Sunday, September 09, 2012

Less is More

Up early enough to write/publish before Gill's phone call. Will reply to comments first and leave my 'ramblings' to the end so I can finish with speed if necessary.

Many thanks to Margie for her very informative explanation of Canada. Am now really getting a 'feel of the place'. Never realised there were so many natural resources there.
Even though Britain (certainly England) was - at one time - had a very good clothing industry, using imported cotton of course, but we also make our 'own' woollen cloth, tweeds etc. Now almost all the clothes in the high-street stores are made abroad (or so it seems from the labels), and we do import a great deal from China, almost anything bought these days (other than clothes) seems to have a 'made in China' sticker attached to it. All because they have cheap labour and this keeps their costs low. Anything 'made in Britain' is now always expensive.

Do remember that 'Due South' was shown in this country but unfortunately didn't watch it. 'Anne of Green Gables' is sometime shown as a film (and one of my favourites), but several of these have been made (using different actors) and maybe not all have been filmed in Canada, must checked on the credits next time it is on. Have not heard of any of the others mentioned.

Margie, your mention of 'butter tart' has my mouth watering. Do tell us more about it as again have not heard of this. Recipe too if you have one.

A green cloak of envy drifted down onto my shoulders when I read about your new gas range cooker Jane. Exactly the sort I've been craving for and will now never have (our kitchen too small, me too old for it to be worth it).
With your mention of purchasing even more carrots (where do you buy them so cheaply?) am including another 'carrot recipe' today. It is said that carrots are better for us when cooked rather than when eaten raw due to our bodies being able to absorb their nutrients better. So carry on cooking carrots.

Two bits of interest (at least for me). Had the quarterly electricity bill yesterday and this too showed a healthy credit. Not sure why considering our use of electricity rarely alters although this quarter I have been doing a lot more baking in our (electric) oven so was expecting the bill to be higher.

The company (Riverford) I had ordered a half-price organic 'veggie box' from phone me yesterday to arrange delivery this coming Tuesday. Am really looking forward to it as although it will almost certainly work out more expensive than the non-organic veggies that we normally have from the supermarket, the pleasure of not knowing what will be delivered, and then finding out the best meal to make from them will offset the extra expense. In any case, doubt the expense will be a blot on my budget for having done something similar with meat (now buying really good quality meat from Donald Russell when on offer), have found this doesn't cost me more over a year, I end up paying less.

As I now have freezers full of meat, fish, and some frozen veggies (plus the usual home-made stock and home-made 'ready-meals') have no need to buy more of these, and with a well-stocked larder also have no need to buy more 'dry goods'. With a fortnightly delivery of organic veggies then should be able to manage feeding myself and B without any need to shop further (other than buying milk and eggs and cheese, and possibly Riverford may also deliver eggs et al, I have yet to check out what other things - if any - they do supply). It's going to be like the old days, 'making the most of what we have' with this time still having 'fresh produce' always to hand, and I'm so looking forward to it.

Cutting out the supermarket (other than an occasional trip to Morrison's with B 'just for jollies') should surely mean that less money will be spent over a year, and am hoping this will result in me being able to serve B more food of QUALITY. And still save money.

Can't now remember who mentioned in their comment being 45, but am sure someone did. Think they were remarking how 'at that age' they had more common sense than a lot of younger ones who paid for food when they could have made it at home. Suddenly realised yesterday that it was perfectly possible for me to be Grandma to someone in their mid-forties!! Goodness me, how many generations have been born since I first took my first breath?

My dad was born when Queen Victoria was alive, my mother slightly later, she arrived soon after Edward VII came to the throne. Myself I think born around the time of Edward VIII (too young to remember), so I've only had George VI and our current Queen in my memory. So many things have happened in my lifetime, particularly with technological advancement (I still give thanks to the man who invented the front-loader washing machine every time I use ours - even though it is now over 20 years old and needs a nudge to get it past its first cycle, at least it now remembers to switch off the spin cycle which it didn't do before).

Time (season) is now right for me to start sowing some more 'mixed salad leaves' but this time the ones that prefer the cooler weather, the red and white pak choi, rocket, mizuma etc. These grow well in the conservatory right through the winter months but naturally are a bit slower growing than the different 'summer' varieties, so the earlier the start with regular sowing of more every three or so weeks should see them ready to eat about the time the 'summer crop is ending.

A favourite grain I use is pearl barley. Not only does it have a nutty flavour, it is one of the cheapest grains on sale and makes a good substitute for rice in the following recipe. Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wah) could also be used, but it takes less time to cook and is more expensive.

Regarding the correct pronunciation of certain ingredients, not that it matters but I try to get it right. The 'chipotle' queried the other day - and since learned it is one of the chilli peppers and called 'chippottle', now - having seen it used on the Food Network, realise it is pronounced 'chippot-lay'. Silly me.

Carrot and Barley Risotto: serves 4
1.5 litres hot vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
11 oz (300g) pearl barley
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese
Put the onion, carrot and oil in a large frying pan and saute for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the barley and stir for 1 minute so the grains get coated with the oil. Add seasoning to taste (not too much you can always add more at the end), then add two ladles of the hot (pref boiling) stock , and stirring continuously cook until the liquid has been absorbed, then continue adding more stock (a ladle at a time), and still stirring, continue until the barley is tender (can take 30 - 40 minutes) and most (not necessarily all) the stock has been used. Taste and add more seasoning if required.
Serve immediately with finely grated Parmesan to sprinkle on top.

Our newspaper yesterday was trial-testing some of the newer kitchen appliances/gadgets that have come onto the market. One was a self-stirring pan that was highly rated (but considering the cost think I'd be more likely to use the 'Armstrong' - this being using our own hands and arms to do this 'laborious' task). Mind you, if able to afford it, this certainly does free us from the hob-top and we can let custard, sauces, gravy, risottos, lemon curd, and anything else that needs stirring continuously to do it all by itself whilst we sit with our feet up sipping a glass of sherry (or get on with cooking something else).

The 'vacuum' appliance that seals food in bags and extracts air at the same time also had a good rating as vacuum packs take up less room in the freezer apparently. Possibly so. As vacuum packed food also keeps longer in the fridge less chance of wastage. On the other hand, if we make sure we eat food BEFORE it goes off we can save ourselves money on both counts. On the other hand I've always wanted a 'vacuum sealing bag' appliance, so you never know.

What I find interesting is that nowadays so many appliances are flooding the market, designed for those who are (perhaps) more interested in owning something that is a bit more technical than the appliances being much use other than saving time, as we can still do most of what they offer by hand or still cook by traditional methods, although have to say I again give thanks to the inventor of the electric hand whisk, and also the slow cooker. But then I am old, prone to be overly thrifty, and always prefer the 'way we lived then' to 'how we live now'. If I had the money, then maybe would buy - just to play with - every new kitchen gadget that comes on the market. Think now I'm happy with what I've got and will make the most of these too.

Time for me to edit then publish as the phone call is due in 10 minutes. The weather yesterday suddenly turned to almost perfect (but was too busy in the kitchen to notice, not having a window to keep looking through), and today also looks good.
Tomorrow have to leave the house early to sort out some appointments at the surgery, so if not up early enough, my blog will have to be written slightly later, certainly hope to publish before lunch. Enjoy your day. TTFN.