Monday, April 08, 2013

Moving On...

Allowed myself a bit of a lie-in this morning as I'd spent most of yesterday morning AND afternoon finishing off and printing out the recipes for the Foodbank.  As ever, feel there are some others that should have been included, but as they want just a few (like 15) to start with, and then adding more later, think already there is more than enough.

What has been interesting (for me) is to realise that many of the 'client's at the Foodbank have rarely cooked anything (normally relying on take-aways or 'ready-meals' to reheat).  This means that they probably don't even have kitchen scales, so the recipes have been worked around using a standard size mug - holding approx half-a- pint/300ml (surely everyone has one of these), a teaspoon, a knife and a fork to use as measures/utensils.   Then suggesting things like " 1 mug filled with dried pasta then cooked (approx 75g) makes enough for one person ".  "One mug (aka measure) filled with dried rice (225g) then cooked, makes enough for two people". Hopefully this will make the recipes and instructions easier to follow.

I've also found that 'cuppa soups' are incredibly useful,  as adding one dry tomato 'cuppa soup mix' to a can of tomato soup, then brings it to the boil, this thickens it enough to make it a good alternative to a jar of tomato 'pasta' sauce.  And, by mixing about a quarter of the recommended amount of water to a tomato cuppa soup, after, bringing to the boil then left to cool, this can be used like tomato 'ketchup'. 

Today really must go to the medical centre to book my next appointments, due in early May, but much depends on when the diabetic nurse has a free 'slot', then sort the appointment for the 'blood test' to be taken a week earlier.  Could be it will be the end of May before I get to see both nurses.  Not that I mind, it gives me more time to lose the weight I keep piling back on.   Pretty sure it won't be less than at my last weigh-in (having gained back a stone!!!), but at least hope to be much the same as then I won't feel quite bad.  Having said that, the last time I was weighed I was the same weight as the time before, so I've had almost a year to lose weight and all I have done is gained some, lost it, gained more, lost some, gained more....!
Think this week I'll try to stick to a high protein diet and stop eating the carbos that suddenly I've got addicted to again (wave a carbo in front of me and immediately it is in my mouth followed by another and another).

We give a warm welcome to Dottiebird who lives in a historical part of the UK, just outside York. How I envy her, having spent many happy times wandering around and inside York city walls. Apart from the quaint streets and architecture, York has two wonderful museums side by side, and these really worth a visit, plus the amazing 'Jorvick' (or is it Jorvic?), the full-size representation of a Viking village built over the archaeological remains (with sound effects and smells).  And that's only a start of the delights York has to offer.

Good to have a comment from you Christopher, and happy to know that our day-to-day 'Goode' life make reasonably interesting reading. I like to think there is more to my life than just cooking (eating and watching TV), but usually there isn't so have to delve back into my past to find something worth writing about (at least for the moment, who knows what highs and lows this year will bring).

Quite honestly Pam, I don't think that moving to the US gave more reason for your marriage to dissolve, as over here it seems that this is now the norm as very few couples now, even after a marriage of 25 years, seem to want to stay together.  It's only us 'old folk' (60 years and over) who seem to stay the course, perhaps because in their younger days people rarely did get divorced, they just gritted their teeth and got on with it. 
But am very pleased to hear that you now have a new husband and are living happily together, especially as American men seem to put their womenfolk more on a pedestal than do our Brits, where here 'the wife' comes below 'sport' and 'work' in most men's minds ('sex' often comes top of the list but that's not at all the same as marriage in a man's mind).   Not so long ago, men seemed to be brought up (even by their mothers) to believe that wives were there just to feed and water their husbands, keep the house clean, and bear their children.  'Lie back and think of England' when sex reared its ugly head. 

Maybe the younger generation today are more likely to be equal, but then this could probably be the cause of so many today's early marriage break-ups as  just about every married couple I have known (old as well as young as this can include their grown-up married children), have all split with their partners.  Seems that marriage in the 21st century now seems to have to start with a very expensive wedding, followed by an even more expensive honeymoon (usually all paid for on credi, then a year of married bliss before the rot sets in (the worry of having to pay back all that money and more??)
and separation/divorce follows.  After that, a series of 'partners' or maybe more new husbands.... 

