Thursday, March 07, 2013

Constantly Counting...

Managed to watch the last half-hour of Hairy Biker's yesterday, and was pleased to hear them say that the final presentation has more to do with the time taken (and presumably skill) than the cost of ingredients, even thought I still felt they spent FAR too much (over £40) to make that special meal to serve just two (and only reduced to this because Dave - who had spent over £71 - had to put a lot of the foods back on the shelf).  But then as this was 'farm shop' prices, almost certainly we could buy almost the same far cheaper from a supermarket or local butchers etc).

Later that evening watched a sad programme about the poverty in America, especially from the viewpoint of children.  When I saw children playing in the rough grass and jumping into rivers etc, having what seemed to be a great time, even hunting for empty beer to collect and exchange for money also seemed a worthwhile occupation, but then I always do like to see a way of life 'as it used to be' (like The Waltons).  This was in Iowa, and depressing in that the one-parent (mother) could no longer pay to live in her house, and she, her young daughter, and son, plus one dog (they could not afford to keep the second dog, so that had to go), ended up living in a motel, then moving on to other motels etc.  Eventually the plan was to live in a trailer (caravan/motor home?). 
Quite a few times we saw visits to foodbank to choose food in exchange for 'food stamps'.  The place (think run by the S.Army) was just like a supermarket, where the 'customers' could help themselves to the canned and packet foods they wanted up to their allocation.   Here the allowance is limited to a set amount of the same things for each family (more or less according to number).

One child kept saying she was hungry, and her brother said "when I switch channels on TV and see a food programme it makes me feel really hungry".  Am not surprised when progs such as 'Man v Food" and "Diners, Drive In's and Dives" show people eating huge platefuls of food.   Yesterday switched onto see a few moments of Alan Richman watching a couple of 'low cash cowboys" try to eat a meal that consisted of huge steaks (each weighing 5lb each!!!!), plus the rest (chips, bread etc), and attempting to eat the lot in one hour (which they didn't manage to do.  What's all that about?  It's not clever to be able to eat enormous quantities, but apparently in the US being served a large portion is almost the norm (and perhaps the reason for their obesity problems?)  We see huge people wobbling down the US streets, not one or two, but in great numbers, whereas here we would rarely see one that size (if at all).  True we do have fat people here too, but not nearly as fat as many Americans seem to be.  Perhaps we do have them, but they are too ashamed to be seen out and about.

Another couple of families living on the bread-line were also shown, one whose son really got annoyed because his mother couldn't afford to buy him Nike trainers for $30 (reduced price I believe), even though his mother said she bought her own shoes at Walmart for $5 dollars, so why couldn't he settle for cheaper ones?  Seems he would lose face with his peers if he did. 

Was myself bowled over by the third family, think it was just one mother and her daughter, they had moved to San Francisco and ended up living in a Salvation Army hostel, but later did get a place of their own.  The young girl was so 'watchable', and am sure if someone in the US media saw this programme they would snap her up for filming or advertising.  She reminded me very much of the little girl in the film "Little Miss Sunshine", and also had a touch of a young Jody Foster about her (certainly her confidence). 

Unfortunately I've got this annoying habit of always thinking people (in situations such as above) could do better.  The mother who had to give up her home did have enough to pay the bills, but very little left over for anything else, and often had to use 'food stamps' to feed the family.  The grandmother lived fairly close by and she often helped (with the cooking I think).  Not sure whether the weather was always as good as it seemed to be, but they did have land surrounding the house, so why didn't she grow at least some fruit and vegetables?

As said, the daughter used to collect cans to get money (normally for her own use) and the son used to mow neighbours lawns to earn money also for himself, though he sadly said some of this was given to his mother to pay for food.   But then that's how it used to be, everyone finding a way to earn some money and then helping to pay the bills.  Pocket money was limited in those days, and not always freely given, often it had to be earned.
Nowadays it seems that youngsters feel the world owes them a living and they shouldn't have to lift a finger to pay for anything, but still expect to be given a huge amount of 'pocket money' each week, and I firmly believe that - in the old days - many 'working class' people, however strapped for cash, were certainly happier with their lot than those in a similar situation today.  Myself remember having things to look forward to, treats that were appreciated and not expected to always be there,  rather than how it seems today, when 'treats' are freely handed out, almost every time any shopping is done.  So youngsters now expect to have them every week, and play merry hell when 'the bank of mum and dad' have had to close down for a while.

