Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Canape photos

How We Live Now...

Just back from the surgery, and as I've to make some popcorn and muffins for the Trick or Treater's this evening, my time is a bit limited this morning, so this will be a shorter than usual blog.

Firstly, a big thank you to Eileen who has emailed me the photos she took of the canapes at the social last Saturday.  I've forwarded them to Steve in the hope he can find some way to get them onto this site for me.   I've suggested he just titles it 'canapes' and then publishes only the photos, I can then fill in the details later once I know they have been published.

Watched a programme yesterday morning called 'Rip Off Food', this about how the supermarket's way of 'persuading' us to buy what we don't need, also how the packaging can make it appear there is more than there really is. 
Later that evening watched a thought-provoking  programme about people who can't afford to buy food at all and had to rely on 'food banks' to give them free food - usually using food vouchers given by social security. The idea was good but open to abuse.

When one man (who did turn out to be a con man) waved a £10 note in the air and said this was only enough for milk and bread, it did make me think how so many people (esp. the young) cannot see beyond the basics.  For one thing, a loaf of bread is now expensive, and the money spent on one loaf would pay for eggs, baked beans, flour, and vegetables.  Far more nutrition there than in just bread.

There was a girl who seemed fairly able to manage on her £20 a week, but obviously believed that she could never afford to buy a whole chicken (less than £3), when actually a whole chicken, with vegetables would make at least seven good meals (plus the carcase for stock).  With porridge for breakfast,  soup for lunch, chicken for the main meal - then it can be done well within the £20 per person per week.

As ever, managing the food budget comes mainly from learning how to get more for our money and make the best of what we have.  The 'food bank in the above programme was run by an evangelical group (I found the religious part a bit off-putting). Providing food was of course the main reason, but cookery demonstrations showing how to make the most of what is provided would be even more useful, or even some of the food cooked on site so that people could go and have a free meal once or twice a week, and I'm sure there must be members of the congregation who have had years of experience 'coping', and would be willing to share their expertise in one way or another.

Anyway, that's my lot for today for if I don't start cooking, there won't be time for me to have a sit down with a warm drink.  Must first reply to Les:  I do have a heated blanket specially to cover my body when sitting in a chair.  Even that doesn't really seem to warm me up as much as a hot water bottle.  I keep the electric cover for the really cold days when I need even extra warmth. 
Usually I find if I can keep my neck warm, then I feel far less cold, so am now wrapping silk scarves or lacy wool scarves round my neck when I sit down (or even when working in the kitchen).

Had the same thought Alison, felt I did need to take iron again, but had run out of the pills. However found some 'multi-vit plus iron' pills in a drawer so took a couple of those over two days and did feel much better.

It's a cold day today, the rain has ceased but it is quite breezy.  As soon as I've finished working in the kitchen and bagged up the stuff for the 'Trick or Treater's', then will go and read the newspaper to find out how they are coping on the east coast of America.  It looked pretty bad on the news, although have to say I've seen the same depth of flooding here in this country, and quite often after heavy rainfall when the rivers break their banks, but never in a large city, so suppose that does cause more chaos.  Thank goodness we have the Thames Barrier ready to protect London in case of an extremely high tide.  It may never need to be used, but at least we are prepared.   With New York (and especially Manhattan built on an island) with no real protection from the sea, suppose it was a disaster waiting to happen.  All too often we learn only after the event, never giving a before-thought to what might happen.  Let us hope this is a once off and things soon return to normal.

If nothing untoward happens, then should be back with you again tomorrow.  See you then.


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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

What Next?

Read in the paper recently that millions (or was it billions?) of £££s are spent by families on everything bought for Hallow'een and Guy Fawkes each year.  None of it necessary in my opinion, but just goes to show how easily we can be persuaded to part with our money, even in these hard-pressed times.  If that's what the nation pays for the two smaller traditions, then how much more do we (again as a nation) spend over Christmas? 

It does seem, in these times of recession, we seem to be encouraged to part with our money rather than save it.  Suppose that is what 'business' is all about, and as we are always being told that our economy depends on us spending our money to keep people in work then - as the saying goes - we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  However, do feel that we could do more ourselves rather than rely on manufacturers to do the work for us. 

As B hasn't yet altered the clock that runs our central heating, it now bursts into action (the boiler is in our bedroom so wakes me up) and hour earlier now we are GMT.  So I was up at 6.00am instead of 7.00.  Gave me a chance to sort out a bit more of the kitchen (now almost back to normal), before coming in here and beginning to write my blog.

A blanket 'thank-you' to all who wrote in re the recent canape marathon.  Especial thanks to Eileen who am sure was being kind, it can't ALL have been good.    However, being given a plate of some 'left-overs' to bring home (which I then ate after back in my own arm chair), have to say was quite surprised that even I enjoyed them.  Particularly liked one (a pastry 'cup' that held a little salad with some little strips of sticky beef cooked in oriental sauce on top), the different textures, esp. the unexpectedness of the crunchy salad (hidden by the beef) made it a better than average 'nibble'.

This was one of the reasons I filled the small pointed sweet bell peppers with egg mayo.  The egg being soft, the peppers crunchy.  Same with the toasted bases (crunchy bruschettas - is that the correct spelling?) topped with soft pate (chicken liver, smoked mackerel etc), again the best of both worlds.

Poor old B.  As we were about to leave the clubhouse, B trapped his thumb in the car door and the nail almost immediately turned black.  He was in agony for quite some time.  He was saying yesterday how much we use our thumbs without realising it (he was trying to slice a shallot at the time to go with his supper yesterday which was Thai Red Curried Prawns and rice).  At least that got rid of the remaining thawed prawns (held safely in the fridge overnight), and myself had some pate on toast topped with the last of the egg mayo.   
There are quite a few bits and bobs that were left-over so am working my way through them as fast as possible, and it surprised me how little was really needed to cover all the canapes and they haven't worked out nearly as expensive as expected, even though many of the ingredients were 'special' (smoked salmon, game bird breasts, Parma Ham, 'caviare', assorted pates, etc, etc.).  The prices' charged by caterers would be the time (and skill?) it takes to make and prepare canapes I suppose.  At least my time is 'free'.  

After eating half the Ferrero Rocher chocs yesterday, gave the remainder to B in return for some of his raffle-prize biscuits (although he wasn't prepared to give me half of these  - he got quite cross when I took all of six biccies from his large tin!!).  But I don't want to gain back the several lbs lost last week (due to all my activity and very little eating). 

Watched Nigel Slater's cookery prog.  I enjoy the way he makes things from what he has in his storecupboard/fridge rather than plan his shopping to fit an already fixed menu for the week  (although obviously his purchases ARE  planned to suit the programme).  Have to say that I'm tending to work this way now that I have different veggies delivered from Riverford. 
Actually it's now several weeks since my last veggie box as still have a whole red cabbage, an unused (as yet) cauliflower, several carrots, plenty of potatoes, and about 3 turnips that still have to be used.  At this time of the year seasonal produce stores well, so I won't need to order so often.  Thankfully, this is really saving me money as I'd normally be shopping on-line at Tesco and this I haven't been doing (except for a few items needed for the 'social' and only because they were on offer).  Am so very pleased that I'm able to buy even better quality food than before and still manage to spend less.

Most of yesterday was spent in my easy chair, and a lot of that time I was asleep.  It was good to relax again.  Also slept well last night, much of the time spent dreaming (happily).  Today don't feel like doing very much at all, so will probably take another day off work.
All the laundry has been done, the supper easy enough to make, so won't need to start that until late afternoon, and with B out most of the day helping his friend at the upholstery shop, then I can put my feet up without feeling guilty.  B doesn't really mind how I spend my day as long as he has good food made ready for him when he wants it.

Bonfire night is the time to make warming food to be eaten indoors or out.  We all have our own idea of what to provide (my suggestion would be mugs of hot soup, hot jacket potatoes with assorted fillings, sticky sausages, and something sweet to end the evening.

Here is a suggestion for the 'sweet' (on of the recipes torn from a mag), the photo shows it studded with lit sparklers, but that of course is optional).  The good thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared 24 hours before being cooked, and it also makes its own sauce. 

