Monday, June 11, 2012

Yesterday was a Good(e) Day

Had a really busy day yesterday in the Goode kitchen, but before chatting about that am replying to the one comment that came in.

I'd never considered venison shanks Sarina, probably because years ago venison was extremely expensive, and so this stuck in my mind. An excellent idea now deer is 'farmed', so will have a hunt around. Also worth knowing about halal lamb. There probably is no halal butchers here in Morecambe, although there is a Muslim community in Lancaster. I understand there is no kosher butcher either as some Jewish friends say they can only buy their kosher chicken in Manchester!

After Gill's phone call had ended and I had made myself another cup of coffee, sat down and started my culinary work for the day. It was just 10.15 am, and I began by draining the gammon that had been soaked overnight, then put it in a pan with fresh water and set it on to boil. Then removed the cooked chicken thighs (still hot) from the slow-cooker. Sliced several onion and fried them in a pan, and while these were cooking removed the bones from the chicken thighs - extremely easy to do as they just slid out. This kept the meat in lovely big 'chunks' and these were added to the pan. Diced several carrots and boiled those until tender in a separate pan.

Divided the chicken/onions into two bowls, and when the carrots were cooked and drained added half of these to each. To one bowl poured in the contents of a jar of Butter Sauce, to the other a jar of Chicken Tikka Masala. A gently folding of each batch, then put into individual containers. Managed to make five of each. Not bad out of 8 thighs (though some were a good size).
Decided to cook a box of beef rib trim (frozen) in the microwave, then fry this off with some more onions, adding the half jar of Jalfrezi curry sauce that had been saved the other day. Yes, I do know that cooked meat should not be thawed then re-frozen, but told myself the second cooking would remove any bacteria, and so after this beef was well-heated and 'curried', packed this into another container to make the total up to eleven. Set these aside to cool then later put into the freezer.

Then set about making a quiche. Usual way, pastry case baked blind then filled with grated cheese and egg/creme fraiche/cream. Seasoning to taste, lowered the temperature and left it to cook for half an hour.
While this was baking got some sausages from the fridge A couple were 'Jimmy's' sausages, the others were Richmond thick pork. The remaining sausages in the packs were put in pairs in smaller bags and frozen.
Once the quiche was done, raised the heat back to 200C and put the half-dozen chicken drumsticks (from the Value pack and thawed overnight in the fridge) into the oven along with the pan of sausages and left these to cook for a good half-hour.

Made an apple, rhubarb, and ginger crumble for B's 'afters'. This went into the oven along with the sausages and chicken. All cooked to perfection at the same time.

Then did the washing up (and by then there was quite a lot!). The gammon was cooked so turned out the heat and left the ham in the liquid to cool. By then it was 1.15 pm and although I'd been working solidly for three hours it didn't seem as long as that. Perhaps several cups of coffee and able to sit down for most of it made it more of a doddle than 'work'.

Nothing on TV worth watching, so I decided to remove the three boxes of frozen summer berries from the that I'd ordered (they come in large boxes and take up more room than they need), and removed all the blackberries (60 in each box, I counted). These packed separately as like to use them with apples for blackberry pies or crumbles. The remaining fruit (raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants) were put into smaller boxes, all returned to the freezer (as working at speed they all remained frozen). This gave me room to freeze the curries I'd made.

Decided to clean the top of our gas hob. Yes, well it did need it. And has needed it for some months! However, this was a job that B said he would do, he even bought a jar of 'cleaner', but never got around to using it. I just kept on waiting and hoping. Anyway, discovered that 'cleaner' wasn't needed, it was easy to lift off the 'clingy' bits with a fish slice, then just pour around some hot water with a bit of Fairy Liquid and wipe the lot clean.

Prepared B's supper, plating up a wedge of pork pie, a couple of cooked sausages (one was 'Jimmy's), a couple of slices of corned beef and two (cold) roast chicken drumsticks. Plus tomato, beetroot, watercress, and thin strips of orange bell pepper as garnish. This made such a plateful that B decided he didn't want quiche after all, neither did he want any apple/rhubarb crumble as he still had a wedge of chocolate gateau he hadn't eaten.
Myself had some quiche for my supper, and B went and got himself a huge piece later, so already half of that has been eaten.

May pick the flesh from the remaining chicken drumsticks and make Coronation Chicken with this for B's supper today as yesterday the sun came out and all of a sudden the weather turned very warm, an yesterday's Cold Meat Platter with salad suited a hot day. Today has begun cloudy, but if it warms up again, then again a cold supper (with a reheated hot crumble to follow)am sure B will be satisfied with, although as today is the day we expect to collect the salmon from Glasson, B may wish for some of that cooked for his supper. As I don't wish for fish, then maybe it will be me that eats Coronation Chicken.

