Saturday, September 08, 2012

Weekend Starts Here

Delay starting today as when the comp was switched on it alerted a virus, so had to wait for the anti-virus to check/clear all the files - took ages. Seems OK now. Not sure how the virus got in as I've only opened readers emails and others from reputable sources.

Looks like being another wet day although dry at the moment. The rest of the country seems bathed in sunshine, so lucky them! Here it is (relatively) quite cool. Am spending the weekend doing some 'autumn cleaning' (in other words spring cleaning that never got done), as want to have a good clear-out for our home to be ready for the cooler months and maybe very cold winter. Thankfully our quarterly gas bill (for reference only, we pay a set monthly D.D.) shows we are well in credit, due entirely to us not having the central heating on, but instead of asking for a refund or reducing the payments, will let the excess stay there so it can help to offset the rising fuel price that we expect this coming winter when the heating is back on again.

Beloved is over the moon...he is going with his upholstery 'mate' to a County Fair (or something like that) for the day next Thursday, as well as working for him two or three other days (plus the RNLI). Looks like I'll have to rely on myself from now on to scoot down to the shops when I run out of fresh foods. B did go to the supermarket yesterday to buy his lemonade (asking me if I wanted anything, my reply being 'no thanks') then brought back some cans of Heinz Beans (because they were on offer - I didn't need them as have plenty bought at an even lower price), and two packs of ready prepared (cooked?) new potatoes tossed in butter and parsley, and I have two packs of new potatoes in the fridge still not started. Just wish he wouldn't keep picking up 'bargains' when for me they are not. Still, it's the thought that counts.
The potatoes have a 'use-by' date of this weekend, so B will have to have suppers that can go with these spuds, and there was me planning to make curry (as it keeps hot, B being at the sailing club today and tomorrow and due to the tide sailing won't start until mid-afternoon, so goodness knows what time he will be home and 'something that will keep hot' would make it easier for me).

As you say Jane, it is us older folk who realise how much money 'regular purchases' cost over a week (such as those works 'lunches' you mentioned, these costing around £15 a week). As we could make a good home-made packed lunch for well under £1 (or even that) we would then save at least £10 a week, probably more.
The same thought occurred to me last night when I saw a supermarket advert for disposable nappies. Even at the reduced price, it can cost a fortune to use these when several children use them. Memories of my first three children (the first wasn't yet three when the third was born) and although the first was probably out of nappies by then (can't remember), certainly used a lot of nappies each day to keep the babes contentedly dry. As well as using terry towels, each nappy was lined with a muslin one, and with no washing machine for me in those days, it seemed endless boiling, rinsing, wringing out by hand and praying for sunny windy days to blow the washing dry on the line (at least in those days we did seem to get more dry weather than we do today). Not to mention all the other laundry! How on earth I managed to get it all dry I will never know. All we had was one coal fire (with a nursery fire guard that laundry could be draped over), all the other rooms so cold during the winter the ice froze over the window panes in feather patterns durin the night. We did have a warm airing cupboard and that helped.

Add the cost of disposable nappies to the cost of manufactured baby foods and it must cost ££££s a week to even start caring for a baby. Many mothers also can't be bothered these days to breast feed (and that is free food) because it cramps their life-style. Will the thrifty 'old ways' rearing a child ever return I wonder?

Am very impressed by the amount of cooking you manage to fit into your working life Jane. It does sound as though Approved Foods really can offer some good deals. Have yet to order from them myself as have enough stocks at the moment.
As soup freezes well am today giving a recipe for a slightly different carrot soup that you might like to try.

Thanks for the suggestion of pouring raspberry vinegar (or other fruit vinegar) over Yorkshire Pudding Wendy. 'Yorkies' make an excellent 'dessert' as well as being a starter (with gravy as a way to fill up before the meat course). I normally make 3 or 4 individual Yorkshire Puddings when serving B a supper of roast beef, 2 popped on the plate with his meat and two veg plus gravy, and those left over he then eats as a pudding with golden syrup poured on top. Not my idea of an interesting pud, but he really loves them.

Have had a thought about your query Rachel. Don't see why the home-made margarine spread couldn't be used when baking as long as we 'deconstruct' the ingredients (in our mind) to see if the milk and oil compare with the weights of the fats/liquid used in a chosen recipe. In the US they often use mayonnaise as an ingredient when making cakes and when 'deconstructed' we see this is made from eggs and oil, both of these being used when making a cake.

