Monday, July 09, 2012

Keeping Control

Have noticed when checking up on recent postings the (published) font seems smaller than it used to be, so today am trying several and if these do differ when published, please let me know which you prefer. I am starting (as always) with 'Georgia' font (although not even sure if it is that as 'font' is the only one shown on the toolbar at the moment)..

Using 'Courier' to reply to the first comment. Good that your granddaughter helped you arrange your stores in date order Eileen, and am sure she will have learned a lot to help her with future shopping/cooking without her even realising it.
You are lucky having blackcurrants, make sure the birds don't strip your bushes (although they are far more likely to take red fruits (redcurrants, raspberries etc). Blackcurrants freeze well.

As you say, such a pity that Andy Murray lost the final but no shame in that as even Nadal and other top players cannot beat Federer. We still had a British winner in the men's doubles the preceding day, so can take a certain amount of pleasure from that.

'Ariel' is the font used for replying to this second comment. It doesn't seem to matter what font I choose, the font/print as I type is the same when I type of the page I am seeing at the moment, whatever has been chosen. Just have to wait and see if it changes when published.

Like you Campfire, I add extra water to the EasyYo thermos, always filling it as close to the top as possible (at least to the top of the level of the yogurt in its container). And of course the water is always boiling when the flask is filled. I doubt the strawberry and cream EasyYo has many more calories than (say) the Greek, but is certainly very pleasant to eat. I also have 'old' stock of EasyYo and these too still work, it is only some of the fruit flavours I have more trouble with the setting. When aware of this I use less water in mixing to make a 'thicker' mixture. This seems to work. Also mixing the powder thoroughly with water helps, often some can 'lump' up, sink to the bottom and the mix above is not as concentrated as it should be. I always fill the container a quarter full of water, then add the mix and whisk it well with a fork, then put on the lid and give a jolly good shake. Then add water to the mark below the required level, top on again and another good shake before putting it into the boiling water in the flask.

As you say, menu terms can sometimes be hilarious. Have even seen 'hand-picked' (fruit and veg.) which sounds good but probably adds nothing to the appearance or flavour of a dish. 'Artisan' bread is another name that often crops up these days, even bread sold in shops can be called that. Never quite sure what the term means, to me it is either bread made by hand and not machine, or more 'rustic' loaves in both shape and the flours used.

'Lucida Grand' is this next font trial, but just noticed, when changing back the font, the 'box' showing font chosen again just says 'font'. I should take more care to check it is correct. So I give another try with the correct fonts showing (just in case I've been doing it wrong).

This is Georgia, this is Courier, this is Arial, this is Lucida Grand. Now back to Georgia to complete the rest of today's blog.

Yesterday was (sort of) interesting in the Goode kitchen. Made a big pot of vegetable and soup (carrots, onions, celery, parsnip, potato cooked in chicken stock). After serving myself a liberal helping for lunch, threw in some sweetcorn kernels that I found in the freezer, so that will make enough for today's lunch AND supper (mine at least).

You would smile at me. There was I dicing all the veggies as evenly as possible (really could have done this more speedily using the food processor but find dicing veggies quite therapeutic - and had nothing else planned at that moment to do) and was just about to dice up half a dozen small salad potatoes when I stopped with knife in mid-air and said to myself "wait a minute, haven't you got some small King Edwards in the potato sack that need using up?" Checked and there were several, just beginning to sprout. So back into the fridge went the salad spuds, and the King Eds were peeled and diced to add to the soup. Floury potatoes are really better for soup than the waxy salads as the 'flouries' tend to dissolve and help thicken the liquid, and always the best type to use when the soup is to end up pureed.
Sometimes I add both types of potatoes (to soups or casseroles etc) depending on what I want the end result to taste like/look like.

While the soup was simmering, decanted the rest of the chicken stock into small tubs (I save and use the small Philadelphia cream cheese tubs for this), wrote 'chicken stock' on top using a marker pen, then into the fridge to freeze.

B was to have a Chicken Kiev for his supper, one already out of the freezer to defrost, so then decided to strip the leaves from the last handful of watercress in the fridge (needed using up), and as I had not garlic (!!!) sprinkled some garlic salt over the leaves and chopped together, then worked this mixture into some softened butter, spread out into finger length and shape, flattened slightly then put this into the freezer to set solid. Got this tip from one of Hugh F.W's prog the other day and well worth copying.

