Thursday, August 09, 2012

Positive Thinking...

Watched some more of the Food Network yesterday night (after B had gone to bed). Am sure a great deal of my day could be spent watching the various programmes on that channel, the food seems so much more interesting than that done by our TV cooks. There are some English cooks I have seen on that channel, one being Nigella, and have to say I don't know why I used to enjoy her progs previously, she is now too much flirty looks and not a lot of anything much else interesting as her cooking is far too expensive for the likes of me anyway. Fun to watch when she did her first programmes, but she has got a bit OTT with her presentation since then.

My two favourite US cooks (so far) are The Barefoot Contessa and Sunny Anderson, the only gripe with most of the food cooked on all the programmes is that it seems to be the sort we would crave to eat during hot summers, and 'al fresco'. Also the ingredients used are - on the whole - expensive, at least in the UK.

'Shrimps' (prawns in the UK) seem to be a very popular seafood, and again these are not cheap over here. Even the tiny brown Morecambe Bay shrimps (best ever) caught by the ton probably every day and potted up to be sold all over the country (and maybe all over the world) are very expensive. Perhaps I should learn how to 'scoop' them up in the Bay (having seen it done on TV), then cook them myself.
We are also knee-deep in cockles in this area of the coast, but have to say this is not a shellfish I choose to eat. It has taken me years to sample mussels (this I did in France and only because the rest of our 'gourmet coach trip' were eating them), and did enjoy those. But whelks, cockles, razorfish, sea urchins, scallops....not for me.

Had to smile when you said you were visiting family "a few hours up north". Maybe you did stop overnight with them, but here the same time (say driving down to Cornwall from the Midlands) is only done for something like a week's holiday.
People here are happy to drive to the nearest coast (less than 100 miles away) for 'a weekend break', and Gill used to visit me often in Leeds when she was less than 2 hours drive away, but of course not for the day (too far for that), usually stopping with us for a week. Since we moved to Morecambe and her trip to us is now more than three hours (possibly four), she finds that too tiring.
Once mentioned to Gill that my friend in Australia told me she occasionally drove to visit her daughter to have morning coffee with her, and then returned home (probably after lunch) - and she lived an hour and a half drive away from her family and Gill was stunned and said she would NEVER drive that distance just to have coffee with a friend (not even me!), definitely that distance would mean an overnight stay at least.

Am sure a lot is to do with the size of the country that people live in. In the US - it seems that people think nothing of driving 600 miles to visit people, and maybe return the same (or following day), and that's about the same distance as here in the UK from Land's End to John O'Groats (well B says it is, I thought the distance between the two was well over a thousand miles!).

Of course am speaking from the aspect of a lady that doesn't really like driving distances, although quite happy to drive over to Scarborough from Leeds just to spend a day there (it took less than an hour).
Also I used to drive happily around Yorkshire all day taking visitors on a 'scenic trip', and that was pleasant enough, perhaps because there were a lot of places we would stop and visit (maybe a stately home, or an ancient castle or ruined Abbey), as well as enjoying lunch and tea at any one of these, or in a pretty village.

All relative I suppose, as anyone commuting to central London by car to get to work can take two and a half hours getting there (so they have to leave home very early, and also get home fairly late), and that's even when they live just on the outskirts of the city. No wonder most people leave their cars at the nearest railway station, especially the Underground, and travel to London by public transport.

Your Mexican meal sounded lovely Lisa, and what it 'pico de gallo'? There are often Mexican recipes on the Food Network, and dishes from the town of Wahaca (?) often mentioned, so is this a 'culinary' centre?
Pulled pork (similar to that slow-roast belly pork that I cooked the other day) also seems a favourite in the US although I think this is slow-roast pork shoulder (roasted for seven hours it was said in one of yesterday's progs).

