Friday, August 03, 2012

Marathon Cook-in Coming Up

It wasn't until yesterday evening that I got a phone call about what, and how many, cakes would be needed this coming weekend. Numbers have doubled for Saturday (now expect 25) and halved for Sunday (now around 250).
Have been asked to provide cakes and scones for Saturday, and 40 portions each of four different cakes for Sunday. As my largest tray bake tins will cut into around 15 portions each, and the smaller into 10, that means three trays baking of each cake to provide the 40 slices, and that multiplied by four means 12 'tray-bakes' cooked just for Sunday. Not that I mind of course, but t will take time as some of the cakes need their 'batter' made freshly for each one.

With this in mind I'll be working flat out today, and will take tomorrow off from writing my blog, and as I also have to do scones, and as Gill phones me at 9.00 on Sunday morning, will probably not be at my desk until after Sunday, by which time I expect to have plenty to write about.

Thanks for your comments. Myself have been wondering about the disappearance of Les, MimsyS. I took a look at his own website the other week in the hope of finding out, and in his last entry there he mentioned about his medical problems (several), waiting for tests, possibly staying in hospital, so maybe he's been busy with those, let us hope he returns to us soon.

Hand-knitting is becoming a popular handicraft again these days. Trouble is - as Alison is no doubt finding out - wool and yarn has become very expensive (compared to what it was in my 'day'). We can expect to pay £2 for a ball of wool, and that - at least - puts me off starting to knit again. Perhaps it would be a good idea for us to learn how to spin wool (another hobby that at least one reader has taken up), and with just one fleece (doesn't cost much more than one ball of wool) we could spin lbs and lbs of wool.
Charity shops often sell random balls of wool cheaply, and possibly more may be bought via the Internet, eBay etc.
Alternatively, if we are lucky enough to find a hand-knitted garment at a jumble sale, we could carefully unravel it, wash out the 'kinks', then re-knit up into something else.

Thanks for putting us straight Sarina about the Goulash. Myself didn't seem to associate that dish with Poland, and you reminded me it was originally Hungarian. The Polish version would taste just as good (maybe better).
Loved your pork belly recipe with the cabbage, especially as it had caraway seeds. When younger my mother often made 'seed cake' using caraway seeds, no-one seems to make it anymore. Am sure I have some caraway amongst my 'spice' collection, so will see if I can find it, then add it when cooking to bring back memories of my youth.

Being advised how much water to use when gardening is something we never have to do here Lisa. We are told not to use hose-pipes when there is a drought, and preferably use the waste household water for our plants (bath water, shower water, washing up water....).

It does seem that (domestic) life in America can be so very different than in the UK. The wearing of socks is something rarely seen, other than by children. We tend to favour bare feet when wearing sandals in the hot weather.
Am sure pork belly must be on sale in the US, but probably under a different name. It is what it says - the underside of the pork that also is cured to make bacon. Maybe it is used only to make bacon in America.

After a great day for us Brits gaining many Olympic medals (we are now fifth in the listings of who has won the most), and have to say glued to the TV as much as possible, as for the first time have got hooked on watching all the sports (the sailing, weightlifting and volleyball the least interesting for me), perhaps this is because the Olympics are held in England this time.
Once the evening sports were over, watched a couple of repeats of 'Father Ted' (one I don't remember seeing before), and then decided to watch the Food Network (also took a look at that earlier in the day).

Have to say that am very impressed with the quality of the fruit and veg sold in the US stores. All look far larger and far fresher than ours. The lemons looked almost the size of mangoes, here they seem to be half the size.

For readers of this blog who live over the pond, it might be useful to mention a few differences, as this could alter ingredients to some of the recipes given.
Firstly, in the US their 'shrimps' are huge and what we call 'prawns'. We can buy 'prawns' in various sizes, from 'Jumbo' to 'large' to small 'cocktail' size. Our shrimps are very small and much sweeter in flavour. Not often sold other than at seaside resorts where they are caught (or Morecambe Bay ones are famous), more likely found elsewhere as 'potted shrimps' .

Another 'ingredient' used yesterday was 'chicken broth'. This was poured from a carton, so obviously bought (myself make it myself), but this we call 'stock'. 'Broth' is what we call a thick, chunky soup, usually made with meat and vegetables (aka Scotch Broth).

Don't know why (and apologise for this), but do get irritated when I hear herbs pronounced as 'erbs. Yesterday fillet steak (also fillets of fish) were called 'fil-ay' (we say 'fill-it'), and with both 'erbs and the 'fil-et', realised these are the French pronunciation, so nothing wrong with that. It's us that gets it wrong.

Pleased to see that Orzo was being used in a recipe. This is a fairly new product to our shores, and hope will become available in all supermarkets. This looks like rice but is a form of pasta, mainly used in Greek dishes. Quinoa (pronounced correctly by the US cook as 'keenwah') we see used more and more in recipes. It has the most protein content of any grain and cooks in less time than rice.

