Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting There!

Discovered today that not only do I have a 'fear of empty shelves' phobia, also have one of 'fear of almost empty jars', so earlier this morning, not having time to write my blog before Norma arrived, spent half an hour in the larder busily topping up jars as best I could (having more than one part empty jar containing the same thing). This has now left we with at least a couple of empty jars and really must fill these with something today or I begin to feel fretful.

At least have done quite a bit of sorting out, still plenty to do. At the moment have collected a lot of matching creme fraiche (and similar containers) and today want to spend time scrubbing the printing off the plastic. The print comes off easily with hot water and a soapy Brillo pad, and - having a clear white surface - can then easily write on contents using a marker pen (and washing this off later to use again for something else). Leaving the printing on doesn't hurt the contents but it is much harder to find what I'm looking for when left as-is.
Very large white plastic tubs (yogurt, cream etc) - once cleaned of printing - make very attractive plant pots. Look almost ceramic, and can be decorated with paints if we wish.

Watched Great British Bake-Off last night, and this has inspired me to try making different breads. Really do want to be able to make brioche, croissants and Pannetone. Plus Danish pastries although these are more pastry than bread (but then so are croissants).

There were two articles in the newspaper today, one from Mary Berry who is encouraging young girls to learn how to bake and enjoy what they cook as it seems that we'll be doing a lot more cooking in the future. Was pleased to read that she also spoils her husband, and he doesn't know where anything is in the kitchen (except perhaps tea, or maybe not even that, can't remember).
Second article about how many young mothers are now beginning to feed their baby home-made baby foods instead of buying the more expensive, because they now cannot afford to buy the ready-made. That's one good thing that has come out of the recession, well more really, not only are we now 'obliged' to give our children home-made meals, but also the adults. All of a sudden a lot more of our nation is now eating good food 'like Mama used to make', and thoroughly enjoying it.
Maybe there are some (like me) out there who - at the end of the week - empty their purses and count what is left, Scrooge-like fashion, almost slobbering over the savings. Well, at least seeing the money pile up does make us wish to continue cooking.

Your mention Sarina about not losing as much weight as you hoped may be more to you building up muscle due to regular cycling, muscle tissue weighing heavier than fat. Our daughter wanted to lose weight and some years back took to going to the gym three times a week as well as counting calories and she certainly lost a lot of inches overall and looked wonderful, but to her horror found during this time she had actually GAINED gained several pounds (nearly a stone), and this apparently was all muscle! So don't despair.

When we start 'stock-taking' our larders, then decide we really should make use of what we have, cooking then becomes a lot more fun. Jane is being 'creative in the kitchen' having run out of many fresh foods, and it does us all good to do the same from time to time. Anything to take away the monotony of cooking 'just plain food' helps to keep our interest.
Don't think my mother enjoyed cooking at all, this probably because in her day food WAS 'plain and simple'. The week's meals made from the leftovers of the Sunday joint (plus - in our home - fish and chips on Saturday). Up to the time I got married I knew exactly what to expect for my main meal of the day, every day of the week, every month of the year. Other than perhaps during the war years (rationing made things difficult) but can't then remember that much difference.

Mary Berry's reference to her husband not knowing where anything is in her kitchen made me smile as my B is exactly the same. He knows where the toasting bread is, the butter and the toaster. He knows where the electric kettle, instant coffee and milk are kept. He even know where the sunflower oil is (all on the unit top either side of the hob). But nothing else (other than perhaps the cheese in the fridge and ice-cream in the freezer).

Yesterday B was really looking forward to cooking his stir-fry, but then when I looked at the recipe in the paper it wasn't made with chicken (B said it said chicken breast or might have said chicken fillet). What the recipe called for was rump steak! Lucky I hadn't thawed out any chicken at that point (although it could have made a good substitute). Instead I thawed out a piece of belly pork that had already been cooked, then - after removing all fat - cut it into strips.

The intention was to let B prepare the rest of his supper himself, but when he asked where the root ginger was, I then had to get it from the fridge (he wouldn't have found it anyway), then he asked if it needed peeling before use. Then asked me where the rice wine vinegar was (we don't have any, neither do we have sherry that could have been substituted), then he asked me where the demerara sugar was (the recipe said soft brown sugar...), then said to B I'd put everything together ready for him on a tray and he could then follow the recipe and make the meal.

I did make the marinade because it just seemed easier if I did so, this way was able to add a bit of pineapple juice (from the canned pineapple and B would have opened the pineapple rings instead of chunks if I'd let him loose in the larder). Instead of soft brown sugar, added white caster and a bit of black treacle as both were on the kitchen table and this saved me having to get up from my chair and walk 10 paces into the larder then back again replacing the sugar jar (my excuse being I am ever so old and have aching joints... but in truth just darn lazy). Used white wine vinegar instead of the rice vinegar, and have to say the marinade tasted really good - very similar to teryaki.

Instead of rice, thawed out half a pack of 'straight to wok' noodles that I'd frozen. Because I hadn't wrapped them properly they seem to have dried out a bit, but a soak in boiling water whilst B stir fried the other ingredients worked the trick. B asked me to sample the end result and have to say he had made a good job of it. Unfortunately, although plenty there for one serving, not enough for my B (who can eat for England), so immediately after eating his meal he then got up and made himself some cheese on toast.
Next time he wants to cook stir-fry I will prepare more vegetables for him and he can have a whole bag of noodles or 2 minute microwave rice and that should satisfy him.

Have made a list of 'things to do today', and as B is out at the RNLI shop this morning and going straight to the gym this afternoon, should be able to have a clear run and get most of it done (there is never room for two of us in the kitchen at any one time, the kitchen is large enough but L-shaped with narrow 'passing places', a bit like a ship galley I suppose. In Leeds we had the kitchen table in the middle of the floor, so it could be walked round from any direction and so always a clear passage way to the two doors (back door, hall door). Here in Morecambe we have the same table, but one end is pushed right up to a wall at the side of the larder. I've tried turning it the other way round, and it is possible then to walk all round it, but the chairs then get in the way. I hate this kitchen!!!

Later today due to Norma doing my hair, at least was able to do some of the crossword whilst under the hair dryer. Next week she comes Tuesday (as she will be away on holiday for 20 days. My hair will look a right mess by the time she returns, but as I keep saying, who cares?).

Must love you and leave you now as my intention is to work through all the chores listed for today. Then I can sit back and feel 'a job well done'. Hope to meet up with you again tomorrow. TTFN.