Thursday, January 03, 2013

Quality not Quantity

Up in time for me to write my blog before Norma comes - just as long as I don't waste time rambling.  It's lovely and warm in here because B spent much of yesterday playing computer games and forgot to switch the gas-fire off.  It was down low - not easy to see any flames - so suppose he thought it was out.  Well, it wasn't!  He'd be a lot more careful if it was he who paid the fuel bills.

Have to say the beef 'roast' cooked last weekend has been more than enough - at least for the two of us.  Still nearly half of it left and only one tonight's meal to make with it (probably Strogonoff).  The rest will be sliced/cut into chunks, then frozen.

It would be easy for me to have bought a smaller joint, but when it comes to roasting a joint, the larger the better, for it seems to shrink that little bit less and stays moister.  So - if anyone is considering going back to the old ways of cooking a Sunday roast, but normally wouldn't because there is only or - or two - to feed, then think again, for if you have a freezer, then worth buying a larger joint and freezing away any surplus once it has been cooked.
Sliced cooked meats, frozen in its own gravy/stock, once reheated is very much the same as when carved from a 'freshly' roasted joint, and if the 'trimmings' are traditional and freshly cooked (Yorkies with beef, mint sauce and redcurrant jelly with lamb, apple sauce with pork....) we can still have an old-fashioned Sunday roast without having to roast a joint every Sunday.  If you know what I mean.

Not sure what is happening to the TV at the moment.  The other day the picture suddenly disappeared and a box came up on the screen with something about 'transmission difficulties'.  The  comments were it could be the aerial, needs re-tuning etc.  I tried re-tuning but although the picture came back for a split second, it disappeared again.  I switched off the TV, sent a text to our daughter to see if the problem was the transmitter, not our set, and she too had the same thing happening.   Eventually it sorted itself out, but now and again the picture disappears and the same message come up - this time only for a few seconds and then it it normal again.
Cannot believe that repairs are being done to the local TV transmitter (as this was over the New Year 'holiday'), and wonder if this has anything to do with the warning I read last year that a new 'booster' would be built for mobile phones "that will cause interference to Freeview in the Lancashire area". This was expected later this year, but perhaps - for once - the work was finished before time. 

To avoid this interference, apparently we have to buy new equipment to 'filter it out'.  That really is not on.  Why should we be forced to buy something because someone else wants to improve mobile phones?
Discovered that retuning has moved some of the Freeview channels to another number.  The Food network is no longer on 49.  I didn't know the new number, but tried 48 and 'yippee', it was right. Expect the complete list of Freeview channels and their numbers will be on the Internet - when I find time to look.

Not sure why, but had another flare-up of my 'allergy' again yesterday, but after taking extra anti-histamine pills, this seems to have kept it under control.   Perhaps it happened because I was a bit stressed - due probably because the brown bread I intended to make, just didn't work out.  After the bread machine had made the dough - seemingly successfully - once put in the loaf tin and left to rise in a warm place - it hardly rose at all.  I've left it in the tin overnight in the hope it is just slow on the uptake, but still not risen further, although when prodded, the dough does seem soft.  Not sure what to do with it - should I knead in a little more flour/yeast and water? See what happens then?  For me to throw the dough away would be admitting to failure and that is a word not in my vocabulary.

At least B's supper last night was successful.  He - eventually - was able to collect his car (at about 5.30 last night) and as I wasn't sure what time he'd be home, decided to wait to see what he wanted. He suggested bacon sarnies (he enjoys these), but I didn't really want him to start a new pack of bacon (once opened he'd work his way through it in less than a week), so I suggested Cauliflower Cheese (as this was something I had planned for - as long as he was agreeable).  So C.C. it was.

Unfortunately not enough for both of us as it was a small (organic) cauliflower that had been in the fridge for several weeks - but still OK.  Steamed the florets in the microwave (10 minutes as B likes them very soft), then covered them with a cheese sauce.  What I also do is sprinkle a handful of grated cheese over the cooked cauliflower (once in its serving dish) whilst it is still hot.  This then begins to melt and adds extra flavour to the veg.   Then add more grated cheese to the sauce, and when that has been poured over the cauli, grated cheese is sprinkled on top before putting under the grill.
B said the cheese flavour was extra good this time, and this almost certainly due to the blend of cheeses used - the grated cheese used yesterday being what was left after making the cheese quiche for the recent Christmas 'social'.  Apparently the cheese quiche was also 'exceptionally tasty'.

There were four cheeses used for the quiche (and B's supper), three at least were left-over chunks that had begun to dry out (the harder the cheese is allowed to go, the finer it grates - so could be used instead of Parmesan).  One was Red Leicester, another was mature Cheddar, and not sure what the third was - could be Gruyere - certainly a hard cheese (being out of its wrapper, no way could I remember what it was).  The fourth was more recently bought - still in its wrapper so softer - this being Double Gloucester.  So perhaps it was the D.G. that added that extra flavour.  Certainly the four together was a marriage made in heaven, and although not a lot of cheese was used (mostly oddments anyway), it was the quality not quantity that counted.

