Thursday, June 14, 2012

Still Soaking Up!

Must have used up at least four full Daily Mail papers and still the spilt oil is being soaked up. At least its good to know that the paper is useful for something (other than crosswords/puzzles). It could be that most of the oil does get removed as it seems that once on the floor (especially with a weight put on it somewhere (even a chair leg) the oil then gets 'sucked up' and the paper is soaked with it. Still needs a lot more soaking up before we are left with something that might then be got rid of with carpet shampoo. Have to wait and wee.

There is tremendous activity in the garden this morning. Birds flying everywhere. It's the first time I've seen our hanging nut feeders in use, and this morning had several feeding at one time, being replaced by others as they flew away. As this is at the end of our garden, handing from the apple tree, difficult to see what type of bird but am almost sure it is the sparrows. There are other birds flying around, blue-tits, coal tits, blackbirds, magpies, pigeons, and others I can't at the moment recognise. Wonder why all this activity. Perhaps eggs are hatching and the parents need to constantly feed their chicks.

It was not such a good day yesterday, the thermometer at the side of my chair read 62C (but warmer in the centre of the room). Today has begun with blue sky and sunshine with just a few high clouds, and he forecast is for more warmth, but -as ever - a change to a wet and windy weekend (again) in a couple of days.

Only one comment came in today, a new name: Catsngrams, so welcome. Her query was how long can vegetable oil be stored unopened. Firstly check the bottles, they should have a best before date on them. Even then should last up to a year longer if stored in a cool dark place.
Have checked the date on the 3 ltr bottle that emptied most of its contents on the carpet the other day, and printed on the bottle itself (not on the cap or label) was April 2016, so presumably that is its bb date. Most fish canned in oil has a shelf life of 5 years, so this almost confirms that oil keep that long.
Some oils DO have a short shelf life, those like sesame oil and walnut oil as they tend to go rancid if kept too long after opening. So buy these in small bottles and use up as soon as you can. These should also have a bb date on them and suggestion of how long they will keep after opening.

Opened bottles of vegetable (sunflower etc) oil should keep as long as the unopened date as long as kept in a cool and particularly dark environment. I normally fill smaller (1 ltr) bottles (or less) with oil from my 3 litre container and store these in a dark cupboard to bring out when the one in use is empty. Unfortunately didn't manage to do this in time, as I already had my last 1 ltr bottle in use and was waiting for it to be empty before refilling it. Seems that B had removed the plastic strip from the cap that sealed the bottle of the large container (probably being helpful!) without me knowing, and this is why the lid came open when he kicked it over.

Supper (for B) last night was chilli con carne with tortilla chips and an avocado salad. The chilli was one of those made in bulk the other day and frozen. B remarked on the meat 'being really tender and was it D.R's?). The minced steak used WAS D.Rs and as I cooked it in the slow-cooker this probably did tenderise it more, but also I'd added a packet of Beanfeast Mexican Chilli, and that being TVP (soya mince) based, would be 'tender' anyway, but he really didn't realise it wasn't ALL meat. Very pleased about that, not just that the TVP was not noticed, but also that cooking the minced beef in the slow-cooker really did seem to improve it.

As ever, running out of bread (again) decided to bake another loaf and managed to fit this in with last nights footie, and it was out of the oven and cooling by the time the match had finished. I then went into the living room (wearing bed socks over my support stockings to keep my feet warm (as well as clutching a 'hottie' and covering myself up to my chin with my crocheted throw and a patchwork quilt). Practically midsummer and still I feel chilled to the bone once I've settled in my chair. Even made myself a cuppa soup to warm myself up (mainly because I found one tucked in the back of the cupboard - I'd given up using these in preference to making my own).

