Monday, August 27, 2012

If it Isn't One Thing, It's Another...

Yesterday went from bad to worse. Nothing that would normally bother me, but the mood I was in...!!! B fitted a new light under one of the kitchen cupboards (over a unit), our kitchen is so dark that we need them on when working, but he fixed it the wrong way hanging down instead of sideways on, so I can see it every time I turn to look and it hurts my eyes (almost got a migraine yesterday because of this). B says he's not altering it because it means he would have to unscrew six screws then fit it all back again. So stuck with it, or leave it switched off which is what I might do as then perhaps B will change it.

Our daughter came round with some samples of two cakes she had been making, but as I was still trying to cut out carbos, managed to keep to just a sliver of each. B asked me if I'd had any and I said only a bit of each so far, but this didn't stop him eating all what was left ("well, thought you said you'd some" was his excuse).
Despite yesterday being first rainy then sunny, I ended up huddled under two quilts cuddling a hot water bottle again, AND drinking a mug of hot soup. Just couldn't get warm. Didn't take any iron pills until evening and should have taken them earlier as by then felt so exhausted went to bed as soon as taking the tablets. Do feel as have more energy this morning, but my 'hives' have reappeared (I either get these weals on my arms or my face swells up. At least the red lumps on my arms can be hidden although more 'itchy'). This is probably due to stress, not quite sure why I feel stressed but I do. Having learned of some family news yesterday didn't help. Nothing to be concerned about, more to do with other members of the family having rocked the boat in the past and it has never uprighted itself.
Daughter also wanted to use or computer as hers was in for repair, and she then messed around with the settings and it was only by luck that I discovered - as she was leaving through the back door - that I couldn't get our comp to work properly, so managed to call her back to reset the comp as it was originally.
This happens so often, others use our comp, set it to their own needs then never bother to change it back to our settings, so now I always try to remember to check everything myself before they leave to make sure it is as it should be, otherwise I wouldn't know how to change it back, not being as computer literate as they seem to be.

Also B has now decided it is good fun to make his own meals, and so made his supper again yesterday, and strangely this is not working to my advantage. Firstly am now feeling 'not needed anymore', and am now missing having just one person to cook for. Also, when I went to make my salad for my own meal, found a soggy bag of defrosted peas in the fridge that B had taken out the day before from the freezer (to add some to his meal he was making) and then he put the bag back in the fridge instead of the freezer! Had to chuck the peas away.

It's OK B making his own meals, but at this rate he's going to cost me a fortune. Yesterday he opened a bottle of curry sauce when the recipe said curry 'paste', then put the bottle back on the shelf in the larder. If he had asked me, I would have told him there was a bottle of curry paste already opened in the fridge, and now I have to use up (or freeze) the opened bottle of curry sauce. The more he does for himself the more problems and money wasting seem to be happening. Suppose this is all part of the learning curve, and B should learn to cook as I may not always be here. The cost of (wasted) food is of no interest to B, he just likes 'playing' at cooking, and knowing him, within a few days he will be bored with it. Let us hope so as if I can't cook for B, then what point is there me being here anyway?

Am seriously thinking about taking a holiday Haven't had one for must be nearly 20 years, and although retiring to live in a holiday resort some might think this is a permanent holiday, perhaps it is more a change of scene I need, and also 'my own space' which I now don't get anymore as B has stopped taking his month long holidays on the Tall Ships and I never get any real time to myself any more. Half-days don't count. It is bliss when he is away for more than one night. Mind you, do begin to miss him after a couple of weeks of his absence, but then all the nicer when he does return.

Some time back I wrote about the highs and lows, swings and roundabouts of life. Obviously I'm having a 'downer' at the moment, but the good thing is the only way now will be 'up'. So am sure that very soon I'll be feeling bright-eyed and bushy tailed again. If the rain would stop and the sun would shine for several days without clouding over then this would help.

Was VERY pleased to see that a new series of 'the farm' will shortly be on TV. We have already had the Victorian Farm, then the Edwardian Farm, and now it will be Wartime Farm. Yippee! Can't wait as am sure I will get a big feeling of nostalgia, having lived through those times, and will enjoy watching the meals made in the farm kitchen although possibly wild herbage and fruits, wild rabbits, game birds etc would end up eaten. People who lived in towns were not able to supplement their rations with these 'freebies' in the same way.

Thanks to Karen Lizzie, Catriona and Jane for their comments. I will be checking out what dried onions are on sale next time I go to the supermarkets. Silly really me even bothering about them, it's only because these are used so much by cooks on the US Food Network channel that I am now inspired to try them. If I can go umpteen years of cooking life without needing them, don't suppose I really need them now. 'Fresh' onions are always available and normally would use these when cooking, so probably makes sense to keep doing so.

Watched only a little of the Food Network yesterday (mainly because I had nodded off in my chair), but did see a lady demonstrate to the Barefoot Contessa how to make a 'Sticky Toffee Date Cake', extremely similar to our Sticky Toffee Pudding, but she baked the mixture in two shallow sponge tins, then - after turning them out - she stabbed the cake all over with a cocktail stick and then poured the caramel sauce over the two cakes and let it soak in. The B.C. cut a wedge from hers and ate it straight away, so as the cake was still warm, and so was the sauce, think it is perhaps to be eaten as a 'pudding'.

Normally I don't 'invent' many new recipes, but having discovered several tins of coconut milk in the larder (plus a few packets of coconut cream sachets), and lots of desiccated coconut, think it might be a good idea to try making a rice pudding using coconut milk with (or without) added milk, and maybe even include some desiccated coconut. Custard made with coconut milk would be 'interesting', and this then leads me to consider using this custard to make ice-cream. And maybe coconut milk will also make good pancakes.
Am sure there are many, many ingredients in our store cupboards that are never used to their full potential. We tend to use them 'as per recipe' and never think of looking outside that particular box.