Sticky Chocolate Pudding: serves 10
13 oz (375g) self-raising flour
good pinch salt
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
6 tblsp cocoa
12 fl oz (340ml) milk
5 oz (150g) butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb (450g) light muscavado sugar
6 tblsp cocoa
1.25 pints (700ml boiling water)
2 good handfuls marshmallows
Sift together the flour, salt, caster sugar, baking powder, and cocoa.  In another bowl put the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla, then mix until combined.  Mix the 'wet' ingredients into the 'dry', then pour into a greased large shallow backing dish (about 2 - 3 litres in size) (at this point it can be covered with clingfilm and kept chilled for 24 hours. Remove clingfilm before continuing)...
Sprinkle the muscovado sugar and cocoa over the top as evenly as possible, then pour over the boiling water and immediately bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 35-45 mins (if chilled it will need the longer time), until the pudding has risen and firm in the centre.  
Scatter the marshmallows on top and return to the oven, checking every half minute (30 seconds) until the marshmallows have melted.  Serve immediately (take care, it will be hot), and especially good when eaten with cream or ice-cream (on a cold night you may prefer to serve it with hot cream or custard). 

That's it for today, my mind is still not working properly, but will have to start thinking 'Hallow'een' goodies pretty soon ready for the little monsters who knock on the door.  Will probably take the easy way out and make lots of toffee popcorn drizzled with melted chocolate.  Very cheap to make and a mug of uncooked popping corn will end up filling a bucket!

The east coast of the USA looks as though it is going to get hit hard by a hurricane of some strength. Thank goodness we don't get such severe weather here, although nowadays who knows?  With the mention that many parts of New York City will need to be evacuated to keep the citizens safe sounds very alarming, very similar to the fictional films that I've been watching recently.  

Was it in 1956 (or thereabouts) when there was an exceptionally high tide, plus gale force winds blowing inland that caused a lot of our East Coast to flood?  Many people drowned, and the water came inland to almost ceiling height of property closer to the shore.   Although we (naturally) were concerned with the damage and deaths in our country, apparently the Netherlands had it much worse at that time.
When Nature is in the mood, what chance do we have other than run to the hills?   Just let us hope that all we do get this winter is 'normal' seasonal weather, and nothing worse than that.  Even so, best to be prepared.  Keep our larders well stocked with food, and hope for the best.

Not that I'm forecasting gloom and doom, suppose it's just my survival hat I feel like wearing at the moment.  The older we are the more experience we have of things happening when least expected.  But for the moment today I'm going to take things easy and watch the Food Network for starters (in the hope they show something interesting, at the moment it seems to be all repeats).  This maybe will put me back into 'cooking mode', so I can then continue with a normal life.

Hope you will find time to join me tomorrow - if so, see you then.   


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Now for a Rest!!!...

Back with you again, fairly bleary-eyed I have to say.  Yesterday ended the day feeling almost like a zombie, but managed to gather enough energy to go to the sailing club 'do' where I was very happy to meet up again with Eileen.  Of course I'd forgotten my camera, but Eileen took some lovely shots of the food and she is sending them to me by email.  Whether I'll be able to transfer them to my blog remains to be seen.   But here is a run down on what I made (and the several problems that kept occurring on Friday/Saturday).

There were different bases that I used for the toppings, some various types of rye bread, some bruscettas, some ordinary bread, several different shaped pastry 'cases', and some lettuce leaf 'cups'.  Using the same topping on different bases made them seem 'different' (for instance two ways is served baby prawns was to fold some  in guacamole on one of the 'rye' type bases, then again served as 'prawn cocktail' - for these 'invented' a rather attractive form of presentation.  I removed thin slices from the 'green' length of a cucumber, then cut the cucumber into half-inch rings.  Removed the centre from each using my smallest scone cutter (but a large metal piping nozzle could also have been used as a 'cutter' - or even an apple corer).  Each ring of cucumber placed on a square of buttered rye (or similar) bread, then filled with a teaspoon of prawns.  A little home-made Marie-Rose sauce spooned on top (leaving gravity to let it work its way down), then using my (clean) eye-brow tweezers to jpick up one of the larger baby prawns to place on top of each.  They looked really pretty.

The blinis also went down well.  Some had just a dollop of sour cream on top with a very little 'caviare' (lumpfish roe) placed on top then sprinkled with the finely chopped green part of spring onions, the others had a dollop of sour cream with a little roll of smoked salmon on top then garnished with a little 'caviare' and a frond of dill.

I'd made a bowl of egg mayonnaise, and some of this was spooned onto rye bases and topped with smoked salmon/dill.  I'd also halved some small (larger than cherry) tomatoes, scooped out the seeds/flesh and then filled these 'cups' with the egg mayo, garnishing each with a sprinkle of mustard and cress. 
I'd bought some quite small sweet pepper (pointed ones), these come in three colours: yellow, orange and red, and I find them a lot more use than the larger bell peppers (same taste/texture), so sliced these top to bottom and removed any seeds and membrane (very little in each), and filled those with the egg mayo - they added needed colour to the table display..  Topped them with slivers of Peppadew to add a bit of 'bite'.

Made some Coronation Chicken and piled this into bite-sized square pastry cases (spreading a little mango chutney over the pastry to make a seal (but don't think it needed any sealing).  Made a lot as apparently this dish is 'popular' at the club.  They all got eaten!

Made a similar 'savoury', this time serving Beef Teriyaki on salad in round pastry cases.  Other thinly sliced roast beef I ended up spreading with a little horseradish cream and the rolling the meat round thin fingers of beetroot or small gherkins (cornichons). Holding the roll together with a cocktail stick.

The ham I tried to make into 'cornets', but it kept breaking up, so ended up slicing some home-made brown mini-loaves thinly and spread these with butter and mustard, then topped with a thick fold of ham then more bread to make mini-sarnies, a halved cherry tomato on top all speared together with a cocktail stick.

The mini-choux buns I filled with a mixture of whipped cream with some 'Seriously Strong' spreading cheese, plus some cream cheese and chives.    Some of this mixture also spread onto some of the bases and topped with egg mayo.

Tiny lettuce cups (from a Baby Gem lettuce) held a blend of crabmeat, guacamole, and chopped cucumber (this cucumber was the bits cut from the centres of the cucumber cups).  Some other cucumber centres were sliced thinly and one slice then garnished the top of slices of spicy crisp bruscetta bread that had been spread with chicken and chorizo pate.   
Chicken pate was spread over many more Rosetta's, each topped with a little cranberry sauce.

Some pastry bases were filled with smoked mackerel pate, a little mackerel left as 'flakes' to lay a sliver on top of some, the others topped with a bit of parsley. 

Made a bit batch of mini-quiches (assorted fillings) that helped fill another platter, but the centre-piece of the evening was the Game Terrine.  Now have to say this is the first time I've ever made this and although following the recipe carefully, found there were problems mainly because of the container used.  Planning to use a very long metal terrine mould (collapsible and the side held in place with wires pushed, realised this would let water into the mould when it was placed in a bain-marie.  So had to very carefully line the mould with a single sheet of foil-backed baking parchment, the thickness at the corners making it a bit difficult to fold neatly, but in the end managed it.  Then had to stretch rashers of bacon to line the mould before adding the prepared meat.

The filling to the pie was a mixture of breasts of pheasant, partridge, and wood pigeon, some of this blended together in the food processor with a bit more bacon and some spices/seasonings.  This then put into a bowl with some wine and the rest of the meat that had been cut into chunks, then left in the fridge to marinade overnight).  Used this to half-fill the terrine, then laid chicken breasts along the whole length to cover the game, then topped with a final layer of prepared game.  Folded the overlapping bacon over the top, plus a few more rashers down the middle length, then covered tightly with parchment and foil.  
Then of course couldn't find a roasting tin that was long enough to hold the terrine, so ended up using some light-weight foil tins that were barely long enough but could be bent at the ends (ending up looking a bit like a boat), and used three of these to stand the weight, placing the lot on a baking sheet for safety, then in the oven before I poured in boiling water around the terrine to come up to the height of the container sides.   Topped up with water half-way through the cooking time of one and a half hours (160C).   I gave it 15 minutes extra to be on the safe side, then left it in the turned-off oven for half an hour before removing it.

After cooling at room temperate for a couple or so hours, laid two foil-wrapped house bricks on top (the filling fortunately was slightly higher than the tin) and then put the lot in the fridge to chill overnight.  The next day removed the bricks, removed the tin and wrapped the terrine in foil to keep chilled (it weighed a ton).  An hour before departure yesterday put the terrine on a plate and removed a slice from the end to give a good appearance (it was later cut at the venue into slices), and it did look very good indeed - there was me in fear and trembling that it hadn't worked.   There were chunks of solid game flesh running through the minced mixture, this different bird flesh cooked in various shades of pale to dark meat, with the chicken being white.   The terrine was placed on a bed of watercress on a long metal platter that I fortunately had, then cherry tomatoes and cornichons spread all round.  It looked really professional.
One of the guests at our table found a bit of lead shot in her slice of Game Terrine. I told her that this proved it was all quality wild fowl, nothing birds were 'farmed'.

