Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First Day of the Rest....

No, am not - as the title suggests - beginning several days of 'resting', it's just that last night I went to bed feeling very glum as I knew that today I had reached the dreaded 'eight oh'.  Felt much the same when I went to bed on the eve of my fortieth birthday, when I actually sobbed.  At least this time didn't shed a tear, but still not happy with 'ageing' what seems now to be with great rapidity.
Now am feeling that when I was  'in my seventies' (like yesterday) sounds so much younger than it did when I actually was - if you know what I mean.
Thanks Tricia for your b.day greetings.

Today it feels as though this really is now 'the first day of the rest of my life' (however long that means, and am hoping the grim reaper has forgotten to move me higher up his list of 'things to do').  I remember my childhood birthdays often being on warm sunny days where I would wander in the garden, early in the morning. Today has dawned extremely windy and very overcast, but I do see some lighter, almost blue sky hovering on the horizon, so maybe the sun will come out.  It is still early.

Have decided not to 'think numbers' but to carry on as though I am still the age my mind likes to believe it is (35 on a good day), and it has helped a little bit to get me back to at least my 50's now that Gill has sent me a copy of a Woman's Own 8-page pull-out supplement that features me and my recipes.  The pictures of food look really good, especially now I'm able to look at them with 'new eyes' (as if another cook wrote and made them).  So thought I'll repeat some of the recipes over the next few days.

First must reply to your comments...
Almost sure Anna Olsen's kitchen would be a film 'set' Ivy, or maybe her series is filmed in a commercial or professional kitchen due to the great bank of what I call 'cake' ovens (deep, shallow and very wide), also the many shelves at the side of the ovens as 'cooling racks'.  Not to mention the many large and deep drawers that hold different flours and sugars etc. 
Anna O's TV kitchen does not seem to have the normal kitchen equipment (does we ever see a hob?) as everything seems only to do with baking.  Even so, I too wish..!

Most of the TV 'kitchens' that we see today are 'sets', even though those that are supposed to be the cook's own, as - when you think of it - most kitchens don't have the enormous space needed for the cameras, sound, lighting, and film crew (who can number up to 10) 'behind the scenes'.  Those that are filmed 'at home' are usually kitchens that have been specially built for the purpose of filming, such as one that AWT had.  Would cost a fortune to install a kitchen such as these, but probably the chefs today earn enough money to be able to afford it.

When 'The Goode Kitchen' was filmed, this really was in our Leeds kitchen, but to make room we had to move out the big chest freezer into the hall (where it then stayed), our fridge and microwave were put into the living room, and the Beeb had a unit made that held a gas hob for me to stand behind (our own hob being in a corner and using that I'd have had my back to the cameras). They paid for the unit/hob, but when I asked if I could keep it (as it matched the other unit tops), they said I could, but then had to pay the Beeb for it.

At least the director and editor were able to work from the OB (outside broadcast) vans parked in the street, while the producer sat squashed in a tiny space just out of camera view.  In the hall was a man who spent most of the time chopping vegetables (as everything had to be filmed four times as we had only two (large) cameras on stands in front of me) because I needed to cook the same thing several times, the sound man also hid behind the kitchen door, as did the lighting man.  Think I wore a radio controlled mike pinned to my apron (this meant no trailing wires to fall over), but not sure, there might have been a boom mike over my head.
We also had a 'floor manager' (who received instruction from the OB vans) who did the usual count-down to filming, and then saying 'cut' when appropriate.  He used to have to sit on the floor in front of the cameras being the only space left.  Remember one day - during a very difficult bit of filming that had nearly been completed - his 'Mickey Mouse' watch suddenly 'trilled'.  He'd forgotten to switch off the alarm, so we had to do all that bit of filming again.  The director was spitting feathers, and so was I as at that time they didn't record 'on cassette tapes' (makes for easy editing), it was all done on the big, long reels like those used in cinemas.
Because of working to a fixed budget, everything had to be costed, even the reels of film, and was told - towards the end  " you'd better make sure you get this right as we have only enough film left for one take".  No pressure there, then.

Do hope the swallows know something we don't Kathryn, as still we have no sight of real spring, let alone summer, although temperatures have risen, at least that's something.  It could be worse I suppose, but also a lot better.  Still time for improvement.

Had to smile jane when you mentioned your new shift upsetting your routine. Ironing!  What's ironing?  All I'd be concerned with would be what cookery programmes I would be missing.  At least a later start to your working day means you can (hopefully) prepare your evening meal ready to cook (or reheat) before you leave for work, so why not give ironing a miss and put your feet up for a much needed relax before laying the supper table. 