Had to smile at the abbreviations used for guacamole and Parmesan cheese (both used often in US recipes). The former called 'gwack', and the latter 'Parm'. At least we seem to have taken the 'mac and cheese' (macaroni cheese) on board as I've heard several chefs in the UK call it that.

There was super recipe where fish was 'dredged' before frying. Instead of using flour, egg, and crumbs, the fish was first marinated in Greek yogurt for 15 minutes, then dipped (aka 'dredged') in flour to coat, THEN back into the yogurt before being dipped in breadcrumbs. What a good idea. Will be trying that myself.

Think my main envy re US cooking is the use of measuring spoons. Using these makes every recipe so easy. Am fed up with having to measure out everything on scales, many being rarely accurate when it comes to small amounts, although recently - having purchased an electronic digital scale - this certainly is very exact but takes more time than measuring by spoon.
We also have the problem of using either the old imperial measurements (that I favour because this is how I learned to cook), and the metric (which are not exactly the same as imperial when converted. Some recipes say 4 oz is 100g, another will say 110g, another say 112g...). When we had the change-over the recipes gave both weights and measures, now it is only metric, and believe me, half the time I can't work these out. All my 'old' cookbooks are now the ones I refer to as they are all in 'imperials'. Which do readers prefer?
When baking we do need to be as accurate as possible. at least they say that, but have managed to convert a lot of 'complicated' recipes into some far more easily 'weighed/measured up' that end up even better than the original/traditional (these will be shown on my new site).

Food cooked from scratch in American kitchens looks wonderful. Unfortunately, if we tried to do the same here it could prove expensive as we don't have the luxury of such wonderful fresh produce that is obviously cheaper - and much more variety- over the pond.
We are lucky in that we seem to have more variety with meat, lamb for instance being always available (but sadly rising in price), and possibly we eat more offal. Much is to do with traditions, as here we now find 'Chicken Tikka Masala' classed as the favourite and accepted British dish (fish and chips now a close second) due to our multi-cultural population, no doubt American settlers from abroad brought their own 'favourites' with them. So Spanish food must be high in popularity in the US, also Italian.
This is why American cookery sites are (sometimes) interesting for it does cover many different cultural tastes and dishes brought to that country several centuries ago.. We are only just beginning (at least in my life-time) to discover many of these.

Only managed to watch the first half of Hairy Dieters yesterday, so hope I didn't miss too much. At least got the message that we can still eat much of what we like, only eat a lot less of it. Maybe that is the best way, not bother with diets, just cut down on the amount. Well, I've done that and at the moment its not helping as this week have lost only 2 lb (but then if I can do that for the next three months, that would mean around a loss of 2 stone, so as that is what I'm aiming for, then 2 lb a week loss is fine).

Missed the first half of 'Superscrimpers', but saw the bit about buying a new car, and was quite interested in the "£50 for a week's meals" challenge. Was that for all the food for a week (incl. breakfast, lunch etc) or only for the main meal of the day? Although they managed to stick (almost to the budget), they didn't seem very enthusiastic about some of the meals that they'd made. Eating out for lower cost was far more to their liking.
Suppose it's really a matter of learning how to make the best meals from inexpensive ingredients that you KNOW the family will enjoy. Am sure there was a soup that would taste much better than the lentil one made by the man of the house. Not even sure if that was supposed to be the 'main course'. Did they eat puddings?

Why should I be concerned? Think all readers to this site are quite happy making the most of what they have, and do it superbly. All finding enjoyment in 'making do', rather than feeling forced to give up things then miserable about it. Everyone has to find their own way to cut down costs, and what suits one does not always suit another. But at least we should give it a try.

That's it for today. I've informed B that I'll be 'slaving' away in the kitchen all today (and all tomorrow) and tonight I'd like him to bring me in a Chinese takeaway (a treat for me and saves me cooking). Unfortunately he doesn't want one himself, but I've managed to persuade him to have poached salmon with salad ( easy for me to thaw out the salmon and poach it, and plate up a salad earlier - ready and waiting in the fridge). I will enjoy eating a meal that has been made by someone else, and as B is out later at the 'social', can choose to watch any programme I wish (after 9.00pm when he leaves until 12.30am when he returns). No doubt I'll be too weary and end up going early to bed. On the other hand, adrenaline might have set in, and I'll sit up and watch TV all night (the Food network is on 24 hours - Yippee!), before starting my next batch of baking (have to bake scones early Saturday for B to take with him - he will be at the club both days this weekend, so by Sunday (after my blog) I will be able to sit down and relax.

Never did get out with Norris yesterday, and although today looks as though the sun will be shining, and there is only a slight breeze, will now be too busy to go out. Silly me, should have taken the opportunity when it arises. Story of my life.

Please remember I won't be 'blogging' tomorrow, but hope you find time to send me comments, so that I have plenty to reply to when I return on Sunday. Enjoy your next few days, and fingers crossed we win more Golds. Am sure we will. TTFN.