Monday, April 01, 2013

Catching Up

Short blog today as am still trying to catch up with the lost hour (as BST has now begun), and despite intending to have a fairly relaxing weekend, it seems I've done nothing but work - some spring cleaning more experimental cooking, more 'domestic' cooking, sorting out the kitchen, books, etc, and making a final choice of recipes for the Foodbank booklet (still to be written up - so that has to take precedence this week). 

Being able to start as soon as my 'working day' begins, really has made a difference.  I begin working through a list written out the day before, and manage to get through most of it.  Had I included 'writing my blog', only about a third would have been done.   So, have decided - at least this week - to keep my blog really short, so that I have most of the morning to carry on cleaning and cooking, and hope that by next week, most of what needs doing, will have then been done and I can carry on 'chatting' (at length) again.

So today is just replying to comments, and maybe a little bit extra.
Am not that familiar with Leamington Spa other than the small area we lived Mandy, this within walking distance of the main road leading through the town down to the Pump Rooms.  Am sure, since living there, Leamington - like Coventry and most other towns - will have expanded with estate after estate being built on the outskirts.  One of the roads that led into Leamington (not the one where we eventually lived) had a centre for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Does anyone remember the years (after the war) when we were all asked to save kitchen foil (containers and especially milk bottle tops), and collections of these sent somewhere to raise funds for the above Guide Dogs? 

Hadn't heard that fructose is any different than ordinary sugar when it comes to sweeteners that can be used (or not used) when diabetic Eileen.  Quite often a sugar substitute 'powder' can be used in place of sugar (such as Canderel).  Not sure if this would work in baking, am sure it would with some.   Do remember the only 'sweet' biscuits I was 'allowed' (when in hospital and first discovered I was diabetic) were those 'Rich Tea Biscuits',  nothing 'rich' about them, but better than none I suppose.

Thanks to Jane, Christopher, and Ciao for writing.  Hope all readers have had a good Easter, the weather has (at least here in Morecambe) been really pleasant, lots of blue sky and sun (although today is overcast), and as B was out with the sailing club most of yesterday, he said there were lots of people on the sea-front.  The 'tourist season' starts at Easter, and goes on until the end of October I believe, so fingers crossed we get enough good weather for folk to start coming back and enjoying our lovely little town.  Not that there is much now to entice them.  The fun-fair has been taken down, the pier got washed away and was never replaced, and many shops have closed down due to rising rent and rates and not enough customers due to the recession.  All that seems to be open along the front are the pubs, and many different little 'eateries', some amusement arcades. plus a few other retailers that seem to open only during the tourist season, and not always during weekdays.

Did manage to grab an hour yesterday to watch the start of one of my favourite films:  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  Have seen it many times, but always enjoy the dancing, and especially the singing (and personality) of Howard Keel.  He is another man who goes on my 'best men ever' list, a very close second (at the moment) to Paul Hollywood, who's repeat of his 'flatbread' programme I also watched.  B returned home in time to watch the Boat Race, so I missed the second part of Seven Brides....and returned to the kitchen to do more work.

B's supper yesterday was easy, cold meats (ham, corned beef, sausages...) with hardboiled eggs, salad (lettuce, baby spinach, beetroot, tomato), and a char-grilled cheese 'quesadilla' (grated cheese sandwiched between two small flour tortillas, grilled on my ridged griddle pan, then cut into four).  When the tortilla 'sandwich' was placed in the pan, I sat a foil-wrapped house brick on top to weigh it down (saw this idea on 'Nigella'), and this helped the cheese to melt more rapidly.  With the griddle making lovely 'burnt' marks across each side (turning it once), cut into wedges, it turned out really well.

Just one other thing.  I decided to make one large trifle for B to last him the weekend.  Made a pint of custard (using custard powder) but, when cooled, this turned out very thick,, so - after whipping double cream to put on top of the trifle, whipped some of this into the custard to 'lighten' it.  Worked well, and as I have plenty, some put on the trifle, with the 'proper' cream on top of that, and the remainder I'll use to fill some eclairs that I intend making today, and maybe also some 'vanilla slices' with some puff pastry as the custard-cream mixture is now what could be called 'creme patisserie' and used for filling above cakes. 
Suppose, if I freeze the container for the ice-cream maker, the custard-cream mix, plus some flavouring or pureed fruit, could be churned into ice-cream.  Maybe, if I make up one of those 10p 'value' strawberry whip mixes (Tesco's), and fold that in, it could end up as a strawberry flavoured ice-cream.  

Decided to have a go at seeing what would happen if I put a lot of dried milk powder into a small bowl, and then added a very little cold water, a bit at a time, blending it in, and beating it furiously - with the teaspoon - to get rid of any little granular bits, my aim to make 'mock cream'.  Surprisingly, it worked.  Ended up very much like thick whipped cream, with the taste similar to evaporated milk. Added a little caster sugar (icing sugar would have been better) to sweeten it slightly, but with or without the sugar the idea is worth including in the recipe booklet.  Instead of using just cold water to mix, a very concentrated coffee (made with instant coffee and boiling water, then cooled) could be used to mix, and this would turn it into a 'coffee creme'.  
Having already cooked (on the hob) some long-grain rice with milk and sugar, to make a 'rice pudding' (but short-grain rice would have been better), decided to stir the above 'mock cream' into this to make it 'extra creamy' and the effect was magical.  Tasted 100 times better than canned 'creamed rice'.  So another useful tip.

Not expecting to write anything much today, seem to have managed to offer a few new suggestions, so can now trot off back into the kitchen and carry on with my culinary work, and do the hoovering whilst B is out at the gym this afternoon.  Then tomorrow hope to get my head down and begin writing up the recipes - that is, once I've had my morning chat with you.  Hope you can join me.  If so - see you then.