Have 'chatted' more then once about adding extra flour to a bread mix when making bread dough Les, you must have missed the postings when I've given this a mention. My bread machine can just about cope with that amount, but a double batch would be too much. The 'extended' dough makes one large and one small loaf, or two small loaves and several mini-loaves or baps. As you say, some dough can be left in the fridge to be baked the following day, but as yet haven't bothered to do that. Have frozen 'dough balls' in the freezer to later thaw, allow to rise and bake into baps or use for pizza bases.

Canada certainly seems to have the right idea with controlling its economy Margie. Was interested when you mentioned its 'natural resources'. Could that be that much of the food, fuel etc is produced in Canada without much being imported? Exports I would expect to be wheat (especially the strong wheat used for bread - the UK buy that from Canada) and probably fish?
We don't hear nearly enough about Canada over here, other than the vast areas of forests and wilderness, bears, snow and ice in the winter. There seem to be very few TV programmes made in Canada compared to the American ones that arrive on our screens. Not many Canadian films either although as myself often can't always tell the difference between the two accents tend to believe the location is in the US when it isn't.

Food prices in Canada are also not rising as fast as ours. Did see a rise of 7% mentioned in the newspaper some time back, but not sure whether this was a recent 'then' and that 'now' it will rise more slowly. Saying that inflation has reduced to 2% often gives the impression (at least to me - the 'bear of little mind') that prices are reducing, but they are not, just beginning to creep even higher a bit more slowly.
Even the smallest rise means we will be paying more with no matching rise in wages, and often these are being reduced. Less money in the pay packets, more money needed to buy food, fuel, and keeping our heads above water.

Here at least it is not all gloom and doom. There is always some other country worse off, look at Spain and Greece. What is happening there could escalate to other European countries (that have the euro), so maybe we are blessed with living on a small island that still keeps its own currency, and certainly seems to have an abundance of foods in our supermarkets than most of us can still afford to buy. We may have to tighten our belts during the coming months, but that is no bad thing when we consider the obesity problem our nation has.

Am perhaps alone when it comes to wishing we have some sort of crisis that would make us sit back and be grateful for what we have (or have had), and make us go back to doing a bit more for ourselves rather than expect the manufacturers to provide just about everything for us. A return to the national 'togetherness' that was around in World War II would be (in my eyes) delightful. Everyone doing their best to get the country back on its feet, and looking out for each other, sharing, bartering, anything that gets us away from the commercial quicksand we are fast sinking into.

Thankfully the expected delivery has just arrived, and B was here to collect it (but then so was I). If the weather clears then I may well go with Norris down to the parade later this morning. Have to see how I get on with the rest of my chores.

Just time to give the promised recipe. Can't say it is THAT economical, and myself wouldn't normally buy lemongrass, however would add grated lemon rind to the soup to give that 'lemony flavour'. Soaking desiccated coconut in hot water is a cheat's way of making a dilute coconut milk, although I do keep sachet of coconut cream in my larder that I would dilute rather than opening a can of the milk.
The older the carrots the longer they can take to soften when cooked, so for this recipe suggest slicing them thinly, or allow extra time. An even speedier way to soften carrots is to grate them when adding to a soup (that will eventually be pureed).
As this soup will freeze, it is worth making in bulk.
Gently Spiced Carrot Soup: serves 6
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1" (2.5cm) piece fresh root ginger, grated
few drops Tabasco sauce (opt)
1 tsp mild curry powder (or curry paste)
2 lbs (1kg) carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, bashed (see above)
2 strips orange rind
1 x 400g can coconut milk (see above)
1. 25 pints (700ml) vegetable stock
Put the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for five minutes until beginning to soften, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute. Stir in the Tabasco and curry powder, then the carrots, lemongrass and orange rind. Cover, reduce heat and cook for a further five minutes then pour most of the coconut milk into the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 or so minutes until the carrots are soft. Remove lemongrass and orange rind, the either use a stick blender to blitz the soup to a puree in the pan, or pour into a food processor or blender and whizz until smooth.
Serve hot in individual bowls topping with a swirl of the remaining coconut milk. Or leave to get cold then pack into freezer bags or containers and freeze. Use within 3 months.

That's it for today. Have written a long list of 'things to do', and am hoping that today will manage to complete all of them. Bet I don't. Hope to meet up with you all again tomorrow, posting may be delayed if I wake too late to write my blog before Gill phones me. TTFN.