Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How I Wish.....

Late blog today due to Norma leaving later than usual - she was telling me all about her cruise up the Med to the Black Sea.  It sounded absolutely wonderful and now wish I could take such a trip.  Who knows, maybe I will.

Was watching a film last night with Clint Eastwood, set mainly in Arizona and there was some amazing scenery.  Got a very good idea of what the state was like in the 'outback', lots of sandy scrub and not a lot else, but some lovely mountains we could see from time to time. 
Here in Britain, even though our island is so small, many of us still haven't seen everything worth seeing in this country,  we tend to go to the tourist areas:  Cornwall, Lake District, Norfolk Broads, York, London, Stratford upon Avon, the Cotswolds etc, but miss many of the very pretty 'off the beaten track' villages in more rural areas, so suppose that many American citizens don't get to see all the  magnificent sights of their own country.

My mind was taken back to books, films, TV series etc that I was fond of reading/watching, all set in America, and when younger used to love the 'Pollyanna' books, also 'Anne of Green Gables' (but think that was set in Canada). 'Little Women' was another favourite, and 'What Katy Did (and did next)'.  Also had a book called 'Girl of the Limberlost' (or some such name) that I enjoyed.
Used to love watching (many times) 'Little House on the Prairie', and also 'The Waltons', and for me this WAS America, and perhaps in some areas it may still be a bit like that.  Do hope so.

Odd that most of my favourite tales were not written by British authors, other than - on course - Enid Blyton (must have read most of her books from a very early age up to teenage and beyond - still have a few of them).  Never did care much for 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Wind in the Willows', classics such as these never really inspired me though they did make good reading - I suppose. 

Also never could immerse myself in any of the Dicken's novels, did try but never managed more than about a handful of the many he wrote, and those with difficulty, although do love to watch the dramatised versions on TV, one of the best being 'Bleak House'.

Think Norma's cruise has made me feel a bit restless and thoughts of travelling to America and travelling across country on the Greyhound Buses or the Amtrack railway are tempting me.  Don't wish to see the major cities (not even Las Vegas), just the varied and wonderful scenery.

Anyway, must stop rambling as it will be noon in half an hour, so today will just reply to comments and then get on with the chores that await me.

Thanks to Julie and Jackie who tell me that 'arugula' is a type of rocket.  It does seem to be a popular salad leaf in the US.

As you say Alison, whatever fuel we use now it will almost certainly be costly, and the only way to 'feed' an open fire cheaply is to search for fallen wood, or maybe buy 'offcuts' from a wood merchant.
In Ireland (where our daughter lives) they mostly burn peat and this I think is fairly cheap compared to coal/wood. 

Think chickpeas are still one of the cheapest 'pulses ' (is it a pulse?) on sale, pearl barley (a grain) is also very cheap so we should try and use both as much as possible.  Your ideas for using chickpeas Cheesepare sound interesting. 
Will ask the butcher about a 'slipper joint' (us this sold raw, to be cooked at home for ham?).
Agree about leaving braising steak in the piece instead of cutting into cubes, as when on the plate it does look a lot like a much more expensive cut. 

Yesterday cooked a lamb fore-shank from raw (previously have bought cooked/frozen from Tesco that need cooking from frozen for just over an hour).  Put it in a roasting dish with half pint of red wine and water, then covered it and cooked for 1 hour at 140C, then reduced the heat to 100C and left it to cook for a further 3 hours.  Halfway through turned the shanks over so that the topside could sit in the wine 'gravy', and was pleased to see the underside had turned a lovely deep red colour (due to the wine). 
At the end of the cooking time the meat was just about falling from the bone, and all I had to do then was pour the cooking liquid (red wine/water/meat juices) into a pan and fast boil until thickened.

I had considered thickening the liquid with cornflour to make the gravy, but knew that would make it 'opaque' and probably more pink than deep red.  Then remembered that arrowroot would thicken without changing the colour and the gravy would appear clear instead of cloudy.  However, opted for the reduction method, this giving a much more intense flavour.  Worked well.

Beloved today will be eating the 'salmon en croute', and can prepare that in advance up the  point of popping it into the oven to bake.   This should give me a couple of hours to put my feet up as for some reason today am feeling very tired (again).  Have taken an iron pill, so hopefully will soon have more energy. 

After the atrocious weather we have been having, today is mainly blue sky with lots of sunshine, and not too strong a breeze, but it is turning colder, and now am putting the central heating on for an hour in the morning and three hours late afternoon, this warming up the house enough for it to stay warm until bedtime.  As long as the curtains are closed in the living room and also the doors, then the heat stays in for quite a while.

Having Norma back again after nearly a month has knocked my routine for six, so it could be that Wednesdays (hair day), will be more about replying to  comments and not a lot of time left for anything else.  Have to play it by ear.

Anyway, should be back again tomorrow with (hopefully) something more interesting to write about.  Hope to see you then.