Thursday, February 21, 2013

Losing the Plot?

Very late start as Normal (the Hair) text me at 9.00am to say she was delayed, and arrived an hour later, so have only just been able to sit and read my emails and then begin my blog.

Only two comments sent, so will deal with these first.  Seems that it's not just horsemeat that is undeclared on packaging Janet, but also pork that has been added.  What else with they discover? I doubt that these discoveries will turn folk from meat-eaters to vegetarian, for we can still buy correctly labelled raw meat from the local butchers and make up our own 'ready-meals'.  Would work out cheaper anyway.

Some many years ago a friend of B's - who used to be in the Navy - was enthusing about the curries he used to eat when he visited Asia, and wished he could have them now.  His wife said she would never make them for him "as you never know what goes into curries".  This made me laugh as I said "well, when you make them yourself you always know what goes into them".  Still don't think she was able to understand, and never did make any for her husband (much to his sorrow). 
In a way, we could say the same about the 'ready-made' or processed meals/foods that are now under suspicion, and saying to ourselves "we don't now know what goes into these, and can't trust any of them anymore".  So again this could mean more people go back to making their meals from scratch, and leaving 'the readies' on the shelves.  Let us hope so.

Your mention of making your own beefburgers from supermarket mince Kathryn, made me begin to wonder if this mince (especially pre-packed) might end up being suspect.  Am pretty sure it wouldn't be, but often it can work out cheaper to buy mince from a butcher (or buy a piece of meat and let the butcher mince it up for you), and then at least you would know what you are getting. 

Last night was able to watch the Hairy Bikers, and although shook my head in disbelief when they said that it would be difficult to cater for a party at approx £2.50 a head (they had a £100 budget).  Considering they were able to get free herbs and veggies from the venue (think it was a sort of urban farm), and also eggs and milk, can't see why they couldn't manage to make a feast on just half the budget.

What was good to hear was how attractive presentation could make really inexpensive ingredients look extremely expensive, and we were able to see some really amazing ones, and although there was a mention these would be copied for the above 'party', none seemed to be made or even appear.  What was made seemed easy enough, and - when making the canapes - the 'bikers' were able to show that a little goes a long way.

My gripe is that, considering it is a budget series, there is very little cost-cutting shown.  It is more a matter of making things instead of buying - because this works out cheaper.  What they make is still expensive.  As I said to B this morning, almost certainly the production team are young (like in their 30's) and allowing £2.50 per head must seem like a pittance to them.  It's as if they can't get their head around there are still ways to dramatically cut costs and make a good meal or party food whilst doing so.  So often these days I feel either they've lost the plot, or I'm beginning to.

This has made me think more about cost-cutting (as if I didn't think enough anyway), so it might be a good idea to start some new challenges, like "how much can be made for 50p?", or  "Party food for £1 (or even 50p) a head".  Or "a meal to serve 4 for £1 total - or portion)".  If you like this idea, then I'd love to hear some suggestions.  Give me a cost-cutting challenge and I'll see if it is possible to do.

One good thing about the above prog was seeing a larder with shelves lined with jars and bottles. So very like mine it was almost as though I was there.  Trouble was, the 'bikers' didn't seem to appreciate that many of the more unusual sauces (that they said gave the necessary 'lift' to the basic, inexpensive 'main' ingredients used to make a dish) only work if we already have them.  If we have to buy them especially to follow the dishes they were making, then the cost rises dramatically.

Surrounding my desk are piles of small cookbooks that B says he has enjoyed reading.  Many of the dishes he finds tempting and says he will mark them with his initial so that I can make them for him.  Trouble is - as I said to him - many of the dishes (mainly Asian), use ingredients that I don't normally keep such as: fish sauce, lemongrass, hoisin sauce.... and even if I bought them to make a chosen dish for him, they may not be used again, and if they don't keep well.....!!!   So am hoping he chooses dishes where he knows we already have what is needed.  Mind you, doubt he knows what I've got, other than anything that is immediately apparent when he walks into the larder, or opens the fridge door.
The other day B brought in a new pack of watercress, when there were TWO partly used packs already in the fridge.  "I didn't know there was any left " he said, even though at least one was perfectly visible when the door was opened, and considering B was the only one eating watercress at that time, and after he has taken what he wants he puts the bags back in the fridge (and they stay where they are put with nothing on top of them), SURELY he would remember there was the cress left.  Obviously not. 

Another prog that I thoroughly enjoyed last night was Eddie Izzard's journey to find his ancestors. Not having read anything about it, thought it was on the lines of 'Who Do You Think You Are", and when it started discovered it was right back to his roots. But not just his roots, yours and mine also, proving - as I said yesterday - 'we are all brothers under the sun (or is it skin?).  Even before the trail began I said to B "he's got Viking blood in his veins", because he looked so much like many members of my mother's family, and I've always believed that we come from Viking stock.  
The DNA trail began in Africa (as it does with all of us), and to cut a long story short, Eddie's lineage (in this first episode, the second shown tonight) did end in Scandinavia, so I was well pleased.
It was also very interesting to realise that perhaps my own ancestors, thousands of years back, had the same DNA as E.Izzards, and as the years went by, my own ancestry followed the same route as it branched off.  So knowing how and where our ancestors travelled from the country of origin to where we are made me realise what they had to go through, and if they hadn't, we  - or at least I - wouldn't be here now.

We are blessed with good weather, plenty of sunshine and NO rain, but the forecast is for much colder weather this weekend and possibly snow, although that mainly on the eastern side of the UK.  So winter is not over. 
The seagulls are now to be seen taking possession of several chimney pots on the roofs of the houses seen a the back of ours.  Soon they will start nest building and we hope to be able to watch more baby seagulls grow from tiny chicks to almost fully grown.  Last year one was pushed out of the next by its sibling, and had to spend several weeks just sitting on the sloping roof below.  Am amazed it survived as the weather kept changing from sunny to heavy rain, and often gales.  But with the help of its mother bringing food, it did live, and eventually fly the nest. 

Spent some time yesterday sorting out my freezer/s.  Good job I did for I found I had more of some meats/fish than expected, but less of others.  This time wrote down in a little notebook EXACTLY what was in each drawer, so can now find what I need instantly without having to hunt for it.
Although all the drawers in the chest freezer have been sorted, only the two drawers in 'Boris' have had the 'stock taking'.  There are still three shelves to sort, mainly packs of vegetables, some soft fruits, packs of stock/gravy, and pastry.  But am sure that I'll be finding some foods tucked at the back under something else that I have completely forgotten about.

Yesterday was able to use up a pack of pre-cooked lamb by adding (after first thawing) to a pan of fried onions and diced carrots, then letting it simmer with its stock for an hour (on the box I'd written that the lamb needed a bit more cooking). After most of the stock had evaporated, then added a jar of Rogan Josh, and turned it into a curry.  B heated up a 2 minute microwave rice and ate all that with most of the curry (enough for two, but he really liked it), but enough left for me to have 'a taste', and it was good.

No recipe today as late starting, but hope to get up early enough tomorrow to get a head start.  Hope you can find time to give thought to my 'possible challenges' suggestion, as this will give me something 'useful' to do. 

One good thing - had a notification from the 'pensions' that I'll get an extra 25p (twenty five PENCE!!!) per week once I have reached 80. Am sure that will help to keep the wolf from the door, so roll on April,  then - with an extra £1 a month - can go on a spending spree.  As if.  TTFN.