During the week had baked some cheese straws using left-over short pastry,  but decided to try an easy way by cutting very thin strips from the sides of block of puff pastry (so that the layers could be seen running from top to bottom of each strip), then laid each strip flat, sprinkled over pepper and salt (could have added dried herbs and Parmesan but didn't), and then rolled them out even longer and thinner, because they were so long cut them in half, and when baked at 200C for a very few minutes, the pastry had stayed flat, spreading sideways instead of upwards as puff usually does and these made great 'cheese' straws.  Once cooked and cooled slightly these were packed in air-tight containers and stayed crisp.

Had two almost disasters with a couple of the desserts.  The Strawberry 'champagne' jellies were made by melting a pack of strawberry jelly using half a pint of water, the intention then of adding sparkling wine just before it was setting, to bring it up to the pint.  Mixed together the bubbles should should stay in the jelly.
Problem was I had bought one 150cl bottle of sparkling wine (very cheap actually), and needed to make four pints of jelly to use with this.   I'd made the jelly, but even whilst still warm (to me) this began to (almost set), so I poured it into 25 wine glasses, and immediately topped each with the wine, stirring it in as I went.  I'd also put three halved small strawberries in each glass - these then rising to the top (as I knew they would).

Checked the jellies later and discovered to my horror the jelly had sunk to the bottom and begun to set and the sparkling wine was at the top - unset.  So as had used up all my jelly and most of the wine, decided the only thing to do was tip the lot through a sieve to catch the wine, then put the jelly (and strawberries) in to the microwave to melt it again.  This time mixed the jelly with the wine before putting the mixture into the glasses, adding the last bit of sparkling wine left in the bottle, and it actually WORKED!  Didn't seem to lose any of its 'sparkle', but have to say it caused me a few worries at the time.

On Friday made the Tarte au Citron'.  As it was a Mary Berry recipe knew it would be good, but she always warned it was a bit tricky to make, even though the recipe seemed simple enough.  I'd asked B to stay out of the  kitchen whilst making this as didn't want to be distracted, and of course half-way through measuring ingredients there was knock on the back door.  Our neighbour wanted ot borrow B's cycle pump!.  So I fetched B and went back to making the posh 'lemon tart'.  Got confused as to what point I'd got to, but sorted it out and then another knock on the door - neighbour again wanting to speak to B.  To cut a long story short, began beating the eggs, adding the sugar and squeezed lemon juicek, lemon zest etc, poured it into a blind-baked pastry case (this made the night before), and put it into the oven.
Checked the recipe to see how long it should be baked and then (horrified) noticed I'd forgotten to add double cream to the egg mixture.  The tart had been in the oven less than five minutes, so rapidly removed it, ladled out some of the filling into a bowl, then tipped the case (still in the tin) over to pour out the remainder, then added the cream, whisked it in, then refilled the case and back into the oven.   I knew that many custard tarts are often started by making a warm custard to use as a filling, so hoped it would work with this.  And it did.  It turned out perfectly although where the filling had  poured over the pastry rim when emptying it, this had gone a rather dark colour after baking, but was able to trip the pastry down to just above the level of the filling and it (sort of ) looked OK.

Although was not myself hungry at all (having 'sampled' most of the canape toppings throughout the day as I worked), did have a wedge of the 'Tarte au Citron' when at the club and it really did taste wonderful (even though I say it myself, but put this down to Mary Berry).  Will really hve to make it again, and it really isn't that difficult.

My daughter had done the Millionsaire's Shortbread and Florentines for me, and I had one of each of these as well and she had done a brilliant job.  We make a good team (we used to work together doing  'catering' in the past).

A final (almost) disaster was the Melon and Parma Ham.  Normally I cut the melon into cubes, wrapping each with the ham, and did this yesterday, but as it stood for a while the ham went very soggy and looked awful, probably because the melon was ripe and overly moist (but perfect otherwise), so I removed all the ham, cut the remainder of the melon into chunks, placed them in a bowl with a bowl of shreds of Parma ham in the centre with skewers so the guests could help themselves.  That seemed to work.

For once I really enjoyed the evening at the club for there was no mention of boats at all (boats bore me), and with the 'dress to impress' on the invitations, most of the men came in evening dress, black tie, white tie.  I said to Eileen it looked very 'Downton Abbey', and have to say I really felt at home.  They were even selling cocktails at the bar.  We all had a free glass of 'champagne' and £3.000 of gaming chips to play BlackJack, Craps, or Roulette.  Because I'd made the food I was given another free glass of wine.  Drink always make we want to go to 'the cloakroom' and of course I then found I couldn't unbolt the door after I'd bolted myself into one of the cubicles.  I struggled and struggled, and thought I'd just have to stay there until someone realised I'd disappeared, but then they'd have to break the door down...!!! Eventually I gave the door a massive pull towards me to close it even further and then the bolt slipped open. Phew - that was a relief.

Several of the ladies were wearing cocktail dresses, glittery clothes, black dresses etc.  Even I managed to scrub up a bit wearing a recently bought black velour skirt and black top with a see-through black jacket with silvery squiggles.  The skirt I'd bought three (or was it four) sizes too small as I'd lost weight, but didn't think it would fit me (the aim was it was an incentive to more weight to wear it, but it ended up fitting perfectly, think I should have bought a size smaller).  But was well please that I at least had something worth wearing.

Some of the men didn't wear evening dress, more to look 'rich', such as a JR outfit (including stetson) as in Dallas.  My B (bless him) had hired a sheik's outfit unbeknown to me (changing in the men's room once we had arrived) and looked really good.  He got called many things during the night such as 'Shake a Leg' or 'Mustapha *** (must have a.....).  He won second prize for costume.

In the raffle B chose a big box of biscuits (he said he chose it because he knew I could make use of the tin - which I can).  I also had a win and my choice was abox of Ferrero Rocher chocolates - my favourite and I know I shouldn't eat sweets, but there you go.

I got bored with gambling (I'd won, then lost, then won, then lost), so gave B my left-over gaming chips and went and sat down again to watch everyone else.   Eileen joined me later, she showed me the photos she'd taken of the food, and I was surprised how good it looked.  Think having been surrounded by the 'makings' the past couple of days I could barely see the wood for the trees if you know what I mean. 

Loads of people came up to me to say how much they enjoyed the food, and how 'upmarket' it was. The Game terrine was a great success, and with the food left out for people to 'graze', was able to see that most of the evening there were lots of people around the table continually helping themselve.  Practically all the food went.  Most of the little left we brought home and I sat at ate some of it once I had sat down in my easy chair.

Not sure what is happening in the world for during last week my mind was on nothing but food. We could have had a world war (started and finished) and I would never have known.  What I did realised was how cold the weather has suddenly turned, and as I kept the heating out of the ktichen on Saturday (and had the back door open part of the time), also wearing short sleeves (hygiene reasons), ended up having the shakes (which I suppose was a mixture of shivering with cold and over working).  At least, after changing and having a drink at the club felt a bit better, but wished I'd taken a warm shawl with me.  Once back at home, and snuggled up in my chair nibbling some food brought home, and watching TV until the andrenaline had subsided, then went to bed and slept like a log.  Having the extra hour in bed (now the clocks have been put back) has also helped, but today amd going to take it easy and just use up some of the left-overs to make B his (and my) suppers. 

Thanks so much to all who have sent in comments wishing me well.  The parting shot as we left the club last night was 'we must talk about the Christmas meal..!  Don't mind what they want me to make as long as it is not loads and loads and loads of canapes again.   Had to admit to myself that I think I've grown a bit too old to take on the amount of work that I did last night, but have to say I'm proud that I was still able to do it.  But enough is enough.  There are limits.

Well, it's raining (this has at least raised the temperature a bit, but has made the day seem gloomy), and I'm now going to make myself a cup of coffee and sit down and read the Sunday paper and sort out the kitchen later (it looks as though a bomb has hit it - no time to clear up before we left last night although I had managed to do all the washing up). 

Hope to get back on track with my normal 'rambles' tomorrow, and hope to see you then.  TTFN.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Problems, problems..

Always something to put a spanner in the works.   Yesterday felt that things were getting a bit on top of me, so as there was a footie match on during the evening, took myself off into the conservatory with a big pan and a pen, then sat down and wrote a list of what had to be done each and every day from today until the end of Saturday,.  This covered two big A4 sheets of paper (actually it was an old foolscap pad I was using), and I stuck one below the other and then taped these to the fridge door.   

Took a photo of these this morning but it took ages for the comp to connect up to the camera, it said it didn't recognise the whatever, but eventually it did.  Silly me should have left the pic on a previous site used by blogger, as now it won't accept the new name.  I've spent at least half an hour trying to put the pic. of my 'worklload list' for you to see, but still it won't accept it, so have given up trying.