Heinz beans are introducing a new variety of canned beans, this time five different beans in the one can. Not sure if in the usual tomato sauce, but could be interesting. Said to be good to use when making chilli con carne but at over 80p a can for these beans ,think I'll stick to using Tesco's Value red beans at 18p a can when making chilli.

In a cookery booklet that came with a recent cookery mag, noticed a recipe for a 'Roly Poly' bred and butter pudding. Just loved the idea as it gives a different presentation to a traditional dish. Am giving this recipe with my adaptation (original recipe ingredient given in brackets). This is a good pud to make for those who bake their own bread, or for anyone who can buy an unsliced loaf at reduced price because it is on the way to becoming stale.
Roly-Poly Pudding...: serves 8
3 oz (75g) butter, really softened
12 oz (350g) Nutella (or raspberry jam)
1 large unsliced white loaf
4 large eggs
14 fl oz (400ml) whipping (or double) cream
14 fl oz (400ml) milk
3 oz (75g) caster sugar (plus extra for topping)
Remove crusts from the bread to make a rectangular block (whizz the crusts and any leftover bread in a food processor to make crumbs, then freeze for later use).
Cut the loaf along its length into several thick slices, then place a sheet of clingfilm or greaseproof paper on a work surface (to protect surface from the butter), and butter one side of each slice of bread. Turn the bread over then spread the unbuttered side with the Nutella (or jam). Roll each slice up from the narrow end to make small chunky 'Swill rolls', then cut each in half. Place these cut side up in a buttered deep 2 litre baking dish.
Put the eggs, cream and milk into a bowl and whisk together, then whisk in the sugar. Carefully pour this over the rolls of bread, allowing it to soak in bit by bit (you may need to pour in stages). Leave to stand at room temp for at least 30 mins to allow the bread to soak up as much liquid as it can hold (I prefer to leave it standing as long as possible - pref half a day before cooking).
When ready to bake, scatter a little more caster sugar on top (opt) and bake at 160C, 325F, gas 3 for one to one and a half hours or until the top is golden and the custard has set. Cool for five or so minutes before serving.

As the only way is up, then perhaps I should think about starting to climb this particular ladder again. Certainly the iron pills (another taken this morning) have given me a feeling of more energy, so that's good. Not sure whether I will spend the day pampering myself (this means curling up in my chair with another 'hottie'), or get back to doing more baking. Have to wait and see.

Norma the Hair will be coming tomorrow instead of Wednesday (as that day she is off on her cruise to the Black Sea), and won't be coming for the following two weeks. If I wake early enough tomorrow will write and publish my blog before she arrives. If not it will be nearer lunchtime before it appears on your screens.

Today being a Bank Holiday (is this the last one of this year?) do hope everyone will take the chance to enjoy their leisure time, either by relaxing or making good use of it. Will really try and motivate myself to make use of my 'free' time instead of wasting it. At my time of life full advantage should be taken of every minute as who knows how many I have left?

B has always slept more hours a day than most people, 12 hours of sleep each night being normal for him, and this doesn't include the several minutes each day he nods off in his chair. As I said to him the other day, "that's four hours of life you are losing each day, and added up this comes to twenty eight hours, which is nearly two waking days a week that you have lost". Over his lifetime (80 years) he must have spent nearly a quarter of his life asleep when he could have been awake. Twenty years of life experience lost!

When we think about it, sleep is strange anyway. Each night millions of people lying unconscious in their rooms for hours on end, before stirring and coming back to life again. We even have whole rooms set aside just for sleeping, rooms wasted when they could be put to better use. Think the Japanese idea of unrolling a mattress on the floor when ready to sleep, then rolling it up again and putting it away after makes more sense of their space. They then really only need one room for living/sleeping.
In Leeds we had four bedrooms, one was used for a study, the other two were rarely used. A great waste of space when you think of it.

Opposite our home in Leeds was two detached houses (one behind the other) where two Indian families lived (an elderly mother and father lived in one house with one son and his wife and their several children, in the other house another son, wife and their children. We could see right into one of the upper rooms (it had no curtains), and could see a pile of mattresses almost reaching the ceiling. Seemed that all the children from both houses used to sleep in the one room on the mattresses that would then be placed on the floor (to be stacked up again after they woke). Sort of makes sense and it certainly wasn't as bad as it sounds, the family all seemed well adjusted, fairly wealthy, believe had their own business, and just lived a different (more ethnic) way of life with certainly a lot of 'togetherness' when it came to sleeping and eating. Good to know their old folk were looked after and not left to their own resources. ;Examples that we could follow to our own advantage. Nowadays families seem to drift apart rather than staying close together.

Really must prod myself into being more active and 'useful'. Doesn't do anyone any good to sit and mope. If it was fine I would probably take myself off for a scoot on Norris to blow the cobwebs out of my brain, but of course it is raining!!! If I was younger would think of emigrating to a warmer, sunnier climate. England never used to be this bad (weatherwise) when I was younger. We almost always managed to book holidays in advance knowing the weather would be good. Now we never know from one day to the next what it will be like.

One good thing - when the rain is forecast as being 'patchy', then because we live on a relatively small island, it is easy enough to drive a few miles (say 20 or so) and find part of the country that is bathed in sun for a few hours, then probably have to move on (or back) to miss the rain that catches up with us. Trouble is, petrol is expensive and it is cheaper to choose a spot then stay put. But whatever, stay at home or chase the sun - do have a good day. TTFN.