Monday, September 24, 2012

Never Enough Time

Housework is piling up on me again, with much tidying up of the conservatory and kitchen to be done, surprising how little I seem to do how much mess I can make, even though my new resolution is to tidy up as I go, but then given an empty space B does his best to clutter it up within minutes.  He has always said he doesn't like 'tidy', "clutter make the house feel more like home".  Well, at least, pandering to his wishes, this means I don't have to be houseproud, dusting and polishing every hour of the day, even so - there are limits. 

With winter almost putting a foot through the door - we have had no summer, and now the weather has turned to 'winter chill', seems we won't have much of a milk autumn either - so feel it is time to put the central heating on just now and again to start warming the house up.  I can work better when I feel warm.    Years ago I used to find I had loads more energy when the weather was frosty cold (not damp cold), and could almost feel the adrenalin working.  Nowadays just feel cold, and probably this is more to do with old age.  Can't do much about that other than wear an extra layer of clothing, and this alone prevents me working as I just HATE cooking, cleaning etc, wearing anything with long sleeves, always having to push them up if wearing a jersey etc.

This week will really have to push the boat out and get all the 'chores' done and out of the way, for am finding it depressing when only part of a job is done - usually added to by B who, as I said, likes 'clutter', so maybe when all surfaces are clear he might manage to curb his instincts and at least leave only enough for me to cope with (as long as I keep my own stuff put away first).

Although a lot of the country yesterday had bad weather, we in the North West had a lovely sunny day, but unfortunately there was no sailing as only a couple of boats turned up.  The forecast had led others to believe the winds would be too severe - and they weren't.  In fact - just perfect.  B was very fed up about that, but managed to find something to do at the boat yard before he returned for his supper.

Having watched Nigella cook pigs 'knuckles' recently (Food Network), ordered mini-pork shanks from D.R. believing they would (possibly) be the same cut, but they weren't, the piggy versions were the same as lamb shanks, so I cooked the piggy 'shanks' as I would do the lamb -  very, very slowly.
Well, these turned out superbly, and although small (B ate two), one would be enough for a pensioner with a slightly smaller appetite.  I had one and that was very adequate.  I'd cooked the shanks on a bed of onions (with a little water, then covered with foil and braised at 120C for 3 hours by which time they appeared to be done, but removed liquid and onions and put them back in the oven, uncovered, whilst I prepared the rest of the meal.
Cooked some small potatoes in a pan, halfway through covered with my 'petal' steamer holding string beans), in a frying pan fried some apple chunks (skin still left on) in a little butter to which I then added a dessertspoon of golden syrup.  When beginning to soften, removed the apples and replaced with two of the pork shanks so they would get a  sweeter 'crispy' surface on all sides (there was little fat on the surface of the meat, it had all been cooked away), then added the onions to also 'sweeten them up.  When plated up (meal put in the cooling oven to keep hot), then added a little of the cooking water (now pork flavoured stock) to the remaining butter and syrup in the pan to loosen it slightly (it had gone very thick), to make a sort of 'gravy', then poured this over the meat and drizzled it over the onions and spuds. 

When B came into the living room he said the meat just fell off the bones, it was so tender, and 'please can you cook it again'.   So a worth while purchase, and as these are much cheaper than lamb shanks and not as fatty either, will probably change to serving pork more often and less lamb.

Think today I'll try and use up most of the 'old' veggies I have in the fridge (bought some time ago from Tesco).  Although all do keep well enough chilled (cauliflower, white cabbage, iceberg lettuce, celery, carrots, parsnips, potatoes....) now that I'll be getting a regular and very fresh delivery of veg (as and when required) no need for me to take up freezer space just 'hoarding' what will keep.  Now it is a 'use up when received', and just keeping back a few spuds, carrots and onions, to keep me going in case of bad weather.  So far, celery has not appeared on the organic list, but maybe too early for that, but can always buy a head of celery elsewhere (an essential veg for me as used together with carrots and onions in many savoury dishes).

Might make a thick chunky veg soup for tonight, using some of that very rich meat 'stock' left after cooking the Beef Rib Trim.  Something like a minestrone comes to mind.  Also want to make that Tarte au Citron that I never got around to making yesterday.   More and more often these days I find I never seem to find time to 'get around to' making what I wanted to.   So this week is will be pull out all the stops and start organising my life better.

This may mean shorter blogs each day, for now - when starting later due to darker mornings and the urge to stay in a warm bed is too strong - sometimes don't finish my blog until nearly noon, and that's a morning wasted.  So my aim is to finish writing by 10.30 at the latest, (11.30is on Wednesday when Norma the Hair comes, although if I can write the blog and publish before she arrives, then all the better). 

Must now reply to comments before I do any more 'rambling'. 
There are plenty of 'seeds for flavour' sold at most good garden centres Les, and many companies are able to provide what are called 'heritage seeds', these being old varieties that are not now sold 'over the counter'.  No point in me buying any as have given up veggie gardening due to the poor crops due either to bad weather and/or poor soil, very little ground anyway, and millions of slugs.  The only 'food' now grown in our garden are soft fruits, apples and pears.  The conservatory supplying me with windowsill-grown mixed salad leaves, and herbs.

That programme you mentioned Sarina sounded interesting.  There is nothing like good, natural 'loam' to grow veggies in, with 'natural' fertiliser such as bone-meal, fish-meal, and animal manure.
In the old days, human excrement was used to manure the soil, but doubt anyone would use that these days, although it is well-known that hundreds of tomato plants grow 'wild' around the edges of the slurry ponds at a sewage works, all from the seeds that have passed through the human body and been excreted.  There are many seeds that respond better to this animal 'treatment', and we see the same thing happening with bird droppings - plants suddenly appearing at the foot of a fence etc.