Went to bed before midnight last night, but it was about 4.30 before I fell asleep.  My mind was on canapes, canapes, canapes, desserts, and canapes, and all I wanted to do was get up and do some more preparation etc.  B getting up twice in the night didn't help.  He now has a habit of taking a torch with him (why when he can put the lights on), and going hunting for slugs every time he gets up to go to the bathroom, then sprinkles them with salt before returning to the bedroom. 

Anyway, managed to grab about 3 hours sleep before getting up this morning, and as it was a Norma the Hair day, have only now got myself in front of the computer. 

My written list has proved to me (and I hope would have proved to you if you'd been able to see it) that from today I'm going to be rather busy, in fact very busy, so do hope you won't mind if I now take Thursday, Friday and Saturday off from writing my blog, so that I can then move straight into the kitchen, roll up my sleeves and get a lot of the work done while I feel at my best.   Then I hope to have a chance to relax later in the afternoon and later still will try to have an earlier than usual bedtime.

This afternoon one of the 'catering committee' members is bringing the wine glasses for me to fill with the Strawberries and 'Champagne' Jellies.  These will be made Thursday, chilled in the fridge to set, then B will take them to the club on Friday where they will be kept in a cool room until Saturday.  That'll be one thing out of the way.

Now have to go and start working my way down 'what to do on Wednesday', and if lucky might even be able to tackle one of the things on Thursday's list.  Friday and Saturday lists are lengthy and am just hoping I'll get it all done and dusted in time.  

Thanks for comments.  If I put an empty box in the freezer Les (to fill a gap so B can't use it for his ice-cream), I'll probably forget there is nothing in the box. 

Think we all have times when we are accident prone Jane, so it's always wise to take care when we have a lot on our minds.  I'm now finding that I'm making mistakes when weighing out ingredients, especially when I'm making half of a recipe then forgetting to reduce some of the amounts by half and using all the recipe says.  Did that yesterday, and one of the reasons I feel I need to allow myself a little more time and try not to do so much multi-tasking.

So this is me having a bit of a 'holiday' from blogging until Sunday when I will return to my seat and tell you everything that has occurred between now and then.  Will still take photos, but am not sure if the comp will accept them.  Cross that bridge when I come to it.

The sun is shining today, and on our Acer (Japanese maple ?) as I write.  Although the leaves of this tree (more a bush than a tree) are mahogany red all the time, they seem to have become much richer in colour over the last few days, tending to look more 'coppery'.  Looks lovely against the backdrop of the green holly bush and Cordylinethat grow behind the Acer.

With very cold weather expected this Friday onwards, and the clocks going back at the weekend, this really will seem to feel as though winter won't be far behind.  A couple of days rest then have to start baking again for the Hallow'een 'Trick or Treat' callers.   Practically all adults I know wish this 'event' had never taken root here.   We get sick of the constant knocking on the door during the evening.   Probably we don't like this custom because we already will be preparing for our own Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire night a few days later (on Nov. 5th) and see no reason to have two 'celebrations' in one week.  Of course the stores just LOVE any reason to get more money from our pockets, so plenty of both Hallow'een and Guy Fawkes 'bits and bobs' (and foodie things) filling up the aisles in supermarkets and corner shops etc.   So can't blame the children for wanting to have fun.

Right - that's it until Sunday.  Feel free to send in comments although can't promise I'll be reading any until 'after the event'.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, think I might need your virtual support over the next few days.   See you Sunday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Still on Track

Bit late starting my 'chat' this morning as had a few things to do before I sat down to tap the keyboard.   Then several emails (other than comments) to read (and reply to), one from the 'catering committee' at the sailing club letting me know numbers will now be 40 not 50.  Suppose that is a good thing as it means 100 less canapes to make (and a few less desserts). 

Got on well yesterday - up to a point.  Decided to make the Macaroons today and also the bread (my list of 'things to do today' now already written up ready for me to start as soon as I've finished 'chatting').

Decided yesterday afternoon to make some blinis, but as I hadn't any buckwheat flour needed to find a recipe that used ordinary flour and not many of those, but I did find one although it did seem a bit complicated and would take quite a time to prepare.  After reading the chosen recipe decided that as it used bread flour and yeast (bubbling up the yeast/liquid from scratch before adding to the flour), decided there was no (theoretical) reason why I couldn't take a short cut and use packet bread mix instead, so this I did.  I weighed out the required amount of mix, omitting the yeast from the recipe, and then went on from there.  Forgot to add melted butter to the end batter before frying, but it didn't seem to matter as they seemed perfect.   Blinis are like drop scones (aka Scotch pancakes), but in my case made mini ones.   After I'd used half the batter, added some dried herb 'salad shake' to the rest which gave the blinis more flavour.

Here is my version of a blini recipe:
Shirley's Blinis:  makes 50 mini-blinis
125g white bread mix that has yeast included
pinch each salt and sugar
60 ml hand-hot water
120 ml hand-hot milk
2 eggs, separated
1 oz (25g) melted butter (opt)
Put bread mix, flour, salt and sugar into a bowl.  Put the warm water and milk into a jug and beat in the egg yolks.  Pour this into the flour mixture with the butter (if using) and beat together until smooth.  Cover and leave to stand in a warm place for 45mins to 1 hour to allow it rise  (it may not double in bulk but should become 'frothy'.   Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then carefully fold them into the blini batter.

Have ready a pre-heated large heavy frying pan (dry heat), then add a very little oil to grease the base.  Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the base of the pan (you should be able to make five or six in each batch), cook until the top looks dry and shows bubbles, then flip over and cook the reverse side for about 20 seconds.  Remove and place on kitchen paper laid on a cake airer, and overlap each, adding more as you make each batch.  Then cover with kitchen paper and leave to cool before packing away.

Watched Jamie Oliver's new series "15 minute meals" yesterday, but although useful for those strapped for time, found the meals could turn out a bit expensive as he was using some ready-prepared ingredients, and no doubt will be using others in later programmes.  As he says - to get the meals on the table in this short time it is necessary to multi-task.  As far as I know, he seems to be the only man that IS able to multi-task at the speed needed.  However, we girls have the genes (as well as the experience) of being able to multi-task at almost Olympic level.

Mentioning 'genes', there was a remarkable programme about the workings of a human cell on TV the other evening.  It showed how each cell has its own job to do, and how it gets on with it.  Admittedly the 'workings' looked a bit like cartoon characters sometimes stomping their way along their set routes, but it made me realise that our bodies are more like a complex community of 'workers' than just one entity.  There is so much 'organisation' to make it all work perfectly, a bit like a clock but a million times more complex, that I find it hard to understand this is just 'evolution' and 'trial and error' that got us to where we are now.  There has to be some intelligence behind all this.

I did a very silly thing yesterday.  Realising it could take me several minutes to fry the blinis (as there were so many, but in fact it didn't take that much time in the end), and having a few aches and pains, decided to sit at the hob to work, but the ordinary chair was too low, so went and got a wooden stool from the conservatory that was a few inches higher.  Once in place it was perfect,  only I made the mistake of leaning back to reach something and the stool overbalanced and I toppled over to the floor!!
Luckily I was in a fairly 'compact' section of the kitchen, so I fell over towards the table, landing ona an knocking over a few things as I collapsed, and fortunately the floor was carpeted, so it didn't hurt my knees as much as it might have done (fortunately I twisted myself when falling so I ended up face down, and onto my knees).  Unfortunately I twisted my back a bit when I fell and am feeling the ache of this today, but not THAT bad. 

I couldn't get up at the time, mainly because my knees hurt to stand my weight on them as I pushed myself up, so had to call B in to give me a hand.  Also I was very shaken, but after a few minutes managed to get up unaided (as long as B put his weight on a chair so it didn't fall over as I pushed myself up using it as a 'half-way' house.
Just shows how things can happen when we don't take enough care.

B has gone out early this morning to the club, think either a newspaper reporter or radio presenter had gone there to do an interview. Not sure about what, but B didn't want to miss getting in on the act.

Good idea Les, for B to take a photo of the display of canapes when laid out at the club house.  Am hoping to take some myself when packed up in the individual boxes.  That's what I'm hoping to remember to do.  I should have taken a photo of the blinis once made (but with the shock of the fall - I was about to fry the blinis when it happened, luckily no fat had yet been put into the pan - I forgot to take the pics.).

It was interesting what you said about Quorn not having much flavour Jane.  Have found this myself and one of the reasons I don't (normally) buy it as it seems to work out just as expensive as the 'real thing'.  If Quorn is preferred but the person eating it isn't vegetarian, then flavour can be added by using concentrated meat stock/gravy that might have been saved after previously cooking a roast (or slow-cooking less tender meat).  I often add good beef stock to the pan instead of water when making up a Mexican (chilli con carne) or Spag. bol 'Beanfeast' (the main ingredient in this being TVP to take the place of minced meat).  Believe it or not, this usually ends up looking like AND tasting like the 'real thing', purely because I've added the 'essential' flavour.