Just loved watching Sir Chris Hoy's win at the Games Catriona, especially how excited his mother was. How lovely to see that.
We didn't win a medal yesterday, that's a first, but still several days left and we've done splendidly already. There was a medal listing in the paper yesterday and if Scotland and Yorkshire had been included each as a 'country', together they would have won at least half the medals (I think gold) that have been already won this year.

As you say Margie, 500 cals is far too low to keep our bodies in good healthy 'working order'. At one time I did eat only that, and of course lost a lot of weight, but then reached that dreaded 'plateau', and the dietitian said my body had gone into starvation mode and was hanging on to everything I ate, so I should increase my calories - she suggested eating cheese to give my body a metabolic boost. This I did, and blow me, lost 4 lbs during the next week, and it always has seemed that when very careful to keep the calories down during the week, tucking in to a really good meal on Saturday and Sunday's seems to have the same effect. The problem is that if I continued to eat more for another couple of days, then the weight loss stopped, and almost certainly returned when I didn't revert back to five days of less calories.

As to storing herbs in oil. The 'strong' herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme) it is said are as good when used dried as when used fresh, so I wouldn't bother to store in oil. I dry mine and keep them in large glass jars and use as required.
Softer herbs, such as mint and parsley, I chop finely and press into ice-cube trays with a little water to hold the bits together. This seems to keep them in good condition as when thawed out they look, smell, and taste 'fresh'. Oil would probably work but I've never tried it, and sometimes I don't wish for oil to be added to the dish I'm needing the herbs for.

The grocery order arrived yesterday, not without some hiccups. Firstly, despite the driver having full details "deliver to the back (kitchen) door, down the drive at the side", he arrived at the front door - too far away for the food to be carried to the kitchen, so asked him to take the food round to the back - which he did, driving his huge van down the drive to get to the door.

As I was unloading baskets, he kept putting the next on top, and possibly something got left in the bottom basket I don't know, but when I eventually had unpacked the lot from the bags, discovered the butter (several lbs ordered, salted and unsalted as used all my stock up when cooking and needed more for the next lot as well as for B), plus a pork pie (to go with B's supper yesterday) and a couple of gammons (on offer and to freeze to cook later), were missing.

Phoned customer services who tried to get in touch with the driver but said he wasn't answering, but possibly driving so couldn't. Said they would leave a message on his phone and I would hear from him within half an hour. Two hours later had heard nothing. Phoned them again and they tried again and said he still wasn't answering but one of their reps would phone me and sort out what I wanted to do: have the food delivered later, or cancel the order etc.

No-one got in touch with me, so today I will be on the phone to them again. Problem is - what if the delivery man says he delivered all my food, will they believe him? My word against his. He maybe had given them to a previous customer by mistake (and they perhaps wouldn't admit to receiving them). This happened to a friend of mine in Leeds who had a huge amount of food delivered that she hadn't ordered, and when she phoned Tesco they said she could keep it.

It will be interesting to see the outcome. Am hoping the food will now have been discovered hidden under a pile of empty boxes in the van, and sure by today something will be sorted and tomorrow I will let you know.

Forgive me if I leave you now, as the missing order has priority. I won't be able to settle until the matter is done and dusted.
Also have to contact the member of the catering at B's social as she has not returned my best baking tin. I don't want to lose that either, so must email her to remind her to bring it to the club on Friday (when I am being paid. If anyone is interested, the two days 'bakeathon' cost around £15 in ingredients, and the amount of portions was around 150. That's 10p each, and sold for 50p a portion, so they would make a good profit.).

It is said today would start slightly misty and this would then burn away to give a really sunny and hot day. So far the sky here is covered with cloud, proper cloud, not mist. Let us hope the 'burn up' does happen and I'd like to be able to go and sit outside in the sun for a while.
It's good to know that the weather has been pretty good on the whole for the Olympics, and should remain so until the closing ceremony and possibly beyond that. Considering how bad it was prior to this, we have been very lucky weatherwise for the Games.

Please join me tomorrow, then continue my 'chat', and hope then to give a recipe or two. See you then.