Even when the marriage lasts a bit longer, once children come along, this doesn't seem to stop the break-up.   It does seem that today everyone seems self-obsessed, and their needs come first, with the reposibility that marriage and children bring cause a major disruption in the lives 'they wish to live'.  Not a thought seems to be given as to whether the children will be heartbroken by a parent leaving, for if there was, no parent would put them through the misery.  Rather they be unhappy with their lives than 'let little children suffer'.  Once the children have got past school age, then they would be more likely to cope with a break-up.  I suppose.

But then, being 'old school' my view are different to even those of my children, at least one of them thinks I 'live on a different planet'.  Does that make my beliefs wrong?  At least, nowadays, with so many marriages ending up as 'one parent', most school children have friends in the same boat, so possibly this is now what they come to expect, rather than depend on both parents staying together.  A very sad sign of our times.  I still don't feel it is right.  For that matter I feel that (whenever possible, even if it means tightening belts) mothers should stay at home and rear their children to at least school age, rather than go out to work and spend most (and often more) than money earned to pay for creche fees and child minders.

Have just heard that I'll be meeting up with two ladies to discuss the final layout of the Foodbank booklet this coming Wednesday, so will need to make sure that is finally sorted to my (then 'our') satisfaction.  It gives me a couple of days to alter the original copy if I feel it needs a tweak or two. I always do keep 'tweaking' what I have written, even today's blog will have quite a bit of editing before it gets published.  This can sometimes add a further 15 minutes before the blog/s publication.

Yesterday B decided he'd like to cook himself an other Chinese Stir-Fry, so we chose the sachet of 'Blue Dragon' sauce that he'd like to use, then we collected the various vegetables - B chose mushrooms, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, sugar snap peas, onions, and some root ginger.  I also put a pack of baby sweetcorn for him to open, but he decided not to use these in the end.
With the veggies B chose to cook chicken (my last pack of chicken 'fillets' that I'd removed from the back of a few chicken breasts then froze were perfect for this dish)... then he spent a contented few minutes (more like half an hour!) preparing the food ready for the wok.  Whereas I would have cut everything into the same size strips, B chopped all the food into tiny 'bits', but I said nothing, after all, he was the one eating the meal. 
Anyway, after stir-frying (my instructions were: fry the chicken first, then the veg, add the chicken back to the pan last with the sauce, cook the noodles whilst the stir-fry was cooking in the sauce for 3 minutes), seems that all went well and B brought in the meal to show me, handing me a fork 'to taste'.  It really did taste good, and even though the veggies were tiny, they gave enough colour for the meal to look really appetising. 

As I bought B a good assortment of stir-fry sauces, and we have more noodles and also 2-minute microwave 'Chinese rice', plus a wide variety of veggies to 'play with', not to mention strips of fillet steak, pork, chicken, and prawns in the freezer, looks like B will be able to make his own supper, at least once (hopefully twice) a week for the next couple of months.  Strangely, it seems his greatest pleasure is now the preparation of the veggies.  He uses the very sharp knife that I bought for him (but also use myself - it has a built in 'sharpener' in its 'holder'), and also a pack of blue Elastoplast on the table ready to use if/when he cuts himself (so far not done that). 

It's a few months ago that B brought in some bagels (on offer, so he thought worth buying). Have to say I'm not that fond of bagels, but - after freezing then defrosting - the seeded bagels seemed softer than the plain ones.  As this type of bread is more solid than the 'baps' we tend to use, the bagels can make a good base for a 'toast snack' (or even light lunch or supper), and here is a recipe that works well.  If you haven't bagels, then use English muffins, or split 'baps' (sometimes called 'barmcakes' - every county/region has it's own name for these bread 'buns').