Yes, do like watching the Food Network (well some of it),  even enjoying Nigella (which is saying something).  Sunny Anderson does some good cooking, but yesterday she got on my nerves with her never-endless chatter.  How she manages to find time to take a breath I don't know.  Some times she says less, and then her cooking is far easily understood.

My daughter loves cooking as much as I do, but her preference is more to do with cakes.   She makes far better cakes than I do, and I still can't work out how or why.  I do exactly what she does and hers always are lighter than mine.
We used to work together (often with my friend Gill) as 'free-lance' caterers and got some really good commissions, even for weddings.  To get round the problem of having to have special kitchens to use for cooking, we used to use the customers own kitchens to prepare and cook the food,  in other words we were just 'employed' as chefs.  They paid for the food and for our labour.  Easy as that.

Many years ago I used to really hate eating mushrooms.  Think it was because my mother cooked them until they were 'soggy' (to me they then seemed slimy).  Now I just love mushrooms, often eating the small ones raw.  So can understand how you dislike turnips Lisa, but am sure there are a few recipes that you might like to try.  Here are a few suggestions.

The young 'early-season' turnips can be eaten raw. Grate or thinly slice and use in salads, coleslaw, or cheese sandwiches.

fried turnip: slice and parboil for 3 minutes, then drain, pat dry and fry in shallow oil over medium-high heat until tender, 3 - 4 minutes either side.  Drain on kitchen paper and add seasoning to taste.

roast turnip: parboil for 3 minutes (if small and whole) or 5 minutes (maincrop, cut into chinks). Drain and toss with oil and seasoning, then place in a roasting tin and roast at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40 minutes, turning once, or until golden and tender.

Here is a recipe that really works due to the combination of flavours, and a good way to use turnips if you normally don't care for them.  Serve with baked gammon (ham), or roast lamb.  A similar mash without the celeriac, that included chives, is the traditional Scottish dish: 'Clapshot'.
Turnip, Potato and Celeriac Mash: serves 4
2 turnips (approx 14oz/400g)
1 small to medium celeriac
2 potatoes
7 fl oz (200ml) milk
1 bay leaf
boiling water
1 oz (25g) butter
salt and pepper
Remove peel from the veggies (as thinly as possible) then cut the flesh into fairly small cubes.  Put into a pan with the milk and bay leaf, then add enough boiling water to just cover the veggies (do not add more). Add a pinch of salt then simmer for 20 minutes or until everything is tender.
Using a slotted spoon, rremove the veggies from the pan and place in a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid (or pour the lot into a colander placed over a bowl to catch the liquid).  Remove bay leaf.
Add butter and seasoning to taste, plus two tablespoons of the cooking liquid to the cooked veggies and mash thoroughly together, adding more cooking liquid as necessary.
Serve hot with cooked ham, roast pork, roast lamb etc.

That's it for today.  Am now off into the kitchen to bake bread and plan the timings for the rest from my list. 
Yesterday asked B to bring himself one 'ready-meal' from the supermarket so he could quickly reheat this in the microwave (he was going out anyway).  Thought that would ease the load from my shoulders, esp as still shaky from my fall.
So what did he do!  Bring in two Pukka pies and two microwave meals.  One Pukka pie would have been fine, but the other three meals had to be kept chilled in the fridge and so I then had to move stuff around to find room for them.   B seems to think the fridge has endless capacity.  He is the same with the freezer.  He sees a gap (even a small gap that I've deliberately made room for something I was about to cook then freeze), and dashes out to bring back a big box of ice-cream. Well saw there was room for it" he always says "and you know I like ice-cream".
Think I'll have to write up cards with words such as 'keep this space clear', 'do not use', 'do not move', 'do not touch', 'do not eat', and  'this is Shirley's',  and place them where necessary.

Absolutely MUST love you and leave you for today.  More from 'canape corner' tomorrow.  See you then.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Working to Plan

So far so good.  Yesterday made loads of tiny choux buns, all baked perfectly even though I'd beaten some grated Parmesan cheese into the mixture (hadn't done this before).  These are now in the freezer and will be given a quick burst in a hot oven to crisp them up before a creamy cheese and chive filling is piped inside (to be done on 'the day').
Also made some cheese straws.  We'd come to the end of a jar of Marmite, but managed to scrape enough out to spread very thinly onto rolled out shortcrust, sprinkled more Parmesan on top, plus a grinding of sea salt and black pepper (just wanted to give them a bit more flavour), then folded the pastry over, rolled it out thinly and cut into strip.  Twisted these then baked them off in a hot oven.

I've found with things like that (pastry etc), to avoid them getting too brown, turn the oven off just before they are done, then leave the door wedged open slightly (tucking a folded tea towel into the door at the top (as it drops down this is easier than a door with a hinge on the side), and turning off the heat.  The residual heat in the oven continues to dry the pastry so it ends up crisp and golden, but not in any way burnt.

There were a few bits of pastry trimmings that I baked at the same time, so was able to eat these to see if the job was well done.  And it was.

Our daughter visited us yesterday, and - bless her - she is going to make the Florentines (for the dessert tray) for me, as well as the Millionaire's Slices (already doing these) so that has taken a bit of the load from my shoulders.  As she is going to the 'do' herself, she will take them with her.

Today I will be making the Macaroons, also cooking the gammon, also baking some bread as we are running out, at the same time baking mini loaves for me to slice and use for some bases (for these the bread needs to be slightly 'stale', as it slices more evenly and also dries out in the oven well  if I wish to do this.  Think today the bread will be granary (being the moistest of the lot), and tomorrow will bake white bread (I have bought plenty of Pumpernickel and other 'dark bread' from Morrison's, already sliced in packs).   May also have a go at making Blinis today and if they don't work will copy Nigella's suggesting of mini-potato pancakes that I saw her making for HER canapes (on the Food Network yesterday).

The frozen packs of mixed game (breasts) will arrive tomorrow, so they have to thaw out overnight and on Wednesday can make the Game Pie.  On Thursday can make the Strawberry and 'Champagne' Jellies (n wine glasses, each covered by a square of clingfilm) as these will need time to set and will be taken to the club house on the Friday evening (they will then be kept in a cold room for the following day). After that there is very little to do other than make toppings, cook quiches, prepare some garnishes (radish roses, spring onion 'frills - both need soaking overnight in iced water) all these can be done on the Friday.   Then Saturday it will be all go - assembling what will keep well in the fridge during the morning, and the rest during the afternoon and early evening.  It is all looking a bit too easy.  Let us hope I haven't forgotten something important.

What is really wonderful (and I'm probably the only person in the country who thinks so), is that at the end of this week (from Thursday onwards) the weather is going to turn very VERY cold, so perfect for me as I can turn the heating off in the kitchen and the conservatory will then be cold enough to use the table in there if necessary for preparation/assembly.  The trays or boxed will then be place in my big cold box and my DR's polystyrene boxes (these will have already been chilled with ice-'bottles', these 'ice-packs' being kept in the boxes along with the food to make sure the temperature is kept as low as possible).  Then all B has to do is carefully lift the boxes and place them in the car and take them to the venue.  

Thanks Cheesepare for your suggestion of your curried apple and apricot chutney to top the chicken live pate.  Will try this. 
I have tried make bread cases using thinly rolled bread, brushed with oil on both sides, then pressed into tart tins to 'bake' (toast/dry off) in the oven.   Worked reasonably well but as I'd cut squares of bread the 'points' got a darker brown, and the bottom part still needed a bit more drying off.  Also slightly too large for the canapes I was wishing to make.  Perhaps cutting the bread into circles instead of squares would prevent the edges becoming too brown, and toasted bread 'cups' would make good canape bases. 

As with most canapes, it is not just the content (base and main ingredient) it is those 'little extras' that make the canapes look appetising and give  'mouth appeal'.  Have to say if it all turns out right, I'll be wishing I was there having my share of the food.  Although I always make sure I taste one of everything I make, to make sure the seasoning is correct etc.  So suppose I'll have already eaten plenty on Saturday before any of it goes to the clubhouse. 
Once B has left I'll no doubt collapse in my chair and go to sleep.

Was lucky enough to finish what needed to be done yesterday by early afternoon, so went and watched a programme about Baking (ITV 3.00pm?), and found the same thing happened as had when I watched an earlier episode.  The presenter just doesn't inspire me.  So I gave up watching.

