Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Crossroads, T Junctions,,,,?

Isn't there a saying "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions"? If so must have walked miles along that track, quite a few yesterday as I ended up doing nothing I had planned. Didn't make soup, didn't do anything much at all. Just a load of washing and brought a home-made chilli out of the freezer to defrost for B's supper. The rest of the time was spent in the living room, just nodding off, even when doing the crossword.

Think I needed a day's rest after the 'bakeathon', and as now I've also had a good night's sleep, today feel a bit more refreshed. Not much cooking will be done as I am intending to clear the conservatory (still full of all the tins and boxes brought home that contained the food for the club) and find a new place to store most of them.

Where two kitchen units meet in a corner, under the tops is a revolving set of shelves. At one time used to keep my (many) mixing - and other - bowls in there, but decided to place them on open shelves as easy to find the sizes I want when baking. That worked well enough, but the corner shelves are now full of empty plastic containers (with lids) that I keep 'just in case useful'. Things like creme fraiche tubs, cottage cheese tubs, and have to say all are 'useful' as many are the right size to hold home-made stock (to freeze), individual B-sized portions of ice-cream (ditto), and 'left-overs'. Must be nearly 100 of them, so do need sorting and some not needed will go to the tip.

At the moment it takes me ages to find the right sized tub for the purpose as apart from the above sized, I also keep even smaller ones, and instead of keeping like with like, tend to just open the doors and throw what has turned up that day (washed of course) on top of what's all ready in there, so they are now piled up, their lids not even with them, so think today will remove the lot, sort out matching sizes, stack these together (with their lids) and keep them elsewhere (possibly in my larger, not often used, casserole dishes). The mixing bowls can be returned to the carousel, large ones on the bottom shelf, the ones most often used on the shelf above for easy reach, this then leaving a couple of empty shelves over the washing machine where I can now store my baking tins (of which I have many). Seems like a good idea, but then moving the bowls to the shelves also felt like that at the time.

Think my ideal home would be on one level, bungalow style, with one HUGE, MASSIVE, GYNORMOUS kitchen with umpteen cupboards and lots of open shelving, a big island unit with an extra sink and big gas hob, plus an AGA cooker (as well as the normal electric oven and microwave) a warm living room, one extra bedroom for guests (with en suite), and a big conservatory with dining area at one end. Maybe even a small room for my 'playroom' where I can go and paint my pictures and do my sewing or any crafts without fear of interruption. The computer will have to be tucked in somewhere, or changed to a lap-top so it can be used anywhere.
The garden would have a glass greenhouse, a veggie plot, a summerhouse, a pond, and a small orchard, plus a big caged area to keep the birds off the berry bushes. Of course would also keep chickens. A virile young man to help with the garden would also be nice. Maybe in my next life...

Possibly a huge kitchen, chickens, and a veggie plot would be someone's idea of Hell, so maybe the road I am walking will meet up with theirs somewhere along the way, so I can then be their travelling companion and whatever awaits them would end up as my idea of Heaven. Can only hope.

Thanks Les for telling me that 'chipotle' is a 'cilli' (think you meant chilli). I can see you shaking your head again and asking yourself "why doesn't that silly woman look it up on the Internet if she doesn't know?". Of course I can do this, but if I did that with everything there wouldn't be much to ask readers about would there? And I prefer to ask rather than 'look for myself' for more information may come back telling me how the reader has had personal experience of usng the product queried, and what they thought about it.

In the end did look up 'kosher salt' (both on the Internet and in books) and it isn't quite the same as rock salt. Seems to be the same as 'dendritic salt' (that forms flat star-shaped crystals that soak up liquids better and so names as it is used by kosher butchers as it soaks up surface blood of meat more easily than other salt. 'Kosher' salt is of the purest type of salt that has no additives (magnesium carbonate, iodine salts etc) that are often added to other salts to help it flow more easily in salt cellars etc.

As you say Campfire, it gives a good feeling when we share things. Trouble with me is someone only has to say to me "oh I like that", and immediately I give it to them. Done that since early childhood, much to the annoyance of my mother who had bought all of it, and she was too polite to go to a friends mother to ask for things back. Now tend to have to curb my good intentions after I once replaced what I've given away (a fairly expensive kitchen gadget), then later gave that away to someone else who craved it, so ended up having to buy the same thing for myself a third time. This I still have, but for how long?

There are people who never give away anything always preferring to take, yet never give anything away that they own. "Why spend money when you can get someone else to give it to you for nothing" seems to be their motto (my B is a bit like that).
Quite honestly, during this recession it could make sense for 'givers' to also 'take' as long as we can (eventually) give something in return, but even if some choose not to do so, that's still OK for if we 'givers' didn't have anyone ready to 'take', we would end up the loser as then we wouldn't have something to feel good about.

Sometimes we get confused about our worth. We believe that being given things that cost money is the only gift worth accepting. My suggestion, especially for this coming Christmas is - when we can't afford to spend money - to give the gift of our time. Such as giving hand-written (or printed) 'vouchers' for an hour (or more) of your time to be used for baby-sitting over the , or cleaning cars, or for elderly people, cleaning inside windows, hoovering, also doing their shopping for them (or transporting them to the supermarket and back), several hours of gardening each month, dog walking etc.etc. Costs us nothing but could be worth ££££s to whom given.

