Thursday, June 21, 2012

Joys of Old Age

There is quite a lot to be said for growing old. For one thing we have gained enough experience (or should have) to see us through hard times, and we take a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that 'in our day' things were much better than they are today. Give or take a war. Everything then seemed so much better. People had good manners, older folk were respected, all fresh food was pretty well 'organic', and 'free-range'. True, we worked longer hours and a five and a half day week, but the pace seemed slower, and also our free time was much more appreciated.
I could go on (and on and on), but suffice to say life has never been quite so good since the more recent technological 'progress', and just glad I was there at the best of times.

On the other side of the coin, am now realising that growing old is not always 'comfortable'. This past week have been plagued with yet more aches and pains (although the other ones are disappearing). Now am getting pains in my leg joints and shoulder. Legs not so bad during the day, but worse in bed when it seem almost like constant cramp but muscular. B says it is arthritis (his mother had it), so am I now doomed to suffer constantly from that? Let us hope not. Trouble is am now finding it difficult to fall asleep when my legs are aching. One shoulder hurts when typing over the comp (yes, I suppose I should sit up straighter but then my back aches!!). Can hear my joints 'creak' when I move, especially when rising from a chair. Suffice to say that this is not one of my good days, made worse I suppose because the weather has changed back to wet, windy and much cooler.
At least yesterday managed to get another hour (or two) sitting in the sun, the clouds rolled away by lunchtime and as the wind had dropped, it seemed far hotter than the previous days.

Was a good girl yesterday as regards my eating. Kept away from the carbos and ate nothing but protein and veg, this giving a further 2lb loss (4 lbs so far), so if I can keep this up should soon seen the scales dropping further. The good thing about protein packed foods is that they are very satisfying. I ate a protein breakfast and good lunch, had a taste of B's supper when making the spag bol meat sauce and at my own supper time couldn't face eating anything else - so didn't. Have already had a 'protein breakfast' today before starting this blog, and doubt I will want lunch. B can have a 'cold meat platter' for his supper - with salad, and this is probably what I will also have (but eating less of course - B eats his meal served on a meat platter as the ordinary dinner plate is far too small for the amount he wishes).

Today HAS to be taken up with making a couple of tray-bakes for the sailing club weekend. Also want to try another recipe for a cake made with no fat. If it works it will go on my new website which I hope will shortly be able to be viewed, I've just been too busy doing 'other things' to concentrate on writing up the details. Problem is - writing my blog tends to give me 'writer's block' for anything else, so may have to take a day or two off shortly to concentrate on the new site to get it completed.

Thanks for comments from Catsngrams, Campfire and madmittens. No queries to answer but would like to pick up on the one about normally not including fruit in a main course. Salads today quite often include the sharper berries such as cranberries, blueberries and the pomegranate seeds. Quite often fruit IS included but we don't recognise it as such - apple in Waldorf Salad for instance. Date and/or apricots in a Moroccan tagine; raisins and sultanas, mangoes and lychees in Indian and Oriental curries.

Perhaps it is more the sweetness of fruit we recognise as not being 'quite right' with a salad or savoury dish, for most 'salad veg' ARE actually the fruit of a plants (fruit containing the seeds), such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, courgettes. Suppose peas and beans are a type of 'fruit' as these are also 'seeds'.

Myself make a real hotch-potch of a (vegetarian) salad, purely to add as much texture and flavour as I can. Starting with shredded iceberg lettuce, then add diced cucumber, diced or sliced bell peppers (pref. red and yellow), some finely sliced red onion, watercress, tiny halved tomatoes, and then drizzle over salad dressing and throw in some grated cheese. When tossed together the cheese sticks to the dressing which itself sticks to everything, so each mouthful is bursting with flavour. Just that alone makes a memorable salad.

When I have radishes and cooked beetroot, some of these can be sliced and added to a salad, and maybe some crunchy uncooked mange-tout, sugar snap peas, or tiny courgettes. Occasionally add cooked beans or chickpeas, and quite often add halved hard-boiled eggs. I love the flavour of a sliced banana in a salad, or - if I have one - slivers of avocado. Maybe a few grapes will be included, or a few chunks of pineapple, or even a few redcurrants, a sliced strawberry, chunks of apple, segments of orange. Also some cashews, almonds or walnuts. Not EVERYTHING all at the same time, but certainly as many varieties as I can and that will not clash with each each other. In a way suppose this is like eating the 'mains' and 'dessert' at the same time.

