Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taking Myself in Hand

One of my best ideas yet was to spend yesterday role-playing 'teacher' and talking my way through everything that needed to be done.  It actually worked!  By the end of the afternoon felt as though I'd moved a few steps up the 'professional' ladder, and might even been able to hold my own against other amateur 'chefs'. 

The day itself was interesting in that many different things seemed to needed to be done, this sometimes leading to 'multi-tasking', but as I had a notebook in my apron pocket and a pen clipped onto apron bib, then was able to jot down reminders of what to do, both when - and where.

My 'kitchen work' began with me seeing what was lying around.  Half an apple and blackberry crumble that B was working through (large enough for four portions), so divided the remained and half and froze these as having the same pud four days in a row is not really what anyone would wish for (unless of course it was ice-cream!).  Decided to make a couple of individual trifles for B using a packet jelly, some frozen raspberries, and then made up a pint of custard (using Bird's custard powder).  When the custard was cold, used half to top the trifles, leaving B to add cream on top when he was ready to eat.   The remaining custard will today be made into ice-cream with the help of more cream and fruit puree.  
To this end put the inner container of the ice-cream machine into the freezer as it needed 24 hours freezing before the ice-cream can be made. 

Around lunch time, the Tesco groceries were delivered.  I was due to order anyway, and had chosen the right week as a lot of their Indian 'things' were reduced this week, so took advantage of several as these were perfect for the Indian feast to be made/served next month.

As well as the above, I'd order the usual 'basics': milk, eggs, salads, carrots, onions... plus some baking potatoes, and a bag of 'Value Chicken Portions'.  Have to say both seemed really good value. There were 13 large potatoes in the 2kg bag, and for a normal family each would have served 2.  Basing the costs on this, each potato worked out at 17p each (or 8.5p per portion).  Interesting only if comparing the cost against another carbohydrate such as rice or pasta.   Mind you, a loaf of sliced bread (£1.50p) would work out much the same for just one slice.  Myself bought bread yesterday as reduced to £1.00, but even then, using 2 slices of bread (these then being 5p each), depending upon the chosen sandwich filling, a whole potato would work our cheaper than one sarnie, and be far more satisfying.

You'll have to excuse me for occasionally wearing my  'cost-accountant's' hat, as it continually surprises me how, when working out the cost of a food/ingredient to the smallest amount normally used, this makes me very aware of how cheap some foods are, and how easy it is to make a meal using just these.   The Hairy Bikers yesterday gave a good example when they demonstrated the traditional way of making 'broth' from mainly vegetables (and a little meat).

Returning to my grocery delivery.  As the frozen chicken portions were in a large bag, this as it stood too large to fit in my freezer drawer/shelf, opened the bag to wrap the portions in smaller bags so they would fit into the 'gaps'.  The weight of the 'Value' pack was 2.5kg, and cost £3.50p.  This was around about the price of the cheapest whole chicken on sale.  Was then very pleased to discover the bag contained 9 chicken drumsticks and 8 chicken thighs.  For one thing, these joints have a much better flavour than chicken breast, and considering how many meals could be made from these (they weren't tiny), far better value than buying a fresh (or even frozen) whole bird.

Another purchase was a gammon.  My Beloved is very fond of home-cooked ham, and we'd used up what we already had, so decided it was worth cooking another.   So yesterday evening, put the ham on to boil, then left it in the pan overnight, covered with its cooking liquid, to get quite cold.  This morning I drained it well, then wrapped it in foil and it is now resting in the fridge where tomorrow it will be sliced (on my 'leccy' slicer), giving me plenty of slices that should last several weeks (more than half the slices will be frozen).

Tesco have improved their deliveries.  At the moment the delivery charge is cheaper than it used to be (charges can vary according to the day and time, but my day/time is always the same), and yesterday the delivery man pointed out that the frozen foods are now packed in blue carrier bags, the chilled foods in green, and the rest (stores) in the ordinary white bags.  This I found so helpful, for with a number of bags on the floor waiting to be put away, I previously had to find out those that held the frozen foods/chilled foods, yesterday no need to hunt, I could see exactly where they were.

Was able to put all my stores away, sort out a bit more freezer space, freeze some sausages that I'd bought, and also prepare B's favourite supper: lamb's liver, bacon, cabbage and potatoes.  Not only that I sat down (talking to myself) and 'together' we drew up the final menu for the Indian meal. By the end of the afternoon (once supper had been served) had a feeling that the day had been a 'job well done'.

Telling you about it, to me it now looks as though I didn't do very much at all, but when you consider that on some days I don't seem to do ANYTHING, then something is better than nothing and it did seem that because I had my 'tutor' standing over me (or should that be 'in' me), followed instructions to the letter, with barely a break. 

I'm going to need my 'inner self' to keep holding my hand as this month I seem to have at least NINE things that I'll be doing away from the house.  To which I have to add the extra days spent preparing/cooking for the Indian feast.  Compared to last year when I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I went out, nine days in one month is beginning to feel quite alarming.  But am sure I will cope.  It's all a matter of planning and list-making.  Also not thinking about what I will be doing in the near future (that's already written in my diary as a reminder), just concentrate on what is happening on each day at a time, and then completing the task on hand before starting to think about the next.

