Thursday, September 13, 2012

Surprise, Surprise!

Something unexpected happened yesterday. For a fleeting few moments I was transported back to 'times past', the days of my youth. All to do with the recently delivered organic veggiebox.

For supper, instead of the lasagne planned, B decided he'd prefer liver, bacon, cabbage and potatoes (one of this favourite meals), and although I did have a white cabbage in the fridge, instead decided to shred up the 'pointed' cabbage from the veggie box. Tasting a few 'shreds' realised it had a really pleasant flavour, so shredded the lot (it wasn't huge) so that I could use the surplus to make myself a coleslaw with one of the veggie box carrots.

It was then nostalgia hit me - scrubbing the carrot under the tap to get rid of the slight 'earthy' covering. How often I'd done that in the past (when younger) but never needed to in recent years (like the last 30) because now all supermarket carrots come ready scrubbed, just need a rinse or a peel. Even when peeling the organic carrot (with my 'Y' shaped peeler), the skin seemed to be so much thinner than store bought carrots, perhaps because the organic ones had only recently been harvested.
Grated the carrot and tasted that - real 'carrot' flavour, not at all like the store bought ones.

To finish my coleslaw finely chopped a shallot (this I have to admit WAS from a supermarket), and then put some of the '85% less fat Hellman's mayo' into a bowl. As ever, this was too thick to lightly bind the shredded veggies, so instead of thinning it down with water (or milk) decided to dilute it with some of the expensive balsamic vinegar that I'd treated myself to when at Barton Grange the other week.
As this was the first time I'd opened the bottle of balsamic, poured a little over my finger to sample the taste. Even though I do have some much cheaper balsamic in the cupboard, this one was much superior, thicker, almost syrupy, and had the smoothest flavour tasting more like a rich wine (hint of sherry), with none of the sharpness of the cheaper balsamic. When blended with the mayo the taste was out of this world. Marrying that with the organic cabbage and carrots the end result was definitely 'good eating'.
For the first time for over half a century have to say that the produce eaten yesterday (from the veggie box) had a superb flavour that made every mouthful worth savouring.

It gets even better.... decided to cook one of the sweetcorn still on the cob and then share that between B and myself. He is not keen on loose sweetcorn kernels, but when slathering butter onto a cob he is much more keen (he adores butter, the more the better). So - as adding an extra veg (the corn) to B's supper, this meant I could reduce the liver and bacon slightly, so in a way saving money (lamb's liver is cheap enough but every penny saved helps to pay for the higher=priced organic veg).
Unfortunately, although the corn cooked to tender in a very few minutes, I found it impossible to cut through the core of the cob, so B ended up eating the lot. Not that I minded - there is an even bigger corncob still in the box and I may cook that for myself today, B being at the County Fair and says he'll not want supper tonight.

When B came into the living room after heating his meal he said "the cabbage tasted different today, it was quite sweet". Told B it was from the veggie box and a different variety, and whether he preferred the normal 'white' that I serve. "Oh no" he replied "the one today was lovely, much nicer. Can I have that from now on?"
Not sure how long that variety is 'seasonal' but possibly it was because it was 'fresh, organic' that gave it the better flavour, not just the variety.

So you can see I'm now hooked on purchasing a veggie box, probably once a week (or maybe once a fortnight), and if I play my cards right then with the D.R. meat (new 'offer' plus that already in the freezer) together with the quality salmon bought (very cheaply) from the Smokehouse, and now the organic veggies,, then hopefully our meals will suddenly rise from the 'quite good anyway' to the 'domestic chef' level. And WITHOUT the annual cost being any more than I would normally spend when purchasing foods from the supermarket. That is my aim.

Perhaps this site should now be called 'Gourmet on a Pittance' or something like that. Cost-cutting has always been my aim, but do believe that if I really give more thought to how I use the above 'quality' foods, although not seeming to cut costs (may seem to appear I'm doing the opposite), am hoping to be able to prove this still can be done, or at least keep well within budget but end up eating meals that are as good as any served at the Queen's table (D.R. supply meat to her kitchens too!!!).

Thanks for your comments. As Les says, we should all try and purchase quality knives to use when cooking. Unfortunately these are expensive, but thankfully most of mine are Sabatier and several had been given to me as gifts (a good idea for this coming Christmas when people ask what you want. "A quality chef's knife please". Or - if costing too much then perhaps a request for a good quality balsamic vinegar?), and although not stainless (the Sabatier steel blades tend to turn a bit discoloured), they do sharpen up well (when correctly sharpened). Have wondered about purchasing a ceramic knife, and held back because when they first came onto the market the warning was that they could break if they fell on a stone floor etc (as anything 'ceramic' would do). Also they couldn't be sharpened in the same way as a steel knife, they were supposed to be sent back to the manufacturer for this (manufactured in Japan so that was a no-no), but apparently hardly ever do need resharpening.
Maybe the ceramic knives have changed re the above. But don't think there is much point in me buying another (or more knives) as with the collecting I've already got it seems a bit pointless (no pun intended).

