Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Need to Criticise.

Watching cookery programmes usually ends up with me feeling I want something to eat, not necessarily what has been demonstrate, just FOOD! Doesn't help my diet.
Yesterday B watched some of the Food Network progs with me and both of us were salivating at the enormous portions of foods served in the diners. Far too much for our English appetites, but certainly the US do cook some wonderful sauces to go with their even more wonderful meat. Can only assume that meat in the US (and prices charged in diners) is far less than over here. Or possibly the wages in America are much higher than ours.

'Guy' whateverhisname was at a diner yesterday assembling his own assortment of foods to go with his burger-in-a-bun. He opted for some bacon (along with a lot else), and he did something really clever, weaving the rashers of bacon basket-fashion to make a square that was fried, and so it ended up really crispy and held together. Perfect size to fit between our square sliced bread. Will definitely have to try that one.

Earlier in the day was watching another Sunny Anderson show, and although I do like the way she works, am finding her chatter a bit too fast. Also (another moan from me), she says 'good to go' far too often, I gave up counting after she'd said it 12 times in less than half an hour.
Was trying to think the expressions we would use to mean the same thing, probably say 'this is ready', or 'ready now to serve', or 'that's done, we can now set it aside'....

Think that I'm more likely to pick up on things 'to criticise' when not particularly interested in what's happening. B is the same, he is always saying 'I'm sure he wears a wig' (be is sensitive about hair as he has very little and very envious of older men who still have plenty), or 'did you see that woman walking behind the presenter, odd shoes she was wearing'....

Many many years ago (to my shame) I even counted the times Delia Smith said 'um'..or 'er.' between words, think that was about 36 times in a half-hour. But this was when she was younger and no doubt doesn't hesitate any more. Maybe she still does at times, but I've got past the waiting for it, and far more interested in what she is doing.
At the present time am now watching Nigella to see how many times she does her 'flirty eyes' to the camera when she is cooking.

Must be old age that is making me so critical and irritable. As I said yesterday, live and let live
Am sure I repeat myself far too much when writing my blog, so who am I to criticise. Have just remembered how - when I first met my B - he kept telling me off for saying 'you see' so often. Think eventually I managed to stop that habit, but how easy it is for us to do (and say) things we are not always aware of and that often annoy others.

Late starting the blog this morning due to going to bed late, and then rising late. Also the comp was very slow starting up, sometimes it does this, not sure why. A dreary day today, no obvious rain when looking out of the window, but there is a steady drizzle. More bad weather to come over this weekend, but then it would wouldn't it, being a Bank Holiday.

Do hope you have got your change in domestic arrangements sorted Lisa, also your daughter is not being too upset by the 'kerfuffle'. Her new terms course at college (all food related) sound really good. Am sure she will enjoy that.
If 'onion powder' is the residue left after packing dried onions then it should be pretty easy for me to whizz some dried in the processor to make my own powder if I need any.
By the way, noticed in our TV supplement that the US channel 'Hulu' (think it is called) will be shortly showing our 'Land Girls' series. Do hope you manage to watch it Lisa. It is very 'English' both in scenery, homes, and the clothes worn during the war years, also the way of life then (I am old enough to remember), which is - in some rural areas - not that much different now. One of my favourite series.

Yes Christine I've tried (many years ago) folding in onion soup mix into yogurt and creme fraiche, and it does make a very good dip. Will have to see if there is dried onion soup mix still sold.
As I've only just had the dried onion powder brought to my attention (courtesy of the Food Network), haven't yet checked with Tesco or Morrison's to see if they sell dried onions. Thanks Eileen for telling us about Whitworth's manufacturing these (and also dried veg), will take a look next time am in a supermarket.

Most supermarkets used to sell packets of pizza mix Campfire, so am sure they are still on sale, probably on the shelves where they stock the pastry mix, cake mixes, scone mixes etc. But as you say, bread mix (with a little added oil) is just about the same thing.
Dave (of the Hairy Bikers) lives on Roa Island, near Barrow in Furness. B drove me there once and it is a lovely place to visit, very small with a causeway leading to it. Was able to see the house where Dave lives (it's been on TV several times), but didn't like to knock on the door to see if he was at home.

A welcome to Shayna, and her mention of Tesco onion 'granules' has made me think it's worth checking out their website to see if they still stock them. Of course I could check supermarket sites when wishing to find out who stocks what, but for some reason prefer to 'discuss' my needs with my readers. Give me a feeling of 'togetherness' I suppose.
Hope you stay with this site Shayna, it can sometimes be boring, but on the other hand sometimes (I hope) quite interesting.

Well done Jane for working through your well-stocked storecupboard. Like many of us, we usually find - given enough thought - we can keep serving meals without much need to top up with fresh milk, egg, and salad veggies, and - at a pinch - UHT milk and mixed salad leaves and herbs grown on the window sill can see us through our salad needs. All we need are eggs, and if we keep chickens, then even the eggs are provided.
Mind you, even though I do have UHT milk in the larder, prefer to stock up with fresh milk, and also salad veggies (plus some fruits such as bananas). Ideally we aim to store foods that have a long-shelf life, then live off these for as long as possible, spending just a little money (maybe once every two weeks) just 'topping up' the fresh. It is incredible how much money can be saved doing just that.
Is it next week you are on holiday Jane, but whenever, do hope you have a lovely time and the weather is kind to you.

