Monday, July 23, 2012

Spanners in the Works

Think I'm going to stop saying what I intend to do each coming day as I never end up doing most (or any) of it. Yesterday was a prime example, and really I WAS going to do what I said I would, but the weather suddenly got cloudy and rather windy so 'brunch' was not eaten outdoors although it was Spam sarnies. Sat indoors to read the paper and do the crosswords.

Had put another load in the washing machine and got that past its first 'stuck' cycle, then decided to move the bread machine to a more convenient place, and when I pulled it forward put my hand behind to remove the plug from the wall behind. As I lifted the machine realised I'd pulled out the wrong plug (there were two) and it was the washing machine plug I'd removed!!
Although plugging it back in and switching on the machine, and despite the light on the machine showing it was 'on', it stubbornly refused to work.

With a load of wet washing in the machine and some water, the door would not then open, so to clear the machine and (hopefully) start again needed to drain the water away. As the 'drain' cycle didn't work (none of the cycles did), had to resort to unscrewing the filter cap and put a bowl under to allow the water to drain from low down. But could I unscrew the cap? I tried and tried but B had screwed it on far too tightly, and he was out for the day, so I had to just sit and wait. And wait, and wait.

At least I did tidy the work top, put the bread machine in its new place (and today think it will move it from there to the conservatory where there is a convenient plug - I can do with the space it is now taking by the kitchen table). Also made a big pot of popcorn for B's 'snacking'.
Then tidied up the kitchen a bit more, removed the dried clothes from the airer ready to hang the wet washing on (always supposing we got the machine door open), then tried putting the machine back on 'drain' again and Yippee!!! this time it worked. With all the water drained away the door was able to be opened, so I thought I'd have one more go and see if the machine would start again from the first cycle and this time it did. So once past the 'sticky bit', the machine then continued right through even to spinning and switching itself off. So once that load was on the airer felt that life wasn't that bad after all.

However, the kerfuffle had ruined my 'plans', so although I'd told B he'd be having a Prawn Cocktail for supper, and had planned to make 'something with pastry', changed my mind as my Beloved came home early due to the 'taster' day being cancelled due to the winds too strong. A man in a catamaran had gone out and this capsized and the sailor was swept by the tide in one direction, his boat pushed by the wind the opposite, so B and companion went off in the safety boat to first rescue the man and then try and catch the boat, which they eventually did, managed to right it and got the sailor back on board where he was able to bring it back to shore.

Earlier that day B had phoned me to say that someone at the club had taken a pack of bacon from the freezer, thawed it in the fridge and someone there thought the pack seemed a bit 'floppy', so was unsafe to eat despite the fact the 'use-by' date was the end of this month, and the pack hadn't yet been opened. This worried the person who was expecting to fry the bacon to make sarnies, so in the end the pack was put back in the fridge and left for someone else to decided whether to use it. I said it should be alright as it was still within date, and if in doubt open the pack and do the 'sniff and taste' test. Sometimes people can be too cautious, but I suppose if the general public will be eating food provided, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Told B that if they decided not to use the bacon, he was to bring it home and I'd make use of it, no problem!

As B had had nothing to eat, he said he was very hungry, so decided to get him a more substantial meal than Prawn Cocktail, and defrosted and reheated a Beef Jalfrezi (curry) that I'd made and frozen. To eat with rice.
As B was hankering for dessert as well, and - as I still had time - said I'd make him some individual trifles as they would be set by mid-evening (he tends to eat his 'pud' some time after his main meal). Melted a pack of lemon jelly with a little water (in the microwave), then added the 'juice' from a can of sliced peaches. Broke up the last three trifle sponges into three small bowls then poured over some of the jelly, once this was soaked up by the sponge, topped it with peaches and poured the remaining jelly on top. Not really a trifle, but one with cream on top would keep B going that day. Have made a batch of Apricot EasyYo overnight so B can have some of that on top of his other two trifles (taking the place of custard), and with cream on top that makes it much more like a trifle.

As need to get at least one drawer in the small freezer clear for the forthcoming 'social's' cakes (which can be frozen), today will bring out most of the summer fruits and turn them into 'mixed fruit jam'. Also will probably thaw and reheat a container of spag.bol meat sauce and B can have that with pasta and grated Parmesan for his supper. No plans for a cold meal YET as although most of the country will be having a lovely day, and very warm sun, the one very thin strip of rain that will be crossing our country will be slap bang over Morecambe and the Lake district, so today have woken to a cloudy sky, a strong breeze and although no rain as yet, am sure some will fall. The same possibly tomorrow, but after that we should be getting some sun with the temperature in this region around 20C, the rest of the country sweltering in temps of up to 24C. Quite cool compared to the weather parts of America and Canada have been having.

Do remember that when a child, when the weather was hot, people who kept dogs were advised to muzzle them when taking them out as the heat can make dogs very bad-tempered. Considering the many attacks by dogs over the past years, would think it would be advisable for most dogs (especially the ones know to be a bit risky - pit bull terriers etc) to be muzzled when taken out especially when to be let loose for exercise.
This is one thing that 'elf and safety seem to have forgotten about. Or are they all too young to remember the common sense of times past.

