Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Year Moves On

Although it is only mid-August, there is almost a hint of autumn in the air. Think this feeling is instinctive, the same way I feel the first 'stirrings' of spring. At least, this weekend we are forecast a heatwave with temperatures in the low 80'sF. Let us hope so.
Today looks set fair as although there are clouds in the sky, they are broken and fairly high, but it could change. If warm enough will be sitting in the sun for a while to make the most of it.

Groceries were ordered yesterday, and have managed to keep the amount to only what was needed (fresh foods and replacement of those used when baking last weekend), so with the vouchers it won't cost very much at all. Needed the flour, sugar, syrup etc as will be baking again for the club in 10 days or so.

Also, it won't be long now before the autumnal urges kick in, like making up preserves and pickles, Christmas puddings and Cakes, mincemeat etc. Also will then be thinking about Christmas gifts and decorations that should be started sooner than later. Let us hope I can get up to the end of September and enjoy any summer that is left to us, so far (apart from that week in March) we haven't had any good weather to speak of. The rest of the country maybe, but not much here in the North West.

Managed to get through yesterday eating only two meals. Jacket potato with baked beans for lunch, and a salad with a little grated cheese for supper. Perhaps - because I ate no bread (even though the spuds were carbos), did have a weight loss of 2 lb this morning. Firmly believe it is eating bread that causes my rapid gains in weight, so must try to avoid it as much as possible.

Yesterday baked a granary loaf as we had just about run out of bread anyway (due to me eating sarnies most days), and this should keep B happy for a while, and as it is difficult to slice thinly, I certainly won't be using it to make sarnies.

As you say Campfire, it does seem that eating small portions is the way to a enjoying a long life. Obviously a lot has to do with our genes (some families all live longer than others), but even within my own family, it is the ones who have eaten the least that have lived the longest. My aunt used to always say we should eat slowly and chew our food for ages before swallowing it, this makes the meal last a lot longer anyway. Myself feel that feeding a family doesn't help to slow things down, no sooner had I plated up the meals for B and our four children, then sat down to eat mine, the had just about finished theirs and were demanding pudding, so I used to have to rush my meal to satisfy their appetites.
Ideally, the food should have been put into bowls for everyone to serve themselves, then I could have sat down and we all started together, but this didn't work as there used to be rows that someone took more than someone else, or there wasn't enough of something to 'go round', and anyway couldn't afford to please everyone, and 'portion control' seemed the best way at that time.

Am sure there are quite a few things you could add to the 'catering mixes' you use Jane. Maybe adding a bit of sugar, dried fruit, and an egg to the scone mix. Grated zest of orange would give even more flavour to carrot cake than just the juice of the fruit (and saves the fruit to be used in a fruit salad etc). Also a bit of cinnamon or mixed spice added to 'mixes' gives them a bit more of a 'home-made' flavour.

Thanks Les for letting readers know of the new series on BBC. It has been advertised on TV, and am sure will be again, so worth watching. We all want quick and easy, just as long as it is doesn't cause more expense. Up to now this has usually been what happens - we have to make the choice between buying ingredients that cook quickly - and usually expensive, and those that take much longer to cook (or prepare) that are much cheaper. So let's hope Lorraine keeps the cost down.
Now I can get Food Network, took a look at it yesterday and there was Nigella with her Express cooking. Now she doesn't worry at all about how much things cost, neither did her cooking inspire me much (due to this), and a later programme (Hook, Line and Dinner) was - of course - about fish, and the fish caught from the tip of Long Island was quite different to the fish around our shores, and so this didn't inspire me either. My favourite cook on F.N. is The Barefoot Contessa.

Have to say I do wish we could change to the 'measuring spoons' as used in the US (and other countries) as this seems to make cooking far more simple when we don't continually have to bother with using scales to weigh things out. Nothing stopping me buying some and as many recipes now also include 'cup' measurements, then think I might just make that change.

Your mention of the snacks sold at your local sporting events made my mouth water Lisa. Although have to say most of them are probably not that 'healthy'. Not sure what is now sold at similar events here, but almost certainly there would be vans selling hot-dogs and burgers, also ice-creams 'Mr Whippy' type. Not sure what else, but then as we don't usually go to these events, maybe some other reader could let us know what else we could buy to eat when there.

Your huge 'harvest moon' sounded lovely Lisa. Think we had a full moon only a few days ago (is the moon full at the same time all round the world? Possibly not), and our 'harvest moon' comes in September, around the time of the harvest festival I think, when the corn fields have been harvested.