When deciding what goes with what in a salad, think what a 'main' ingredient might go with when served in a different way. For instance chicken and banana go well together, as do prawns and avocado. Ham, sausages (or anything 'porky') needs apple to balance the flavour. Lamb, mint and redcurrants are a marriage made in heaven. Beef and beetroot are also good friends. Smoked mackerel and gooseberries.... So if we start experimenting we can make endless varieties of salads to enjoy.

Sometimes, instead of using a salad dressing, will use a fruit flavoured yogurt in place of mayo. The lemon, mango, or coconut yogs go very well with salad. Half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt blended together (with a little added milk or water if necessary) make a lighter and less 'cloying' dressing than mayo on its own.

Mangoes are not the cheapest fruit, but sometimes are 'on offer', and so am including a recipe for a salad using this fruit. The suggestion is to serve this with hot or cold roast chicken, possibly one with an Oriental flavour. The easiest way to achieve this flavour is to release the skin from the top of two chicken breasts (but still leave the skin attached), and then push in a paste made by blitzing together some ginger, lime and chilli paste, pat down to spread this mixture over the breast, replace the skin, then roast in the oven (200C) for 20 or so minutes until crisp and cooked through. Slice and serve with the salad below
Mango and Apple Salad: serves 4
2 red-skinned apples, cut into matchsticks
1 mango, peeled, flesh cut into matchsticks
handful fresh mint leaves, torn into small shreds
5 spring onions
small bunch coriander leaves
1 tsp caster sugar
dash fish sauce (opt)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lime
Put the apple, mango, mint, spring onions and the coriander into a bowl. Add the fish sauce, sugar, ginger, and lime juice. Toss together then cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
If serving with hot roast 'oriental' chicken breast (see above) spoon some of the chicken juices from the pan and use this as a warm dressing for the salad, then serve immediately with the hot chicken. If you wish the meal to be more substantial serve with boiled or steamed rice.

One more salad recipe before I finish for today. This one makes a great buffet dish, but also works well on its own as a light lunch or supper dish. To save time use canned lentils. The olives can be green or black (or both). Little Gem lettuce, being a baby cos is slightly more bitter than iceberg (can be used instead), as this goes well with the other ingredients.
The roasted red peppers are also 'from a jar', but can be oven roasted, griddled or just held over a gas flame to blacken (then remove) the skins. Raspberry vinegar makes a good substitute for the balsamic. Another crumbly white cheese (such as Wensleydale, Goat's cheese, or Paneer) can be used instead of Feta. Up to you know how to throw this meal together.
Lentil and Pepper Salad: serves 4
1 x 400 cans green lentils, drained and rinsed
6 - 8 roasted red peppers, chopped
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and sliced
cupful of black or green (or both) olives, pitted
3 tblsp balsamic vinegar (see above)
6 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 Little Gem lettuces
2 x 7oz packs Feta cheese (see above)
Put everything but the lettuce and cheese into a bowl and mix well together so everything is coated in the dressing (oil and vinegar). Trim the root end from the lettuce and separate the leaves, scattering these over a large platter. Spoon over the lentil salad, then crumble the cheese evenly over the top.

Really must get on as those cakes won't make themselves. If I can find time to make the scone mix, then that will be ready for me to just add the liquid when ready to make 'n bake. This will save much time early on both Saturday and Sunday mornings as the scones have to be cooked and ready to deliver by 8.30am both days. Certainly preparing as much in advance does lighten the load considerably. I now do this as often as I can.

The big batch of spag.bol meat sauce was made yesterday, and even with B's massive portion and a small helping for myself, was still able to freeze 3 portions to heat up another day. Have now a good assortment of 'ready-prepared-but-ALWAYS-home-made' meals in the freezer, and this too helps a lot when I'm not in a mood to cook.

Whatever the weather we have no choice but to put up with it. Let's hope we can find as much pleasure indoors (even in a tent or caravan), as we might otherwise have outdoors. Even the '0ld-fashioned' board games, card games, jigsaws can become quite addictive (especially for younger folk who probably have never had a try). If I can find time will get out the sewing machine (not used since we moved) and try and take in some seams so that I don't need to buy myself new clothes. Nothing wrong with new clothes, but what would I do with all the old ones? Too ancient for a charity shop, and as I nearly always wear dark colours, not really right for turning into rag rugs or cushions. Throw them away? Don't know what you mean.

Already looking forward to meeting up with you again tomorrow. So hope you feel the same. TTFN.