When younger it always seemed as though the ironing board was always up. I ironed just about EVERYTHING.  Even B's socks.   How pleased I was to later learn that we should never iron tea-towels (pity because I used to enjoy putting away the neat piles of pressed towels in the kitchen drawer). Reason why we shouldn't iron these is because the towels will absorb a lot more moisture when the material fibres are kept 'rough' (not ironed flat) which is what is needed when drying the pots/pans/cutlery.

Can't remember giving a recipe for crumble made with melted fat Janet, other than saying that I'd used melted butter poured into the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, oats...) instead of rubbing the fat into the flour.  The reason behind this was because I'd put the butter into the microwave to soften, then left it on too long so it had melted, and so decided to pour-rather-than-rub the butter in.  It seemed to work satisfactorily.  Have read other recipes for crumbles that use melted butter (or oil), but most chefs seem to prefer rubbing in the butter just enough so that flakes of it remain visible, and these seem to help crisp up the surface as the crumble is baked.

To prevent pasta sticking together when cooking in a pan Dottiebird, it is often recommended that we add a little oil to the water, before starting to cook.  But have also heard that it makes no difference, and can see the reason why - the oil will always float on top, so won't mix in with the pasta.  Never cook pasta like rice (just enough water so that all is absorbed) for then the pasta will stick together like glue.  Best way to cook pasta is to cook it in a LOT of water, adding plenty of salt as this brings out what flavour the pasta has.  The Barefoot Contessa would add 2 - 3 TABLESPOONS of salt to water when boiling pasta, I would use 1 teaspoon (here in the UK that counts as 'a lot').  Bring the salted water to a fast boil, then pour in the pasta, giving it one stir to keep it separate, then leave it to boil until 'al dente'.  Drain well, then - if it has to stand/keep warm for a few minutes, drizzle a little olive oil over the pasta, give a shake, and the pasta won't then stick together.

Things seem to be different in the US than here in the UK Pam when it comes to solar power.  Here it is possible to get a grant (or so I understand) to help with the finance of fitting solar panels.  Even so it would be 20 or so years before the savings made have covered the cost.  We don't get charged more for electricity used from the main 'grid' whatever time of year, whether or not solar panels have been fitted. 
Have seen small solar panels on sale in the UK (usually in garden equipment magazines) these mainly sold to be fitted on shed roofs to collect enough power for about 5 or so hours of lighting the inside of the shed during the darker evenings.  Maybe this small amount of power could also be used to keep seedlings warm during the colder nights (as in the thermostatically controlled plant heating units).

Several houses are now being built that are 'eco-friendly', where heating can be removed from the ground and taken up (through pipes) into the home to keep it warm.  Also many other ways of  'recycling' heat to use again.   Have heard that it is possible to blow warm air back down into a room (hot air always rises) if ceiling fans (used for cooling air) are fitted with the blades upside down.

In the US they do seem to all have 'screen doors' fitted to houses, possible 'screen windows', mainly to allow fresh air in and keep insects out.  If the window mesh is metal, then not a lot can be done, but if it could be cloth mesh, then keeping this wet (extra extensions of cloth kept in water so it continually gets soaked up), the draughts blowing through the wet mesh would considerably reduce the temperature of the room/s within.  As mentioned before, draping mosquito netting over a bed, also wet and ends in water, would make for much more comfortably-cool sleep on a very hot night.

As ever, the mention of one thing reminds me of another.  Here in the UK few (if any) houses have the need for 'mesh' doors.  There are sort of loose 'screens', usually strips of mesh-type material that we can hang over front/back doors to allow cool air to blow in and (hopefully) keep out any flies.
Not sure why, but we don't seem to get as many flies coming into the house during the warmer weather these days.  When younger we always seemed to have quite a few of those big house-flies we called 'blue-bottles', and a lot of smaller ones. Perhaps the flies were drawn to the smell of meat as in those days raw meat was kept in 'meat safes' (boxes with mesh fronts kept in draughty places to keep the meat cool) whereas today 'fly-tempting' food is kept hidden away in fridges and freezers.

Like you Margie, temperatures here are up and down, and very variable depending on which region we live in.  Considering the UK is (relatively) a small island you would think the weather would be same overall, but it rarely is.   Well done for doing Spring cleaning when you are still recovering from your shoulder op.  I have yet to make a proper start with mine, although have done a bit.  Today, being my 'b.day' have better things to do than household chores.  Norma will be coming to do my hair later this morning, the afternoon with daughter, then we three out for an early meal this evening.  My choice of venue being an Italian restaurant in Lancaster. 

