Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taste of the Past

Was very pleased yesterday when checking this coming week's TV mag. There will be a new series beginning (think June 27th BBC1) about 'how we lived then'. Myself always love watching programmes about 'domestic history', and this one will be mega-interesting as it was filmed in three terraced houses a hundred yards away from Morecambe seafront!!!
The programmes work through several periods of time, beginning with Edwardian, then moving up through the first and second world wars I expect, and maybe even beyond that. The chosen houses were stripped of all their fittings and were replaced each time suitable for each period.
The three properties will house families from different 'levels', one with money (who will have servants) the middle (or lower middle class) who may also have a maid, and in the third will be the poorest (these only having one or two rooms, not living in the whole house).

Am sure there will be outside 'activities' suitable for the period, so it will be very interesting to see what part of Morecambe will be seen, certainly the sea-front and walking along the prom. Do hope you will all watch, then you will have a good idea of where we are now living, albeit in the present time (there are parts of Morecambe that seem stuck in the past, so probably why they chose this town for the series).

Such a miserable day yesterday after a reasonable start, it chucked it down with rain, although brightened up a bit, then rained again. Made a big pan of vegetable soup, using the chicken stock saved when I cooked the chicken thighs in the slow-cooker. Veggie soup is great for using up odds and ends, so chopped up a red bell pepper that was going a bit soft, a couple of carrots, three onions, a parsnip, a few small potatoes, three ribs of celery, added plenty of seasoning and let it all simmer until softened. Had a big bowlful for my lunch, B also requesting some, and he loved it. He had another bowlful later, leaving the last for me (this I will be heating up - thoroughly - for my lunch today).

Being a Saturday, B's supper was 'choose what you want', and as his second bowl of soup was part of that, he had this with freshly baked bread, then made himself a sausage bap (or two) with some cooked sausages and more fresh bread, ate a big bowlful of fresh fruit salad made the day previously - with double cream of course. Then had 'something on toast', plus some chocolate he had brought in for himself.
Myself had the last of the fruit salad with 'squirty' cream, and one of the tiny 'loaves' made with the bread dough with a sausage tucked inside.

Today it is still very windy, B has just left for an early 'sail' but thinks no-one will turn up, if not he will go 'birding', but whatever, will be back again at lunchtime. Must make a warming supper tonight, perhaps a venison based casserole (the diced meat already cooked in the slow cooker and in the freezer waiting to be used).

Honestly don't know what the weather will be like for the rest of the year, surely it cannot stay as bad as this for much longer. If it does, then what will happen to the outside events at the Olympics? Not that I care much, not being THAT interested in anything athletic, the only 'sport' I'm interested in these days is watching snooker on TV. Although don't mind watching show jumping (although that's not on often).

A bad year weather wise could mean crop shortages, and we all know what that means. Perhaps luckily for us, most vegetables now can be imported, and when they are they are often cheaper than those grown in our own country. Those who 'grow their own' to help save money will be finding it more difficult this year to get a good harvest. But however small this might be, if able to be stored, and if kept correctly, we could have a supply lasting through the winter months.

A subscription to Garden Organic gives me their free mag (as well as free heritage seeds etc), and in their recent issue there is some very helpful info on how to store our veg, worth passing on.

"Careful handling is essential. Place crops gently into barrow, bucket or basket and don't chuck them in from a distance. Don't wash produce or anything that has broken skin or other signs of damage.

Crops in storage are still alive and continue to breathe. Air circulation is important to carry away heat and moisture. Provide appropriate conditions for best results. These should be frost-free, mouse and rain-proof, and ideally contain a constant temperature. A garden shed or garage may need extra insulation against cold and heat.
A basement, cellar or unheated room is suitable, but the temperature in an attic can often fluctuate too widely.
Check stored produce regularly, remove anything that is showing signs of decay or beginning to sprout.

Carrot, parsnip, celeriac, beetroot, turnip, swede, horseradish, salsify.
These vegetables would naturally stay dormant in the soil over the winter. In many areas these can be left in the ground for most of the winter if pests are not a problem. If you wish to dig up and store elsewhere, harvest late in the season when the weather has turned cold, so they are cool before storage. Warm roots will start growing again.
Twist off any leaves, close to the top, and do not wash unless grown on heavy soil or pest damage is suspected. Place in crates/boxes separated with layers of slightly damp packaging material such as leaf mould, sand, sieved soil, green waste compost, or sawdust (from untreated wood). Ideal temperature: 0 - 4C.
storage period: till early spring.

Harvest n dry, cool conditions. Store healthy tubers in thick paper sacks closed at the neck to conserve moisture. Keep dark and insulate to protect from low temperatures. Below 5C the starch changes to sugar. Ideal storage temperature: 5 - 10C.
If tubers start to sprout, they are still safe to eat. Remove sprouts to extend storage life.
Storage Period: till early spring, although varieties vary considerably in storage period.

Onions and Garlic:
Lift garlic when the 4 - 6 outer leaves turn yellow. Leave onions until the tops have fallen over naturally. Dry in the sun or under cover until the skins 'rustle'. Store in nets, old tights, or make into strings, then hang in a cool, dry place where air can circulate. Ideal temperature: 2 - 4C.
Storage period: Onions - till early spring; Garlic - longer.

