Saturday, March 02, 2013

More Challenges?

Good news is that despite our washing machine being 25 years old (older than we thought), it is able to be repaired.  Two problems with it.  The most recent being the door lock had failed, so that was why it wouldn't start.  The earlier problem (sticking on the 'start' of the cycle) was because the thermostats had failed, so the water wasn't heating.  For months now the washing had been done in cold water!!  But still came out clean.  
I was told that if I put it on the 'boil' cycle (something I tried but it didn't work) it should start with hot water from our tap (instead of normally cold), but as it is the furthest hot pipe from the boiler, realised that by the time enough water had entered the machine, it hadn't warmed up, so yesterday ran the nearest hot tap (kitchen sink) until very hot water came out, then put the machine onto 'boil', and true enough, hot water did enter the machine.  Our machine uses very little water initially, the idea being as more comes in the machine then heats it, but at least enough to give it a warm start.

Still have to wait for the new thermostats (will take a week), they have just 5 left in stock, am surprised they had any.  I asked how long a washing machine is expected to last these days, and the man said "about 6 years", and he said that my model (Zanussi) was one of the best, and "and is in immaculate condition".   Most washing machines he repairs, he said were really knocked around after 5 years.  Don't know why, perhaps the casing is thinner metal these days.  Anyway, am VERY glad that our 'old friend' will still be with us for a few years longer.  It's been a godsend to me.

Another good thing is that this morning the comp. started immediately, and I was able to reach my email AND my blog page (set on two different parts of the comp - one part for B, one for me, and one 'back-up' for me), all because I tried leaving it on 'stand-by' instead of switching it right off as we normally do.  It will cost a little more in electricity I suppose, but can manage that until our grandson comes to see if there is any other problem.   Perhaps the comp works better when it is warm?

Due to me having to keep my time free for the repair man (he didn't turn up until 12.30 as it happened), wasn't able to reply to a couple of comment yesterday.  Kathryn mentioned how her meal for two was able to be stretched to feed three by adding a salad and some baguettes.  Proving to all that we don't have to spend as much as one of the (original) portions, to serve that extra meal.  Just by adding other (cheaper) foods, this can make a dish go further.

Tesco may have an 'ethnic aisle' Ciao, but they don't seem to show this on when on-line ordering, so need to scroll down what can sometimes be very lengthy lists to find the cheapest item.  But that is often worth doing as I've often come across really worthwhile bargains.  It is possible to eliminate some items from the list before scrolling down by clicking on a box at the top, just to see exactly what is needed, but this then cuts out some foods that I wish I'd seen in the first place.

Thanks also to Christopher for writing.  Am always pleased to get comments from the lads, as they often have different ways on how they buying, cooking, and when they eat food etc. and this helps me climb out of my 'the old wives's rut'.

A welcome to versavisa who we hope will keep in touch.  Some people are finding it difficult to send in comments, and it could be that when sent in as an 'anonymous', it is easier.  Believe this worked better when Pam did this (hope so Pam).
This is fine by me, as long as a chosen name is given at the end (or start) of the written comment, so that we know who has written.  If anyone includes their own website details at the end of the comment, the comment then won't be shown on the blog, as blogger takes these as 'spam',  (unrequested advertising) and won't put them up, although I still receive them. 

I accept your challenge Les, but need you to give me more details as I rarely keep notes of the prices and dishes made on the Hairy Biker's show.  Let me know the dishes you wish me to make, the same ingredients used (recipes if you have them, because for true comparison the amounts need to be exact by weight) the 'programme price' of these, and to how many people you wish me to serve. Then I will see if it is possible to make the same for less cost.

Not sure if it is a 'welcome' or 'welcome back' to Chris, but good to hear from you, and feel that you could be right when you say how the habit of cost-cutting (started in the 80's?) has stayed with you and you feel this has contributed to your now 'wealth' (or at least no longer poverty).  The same seems to have happened with me (can't say the same for B who has always found it difficult to keep his money in his pocket).  Even though the state pension is the only money I have to pay all the household bills, plus insurances, gifts, you name it.....(not forgetting food of course),  there always seems to be plenty left over at the end of the month, so my bank balance steadily grows.
Perhaps this could be due to the fact we have never been able to afford things like holidays abroad (although I have had one or two on my own, but cheap ones) or weekly gatherings with friends at the pub (I dread to think how much a 'round' would cost), or even 'eating out', as so many seem to do these days.  We don't go to the cinema (wait to see the films on TV), or theatre, and my only 'activity' in later life has been playing bridge with friends (and at a bridge club), that's cheap enough, all I needed to provide was tea and (home-made) cakes, and think it was £1 at the club. 