Yesterday, clearing the kitchen table (not before time) I came across a Morrison's receipt.  Just a few items on it (lemonade for B, and oranges for both of us), and noticed 'saucepan £6' also on the receipt.  This morning queried it with B.  "Oh yes" he said.  "The other day I forgot to turn out the gas under a saucepan and it boiled dry and the non-stick base 'bubbled', so had to throw it away and buy a new one.  You never noticed, did you?" 
What I must check is whether I've actually paid for the new pan myself for - like everything bought at Morrison's - the total of each checkout receipt is normally deducted by B from the balance in his 'little book' where he keeps account of the money paid out, as every so often I give him a cheque (to last several weeks and hopefully months) to pay for the occasional 'top ups' that need buying.  Not that it really matters whether he pays or I pay, 'cos I'm already feeling in a better mood today (B has just brought in a big bunch of red roses for me, he says he's also made me another cup of coffee, but left it on the kitchen table and it will probably now have gone cold.  "That's OK" I said,"just pop it into the microwave and heat it up".  "You might as well do that yourself when you go back into the kitchen" he replied.  Oh well, can't expect him to be nice all day I suppose.

Anyway, must finish blog shortly as have things to do before Norma the Hair arrives, and not even sure when as she is fitting it into her already full day of appointments.  But at least my hair will look reasonably good tonight (if I can stay out of the wind). 

One of the recipes in the 'summer section' of the Woman's Own supplement is for my 'best-ever Scones'. Never quite sure why, but this recipe does seem to work better than a standard recipe.  Maybe this is because the balance of the two raising agents is different to when used together in the normal 'baking powder'.  Or maybe it is using lard and marg. instead of butter. But for whatever reason, the recipe below does seem to be one worth using.
Best-Even Scones: makes 12
9 oz (250g) self-raising flour
half tsp. cream of tartar
half tsp. bicarbonate of soda
half tsp. salt
2 oz (50g) margarine
2 oz (50g) lard
1 egg, beaten
milk to mix
Sift the flour with the raising agents and salt, then rub in the fats. Stir in the egg with enough milk to make a soft dough.  Roll out gently on a floured board and cut out scones using a 2.5"(6.5cm) scone cutter (or whatever size shape you wish).
Place scones on a greased baking tray and bake for 10 - 12 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6.  Remove from baking tray and eat whilst still warm with butter and jam.

The recipe in the supplement suggested eating the scones with 'rose-petal jam', for which a recipe was also given, so might as well give this one too.  Roses not yet in flower, but suppose I could use those from the bouquet that my B has given me (once the flower have begun to droop of course). Goes without saying that using fresh rose petals, these should not have been sprayed against greenfly etc.

Rose-Petal Jam: makes 8 oz (225g)
"a 'top-shop' jam and something of a speciality, but easy to make if you have roses in your garden. Strictly speaking, for colour and flavour you should use deep red, heavily scented petals, but at a pinch any red or pink rose petals would do as you can add a drop of red food colouring and a dash of rose water (or rose essence) to compensate."
to make jam:
petals from 6 large red roses
8 oz (225g) granulated sugar
3 tblsp hot water
juice of 1 lemon
red food colouring and rose water (opt)
Remove white tips from petals.  Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and stir/heat until the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice with a tiny drop of red food colouring and a spoonful of rose water (if using), then stir in the rose petals.  Bring to the boil then simmer until setting point has been reached (220C, 150F). Keep stirring during this time to prevent burning. When ready, pot into warmed, sterilised jars, and seal. 

Final recipe today is another from the 'summer pages' of the above mentioned supplement. One I particularly enjoy both making and eating.  Making a 'jellied salad' is fairly new to the UK but believe has been around for decades in the US.  Lovely to eat during hot weather, and makes a good addition to a buffet table at any time of the year.
Not quite a savoury, and not quite a dessert, this salad is perfect, not just for summer meals,  but to include with other buffet dishes whatever time of the year.
Salad Mousse: serves 6
1 packet lime jelly
5 fl oz (150ml) boiling water
8 fl oz (250ml) ginger ale, chilled
2 tblsp mayonnaise
4 oz (100g) cottage cheese
1 x 178g can (7 oz) pear halves, drained/chopped
2 oz (50g) celery, finely chopped
2 tblsp walnuts, chopped
celery leaves and extra walnuts for garnish
Dissolve the jelly in the water, cool, then stir in the ginger ale.  Leave to stand for 15 minutes, then place the jelly, mayo and cottage cheese in a blender and whizz until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and chill until beginning to thicken (but not quite set).  Fold the pears, celery and walnuts into the jelly 'mousse', then pour into a wetted ring mould.  Chill for at least 3 hours until firmly set, then turn out and fill centre with tender young celery leaves, and halved (or roughly chopped) walnuts.

That's it for today.  Most clouds have now been blown away and we have blue sky and sunshine again.  All we need is for the wind to drop.  Hope you all enjoy your day as much as I intend enjoying mine.  More about the Goode life again tomorrow.  See you then.