Can never myself see why everyone has to own the same things when a particular object is rarely used. Why can't neighbours club together and one person own a lawn mower, another a hedge trimmer, another an ice-cream maker, another a set of ladders, another a power drill? Then lend or borrow from each other as needed?
Farmers usually 'share' their combine harvesters, but of course as these are extremely expensive to buy and only used for a few days each year, this makes some sense, other than one farmer may have 'booked' it to use a day when the weather is dry, and then it rains before the next farmer uses it. Am sure they have worked out a sensible system.

Despite me trying to avoid eating bread (and fairly successfully), yesterday craved a ham sarnie (there was a bit of home-cooked ham left in the fridge). As I was busy over the last few days B had brought in a thick-sliced 'toastie' loaf, and that was all there was - the slices far too thick to make sarnies for me although B is happy to use them for that purpose.
So very carefully I sliced through a couple of 'toasting slices' to make four thin slices. Just like the thin slices we used to buy. With great care it can be done, and why can't we now buy 'thin cut' sliced bread any more? The only sliced on sale is 'medium', 'thick' and 'extra thick'? At least with home-made it is possible (sometimes and never when freshly baked) to cut really thin slices.

Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed my ham sarnies, and today will be baking a brown loaf and also cooking another gammon so more sarnies can be made for me, and also B of course. Sometimes there is nothing quite as good as a sandwich. Must be the bread as cheese on toast seems nicer than just 'cheese and biscuits'. Even find 'wraps' don't give me the same pleasure as a 'flat' bread sarnie. Perhaps a proper sarnie is a type of 'comfort eating'. Comforts me anyway.

Although myself preferring sliced bread to a 'butty' (aka 'bap', bread roll, burger buns..., mainly because there is too much bread 'thickness' with a bap. Baguettes are even worse) there is no reason why most fillings for buns cannot be used between slices of bread, or vice versa. So here are some suggestions and we can choose the bread covering we prefer if different to the ones given.

This first uses cold sliced barbecued pork, but myself would used slow-roasted then shredded belly pork.
Roast Pork sandwich, with 'slaw': serves 4
1 lb (450g) cooked barbecued pork
4 granary rolls
3 tblsp mayonnaise
1 tblsp water
1 tblsp cider vinegar
good pinch black pepper
1 oz (25g) finely shredded cabbage
2 oz (50g) finely shredded carrot
1 oz (50g) grated apple
1 shallot, grated
Thinly slice or shred the pork. Make the 'slaw' by putting the mayo, water, vinegar and pepper into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add the cabbage, carrot, apple and shallot and fold together.
To make up the 'sandwich', put some 'slaw on the bottom of each roll. Top with several slices of pork, and finish with a final layer of 'slaw' before clapping on the lid.
If wishing to take to a picnic for lunch at work, wrap each roll tightly in clingfilm before packing.

There are such things as 'open sandwiches' where there is no bread on top, and when these are toasted they are called 'melts', and then there are 'proper sarnies' (bread on both sides of the fillings) that can be grilled to make 'toasted sandwiches'. There are even electric sandwich toasters that both toast and seal in the filling.
So here is a suggestion that can be used as a 'melt' or use thinner slices of bread, and put another toasted slice on top and turn it into a 'toastie-sarnie'.
The onion mixture can be made a couple of days ahead of using as long as it is kept covered and chilled.
Onion and Cheese Melts: serves 6
2 oz (50g) butter
3 onions, sliced
2 tsp caster sugar
dash brandy (opt) or tblsp water
salt and pepper
6 slices toasting bread (see above)
7 oz (300g) mature cheddar, sliced or grated
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onions, sprinkle the sugar on top. Cook over medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned golden brown and slightly sticky. Add the brandy (if using) or water, and cook until this has evaporated. Add seasoning to taste.
To make the 'melts', heat grill to high, toast the bread, then spread the onions on top, covering each with cheese (sliced or grated). Place on a baking tray, put under the grill and cook for 2 -3 minutes until golden bubbles.

Some time ago gave a recipe for a tuna sarnie, but as this can be made with virtually all canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel) or even use finely chopped cooked prawns, this is worth repeating to serve in baps or between slices of brown or white bread. Sometimes use both types of bread, a slice of white on one side of the sarnie, a slice of brown the other.
For this sarnie it is worth using the cheap own-brand cans of flaked tuna as they are far cheaper than the branded.
Lemon and Herb Fish Sandwich: serves 2
1 x 175g tuna in water or brine, drained
2 tblsp mayo
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
pinch of ground black pepper
2 spring onions, finely chopped OR...
....1 small shallot, grated
4 slices bread
4 slices tomato
handful rocket leaves or watercress
Put tuna (or chosen fish) into a bowl with the mayo, a teaspoon of lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice, the ground pepper, parsley and spring onion or shallot, then mix together well to combine.
Share and spread this mixture on top of two slices of bread, covering each with two slices of tomato and the rocket or watercress leaves. Place the remaining bread on top, Press down lightly and cut each in half (if thick you may wish o spear each with a cocktail stick), then serve.

