Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Wider Picture

Missed hearing/seeing the bit about feeding on £1 a day (BBC) buttercup, wish I heard what they had to say.  As with many comments sent in, practically everyone brings thoughts back into my mind, and yours was no exception.  The problem is with a prog. like the above mentioned, when concerned with 'low costs' is they never take the wider picture into consideration.  We all know that £1 is not very much money at all - when taken as a starting point, but those of us who shop weekly (or better still once a month), then find their purchases go a lot further.  Having to shop daily with only a £1 in our pockets wouldn't buy much at all (where could we buy one egg, or 4 slices of bread for instance?), but having £7 to spend over a week, or £30 for the month, THEN our meal/s would become much more satisfying and nutritional.

It is perfectly possible to feed ourselves - a least 'nutritionally' - on £1 a day as long as we can work initially with a larger budget so parts of packs could be used.  Porridge is one of the cheapest breakfasts we can make (esp. when made the Scottish way with water, not milk).

It's a bit like that 25p extra per week that I now get reaching the ripe old age of not saying (you all know anyway).  On its own, worth virtually nothing, but over a month - well, that's at least a £1, over a year exactly £13.  You, I, and all readers could buy/make something worth having with that!

Good idea about practising piping icing using mashed potato buttercup, especially on the top of Cottage/Shepherd's Pies etc.  When working as 'food stylist' at a photographers, I used to colour mashed potato to make it resemble ice-cream (real ice-cream would melt under the studio lights), but could only do this when it was the glasses or bowls that were being advertised.  Had it been the ice-cream itself being the 'ad', then real ice-cream would have had to be used.  However, it was possible to use the potato substitute initially, so the photographer could work out the best arrangement and lighting (and believe me that can take up to an hour!!), THEN remove the containers holding the potato and replace (in EXACTLY the same place) the same, but this time containing the real thing.

There was one time I had to 'food style' the contents of a Christmas Hamper, in as many different ways as possible.  There had to be no imitations, so many foods had to be used more than once.  I remember making a trifle in a large bowl (photographed), then 'deconstructing it' by carefully removing the glace cherries, cream, custard, jelly etc, and then 'reconstructing' in a different way in individual 'Knickerbocker Glory' glasses.  Am sure there must have been other ways I served it as well as by the end of the week, I discovered on one dish the cream had begun to grow blobs of mould (but easily removed).  I had to stick a big notice on the fridge "Do NOT eat any food in here".  Didn't stop one of the photographer's assistants though as I discovered he had helped himself to an individual trifle well past it's 'eat-by' date.  Thankfully, his digestion seemed to cope with it, mould and all.

I blame Ina (Barefoot Contessa), for my mix-up between 'mescalin' and 'mesclun', Mimsys.  It's her pronunciation that is so different to how we - in the UK - would say things.  Shouldn't find it irritating I know, but when she keeps saying 'Bay-sil' (where we would say 'bazil') I feel like throwing ping-pong balls at the TV screen.  Am sure the US public find the way we Brits speak, just as strange. 

This morning, watched a bit of the Food Network as it normally deals with cake decoration at that time of day.  Gave 'Cup-cake Wars' a miss (a waste of time if you ask me), but did have another ping-pong throwing hour when I watched 'Staten Island Cakes'.  Goodness me, that has to be 'staged', I cannot believe that family really yell at each other quite so much.  But then, they are Italians, and this culture does tend to shout a  bit.  The cake-shop owner's mother looks young enough to be his sister, (she is a look-alike of that Nancy d'olive oil who was in 'Strictly...').

When you come to think of it, in many of the Food Network progs, if there is more than one cook working together, they do a lot of shouting.  Also a lot of 'accidents' are also happening, all giving me the feeling this is 'staged'. Is this the sort of thing Americans enjoy watching?  In films they seem to have to fire off about 10 bullets where as in the UK film we shoot only once (perhaps our aim is better), and those motorcars racing each other...!!! Somehow it all seems to be about making as much noise as possible, and half the time watching these films (I try not to), my hand is on the remote turning down the sound.

Thankfully, cannot recall any cookery prog of ours having 'voices raised', and rarely in our films is there too much noise, even in war films where there would be more explosives than in normal life. But then perhaps not surprising other nations feel we are - as a people - a bit 'cold' and 'distant'. Really we are not, we just don't make such a song and dance about things that the more hot-blooded nations do.  
Maybe heat has something to do with it.  Certainly the Mediterranean folk are inclined to be more 'in your face', and lovely because of it.  Their culture carries on when they move to other countries, and America has a lot of Italians there (many of them TV cooks).  In the light of that, perhaps not surprising that English cook's progs. are not so popular in the US.  We should raise the bar a bit higher, and if we start making progs in the UK like 'Bitchin Kitchen' then firmly believe a lot of our youngsters would soon be wanting to begin cooking.