For my body to feel warmer I should give it more 'fuel' to burn - in other words eat more calories, but then I'd gain back much of the weight already lost. I've already gained back some in my desperation to keep warm, but there has to be a cut-off point, and now I really MUST lose the pounds I've gained. Shivering is one good way to do this, but not one of the most pleasant,

We are 'eating out' tonight to celebrate our daughter's birthday (although not on the actual day), B wishes to go early (as it is early-bird menu from 5.30 - 7.00 - so cheaper!! Also he wants to get home in time to watch another footie match. He's been watching two a day this week and can only hope that this will not keep happening for much longer. No 'Corrie' tonight because of the match, but Emmerdale viewers will be happy as this programme will still be shown, albeit at an earlier time. Why can't Emmerdale be dumped today and Corrie be shown at the early time instead? Even EastEnders has one (maybe two) missing episodes this week. What is so special about football, it isn't as though England are playing each day? There are countries competing against each other that I've never even heard of. Or so it seems.

At least it saves removing all the flags put out for the Jubilee - the English flag (red cross on a white background, not the Union Jack), seem all over the place (probably because of the footie), and the flags will still be flying until the Olympics finish. Who knows, we may find something else to celebrate before Christmas so they can be left on view. It is rare in this country to see our national flags flying (other than over Buckingham Palace and maybe a few other public buildings). Let us hope it is patriotism that is causing this sudden display, not just rooting for the English footie team. Yah boo to Wayne Rooney (if that is his name) stubbornly refusing to sing our national anthem with the rest of his team. Bet if he was given the OBE (or something) he'd accept THAT.

My Beloved still feels that it is he that does ALL the washing up each and every day. What he doesn't seem to realise is that it is just the few things left for him to wash that I haven't done. Yesterday evening asked B if - at half time during the evening match - he would bring into the kitchen the pile of empty plates on the floor (on a tray) at the side of his chair (two days worth of dishes/plates that held his snacks, plus the polystyrene boxes that held the fish and chips on Wednesday).
I checked the clock on the oven - it was well over half-time and still B hadn't brought in the dishes, so went back in and - guess what? - he'd forgotten! He did then bring them in for me (too difficult for me to pick up and lift), so I managed to get those washed and now he has a clear slate today, with probably only a couple of mugs and a plate to do, but he will still think he's 'done all the washing up' for me. Bless him, as long as he does SOME then I won't grumble. Anyway, what time does he have to do these 'chores' when there are two footie matches to watch, and numerous meals and snacks to eat his way through? Often wish I'd been born a man, but wouldn't then be able to understand women. And we really do need some understanding!

Three recipes today. The first admittedly could be expensive if we used sirloin steak, but am sure the same idea could be used on other (cheaper) meat, and also chicken/turkey steaks. The packs of dried porcini mushrooms are a good staple storecupoard food, but we could also use the ordinary field or chestnut mushroom that we have dried ourselves at home. We could also flavour this 'rub' with another herb (rosemary with lamb for instance).
In other words use this recipe as a way to make a 'rub', then chose to use this with the meat of your choice.
Porcini-rubbed Steak: serves 2
1 oz (25g) dried porcini mushrooms
salt pepper
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
2 sirloin steaks
1 tblsp olive oil
Put the dried mushrooms in a food processor (or coffee grinder) and whizz to a fine powder. Mix with a good pinch of salt and pepper and the thyme leaves, then rub this all over both sides of the steaks, put these onto a plate (or in a bag) cover and leave in the fridge to chill overnight (the meat will then absorb the flavours).
When ready to cook, brush away any loose 'rub' from the steaks. Heat a dry griddle pan until very hot, then reduce heat to medium. Brush/smear a little oil over one side of each steak, and place on the griddle - oiled side down - and cook for 3 minutes. Turn over (no need to oil the other side as the griddle will have taken up oil from the first side). Cook for a further 2 - 4 minutes. The shorter time if you like your meat rare, the longer time if you prefer it well done.
Leave to rest for a few minutes before eating, then serve with a crisp green salad.
If you prefer a more substantial meal, then microwave a baking (jacket) potato whilst the meat is cooking.