Something in the paper yesterday caused me to shake my head in disbelief. Children at a primary school were not now being allowed to go to the allotment close by where the teacher there had made a special garden for them where they could grow their own vegetables. She/he had even built a low fence round so that the children could go inside the plot and not run around loose. But no - too much danger. The ground is 'lumpy' so the children might trip and fall, they might fall and their heads fall into a bucket of water and they drown, so on and so forth.
Considering everything that could have happened to the child could also happen in their garden at home, does that mean - for safety's sake - the child should not then be allowed to play outside in the fresh air until they are about seven?

The only way children can learn safety is not to keep them away from danger, but let them experience some of the effects in the company of an adult. Considering that 'elf and safety' seem to try to stop children doing most things that their grandparents used to do - and happily - that they haven't yet forbidden children to paddle in the sea "as they are in danger of drowning". At least we are allowed to teach them how to swim, then if they fell in a lake or river they should be able to keep themselves afloat. Haven't yet heard about lessons being given on how to climb a tree safely. Feel sorry for youngsters of today, most of the pleasures their grandparents had are now denied them.

Perhaps there is more danger to children today because few have learned how to cope when in difficulty. My mother-in-law had her full share of problems with B's 'play activities' when he was young. He twice fell through the ice when sliding around on a local lake, and this let to him having pneumonia (and in those days medicine was not as good as it is now). He also slipped when climbing over an iron fence (where he shouldn't have been anyway) and his thigh landed on a spike at the top of the fence and went into his leg at least an inch (he still has the scar).

B and his brother made a raft from broken wood and oil drums and they used to 'sail' this on the canal in Leicester, the water in that part being full of rubbish (broken bits of metal, glass, splintered wood) and they also used to swim in the canal which was infested with rats! Hardly a healthy way to play, but they never seemed to get ill because of it, and as B said their school holidays were packed with fun, especially as they were doing things they really weren't allowed to. A touch of 'William Brown' by the sound of it.
One of their 'dares' was to walk along the railway line close to their home and run through a tunnel before the train was due. Often they didn't get the timing right, so perhaps not one of their better games, but at least they survived to live to adulthood.

With me, my mother was far too cautious and I wasn't allowed to do anything slightly dangerous at all, so a lot of my formative years, almost up to marriage, were spent being slightly fearful of what might happen if....
Even when B and I were married, and had children of our own, my mother would insist of me phoning her when we went on holiday. I had to phoning her to say we were just leaving, phoning her on the way there to let her know we had not (yet) been involved in an accident, and phoning her to let her know we had arrived safely. Then repeating this on the way home. Probably easier now there are mobiles, but then it was a matter of finding a phone box at the appropriate time.

Thanks Alison for your comment. It's good to know that as you have moved back to a region you once lived, you are reasonably close to family and friends. Here in Morecambe we have only one daughter within 'touching distance' (she lives in Lancaster), and it was at her insistence that we moved here so she 'could look after us in our old age'. But this moved us further away from the rest of the family, in any case one at least has moved even further away still, so we are really cut off family-wise. If we had stayed in Leeds we would have been able to see them more often, and we would also have room for them to stay when they visited - here we have only one bedroom so no-one wants to visit any more.
If Ernie comes up with a big win am seriously thinking about returning to live in Yorkshire or the Midlands where I will be much closer to some of our family and most of my friends. B can stay here if he wishes or return with me. I would just like my last days on this earth to be in a place where I know I will be able to have my own car again and be able to visit local and more distant friends.
Yes, I know I should be grateful for moving to Morecambe and having a pleasant enough 'apartment' (although it feels more like a house as we live in the ground floor of a detached house), suppose it is just wistful thinking of how life used to be in the past, and wish it was the same now. Instead of feeling sad I should buck up and look to see what Morecambe can offer, and sure there must be a lot. Just wish I had a car as like to spread my wings a bit further afield than my immediate surroundings.

As you say Alison, there are times we have to do things alone when our husbands/partners do not share our interests and hobbies. Don't think B and I share anything in common when it comes to 'play-time'. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing. Once our children left home and we no longer had 'family' holidays, we never take holidays together. B's always wants to sail the Tall Ships, and I really can't face sailing - I get sea-sick just looking at the waves, and after one trial on a yacht sailing near Oban, was so ill for several consecutive days that I swore never again. I remember on the Tuesday, clinging to the side of the yacht, praying out loud 'Please God make today Friday' (the day we would be leaving the boat). I was so sea-sick that I just wanted to let myself slip into the sea and drown.
At least have managed to have one or two fairly comfortable holidays on a narrow boat on the canals. So am grateful for that.

Not really in a moaning mood today, just got into the habit I suppose (old people get like that). Am certainly planning to go for a scoot with Norris either tomorrow or Wednesday when the weather is forecast as sunny and warm. If the weather is really good might take a day or two off 'domestic chores' (maybe even not write this blog) and turn the time into a stay at home holiday (aka 'staycation').
At the end of the week sees the start of the Olympics, and perhaps I'll be watching this on TV, or perhaps not. See how I feel. Am sure the nation's 'mass hysteria' (if there is any) will eventually get to me. It did with the Jubilee. It's not our British competitors I'm disinterested in, it's all the hype that has been going on up to this week. The problems with not allowing anyone to use the Olympic symbols and 'words' (Going for Gold, etc), and then the problems with the security and transport. All this leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, so let's hope we Brits can win loadsa gold, silver and bronze medals, and make us feel proud again.