When sitting under the dryer this morning, felt the ground rumble under my feet.  "Oh, a little earthquake" I thought.  Then B came in and said he'd felt it too, but thought it might have been part of one of the trees (or part of one) falling down onto the road as it was being removed - but some distance away from the house.  Will have to wait and see if there is a mention of any 'natural' earth movement on the local news this lunchtime.  Hope it is an earthquake, then maybe they will think twice about 'fracking' in this area.

As late starting, had better get on with reply to comments.  Several came in overnight, and many thanks to all who wrote in.
Am hoping to get B to drive me over to Walney Island this summer Cheesepare (presumably there is a bridge for access and roads for a car to drive along?).  Thanks also for the info re the Truro Foodbank, I will be looking it up when I can spare a moment.

Have not noticed that labels in garments are made of rough material (as mentioned by Granny G.  The ones in my garments are fairly firm but have a shiny, silky finish.  But then my garments are made of fairly substantial material, so perhaps its relative.

Sorry Pam, am not able to be of much help re giving info on grilling food outdoors.  We have only a small charcoal barbecue, and - because of our climate, this has only been used once in the last four years.  Previous to that we used to have a 'barbie' once or twice over a ten year period, so you can see how little I know about this.  In any case it has always been B who does the 'outdoor' cooking, and considering the little he knows, he wouldn't be of any help either.  Perhaps other readers can share their tips.  Do hope so.

There is a difference Kathryn, in the texture of the marzipan when sandwiched between layers of the fruit cake when making a Simnel,  when done after the cake has been cooked, it eats just like marzipan, when cooked with the cake it will end up a bit softer.
If you've made a successful fruit cake before, using the same recipe but without the marzipan, then the cake (with the marzipan layer) should be cooked through if you follow the same timings and temperature.  If in doubt, then when the time is up, cover the top of the cake to prevent it browning or drying out, turn the oven out and leave it to carry on cooking in the residual heat, this should then sort out the problem.  Do hope it will.

A welcome to Kate in Australia.  Would love to know the state/town where you live (having family and friends who live in Oz).  Suppose turning a cracked Pavlova over might work, but by 'cracked' I meant all the way through, not just on the surface.  Myself prefer the rugged top to a Pavlova than rather a flat one (bottom up when turned).
Having the three books of Nella Last, have to say we have much in common.  Although older than me at the time of writing (she was married and had children during the war, I was only 6 when war began), her way of writing and her approach to all things in life is EXACTLY the same as mine. When I read her first book it was as though I wrote it myself.  Unbelievable.

Was interested to hear of your involvement in the Rossendale Foodbank Janet.  Here in Morecambe it does seem as though a church is involved, the 'venue' for food being a Methodist Church, but initially I heard about it through local TV where a local R.C. priest was asking for contributions.  Having been to the aforementioned church, saw both the Methodist vicar and the R.C. priest working together to set up this Foodbank, and most of the other churches in the region seem to be working together to help set up 'canteens' where the homeless or poor can go to eat at least one hot meal a day.

Finally, a welcome also to Closet Blitz Woman. We hope to hear more from you and your life-style if you wish to share this with us. 

Time for me to take my leave as it is nearly noon.  Must mention that today woke to see it had been (as still was) raining, but now seems to have stopped.  This reminded me of those rare years during my lifetime when we used to have lengthy periods of good weather and lots of sunshine.  How lovely it was, but we eventually got fed up with it and when the first rain fell, usually not much more than light rain, it was bliss to go outside and 'smell' it.  A bit like the smell of newly mown grass.  Wish it was always like that when it rains now.  But only happens after a drought and whether I'll live long enough to enjoy another hot dry summer, remains to be seen.  We are due for one.

No recipes today due to shortage of time.  Hopefully will have several to share with you tomorrow.  Please join me for a 'read', and so hope to see you then.