My Beloved has just brought me a mug of coffee and has told me there is a recipe in today's paper he fancies, mentioning it was made with chicken, pineapple and ginger. As he hasn't had chicken for several days, have said I'd make this for his supper tonight. Or perhaps he might like to make it for himself? He thought that a good idea. So will now go and see what is needed, whether he could make it himself (if I prepare everything in advance), and must get out chicken to defrost.
Although I do have time to defrost chicken at room temperature there is always the microwave to help defrost - one of its few uses, another is reheating, Myself normally don't use the microwave to cook much other than jacket spuds, frozen peas, heating baked beans, and making custard and lemon curd, also melt jelly in a small amount of water so that I can make it up with cold water then it takes less time to set (if in a hurry, stirring in a few ice-cubes to the melted jelly cubes makes it set almost instantly).

Must now go into the living room to sort out what ingredients needed for B' supper, then into the kitchen to remove chicken from freezer, THEN start making the dough for a brown loaf, and while the machine does this for me, will begin emptying my corner carousel and sort out all the plastic tubs, pack those away, then move the basins to the cupboard, baking tins to shelves, and hopefully the washing will be dried so I can remove airer and get the conservatory clear for Norma tomorrow.
If all done and dusted in time, and up early enough with nothing else to do, may have time tomorrow to write my blog before Norma the Hair comes, if not will have to wait until she has left, so it could be closer to noon before publication. Just have to wait and see.
Norma will shortly be going on holiday for 20 days!!! A cruise to the Black Sea. Not sure how my hair will managed without her, will have it cut shorter tomorrow so the curls are less likely to drop, but at my age who cares what I look like? I do try to look respectable, but not always successfully.

Only local readers will have seen yesterday's local news on BBC1 where just prior to 7.00pm they showed a bit about how Morecambe used to be. We had the first Oceanarium, and lots of Bathing Beauty shows each year. Also believe they had a pier, and a big fun-fair. Sadly the pier has now gone, and also the fun-fair. No more Beauty Pageants, and no more dancing competitions, definitely no Oceanarium.
I said to B they always show lots of golden beaches full of people when they film Morecambe (then and now) and quite honestly I've never seen them, only the quicksands that fill the Bay when the tide is out. B said there is quite a large beach (about 100 yards long!), and when the tide it out it is quite big. Somewhere close to the Eric Morecambe statue he says. Must scoot down there when the tide is out and have a look for myself.

One thing that was 'then' and still is in operation 'now' is Brucciani's. An art deco ice-cream parlour, that has been there since 1939. Still run by the same family. When living in Leicester there was also a Brucciani's, where all teenagers used to flock to. B and I often went there. At the time we thought it was the only one, but perhaps the Morecambe one started before that. There may be other branches elsewhere.
Think this is another thing I could do when I scoot along the prom. Visit both the beach, then cross the road and have a Knickerbocker Glory at Brucci's. My first K.Glory was eaten when staying with a school friend in Brighton. A sudden memory had come into my mind of nearly being decapitated when I stupidly stood up in a speed boat as it was zooming towards and under Brighton pier, and had the boat not bumped a wave and caused me to fall back down onto my seat my neck would have been level with a piece of wire stretched diagonally across one pier support to another and my head would end up one side of the pier and my body in the boat the other. Hope I haven't put you off your lunch! The times I have missed death by a fraction would need more than 10 fingers and 10 toes to count. Must have had a guardian angel looking over me. Let's hope it notices when I reach a crossroads and change my direction.

Weather ended up quite sunny yesterday although our living room stays chilly, probably because it gets no sun shine during the best part of the day. Today rain if forecast, but at the moment not yet appeared. Our warmer weather due to depart at the end of this week as much colder air is moving down from the North. Is this going to be the end of our 'summer', or will we be lucky enough to have a bit more warmth during late September? Let us hope so.
Most of the time now when it comes to our British climate, all we can do is hope. Gone are the days when the weather did what it should do - frost, snow and ice in the winter, a fairly cool spring, then several months of warmer weather (not always sunny but fairly dry), then cooler and windier weather in the late autumn, leading back to winter and the fogs, followed by snow.

In those days we could pack our winter clothes away (adding plenty of mothballs to protect anything made of wool), and wear summer clothes during the warmer months. Then reverse the process in the autumn. Does anyone do that now? Now all we seem to wear are the same clothes winter and summer, maybe adding an extra jumper or cardigan if chilly, or put on a 'fleece' for outdoors, as we leave a warm house, jump into a warm car, step out to go into warmed shops and offices. No wonder we are becoming obese. Our bodies now never have to burn off as many calories to keep ourselves warm as in 'times past'. A good reason to eat less. At least buying less food would leave us with more money which then has to go to pay the ever increasing fuel bills. Win some, lose some. Life's like that.

Can feel myself rambling again so must take my leave before you all get fed up with me and move on to more interesting blogs. Hope that most of you will return tomorrow even though I may not do anything interesting today. Having said that no doubt something will happen to surprise even me. Let's hope so. TTFN.