Having recently given a recipe for a type of meat loaf (baked in a shallow 'tray-bake' tin), today am giving another version, this time made with minced pork (or could use minced chicken or a mixture of both), cooked the more traditional way - in a loaf tin.
If time is short on the day of eating, the meatloaf can be made the day before, put into the tin - minus the topping, covered then chilled to cook later. The topping can also be made earlier, but placed over the meatloaf just before the end of cooking time).
Herby Pork Meatloaf: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1 lb (500g pack) minced pork (see above)
4 oz (100g) fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
pinch salt
2 tblsp tomato puree
1 tblsp dried thyme (or mixed dried herbs)
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1 oz (25g) breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) grated cheddar cheese
Fry the onion in the oil for about 4 minutes or until softened then put into a bowl. Add the bacon, minced pork, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, tomato puree and herbs. Mix well then press firmly into a 1lb (450g) loaf tin. Bake uncovered at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for one hour.
To make the topping, dry fry the bacon until crisp then remove from pan. To the bacon fat n the pan add the breadcrumbs for a couple or so minutes until golden. Put crumbs into a dish with the cheese, then crush the bacon into crumbs and add that too.
Five minutes before the end of the cooking time for the meatloaf, sprinkle the topping over the surface and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes before running knife between the meatloaf and sides of the tin, then either slice into four whilst still in the tin or upturn onto a plate, then upturn again onto another plate so the topping is seen to be where it should be. At the top!
Slice and serve hot with salad and new potatoes.

My Beloved thoroughly enjoyed himself yesterday cooking his supper almost from scratch. All I needed to do was thaw out the chicken breast for him, slice it in half lengthways (to make sure he cooked it through thoroughly), then put most of the remaining ingredients ready in little dishes for him to use as required. The missing ones (bacon, oil) he knew where they were.
Once made he brought it to me to sample. I thought it tasted a bit salty, he said that was probably the bacon. I asked how much he used (the recipe said 6 rashers - to feed four), and he said he'd used four rashers (he only needed one and a half but he likes bacon). He made quite a good job of it although I'd have liked a little more liquid (sauce). The recipe said 'simmer' for 15 minutes, but 'simmer' to B mean boiling, so the liquid had reduced more than it should.

The above meal was certainly very tasty and am sure B will now be cooking for himself more often. Already he has marked several recipes he wants to try, unfortunately most of them use ingredients I don't normally have (hoisin sauce, fish sauce, spring onions...), but there are several recipes that don't need spending extra. Suppose B could always be asked to buy his own ingredients if necessary. Might give him a better idea of how much food costs these days as am sure he doesn't really that one meal made by me for him alone cost over £6!

Beloved tends to believe that if home-cooked food is cheaper than the prices charged in restaurants then he is having a good deal, but even then often too expensive for me to keep feeding him so (financially) generously. However, because my own meals are frugal (mainly due to dieting), somehow manage to feed B in the way he has been accustomed without going over my budget.

My own supper yesterday was very enjoyable. Decided to make a salad buy shredding up the last of one iceberg lettuce in the fridge (have another not yet started), adding the end of a cucumber (ditto) also chopped, plus a bit of finely chopped onion (left over from B's supper), then folding this together with the creme fraiche/tartare sauce 'dip' made the day previously (some of this dip was used for B's supper replacing the creme fraiche needed - he didn't notice the added tartare sauce).
Then thawed out some cooked frozen prawns and placed those on the salad, finally drizzling over some Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. A salad full of flavour, and will be making that again. Maybe today.

Yesterday sliced the gammon that had been cooked and chilled overnight in the fridge. This one was absolutely gorgeous. Some seem better than others. Normally I buy gammon (when on offer) from Tesco, the ham cooked a couple of days ago came from Morrison's, slightly more expensive, but only by £1, so will buy gammon from there again As ever - using the slicing machine - got loads of slices from the ham, packed in 4's, so will freeze most of them, leaving a couple of packs for B to make sarnies with (or have with salad).

As it's Saturday - traditionally a day for baking - might make some cakes (that will store) , and probably also a few scones for B to eat later this evening. He is out helping novice sailors late this afternoon (weather permitting - so far we haven't had the high winds forecast but there is still time).

Am still attempting to sort out (aka 'stocktake') the contents of my larder and also fridge and freezers. Have enough jam and marmalade to last B more than a year, so that's one job well done. What is needed is to try and use up many of the dry ingredients that have been on the shelves for over a year (we've only been here 3 years so nothing is THAT old as we brought very little with us).
Also want to have a go at making some mozzarella and maybe another soft cheese (using the Lakeland book). It'll be absolutely brilliant if I can make rather than buy the various soft cheeses that I use (curd cheese, mozzarella, feta, halloumi...) and almost certainly should save a considerable amount of money. All it takes is a little time, and this mostly 'left to get on with it by itself'.

The rain is now falling more heavily, and it is so dark that I can barely see to read my notes. I've know winter days to be brighter. Think I'll take my leave now and move into a room where I can't see the weather, and for once this means lack of windows in the kitchen can today prove to be an advantage.

As ever, whatever the weather, do hope all readers have a pleasant Bank Holiday weekend, and hope that some of you can find a few minutes to have a read, send a comment or two.... Will be back tomorrow and hope to see you then.