Sunday, May 06, 2012

Trying to Keep on Track

In five minutes it will be 8.00am BST. The sun is shining and it looks like being another lovely sunny day, at least here. Not that I will be going out, as am still knee deep in changing our kitchen round to make it more convenient when I cook. Getting there - slowly!

The footie match was on later that I thought yesterday, early evening instead of the afternoon, so once I'd done my 'kitchen work' decided to read a book I'd found when I sorted through a pile of others. This was Bill Bryson's 'Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' (or some such name), being the tales of his childhood years in Des Moines. Both B and I love his books, and we've read most of them. But not this one, neither of us know how it happened to be in this house, but I'm very glad it was 'unearthed' as I've been reading it for hours over the past few days.

Have to say that as B.Bryson's book about England was true right down to the last full stop, have no reason to believe that the facts in the above book (and others) are not true (he'd be sued if they weren't), so am now even more alarmed at the political wheeling and dealing that goes on in the US. Not to mention all the false 'evidence' about certain people and 'happenings' that have been believed (often with no solid facts to support it). When I read the chapter on what happened around the time that atom bombs were dropped and the Russian missiles that were already in Cuba it made it pretty clear that it doesn't matter what the US did (or still does), they can get away with it but no-one else is allowed to.
It does seem that if you have enough money you can buy your way into US politics, almost (and probably) right to the 'top'. Thankfully in the UK any 'funny business' is usually discovered by the press and then everyone knows about it and the politician bows down in disgrace.

But of course the book was written about living in the 1950's and a decade (or so) later. Things may have now changed. It must be difficult travelling across country from one state to another when each has its own rules about how old you can be before you can drink (if drinking is allowed at all), also which state would be better to do the deed if you intend killing someone (believe one state still has the death penalty, and even here it has been mentioned that bringing it back would prevent many of the killings that happened today. Our 'life sentences' are usually only of 20 years duration which can be halved with 'good behaviour'. Very few people end up spending the rest of their lives in prison, and considering many of our prisons are as good as cheap hotels with good food, TV in the cells (which are more like bedrooms), and all sorts of 'perks', it is not surprising that many small criminals are continuing with crime purely to go back to jail for it is turning out to be a far more comfortable life than 'outside'. Or so we hear.

What was apparent in the above book was the US way of life after the Second World War. While we here were still knee deep in food rationing, the US citizens 'never had it so good'. This was the time for new kitchen appliances, deep freezers etc, not to mention family cars, supermarkets and convenience foods. We had to wait almost another 20 years before we caught up, and with some things things wish we hadn't.

What the Americans have is the most wonderful country as regards scenery. I often watch part (or all) of a film that I wouldn't normally be interested in , just to look at the beautiful views. One memorable (and seen recently) is the view from the air of the drive along a road halfway up a mountain (or two), possibly in Oregon or Colorado that begins 'The Shining'.
Many 'Westerns' are also set in desert areas with big 'buttes' (are they called?) sticking up here and there. Then we have the trees changing leaf-colour in autumn (the US 'fall'), in the New England area. My idea of the best holiday ever would be to visit every rural area in America and soak up the regional accents, culture and 'see the sights'. It would probably take me five years to see it all, but what a thrill it would be.
Anyone visiting Britain would be able to see most of our 'sights' within one week, Apparently Iowa and England (or is it Britain) are about the same size, so if you can do one, you can do the other, and at least in the UK we can go from almost desert to patchwork countryside, to sea to the Midlands, and - if wished - drive from the tip of Cornwall to Yorkshire (not even as high as Cumbria) and see the whole of Autumn colourways from the first leaf changing from green to orange to the full golden glory (around Gloucester) and then the leaves falling (in Leicester) and the final drop (in Leeds). All in one day's drive. Everything here is very small scale compared to the US, and on a smaller scale, still beautiful and often magnificent. We are fortunate, but think many of us take it for granted.

As it is holiday weekend, and wish to make the most of my time so I can finish the chores and get on with something else, will now reply to comments, and if any time left before Gill rings will carry on with a 'ramble' or two.

Good to hear Sarina that you are finding that 'costing' is proving how much cheaper it is to ourselves make something that we might normally have bought. As you said your quiches were larger and deeper than those sold over the counter, then possibly you could make three for the price of one bought. It would be interesting to know what things we can make that are so cheap (comparatively) that it is never worth buying them again.
Have to say that I'm very impressed at the low-cost of making choux pastry when you consider that gigantic 'Croqembouche' formed with 80 cream-filled profiteroles cost me only £5 to make. Or those 'well-stuffed-with-cream' chocolate eclairs made from the same (but smaller amount) of choux pastry.
Then there is the home-made chicken stock made from the chicken carcases that most butchers will happily give to customers 'for free'. Even the veggies used when making the stock are hardly worth 'costing' as once cooked they can be blitzed with a bit of the stock to make a veggie soup.

Being set in our ways is not always due to age minimiser deb. My Beloved's ways were 'set' when I first met him (his age then was 20), and he's never changed them since. Although had to change mine radically once we were married to 'suit B', probably mine are also now 'set'.

Was interested reading about those 'bush cherries' Lisa. Not sure what they are, don't think we have them here. Most 'bush fruits' are either black currants (or red or white currants of the same family), blueberries (and similar), gooseberries, possibly blackberries (brambles - that tend to grow high and sprawl all over the place, rather than stay in a 'bush').
I did see a cookery prog (was it with Hugh F.W?) where some 'cherry plums' were growing and being gathered to make wine. They looked like small cherry tomatoes growing on a tree. Never seen these before, but believe they grow in the wild.
What is a 'three sisters bed' Lisa, (your mention re growing in raised beds)? This is another new name not heard of before.

Will check out that Freeview channel 49 Eden Valley M, not sure if I will be able to receive it as there are several Freeview channels that are listed but I can't get, when I've tried to reach some, typing in the channel number it always switches over to another. Also the time for the Food prog mentioned would be when B is glued to the set watching something else (like soaps, but then so am I).

On further comment from an Anonymous (no name given), but as this sent via an earlier blog won't be seen by those looking at the most recent. It referred (vaguely) to something posted that he/she found 'interesting', but looking up the comments for that site was not able to discover the one referred to.

No real time left for a good 'ramble', suffice to say that yesterday made several pots of mango chutney and well pleased with that.
Today really MUST make some lemon curd and possibly bake some sponge cakes for freezing as I've still not heard what two desserts the sailing 'social' want for the RNLI meal next weekend, or the amounts. I like to plan well ahead to make sure I have all the 'makings' bought at the cheapest possible price. Have given them an estimate of 25p a head (for any chosen dessert from the list sent), these being either profiteroles (5 cream-filled, chocolate topped per portion), Cheesecake (strawberry, rum and raisin, chocolate, or tropical fruit), Black Forest Gateau, or a Lemon and Whipped Cream Roulade.
Hot puddings were also suggested (Sticky Toffee Pud; Bread and Butter Pud; Apple and Blackberry Crumble; and Treacle Tart), but as all would have to be reheated at the venue, feel they would avoid this and go for the cold desserts. But I need to KNOW!

Five minutes before Gill phones, just time for me to do a spellcheck then publish. Hope you can join me again tomorrow - see you then.