B has done slightly better, he loved sailing (though given that up now he has come to live by the sea - he is not happy on water that has big waves!!), so did take annual (sometimes twice a year) sailing on one or other of the Tall Ships, but had a part-time job to pay for that.  He now still is involved with sailing, but only in the 'safety boat' that accompanies the racing dinghies to help rescue the sailors when their boats blow over in a high wind.

As promised, today am giving another recipe for a dessert that is the type one would expect on the menu of a top restaurant.  As it freezes well, and we can cut corners by using a bought white bread mix instead of making it from scratch (as per the recipe), well within our capabilities.  Well, it has to be because I used to make this many years ago when I could barely boil an egg, if you know what I mean.  At that time it was soaked in syrup, but served alone.  Adding fruits turns this into a party piece.

The advantage of this dessert (called Savarin when cooked in one piece - or Rum Babas when made in individual ring moulds), is that when baked and cooled it can be stored in a tin for several days, the syrup also made ahead.  Warm the savarin before pouring over the syrup as it soaks in better. The unsoaked savarin can also be frozen for up to 6 months.  Thaw for 4 hours at room temperature, before adding syrup and completing as per recipe.
As this recipe is from a mag (pub. 1982), the yeast used is either fresh, or the granulated dried. Nowadays we can buy the instant yeast, so suggest we use that for ease of making, and mix it into the flour.
Savarin: serves 4 - 6
8 oz (225g) strong white bread flour
pinch salt
4 oz (100g) butter
1 oz fresh yeast, or half oz dried (see above)
6 tblsp tepid milk
4 eggs, beaten 
1 oz (25g) caster sugar
half pint (300ml) water
8 oz (225g) caster sugar
3 tblsp rum or kirsch (opt)
12 oz (350g) prepared fruits...
...melon, grapes,strawberries etc
Sieve flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter until fine crumbs. Crumble fresh yeast into the milk, eggs and sugar and mix together (or sprinkle the dried yeast onto the milk and leave until dissolved and frothy, leave for 10 minutes then add the eggs and sugar. If using instant yeast mix this into the flour and mix the milk, eggs, and sugar together).  Stir into the flour and beat to a soft dough. Pour into a well greased 1.5pt (825ml) ring mould to half fill. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise to almost the top of the mould.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about half an hour until golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out (when cold, it can then be frozen)..
Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the sugar and water into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly, adding the chosen spirit (if using) when ready to pour over the savarin..
Place the savarin in a shallow dish and prick all over with a fork or skewer. Pour just over half the syrup over the top and sides of the savarin and leave to soak in before pouring half of what is left again over the top. Any syrup that has drizzled down to the dish will eventually be soaked up. So allow the savarin to stand for a while, then place on a serving platter, arranging the fruits on top.
Heat remaining syrup until slightly thicker, then spoon this over the fruit.   Serve sliced, with cream.

Although yesterday had turned cloudy (but dry) we are again back to clear blue skies.  What have we done to deserve such good weather?
Did anyone watch yesterday's prog (or was it the day before?) about the winter of 1962?  I remember it well.  What fun the children had in all that snow (by then we had four aged, 7, 6, 4 and 1).  Not so easy pushing a pram to the village to buy food (as no supermarkets in those days - at least not where we lived, and we had no car), and not having central heating suppose it was pretty cold indoors as well as out, but we coped.  Can't see people coping with the same weather conditions today.  As they said, it wasn't the first time we had snow like that, and no doubt it won't be the last time.  A couple of generations have grown up hardly knowing what a heavy fall of snow is like,so the recent snow that caused such 'chaos', is barely a sifting compared to that in the sixties.

That's it for today.  Must now get on and do a second load of washing that has been waiting for the machine to be back in action.  Cannot believe it is already the weekend.  With the family visiting, felt the week began when they left, but already it was mid-week.  It's quite thrown me out, not sure why as every day is the same to me.  At least have remembered to say that hope you all have a relaxing weekend and able to get out and enjoy the sun while we have it.  Will be back again tomorrow, so see you then.