Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time Off for Good Behaviour?

Later start than intended today due to having to force myself to get out of a warm bed, even though I went to bed early (for me) at 9.00pm yesterday evening.  Apart from one normal wake-up call for the usual old-folks expedition to the bathroom during the night, slept solidly, though not without lengthy dreams full of frustration (as per usual). 

Today feel less well - in that both my nose and eyes are streaming and I've also got an intermittent earache, to add to the coughs and sneezes -  so think I'm going to take a few days off from my blog to help me recuperate. Staying in bed for longer each day, then tucking myself up in a warmer room (than this) will speed up the healing process. 

Comments have arrived from several 'new' names, some of which have been regular readers of this blog, but not yet made themselves known, so a big welcome and group hugs to a second Jane (Willis), who has several of my books.
Also welcoming nontravellingninjas, who comments on crafts - in particular crocheting, and what a good idea to get people to provide the wool when wishing her to make something for them. As said 'profits are low but worth it;, which mirrors the comments from several others (Marjorie, and Sairy).

My heart leapt when I first read 'Judy and...' (new comment) as my first thought was that Richard and Judy had written to me - as if!), but pleased as Punch (and Judy!) when I discovered that the comment was from Judy and David, so a welcome from us all to both.  Another reader who has my books, and I'm beginning to think that perhaps they were not as bad as I thought (have to say I've improved a lot since they were written).

Sairy says that sometimes people have to charge for their time to help supplement their income, and this is fine as long as the time taken is not so long that the end product would be overpriced.  Some people are fast workers, others a lot slower so when time-for-making is included in the price for an almost identical 'home-made' then one would be on sale much cheaper than another.  Myself (perhaps wrongly) still feel that if the time would not be used in any other profitable way (such as working for others), and if the work was done at home then prices can be kept fairly low, or at least lower than something similar sold in the shops  (this is called 'competition').  Customers can then make up their own mind which they prefer to buy. 

Marjorie's mention of craft-kits being overpriced is very true.  Most of the contents of a kit to make knitted/crocheted goods, or patchwork etc, all contain things such as wool, fabric...needles, that we can buy much more cheaply elsewhere.  Fabric for patchwork is traditionally 'second-hand' (aka recycled) so all we have to do is use what we've got that might normally have ended up in the rag-bag.   My mother used to keep a rag-bag where she tore up old bedlinen, towels, clothes etc, to use as dusters and polishing rags.  Does anyone do this today, or have they fallen into the trap of buying dusters and specially made 'rags' for polishing?

Loved the sound of your Chinese Chicken Noodles Jane.  Although - as you say - those 11p pkts of noodles (great value - still sold at Tesco) don't have much nutritional value, then neither do most types of pasta or rice, they are just included in our diet as necessary carbohydrates.  It's what we add to them that matters.
Your little 'scraps' of chicken (or chopped prawns) added to your noodles would have made good eating for your grandson.  Sounds a bit like Pot Noodles with Soup which make me think that the dried noodles put into a mug with its sachet, plus some chopped cooked chicken or prawns, with -perhaps some crushed dried onions, could be taken to work as a 'packed lunch' it then needing only boiling water poured over and left to stand for a few minutes before being eaten.  Worth a try.

Yorkshire Puddings definitely served with beef, roast or otherwise.  It would go against my grain to serve it with turkey as this has its own traditional accompaniments. Yet 'yorkies' are becoming so popular that it seems many people like these served with meats of all kinds, roast beef, roast lamb, chicken, ham, sausages. perhaps even fish and chips??  If you enjoy eating something that much, then why not?
My Beloved likes me to make several 'yorkies' when I'm serving him roast beef (my 'yorkie' tin makes four individual saucer sized ones).  He is served two with his beef an veg. (pouring the gravy into the centre of each pud), and the remaining two are eaten as 'afters'' with golden syrup poured over (and knowing B, perhaps a good helping of cream as well).
B is very fond of golden syrup, wistfully remembering the apple and syrup sandwiches his mother used to make for him.  They do sound nice, but so far I've never got around to making them.

Pleased to hear Sarina that your husband managed to have his teeth extracted without damage to the bone, and it looks like he'll be healed in time to eat a proper Christmas dinner as it should be eaten.  You also agree that prices for home-crafts should be kept fairly low.

The problem with me is that I always feel that 'home-mades/crafts' used to be like scraping the barrel.  Only the poor used to HAVE to recycle, everyone else expected to purchase, and in those days, the mass-produced.  True there were craftsmen who made 'bespoke' items (very high prices charged for these), but they were true artists and well-known in the trade.  It's a bit like expecting Rolf Harris to paint your portrait.  We wouldn't expect him to charge less than several thousand pounds for the unframed canvas.    Yet there would be others who could do as good a job, and maybe even better, but because they paint purely as a hobby, would be unlikely to even be asked, and if they were would gratefully accept as little as £50 for the painting - including the frame.