Think today (Channel 4, 5.00pm) is the first of Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals.  Want to watch that for he does inspire me (hope B watches as well as he might like to make some of the dishes for his supper now and again).

Did I mention yesterday the printer appeared to have got jammed halfway through printing out a copy of the Hairy Bikers' Game Pie?  This because I was just setting up the screen to print when Gill rang (five minutes earlier than her usual time), so this threw me a bit and I obviously hadn't pushed the paper into the printer properly and it all went wrong.  After printing out the second page (it didn't print the first), it stopped,  while talking to Gill I pressed 'print' again, and nothing happened, then did it again and the machine started flashing red lights and some paper was caught in the rollers so I gave up.   Was VERY annoyed with myself for not concentrating properly as I needed the first part of the recipe printed out (for me to take into the kitchen with me) as it was a bit complicated.   Expected to have to write it out by hand from the screen this morning, but once I'd switched the comp on, the printer then started working.  Out came several sheets with nothing printed on, then it began printing the recipe in full (both parts), but not just once, several times (due to my constant request for it to print them).  Anyway eventually it stopped and now I have more than enough copies of recipe to make use of.   Was very grateful the printer didn't need any personal attention as I couldn't find the instruction book!

Am now trotting off into the kitchen to begin cooking the gammon, and then making Macaroons, followed by baking bread, and then hoping to come up with some sort of supper for B that doesnt' need too much attention (yippee! have just remembered there is left over Steak and Kidney Pie in the freezer that can be thawed and reheated, all I need to do is cook some veggies to go with it).
Yesterday we both had chilli con carne (another almost ready made meal from the freezer - well had the cooked meat, just needed to add canned tomatoes, chilli mix and red beans).

Told B that this week it would be more Pot Luck than planned meals according to what else I had to cook (for the party), and how tired I might be during the afternoon.  But am sure he won't got to bed starving.   Myself am finding I'm losing at least 1lb a day (and need to - so am pleased) because I'm not finding time to make myself more than one meal a day, and that might only be a salad.

Really would love to stop and keep 'chatting', but have to control my urge to 'ramble' - at least until next Sunday when I should be back in full flow again.   Gill will be away so won't be phoning me that day, which means I can write my blog earlier.  Also hoping to show some photos of the canapes.  Just as long as I remember to take the pics. (and I've spare batteries, but can't think of ANYTHING other than canapes (and desserts) at the moment).

Hope you continue to read this blog, and please keep sending comments and these really help to lift my spirits.  Can always find time to answer a query - even this week.  So hope to hear from some of you by tomorrow.  Whether you comment or not, already looking forward to 'chatting' to you again tomorrow, so hope to see you then.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

More Experimenting

Yesterday baked LOADS of tiny pastry canape bases.  Made the way as larger pastry  'flan' bases (blind-baked etc), this time pressing in small square of foil to fit inside each base then filled them with copper 2p and 1p pieces (we have a big box of these that we use when playing poker etc).  The foil was large enough to protect the rims of the cases, so they baked golden instead of turning too dark, then - after removing the coins and foil, put them back into a low oven (50C) to make sure the bottoms cooked to crisp - which they did.  Was well pleased.

One of my worries (and a big one) was that when plated up the canapes could so easily be shaken around, maybe the pastry bases broken, and impossible to protect several with cling-film over the tops as this would crush those piled high.  
Discovered yesterday - when putting my baked pastry cases into a box to store, that they fitted perfectly, each just touching the other with no room to get disturbed, so have now decided to pack up all the canapes (that need extra care) in boxes in single layers, and then let the catering committee plate them up at the venue.  Some others CAN be plated in advance, but doing this will make it a lot easier for me.

As well as baking the pastry cases yesterday, also made a big bowl of chicken stock.  The cooked chicken from the drumsticks and thighs (used to make the stock) was picked from the bones (I was wearing protective gloves when I did this), and this has been packed away and frozen to add to a later cooked and shredded chicken breast to make the Coronation Chicken.

Also made chicken liver pate, and instead of packing it in a bowl (to cover with butter - it will then keep for a week in the fridge), decide to put it into a plastic oblong shallow box (the ones that the Chinese takeaway comes in - I save all of these), the pate covered in butter and has now been frozen. On the day it can then be thawed and cut into slices to place on selected bases, instead of having to pipe it all out (although may pipe some of it).

Lying in bed this morning, my thoughts (of course) of what else I can do that is 'different', suddenly remembered I had a large number of even sized smallish organic potatoes.  If I cook these in the microwave, then could scoop out the flesh, brush the skins with butter and crisp them up in the oven to (hopefully) make another type of 'container'.   Will do a trial test of that today.

Earlier this morning (and before Gill phoned) made a batch of ganache (half double cream that was brought to the boil, and the same amount of grated chocolate then added, stirred until melted and smooth, then  poured into a cling-film lined 8" square shallow baking dish (to later cut into cubes to form 'dice').
Cling film is not the easiest of 'plastics' to handle, it so easily crumples up, and one good tip (used today) is to wet the inside of the mould to be used and then press in the clingfilm, smoothing it into place, it then sticks firmly to the moisture and makes it much easier to press into place.

Thanks for your comments.  If your icing sugar has gone hard in its box Jane, put it into a bowl and place a damp cloth over the top, then a plate on top of that.  Next day the sugar should have 'collapsed' again.  This works with granulated sugar anyway.

Was very interested in reading about your 'budget check' Lisa, you sound very organised and it seems as though you are able to plan your meals well ahead for many months to come - for the price you can still afford. 

Forgive me for finishing without a recipe.  Have quite a few things to make/bake today and it is necessary for me to do just this or I'll end up having a panic attack on Friday/Saturday.
Was just copying out a complicated recipe for Game Pie on our printer, and only the last page got printed, one sheet of paper stuck in the printer, and so now it won't print anything until that is sorted  (an don't have time to do that at the mo).   My fault as I was trying to print it out just when Gill phoned and so wasn't concentrating properly.   When doing anything, it is always best to concentrate on one thing at a time, although having said that, if I don't multi-task, I'll never get it all done in time.

Looks like being a good day weatherwise, so hope everyone is able to enjoy it.  Will be back tomorrow with more 'tales from canape corner', hope you can join me then.  TTFN.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pride Before a Fall?

Am very pleased how things are turning out.  After chilling the cooked topside yesterday, sliced it using my electric slicer and was so pleased, for the slow cooking had really worked well.  The beef slightly pink, moist and I was able to cut the thinnest 'wafer' slices, perfect for ruffling up to top canapes.  The remainder of the topside was cut more thickly, some to be cooked on in Teriyaki sauce as a more 'Oriental' topping for canapes, the rest B will be eating (later).

The one thing that has been bothering me (quite a lot) is how soon before serving can I prepare the canapes?  It's not the preparation of toppings, but more how long the bases will stay - once topped with something moist  - without going soggy.  This is normally why canapes are assembled and served less than half an hour before serving.  

Certainly having to 'top' 500 canapes and then pack and deliver them to the venue, allowing them time to lay the platters out on the table would take a lot longer than half an hour. 
So yesterday I decided to do some testing and took a few very crispy small bruschettas (is that the correct spelling?) from a pack (bought from Morrison's from the 'reduced' counter).  Laid these out and spread one thinly with  butter, another with some mayo, and left the third as-is.  topped each with a heaped teaspoon of some coleslaw I'd made (a bit wet) then left them until 9 pm before they were eaten.
As hoped, the base spread with butter had stayed crisp (almost too crisp if you have 'old' teeth), the one spread with mayo was perfect, slightly softer in the centre but the crusty edges still crisp.  The 'as-is' one had gone soggy.  So now I know what to do.  Spread something on the bases to protect them from a topping if it is on the 'damp' side.   A  pretty obvious thing anyway - we all spread butter or marg (or cream cheese, or mayo) on our bread to prevent it getting soggy from a damp filling.  So the same approach works just as well with canape-toast bases.

My mind then went to the mini-pastry cases that I'll be making and later filling.  As I always blind-bake a pastry case before filling with fruit or when making a quiche, before the case is filled I brush it with beaten egg (or just yolk or white), and pop it back in the oven for a few seconds to dry out - this then keeps the base crisp once the more liquid filling has been added. So the same idea should work with the pastry mini-bases - brush the insides of the cases with beaten egg when baked, then pop them back into a cooling oven to dry off - this will then give a protective cover to the pastry that should prevent a moist topping soaking through.  Let us hope so anyway. 

Bread-based canapes (pumpernickel, rye bread etc) are moist anyway and can stand having something a little 'damp' put on top.  Even so will still give them a thin spread of something like tartare sauce, horseradish sauce, mayo etc (depending upon the topping).  
With any luck this means I will be able to start topping canapes early in Saturday afternoon, then covering and chilling them until delivery, leaving the more delicate ones until the last minute.

