Friday, June 15, 2012

Taking it Easy

Late start today due to me having a lie in. Didn't do anything yesterday worth chatting about other that going out for an 'early bird' meal at a local Indian restaurant called 'Saffron' (in a street off the prom). This I say was amazingly good value. For £9.95p each we had a choice of starter and main course from the standard menu (this did not include 'chef's specialities), but as this also allowed for us to have a giant poppadum each with a tray of pickles/garnishes, this alone made as good a 'starter' as a normal one would be.
We all chose different dishes from the menu, my 'proper' starter was Mulligatawny Soup, and this I have to say certainly warmed up my (by then) rather chilled body (day temperature here 17C. Main course was Chicken Tikka Dopiaza with rice. Can't remember what the others had for starters, but daughter had Chicken Biryani for her 'mains', and B had Chicken Dansak with a large Naan bread. We sampled each and believe me they were all gorgeous AND fairly large helpings. We'll be definitely going there again.

Watched a programme later that evening about 'Men who make us Fat' and according to the prog. the 'rot set in' (so to speak) when American introduced corn syrup to many of their products (in a way to make use of over abundance of corn in the Nixon years). It has been proved that this syrup (fructose) can block the brains appetite cells, and so once eaten people never then feel full, just go on eating, and eating, and eating.... The corn syrup is used in all sorts of food products, and also soft drinks, so once these reached our shores, we too became addicted to them and this - presumably - is the cause of our nation's growing obesity problem. There will be a couple more programmes on this theme, so no doubt more will be revealed. At least we know now to avoid anything containing corn syrup.

Later still watched the repeat of Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket. Learning a little bit more about the Chicken Kiev's (think yesterday misspelled Kiev's due to spell check telling me different). Seems the Tesco Value Kiev's are made from 'preformed' chicken breast. The usual story, bits of meat then ground up into almost a past to be rolled out and wrapped around a filling.
With Jimmy's Kiev's he used a 'proper' chicken breast that had been split and filled. The only difference to a 'classic' and more expensive Kiev was that he used chicken breasts from 'old' free-range birds that were past their egg-laying stage, so the meat would be slightly firmer in texture (tougher), than young flesh, but would have much more flavour. Another Jimmy winner I am hoping. These, I believe, are on sale now, so must get some next time I order, also more of his sausages.
The more of these lower priced 'free-range' products we buy, the more will come onto the market and hopefully anything made from 'preformed meat' will soon be eliminated, then we can all eat food as it should be, just like our grandparents used to.

Thanks for your tip about the 'hottie' at my feet Kathryn. Have done this once or twice when the bottle had cooled down a bit but did read that diabetics shouldn't do this. Not sure why. I normally tuck the 'hottie' in the small of my back once it has cooled down, and the heat of my body seems to continue to keep it warm as long as I sit in the chair.
Certainly wearing the bedsocks made a great difference to my comfort, and will continue to do this until the weather warms up.

Yesterday ended up cloudy again, but otherwise pleasant enough. It seemed warmer outdoors (when we left for the restaurant) than indoors, but never did get to sit outside in the sun while it was out due to a very high wind that suddenly appeared from no-where.

Your mention of that Quorn roast Jane has made me think twice. Almost certainly if a Quorn (or other veggie brand) product is on sale at a reduced price (therefore cheaper than meat) it makes sense to buy the veggie version. Other than the shape not being as we would normally expect from a chicken etc, we should be able to disguise (as you did) the veggie version and certainly minced Quorn would be believed to be 'real' meat when made into a chilli con carne etc.
Over the years these meat substitutes have much improved and in many instances are so like the 'real thing' we really wouldn't know one from t'other. As ever - with me - it all depends on the price.

One more comment from an Anonymous who offers his/her own website to view. Maybe I should always take a peek, but never do when this seems to be their main reason for commenting. Others may wish to find our more - so feel free!

When I was making 'Indian sweets' for the sailing clubs 'curryfest', used most of a pack of dates (most being stoned and the hollow stuffed with marzipan). Found the remaining ones in the larder a couple of days ago, and these together with some no-soak apricots (that I always keep in stock) will make a lovely pudding, and tonight - as B will, this evening, be eating the smoked mackerel that he wanted me to buy for him, with some salad, can make one portions of this warm, date pudding for his afters. Here is the recipe:
Date and Apricot Pudding: makes 4
6 Medjool dates (ready to eat), stoned and chopped
handful chopped no-soak apricots
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tblsp runny honey
5 fl oz (150ml) orange juice
handful chopped mixed nuts
1 Madeira type (shop or home-made) cake
Put the dates in a small pan with the apricots, cinnamon, honey and orange juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until the dates have collapsed and you end up with a thick, syrupy sauce. Fold in the nuts.
Cut the cake into thick slices, then use a scone cutter to cut out four circles that will fit the top of four ramekin dishes. Divide the mixture between the ramekins, pressing it down gently, then top each with its circle of cake (any left-over cake can be frozen to later use for trifles etc). Cover with clingfilm and microwave on High for 3 minutes. Turn out onto a plate (the cake then becomes the base) and serve whilst still warm with cream, creme fraiche, or ice-cream.