This next is a summer risotto, and as made using a microwave oven, is speedier than the normal hob method. Also we don't have to stand over it to continually stir (although some stirring is necessary). Asparagus tips are used, but not essential (the cost of ingredients always in my mind), but if you have canned asparagus you could use some of the tips for this dish, and then make a quiche using the stalks blended with eggs/cream for the filling, garnishing the top with the remaining spears.
If you have no asparagus, used more beans. The beans could be sliced runner beans, double-podded broad beans, or chopped string beans.
If have have none, or don't care for goat's cheese, then crumble in some Feta cheese, Indian paneer or use the 'Philly type' cream cheese (which then will dissolve to make a creamy sauce instead of staying 'chunky').
Risotto Primavera: serves 4
12 oz (350g) risotto rice
5 fl oz (150ml) white wine
1.5 pints (850ml) hot vegetable or chicken stock
8 oz (225g) frozen peas
8 oz (225g) frozen green beans
4 oz (100g) asparagus tips (see above)
4 oz (100g) soft goats cheese, crumbled
few fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
Put the rice into a large microwavable bowl, then add the wine and one third (half a pint) of the stock. Cover with cling-film and microwave on High for 10 minutes. Stir, then add another third (half pint) of stock. Re-cover and microwave for 3 minutes, then give the rice another stir. Add the frozen veg, asparagus and the rest of the stock. Cover and microwave for 7 minutes, then stir in the cheese and the mint. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before serving.

As more summer fruits are now on sale, this is dessert worth making for those chillier summer days (as all of us seem to be having most of the time). The other day managed to buy a punnet of apricots (haven't had these for years), and also some 'ripen at home' nectarines - one of my favourite fruits. Either or both could be used for this dish, even though the fruit mentioned is a peach (the same as a nectarine but the peach has a 'furry skin' the nectarine is smooth)..
Amaretti biscuits are a bit of a 'luxury' but having bought some a few months ago - storing them in a glass jar - find these do go a long way, so well worth keeping in the larder. They can be 'extended' by crushing them with another (cheaper) plain biscuit such as digestive, Rich Tea, Nice or gingernuts.
Creme fraiche is another 'necessary' ingredient for my fridge. This can be served in place of cream with a dessert (less rich but still creamy), and some added to eggs/cream when beating together to fill a quiche also adds that little something. Also spoon a dollop on top of a hot chilli or a curry if I haven't Greek yogurt to hand.
The easiest way to remove the stone from the above fruit (also works with plums) is to cut along the groove that is at one side of the fruit, continuing round to the other, then hold the fruit between the hands (groove facing you) and give a twist. One half comes away easily from the stone, and all you have then to do is remove the stone from the other half.
Peach 'Brulee': serves 4
4 ripe peaches (see above)
6 amaretti biscuits (see above), crushed
400ml creme fraiche
4 oz (100g) demerara sugar
First set the grill to High, then cut the peach in half, remove stone and slice the flesh. Arrange the slices, together with the amaretti crumbs, over the bottom of a shallow ovenproof dish. Spoon the creme fraiche on top, and spread until the fruit is completely covered, then cover the creme fraiche completely with the sugar.
Pop under the hot grill for 3 minutes or until the sugar has melted and caramelized.

Looks like being a very pleasant day, so with no washing up needing to be done, no laundry (also done), no bread needing baking, clean paper over the oil spill, no supper needing preparation, I might be able to go and sit in the sun and spend an hour sitting on the 'family bench' soaking up the warmth, closing my eyes and trying to relive those days when I did the same as a teenage girl. Do remember spending many of those summer days podding the peas my dad grew (for my mother to cook for our main meal that day). Now all I have to do is open a bag of frozen when I need peas. That at least is one 'convenience food' I am happy about.

Back with you again tomorrow. Hope to hear from some of you between now and then, and enjoy your day. TTFN.