Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winter Weather

Am feeling a bit under the weather at the moment.  Started sneezing a few minutes ago and feel as though I've caught a cold, perhaps at the sailing club 'do' on Saturday  (a cold takes 3 days to make itself known), also have a bit of a sore throat.  Serves me right for going out, but have to say I did enjoy the evening.

Am hoping that Eileen will be able to email the photos of the canapes she took whilst at the 'do', if I do receive them, then will forward them to Steve in the hope he can put them up on this blog site for me (I can add words later when editing).  At the moment I don't seem to be able to get blogger to accept photos from my end (or even the comp to accept photos from my camera), but Steve is so very experienced am sure if there is a way to put up Eileen's pics, he will find it.  But first need the photos!

Spent most of yesterday tucked up in my chair cuddling a hot water bottle.  I don't seem to have been able to warm up since Saturday, perhaps because I was working (in short sleeves) at very low temperatures for several hours.  Even when the heating is on I still need the hot water bottle.  Will mention this to the practice nurse when I go for my 6 month check tomorrow, she might say this is normal for my age (feeling cold etc). 
As my surgery appointment tomorrow is between 8.30am and 9.00am, this means I won't be writing my blog until my return home.  If B decides to elsewhere before returning then the blog will be much later - or maybe not at all.  If there is no blog tomorrow you will know the reason why.

Am feeling so cold that think I'll make myself a bowl of porridge for breakfast to give me 'inner warmth'.  At the moment am trying to work out whether it is cheaper to eat to keep warm or less expensive to put the heating on and not eat so often.  Maybe Les (who seems to know this type of useful information) can let me know how much it costs the average household to heat a room for an hour.  Certainly in this country, the price of fuel is now so high that many people are now having to make the choice of 'eat or heat'.

Have a feeling that we will be in for very cold weather this winter, snow has already fallen in some parts of the country, and that usually doesn't happen until November at the earliest.  On the other hand this might get it over and done with early and we end up with an even earlier (and hotter) spring than last year.  Each season seems now to be arriving several weeks earlier than they used to, and summer almost seems to have disappeared.

Returning to thoughts of food.  Watched Ainsley Harriot last night talking about English (and other) mustards.  Have to say I really do love mustard, especially the English - although a bit too much can make my eyes water and can make me choke.  With Dijon being much milder I can eat a lot more of that.  Whole grain mustard is my 'between' favourite, the base being mild and the grainy bits having the English 'bite'.
Must have a go at making savoury scones using mustard.  Fortunately I do have a tin of mustard powder, but no reason why the ready made cannot be used as this can be blended in with liquid used.

One of the pages I tore from a cookery mag has suggestions on how to save over £500 a year.  This presuming we buy quite a few of the 'ready-prepared'.  Some of the ideas I've already suggested over the past months (because I normally do this myself anyway), but worth repeating.  So if you want to save money, try these for size (my comments in brackets):

Swap 4 chicken breasts for one whole chicken - saves nearly £3.  (It does work out cheaper, but you only get 2 breasts per bird, but you also get 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and a carcase to make stock - definitely cheaper to buy a bird and portion it yourself.   If you want four breasts the buy two birds!).

Swap 2 ready-made pizza bases for 1 pack bread mix - saves over £1. (To make a pizza base, roll out the dough, add topping and bake, no need to wait for it to prove.  Make several pizza bases from one pack of bread mix then freeze them ready to use when you wish, they will thaw out fairly rapidly, then just add chosen toppings and bake).

Swap 6 large eggs for 6 medium eggs - can save up to £1.  (Free-range large eggs can work out up to 25p each,  and medium do work out several pence cheaper.  Supermarkets still sell eggs (not F.R.) for 10p each in trays of 15, so this could mean a saving of 15p per egg).

Swap 1 ltr of olive oil for 1 ltr vegetable oil - a saving of over £2. (Olive oil is best kept for making salad dressings as the veggie oil is best used for frying and browning.  If you like the flavour of olive oil then do what I do - make a 'light' olive oil by putting half olive oil and half sunflower oil into a bottle, shaking it together to mix, then use that).

Swap basmati rice for couscous - can save up to 50p.  (Couscous is cheaper than rice, quicker to cook and as tasty with a curry as it is with a tagine).

Swap 3 x 200g bags of prepared fresh vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, carrot) for 1 kg frozen vegetables - saves over £1.50p.  (Probably would save even more if we buy the vegetables separately and then store them in the fridge or freezer and use only the amount required for a particular recipe).

Swap 1 kg potatoes for a 500g bag of pearl barley - saves over £1. (As the price of potatoes could rise this winter due to our wet summer, using pearl barley instead of spuds is a good idea.  But then we could also use pasta or pastry as the carbohydrate part of our meals, we don't always have to stick to the traditional potato on our plate.  Mash singly (or together), some cooked carrot, parsnip, swede etc to pile on top of our Cottage pies instead of potato mash).

The above are just a few suggestions, so am hoping that readers will let us know some of their own money-saving tips ("use this instead of this" etc). 

Although - at the moment - my food budget is still within boundaries set some years, have a feeling that in a few months I too will be feeling the pinch.  We have had a disastrous year as regards garden produce, mainly the fruits (normally fairly plentiful).  The birds took all our redcurrants, there have been no raspberries worth picking this year, no strawberries fruited, only a handful of pears on the tree and all the apples on the large tree seem to have maggots!  Only the mixed salad leaves and various herbs grown in the conservatory seem to have flourished.   At least can be thankful for that.

Noticed there is a new series on BBC early each morning - think it is called 'Rip Off Britain' or something like that.  Missed it yesterday but hope to be in time to watch it today. Will have to miss it tomorrow, but suppose I can catch up on iPlayer.  Wanted to see 'Food Unwrapped' yesterday but nodded off.  Am doing a lot of nodding off at the moment, probably due to me having very little sleep at night during last week, my mind being busy thinking canapes, and more canapes.

Am hoping that the storms in America won't be as bad as they forecast, at least it is a big country and so plenty of room to get away from the worst.  If a storm that size hit our country it would cover the whole kingdom and there would be nowhere to run to escape. ~We moan about our weather, but compared to the larger continents, we have it fairly easy, although this year we have had more than our fair share of rain.  And considering here it rains nearly every day anyway, that's saying something.

Feel it is time for me to make a bowl of porridge and then go and sit and watch the news on TV, then maybe I'll feel a bit better and can then go into the kitchen and make popcorn for Hallow'een.  Of course Spellcheck has failed today, so hope you will excuse any typing errors that have occured (I type at very fast speed there are always mistakes). Will hope to be back in time to write my blog tomorrow.  If so see you then.  If not it will be Thursday. TTFN.