morning, once the cooking and Gill's phone call are over. But if I 'go missing' tomorrow, you will know the reason why.
Whatever you are doing this Bank Holiday weekend, and fingers crossed the weather will be fine for it, do hope you all enjoy yourselves. Me, I'm now off to the kitchen, B having put up the ironing board for me. TTFN.