Saturday, June 01, 2013

Dare to Be Different...

If your surplus cucumbers are small Pam, then almost certainly you could preserve them as 'gherkins'.  Do not have a recipe to hand for this, but the Internet should give many suggestions for preserving these. 
Not sure whether I envy you your hot weather which is far warmer than we normally get in the UK.  We too have 'hose-pipe' bans when we have a drought, but are still allowed to water our gardens using watering cans.  Do your restrictions apply to only the use of hose-pipes (once a week) or all watering from any source?

Ideally, during summer (especially during a dry spell), all watering should be done at dusk, after the sun has gone down, as there will be less evaporation.  Water plants well, then mulch them with some wood-bark, or even plastic sacking, bits of carpet etc, as this prevents evaporation also.  Early morning is also another good time to water, again mulching, but night time is best.

Some weeds are very difficult to get rid of, bindweed being one of them.  I used to spend hours digging these up, but the roots go down so deeply that they would break when pulled, and even one tiny bit of root left in the ground will then grow again.  The only way to get rid of persistent weeds is to paint their leaves with weed-killer, then this should eventually kill the whole thing, roots and all.

We used to use disposable barbecues at one time Sarina, we may even have a couple unused in the garage, must ask B, then we can have a barbie just for the two of us and save lighting the larger one. If we did light a 'proper' one (still small), I used to put the charcoal on a baking tray lined with kitchen foil, then place it under the grill and wait until the coals were glowing, then (using heat-proof gloves for protection), carry the coals out to the barbie, tip them out and then could start cooking almost immediately.  This is a faster way of getting the coals 'ignited' than lighting them in the normal way.

Can imagine, buttercup, your neighbours grandmother (aged 101) having a lot of experience about 'how to cope' and also how much better life was when she was younger.  Not necessarily easier, but people seemed to respect each other more in those days, and live within their means not wanting everything provided for them as seems to be happening today.

It's good to know that here in the UK we are served generous portions when 'eating out' Margie, and even that they are good value, although London prices (and other tourist areas) are always way above the rest of the country.   It is true that the Chinese and Indian take-aways are usually more than enough to feed one, and two 'portions' would feed three.  However, we mustn't forget that both these cuisines are of the traditional kind, from countries where they have learnt to cook very economically (but with no loss of nutrition), and when we wish to cook a low-cost meal, then 'think Asian'.

It seems than hardly a day goes past without more being written in the newspapers about Paul Hollywood.  Yesterday was no exception, with not one but TWO articles about the US version of our 'British Bake Off' - in the US called 'The American Baking Competition'. 
Seems that the series is getting a thumbs-down from the US viewers who have grumbled that they could not understand Paul Hollywood's accent ('posh Scouse' as one Los Angeles-based chef said). So how is it that so often Americans really don't seem to understand anyone talking 'English' (so what language do they speak themselves?).  The chef also said "the show insults the intelligence of every American home". 
Some US citizen wrote on Twitter about 'judge Paul Hollywood (never heard of him) saying that chocolate covered bacon was "disturbing". Clearly not a credible source'.  Have to say that I myself am very disturbed knowing that there is a country that finds chocolate covered bacon is something worth eating.  On the other hand, having sampled both, I found US chocolate and US bacon so dreadful (compared to English), that perhaps these need to be put together disguise each others flavour.

One article says: "the US version loses much of the bubbling drama of the original". We Brits being inclined to take our disasters stoically, with just an "oh, my giddy aunt' when they drop their cakes, "while their American counterparts curse, slam fridge doors,  and cry, all within the first 40 minutes.".
"As Paul himself remarked at the TV BAFTA awards earlier this month 'They are very emotional - and of course, I'm not the right person to put up with that'."

One US journalist goes as far to say "Even for summer TV, this is one drowsy hour of television, doughy and shapeless as well as lacking in any nutritional value".  Since when has nutrition played any part in an American cookery series?  The only real mention of 'nutrition' that I've noticed on the food network has been - oddly - in 'Bitchin' Kitchen'.  And that's a Canadian production.

With Paul Hollywood's dislike and 'lack of familiarity with US dishes and customs' it seems that he will not be the US housewives newest heart-throb, and maybe even be axed from the show (with a suggestion that he be replaced by the 'American life-style queen, Martha Stewart'.  If he had to be replaced, think that Anna Olsen would be the best choice, she has one of the best cookery series I've ever seen - and this also being Canadian, it does seem there is as much difference between the US and Canada as there is between the US and the UK.
Also if Paul can't hack the American way of life, then he's not going to get very far with his new lady-love (co-star Marcella Valladolid), and doubt very much that she'd feel inclined to leave the glitter of the US celebrity life for the very much more mundane one of Britain where they don't eat enough of 'the right foods', and speak a language she could barely understand.
What's the betting the US show is axed or Paul is replaced, and he returns home to Britain, hopefully back to a wife who realises he had to go through his mid-life crisis to learn a very hard lesson.   

This morning watched a cookery series called 'Unique Sweets', and have to say that Americans do have a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.  They 'dare to be different' and most times get away with it.  A decade or two later we will probably be serving the same things, and adding more inches to our waistline as we indulge.  Is it a good thing always to follow in the footsteps of such a great nation?  Rome was once great (The Rise and Fall etc...). Our British Empire was once greater than it is now.  Methinks America is now beginning to also slide down the scale with China fast moving up.   It's a pity we can't all stop believing we each (as a nation) need to be 'bigger and better' than everyone else, and start realising that 'small is beautiful' and share our good things, and get rid of the worst.

'Daring to be Different' can work when it comes to 'the culinaries', as Heston B has demonstrated, but do we always like or even appreciate the changes?  At a more domestic level the 'alterations' now seem to be serving something 'deconstructed'.  Basically the same dish but separated into distinct parts.  For instance, a 'deconstructed trifle' would be the sponge, jelly, fruit, custard and cream placed in separate piles on a plate rather than traditionally layered in one dish.  Sometimes we do go a bit too far keeping foods separate for as my Beloved says, "when eating food from a plate, it all goes down the same way". But then B often says to me (when we have leftovers - which isn't very often) "just throw the lot into the blender and whizz them together to make soup".  And he'd enjoy eating it I'm sure.

One good thing about today is that we are able to sample foods and dishes from most parts of our globe, and many are worth making for al fresco eating or for picnics and tomorrow I'll be giving several recipes for mini-bites and Tapas, perfect food for al-fresco (and also indoor) buffet eating.
Hope you will find time to drop in and have a read.  See you then.