Decided then to make a fruit cake (recipe given recently). I wasn't too accurate about the measurements, adding extra sugar and omitting the black treacle, but other than the cake ending up larger than the recipe intended and taking longer to cook, it turned out really well. Too well really as after eating his supper B asked if he could have a slice (at that time the cake had cooled but hardly 'cold'). I muttered 'if you must', and he came back with two great thick slabs of cake with a thick layer of butter on each. After eating them he got up and said 'think I'll have some more cake", and came back with two more slabs (plus butter). This morning Itook a look at the cake and saw that at least a third has now been eaten (it was originally 10" square and quite deep). So think time for me to take control and wrap most of what's left up in foil or it will all be eaten by Wednesday (and with anyone else it should have lasted up to 2 weeks!).

You see, again I have to have a good think (or should this be a 'goode' think), for am now wondering if it would was less expensive cheaper (per slice) to make a fruit cake, or let B loose in the fridge/store cupboards and find something else to eat. Which would work out the cheapest, slice of cake (spread with butter), ham sandwiches, or cheese on toast...?
On the other hand - during this 'challenge' - for B to eat his normal 'snacks' this would mean my having to buy more gammon to cook, more cheese, etc as these run out quite rapidly when B is let loose, whereas the dried fruit, sugar, flour, butter etc that I use for cake-making are plentiful in the larder (fridge), it is only eggs that would need replacing first - and that not for some time (I still have a dozen at room temp and a tray of 15 in the fridge).

So as long as enough in store, it doesn't really matter how expensive or how cheap anything is, just as long as it is all used and hopefully balanced so don't run out of anything too rapidly. It's not how much they cost, it's how long the stores last that is important. You would not expect me to say that, me always the 'cost-cutting' cook, but then when all foods are bought within an alloted (and low) budget, then as long as this is not exceeded, it is possible to eat quality foods/meals along with the cheaper, and get the best of both worlds.

The Chicken Kiev was rather good. After removing the large 'fillet' from the back of the breast (they are not usually as big), slit the breast along part of one side cutting into the thicker ends with the tip of the knife (from the inside) to keep an even thickness all round, then put some flour in a shallow dish, a beaten egg in another, and some dried breadcrumbs (stale bread dried in the oven then crumbed and stored in a jar) in a third dish and to this added a shake of Cajun seasoning to add a bit of 'interest' to the flavour.
Removed the watercress/garlic butter from the freezer and tucked it inside the breast (where it fitted perfectly), spread a bit of beaten egg at the mouth of the 'split' to help seal the opening when cooking. Dipped first into flour, then egg, then finally breadcrumbs, and to make sure of a good seal and crunchy then 'double-dipped' by dipping again into the egg and finally again into the breadcrumbs.
Did the same with the chicken 'fillet' that had been removed (but this wasn't split or stuffed), then fried them in a small frying pan in hot shallow oil until golden on both sides (about 3 minutes each side) then put them onto a baking tray and into a hot oven to carry on cooking for 10 minutes whilst cooking small 'salad' potatoes on the hob and heating some peas in the microwave.

Made myself another salad for supper, this time just lettuce, tomato, the last bit of watercress (saved for this purpose), and a sliced banana. Added my 'spicy' dressing (mayo diluted with the liquid from the Peppadew jar), and finally topped with some cooked peas. Adding the chicken fillet when it was cooked.
Did not use the last quarter of a cucumber even though I would normally, but as I'm not doing 'normally' at the moment decided it was better to keep it to use when making a Raita to go with a curry that I'm intended to serve this week (the curry already made and in the freezer).
Maybe only subtle differences between the way I choose to use the ingredients now but each time taking a bit more control over the choice of use. Could this (or the other) be put to better use in another dish? A question now asked every day with just about every ingredient picked up by my own fair hands. Certainly does make a difference as stores will then be 'spread' more evenly over the days/weeks, making for more interesting meals and (hopefully) lasting longer (which then means our purse strings can remain padlocked for yet another month or two (or three or four).

My Beloved said the Chicken Kiev was lovely, really moist (as was the fillet), so probably this double-dipping helped prevent the chicken flesh from drying out. Certainly stuffing the chicken to make a Kiev made the breast look much larger than if it had been left as-is, so a 'goode' way of making a small chicken breast look a 'healthy helping' rather than 'frugal fare'.
Also, as the butter 'filling' had stayed in the breast without oozing out (and am sure freezing it first helped a great deal in this as the chicken flesh would insulate it when cooking, and it would stay firm for several minutes, by then the coating would have sealed the cut in the side. When the breast was then cut, the filling would ooze out over the plate to make a 'sauce' that would flavour the potatoes and peas. I was really happy with yesterday's attempt and will cook this dish more often.

