Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Time Savers

Up early enough to get my blog written before I go out with Norris down to the local shops.  This will be my first trip on Norris since Christmas Eve, and since then have only been out five times: twice to the Foodbank, twice for a 'celebration meal' with family, and once to Morrison's.
After today my next 'planned' trips will be to the surgery to make appointments for my next check-ups, then to have said checks, another trip there to have the 'diabetic' testing for eyes, and one that I am looking forward to - a trip to Barton Grange as I need to bulk buy chicken breasts and mince beef.  That should take me up to mid-summer!  What a busy 'outdoor' life I lead.  Not!

You would think all this 'not going out' would save hours of time that I could put to good use, but unfortunately my life doesn't seem to work like this.  Even though I took a couple of days off blogging over Easter, still haven't begun typing up the recipes for the Foodbank, although have at least written them out in 'best handwriting', ready to copy.

Later this week really will have to make a start on the recipes.  Have a bit of spare time today, but that has been set for hoovering (B being out at the gym this afternoon), B's supper already sorted as I told him that there was still a pack of whitebait in the freezer that needs using, so he can fry these up for himself, all they need is thawing, tossing in flour - and frying.  Cannot myself find any inclination to even try them, B eats the lot, heads, tails and all.  With brown bread (have that), lemon (have that), they will make a supper of sorts.  If I have time will make B a fruit crumble (or pie) as have apples that need using up (memo - thaw out pastry).
So looks like tomorrow or Friday will be my 'recipe writing' day/s.

Had an interesting email from Tesco.  They have a new ploy - similar to other supermarkets - where price- checks are made, and if we would pay more for the same products in other stores, we could get vouchers for the difference in price.  But the difference needs to be £10 total before we get the money-back vouchers, and think this only applies when this corresponds to the lowest 'difference', for Tesco have now sent me details of how much my complete order (delivered yesterday) would have cost me had I bought the same from Asda, Sainsbury, and Morrison's (comparative prices shown for every item), and that WAS interesting, as I would have paid £5.28p more at Asda, and £19.62p more at Morrison's.  Sainsbury's something in between.   Just goes to show how supermarkets can vary. 
Although I had a "congratulations, you have saved £5.28p", obviously this comparison was with Asda, and so as not as much as £10, I won't get a voucher, but even so - the info sent was very helpful (in 'my field of work') and certainly good to know that I 'appeared' to have chosen the right store to buy my purchases.  Yes, I know Aldi might have been even cheaper, but it is comparison between the major stores that I find worth knowing..

Even though most of us have learned that in almost every supermarket, some foods are cheaper in one than in another, but not all at the same time.  To pay the lowest prices for everything we would need to know where to shop, and when (details can be found on the internet), and then have to move from one store to another to get these money-savers.   Few (if any) of the larger supermarkets sit side by side (although Aldi is next to Morrison's in Morecambe, by this I mean round the corner, sort of side-to-back).  So unless we are prepared to walk some distance, any 'travel expenses' between stores would take away any savings made.  Even with a bus pass, there is only so much a 'pedestrian' can carry, and to take advantage of supermarket savings, most of us would need the use of a car (or worse - a taxi).

Just one comment today to reply to...When we first moved to Leamington Spa Mandy, we rented rooms in a large house on the corner of Milverton Terrace, perhaps No 1?  The Convent School that I went to was the last house on other end of the opposite side of the same road.  Later we moved to a terraced house on the Rugby Road.  Can't remember the number, but I remember walking from the school to the end of the road, crossing over a main road, walking down a side street that led to Rugby Road, turning right and our house was a few houses further down on the right.  I remember it facing a high wooden fence  on the other side of the main road, although probably that fence is now no longer there.  How much I wish we lived there now, I was very fond of Leamington Spa.

Do remember having school milk when we moved from Leamington to live in Leicester.  At that time I was nine years old.  The school I went to was run by a couple of very elderly sisters, the Miss Grimley's, who lived in a detatched house across a wide lawn from a two-story long building that housed their nursery school on the ground floor, and the older children had lessons in a long room above.  For some reason, I was often asked to go and help 'downstairs', and remember having to take small children to the toilets, and deal with wet knickers etc.  Also given the job of caring for an older pupil (upstairs) who had occasional fits. 
Somehow, there didn't seem to be much 'proper' schooling happening at that time.  Was this due to the war?  I'll never know.  Much of what I learnt used to come from books my parents had at home. It wasn't until the above school closed (I was then 13) that I went to my first 'proper' school, and although ahead in many (self-taught) subjects, had no 'maths' knowledge other than basic 'arithmetic' - add, subtract, multiply, divide, and 'times tables' - had to learn algebra and geometry from the very beginning, so two years behind the rest of my class, but fortunately soon caught up.  Why did we learn algebra?  Have never needed to use it since. 
English language was another subject that I'd never been taught, and this explains the many grammatical mistake made when writing my blog.  At least used to be good at spelling, any errors now caused by typing too fast and the spell check not working to highlight them. 
Still cannot understand 'grammar', other than managing to work out what is a noun and a verb. Never learnt what a 'split infinitive' is, but am sure I'm writing this all the time.

