Monday, March 18, 2013

Common Sense

Thanks for comments. Just one needs a reply today, this to Janet regarding types of food given out at local Foodbanks.

I've had several discussions re the possibility of including some fresh foods such as potatoes, carrots, onions, eggs... and always told that the Morecambe Foodbank are not allowed to do this.  Sometimes these 'fresh foods' can be used by other organisations to provide daily hot meals for the homeless - these at several centres thoughout the town, and these 'reached their use-by date' foods are given by supermarkets et al, only because these will be used/cooked/eaten  on the given day.

Foodbanks that store food to be given out over several weeks have to abide by another set of rules, and our local Foodbank works with the The Trussell Trust (a registered charity) and it seems this  Trust makes the decision of what can be given and what should not. The cost of insurance was mentioned, and it is true that if someone was made ill by eating something past its use-by date -  even if they might not have eaten it straight away (so therefore their fault for keeping it too long), knowing it was given to people who perhaps had no knowledge of cooking would put the blame onto the giver I suppose.  More care has to be given providing food for others (even if freely given) as it would be when catering professionally.  In our domestic kitchens, we 'experienced' cooks, are left to be the judge of what is fit to eat and what is not.

It's easy for us older folk to understand when foods would/would not be suitable for eating.  Myself (and my Beloved) - if in doubt - always use the 'sniff then taste' test.  Many youngsters are not experienced enough to know good from bad, and when hungry would eat almost anything.  And often do - from wheelie bins etc!!  So essential for foodbanks to 'cover themselves' by providing only food that is within the dates stamped on them. 

The above mentioned Trust probably has a website/address, but because your Rossendale Foodbank does give out some fresh foods Janet, perhaps these two 'banks' are not connected to the same 'trust'.  No point in contacting the Morecambe branch as they have to stick the Trust's rules. 

Having said that, I'm contacting the Canned Foods Advisory Bureau as an (old) book published by the CFAB states that 'canned foods can be kept indefinitely'.  So if they tell me it is still quite safe to eat canned foods that have gone past the printed on the cans, then see no reason why foodbanks should have to stop giving out canned products that have reached that date and will bring that up myself with the Trussel Trust.  There are far too many rules and regs these days that cause a lot of perfectly edible food to end up thrown away.  To me that is criminal.

 My B's social club sticks to these rules, B often comes home saying "it is unbelievable" what they throw out just because it has reached its date.  Only the other day, during a 'working morning', he was given his coffee black "because the (chilled) milk was past its date" (by two days!!!), so - to conform to the rules and regs - it would then have to be thrown away.  B went and got the milk from the fridge, did the sniff and taste taste and said it was perfectly OK.  But it would still be thrown out.

Moving to 'life in the Goode kitchen' am happy to say that after many trials, managed to make myself a very good HOT meal using only hot water from a kettle.  I made 'Mac 'n Cheese' (the cheese sauce made from Bisto cheese sauce granules, only needing to be mixed with boiling water).  I tested two different types of pasta, one was 'quick-cook penne' (normally takes 5 minutes to cook in boiling water), the other pasta looked like 'wheels', and this would have taken 11 minutes with normal cooking.  Each type was put into a container, one mug of pasta with two mugs of boiling water, lids out on, then each tucked up in a terry towel (or could have been wrapped in a jumper, or tucked in a sleeping bag - anything to keep in the heat.   After 20 minutes the quick-cook pasta had taken up most of the water and perfectly cooked, and when strained and mixed with the cheese sauce was - at least - a pretty basic meal, but at least HOT, although I did find that a bit of added salt and pepper after cooking improved the flavour immensely.  The 'wheels' also cooked perfectly - although needing 30 minutes to reach this stage.

Instead of cheese sauce I could have used a tomato (or chicken) cuppa soup mixed with half quantity of boiling water to make a tomato sauce to mix with the pasta.    Maybe I could have mixed the dry pasta with a dry cuppa soup before adding the boiling water.  Think I'll have a go at doing that today and see how it turns out.

I also tried 'boiling' an egg by putting the egg in a bowl, pouring over boiling water and letting it stand for 20 minutes.  Not too pleased with the result, so had another go, and changed the water at half-time, also wrapping the jug up to keep it warm.  Much better, so almost certainly it would be possible to just about hard-boil an egg this way if enough time allowed, but feel that this is something an experienced cook would be more inclined to do.