Sorry to hear your slow cooker popped its clogs Jane W.  Let's hope you get another one soon, they really are one of the most useful kitchen 'appliances'.   In the paper the other day there was an article about a lady (with photos) who seemed to have furnished her house - and especially kitchen - with 'freebies'.  Some of these she found in skips, and certainly quite a bit of 'kitchenware' she obtained through 'Freegle' (was that the name - a site where people give away what they don't want). Who knows - there may be a slow-cooker that no-one wants.

Have not noticed the price of black pudding recently, but if it has become popular (in restaurants etc) then this will cause a rise in price.  At one time lamb shanks were almost given away by butchers because they didn't want them, now they are almost as expensive as other 'joints'.  About the only meat that is 'cheap' these days are offal, especially chicken livers.
However, reading comments sent it - it does seem that many bargains can be found on the 'reduced' counter, such as packs of minced meats, chickens etc, so if bought and either frozen away immediately, or cooked and frozen, this is one way to make a saving.

A welcome to Christopher who I hope continues to read this blog and send in comments.  Was so pleased to hear how useful 'Have a Goode Year' has been in his life.  Have to say it is my favourite book of the four written, perhaps because I was able to gain a lot of pleasure 'celebrating' special days throughout the year, rather than just the traditional Easter, Guy Fawkes, Christmas.  
When researching for the book was amazed to discover that almost every day can be a 'saint's day', and the better known saint's often have a certain food or dish associated with their day.  Nothing expensive of course - it might just be an onion dish, or spinach, even Parkin  - but it's a lot more fun knowing that a certain food has long been traditionally served in memory of something or someone.  Children especially enjoy having something to celebrate, especially if there is a story to go with it, and maybe one way to get them to eat their 'greens' as well as giving them more to look forward to.  Even us adults enjoy having a reason to do/cook/make something, and minor celebrations (on the cheap) could be a way to make this recession (due to last at least 3 more years!!!) more enjoyable.

Do agree Marjorie, that covering meat with liquid when slow-cooking will make a wonderful 'broth' (or 'stock' as we tend to call it).  This is why I always slow-cook my D.R. beef rib trim (several packs at a time), then - after removing the meat - add more meat (maybe braising steak) to the 'stock' and continue slow- cooking.  The more meat cooked in the same liquid, the richer the stock becomes and this is then frozen away to use for gravy, or for the base of soups etc.

Possibly the extra liquid that appeared in your slow cooker Alison did come from the beef, for as mentioned the other day, my joint weighed about a third less once cooked than in its raw state.  The loss being the moisture driven off.   When we cook meat in plenty of liquid (casserole etc), the meat juices go into the 'gravy' (see above), the meat itself stays moist and as we eat the 'gravy' as part of the dish, nothing really has been lost. 
This is why I find that 'quality' meat (such as D.R's) wins hands down as when used in a casserole the flavour is so good that we can get away with using less than we would with a cheaper meat (which never seems to give a better flavour however much we use of it).

Will take a look at the Amazon site to see if I can find details of the Amish book you mentioned Lisa, then will see if B can get it from the library for me to read.  At one time I used always to buy books (ending up with hundreds) but we have little or no room here to keep them, and the only ones I have now are cookbooks and a couple or so other favourites, and even then some will have to go as they are stacked in piles as we have no more spare shelves.
Your mention of drying washing indoors is something I prefer to do, especially during the winter. The central heating dries the air out far too much - many people hang 'humidifiers' (?) on the radiators to put moisture back into the air.  Myself find that drying the washing in front of a radiator does the job just as well. 

Your comment about buying 'milk and a few other things' Janet, has reminded me that when aiming to purchase only the absolute necessary, the best way to avoid buying anything else is not to use a credit card, or even take a purse with more than enough money.  Just take enough cash for what you need (say £5 max) and leave the rest at home.  That way we self-limit ourselves to what we can afford to buy.  Even £5 may be too much, but there just might be something reduced so low in price that it would be criminal not to buy it!  As long as we can make good use of it.

Have to love you and leave you now as have to tidy the conservatory (that B was supposed to do - it is full of his clutter - but hasn't).  Norma will be needing the space to set up her hair dryer and I also have a few things to clear up before she comes.   Am hoping B will take all the rubbish to the tip today (once he has bought his new tax disc - another thing he forgot to do,  his memory is getting very bad these days, I now have to remember to remind him that he must remember to do this that or the other - as if I didn't have enough things to remember of my own).

Sorry no recipe today, but hope to include several for the slow-cooker tomorrow.  Hope you can join me then.  TTFN.