Thursday, January 10, 2013

Could We Cope Now?

Think the comp has reached the end of its life, it's getting slower and slower, and has taken 20 minutes for me to finally get this page up and working!!!   It might be that I'll have to give up writing my blog until we can get another comp (have been promised a speedy second-hand one, but it is not local, so have to wait until it can be brought).  Will let you know via Stevan (who can get onto this site) if there is a problem and postings have to cease for a few days/weeks.

Later start today as had to wait for Norma to leave, then wait for the comp to wake up, so first will reply to comments.

Good to hear from you Kathryn, and pleased your OH has a temporary job.  Every little helps.  Hope your home-made baked beans are successful.  I've made  'Boston Baked Beans' several times, and these are very good, but still not quite the same as the normal canned baked beans.  
Don't know if you - or any other reader - have noticed that when certain products, like baked beans, are sold as 'reduced sugar', they often charge extra.  Same with 'reduced salt'.  If they use less sugar, then surely the product would work out slightly cheaper.  Using the 'healthy option' as a way to gain more profit?

My diabetic nurse has also offered me statins to reduce my cholesterol Janet. I wonder why, when my c.level is normal anyway?  I refused to take them, saying I'd try and reduce the cholesterol by diet, using Flora pro-activ instead of butter (then my c.level actually rose very slightly!!!).  Am waiting for my next check to see what the level will be before I make a final decision.

A welcome to Anne (from the South West), and am sure I never had anything of mine published in Woman's Realm, though was commissioned to write articles for many other mags. such as: Good Housekeeping, Woman's Own, Home and Freezer Digest,  Family Circle, Living.....can't remember the others).

Your mention of tuna rising in price jane, has prompted me to suggest we should always check the prices of different brands before we purchase.  The well known brands are very dear, often more expensive when sold in 4-packs than singly, and lesser known brands can be considerably cheaper, weight for weight.  I've tried several different ones, and although the flavour of the more expensive is slightly better than the cheapest, the nutritional content is the same, and when it comes to the pinch, that's really all that counts.  
It's the same with many other products - like baked beans.  The branded are always the most expensive (but sometimes on offer), the cheaper brands almost never on offer, but always worth reading the labels as almost always the nutritional content is much the same, and sometimes even 'healthier' (less sugar, fat, salt...).

Depending on the chosen recipe, the flavour of the product we are using can often be disguised, so it hardly matters at all if we choose to use the cheapest (say) red kidney beans in our chilli con carne.  Why pay more if the end result is unnoticeable?

Regarding the rationing of food in wartime Marjorie.   Not every food was on ration (but those that weren't were in very short supply), and some rationing was done by 'points' which could be spent on a variety of foods, but not a lot of those, so it was always 'first come, first served', and unlucky if the supply was sold out by mid-morning. 

Other than the food on 'points' (these usually being canned and packet foods), there were set rations that everyone had.  Bacon, ham, butter and sugar were the first foods to be rationed in Jan.1940, two months later meat was rationed, then tea and margarine, and by the end of the year - cheese.
Meat was rationed by a monetary allowance and not by weight, so cheaper cuts gave more for the money.  The average amount of meat would be approx 1lb 4oz per person per week.

The rationing itself was not consistent throughout, as much depended upon supply.   The sugar ration at one point was 1lb per person, at another time only 8oz.  Imported foods were dependent on the merchant navy, and losses at sea (ships torpedoed etc) could see the supply of many foods drop to an all time low.

