Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Another Wet Day...

Had to change my hair appt. back to this morning as the timing (yesterday) was not convenient, we had to leave earlier than expected for a meal 'out' (our 58th wedding anniversary). Lancaster is having major road works done (new gas mains being laid under the roads) and we had to allow time for traffic delays. Then it turned out it was to begin later this month (not the end of June) so we got to the restaurant half an hour before we should.

Had a lovely meal at a super Italian restaurant although paid for it last night as I'd eaten too much and ended up with indigestion which kept me awake most of the night. Felt grotty when I got up this morning as well, but am slowly feeling a bit better. At least this has given me time to write my blog before Norma comes today.

Thanks for comments, Wish I could find a supplier of those 'fish sticks/crab sticks/sea sticks in bulk amounts like you Jane. It's odd really, they don't taste very much of anything, but are really pleasant to eat. They would work well in the centre of home-made sushi.
Am pretty certain that the 'panga' fish sold is safe in this country to eat. In Vietnam and other Far Eastern countries people tend to eat fish raw so like any food of this kind not cooked, we could find it makes us ill. Cooking kills off 'the bad', and am sure processing of this fish also makes sure it is 'clean'.

Campfire and Sarina are finding that 'shelling hard-boiled eggs with a teaspoon' is working well and have to say that although I find Heston B's method of cooking far to over the top for me, he certainly has come up with some amazingly good tips. At the moment am following his (repeat) series around noon on Channel 4 most weekdays.

It's another miserable day, damp and - at least indoors - feels cold. I'm wearing a sleeveless top with a long-sleeved (light-weight) jersey over it with a long warm black skirt and am still shivering. Can't see the baby seagull on the roof this morning so hope it is OK. The mother was feeding it last night and it had begun to flap its wings and look much stronger, but doubt it had yet learned to fly. There is a sparrowhawk or other 'raptor type' bird that sometimes appears in our garden, this may have flown over and picked up the baby. Do hope not, we were getting quite fond of it. Was planning today to thaw out some whitebait from the freezer and put some in the garden for the mother bird in the hope this would help to feed her baby. At the moment she seems to be making do with what she can find on the roof or in the gutter (probably worms and things).

Not planning to do much today as I still feel a bit 'off'. Andy Murray is playing again today, hopefully on Centre Court so they can use the new roof as cover if it rains, then play can continue. Am planning to sit, read, watch TV and do little else. B says he doesn't want a meal tonight as he ate loads last night, he will make some sardine sarnies. There is a 'cheat's panna cotta' left in the fridge (he has already eaten two of the three made), also some Rocky Road, and plenty of fresh fruit. Enough fresh bread to last today and probably tomorrow, although will make an 'extended' batch of dough tomorrow to see how that works out. The Tesco bread mix is very good and certainly will take the extra flour. Am planning to add the same amount of flour (500g) that is the same as the weight of the mix, and then double up on the water and see what happens. This means a second (almost 2lb) loaf will cost less than 20p, averaging the two loaves at just over 40p each. And very good bread it will be too (or should be if it works). Will of course let you know how I get on with this very cheap 'major extension' of the bread dough.

After yesterday's mention of 'making do with what I've got' have decided this is something I really should be doing because it makes sense!!! So now have to control my 'retail therapy' and buckle down to using up my stores. Possibly I can still 'have a play' by treating my larder (includes kitchen cupboards, fridge/freezer etc) as my personal 'supermarket' and wander around the kitchen with my shopping basket 'buying' from myself what I need. As it will be 'virtual' money spent, then all I need do is write down the cost of my 'purchases' and then this ends up as 'savings' - in other words 'real' money not actually spent.
Of course the money HAS been spent over previous months, we don't stock our shelves for free, but the more we have in store seems to go further than if buying what we need when we want it.

Perhaps it might be that as having a choice of which carbo to serve with a meal (rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, potatoes, pastry....) also helps keep the costs down for each dish served. Following a recipe to the letter can often mean spending a few pennies more than if we changed to a cheaper carbo (or veg).

Another tip (mentioned before but worth repeating) is that 'old recipes' - using imperial weights and measures - use slightly less of everything than these new 'metrics' that tend to 'round up'. More often than not we are expected to use 250g of something because this is half the usual weight (500g) of a pack. Whereas an 'old' recipe would use 8 oz (half a pound) this being 225g in the metrics. Convert to old weights and we use 1 oz less. Like pennies saved soon add up to £££s, then ounces also saved soon add up to lbs.

At one time recipes showed both the metric and imperial weights (as I still do), but recently only the metric weights are shown. So often we see 200g (this being 7oz), whereas in the past a similar recipe would use 6 oz (175g). Annoying it maybe to have to continually convert (but by now most of us probably can work it out in our head), this is yet another way we can save money by just using an ounce less here and there.

Also - using metric weights - we could end up eating slightly more of everything which doesn't really help the obesity problem our nation is having. So worth cutting down on the more expensive ingredients, and if necessary use more of the cheaper. This works best in a savoury dish, as when baking we need to be more exact - but even then we save when using old recipes and not the new.

If only we kept chickens there would be no need for me to do any shopping at all for weeks and weeks and weeks. If it was war-time would be able to make do with dried egg (is that still sold these days?), as certainly have both UHT and dried milk powder in the larder. B might have to end up eating margarine instead of butter, but am hoping that the stock I've already got (some butter in the freezer) will last several weeks as can use my supply of Stork when baking.

One thing I do now - and not healthy by 'nutritional' standards, but as B's cholesterol level seems to cope with it I will continue doing so - is to save the fat that comes from sausages when they are cooked in the oven. It is poured into a little pot - where it then sets - and used in place of oil when frying (and great for roasting potatoes, cooking Yorkshire puds etc). Do the same with the fat that rises to the top after cooking chicken skin and bones when making stock. This to all intents and purposes is 'free' fat. If I get any beef 'dripping' when roasting a joint, this is also saved and normally spread on toast (with a sprinkle of sugar) - something B really loves eating, but it can also be used for frying (in the old days chips were always fried in beef dripping. Nowadays the fish and chip shop use oil and the chips don't taste nearly as good, and are not nearly as crisp).

Last night caught the last half of a programme about Paul Simon and his making of 'Graceland'. This was one 'album' (in cassette form) that I owned and really loved, unfortunately lending it to someone who - of course - never returned it (story of my life).
Apparently there was a lot of problems with the politics in America - a white man making music with black men etc. etc. Let us hope that in the US all races and cultures are now treated as equal.

Having sat and 'chatted' to you for an hour am now feeling a great deal better (but now warmer), although am still planning to take it easy today. Probably end up doing a bit of 'stock-taking' and working out what I will make when I feel more like making it. So will take my leave now and get the conservatory ready for Norma and her hair dryer, then make and drink my first cup of coffee (couldn't face it earlier), take my pills and then get on with my day.
Hope you will all be able to join me again tomorrow. If so - see you then.