Sunday, April 21, 2013

Variety is the Spice of Life

Shorter blog today as have had to wait until Gill finished her call.  Also feel the need to go and have a nap as spent the night sitting in my chair due to me having another allergic attack that this time began in my lower throat so that I found it difficult to swallow.  Scared that it might develop and attack my air-ways, thought it best not to go to bed in case it did and too late for me to do anything about it.
Maybe it was the treble dose of anti-histamines I took that helped, but the swelling had gone down now from my throat but moved up into my left cheek where it seems happy enough to stay.  At least I'll be able to see the doctor in about 10 days to see if he can arrange for me to have some checks to find out the cause as I'm now really fed up about it, especially as it is happening so regularly and for seemingly no reason.

Thanks for your comments.  Although I do a lot of remembering for my husband Sairy, he doesn't realise I do, I just check things after he has gone to bed (doors locked, gas hobs and lights switched off etc.  No point in bringing his forgetfulness to his attention, he gets cross when I do, and think it is something that he's always had a problem with.  Possibly a type of dyslexia as he also gets things mixed up, doing things back to front, fitting doors upside down...

An apology to Mandy who send in a comment the other day.  Only noticed I hadn't read it when I went to my email 'inbox' (blogger send comments to me via this) and saw the name still in heavy print (showing I hadn't yet clicked onto it).  Pleased to read you are interested in money-saving ideas, and do have a wealth of hints and tip that are 'domestic' and not always to do with food. 
Suppose most of what I know is now being shown on programmes such as 'Superscrimpers' and those presented by Kirstie Allsopp as almost always I've 'been there done that', but then so would have any person of my age.   Even so, it is surprising how twenty years can make a difference.

It is a very good idea to strain yogurt to make cheese CTMOM, and the longer it strains the firmer the cheese will be, so we can start by making a fairly loose 'cottage cheese', through a firmer 'curd' type cheese, right through to a really firm cheese (especially when pressed) almost identical to the Indian 'paneer'.

Well done your son Dottiebird, for making curries 'from scratch'. Have to admit to opening jars of curry sauces to speed up 'the makings'.  Our son is - at the moment - taking a course on Indian cook and I know he too will be making a curry properly, using the correct spices.  Most curries use much the same spices, more of some and less of others according to the recipe.   It's learning those that work together and those that don't that is the secret.  Having said that, many Indian families make up their own 'curry powder', by mixing spices to give the flavour they prefer best. 
Not quite sure why, but it does seem that many men are happy to cook 'from scratch', even my Beloved tells me that preparing the veggies for his stir-fry he finds very enjoyable.   Could this be because he doesn't do it every day, and when he does then leaves the washing up for someone else?

When we keep a wide variety of vegetables, and an even wider variety of spices and sauces, then we could use some of these to make a different meal almost every day for a whole month (or even longer).  That is why we often see the same 'basic' recipe continually appearing in cookbooks and mags, but each slightly different because maybe a different veg has been used, or a different spice.

One recipe today - this for a stir-fry being one of the easiest dishes to adapt as colour plays a big part in this dish.  For the 'green', we could use (as with the recipe) frozen peas, or we could use mangetout or sugar snap, or leave out peas and use some (chopped) string beans or broccoli.  For speed, microwave rice is used, but we could cook rice from scratch and this could be long-grain, basmati, white or brown.  Instead of rice we could use noodles.
Whether we use spring onions, finely chopped red or white onions, or leeks or shallots, again the final choice is up to us.  Same with the bell pepper.  Use red for brightness of colour, and if we also want yellow, then add yellow peppers and/or sweetcorn.  If we have nothing 'red', then we could include carrots.  Instead of five spice powder use a home-made sweet and sour sauce from equal amounts of tomato ketchup, honey, vinegar and soy sauce.
For speed, thawed cooked prawns are used in this dish, but we could use another protein such as chicken, beef or pork, cut into very thin strips so they cook rapidly (although we could used cooked meats).  Instead of chorizo, use a different cooked spicy meat such as salami, or omit altogether.
As I always say, "make the most of what you have" and whenever possible adapt a recipe accordingly.

Spicy Fried Rice with Chorizo: serves 4
1 x 250g pack 2-minute microwave rice
6 oz (175g) frozen peas (thawed)
2 tblsp sunflower oil
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz (100g) chorizo, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
5 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
good pinch five spice powder
2 tsp soy sauce
4 oz (100g) cooked prawns, peeled
Cook the rice as per pkt instructions.  Heat half the oil in a wok or deep frying pan, and drop in the eggs and peas, stirring them around until scrambled, then remove from pan and set aside.
Add remaining oil to the pan and when hot, stir-fry the chorizo, garlic, onions, and pepper for 2 minutes.  Add the five-spice powder, the rice and soy sauce and stir-fry for a further 5 minutes. Finally stir in the scrambled egg/peas and the prawns, and stir-fry until heated through, then serve.

That's it for today.  Just got time to put the flour, yeast etc. into the bread machine whilst I watch Paul Hollywood making his bread, hoping I won't nod off and forget my dough, although I could set the machine to bake the bread as well, prefer just to use it for making dough, and then bake the loaf in the oven (make for a better shape, and I can also, by adding a little more bread flour to the bread mix, gain some extra dough to make/bake small rolls).

Gill says it's a beautiful day in Leicester, but here it is overcast and still quite windy.  B is out at the sailing club as it is a 'working day' (tide not right for sailing so they do repairs).  This means I have some 'me' time, which I cherish, but most of that will be in the kitchen. 
Please join me tomorrow when I hope to get myself back onto my 'cost-cutting-cooking track', something that has been rather neglected lately when it comes to writing my blog. TTFN.