Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Chat...

Not a lot happening at the moment, most days are much the same although am trying to become a little more interested in 'what to make for supper' now that I have the 'fresh' that needs to be used up.
Yesterday B had a pave steak with a mixed salad for his supper.  Salad being spinach, rocket and watercress and shredded loose-leaf lettuce.  To add extra flavour mixed in some finely sliced red onion and two or three chopped Peppadew.  Instead of mayo (B doesn't like this), made a cheesy dressing by blending in the grated end of a bit of (old) Stilton that I found in the fridge, together with some creme fraiche and a bit of double cream.  B really liked that and it went well with the steak.

Myself had a big bowl of above salad, adding cucumber to mine (B doesn't like 'cukes') plus a few chunks of cooked ham, all bound with the above cheese dressing, and have to say it did taste good.
(The idea for the cheesy dressing was from Sunny Anderson's cookery yesterday - so watching the Food Network is giving me new ideas, each time I watch I learn a new way to make something (but not always the right way compared to how we do it in the UK).

Felt a bit sad yesterday after watching 'How we Won the War' (BBC 2 early evenings), as yesterday this episode covered the Midlands and I saw photos of Coventry taken after the Blitz.  It brought back memories of the day after when my dad took my mum and me into the devastation in the city and seeing it was like being back there again.  That afternoon my parents took in two families whose houses had been bombed flat, and they stayed with us for several days until they were able to travel and stay with relatives.  With no gas, electricity and no water (due to pipes being bombed) my mother had to cook for the lot (and no extra rations for the 'refugees') over a coal fire in our front room.  Think all she seemed to make was porridge, well that's all I can remember.

There have been several programmes on TV about the war years, and those (like Wartime Farm) show how difficult times were for people when rationing began.  Then  - as the war continued - quite a few rationed foods were decreased as supplies ran out.  After watching a prog yesterday about ships being hit/sunk, B said that at one point there was only 3 weeks food rations left, after that we would starve.  Luckily something occurred to prevent that disaster happening, but hearing things like that makes me realise (again and again) how very fortunate we are today to have the abundance of food in supermarkets etc.,  even though prices continue to rise.  

As Frugal Queen mentioned, a shortage of fats and eggs during the war made things difficult and this made me think of how it is today in the Goode kitchen for now rarely need to use a 'bought' fat/oil as always save all the fat that comes from the top of chilled stock (beef and chicken), the fat that leaches out of sausages when oven cooked, and last week got lots of fat when I 'roasted' the thick skin with its layer of fat that I removed from the gammon once it had been cooked (boiled). 
Nutritionists would say it is unhealthy saturated fat, but believe me - I just don't care because it's free and so far it hasn't done any harm to B's and my cholesterol (checked fairly regularly), so feel fairly comfortable using it.  But that's the way I look at it, doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. But am sure this was done in wartime and doubt that many folk developed health problems because of it.

When I extend a bought bread mix Campfire, I normally add half the weight of the pack (sometimes less, but no more).  My bread mixes are usually in 500g packs, so I weigh out 250g of strong bread flout and add it to 'readymix', there is normally enough yeast with (or already mixed in) the pack to raise extra flour without adding more.  The amount of extra water needed is half that shown for the 500g (if it is 300ml water, you would then need 300ml + 150ml + 450ml).  If using only a quarter more flour (175g)  you would need to add a quarter more water (75ml).  Most bread mixes use a little more water than I said, much depends on whether the mix is for brown bread or white,  but following the above suggestion it should be easy enough to work out how much to use.

Good to hear Sairy that your family are happy to accept 'hand-me-downs', and how much money this will save them during these hard times.   Myself love to have furniture around our home that belonged to my parents, again brings back memories, and would love to hope that some of it will be accepted by our children and grandchildren once we've popped our clogs.

Gordon Ramsay has been showing 'slow cooking' over a couple of days last week and this certainly showed how succulent and very tasty the cheaper cuts of meat can be when slow-roasted/braised.  Think this is my most favourite way of cooking the larger 'cuts',  and now it is very rare that I do a proper 'roast' at high temperature, for one thing the tender cuts are now far too expensive for me to even consider buying, and silverside and/or brisket will give as good a joint of 'roast beef' as the more costly topside.

Having recently given recipes that use desiccated coconut, have a couple of others to offer.  For the first, if we can 'forage' for the wild blackberries and freeze them they are wonderful when eaten out of season in (say) apple and blackberry pie, in fresh fruit salads, and even made into a jam/jelly to serve with game birds or venison (if we can afford those). Or make this 'traybake'.
With oats being an ingredient in both recipes, they end up as healthy snack to nibble or pack in a lunchbox.
Blackberry and Coconut Traybake: makes 12 squares
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
2 oz (50g) porridge oats
10 oz (280g) soft brown sugar
8 oz (225g) butter, chilled and diced
3 oz (75g) desiccated coconut
2 eggs, beaten
12 oz (350g) fresh or frozen blackberries
Put the flour, oats, and sugar into a bowl and rub in the flour (using fingertips - don't process) until the butter has broken down to about pea-sized pieces.  Fold in the coconut then fill a tea-cup or mug with some of the mixture and set this aside.
Stir the eggs into the remaining mixture, then when well mixed tip this onto a greased and lined 9" (23cm) tin, levelling the surface, then scatter the blackberries on top, covering these with the dry mix that had been set aside.
Bake for one hour (or slightly more) at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until golden and cooked through.  Leave to cool in the tin , then cut into squares.

Nutty Coconut Oats with Chocolate: makes 12
8 oz (225g) porridge oats
1 oz (25g) desiccated coconut
5 oz (150g) butter
2 oz (50g) light muscovado sugar
5 tblsp golden syrup
5 oz (150g) chopped mixed nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc)
2 oz (50g) dried cranberries, cherries or other dried fruit
4 oz (100g) milk or dark chocolate
Put the oats and coconut into a bowl.  In a saucepan put the butter, sugar, and syrup and heat gently, stirring occasionally,  until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted, then remove from heat and add the oat mixture, the nuts and dried fruit, mixing everything well together.  Leave until cold then cut two-thirds of the chocolate into small chunks and fold this into the mixture.
Spoon or tip the mix into a greased and base-lined 9" (23cm) cake tin and spread to fill, levelling the surface.  Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 - 30 minutes until pale golden.  Remove from oven and mark into squares whilst still warm, but leave to get completely cold before cutting all the way through.  Before removing from the tin, melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle this over the top of the bars and leave to set before removing squares from the tin.
These bars will keep for a good week in an airtight tin.

Because time has moved on a bit too rapidly, must now finish and get on with my chores (plenty of these waiting for me).  Hope you all have a good weekend and I'll be back again tomorrow.  See you then.