Here are details of the average food ration, per person, per week...
Bacon and Ham: 4 oz (112g)
Meat: 1s.2p (pre-decimal) see above
Sugar: 8 oz (225g)
Preserves: 2 lb marmalade
...OR 1 lb jam, OR 1 lb sugar
Loose tea: (no tea-bags then) 2 oz (50g)
Cheese: 2 oz (50g), vegetarians allowed 3 oz (75g) extra
Butter: 2 oz (50g)
Margarine: 4 oz (112g)
Lard: 2 oz (50g)
Sweets: 3 oz (75g)
Eggs: 1 per week (sometimes 1 per fortnight
Tinned and dried food: 24 'points' to cover 4 weeks

Larger families would cope better with these meagre rations.  My Beloved had three of his four brothers, a sister and a grandparent living in the same house with is parents, so they were able to have a large 'Sunday roast' joint of meat, and still have a meat allowance left over.  A person living alone would never be able to enjoy that. 
Similarly today, it is always easier to feed a family (whether by using 'reationed' foods, or just financially) than just one.  Something I always have to remember when giving 'cost-cutting' recipes.

You'll probably understand now why I constantly nag about saving every last little thing, even the fat that is given off by sausages when they are being cooked.  This is what was done during the war years, and 'old habits die hard'.  Not that I did the cooking during the war - I was only six when it started, but rationing did last a lot longer, and by the time it ended, was just about ready to begin married life!

Sorting some old cookery mags out yesterday, saw "102 brand new recipes" on the front cover of Good Food.  I just couldn't wait to find out what they were.  I checked through the listings, and of course there was nothing really new.  Just different versions of the same old things.  Let's face it, there is the basic beefburger, and then by adding herbs or spices, maybe shallots instead of onions, we can always say each variation is 'new'.  But really it isn't.  When it comes to meals we eat, there is nothing really 'new'.  
What would be useful is for someone to write a cookbook giving just the classic/basic recipe, then suggestions of what could be added, then let US make up our own 'new and improved'. 

Time is moving on so will end today by repeating a recipe for a 'treat' that I once made for someone who was unable to eat gluten.  For this I purchased a pack of gluten-free flour, but will also give a recipe to make our own 'g.f.flour'. 

As non-vegetarians can also eat AND enjoy vegetarian dishes, this gluten-free recipe is worth serving to everyone.  I loved eating these.
Viennese Whirls: makes 12
9 oz (250g) butter, softened
3 oz (75g) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
11 oz (300g) gluten-free flour
Put the butter, sugar, and vanilla into a bowl, and whisk together until light and creamy, then beat in the eggs.  Fold in the flour until the mixture comes together, then put into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm star nozzle, and - leaving them room to spread - pipe 24 small rounds (each about 5cm dia) onto 2 baking sheets that have been lined with baking parchment.  
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 15 - 20 minutes until firm in the centre.  Cool on a cake airer.  Spread the flat side of one biscuit with butter cream and/or jam, then sandwich together with another biscuit.
These 'whirls' (unfilled) can be cooled and frozen in an airtight container. Defrost thoroughly before filling and serving. 

The book mentioned yesterday (a bit heavy going, but well worth reading) is "Our Troubles with FOOD - Fears, Fads and Fallacies. Written by Stephen Halliday and published by The History Press (ISBN 978-0-7509-4649-2.

Did anyone watch 'The Food Inspectors' yesterday evening?  Very interesting programme, especially about the 'meat rustlers'.  Wonder who buys this stolen meat? They didn't say. Perhaps the less fussy restaurants, take-aways etc? 
Myself was disgusted when I heard about how a man was told he couldn't sell his home-made coleslaw in his tea-rooms "as the carrots hadn't been industrially washed".  Apparently danger of soil contamination.  We saw his carrots and they looked liked the ones I buy from the supermarket - already 'industrially washed' by the look of them.

For goodness sake. If carrots are (normally) washed, topped, tailed and peeled before grating for coleslaw, then where is the problem?  If consumers can buy organic carrots with the soil still on them, eggshells with chicken poo still stuck to them, and maggots in some soft fruits, then shouldn't 'elf and safety be more concerned about our health?  Or - as apparently seems to be the case - what we do with any food in our own kitchens is nothing to do with them.

Really must finish as noon has arrived, and still have the editing/spellcheck to do.  Hope you can join me again tomorrow.  See you then?  Do hope so.