Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Morning After....

It was quite a tiring day yesterday, but with B working again did at least have the house to myself so able to have a sit down in the living room between tasks to have a bit of a rest.  Slow and steady wins the race is just about right.

The meal went well (thanks to those who sent in comments re this), but think that a Chinese banquet is not the best thing to make when I have no woks and only a small(is) oven and hob (even though that has four rings).   Thing is with Chinese dishes, these are normally made fresh, the stir-fried from wok to table, and so much of the day was spent in preparation, then I had just half an hour to cook most of it:  Sweet and Sour mixed veggies; Beef in Black Bean sauce with string beans; Singapore noodles (with chicken, pork and prawns); Chicken Kung Po; Chicken Satay;  Spring Rolls, Prawn Toasts, and Sesame baked Kale (the Jamie Oliver dish that was absolutely wonderful). Oh yes, also had to make Egg Fried Rice, and also Steamed white rice (only I boiled that).

Of course there were short cuts that helped me make the above much easier to cook/assemble (like using ready made bottled sauces.... and have to admit I did buy the Spring Rolls, but they did have to be cooked (in the oven at the same time as the Chicken Satay, and the Kale while I was juggling everything else on the hob).

We use those table warmers heated by 'tea-lights' to keep the pre-heated bowls (filled with food) warm, and as I was able to buy new tea-lights that were half the depth of the old ones, was able place 3 - 5 more lights under the lid without them going out.  This helped to keep the dishes/food really hot.  Useful as we'd provided chopsticks, and this meant it took longer to work through a meal, so the food needed to be kept hot (we also had an electric hotplate on a trolley).

Dessert was a bowl of chilled 'Asian' fruits.  Slices of Cape Gooseberries and Kiwi fruit, orange segments, halved green grapes, and drained canned lychees.   I'd also picked up a reduced pack of Cape Gooseberries (aka Physalis) from Morrison's, so peeled back the dried 'petal's, to show the fruit and placed these round the side of the bowl.  
Was intending to make some almond flavoured ice-cream to serve with the fruit, but never found time to make it (what a surprise!), so ended up serving the fruit with a jug of double cream to pour over as desired. 
I'd also bought a reduced pack of fresh lychees, these were an interesting talking point as the guests hadn't seen these before.  Peeling back the skin they were surprised to see the fruit inside, especially the large stone inside.  Not sure if there are seeds inside this, or whether it can be treated like an avocado and a plant grown from the stone, but as I have several will experiment to see if I can get another 'indoor fruit' tree growing.    My lemon tree and avocado are really flourishing. The avocado needs repotting again. 

Thanks Eileen for telling us about the winter fuel payments.  It's almost worth reaching 80 to get the extra, although it seems a bit unfair that B should get £100 extra this year, but next year when I reach 80 I'll only get £50.  But as it's a 'shared' fuel payment - therefore shared heating - it seems fair enough.  We are lucky to get it at all.   Think we also get an extra 25p!!!!! with our state pension when we reach 80.  This is now not enough to buy one second-class postage stamp (or anything else for that matter - perhaps one apple?).

We were discussing MSG yesterday Lisa - it is usually an 'additive' with most Chinese meals (esp take-aways) as it enhances flavours.  Many people (myself included) find it makes them feel quite 'odd' after eating the meal.  So home-made is always best as we have control over what goes into the meals we make.

Good to hear from you again gillibob.  Does every reader wishing to send in a comment have to go through the 'funny spelling' thingy before blogger will accept it?  Believe that even to read the blog this has to be done, maybe I'm wrong.

The news re flooding yesterday was going from bad to worse.  Scenes of roads flooded with water so deep it reached halfway up the ground floor windows, and resident having to be rescued by boats.  The city of York flooded again (they are used to this happening, but worse this year I believe due to the saturated land surrounding the area). 
Think the worst of the rain is now over, with just the mopping up left to do - but this can only be done when the water subsides, and how long will that be as it has no-where to go?   The forecast now is very cold winds coming from the north, and with much lower temperatures, possibly snow in the north, frost elsewhere, and so instead of wading around, we could be skating around.

I should think an aerial view of much of the low-lying areas of this country would show England looking a lot like hundreds of small islands, surrounded by water, with any luck some connected by bridges (but even some of these have been washed away.

Yesterday felt very sad (and in a way quite guilty about my own store of food) when I watched the local news and saw the poverty that was in the west end of Morecambe.  Many residents there are now having to rely on food banks for their food, and as some have had their fuel cut off, there is way of cooking anything 'fresh'. 
A local church was appealing for food donations, and several supermarkets (Tesco this week I believe) are having a food donation area where customers can put into a designated trolley one or more food items they have just purchased.   Several tons of food are needed to provide food for the poor to help them through Christmas.

I'm hoping to be able to donate some of my stock to the above, and maybe help with the cooking if they run a 'soup kitchen'.   It is easy enough for me to explain how to feed a family on very little money when sitting in front of a computer, esp. with plenty of 'dry goods' to help make a start, but quite different when the cupboards are empty and rooms are cold and no cooker or fridge to use because the fuel payments haven't been made and the fuel has been cut off.  Also probably no money to buy food either.
Have always believed that people in situations like that were able to apply to receive benefits to cover the essentials, but obviously not.   Maybe I'll be able to learn a lot more about 'how the other half lives'.

B has said to leave all the washing up for him (and there is a LOT), but so far he hasn't made any movement into the kitchen, and I can do nothing until he does (not a spare inch of space to work on), so will either make a start myself, or go and sit in the living room and watch the Food Network (B dislikes the American cookery progs, so guaranteed to get him out of the room).

Will finish off with the sesame Kale recipe as it worked so well.  Think I left mine in the oven a tad too long as it was all crispy, not partly crisp as Jamie O's recipe.  Much like the crispy fried 'seaweed' served with Chinese meals (this is made from cabbage anyway), and Jamies' recipe was much more delicious.  The little bit left I sampled this morning, and it is still crisp.
I didn't weigh the kale used, but once shredded it completely filled a Swiss Roll tin

Crispy Sesame Kale:
a dozen or so kale leaves (see above)
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp sesame oil
1 tblsp (or less) sesame seeds
Remove the stalk and most of the thick inner bit of stalk from the leaves, then lay the leaves on top of each other and roll up.  Using a sharp knife, shred the kale into thin strips (about quarter to half-inch width), then spread these over a baking tray (Swiss Roll size).  Drizzle the two oils over the top and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
Place in a hot oven (200C, 400F, gas 6 - or one mark lower) and bake for about 15 -20 minutes (turning once - but I forgot to do this). The kale will have shrunk, turned much darker, and be beautifully crisp.   Tip into a serving bowl.   It will stay crunchy, so can be prepared in advance and kept at room temperature.

That's it for today, and after having a bit of (much-needed) rest, I should be back to normal tomorrow. Hope you all have a good day, and - thankfully - with no more cooking for the club until their Christmas 'do' on the 22nd (and I won't have to do too much anyway), this means I'll be able to concentrate on our own meals a bit more.   Hope you will be able to join me again tomorrow for our 'virtual coffee morning together'.  If so - see you then.