Sunday, November 11, 2012

Taste of Things to Come...

A lovely sunny day today, let us hope it stays like this for a while, as the rooms that get full sun really do warm up.  It's the east facing living room that always seems chilly.

If I remember correctly Les, you said it takes 2kw (gas) to heat up a room per hour, and having worked it out, not THAT expensive if you count it as just the one room, but then as we have four rooms heated by central heating, does that means four times the cost per hour?  If so then I have discovered a really good way to keep warm and so reduce the time the heating needs to be on.

You mention Heston B's top gadgets, and query whether I would use these regularly.  I do have several decent (quality) knives, also an oven thermometer, and a digital thermometer probe.  As to scales.  I have one of those old-fashioned 'balance' scales that has a brass scoop at one end and a set of weights to place at the other.  I always enjoy using that, but it is heavy, so have bought myself a digital set of scales that can weight in lbs/oz, gs, and ml.. This I find very useful, and as it is so thin in depth, can tuck it behind a set of shelves.
Previously to the digital I used a set of scales - the type that has a scoop and a 'clock face' that showed the weight in both imperial and metrics  but found it was not at all accurate when it came to weighing small amounts so why bought the electronic digital one.

Had to smile Les when you commented on the list of modern 'gismos' as am not much better off with your referrals.  What is a Walkman etc? Don't tell me, I don't even care.

I've tried putting an apple in with my potatoes stored in a cloth bag, and this doesn't seem to prevent the spuds sprouting.  Think much has to do with the time of year,  the sprouts are less likely to form during the later, and colder months of the year, then nature takes hold and sprouts pop up all over the spuds come the spring. 

Thanks Marjorie for your explanation of American politics. Also good to hear how your family still enjoy having a Christmas stocking.  Think I was about 13 when I realised that my parents gave Father Christmas a helping hand.  Didn't stop me wanting a stocking each year though - at least until I was in my mid-teens.
Your mention of the smell of camphor from gifts sent to you by your Nan made me wonder if the gifts were 'hand-knits', as I well remember the smell of moth-balls every year when winter clothes (usually made of wool) were taken from storage, and can recall walking down the street often getting a whiff of camphor as people walked by wearing their woollen overcoats. I really hated that smell.

Loved reading your comment Sarina, and really hope that the recession has 'forced' many parents to go back to the old ways of making decorations, gifts, cards etc.  It's always been a lot more fun to do than shopping, and long may it continue.
Must make my own mincemeat this week, then early in December will make the mincepies but leave them unbaked and freeze them in their tins.  Once solid will remove pies from tins and store in bags/containers, then when the oven is on for something else, can return a few pies to the baking tin and bake from frozen.  The still frozen mincemeat is then far less likely to ooze out from under the lids while the pastry cooks to golden on the outside.
Another way of preventing 'mincemeat ooze' is to cut a large hole in the centre of the pastry lid so that the steam can escape.

Yesterday made another 'Tarte au Citron' and it is not nearly as nice as the one I made for the recent sailing club 'social'.  Think this could be for two reasons - the first being that this time I didn't include the grated zest of the lemons, using just the juice (the lemons had been left in the fruit bowl at room temperature for several weeks and the peel had begun to dry out).  Also I used the same weights/measure of ingredients but cooked the tart in a smaller width, but deeper tin, this meant the filling needed a bit longer cooking as the centre was still too 'wobbly' when the time was up, so gave it another five or so minutes longer, by which time it had almost begun to 'souffle'. 

If anyone does fancy making a Tarte au Citron (aka Lemon Tart), and made correctly it really is superb, then use a wide tin to keep the filling fairly shallow, and do add the finely grated lemon zest, then all should be well.  Remove from the oven when the centre still has a tiny bit of wobble when you shake it.

My mouth is watering now I think of all the good things we will be eating over the Christmas period, perhaps the only time when we do stick to tradition and eat mince pies, Christmas cake, Stollen, and Christmas Pudding when they are supposed to be eaten, not at other times of the year.  Would like to think the same with turkey, but that is now available all year round, as are Hot Cross Buns and other 'traditionally seasonal foods'.  Being able to buy/eat something any time instead of at 'special' times, means we end up never having much to look forward to any more. 

I well remember my youth when I couldn't wait for the first ripe tomatoes that my Dad grew.  Or the first gooseberries, raspberries, and especially strawberries.  From spring through to autumn was a real pleasure and first one 'fruit' then another (this includes vegetables that are really 'fruits' such as tomatoes, cucumber etc) would come into season, and eating them was bliss.  I even enjoyed podding the peas (and eating the sweet pods).

Am finding this enjoyment is coming back to me now that I get a veggie-box delivered.  Fresh veggies in season and nothing that shouldn't be there.  Absolute bliss.
Haven't needed to order a veggie box for a few weeks, but see the Romanesco is in some of their current boxes. so am hoping to order at a box next week as I love the beautiful look of this particular 'cauliflower' (almost too beautiful to eat, and each time I look at it think how wonderful nature can be).

This week have lots of jam and marmalade to make for sale (for charity) next weekend, and also the club wants some scones and gingerbread to serve to the various customers at their 'fayre'.  I won't be going, so B can do the delivering.

After slow-cooking the beef rib trim overnight, managed to box up three packs (with its self-made 'gravy') for the freezer (to turn into meals for B later), keeping some back to reheat with fried onions and 'rib-trim' gravy, to which I added parsnips (B loves parsnips).  Served with a jacket potato (microwaved) and peas.  It made a good meal that B said was really lovely - he does enjoy the beef rib trim as it is SO tender after 8 hours slow-cooking on Low.

As I've thawd out some beef mince, will probably make a chilli con carne for supper (or maybe a spag bol).  I enjoy both, so will make sure there is enough for me too - and also a third portion that can be frozen.  Whatever is made, as I'll be adding a Beanfeast to bulk it up, this means a large panful with not that much 'real' meat needing to be used.  Making it very economical but still giving the proper flavour as though all meat had been used. 

Because of Gill's call, this means it is getting towards noon, and if I don't get into the kitchen now, all the things I want to do again won't get done.  So off I go, and hope to be back at normal time gain tomorrow.  Will you be joining me.  Do hope so.  TTFN.