During my school days at 'the Grimleys', my parents had bought a piano (not a very good one), and so the younger Miss G began to teach me how to play, using the piano in their home (across from the school).  She had left me to practice my scales and I was looking out of the window and saw one of the younger children having a pee in a half-empty milk bottle in a crate that stood in the shade outside the nursery school door.   Then saw the teacher fetching the crate and giving the bottles out to the children to drink!!!  Since that day I refused to drink school milk again.

Can't remember what my favourite foods were when a child.  Previous to the war always loved to eat the 'Sand Cake' my mother sometimes made.  Meals in those days - as mentioned before - were much the same and rather boring.  Had fun sometimes counting the stones from the stewed fruits that Mum sometimes served as 'pudding', saying "tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief! But usually being given 6 fruits, always ended up with a poor man.  Perhaps my mother was able to foretell the future!

When we moved to Leicester, my parents bought a piece of land at the top of our garden, this being the same length again but twice the width.  My dad, coming from generations of gardeners, had very green-fingers, so then able to grow a lot of fruit and vegetables.  As he also built a greenhouse, do remember him growing the best flavoured tomatoes ever (since then have never tasted any that good), so tomato sandwiches then became my favourite.  A lot of enjoyment came for waiting for all the 'first fruits' of the season, that pleasure being denied to us today as most are now available all year round, and even if we wait for our 'locally grown' to come into season (and deny ourselves any imports), the flavours are still not as good as they used to be.  
It's not always fruit and veg where the flavour is now lacking.  Do remember going to the shops both pre-war and after) to buy "Wiltshire back bacon, No 4" (the number being the thickness of the slices, as cut from the whole side of bacon on the machine at the grocers').  That bacon tasted absolutely WONDERFUL, and again, although have bought 'Wiltshire' since, both smoked and plain, the flavour is nowhere near as good as it used to be.  But then, all foods seem to have lost what is essential - the taste!  Now all that seems to matter is that all produce has to look perfect, as if 'too good to eat'?

Here is my recipe for lemon curd.  Occasionally I vary it - sometimes adding more lemon zest and juice, especially if the lemons are small.   As I usually make a double batch, manage to save two egg whites anyway, but if the eggs are large, and making the recipe as it stands, can add an extra egg yolk, saving the white (to give me two whites).

Because this lemon curd is made in the microwave, it is cooked in a much shorter time than when made in a double boiler.  If making a double (or treble) batch, it may take slightly longer before it thickens enough ready to pot.  If uncertain, give it a further minute before potting up into warm, clean jars.  When cool, store in the fridge and use within 6 weeks.  I write the name and date on the jars jusing marker pens (saves using a label).  The date is a reminder as - like all home-made lemon curd - this should be eaten within 6 weeks of making, and as times seems to move so fast these days, it is so easy to forget when we made something.

Made in Minutes Lemon Curd:
2 oz (50g) butter
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
zest and juice of 2 large lemons
3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, beaten together
Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice, into a microwaveable bowl.  Heat on HIGH fo 1 - 3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the beaten eggs.  Return to the microwave and cook on HIGH for one minute, then stir-whisk the mixture.  Repeat this twice.  By then it should have thickened.  Cook for a further 30 seconds if you wish it thicker (it will thicken after being chilled).
Pour into warm, sterlised jars, cover, cool, then store in the fridge. Eat within 6 weeks of making.

Yes, know it's an early finish today, but have things to do before I venture out with Norris, and will need to wrap up warm as despite the sun shining, there seems to be a strong breeze (wind-chill making the temperature feel even colder - it's still around freezing). We have had at least a week of wonderful sun-shine, due to high-pressure sitting over the UK, but unfortunately this has been more over the top end of Scotland, so we get the cold weather dragged in from northern europe.  Had the high-pressure been over the southern part of England we would have warm air from the Sahara.  But at least the sun is shining, and that means no rain.  We have to be thankful for that.

Tomorrow is Norma the Hair day, so unless I rise early enough, my blog won't be published until nearer noon, but hope this won't make any difference to your day (do know that some of you like to sit and have a read with your morning coffee). TTFN.
Spell check not working (again!), so apologies for mistake.