So do we pay for skill, or a 'name', or even where it is sold?  In the next road to where we lived in Leeds was a lady who made Christmas 'jesters' from fabrics (offcuts) that my husband had sold to her for very few pennies.  These 'jesters' (only cloth heads on mop sticks) weren't really that good (I could have made better ones - only it never crossed my mind to try), and yet she was able to get Harrods to sell them (and very expensive they were - but bet they made more than 400% profit on each).  I saw a huge basket full of them in the Christmas toy dept when visiting Harrods that year. 

Around that time I used to make toy hobby horses (large heads on broom handles with wheels at the bottom), but also made some small ones (sans wheels) from dish mops, using the stringy tops In situ) as padding for the heads, the wooden part/handle already already fitted to the mop head.   Suppose now 'elf and safety would not allow these to be made as doubt the mops were fire retardant.

Pipe cleaners were also a very necessary part of my craft work, almost certainly when making Christmas decorations.  Are these cleaners still sold?  Is sealing wax still sold?
My memory now sees clearly the paper beads that I once made (details taken from Harmsworths Household Encyclopedia). All different shapes could be made, round, oblong, oval....according to the shape the paper was cut.  Very long triangles of paper would - starting with the wide end - be rolled tightly around a knitting needle, getting fatter and fatter in the middle as it takes up the narrow.  Ending as an oval shape.  This could be painted over with a thin layer of paste to hold it together, then painted with enamels or poster colours, finally varnished and 'presto' a perfect bead.   Make several and thread them onto a double thickness of hat elastic and you have a bracelet/bangle, and beads can also be threaded together to make necklaces. 
This may have been just 'craft-work' to amuse ourselves a hundred years ago (Harmsworth is as old as that), but today this 'craft' would be considered 'something special' so perhaps worth recycling old paper (newspapers, junk mail, envelopes...) and turn them into something profitable.  Well, if money can be made by threading old (and attractive) buttons onto elastic to sell as bracelets (and costly because it is an 'upmarket craft'- but they are bought and worn) then nothing wrong with paper beads, the making of which is so simple that young children could have a go, and certainly teenagers might be able to make pin-money selling them to their friends, or giving them as gifts.

Another frosty night, but not quite as severe as the previous one.  Blue sky and sunshine is beginning to thaw where the sun's rays touch, so that means a slight rise in temperature.  Expected to be above freezing by the end of this week - I suppose good news, although we are now getting quite a lot of freezing fog over the country at the moment, but this should soon go away.

Having sat and watched  bit more TV the last few days (unhealthy I know, but got past caring), have discovered a new cook on the Food Network.  As have never caught the start of the programme don't know her name, but she seems to be dealing more with making cakes.  Her US accent I find difficult to place, and can't say I find it pleasant to listen to as it is a bit different to those of other regions, mind you she could be Canadian (it's the way she pronounces her 'ou's' which is very different to the American way) in which case I forgive her, as perhaps her accent is Canadian - and possibly regional (not sounding like most Canadians I have heard). Her first name could be Ann(e), as a similar (cake) programme presented by an Ann(e) somebody or other was mentioned (later) as being shown earlier.

Have I already mentioned 'Planet Cake'?  Was talking about it to Gill on Sunday, but can't remember whether I've given it an airing on this site.  Made in America, I find it watchable, mainly for the slightly older (well elderly if you like) man who is one of the cake designers.  I just love him.  The owner of the establishment seems to have little to do with the cake preparations, just getting in the orders (often charging thousands of dollars for each speciality cake) and she relies on a team of very skilled bakers and decorators.   It's been on at 6.00am when I've been up early enough to watch, so maybe not seen by readers, but worth taking a look (much better programme than that pair of obnoxious sisters who make thousands of cup-cakes and talk (at least one does) as though gazing into space, and who seem to always want to outdo each other, their mother usually hovering in the background.

As ever, most of the Food Network programmes seem now to be repeats (especially Nigella's and Thomasina Miers). There are some new Christmas ones (each being also repeated more than once each day), and am wondering if all the programmes we watch are currently being aired in America and Canada, or do they have a different choice as our traditional meals and way of cooking are not the same as those over the pond?

Am enjoying the competition each day between British bakers (ITV 4.00pm).  The one thing I've realised is that there isn't THAT much difference between ginger cake, gingerbread, ginger parkin, and flapjack. Ginger cake is true cake - we all agree on that, but then slightly altering the ingredients it can get denser (gingerbread), dryer (parkin) or crunchier (flapjack).  They all store well, but the last three, and improve on keeping so worth making one or t'other to add to that home-made Christmas Hamper (and have you seen the price charged for food Hampers sold over the counter?).
We cooks can certainly give value when we give our 'home-mades' as gifts, and should certainly NEVER think we are being penny-pinching when we do so.

Have just had a box come up on the screen from blogger saying they can't complete this report (?) so am hoping this will get published.
A reminder that I'm taking a few days off to speed up my return to health, but in the meantime keep those comments coming.  TTFN.