Have now to 'pace myself', and get as much done each day without overdoing it.  Yesterday sliced (and froze) the meat.  Today have already made a start with the chicken stock (simmering away as I write), as well as doing a load of laundry in the washing machine.  Some of the chicken stock will be needed for the Game Pie, the rest I need for my own use over the next weeks (having just about run out).

Later this morning I'll be making chicken pate (this will also be frozen), and my intention is to make the cheese choux buns to freeze, and also bake about 50 (or so) mini pastry cases in assorted shapes.
May even make the cheese straws and Palmiers as the oven will be at the right heat for all the above.

Am also going to have a go at making some venison sausages as I have a sausage making kit (from Lakeland, and some venison (thawing in the fridge).  These can also be frozen to be thawed and cooked 'on the day'.

It's not good to feel so pleased with myself and the way things are going, for - as they say - 'pride goes before a fall'.  So let's hope that nothing unfortunate happens between now and late Saturday afternoon next week.   The more I can prepare in advance the better just in case someone else has to finish the job.   If I think all will be fine then fate will throw a spanner in the works.  If I live in fear and trembling that gremlins will spoil my efforts, then probably things will go swimmingly. 

Yesterday made myself a 'salad coleslaw' for my supper (some of this used to top the canape bases - mentioned above).  Decided to grate the last of an iceberg lettuce (instead of white cabbage) in the food processor with the last of a fennel bulb, plus a red onion and a carrot.  Bound this with some mayo diluted slightly with the spicy liquid from a jar of Peppadew. 
When ready to eat my supper, added a sliced banana to this 'salad/coleslaw', and have to say it was very tasty.  The fennel just adding that 'extra something' but not overpowering.

Saturday today.  I like Saturdays as I spend a happy hour after writing my blog reading the TV supplement delivered with the newspaper (marking programmes I wish to watch),  followed by a bit of kitchen work, then back to watch the repeat of Nigelissima (think it is on this morning), then back to the kitchen until supper time to do what needs to be done (today's culinary work has been mentioned above).  My idea of a good day.  Think in the past Saturday always used to be 'baking day' so probably now baking feels an almost instinctive thing to do.  Today things have changed to Saturday being 'supermarket shopping day'.  Know which I prefer to do.

Yesterday B had trotted off to Morrison's for his lemonade, and bought back a fresh rainbow trout that had been reduced (use-by date being tomorrow), so he cooked that for his supper last night.  Quite a treat (the price low enough to be worth him buying it), so tonight he might be satisfied with something 'light' like bacon sarnies.

Was a bit annoyed (well not really but...) to find the smaller pot of beef dripping made on Thursday (enough to last several days) had been all used up.  B must have been eating nothing but dripping on toast (with a sprinkle of salt) for all his snacks since I made it.  Think I'll have to hide the remaining larger pot of dripping, or that will be finished before the end of this month. 
Mind you, I'm a bit like that....give me a box of chocolates and I can't eat just one.  I keep eating until the box is empty (although more recently do try to make it last two days).  Why do I do this? Other people seem to just eat one, then close the box and probably don't eat another until the next day (or the next week.   I'm a fool to myself, and if B loves beef dripping THAT much, then he too is a fool to himself as he knows there won't be any more for at least 12 months (unless I ration the remaining supply).

The one thing I like about Nigella is - in her series and am sure in her real life - is how she goes to her fridge late at night (or even gets up in the middle of the night) to get herself a 'snack' (BIG snack) of whatever gorgeous 'eats' she has made and had left over.  Not surprising she was slightly 'plump'.  She said recently that she had been able to lose weight more easily because after an operation on her bunions, she couldn't keep walking to the kitchen to help herself and after asking someone to fetch her a piece of cake (which they did) after eating it she didn't like to ask them to then go and bring her another slice (and then another).

Plump cooks I like (probably because I can relate to them as I'm one of that bunch), for one thing it (to me) gives a sign they love food (and if you love food you  are more inclined to take more trouble when cooking). Myself can never understand how so many female cooks today manage to stay so slender.  Fortunately most of the cooks on the Food Network seem to be on the more ample side, so that makes me feel a bit better. 
The apron I'm wearing at the moment has the words "Never Trust a Thin Cook" printed across the top of the pocket.  Food for thought there?

No comments today (did I mislead readers to believe it was today I'd be taking the day off?),  but being the weekend normally the comments are less than normal.  Readers have more important things to do than bother with reading blogs.  

Yesterday heard someone on TV talking about 'Twitter', and moaning how now everyone seems to want to keep 'tweeting' about what they are doing during the day.  As if anyone cares!  Then, realised in a way this is just what I am doing,  pouring out details of my life (as if anyone cares!!), and perhaps I should spend more time writing about food and less about me.

One large cauliflower keeps for several weeks in the fridge, and as there are only two of us, I find it can be used for several dishes over that time, the obvious one being Cauliflower Cheese.  Here is a lovely spicy curry dish that is easy to make.  If you don't have spring onions, use a chopped shallot. We don't like the flavour of fresh coriander so I'd omit this. If you haven't the right sugar, then use demerara.  Myself would use 'ordinary' frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn kernels rather than what is suggested in the recipe, or I might include some chopped string beans.  An easy recipe to substitute different ingredients, but do use the cauliflower.
Thai Cauliflower Curry: serves 4
handful of coriander, roughly chopped
2 bunches spring onions, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
2 oz (50g) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tblsp light muscovado sugar
1 x 400g can coconut milk
4 fl oz (100ml) water
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
6 oz (175g) pack Baby Corn and Mangetout, cut into thirds
juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
salt and pepper
Put the coriander, spring onions, turmeric, ginger, and sugar into a food processor and blitz together to make a curry paste.
Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan and add the water and cauliflower.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the curry paste with the corn and mangetout and continue simmering for a further 10 minutes (or until all the veggies are tender. Don't overcook the cauliflower or it goes mushy).
Stir in the lime juice and seasoning to taste, then serve with steamed or boiled rice (jasmine rice is suggested).

Need to take my leave of you now if I can manage to make everything on my list.  Tomorrow I'll probably be making the Truffles, and Macaroons.  Getting there slowly but surely, and still plenty of time before starting to panic.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend, the weather forecast is good (for a change), so make the most of it while you can.  I'll be back tomorrow (either before or after Gill's phone call), so it would be good if you could 'drop in' for our virtual coffee break together. TTFN.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Now and Then....

Now and then (and more often than I care to think about) I begin to doubt my abilities.  Problem with me I'm always far too eager to dive in at the deep end without thinking of the consequences.  Yesterday began to feel that I'd taken on too much re the 500 canapes (plus desserts), but I KNOW that I should be able to cope (and am determined to). 

Dealing with each type of canape is no problem, it is when I think of the sight of 20 large empty platters laid out on the conservatory table, waiting to be filled, most of the canapes having to be made up at the last minute before plating, each then protected, covered, packed into boxes, that I am beginning to find this a mite daunting.  Too much to do in too little time it feels to me, but am hoping that 're-organisation' of my lists will make it easier.

Have to keep reminding myself to think of only one 'canape variety' at a time, preparing as much as possible beforehand (filling piping bags - fitted with nozzles - with pate, cream cheese etc, the night before and leaving them in the fridge to use later).  I'll get it sorted, believe me..

Yesterday at least made a start.  I needed to order a mixture of game bird breasts and venison sausages from our local butcher, and - as the weather was good - decided to scoot down with Norris and arrange to collect them next week.  Also needed some chicken carcases to make stock.  What did I find?  The butcher couldn't provide me with the game birds because he'd have to buy the whole birds and then have to sell the rest once he'd taken off the breasts.  He didn't do venison sausages, and couldn't make me any either as he'd have to order more venison that he wanted.  He didn't sell quails eggs (expected that), and he didn't have any chicken carcases left over.

At least was able to buy a nice chunk of topside and he gave me a big piece of fat to cook with it so that I could make B some pots of real beef dripping for his toast.  B absolutely LOVES beef dripping and I'm only able to make it once a year because I normally don't buy a large joint of meat any more, always using the cheaper cuts.  
This piece of topside I cooked yesterday by the slow-oven method, first frying it on all sides for a total of 8 minutes in a frying pan on the hob, then transferring it to a heated roasting tin (oven temp 80C) and putting it in the oven to cook for about 3 or so hours.  Although I don't normally take the temperature when meat is actually cooking, decided to play safe yesterday and stick in my electronic (battery run) thermometer (the 'reading end' of the wire being outside the oven), so that I could keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat as it was cooking.  It needed to be 65C when 'ready'.  Was watching TV as it cooke, but whenthe programme ended and I went into the kitchen to check, the 'reading' was exactly 65C.  How lucky was that?

