Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recipes from the Past

After publishing my blog yesterday, thought back to my past and wondered why I managed my housework so much better in those days, especially as I still hated to do any (didn't even enjoy cooking).  Suddenly remembered that I'd discovered the perfect way to give a bit of pleasure to what I was doing, and this was by 'role-playing'.  If I donned my butcher's apron, I ended up being a much better cook.  If I put wore a wrap-around apron (like Hilda Ogden - for those who remember her in Coronation Street) and pretended I was her, then I was a better cleaner.  But for the latter, it went one step further.   In Leeds I used to go out of the front door as 'me', then walk round to and through the back door as 'Hilda'.  Believe me, only then could I see what a state the house was in (because I was looking at it through 'another's' eyes, and not mine), and rolling up my virtual sleeves, soon set about making the house sparkle from top to bottom in what seemed like a very short time.
Once the job was complete, I'd leave by the back door and return through the front and sort of 'meet myself' as I entered the house.  The 'real me' would then pick up a £1 note (left for the purpose) in my right hand, and would hand it to the left hand (Hilda's hand) as 'payment for job well done'.  That £1 was MINE, and to be spent in any which way I chose.   At least felt I'd really earned it.   Perhaps I should start paying myself again!

So yesterday decided it was time that  'Hilda' took over again, this leading to an amazing lot of cleaning and tidying done (unfortunately forgot to pay H as 'she' left), this means today I have time to concentrate on other things.  Tomorrow I probably won't have time to write much (if at all) as I have two appointments (away from home) during the morning.  Both to do with our local Foodbank.  But if not tomorrow I will be back on Saturday.  Worth logging on anyway just in case I've managed to get up early and have an hour to spare.

Yesterday slow- cooked four pork mini-shanks (from DR), but not in my slow-cooker, this time in t the oven (set at 150C).  Other than putting them in a small roasting tin, then pouring over a jar of reggae, reggae sauce, covering the tin tightly with foil, all I had to do was leave them to cook.  After 4 hours the meat was almost dropping off the bones, so reduced the temp. down to 60 and left them in the oven until ready to serve (with string beans, carrots, and the last of the gnocchi).  B said the meat was SO tender (this is how he likes it and why I let it cook for longer), although the sauce was a bit spicy.  Anyway he managed to eat two pork shanks, the remaining two have been cooled in the fridge - with a little of the sauce - and will be frozen today.

The gnocchi yesterday (and previously) were fried in a little sunflower oil Granny G.  But beef dripping, butter, or bacon fat could be used, each giving a slightly different flavour to the gnocchi I suppose.  Am sure that anyone who doesn't care for gnocchi served the traditional way (boiled then served like pasta, with a sauce) would enjoy these when fried.   They take little time to crisp up in the hot oil, just shake the pan or toss the gnocchi, or - as I do - turn each over once they are golden on one side, so they crisp up evenly.

It's no trouble Tess, to provide recipes for all readers.  Far better to have those that are useful than me just filling the page with suggestions that most of you don't need.  So all requests welcome.

Think it was only a few weeks ago Pam, that I gave a recipe for 'faggots', and it could be on one of the early pages of each month that blogger usually delete. However, have managed to find my 'rough' jottings for the recipe in my notebook.  Seems simple enough to understand even with my  'editing'  (most of the time I know what should be done without having to spell it out in full, so when I write my 'favourites' down, these are always in 'short form').
Here is how the recipe appears in my notebook:
mince together 500g belly pork, 250g pigs liver, 250g breast of lamb, and 1 onion with some chopped sage.  Form into balls and wrap in bacon.  Bake for 1 hour at 180C.

If only all recipes could be written as simply as that.  In fact many can, but then perhaps only the more experienced cooks could read between the lines and do what is necessary without it written down.

With my above 'version', the amounts of the different meats can be varied, and just because together they weigh 1kg (2.2lbs) is neither here nor there. With a recipe like this we make as little or as much as we need, the weights are just for 'balance'.  The less meat used the fewer faggots will be made, and lambs (or ox) liver could be used instead of pigs liver..  Strictly speaking the faggots should be wrapped in 'caul', this is a lacy 'fat' that just holds the meats together, but rashers of streaky bacon could be used, preferably slashed lengthways and stretched out to form a sort of 'mesh' (then a little bacon goes a lot further).  The equiv. temp. for 180C is 350F,  gas 4. 

Yesterday came across a recipe widely used in World War One (and possibly in World War II as well).  Every household would make the cake slightly differently according to whatever was available - instead of mixed dried fruit, grated carrot, apple, or home-dried blackcurrants were used. The fat - only included on special occasions - was invariably dripping.
The recipe for this, given today, admittedly now uses ingredients that we are fortunate enough to almost always have in our larders, but this doesn't mean we can't substitute other fruits as our great-grandparents did a hundred years ago.
"Without it Cake":  makes 12 slices
5 oz (150g) sugar
4 oz (100g) dried mixed fruit (see above)
5 fl oz (150ml) water
few drop vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarb. of soda
2 oz (50g) fat (marg. or lard)
8 oz (225g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) self-raising flour
Put the sugar, fruit, water and vanilla into a pan.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes or until the fruit has softened.  Leave until cold, then stir in the bicarb.
Meanwhile, sift the flours together and rub in the fat.  Make a well in the centre, pour in the fruit mixture, and mix well together, then put the cake mixture into a greased and lined 1lb loaf tin, and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 1 - 1 1/4 hours.  Leave in tin to get cold before turning out.
Serve sliced, spreading with butter if you wish.  If left to get stale, this is also good toasted and buttered.
To freeze: wrap, seal and label.  Use within three months. Thaw at room temperature for 3 hours, or overnight in the fridge.  Serve as above.

Have to spend some time today trying to put together more recipes to take to the Foodbank, they are hoping to put them all together to make a cook-book to give out to their 'customers'.  The sooner I can get enough recipes the sooner it will be printed.   So the next few weeks could be a busy time for me.  But will still be writing my blog.
A reminder that tomorrow I may need to take the day off from 'blogging', but as said above, much depends upon the time I get up, or whether I have anything useful to write about.  But will certainly be back the following day (Saturday), so 'see you when I see you'.  TTFN.