Did not realise that IKEA sold bread mix Margie. Thought they only sold household furnishings. Have never been to the store, but understand their (furniture) products are good.
Am sure food prices will rise even more this autumn/winter due to the adverse weather conditions that many countries have had. Yet, if we follow the good advice about eating less, and only small amounts each time, this alone could cut down our food budget.

Watched a small bit of a programme on Channel 4 about two people with eating disorders, one very large man and one very skinny lady. Each had to live on what the other normally ate. The thin lady was eating only just over 500 cals a day, and this caused the doctor great concern, yet - in the recent programme mentioned about fasting to help give a long life, 500 cals a day was mentioned as being 'adequate' (but perhaps only for a short time).
If I remember correctly, the lady had nothing but a cup of coffee for 'breakfast'. Her lunch was a tiny portion of 'corned beef hash', and her evening meal was a pack of chicken flavoured Chinese noodles (the same as in those 11p packs sold at Tesco). Perhaps I should try a diet of that, at least I've got 'breakfast' right as I too only have a mug of coffee.
The large man ate huge platefuls of everything, especially 'fry-ups', and numerous snacks, including packets of chocolate biscuits and big bowls of crisps. Think he ate twice (or was it three times) as many calories a day as the recommended amount.

Some time back I wrote about a man who is now a Chelsea Pensioner. Think he must be in his 90's as he was a soldier in the last war, but is still fit and strong and looks/acts years younger. During the war he was captured and held prisoner in a concentration camp (might have been Belsen), and a photograph of him with other prisoners showed them all to be nothing but skin and bones. not an ounce of spare flesh (or any flesh for that matter) on them. So months of starvation and on a diet of less than 500 cals a day no doubt, did not seem to do him (at least) lasting harm, although not every prisoner managed to stay alive. Another prisoner at the camp (on the same photo), joined him as a Chelsea Pensioner (so also living to a great age), but they were not friends (one said) because they didn't like each other when at the camp.

Another great day for Team GB at the Games. Such a pity that 'Victorious Pedalton' missed the gold. During the first of what could have been three races, she was pushed off her track by the other competitor and so it wasn't really her fault she was denied her win because of that. They should have allowed the third race, although the other cyclist did win the second by a fair margin.
Great that Chris (or was it Steve?) Hoy won his gold. Cycling is something I've never been interested in watching, but this year (perhaps because it was held in the UK), I've watched most of the events.

The dressage was amazing, how on earth horses can be trained to do those movements I really cannot imagine. A well deserved gold for that.
What medals will be won today I wonder. Am sure I'll be watching every day until the closing ceremony is over, then the following week (I think it is) we get the Paralympics, so will also be watching some of those.

Said to B yesterday, there ought to be an Olympics for the 'veterans' a sort of geriatric Olympics, the 'Gerilympics'. There are many elderly people that still do very well in sports. That Indian gentleman, think he was 101 years old, recently ran the marathon. He probably doesn't eat much either.

Since 'healthy' eating seems to be the theme for today, am giving a recipes that won't do us any harm. Considering we should all 'eat small', the amounts given are for 'normal' portions, so instead of four portions, we could make it stretch to five (or even six). Just add a few more carrots and Bob's your Uncle. Also, if we use two large chicken breasts, this should be enough (for four) and this alone cuts the cost, and to make up the weight just add more vegetables.

The suggestion with the original recipe is to serve it with rice or couscous, but 'optional'. Myself could happily eat it without either. So will leave it to you to decide what you want to do about that.
If you haven't Ras el hanout ( a North African spice blend), make your own version using one teaspoon each ground coriander, and paprika, plus half a teaspoon each of turmeric and ground ginger, then add plenty of ground black pepper.
Chicken Tagine: serves 4
low-fat cooking spray
4 skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 tblsp ras el hanout spice mix (see above)
2 tsp grated root ginger
half tsp turmeric
4 oz (100g) no-soak apricots, cut into quarters
1 lb (450g) carrots, sliced
1 pint (600ml) chicken stock
small handful parsley, roughly chopped
1 oz (25g) toasted flaked almonds (for garnish)
Heat a large frying pan and give five squirts of low-fat spray. Add the chicken pieces and cook for three minutes without stirring, then turn and cook for a further 2 minutes on the other side.
Add half the parsley, and the rest of the ingredients (not the almonds), stir together, cover and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining parsley and the almond on top.

Time now for me to leave. B has already gone to the RNLI shop, and the groceries are expected shortly. Quite often they come earlier than expected so I need to be free to unload them myself (B usually does that for me). Hope you can join me tomorrow, if so - see you then.