Incidentally, I ate the second 'Jimmy's' sausage as very interested to see how it would taste. Firstly the sausages (both uncooked and cooked) looked like sausages should look like. They had rounded ends, not the flat ones that the branded (and especially cheap) sausages have. Uncooked, they were darker in colour than the 'Richmond' pork sausages, but not as dark as expected (as probably contained liver). Strangely, when cooked for the recommended time (25 mins at 200C, turn half-way through cooking), the Richmond 'skins' had turned a lovely deep golden colour, whilst 'Jimmy's' remained quite light. After removing the 'Richmond' from the pan, left Jimmy's in to cook for a further five minutes, by which time they had also turned a darker colour. Put together on a plate they all looked much the same, it was only the rounded ends of the free-ranges sausages that made me recognise them.

Now then - the taste! Surprisingly very, very good. Can't say I could taste any liver at all (maybe they changed the recipe), and they tasted like real good sausages SHOULD taste like. Certainly a hint of herbs, pepper, so more like the Lincolnshire flavour than 'plain pork bangers'. Certainly will be buying them again.

As the sun was out, after my cooking marathon (by then it was about 2.30 pm) decided to go into the conservatory (faces south and west), so repotted some plants, watered all, and took a couple of photos.
Below you see how the avocado stone - after several weeks showing no movement at all suddenly split and thew up a tiny shoot about a couple of weeks ago - and this is now developing strongly.

Regular readers will remember that I planted half a dozen lemon pips saved from a bought fruit, and they all sprouted. Three little plants have been given away, but I still have three left and one is shown below. Am thrilled to bits with it. Whether it will ever grow fruit I don't know, but these little trees do make more unusual 'house plants' to give as gifts, with the added bonus of fruit when they are large enough and always supposing they will produce some.

Even had a reasonably pain free day yesterday, and also in bed last night. Unlike previous 'bad back' times, have discovered this time that sleeping on my back actually helps, and also I get less leg pain, although do find it harder to fall asleep in that position.
The good thing is that since I've had an Avon 'sleep spray' delivered (can't remember its proper name), and sprayed it onto my pillow, do fall asleep far more quickly, and the scent makes me think pleasant thoughts before nodding off rather than 'fret' about things.

Have had a few days recently when my left knee hurt so much that I wondered if it was time for me to have a new knee replacement or whatever they do for old folk (I know they do hips). Although hurting a lot for a short time yesterday, so far am pain free in that area.

Just remembered something. Ordered a 'milk loaf' from Tesco (having bought one at Morrison's some while back). These are 'tube shaped', and what we probably used to call a 'Blackpool Roll' in the old days. Have to say this is the only bread that now seems to come thinly sliced, and I do like sandwiches made with thin-sliced bread, the 'medium sliced' is closer to toasting thickness where I am concerned. B prefer the bread marked 'toastie' or 'thick-sliced' or even 'extra thick sliced' for his toast, but myself prefer toast slightly crisper than the thickest bread gives. Realise now this is one of the reasons why my home-made bread gets used up so quickly, B slices it really thickly for his morning toast, and evening (after supper) 'snacks'.

Am finding 'cooking in bulk' is certainly the best way. Not only does it give me more free (getting supper) time, but takes less fuel and takes far less time to prepare than if the meals were made separately. Forgot to mention that although the chicken breasts were slow-cooked in just plain water with no veg/bay leaf as no room left in the pot to put them (only a pint of water needed to cover the meat as the dish is wide but shallow), was left with more than a pint (some juices must have come from the chicken) of what is now definitely 'chicken stock', and this has 'gelled' overnight in the fridge, so certainly 'usable'.

Today will be a little more 'kitchen work', and then (hopefully) off to Glasson to pick up the fish, must remember to take a cold bag and some frozen 'ice-blocks' to keep the fish chilled on the return journey, just in case B wishes to take a scenic route home. We might even eat lunch out (that will save me providing any supper as when B eats lunch, he prefers a light meal at night and this he can get himself (usually bacon sarnies or an omelette), or he might make himself a chicken and sausage sarnie from the remaining cold meats.

What had become quite a chore (just cooking one meal for B per day) has suddenly become much more enjoyable, and probably because I've got back into 'cooking for crowds' due entirely to B's social club 'fests'. What started off as 'back into the swing of things', but extremely tiring (because I was making a lot after years of non-activity), this is becoming far easier and something I now look forward to. Probably why I delighted in making many (individual) meals yesterday. At the end of the day didn't feel a little bit tired, even went back into the kitchen late afternoon when the footie was on, drained the ham, wrapped it closely in foil and put it in the fridge to chill.

Tonight there is more football, so supper will have to be timed to fit in with half-time! Perhaps because the evenings stay light right up to (and after) bed-time, this makes me feel more like kitchen/conservatory/garden activity during the evenings, and according to B there will be footie matches on nearly every day, sometimes two (one immediately after another). He at least will be a happy bunny, and maybe this will make me one too as I find new things to occupy myself with during this 'free' time.

Still early enough to continue but think I've written enough for today. Hope you all had a good weekend and also good weather. If you can find time to send a comment, do hope you will as I always love hearing from you. Will return again tomorrow with more Goode news. See you then.