Sunday, September 30, 2012

Posh Nosh

No call from Gill today as she is visiting her son for a short holiday.  Even so, still have a lot of things I want to catch up on as yesterday felt so tired I spent most of the day sitting in my chair and nodding off, then went to bed early.  Today feel much more energetic so want to get on whilst the mood is with me.

You made some good purchases Jane, and with what you already have you should be able to keep going for months without having to buy very much more than just the usual top up of 'fresh' (milk, eggs etc.  You mentioned keeping butternut squash in your fridge, but if left as-is (not cut into), these keep really well on top of a shelf for months.  I keep one bought this spring in my onion basket and it is still perfectly usable. 
Your remark about eating well on a tight budget rather than eating the cheaper junk food is interesting for it is surprising how much 'junk food' is more expensive than the cheaper 'fresh'.  Even though the ingredients for these 'junkies' are cheap enough, they still charge us a lot more just for the  the convenience of not having to do any cooking at all.  So all who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and return to home-cooking will not only save a lot of money but eat far healthier and better meals than we are likely to ever buy over the counter.

When it comes to feeding your dog (once grown past eating puppy food), try - if you can - to avoid buying canned dog food as this is often more expensive than a can of human food.  Start as you mean to go on and buy and cook the dog cheaper meat, offal, offcuts, tripe etc that the butcher can provide for this very purpose.  You can also add any leftover veg, from your own meals etc to the dog's dinner. 
Many dog owners take advantage of the chicken carcases that butchers often give away and cook these to make stock for themselves and also remove the flesh to give the dog.  However you need to be very careful to make sure you have removed all the tiny bones that are often missed.

Strange to read your request for suggestions for a 'Royal Meal' Cheesepare, as only a few minutes previously I'd just sent an email giving a buffet menu for a 'posh nosh' that someone had requested.
Not sure though if you meant a buffet or a proper 'dinner'. 
My buffet menu gave a variety of choices: canapes (assorted pate toppings), blinis topped with caviare, cheese profiteroles, melon and Parma ham, smoked salmon and cucumber etc, Game Pie, a meat platter (ham cornets, beef rolls etc). More substantial would be Coronation Chicken, mixed leaf or Caesar salad..... Desserts suggested were Tarte au Citron, Millionaire's Shortbread, Strawberries set in Champagne jelly,  Chocolate cases filled with Rum Truffle....   Maybe even a selection of cheeses.
Certainly if to be served locally (Morecambe) then Morecambe Bay potted shrimps would HAVE to be on the menu.  Maybe as a starter, or the fish course, served with toasted artisan bread - baked at a famous Cumbrian bakery.  The main course I think could be salt-marsh lamb (also local to Morecambe),  perhaps followed by a selection of local cheeses with Bath Oliver biscuits, and dessert could be Cumberland Rum Nicky served with local cream? Or perhaps (if the season is right) a damson ice-cream (our region is famous for this fruit).
The content of a meal such as above may seem a bit 'ordinary' when written down, but how it is presented will lift it from the 'common folk' level to that fit to serve to any monarch, and generally food traditional to a region is always enjoyed.  I didn't include Lancashire Hot-Pot, but then who knows - if a very cold day, then this too might be really appreciated.
That's what I've come up with as 'first thoughts'.  Given more time I might come up with something a lot better (and probably would). 

Your suggestion to use liver and onions in a striking is a good one C.P., and mushrooms alone also make a good 'strog', especially when fried off in a little beef dripping with maybe a few beef gravy granules added to thicken and add beef flavour.
Also a good idea to add instant potato to yogurt as a way to avoid it splitting when being cooked. Some years ago I used 'pomme fecule' (potato flour) it worked in the same way as cornflour, so 'instant potato' then has the same effect.  This also worked better when thickening gravy when freezing a casserole etc, as normally the water in gravy freezes into crystals and then dissolves into just water once thawed and all the 'thickness' is lost.

Not a good day today, rain and wind back again and it does seem to be turning chillier.  It's now obvious how much rain we have had as the bark on the very thick trunk of our old apple tree has turned quite black as it has soaked up all the rain.  Normally the bark is cracked and a mixture of pale and darker grey and until this year it has never got wet enough to change colour.  Last week it was black all over after several days of heavy rain from all directions, then dried out.  Today it is jet black on the south side, and it is not very attractive to look at - quite ominous in fact. 
Doubt we could even walk across our lawn as it would probably 'squelch' with each step, leaving a puddle behind.  This is perhaps why a previous owner built a huge and deep fish pond across one corner of this garden, maybe a 'catchment' area for the surplus water to drain into.   B has since filled this with big stones/rocks then topped this off with gravel, but today even that looks a bit more than wet. 

At least a miserable day means I can make a delicious casserole to warm us up.  All I have to do now is decided which meat to use.  Lamb, chicken or beef.  Will have to go into the kitchen to take a look at what's in the freezer that I have the most of, and then make my decision.  On the other hand might make a curry (again could be beef, chicken or lamb).  Will first ask B which meal he prefers and then start the preparations.

I see Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Series will still be on next week, and later in the evening there will be another prog with Gordon R. plus other 'professionals' (Kirstie Allsopp etc), something to do with showing/training people the way to run a hotel.  Sounds interesting.

Against my better judgement watched a repeat of the British 'Cup Cake Wars', and hated it even more than the first time.  What was more interesting was the following programme that showed the 'behind the scenes' (think Eileen mentioned in an earlier comment she had seen this when first shown), and to me this was familiar territory as it showed how much activity can go on that viewers never see.  The very first time I did TV (and I was scared out of my wits) took about 5 hours to film a ten-minute slot that was fitted into a programme called 'Indoors Outdoors'.   It is very difficult (even now) for me to appear 'natural' when I've been filmed about 6 times (from different angles) having to say the same thing in exactly the same way (and move my head, arms, hands and deal with the food exactly the same each time) just so they can edit the different shots together to make it look 'more interesting' when shown.  The times I would get screamed at 'you've now put the pepper mill back too far over to the left, we'll have to do the take again'.  No wonder I ended up a nervous wreck.
But you get used to it, and eventually I got quite 'professional', making few mistakes (if any) the first time round that I got known as 'one-take Shirley'. 

But have now reached my dead-line of 10.30 so will say my farewell for today.  Whatever the weather, do hop you all enjoy your day and - as ever - am looking forward to reading your comments and hope you will return again tomorrow.   See you then.