Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lucky Dips?

Shorter blog today due to a later start, so will begin with replies to comments.
No chance of seeing Hope and Glory on DVD Pam, as we don't have a DVD player, and our computer won't accept these either (although it will take CD's).
Both B and I enjoy watching Foyle's War, this often repeated on a Freeview channel.  We have just seen the start of a new series (think only three episodes) of F's War, where Foyle has come out of retirement.  He looks exactly the same as before, but Honeysuckle Weekes looks quite a bit more 'mature'.

Here in the UK, the schools have quite a long Easter holiday, it used to be 2 - 3 weeks, but maybe shorter now, but at least a week.  Good Friday through to - and including - Easter Monday are usually taken as a general holiday (Friday and Monday being 'Bank Holidays' - when the banks are shut), but of course today, many shops do remain open as with people not at work they hope to tempt them in to spend, spend, spend.
On Good Friday we traditionally eat Hot Cross Buns.  Easter Biscuits on Saturday, Simnel Cake on Sunday.  Easter eggs always given to the children over the weekend, and not so long ago the tradition was for these always to be hidden in the garden (or around the house) to be hunted for.  Now these (usually much bigger ones, made of chocolate, hollow but usually filled with sweets) are given to children, and often they receive more than just one.
Easter Sunday lunch is another 'traditional':  Leg of lamb served with new potatoes and green peas, with mint sauce and redcurrant jelly.

Eggs are always associated with Easter, and another way of serving these is to hard-boil, then carefully crack the shells all over, then place the eggs - still in their shells - in water than has had food colouring added. Left to cool in the water, once the shells are removed, the 'whites' are seen tinted with the chosen colour and look 'marbled'.  Very pretty, and an interesting way to serve hard-boiled eggs at any time of year.  The best colours to use are red, blue, and green, orange if it is fairly bright, yellow is a bit too pale.

Your Canadian Easter holidays sound much the same as ours Margie, and can understand the need to change the clocks to fit in with the US times. Presumably, with Canada being so large, this country also has time zones?

Yesterday, was trying to explain to B how I had a feeling that in Australia, the sun appears to moves anti-clockwise across the sky, the opposite to here in the UK where it always appears to rise in the east, move clockwise across the sky but towards the south, before sinking in the west.
East is always east, but in the southern hemisphere, when facing into the sun, the east would then be on our right, whereas here in the northern hemisphere it is on our left. 
So can anyone tell me if - in Australia - when looking towards the sun, this does ''rise' on our right, and appear to move anti-clockwise?

Watching the Food Network have noticed that all the cooks in every programme seem to use the same shape of glass mixing bowls. These appear to have a circular and flat base with straight sides widening out to the top.  I do have one, exactly the same, but that came from a florists, containing already arranged flowers.  Not at all suitable for cookery use I would have thought. 
Here in the UK all our mixing bowls are quite curved.  They have to have a flat base underneath to sit securely on the work surface, but the inside base is curved to meet the (also curving) sides, as a tennis ball, cut in half, would appear.  This makes it much easier to whisk/beat ingredients together as every part of a beater would touch the mixture.

We were discussing war-time yesterday and B suddenly remembered how his mother used to make pastry using liquid paraffin instead of lard (or another fat).  He said, using this, she made the most wonderful pastry, and thought it might be a good idea for me to try using this.  At that time, liquid paraffin was sold at the chemist's, and taken as a laxative.  It is not the same thing as the paraffin used used for oil lamps, and for cleaning brushes.    Do hope B forgets as I really don't wish to make pastry using this.

Stayed up late last night to watch a prog. on BBC 3 about horsemeat.  Quite interesting, especially when a cook had made up several dishes for selected people (gathered around the dining table) to sample.  Quite a few refused to eat any at all, their excuse being they consider a horse/pony to be more of a pet than as a producer of meat.  Those that DID eat, all said how much they enjoyed the dishes, and how tender the meat was.
At the end of the programme, other cooked dishes made from insects (locusts, maggots...) were offered, and hardly anyone would touch these.  But, as the presenter said, these are eaten in many other countries (good source of protein) and almost certainly we'll all be eating these in a few years time.
Final remark of the show (also heard it mentioned on the early morning news today), was that a  Lamb 'ready-meal (think it was a curry but could be wrong), bought from a supermarket, had recently been tested to find out if it contained other meat than lamb, and the outcome was that it contained NO lamb, neither did it contain beef, pork, poultry, goat or horsemeat.  What 'meat' the dish contained has yet to be discovered.  Kangaroo perhaps?

Just two recipes today, the first having a double use as can be coarsely processed to spread on toast as a paste, or blended slightly smoother to put into a bowl and served as a dip, the second recipe being 'dippers'.  The paste/dip can be prepared a day ahead, covered and kept chilled.

Olive and Herb Paste/Dip: serves 6
9 oz (250g) pitted green olives
1 shallot, finely chopped
ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 fl oz (50ml) olive oil (pref extra virgin)
1 tblsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
1 teaspoon lime juice
Process/blend together the olives, shallot, pepper, and garlic until a coarse paste (or smoother if you wish), and - while the motor is still running - slowly pour in the oil, in a thin stream. Finally, mix/stir in the herbs and the lime juice.

Now for the 'dippers'.  The thinner the slices the faster they crisp up, so try to slice evenly (the best way is to use a mandolin, or one of those 'Y' vegetable cutters.  If sliced with a knife, some slices may be thicker than others, so check and remove the thinner ones to prevent them burning, leaving the others to continue cooking.  If your oven has no fan, the turn the trays round several times during the cooking to make sure the slices brown and crisp evenly.

Athough only two veggies have been suggested, worth trying others such as baby turnip, beetroot, carrots?  Am assuming all the veggies would first be peeled, but if well scrubbed, may the peel could be left on to give a bit more stability when using as 'dippers'.  Worth trying both way.
To serve with dips, the veggies need to be slightly thicker than those normally sold as 'potato crisps' as these would break easily when pushed into a dip.

Vegetable Crisps:  serves 8
cooking oil spray
4 medium parsnips
4 medium potatoes
1 orange-fleshed sweet potato
2 tsp sea salt
Take three baking sheets, and spray each with the cooking oil.
Using mandolin, 'Y' peeler, or knife, slice the veggies into 2mm slices.  Place the parsnips, in a single layer, on the oven trays, giving them a lightly coating with the oil-spray.  Bake for about 40 minutes at 150C, 300F, gas 2, or until browned on both sides and crisp.  Remove to a cake airer to cool. Repeat, as above, cooking the potato, then when crisp, cool on airer, and repeat again to cook the sweet potato. When crisps are cool, sprinkle with salt.

That's it for today.  Keep warm, keep happy, and tomorrow being Good Friday, hope you will all have a good, and relaxing Easter weekend.  Will probably be 'blogging' as per usual tomorrow, not yet sure about Saturday or Sunday.  By tomorrow will have decided whether to take time off, or to still carry on chatting.  TTFN.