Saturday, July 07, 2012

Come Rain, Come Shine...

Still working on the current 'Goode challenge' and yesterday, after discovering an unopened bag of popping corn in the larder, decided to 'pop' some for B and my 'nibbles'. I love crunching on something, and as I have no crisps (and not buying anything at all at the moment) was beginning to feel a bit deprived of a much needed munch crunch.

The bag of popping corn bought ages ago (it has a very long shelf life) (now £1.69p for 500g) seems a bit expensive, but a little goes a very long way. Weighed out 100g (17p worth) - this equal to four tablespoons or up to 3 fl oz in my measuring jug. Put one tablespoon of sunflower oil in my large casserole pot, and tipped in the popcorn which incidentally did not even cover the base of the pan in a single layer. Gave the pan a good shake then placed on the lid and over medium heat waited for the corn to pop. And pop it did, almost filled the pan. You can see the amount made in the photo below (the scales are 8" (20cm) wide so you can gauge the size of the bowl.

Needed to be careful when removing the corn from the pan as there are always some kernels that haven't 'popped' and these end up like tiny brown bullets and could crack a tooth if not careful. Fortunately these are heavier than the popped corn so normally fall to the bottom, but always worth shaking popped corn and if necessary picking it over to remove said 'bullets'.

Decided to add flavour to the above, so melted a large knob of butter in the (wiped clean) hot pan, plus a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. Put over heat, when melted and bubbling then removed it from heat and added some of the corn, turning it over so the kernels were coated, then added the rest. Not enough to fully coat all the corn, but this was good as then they didn't stick together in clumps, but enough coating on all to give more than a hint of flavour that was very good when nibbled.

Certainly will now be popping more corn, and checking the prices on Tesco's site see that the cheapest flavoured (or even plain corn) to less than the visible amount I made (and probably is £1 - or more - a pack, so even allowing for the butter, sugar, oil etc, great savings when popping corn ourselves.

At one time used to own a popcorn maker, this used no oil just hot air, but gave it away to a single parent with two boys, plus loads of popping corn and think they loved using it (and eating the end result). Think I might buy myself another one. On this site, on the 14th Sept '08 posted two recipes for flavouring popping corn, one was a crunchy sugary one, the other was using chocolate. So today will make some of each.

Yesterday also cooked the few small thawed chicken thighs (and the one drumstick) with 3 carrots, 2 onions, and the last sad stems of celery (plus root stump), although there were a lot of pale green crisp stalks with leaves that I saved to eat with my supper) also adding 3 bay leaves and 2 pints of water. Ended up with a lovely bowl of well flavoured stock and plenty of cooked chicken flesh. Ate the cooked veggies for my lunch, and used the cooked flesh to make Coronation Chicken . B ate that with salad (and an avocado) for his supper, I ate my portion with banana and the celery. It was really lovely. B would like to have it again (and so would I).

Made more bread yesterday, and am finding the latest loaves are now ending up with quite a large pocket of air close to the crust, especially at one end. Am pretty sure this is because I am using the new mixes that are slightly smaller in weight than another brand so make slightly less dough, and as I want the dough to rise slightly above the rim of the tin before cooking, leave it too long in 'rising mode' which then allows the yeast to make larger 'bubbles'. Another reason is that my loaf tins are slightly larger than they should be, so to fill them the dough has to expand too much. Once baked the bread really is lovely to eat, but the crust is slightly soft which makes it difficult to slice easily.

Yesterday forgot to check the dough and it had risen up more than I wished with an obvious big 'bubble' at one end just under the 'skin' of the top. Decided to slash the loaf from end to end with the tip of a sharp knife and this released the air, also allowing any underneath to escape during the baking. Have seen bakers on TV slash their dough in the same way and thought that was just for effect, obviously had a good reason.

Have yet to slice the loaf so will have to see if the above works. Until then think I'd better make smaller loaves (using my 1lb loaf tin) and more often. Never have a problem using the smaller tin (must buy new loaf tins of the correct size).

Still have not made that fruit cake, telling myself that the ingredients for that will keep, so it can wait until B has eaten up all the bits and bobs (fresh fruit salad, Rocky Road, ice-cream etc) some of which he finished last night. Today will make a rhubarb and apple crumble, and have still to decide what to serve for the main course.

Am pleased I now have another bowlful of chicken stock and once the fat has been removed (easily done once chilled), will test the 'jell' and if not firm enough will bring it back to the boil and reduce it further then pack it away in small containers to freeze. There is nothing like home-made (or even good quality bought) chicken stock to raise the flavour of a risotto or home-made soup....

