Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making the Best of It...

Delayed start to my blog as Norma was late arriving, and I've had to spend some time reading emails and replying to the most urgent (otherwise I might forget!!).   So will make today's 'chat' a bit shorter than normal in the hope of publishing by noon.  Immediately after that have to type out several recipes to email to the Foodbank.

First your comments.
Thank you Wendy for offering me that Amish book to read, but almost certainly the library could get me a copy, so if you could send me the title, author, publisher, and - if poss - the IBM number, then will get my Beloved to give our local library the details.

Is it a welcome to Marlene, or a welcome back?  Either way, good to hear from you.  It's getting to the stage where we have readers with the same names or similar, so forgive me if I sometimes get mixed up and a new reader gets mixed up with a regular one that hadn't commented for some weeks.

Regarding the Foodbank Cheesepare, if you look up Morecambe Bay Foodbank on the website, you will find out more details of the foods that are needed.  What seems to happen is that they give out enough food to last 3 days, and by then the benefit people will have hopefully sorted out any money difficulties. 
Only food with a long shelf life is requested, which means eggs would not be given.  Oil never seems to be sold in small amounts, so again not offered.  Think the 'bank' is not allowed to buy large packs of anything and then make up smaller packs from these due to 'elf and safety (hygiene etc).
It is the state that gives the vouchers (social services, benefit people, and similar), these then taken to the charity to exchange for the allocated food. 

The 'Chaenomeles japonica' you mentioned Lisa, is the bush we had in our garden in Leeds. The fruits are not at all like those of the true quince - which grows into a big tree, much the same as a traditional apple - but has much smaller and very hard fruits - they look a bit like apricots - the taste is somewhat similar to the real quince..  The 'real' medlar also grows into a very large tree, so perhaps the bush medlar you mentioned is not the same as the old variety.
Do any readers have experience of growing a bush medlar, and if so what are the fruits like?

Lovely to hear that your toddler made some gingerbread 'bears' Elaine.  Once we get children involved in 'the making', they begin to love cooking, and this then tends to last through their adult life.

Cheesepare asked the other day for a recipe for oatcakes.  This I give below, although there are many different versions.  I've made them using just lard for the fat, and another time made them with bacon fat.  This version uses butter and lard.  No doubt the D.O. oatcakes used 'proper' oatmeal, but I use porridge oats ground down a bit in a liquidiser to make a coarse flour.  It works!

The article comparing 'Duchy Originals' to similar products in other stores states (re Duchy Original products) they are stocked exclusively by Waitrose, and there are 250 different products in the range (presumably not ALL stocked by that store - in fact I've several times bought Duchy Original products in farm shops etc).
However - if in Waitrose Cheesepare, you might like to pick up a pack of D.O. Oatcakes and see what ingredients they use, they you could aim to make something similar.  However, as the idea is to make a comparably good oatcake, the ingredients could differ slightly as long as the end result takes really good.

Oatcakes: makes 48
1 lb (450g) medium oatmeal
4 oz (100g) plain flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 oz (50g) butter
2 oz (50g) white cooking fat (lard etc)
6 tblsp boiling water
Put the oatmeal into a bowl, then add the flour sifted with the bicarb.  In another bowl put in the fats and the boiling water and beat together, then add to the dry mix and stir together to make a soft dough.  Turn this out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Divide dough into 8 and roll out each piece to about 1/8" (3mm) thick, then cut into rounds, triangles, oblongs or any shape you wish.
Place on ungreased baking sheets, and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 15 - 20 minutes or until dry. Cool completely on a cake airer before storing in an air tight container.

The other day B brought in a pack of 40 'sea sticks' for me (he knows I like them - and they were 'on offer'!).  These are not often used in recipes, so I was pleased to discover one yesterday for a 'dip', using 'crab sticks' (the old name for what are now called 'sea sticks').  See no reason why canned crab could not be used instead of the 'sticks' or as well as.  The original recipe was intended as a buffet dish for a wedding reception for 50 people (hence the name), so bear this in mind, and if making it for a smaller buffet, reduce the amount of ingredients by half (or even a quarter).
This dip eats well with the above oatcakes and a platter of assorted 'crudites' (carrots; red, green, and yellow bell peppers; celery; and cucumber).
Confetti 'Crab' Dip:
60 'crab' (or sea) sticks
2 lb (600g) cream cheese (pref full fat)
5 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
zest and juice of 2 lemons
ground white pepper
Finely chop the sea sticks (by hand or in a food processor), then mix with the cheese, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Add pepper to taste.

Three minutes to noon, so a quick spellcheck (if its working - quite often it doesn't), and then publish. 
For once the sun is shining, but still cold outside.  The forecast is for slightly higher temperatures, but the worry is that when all that snow melts onto the already saturated ground, where will all the extra water go?   We will have to wait and see.

Hope to start my blog earlier tomorrow, and that you will find time to have a read.  TTFN.