Monday, April 29, 2013


Having realised there is not enough room in the freezers to store bulk purchases of meat, decided against going to Barton Grange today.  So here am I back with you.  Not that I'll be staying long as I've talked myself into sorting out as much kitchen clutter as I can, packing what is rarely used in one wicker picnic basket (that will fit under a shelf in the conservatory), and also writing a list of what is in the basket (and any where else I put things for 'storage') so that I can find them easily. 
Yesterday hunted for at least 30 minutes to try and find my little plastic mould/cutter that would form pasties when covered with pastry and filling (then folded over to seal).  Could I find them? NO!  Must have sent them to the charity shop when we moved as thought I'd never need them again.  Silly me.

Anyway, was able to make over 20 small 'pasties' (same filling as the samosas) using extremely thinly rolled puff pastry, then cutting this with my largest scone cutter.  Filled and folded over, the edges sealed by pressing in a fork, they were quick and easy to do and looked very good.  Who needs a plastic mould I told myself. 
Trouble is, these half-moon 'samosas' have also taken up room in the freezer, so today will be doing yet another 'stock-take' of my frozen foods, and repacking to gain more space.   I've already taken out three packs of minced meat.  Am hoping it is minced lamb but it could be beef.  My fault for not marking the bag.  If I find a bag of minced lamb in the freezer, then I know this will be beef.  The idea is to use this mince to make either spicy beef meatballs (to serve in a curry sauce) or lamb koftas (ditto), but first need to know which meat it is before I use the right spices for flavouring.

This morning have already managed to clear a shelf in the conservatory where I'll now put some of my larger 'appliances' that are not often used (ice-cream maker etc).  This will then give me more shelf-space in the kitchen for pots/pans and whatever that ARE used frequently. 
However messy I am around the rest of our home, the kitchen is one place that I need to be really well organised, and why I miss my Leeds kitchen where everything had a place, and so I could find what I needed in the blink of an eye.  Here I'm lucky if I know where most things are.

I've already washed a load of laundry, some of that is now out to dry, the rest on the airer once I've finished this.  Then must begin my 'stock-taking' that will include the provisions in the larder (if sorting one lot of food, might as well do it all).  That's my day taken care of.

Just time for me to reply to comments, and quite a few so thank you all for those.
Myself used to also get frustrated buttercup, when people just wouldn't seem to understand that to save money on food, there has to be a different mindset.  Many folk just don't want to give up their former 'good life', and can't seem to realise that if they put a bit more thought into they way they shop, and so a bit (or a lot) more home-cooking, they can still eat very well (often better) and spend less than they used to.

Politicians have sometimes been asked to spend a week living on the breadline just to see how they can cope, but have yet to hear of any that have done this.  There was a series some time back where a few politicians went to live with the less well-off, and they did realise it was harder work than they were used to, but it didn't really get down to real hardship.

For a year or two I used to teach at night school, subject obviously cost-cutting cookery, and it was there I found a different approach to shopping really worked.  The (adult) students returned the following week thrilled to bits about how much more they had been able to buy with their money.
How this worked was because of a challenge I set them.  This I call my 'rule of four', the advantage being that each person could buy what they wished (not what I suggested), but at the same time being far more aware of what was on sale and for what price.

If any reader would like to try this with their next shop, then please write back and let us know if it works for them.
All we have to do is write out our shopping list, dividing it into four sections.  One for meat/fish to be purchased, the next for dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs...), third for fruit/vegetables, and the last category is for 'groceries' (the dry goods).
Then divide the food budget into four, each quarter to go on one of the above categories.  For example, if we have £40 to spend, then we cannot spend more than £10 on meat/fish, or on dairy, or on fruit/veg etc.  The aim is to spend less, quite a lot less in some instances (we are unlikely to spend £10 on dairy, and probably not on fruit/veg either.  Any surplus money could go towards the 'groceries' (these always being purchased after the above have been), but not necessarily.

It is surprising how much meat/fish can be bought for £10 - once we begin to check both prices and what is on offer.  Myself, quite recently, bought a huge pack of chicken drumsticks and thighs for just £2.50, and not every main meal during the week has to contain meat.  Better to alternate with vegetarian.   A tray of 15 eggs for £1.34 (9p each) won't dent the budget too much, but certaibly provide plenty of protein.

My students, all who tried the above, had discovered that they were able to buy MORE than expected within their mini-budgets, and thoroughly enjoyed their 'hunter-gathering'.  All discovered also that they didn't need to spend the full amount of money they had set themselves,  each then ending up with 'savings', whereas when previously 'shopping for the week' they had almost always overspent.

To make cost-cutting enjoyable, we have to make it fun to do. This is something I've always tried to make happen, otherwise we just wouldn't want to continue.   Perhaps I'm a bit small-minded, but have to say even finding ways to make that 25p increase in pension 'work for me', I'm finding it to be a fun thing to do.