Don't know if anyone watched 'Man Made Home' last night, this being a programme about a man who wanted to build his own 'shed' that he could live in (occasionally), but all made from the produce of the land he had bought, or other waste materials that could be recycled.  Well, that was the idea, and to some extent it worked.  Starting with trees in the wood on his land that he cut down (initially using a hand saw and axe but eventually needing to use a chain saw).  The building seems to rise dramatically in a couple or so months, but he did have help, although I was disappointed when I saw the roof being insulated with rolls of what didn't come from his land, and presumably wasn't 'waste' either.

When the man wanted to light his lamps using a 'recyclable' oil, he had to resort to getting some oil refined from sewage (that he collected in buckets from London sewers). Am sure there are better - and still natural substances that could be used such as tallow made from rendered down mutton fat, and candles made from beeswax.  And surely, if he allowed himself the use of a chain saw, and other mechanical implements, then he could fix a solar panel on his roof to give him some electricity, and maybe also rig up one of those wind propeller things on the roof that would also generate some power.   Perhaps he will do both in the next programme.

However, it was very good to see how it is possible to turn back the centuries and still end up making a home to live in using (mainly) our own resources and what other people throw away.  How much more enjoyable this could be than living the way most of us do now, for as the presenter said 'having all these modern conveniences and technology don't seem to make us any happier'.  So food for thought there.

Now to Cheesepare's request.  The ox liver pate I made suppose originated from a recipe, but now I tend to make all my pates in the same way, what you might call a 'cost-cutting' version. 
Began by soaking the ox-liver overnight in milk, this removes much of the over-strong flavour, and seems to tenderise it slightly.  This was then cut into chunks and fried with a little onion for a few minutes (not attempting to cook it right through.   The liver and onions were put into my food processor with a goodly lump of butter, a handful of fresh breadcrumbs, seasoning (to taste), a good dash of brandy, and one egg.  Proportions are guesswork (in the US they call this 'eyeball'), but as long as there is more liver by weight to each of the rest, it works OK.
Blitzed together, the 'puree' is then put into a small loaf tin (or any metal container), this then covered and stood in a water bath (bain marie), and cooked in the oven for one hour at 180C, gas 4.
The way to tell it is cooked is when it has shrunk away from the sides.

At this point it could be left to get cold and then sliced as a coarse pate, but I always run it through my mouli-mill along with more softened butter and seasoning (to taste), so that when chilled it will turn into a 'spreading pate', sometimes called 'parfait'.  Pot this up in small containers, smoothing the surface then pouring a little melted butter over the surface to seal.  This will keep chilled in the fridge for a week, but once the surface has been broken, best eaten within a few days.  Also freezes well.

In the past have added extra 'flavourings' such as adding juniper berries to the initial 'blitz', and nutmeg can also be used (but not at the same time). Orange zest adds another dimension, as does orange juice (instead of brandy - or use Cointreau?).  So more a matter of using the basics: chosen liver (ox liver or chicken livers) and (perhaps) onions, then adding what you will to bulk it out (breadcrumbs, butter, egg...) then add the flavour (brandy, orange zest, juniper, spices....).  It can be as simple or as complicated as you wish.  Not that it is, but the more you add the more complicated it would APPEAR to be when written up as a recipe, as all too often these days, any recipe that has more than five ingredients I don't wish to know about.

Some few weeks ago bought a couple of packs of radishes as they do keep well in the fridge. Both B and I enjoy them sliced and added to salads.  Home-grown and fresh radish leaves can also be eaten as 'salad leaves', but only use the young leaves as the older ones can be hairy and irritate the mouth, but can still be eaten if cooked like spinach.
Anyone who grows radishes may end up with a glut, and so here are two recipes that make the best of them before they grow too 'woody'.

This first is a dish that is an accompaniment to another curry (such as beef or chicken) and normally not served as a meal in its own right, although see no reason why it shouldn't make a 'light curry dish' for supper for one or two.
Radish Curry: serves 4
30 radishes, sliced thinly
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 - 3 chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds (or half tsp ground coriander)
half tsp mustard powder (or 1 tsp made mustard)
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper
Put the radishes and onion into a pan with the oil, and stir-fry over high heat for 3 minutes, add the garlic, chillies, turmeric, coriander and mustard, then stir-fry for a further minute.  Add the tomatoes and seasoning to taste, mix well then bring to the boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Serve as part of a meal with rice and curried beef or chicken.

Next dish has more of an Oriental flavour and could be served with rice or noodles. Best made with the larger radishes.  If using smaller ones, just halve them and double the quantity. If you haven't sesame oil, then use more of the sunflower.
Roasted Radishes the Eastern Way: serves 4
30 medium radishes, quartered
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 tblsp sesame oll (see above)
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds
Put the prepared radishes in a roasting dish, adding the oil and half the soy sauce.  Give the dish a toss so the radishes are coated in the oil/sauce then roast at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 -25 minutes, turning once.
Separate the onions into layers and stir into the radishes, then continue roasting for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the radishes are tender and the onion is golden.  Spoon into a warmed serving dish, drizzle over the remaining soy sauce, and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.  Serve immediately. 

Well, that's got me just over my half-past ten deadline, so sticking to my new resolution, must now depart to start my 'chores', and hope to be meeting up with you same time tomorrow - see you then.