Roast chicken is a classic English 'Sunday Roast', and although wonderful with all the trimmings (bread sauce, stuffing, sausages, cranberry sauce etc), we could omit these and give the chicken itself more flavour. Certainly for a summer 'roast' this Chinese-style 'rub' for the bird will add much and make it perfect eating with lighter accompaniments (small potatoes and peas, or a crisp green salad etc). Leftovers sliced cold perfect for packed lunches, sarnies etc. Remove the skin if wishing to use the carcase for stock unless you want a more Oriental flavour to your stock. In fact this might actually be worth adding to the stock if you intend using it for Asian soups.
Peking-style Roast Chicken: serves 6
1 orange
5 tblsp soy sauce
3 tblsp sherry
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 - 4 cloves garlic (to taste)
2" piece (thumb size) piece of fresh root ginger
1 chicken
2 tblsp honey
Remove the zest from the orange in thick strips (don't grate), and put into a bowl with the soy sauce, sherry, spice powder, garlic. Smash the garlic and the ginger and add this too. Mix everything together well then use to rub all over the chicken. Place in a bowl, putting the lumpy bits (ginger and garlic) in the bottom and sit the chicken on top, pouring over any remaining 'rub'. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for 3 - 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a wire rack sitting over a roasting tin. Halve the orange and stuff this inside the chicken cavity along with the bashed garlic and ginger. Reserve any marinade that is left in the bowl.
Roast for 45 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer at the thickest point.
Meanwhile, strain the reserved marinade into a pan and add the honey, Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, turn up the oven to its highest heat, brush the honey marinade over the bird, return to the oven and cook until the skin is crisp and deeply browned. Serve with cooked vegetables, salads or in any way you wish.

Am calling it a day due to the time. What began as a sunny day, and although the sun is still shining, the sky over to the west is very dark grey indeed, so it looks as though we will shortly be having rain. Noticing that the wind is coming from the south, it could be we are on the very edge of the cloud formation, so maybe we will miss most of it. Not that it matters, as have no intention of going outside today. Plenty to do indoors (as per usual), and although not much cooking of supper tonight, will be slicing a loaf to make some thin slices for sarnies and some thicker for toast (and have to say made with half milk, half water, each loaf is now MUCH better and seems to keep moist longer), then (without needing to clean the machine) can carry on slicing up the rest of the ham cooked the other day.

As have some pastry (trimmings) left that need using up will also be using the food processor to grate up all the odds and ends of cheese in the fridge, some of these for store, some added to the pastry to make 'cheese straws', and might even add some grated cheese to the bread mix (that includes cheese) that B brought me (he found it on the reduced shelf at Morrison's).

But first must removed the sodden oil-soaked papers from the kitchen carpet - yes they are still soaking it up, although one part seems to have all the oil now disappeared so the newspaper is working. The worst bit was (and still is) - of course - under the mouth of the bottle where most was soaked up and then spread itself around.
It is quite interesting how the paper soaks up the oil, firstly the carpet needs the paper put over it, and then something heavy on top (I use several pastry boards). These work while paper without a weight doesn't do much. Initially B tore the paper to fit round the table leg, and nothing was soaked up, but I then moved the paper UNDER the leg, and shortly after around we saw oil soaked in around the foot of the leg, this oil then kept being drawn up by the rest of the paper until most of the paper was sodden, so the spill obviously doesn't need a lot of weight all over, just some in certain places, the paper will do the rest.

Before I finish, must mention another prog watched yesterday, this all about house furnishings and decorations in the 1950's. Took me right back, for it was in the late 50's we moved into our first house, and certainly it ended up much in the style of the 50's. My mother's house (where we originally lived) still being mainly brown paint, beige walls and dark oak stained floor boards round patterned reddish carpets. But that suited the age of the house.

Had to smile when I saw the modern equipment that was new in those days. The Hoover Senior for example. It was at that time my mother bought one for herself and she also bought me a Hoover Junior at the same time for our new house. AND WE ARE STILL USING IT!!!!

Although coal fireplaces were being replaced by electric fires with a 'flame effect', we did choose to have a coal fire in our new house, although this was 'modern' in that it had a Baxi grate. This was made by having a hole under the floor of the grate so the ashes could fall through, and the fire then sat directly on the floor of the fireplace, needing only a 'riddle' with the poker now and again. As the fire also heated a water 'boiler' at the back, this then leading up to the hot water cistern in one of the bedrooms, we needed the fire lit most days (until we fitted an immersion heater to use during hot weather). The later Baxi grates had a device where the ashcan could be turned to the front of the fire to be emptied while the fire was still lit, but to empty ours we had to let the fire go out every couple or so days to empty the ashcan.
As this was the only heat in the house at that time, we had one of those old fashioned nursery fire-guards in front of the fire (with a brass rail around the rim), and over this would drape the children's clothes after being washed and (hopefully dried outdoors) to make sure they were not damp before being worn.
How different things are today, possibly better, but even so I miss the old days, the old ways, and would cheerfully go back to raking out the ashes from under a coal or log fire each morning. Enjoyed it then, would enjoy it now. Nothing like having a real fire. These imitation ones are just not the same.

As I said - about half an hour ago - time for me to take my leave. Just shows how much I enjoy our chat together (even though it is me doing all the talking), so looking forward to tomorrow, this being the start of another weekend, and where my life always remains the same but I hope will be more relaxing for those of you who still work for a living. Who says staying at home isn't work? We - who do - know it can often end up being harder work. Until tomorrow TTFN.