The veggies in this recipe are cooked on a griddle (ridged pan used on the hob) but if we have no griddle, just stir-fry the veggies and toast the bagel under the grill.  Or for that matter, grill the veggies, as well as the toast (side by side?) before assembling.
As there are a wide variety of vegetables that will take to griddling/grilling, then we could use others (that we have) instead of those listed (that we may not have).
Griddled Vegetables on Bagels: serves 4
4 tblsp olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
2 courgettes, cut diagonally into thin strips
4 onion or seeded bagels, split
2 tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
rocket leaves or watercress
Pre-heat a dry griddle pan, and then brush the grids with a little of the oil.  Lay some of the peppers and courgettes onto the grids and cook for 4 - 5 minutes, turning, until attractively charred.  Remove to a plate and keep warm whilst griddling the remaining veg.   Once this has been done, toast the bagels on the griddle, cut side down, for one minute, until golden.
Meanwhile, make a dressing by whisking together the remaining oil with the vinegar, sugar and seasoning to taste.
Place the bagels on individual plates, toasted side facing up, and cover with the char-grilled vegetables and a handful of chosen salad leaves.  Drizzing the dressing over, and serve immediately.

Final recipe today is one that makes use of the winter vegetables that are still around, that together make a warm salad, perfect for these still chilly days.  Instead of walnut oil, add the walnuts (lightly crushed) to 4 tblsp olive oil.  Iceberg lettuce could be used instead of Little Gem, a different mustard, a different vinegar (suggest red wine vinegar). 
Changing ingredients in a recipe is a bit like the 'best before date' on cans/packets where these mean "for best flavour eat 'before', but still worth eating 'after'" - and so it is with a type of meal such as the one that follows... for the best flavour use ingredients listed, but it will still taste good if something similar has been substituted.
Warm Red Cabbage Salad: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 red onion, sliced
half a red cabbage, cored and shredded
1 red apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 carrot, grated
2 tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soft brown sugar
4 tblsp walnut oil (see above)
salt and pepper
2 Little Gem lettuce, leaves separated
2 oz (50g) walnut pieces (see above)
flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (opt)
Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the cabbage and fry this for a further 2 - 3 minutes.  Remove pan from the heat and stir in the apple and carrot.
Set aside, then begin making the dressing by putting the vinegar, sugar, mustard and walnut oil, and whisk together, adding seasoning to taste. 
Arrange the lettuce leaves on individual plates, then spoon the warm cabbage mixture on top. Sprinkle over the walnut pieces (removed from oil if using them as flavouring) and drizzle over the dressing.  Garnish with flat-leaf parsley (if using). 

That's me for today.  Have to get myself back on track re my own 'domestic' cooking, and also begin to plan ahead for the 'Indian Feast' held in May at the Sailing Club.  The more that can be made ahead of time (to be frozen) the easier it will be for me on the day.

And still the sun shines, warming up the rooms enough so we don't need the heating on during the day any more, let us hope we can begin to do without it all together.   Still haven't found time to step out into the garden and see what other flowers are in bloom, but hopefully will be able to do this later this afternoon.  For once it is rather nice to have a bit more time on my hands, this making me sound a bit hypocrital as I'm so often moaning about 'having nothing to do'.  My ideal life is a few days of 'head down and work hard', alternating with a few days of lazing around.  A bit like a working week I suppose, but with me - a bit less work now I'm older, and a lot more feet up and watching TV.

Saw the third (and last) of the new series of 'Foyle's War' last night, the writer is uncertain as to whether he will write more.  Let us hope he does.   Honeysuckle Week's sister was in yesterday's programme, she played the part of the nurse who was married to the wounded soldier, and so very like a much younger Honeysuckle, both in voice and looks.  
Also watched 'The King's Speech', this was very good.  Not that anyone might be interested, but the little girl who played the part of Princess Margaret, is the same child actress who plays the young daughter in 'Outnumbered' (a favourite sit-com of mine), and she is the real-life daughter of the man who played the Spanish (?) bar-man in the series 'Hotel Babylon'.

Would love to ramble on, but things to do....  Will be back blogging again tomorrow, so hope very much you will all be able to join me again tomorrow.  See you then?  Do hope so.