Cannot believe what awful weather we are having at the moment, the Midlands and the North (esp W.Yorkshire) had so much rain that it made driving (even on motorways) almost impossible. And there were two of our family moving house that day (one to West Yorkshire)!! Have not contacted them yet as am sure they had other things on their mind than having to bother with phone calls/texts etc.

One place that was free of rain during the afternoon was Wimbledon where Andy Murray eventually managed to win. Was glad in a way that he lost the third set for this made it more of a battle. The first British man to be in the finals for over 77 years! A real Jubilee gift for the Queen, even more so if he wins. Roll on Sunday.

Thank you Stephanie for picking up the incorrect weight of onions in yesterday's soup recipe. It should have been 2 lb (1kg) and I've altered the posting to now show the correct weight.

Liked the sound of your meals Kathryn, and as you say it does help to play means ahead so that the best use is made of what food there is. I don't do this often enough. Your mention that your OH likes to eat plenty of meat but one day content with a cheesy stuffed jacket potato was a useful comment as the one thing about jacket spuds is that they are incredibly 'filling' as long as the skins are eaten. Serving 'jackets' with meat can often mean less meat need be served.

Your riding jacket/mac was a great bargain off eBay, and the sheepskin also - this will make saddle-sitting a great deal more comfortable. Leaking wellies... my first thought was to wear a plastic bag over socks before putting feet into wellies. This may make feet sweat but perhaps better than walking around with sodden feet squelching in water, and if the socks are wool these will soak up any perspiration.

The New High Protein Diet you mentioned Alison is similar to Atkins, but as I eat more than one portion of fruit at a time feel the restriction to one is unnecessary as more doesn't seem to prevent me losing weight. Lost another 2 lbs since yesterday, that's 8 lbs since Tuesday and I'm pretty sure I know the reason why. It's all to do with my new 'smalls'. They are a much closer fit than my old ones, and have a good 'stretch' to the material so very supportive. As a person whose flesh seems to act like a sponge when left alone, a lot of my surplus weight is excess water that diuretics don't seem to get rid of. As soon as I wear tighter foundation garments my weight drops dramatically. Perhaps I should order more 'smalls' in an even smaller size and see what happens then.

Must take a look at that shop selling short-dated goods in Morecambe gillibob. Didn't know about it. Many of the shops on the prom seem only to last a season before they close down, many left empty, and new ones opening, so each trip made there is some new shop to discover (not that I usually enter any). The indoor market is a real treat to visit, but didn't know there was an outside one. Perhaps this is only on certain days and of course when the weather is fair. As ever, if I visit something like that always want to spend, spend, spend. So usually try to avoid temptation.

Yesterday ate more than I meant to, starting off with four slices of home-made bread and two hard-boiled eggs (with mayo and cress) to make egg sarnies. Then - as mentioned - ate all the veggies once the chicken stock was made. Later ate Coronation Chicken et al, and finished off the evening munching through two bags of popcorn. Still managing to lose 2 lbs! Must make sure I keep up the weight loss as it is so depressing to gain weight when there seems to be no calorie-reason why.

Today the weather looks more promising, although the weather forecast is dismal to say the least. Saw the weatherman on TV explaining about the jet stream having moved further down south, below this jet stream is gorgeous weather, and as we are now firmly fixed in the curve of the jet stream on the high side, we are also doomed to having continuing low pressure (means heavy rain) until the jet stream moves back, and there is no knowing when it will or whether it ever will. We can only hope and pray it does. Otherwise we will all end up floating away.

Goodness knows what this weather will do to our local crops. Luckily we can import most of what we want, but this will probably mean a rise in price just because we have a shortage. But as B says 'there are always people worse off than us', and this is true. When times are bad we should remember we still have a pretty good life compared to many in other countries, so be grateful instead of constantly moaning (which is something I seem to do a lot these days, so perhaps I should take my own advice).

Another weekend has arrived, and so must continue my 'Goode challenge' and see what can be made today that 'uses up' more of what is in store. Usually like baking at the weekend, so am looking forward to the lovely smell of baking cakes etc that will waft around the kitchen. Just hope I can keep away from eating any. The less I eat the more left for B and that is another way of saving I suppose.

Do hope that readers are not having too many problems with all the rain, seems that most of us are getting it one day or another, and if in the wrong place at the wrong time it must be horrendous. Hope your weekend goes well enough and look forward to hearing about your makes 'n bakes, or just a comment to let me know you are still 'out there'. Until tomorrow - see you then.