Regarding my facial swelling. Les, I've already taken a photo of my face to show the doctor. Mentioned it in my blog but this may have been before you began reading it (or you have forgotten. You often suggest I do something when I've already written about it, but the older we get the less easy it to remember . Yesterday B picked up his special mug (bought this for him when in America nearly 20 years ago now and it his 'his' mug and no-one else allowed to use it), he was taking it into the kitchen to make himself a mug of coffee. Shortly after he came to me to see if I'd seen it. I said I hadn't, and apparently he remembered picking it up , then going into the kitchen and then couldn't remember where he put it down. I suggested retracing his steps, and this still didn't bring it to light. I checked everywhere, but couldn't see it.
Later that afternoon, B came into the kitchen with the mug in his hand. Apparently he had decided to wind up a clock in our living room as he passed by it en route to the kitchen, and had put the mug down on the top of the bookcase where the clock stands. He took down the clock to wind it, and forgot about the mug. He then went into the kitchen to switch on the electric kettle believing he'd carried in the mug and put it down on the table. Which of course he hadn't.

We have four clocks in our living room, don't ask me why. Three are battery controlled, one resetting itself twice a year when the clocks are put back or forward. Fascinating to watch it do this in 20 minute spurts.
Only one 'carriage' clock needs to be wound by a key - this belonged to B's auntie (the one who was housekeeper to a big house in London, the cook - a close friend of hers - gave her the clock). It still sits in its little red case with initials, and keeps very good time, but in a place where it is impossible to see the time when sitting down. B wears a wristwatch so suppose that means we have 5 time-pieces in the room when he is there. As I keep my mobile usually with me at all times, this also shows the time.

For that matter there are three clocks in the kitchen. One on a wall that divided the kitchen and conservatory, that also show the temperature. Another clock is on the oven itself, and a third is a portable one that can double up as a thermometer (a long wire with prod at the end to stick in meat while it is cooking in the oven, the main 'clock' remaining outside the oven of course).

We have two clocks in the bedroom - one large on that also resets itself at the equinoxes, the other a small bedside clock by my bed (although the time is half an hour short as I can't seem to reset it again). And of course B has his watch.
In here (the dining room) only one clock, another 'carriage' one that sits on the mantelpiece, and a secondary 'time' that shows on the computer screen when it is on.
Why so many clocks I really don't know, some are 'heirlooms', others given as gifts, and B's enjoyment of all things digital has caused him to buy the 'self-setting' pair, and the one that shows temperature and weather. Myself admit to buying the portable clock/thermometer.

Think the book you mentioned Jane was the third in a trilogy about life lived in a cottage in Wales. Think the first was 'Hovel in the Hills', the second 'Garden in the Hills' (or similar name) the third was 'Kitchen in the Hills'. At one time had all three books and really loved them, so worth buying the set if you can. The 'kitchen' one really did have some excellent and economical recipes. Gave away these books to our youngest daughter when she went to live with her husband in an almost derelict single-story farm cottage at the foot of the Ox Hills in Country May, Republic of Ireland.

Abel and Cole don't deliver in this area Sarina, or I would probably have ordered my veggie box from them. Riverford seem inclined to deliver only what is listed for that week on their website. My delivery day is a Tuesday and that doesn't really give me much time to wait to see what is available that week before placing the order (unless it will be listed on their website the Saturday before). It might be the delivery man could arrange to change the order slightly according to my needs, but for the moment will play it by ear and see how I get on with what they send.
The sheer pleasure of discovering what is in the box when it arrive make me feel there is no need to constantly check the website (knowing what will be coming will spoil the fun). It does seem a bit like Christmas when unpacking the 'unknown'.
Many people spend several pounds a week going either to the cinema, theatre, or even to Bingo, and as I rarely go anywhere (except where they sell food!!!), my 'pin-money' stays in my purse and mount up, so why not spend it on something that will give me pleasure? In any case, this month, with Norma the Hair being absent for 3 weeks (and will probably make that four), then for a week or two after her return may have my hair done fortnightly instead of once a week, the money saved will just about cover the cost of a small veggie box. So already have found out how to make the two together work for me (price wise) one week hair, the next week veggie box. No further expense needed. Oh how I just love to juggle my finances so that I can have my cake and eat it too. Makes me feel very smug when it works.

One thing about fashion today Lisa, is that all sorts of clothes and colours seem to be worn all at the same time. Girls wander around in tight black 'leggings' (like tight trousers with no feet), and over that they wear a very short frilly skirt, over that a top that seems to be sleeveless, and on top of that a loose top that fall nearly to the hem of the skirt, usually worn lopsided with one shoulder showing, and loose enough to come below the waist almost to the hem of the 'frilly'. It's just layers upon layers these days. Hardly a 'fashion', seems just a matter of throwing on what clothes are just lying around and who cares if the colours don't match.
Of course it could be that much care goes into the choice of what to wear, but to me its the same as the hair fashion that costs £££££s when done at a hair salon, but looks exactly the same as mine when I've just got out of bed. Used to comment on this when I was having my hair done in our local salon in Leeds, so many girls leaving with their hair looking an absolute MESS! Why on earth would they wish to pay to look like that? "It's the fashion" said my hairdresser "takes a bit of skill to make it look as bad as that". My suggestion would be just get out of bed of a morning and don't touch hair with a brush or comb the rest of the day? The same effect for no expense whatsoever.

As am out for my chiropody check today, must now finish blogging and do the chores before I leave. Hope to find ways to cook those leeks whilst they are still fresh as fresh, but more on that in my next (or later) blog. Hope to meet up with you all tomorrow, if so - see you then.