Had to smile Janet when I read your comment, I've got 'The Pauper's Cookbook' right at the side of me as I write.  There are some very good recipes and suggestions in the book, although some of them would be expensive by today's standards due to ingredients used.  What was cheap then is not so now.

Have not come across 'A Girl Called Jack', and thanks also to Les for the website details.  I will try to find time to take a look.  I've also been sent details of a radio prog where the Morecambe Foodbank was discussed in length, still have to log onto that.  Don't know why I don't read other blogs/links, probably because the time I spend writing my blog (often up to five hours at a time - yes, it can sometimes take that long) is about as long as I wish to spend in front of the comp.  Unlike younger folk who seem to use their comps continually reading Facebook, Twitter, playing computer games...) I have no interest in any of these 'extras'.  Rarely use the Internet for fact finding.  Perhaps I feel I don't need to learn anything 'new', what I already know (from books) is enough to get me through the rest of my life.

Glad you feel Margie, that the TV progs in America are noisier than most.  Are they also in Canada? 
A welcome to grammyscraps who also feels much the same about yelling cooks, and points out that even here in the UK we have one very noisy one - Gordon Ramsay!  But only when he has people to shout out, and then his programmes are less about learning how to cook, but how kitchen are 'noisily' run.  Most professional chefs tend to shout a lot at their staff, mainly to make sure they are being listened to, but Gordon with the 'f' word alternating with every other, had just about written himself off our screens, and probably why now many of his programmes are American based where they seem to like his noisy approach (not sure whether he is allowed to swear in the US).
When Gordon Ramsay has done a programme showing viewers how to cook, he is on his own and as quiet as any other UK cook, and these have taught me a lot.  It is then I quite like him.  His other programmes I've stopped watching (as most other UK viewers). 

Do feel that in the US noise HAS to become part of many programmes.  There was one, not so long ago, shown on the Food Network in the 'Cup-cake Wars' series, but this time the competitors were British.  Well, only two flew over from Britain, the other two were originally British but who had moved to America some many years before (and it sadly showed).
As the competitors made their cup-cakes and things went wrong, the 'true' Brits would just shake their head and start again, and the presenter went up to them and told them to make 'more noise about it, as that's what the viewers want'.  The two ladies who were originally from Britain made a better job of the shrieks and squeals, and I could feel the embarrassment of the other two who felt it was all too over the top and although they tried, they never got much further than a quiet 'Oh, dear, look what's happened'.

During most (maybe all) the episodes from the 'Great British Bake-off' series, there have been major mishaps.  But do we hear the competitors do more than quietly mutter under their breath? Of course not, they just pick up the pieces then start all over again.  Heaven help what the noise would be like if this series was set in America.  Enough to put me off cooking altogether.

You mentioned hopefully finding time to start my blog from the beginning grannyscraps, and although there are earlier recipes, because blogger restricts my (monthly) space, I've had to remove most of the 'chat' from each of these so at least the recipes can return.  It's been over a year since I did the editing, so it could be that since then only a few blogs each month are to be seen.  These have been 'saved', but will only reappear if I edit out a lot of the 'surplus' writing.  Will try to find time to do this.

Thanks Kate for your comment re additives and preservatives possibly the cause of allergies (facial swelling, itching etc).  Have myself believed this could be the cause of mine, but then even when eating nothing but home-prepared food (even bread, or for that matter leaving out all carbos for a month), it still happens, and always with regularity.
The other day read how someone had had similar problems because of the medication she had been  prescribed, so it just might be the 'cocktail' of pills I have to take each day that could have started my immune system back-firing, as the allergy only began a very few weeks after I'd been prescribed all these pills (some six years ago now).  Am hoping, when I see my doctor next week, that he'll reduce some of my pills to see if there is any effect.  It should take only a couple of months to find out if one or more are the cause of the problem.

With a massive amount of 'work' waiting for me to do, will wend my way back into the kitchen and start getting on with it.  At times like this it feels as though I'm running a catering establishment rather than a home kitchen.  But perhaps the 'professional' approach to cooking is the best way to go, at least we then become more careful of how we spend our money (as happens in any business). 
Maybe if we stop thinking of ourselves as 'amateur' cooks (I've known professionally taught cooks far worse than any of us), and begin to believe in ourselves, then we will begin to approach all aspects of the 'culinaries' (shopping, storing, budgeting, costing) more efficiently.  When do it (not as often as I should) it certainly works for me. 

The weather is clearing up a bit with some blue sky showing, but still very breezy and not very warm.  Haven't time to go and sit out in the sun, so am quite pleased we are not having the end-of-April heatwave that we have been having the last six or so years (only last year it was at the end of March).  Believe me, when it does turn hot and sunny, I'll be sitting in the garden ALL day.

Will be back again with you tomorrow, so hope you can join me.  See you then.