Even doing the above tests gave me a little concern.  Boiling water is not something we should be 'playing with', so would even suggesting using this to cook pasta be allowed?  But then if people make tea and coffee with boiling water, surely we have to allow them to use common sense, and suppose if a warning is given with a recipe to 'take care' then that should be enough.
Many times this winter (and still doing so) I've been filling a hot water bottle with just boiled water so that I could take it into the living room to sit and cuddle under my layers of blankets (saves me putting the central heating on), and twice I've missed the bottle and poured the extremely hot water over the hand holding the bottle and scalded myself.   At least now have the sense to immediately stick the scalded hand under running cold water from the tap and keep it there for at least 30 seconds.  The first time I didn't and had a very painful hand for several days.

The other day saw a new (to me) cook on the Food Network,  think the series was called 'Bitch in the Kitchen' or something.  VERY weird programme, but quite watchable.  Didn't see the complete half-hour as it was so strange that a little goes a long way if you know what I mean.  However, did see a different way to serve mashed potatoes (as rissoles, fried), that gave me another suggestion to add to the Foodbank recipe book.  
Today am going to test some ideas for using canned new potatoes.  These are not very tasty at the best of times, but with a little imagination am hoping to turn them into something more interesting.

Incidentally, cannot remember whether I included Fruit: 2 small cans, in yesterday's 'singles list'. Have a feeling I left this out, but will check when I get onto the 'list of past postings' but cannot reach this until I have published today's blog (because I am not computer literate to know how to do so whilst writing this, as when done in the past I've lost what has just been written).  If the fruit has been omitted I do at least know how to edit the details into yesterday's list.

Watched the repeat of 'Food and Drink' yesterday, and - like Michel Roux - really did not like the idea of these 'new-style eateries'.  These may be fun, these may be different, but food seems to take second place.  There was a certain feel of 'Americana' with these new 'diners', but am sure - after watching 'the three D's' that it is always the food that has priority in America (even though a lot of it is either too sweet, too salty, or too much), and the decor certainly takes second place.

Is it my age or what?  I'm falling in love with Michel Roux, and after watching the 'trailer' showing Paul Hollywood making and baking his bread, the final shot of him looking straight into my eyes almost makes me swoon.  Each time I see this intense stare I get tingles all over me.  Ooh, I can visualise it now, and my skin has gone cold.  In a way it's almost a devilish stare.  Not really a 'cuddly' one.  Bringing my thoughts back to M.Roux's smiling enthusiasm makes me feel I wish I could spend a whole day talking to him (and P.H. can stay kneading his dough, all by himself, for all I care).

The other week asked B if he bring me a small diary, just so I could jot in the very few (around 10) 'appointments'  I need to remember through one year.  Like one small book that I could keep in my apron pocket.  So what does he do - bring in a thick desk diary, the size of a hard-bound novel.  The 'page-a-day' kind.  At least it will be useful for me to jot down my 'tests and trials', and also keep a record of my favourite recipes. 
Yesterday, used it for writing details of my pasta cooking experiments, and suddenly noticed that each day was given both the English name, but it was also in Gaelic.  Same with each month.  Tide times were given, but all related to Irish ports, and - after checking - saw the diary had been printed in the Republic of Ireland (had already worked that out).  Asked B where he had bought it, "the £1 shop" he told me.
At least now I'll be able to become fluent in Gaelic, even if only the days of the weeks and months of the year.  Trouble is the pronunciation.  It's a bit like Welsh, the written word has little resemblance to the sound when spoken.
What was interesting was that two months of the year look (and presumably sound) like 'Samain' and 'Beltain' (very slightly different spelling in Gaelic) which are the times for pagan festivities or rituals.

Aiming to be a good girl and get on with my 'tests and trials' today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week, will try to get started by 9.00am each day, so time now for me to say my farewells for today, and get on with more experimenting.

By the way, Easter is not next weekend, but the weekend after.  Discovered this whilst browsing through the Irish diary.  It is turning out to be quite useful - even before I'd written anything in it.

Much of our country still shivering with the cold, only the south having slightly higher temperatures, so we still need to wrap up warm when venturing out.  Or cuddling a 'hottie' when staying in.  As always - enjoy your day - and please drop in for another 'chat' together tomorrow.  Hope to see you then.