Pumpkin and winter squash:
These store well in late summer conditions allow the skins to mature and toughen. Harvest before the first frost, leaving as long a stalk as possible. Store in a dry, airy place, preferably on slatted shelves or hanging in nets. Ideal temperature 10 - 15C.
Storage time: One year or more."

A photo of a metal locker (a filing cabinet could also be used) was shown as a good vermin-proof potato storage cupboard. This could be kept in an out-house, garage, unheated porch, cellar, or spare-room. Am reminded of one episode of 'The Good Life' when one of the Good's bedrooms was taken over for vegetable storage, the chests of drawers storing carrots and other root veg, pumpkins on top of the wardrobe, and onions hanging everywhere.

In the old days people had to grow most of their vegetables as they were either because lack of money to buy them, or they were in short supply (or no supply during wartime). An 'allotment' was exactly the right size to grow a year's vegetables to feed a family. It was only the weather (and maybe a few pests) that could reduce the daily needs, so with the price of fresh produce today, it does make a lot of sense to start growing more veg and a few less flowers.

Have decided this year - as it is now almost too late to start buying summer bedding plants, to use my tubs to grow as many veg as possible, and rely on the perennial bushes to provide flowers (if they have any). Did notice a small lavender bush has survived the winter in a pot outside, so will re-plant into a larger container (or even into the ground) and have the double bonus of both scent and 'culinary use' from this.
At least my red and white geraniums (aka pelagoniums) have kept going (as brought them indoors during the winter), and these will add colour to the back garden, this at the moment looking quite cheerful anyway as there are umpteen yellow and orange Welsh poppies nodding their heads in the wind.

Believe a previous occupant of this house used to work at a nursery gardens, and any oddments of stock he would bring home and plant, so we have a very wide variety of green foliage, plus one deep copper maple bush. As well as a variety of 'greens' we also have different 'textures' and shapes, such as bamboo next to the holly tree, which itself is next to a cordyline. One day must make a list of what we have, as few I can recognise. There was a time when I loved gardening, but since moving here have completely lost interest. Not sure why. Perhaps because it still doesn't feel like 'home'. Yesterday had the feeling my life was like having an 'extended holiday' in a seaside resort, but without the weather to enjoy it.

Your mention Jane, of being about to go out and eat the "Chinese meal: eat as much as you like for £7" reminded me of doing the same thing some years ago. Even now this type of buffet is still on offer, but for a slightly higher price these days. Our local Chinese restaurant has an 'early bird' menu that is much cheaper than when ordered later in the evening, but even with this 'set menu' we are always asked if we'd like more of anything (and this would be free).
It was good to hear how your OH is feeling loads better now he has stopped eating the wrong foods, and how good you are to make sure he gets the right ones in meals that he can enjoy. This may probably mean he will now be able to cut out the 'naughties' altogether and not even miss them.

Your mention of butcher's 'faggots' Alison brought back memories. Haven't seen these on sale for yonks. My mother used to often buy them, and they did make good eating. Suppose we could make them ourselves, must hunt out a recipe for them.
Did not know that Mary Berry had a Xmas cake mix range, but had heard that Delia Smith had something similar. Good for you finding these reduced at Tesco.

Am hoping that this coming week the weather will improve Campfire, or whenever it is you will be camping in York. Whatever the weather, the town itself is a wonderful place to visit. Not sure if you have been to Jorvik museum before, but this is well worth seeing. Expect it is the same as when we visited many years ago, we settle ourselves down in seats, a bit like an open train, and then slowly this takes us around a Viking settlement, even through one or two of the properties. We hear the sounds, voices and even have the smells from that period.

The Castle Museum at York is absolutely packed with wonderful things, there are two side-by side, one set in the old prison, and they both have proper (indoor) 'streets' where there are period shops, one Victorian I think, the other museum has the Edwardian and slighter later. At least with museums of any kind it doesn't matter how much it rains, there is always loads to see undercover.

Betty's tearooms in York is another worthwhile place to have 'tea and crumpet'. Very similar to its sister cafe in Harrogate, the setting being 'old-style' Edwardian if I remember correctly. There cakes are mega-good (albeit a bit expensive).

B has just phoned to say the sailing is off, and he will be going bird-watching. This is the time of year when there is a lot of bird activity due to eggs hatching. Think it is Leighton Moss where he often goes, as there are more woodland birds than here at Morecambe (mainly sea-birds on the coast). He has taken some really wonderful photos.

At least the weather is improving, the clouds are disappearing and there is plenty of blue sky to be seen. The wind seems to be coming from the west which means the anti-depression is moving away and hopefully we MIGHT get a few days of better weather. It is still unseasonably cold with winds that we expect to get in late autumn, not this time of year. They go on about global warming, well just wish it would warm up here. Seems more like we are cooling down ready to start another Ice Age. Better start learning how to build igloos!

Just the thought of snow has brought to mind the children's programme I used to love, and have not seen for years - until the other morning when I switch on TV early and saw Pingu. That little penguin really makes me laugh. Definitely the right programme to watch to start the day well. Must get up earlier in future just to see it.

As ever, plenty of things to do in the Goode kitchen today, might even make something worth photographing, or just talking about. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Hope you will join me then.