Today I'm going to try and keep away from the Food Network as it's mainly repeats, with the Anna Olsen prog being the one where I'm likely to learn something new.  But then having said that, if I enjoy watching the US cookery shows so much, they can't be THAT bad, can they?  It's just me having a moan again.  Sorreee!

Yesterday managed to make approx 20 samosas.  Forgot how fiddly they are to do, the filo pastry not being easy to handle as it tears easily.   Have taken another pack of filo out of the freezer to thaw and will make more samosas today using that, and as I'm also thawing out a pack of puff pastry (some of this to make a meat pie for B's supper), will roll some out thinly to use to make more samosas (it's nearly as good as filo).  I've also a pack of short-pastry in the fridge, so might make some tiny 'pasties' filled with the samosa filling as I have a little plastic mould/cutter perfect for making these.  Could also make 'rolls' (like spring rolls), using the same filling.  A big platter of assorted shapes could look more interesting, just as long as people don't think they should take one of each.  Will make my mind up as the day goes on.

Tomorrow it was my intention to go to Barton Grange to bulk by the beef/chicken for the curries. If we do go, then I won't be writing my blog as we need to leave just after 9.00am.  It could be I get up early enough to give me time to reply to any comments, so that again will be 'wait and see'. 
But, in any case, much depends upon whether I can make space in the freezers to hold the meat until ready to cook (even if I cook the curries first, these still have to be frozen), for the samosas are already taking up freezer space.   Every time it's the same.  I don't think it through early enough, and forget to consider the wider picture.

My Beloved used to get very annoyed with me when I used to consider what might happen 'if'. He always feels it is never worth thinking about things like that, because they probably never will occur. But then - perhaps because I'm a woman/mother, am programmed that way, always alert as to what problems might arise, and just be prepared in case they do.

Yet, now seem not to be able to first think things through (at least when it comes to the culinary, with a shortage of space in our kitchen to store things, but I still keep wanting to buy more.  And often do.  There must be a way I can sort myself out. Perhaps store more less-used things in baskets that can be stowed away under shelves in the conservatory (that makes sense), and using up food in the larder that has been there for (say) at LEAST a year (and not replacing it).

Yes, I could do the above, but it would take time, and as now I am into 'Indian mode', time is something I don't have (or at least tell myself I haven't - perhaps less TV and more chores is what should be my priority).  Methinks time for me to take myself in hand again, start talking (out loud) to myself, and do a bit more role-play.  Good idea, will start now.

Only one 'foodie suggestion' today as I've talked myself into moving into the kitchen at the rate of knots.  This one has come to mind because of our recent 'chat' re 'lactose intolerant', and what we should try to do is not dismiss any recipes that are published for the various dietary problems that many people have.  If they can eat (and enjoy them), then so can everyone else. 
How many of us carnivores turn the page when they see a vegan recipe?  Best most of us do. You see what I'm getting at?  Whatever is suitable for maybe only a few, will still be suitable for almost the rest of us.  I say almost, as the one suggestion given today I'm afraid won't suit those who have nut allergies.  But it could be useful to the rest of us?

As an alternative to milk or cream, make this 'milk' using almonds.  Something similar can be made using fresh or dessicated coconut.  Use in place of milk or cream when making ice-cream and desserts etc. If you have only a coarse mesh sieve, line this first with cheesecloth/muslin.  No need to discard any of the shreds left in the sieve, you can add these to a curry, or to a cake mix etc.
Almond milk:
750ml water
160g blanched almonds
icing sugar to taste
Put water and almonds into a blender and whizz until very smooth.  Pour into a fine-mesh sieve that is standing over a jug or bowl, pressing the last of the liquid through.  Sweeten liquid to taste, then transfer to a sterilised bottle or container. Cover and keep in the fridge where it will keep well for up to 3 days.

A miserable cold, wet and windy day today, and spending a few hours working in the kitchen (warmer than the sitting room) seems very appealing, so off I will now trot. 
Whatever your weather, do hope you will have a good day and join me again tomorrow (or it may be Tuesday before I resume my 'blog' if we go to Barton Grange on Monday, but hope I'll be up early enough to at least reply to comments, it doesn't feel write to miss a day.  TTFN.