Took a couple of packs of chicken livers from the freezer and put into the fridge to thaw overnight so today will be making several pots of chicken liver pate/parfait. The difference between pate and parfait is that pate is more 'chunky' with more texture, parfait is much smoother and easier to spread (also cheaper and the one I always make even though I still call it pate). Once made the pate/parfait will be potted up into small containers, covered with a layer of melted butter, and a couple kept in the fridge the rest frozen. It is lovely spread on toast (preferably brown bread), and will almost certainly be eating some myself (why should B always get the best?).

Have to admit that yesterday (to my shame) decided to eat the contents of a small can of Spam-with-bacon. I just LOVE it, but at least managed to avoid the carbohydrates in sarnies that I usually make with Spam, although then would probably have eaten only half the amount, but certainly eaten the rest with my salad so either way I'd have eaten the lot in one day.
Unlike most canned products, Spam does not have the nutritional listing printed on the tin, so I don't know how many calories (or fat etc) that the meat contains. Not that it really matters, I doubt I'd stop eating Spam, but perhaps not quite so often if it adds inches to my hips. As I did not lose any weight since yesterday maybe Spam is not such a good idea after all. Let us see how much longer the remaining three small tins in the larder will stay there.

Obviously raining in London as they had to put the 'lid' over the Centre Court, but here in Morecambe we had another sunny and quite warm day. B went sailing (at least in the safety boat), but was asked to sit in a second 'safety boat' whilst it was on the water to see if it had any leaks (his weight pushing the boat down into the water). Unfortunately it seemed to have sprung a lot of leaks and B ended up with the boat full of water and his clothes soaked as silly B had not been wearing his rubber diving suit. So that means another load in the washing machine today.

The forecast is again gloomy for this part of the country but at the moment the sun is shining through broken clouds and you never know - we could have a good day after all. It often seems that even though a cloud is over our 'patch' on the weather map, the clouds seem to break around Morecambe, one part going over the Lake District (where we can see the rain falling as we bask in sunshine), and round in the other direction towards Blackpool and Manchester. If it stays fair this morning might have a scoot out with Norris down to the shops to get some money from the cash-point (as have none in my purse and need to pay Norma when she comes on Wednesday). Also take a look in the windows of a couple of new shops there, maybe order some bedding plants (possibly geraniums) from the florists/garden shop, and will be VERY interested in the latest new shop which is a pet shop. I'd love a pet. Really, really love one, as always seem to have been surrounded by them. Dog and a parrot when young, guinea pigs and budgies when our children were small and then a Labrador (how I'd love to have another lab), but never really took to cats which is probably the most sensible pet to have at my age. If I had one at all think it would probably be a Siamese. Should I, should I? Very tempting.
Think upstairs have a hamster. These seem to sleep all day and play at night, and not the most interesting of creatures. Maybe a snake? I like snakes, particularly the big ones that are not venomous, just squeeze you to death. Anyway, a little window shopping (and maybe even a venture inside the shop) may convince me that 'pets R us' after all.

Forgot to mention fish. Never see the point of fish, they don't recognise us, just swim back and forth, sometimes looking quite pretty but - for me - quite boring. Some places - such as dentist's waiting rooms - have aquariums as gazing at the fish is supposed to be almost as good as a tranquilliser. Have enough trouble keeping awake whilst sitting in my chair in the living room, so goodness knows what would happen if I had fish to look at as well. Probably end up serving them up for B's supper as colourful ''whitebait".

In a way wish B had left the large pond that was in our garden when we moved here, instead of emptying it and filling it in with gravel. We could then have had some golden carp and the pleasure (!!?) of watching frog spawn change into tadpoles and then into baby frogs. The previous own I know kept fish in the pond as we saw them when we first viewed the property, he left netting over the top, but did remove the fish and also the fountain that kept the water oxygenated (was annoyed he took that away).

Seem to have 'chatted' for quite a long time today. Hope it has not been boring. Maybe even something of interest - who knows?
If the print trial has been successful, let me know which you prefer. All comments welcome, and as many as possible. Hope you will join me tomorrow. See you then.