The local news the other day was saying how the B & B's and small shops in the Lake District are feeling the pinch and there this year have many fewer because of the Olympics. The Lakeland area is always a place foreign visitors wish to visit, but this year - because of the 'O's' - the cost of accommodation in London (usually their starting point) is higher, and also in short supply, meaning many people cannot afford to visit this country this year. It will be better in the autumn and winter months, but then too late for the Lakes who expect a fall in at least 40% income this year, and because of the recession, few can afford to manage on this and many places may have to close.

Must stop thinking about what I can't control, and concentrate more on what I can. Did watch a repeat of Hugh F.W's River Cottage prog about 'eating meat-less meals'. Was very interested in the place where only raw fruit and vegetables were served, many of these being 'dried' in a dehydrator (Lakeland sell something similar and am now thinking about getting one). Just loved the idea of making samosas using a fruit/veg 'leather' made by blitzing the ingredients in a food processor then spreading the liquid in a thin layer and then drying out. This then made a 'sheet' that looked like thin, pink pastry, that could be cut with a knife, filling placed on top and then folded into the traditional samosa 'triangle'.

Am not wholly convinced that ALL veggies should be eaten raw. Carrots and tomatoes have now been proved to be better for us when first cooked. Potatoes should always be cooked. Although there is plenty of other produce that can be eaten raw.
As doubt the 'drier' costs much to run as the temperature required is 40C max, this means a great reduction on fuel costs, although perhaps the word 'raw' is debatable as even drying at such a low temperature could be a form of 'cooking' as with the very low temperature 'water bath' (aka sous-vide) method of cooking meat. All depends upon what we mean by 'raw'. 'Raw' as untouched by any heat, or 'raw' as long as it isn't boiled, roasted, poached or microwaved.

We can all put together various salads using raw ingredients, so the recipes today go a bit further than that. Still types of salads, but more substantial, the idea being that as there is no need to cook, this is another way to cut fuel costs.

With this first recipe the chicken and rice will have initially been cooked, but could be left-overs (scraps from a carcase fresh or frozen then thawed).
Spicy Chicken and Rice: serves 2
7 oz (200g) cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp sweet paprika or Cajun seasoning
9 oz (250g) left-over cooked rice
half a cucumber, finely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely grated
handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
5 fl oz (150ml) natural or Greek yogurt
1 tsp runny honey
pinch chilli powder
salt and pepper
Put the chicken in a bowl and sprinkle oer the paprika or Cajun seasoning, toss to coat then add the rice, cucumber and carrots.
Into a jug put half the mint, yogurt, honey, chilli powder and seasoning to taste. Pour this over the chicken mixture, and fold together. Serve in two individual dishes, sprinkling the remaining mint over the top.

This next recipe is for a salad with a difference. It eats well with hot roast chicken, but also good with cold chicken or ham. As the salad contains fruit, no real need to serve a dessert.
The easy way to remove skins from the peaches is to put into a bowl, pour over boiling water, then immediately remove to a bowl of cold water, the skin should then easily be peeled off. Nectarines could have the skin left on if you wish.
Peach and Cucumber Salad: serves 4
half a cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 ripe peaches or nectarines (see above)
1 tsp runny honey
3 tblsp olive oil
2 handfuls lambs' lettuce or watercress
Slice the cucumber and put into a bowl with the chilli and lime zest. Remove skins from the peaches (see above) then remove stone, slice the flesh and add to the dish of cucumber.
Mix the lime juice with the honey and and oil, then pour this over the salad, adding the lambs' lettuce at the end, and give a final toss before serving.

Final recipe also uses cucumber, so if you have bought one large and long cucumber, this might be enough to make all the three recipes shown today. This salad is full of flavour and if you don't care for coriander (neither B nor I like the taste of it), use flat-leafed parsley, basil and/or mint.
My preference for a 'hot' pepper, is to chop up a Peppadew (these are bottled peppers and can be bought hot or mild). I would also use some of the Peppadew liquid instead of the vinegar.
Hot and Sour Cucumber Salad: serves 4
half a cucumber, peeled and finely sliced
7 oz (200g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 - 2 shallots, finely sliced
1 red chilli, seeds removed, chopped (see above)
salt and pepper to taste
2 - 3 tsp rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar (see above)
few coriander leaves (see above)
Put all but the vinegar and coriander in a bowl and toss together. Dress with the vinegar then spread onto a shallow serving dish and scatter the herbs on top.

Right, that's me for today. Still very windy and dull outside, not a hint of blue in the sky, so looks like another morning in the kitchen and maybe part of the afternoon as well. Other than making jam am not planning anything else, just hope to accomplish more than that. Tomorrow you will find out if I did. See you then.