Certainly, this slow cooking really helps to keep a joint from shrinking (as it can so often do when roasted at a high temperature), so the meat should be lovely and moist as well as tender.   I'd put the lump of fat in the tin in the oven set at a higher temperature before searing the joint on the hob, then poured off some fat, reduced the heat and sat the seared meat on top of the fat 'chunk' when it went in the oven.
Once the meat was put on a plate 'to rest', raised the heat again to get more fat from the 'chunk' and crisp that up (B loves to sprinkle salt of this and eat as a crunchy 'nibble').  Got one fairly large and one smaller dish full of dripping, so was well pleased.   Have warned B to treasure the flavour as once gone he won't have any more for months (maybe years if meat prices go up - the 'cheap' beef dripping sold in packs at supermarkets is clarified and not at all the same thing as the brown 'meaty' flavoured dripping that is made when fat is cooked with the joint).

Also bought a large chunk of frozen chicken livers whilst out shopping (butchers price £2.99 kg), which is (I think) a pretty good price.  Some I have put into the freezer for later (to add to the game pie) and the rest is being thawed in the fridge to make Chicken Liver Pate/parfait today or tomorrow. 

When I came home phoned Donald Russell and ordered their packs of Game Bird mix (on offer at the moment) and even though the order was small, was able to have free delivery (as this was part of the offer), unfortunately they can't send it until next Tuesday (if I had it this Saturday, would have had to pay £4 extra), but this will give me time to thaw the meat and make the game pie ready for the following weekend.  Venison sausages I can get from Riverford, so may order them tomorrow if the club still want them - as long as I know by tomorrow).

For some reason I keep thinking today was going to be Saturday, so was thankful when I woke and discovered I've gained a day as it is (still) Friday, so one day more to 'do things'.   Today will make the Florentines, and Cheese Straws, and (perhaps) some (or all) of the 'truffle dice'.   These 'dice' were a suggestion (by silly me), of presenting the truffles in cubes rather than in 'balls', each piped with dots on top and sides (but not the base) to make them look like dice (the social are calling this event a 'Casino' based evening).  They LOVED that 'themed' idea, so wanted me to make 50 truffles so that everyone could have one with their coffee at the end of the evening.  This on top of the other desserts (fortunately not 50 of each of these), and a bit fiddling to make, but not that difficult..  Truffles are filled with 'ganache' (mixture of cream and melted chocolate), will freeze, so can make these in advance.  May make some using a white 'ganache' using white chocolate, and pipe the 'dots' on with melted dark chocolate, and the rest vice versa.

Last night watched 'Wartime Farm', and it is strange how I'd now started to forget how hard things really were in those days, but when viewing this - memories come flooding back.  It really was as bad as that, but myself - being only 6 when war started - probably accepted it more easily than my parents did.   At least we hadn't got to the stage of eating that black bread made with grass, sawdust, etc. Although the 'National Loaf' (the only type sold during war-time) was very grey in colour and didn't taste very nice.

When we saw the P.O.W's working in the fields, wearing a large red diamond stitched to the back of their jackets, it wasnt' mentioned the other reason the 'markers' were placed there (the prisoners of war also used to have a 'marker' on their leg as well, which wasn't shown).  These markers were placed so they could be easily used as a target, so that if the prisoners tried to absond, they would be shot. The first shots to be aimed at the leg to stop the escape, and if this failed, then the prisoners were to be shot in the back using the marker there..  We treated the German and Italian prisoners of war so well I don't think any of them wanted to run away.   Do remember my parents having Italian POWs, helping in our very large garden (most of it laid down to growing fruit and veg of course - we also had chickens).  They had every chance to walk off into the sunset as I think they were just 'dropped off' in the morning and then picked up later to be taken back to camp, but they all seemed very happy to be working in 'English' gardens, and got on well with everyone. 

'Woolton Pie' (as mentioned by Eileen), was one of the best recipes to be 'invented' during wartime. Bascially it is a meat and veg pie, but without the meat.  The pastry wasn't THAT good in those days (not enough fats, and the flour a bir coarse) but certainly the pie was tasty.

Here is a recipe that orginated in those wartime days, although probably at that time the marg wouldn't be as 'nice' as it is now, the same with flour.  Not even sure what type of sugar would have been used, but although the recipe has been adapted to use 21st century (type) ingredients, this is still an economical cake to make, and still gives a flavour of times past.  Nowadays we are expected to be able to mix a cake using a mixer (or a handheld electric mixer), in those days the cake would be beaten by hand, using a rotary hand whisk, or just elbow grease and a wooden spoon.
'Kitchen Front' Ginger Cake: makes 14 - 16 slices
11 oz (300g) margarine
14 oz (400g) golden syrup
1 egg, beaten
4 oz and a bit (130g) plain flour
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
1 rounded tsp ground ginger
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 oz (100g) soft dark brown sugar
1 rounded tsp bicarb. of soda
6 fl oz (175ml) warm water
Put the marg. and syrup into a pan and heat gently until melted.  Remove from heat.
Put the flours, ginger, cinnamon, salt and sugar into a food mixer, run this at slow speed, then pour in the melted marg/syrup and then the egg. 
Dissolve the bicarb in the warm water, then pour this over the cake batter in the bowl, still with the  beaters mixing away.  Then when all combined, spoon mix into a greased and lined 10" (26cm) cake tin.  Level the surface and bake for 1 hour a 150C, 300F, gas 2.  Check it is cooked by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick in the centre.  If it comes out clean the cake is done, if not - bake for a further five minutes then re-test.
Turn out onto a cake airer to cool.

Second recipe today is not a wartime one, but certainly a useful one as an easy way to make 'something sweet' that the children will enjoy, not just to eat, but they could also make them themselves.  As it probably costs well under £1 to make the amount given below, this proves how very much cheaper it is to make, rather than buy them ready-made.  You can choose to colour the icing if you wish and omit the 'sprinkles'.
Even though using a mixer/processor is advised, the bread dough can still be made by hand, it just tae a lot longer...
Iced Buns:  makes 20
1 x 500g pack of white bread mix
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 egg
approx 10 fl oz (275ml) lukewarm water
12 oz (350g) icing sugar
hundreds and thousands (for sprinkling)
Put the bread mix and sugar into a food processor, or a table-top mixer (see above), and while the machine is running add the egg and enough water to form a soft dough (you may need less or more water).  Tip dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth - about 5 - 10 minutes (although if you have a dough hook with your mixer, let it knead the dough in the bowl for this time).
Put dough into an oiled bowl, cover with (oiled) cling film or plate, then leave in a warm place to rise.  It should have doubled in bulk, and takes approx 1 hour).
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured board and 'knock back' with your clenched fist (this knocks out some of the air bubbles), then divide dough into 20 even-sized pieces - keeping them covered as made with a towel so they don't dry out.  Shape each into a 'sausage' and place on an oiled baking try. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave again in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
Remove clingfilm and put buns on the top shelf of a pre-heated oven set at 200C, 400F, gas 6 and cook for 8 - 10 minutes until golden.   Cool on a cake airer.
Mix icing sugar with a very little water (or you could use lemon or orange juice), to make a stiff but spreadable icing (add food colouring if you wish), then dip the top of each bun into the icing, place back on cake airer and sprinkle with hundreds and thousand.  Leave to set, then eat and enjoy.

 Have begun sorting the freezers, but still have to make more room - so that's my first job to do today, followed by starting to make Florentines, and maybe also the savoury choux bun cases.  The truffles can wait until tomorrow.   Once I've got room, the roast beef must also be sliced and frozen (possibly a few slices kept back for B's supper - call this 'cook's perks', only more a 'B' perk than mine).

Looks like it could be another good day.  Wished I'd been able to spend more time whilst out with Norris yesterday, but unfortunately the battery hadn't been 'trickle charged' for a few weeks, and as I noticed it was 'running down' rather too fast for my liking, decided once I'd got as far as the butchers (one of the first shops reached fortunately), decided I'd better return before I had to get off and push.  Luckily enough power (and more) for me to return, but won't go out again until Norris is fully charged.   Not even sure if I'll have any spare time to do anything much but prepare/cook until 'after the event'.

Hope the weather stays fair for you all this weekend.  With this autumn bringing a good display of leaf colour, perhaps a good time for a drive out in the country to enjoy seeing this before the wind brings all the leaves down.  Once these have left the trees, bare branches then will remind us that winter is not far behind. 

Spell check has let me down again and I reallly haven't time to scroll through and check for errors, so aplogies for any that have slipped past me.
Hope you can find time to join me some time this weekend, if so - see you then.