From comments sent it, seems that my recent posts have been worth reading, and think your 'lost' comment Mandy, did arrive as I had two from you in my inbox this morning.   Am pleased that you found my suggestions helpful.  You mentioned making a 'baby pudding' for your daughter, and not sure if you make each meal (savoury and sweet) 'fresh' to be served that day, or whether you make in bulk then freeze away the surplus in small amounts.   Rice pudding should freeze, so worth cooking more than you need (saves both fuel and time). 

A welcome back to druidsgarden, and your comments re soya milk could prove useful to many readers.  I didn't know that soya could do harm to men, but not surprised as have read that it is especially good for women, especially at the menopause.  No one has yet mentioned whether goat's milk can be taken by the 'lactose intolerant', but if it can be, then presumably goat's cheese could also be eaten.

Very pleased to hear that sales of sewing machines have risen Alison, since the screening of 'The Great British Sewing Bee', and nowadays these machines are so much smaller and lighter than the one I have, making them very easy to handle.   It was much the same with the '.....British Bake Off', sales of cake-making ingredients, tins, decorations etc have shot up as people have been inspired to do a lot more baking.  Probably the same thing is happening with bread, a lot more people baking their own after watching Paul Hollywood.

'Superscrimpers' seem to be doing quite a bit more when it comes to home-sewing and alterations of clothes that have been bought at charity shops.  Hadn't heard of 'Swishing Parties' (is that the name), but the idea of girls each taking their unwanted clothes to a friend's house and exchanging them sounds a very good idea.

Not sure if the 'Sewing Bee' programme would ever get to be seen in the US Pam, much depends upon whether our 'Great British Bake-off' is shown (the same production company make both).  Am not even sure whether the same 'Food Network' cookery progs are shown in the US as here.  We seem to have slight over-kill when it comes to Guy Fieri, not only do we see his 'three D's', shown back to back (four at a time) but now also his 'Guy's Big Bites' (where he cooks from his own kitchen/s (he has both indoors and outdoors kitchens).

Good that you have a husband prepared to haggle Dottiebird.  He sounds as though he has done some good deals.  I've rarely 'haggled' myself, although have done it once or twice at a car-boot sale (where it is expected), but once did manage to reduce the cost of a new car, mainly because it was the salesman who was offering me a reduced price.  This is what happened.
For my first car (bought because I'd done TV, could afford it, and needed it to travel around the country to give demos), I chose a Fiat Panda. It was about the cheapest car on sale anyway, and very economical to run.  The problem was - being a new design - the front seat were more like deckchairs.  Not very comfortable at all, and as I'd had it for 3 years (with not many miles yet on the clock, but the MOT would then start needing to be done annually, decided to change the car for a Fiat Uno (as I found this make very easy to drive), and chose one that was slightly more expensive and more comfortable.  When in the showroom I saw a Fiat Uno 'Carte Blanche' model, that had lots of extras, a sunshine roof, five gears, and other bits and bobs the other car didn't have, but it was also about £1,000 more.
Sadly, decided on the cheaper model, but when I got home, the salesman rang up to say the model I'd chosen (they had one in stock) had already been sold by their sister showroom.   So I said, don't worry, there was nothing wrong with the car I already have so I might as well keep it".  Panic from the salesman as apparently he'd already sold my car to someone else.  "Come back and let's see if we have another car you would like" was the request.
So I went back.  No car there that I wanted (other than the white Fiat Uno I craved).  To cut a long story short, the salesman sold me the white Uno, plus a year's tax disc, and a tankful of petrol for the price I would have paid for the smaller car originally ordered).  I'd saved £1,000 and got the car of my dreams (well, being a woman, size doesn't matter, what makes more sense is to own a car that is small enough to park, easy to drive, and has low petrol consumption.
As it happened, that car lasted me a good 20 years before it had (regretfully) to go to that great garage in the sky.  And how I miss it!!!

Oh jane, you don't know how much I envy you being able to 'haggle' and get that set of chef's knives for such a low price.  Even at the original 'car-boot' price, it was a great bargain.  Make sure you keep your knives well sharpened as once they go blunt it is often difficult to get them back to what they were again.  But as with any sharp knife, always keep them our of harms way and be especially careful when washing them, as it is easy enough to cut fingers when plunging hands into a bowl of suds when washing up, and discovering sharp knives are in there.
Myself keep sharp knives in a wooden knife block, and one (more expensive) has its own 'sheath' that has an inbuilt sharpener.   In Leeds used to hang several of my knives from a magnetic rack over the draining board, but no room to hang one here, the walls are tiled and the cupboards too low. 
I've more knives than have room for in the 'block', but the surplus are wrapped away and kept in a drawer.

Believe that we are not meant to throw away knives, in case they fall into the wrong hands, so can anyone tell me how I should dispose of my old knives (any sort)?

Because it's been a 'hair day' today, and now it is just past noon, will sign off and return tomorrow with (hopefully) more recipes and chat, maybe about more 'role-playing' done today.  See you then.