Saturday, June 08, 2013

Gremlins Again!

Having great difficulty publishing my blog at the moment.  After writing a few lines, the comp freezes and it can often be 10 minutes before it frees itself, only to freeze again almost as soon as I begin writing.  It took me half a hour to sign off and  publish yesterday.  Think I will try writing my blog on 'word' then seeing if I can 'cut and paste' to this site.   Will have to practice.

We are blessed with perfect weather at the moment, although rain and cooler weather expected early next week.   Feel I have to apologise to Anonymous, Lizzie and Pam, explaining about tornadoes.  I didn't think it through or really understand I suppose.  Of course there could be traffic congestion if everyone tried driving away from a tornado.  The TV series gave the impression the tornadoes took a straight path once they had started, so I didn't think about them changing direction and also believed there would be plenty of warning.  Think also we in the UK have many more roads (by roads) so that we can drive in almost any direction without hitting a traffic jam (one reason why I always prefer to drive a 'scenic' route, rather than on a motorway.

You do have a knack of providing your OH with a great lunchbox Kathryn.  How about 'going into business' and providing lunchboxes of similar quality for all his work mates?  At one time I used to go around a few offices with a basketful of (packed) sandwiches and other delights and they all got sold.
Yes, it's good the 'haylage' (is that for silage or a dried grass/hay?) has now been harvested, let us hope we get enough good weather for the corn harvest (wheat, oats, barley etc) so that there will also be plenty of straw.  Going by past experience, it could be we will get fairly good 'summer' weather for the next few months.  Let us hope so.

I haven't seen the Barefoot Contessa making those 'Smores', Travelling Ninja.  But if I had seen her make them, what's the betting she would have said they taste "aMAzing".  I am getting fed up with hearing hearing her say that. She said it three times within the space of 30 seconds the other day, as well as about 20 times more during the half-hour prog.  At one time 'perfect' seemed her favourite word, now I wish she'd go back to that.  I shouldn't be so critical, I do like to watch the B.C. but wish she wouldn't keep repeating some words so often.

Another word that seems 'popular' in the US (at least in the cookery progs) is "freakin'", sounding very much like a 'safe' swear word (in much the same way as Gordon Ramsay says the 'f' word).  Anyone who watched 'Father Ted' will have heard the word 'feckin' used for the same purpose. Quite a good idea to use such an 'expletive' (is that the word?) without it being offensive.

Returning to the 'smores' (I easily get side-tracked), only a couple of days ago saw these being made by Anna Olsen, and have to say they are very much an 'American-style' form of 'cookie'.  Bet, if made and sold here, they would be so gorgeous that everyone would want to eat them, and they would be very expensive to buy.   Am sure my B would absolutely LOVE them, so might have a go.  I have digestive biscuits (the oblong ones that come in a box of mixed cheese biscuits - so a bit like Graham Crackers) and I have mini-marshmallows and some Nutella.  Trouble is, I'd have to eat one (or three!!) just to check they are right, and of course - always in the name of research!  I'm having enough trouble with my weight at the moment, seeming to gain 1 lb (or more) a DAY, all because I've been eating carbohydrates again, so think I'll give the 'smores' a miss for the moment.

What a good idea to buy those cans of Macaroni Cheese Granny G, then add extra cheese 'topping'. Crispy bacon goes well with Cauliflower Cheese, and no doubt would with the 'Mac 'n Cheese', so a really tasty meal can be made using the canned macaroni as a base.

Yesterday, having cancelled my hair appt. (rearranged for next Wednesday), I had time to bake some scones, and this time made the plain ones.  Normally, when I bake the richer ones (that have egg and fruit added) they don't rise enough for me.  The plain ones (flour, raising agent, butter, sugar and milk) rose perfectly and with far straighter sides, so I was well pleased. 

As I had the oven on, decided to make a cake (did use a 12p pack of Tesco's sponge cake mix but added some cocoa, a bit more raising agent, and used two of  my smaller eggs instead of one medium egg).  This I baked in one sandwich tin (larger than the two that were recommended) and today will cut the cake in half and sandwich it together to make half a cake will be just enough for B without me feeling that perhaps there is enough for me to have a large slice, which I would surely have eaten had it been a 'whole' cake.

I also made a batch of strawberry ice-cream, using a small can of evaporated milk as part of the 'cream'.  As this was added to whipped double cream, it ended up too rich (for me) but B seemed happy with it.  I didn't make much anyway, so next time I will experiment using whipped evap. milk with yogurt (plus flavouring etc).

Three useful tips re the canned evaporated milk.  Firstly, I used a small can (170g), and as it had been in the fridge for some months, once opened it whipped up really thickly, just like whipped double cream.  Secondly I checked the calorie count, and double cream has 467cals per 100g, and the evaporated milk has 160 for the same amount, so from now on I'll be serving whipped evap. milk instead of whipped cream when serving fruit or pudding etc.
The third 'bonus' was I noticed the base of the can was the same as the top and so was able to open both ends with my can opener (the bottom end once the can was empty of course).  It's surprising how many cans today are sold that are not able to be opened at the base.  I'd dearly love to remove the base of the small cans that held tuna, as these are the perfect size to use open 'moulds' (to build those stacks of cooked foods or desserts as presented by chefs).  'Proper' metal circles are sold for this very purpose, but extremely expensive, and only two in a pack anyway. 

Have read it's a good idea to buy some plastic piping (drain piping?) of the width you need, and then cut this into 2" or 3" deep rings and use these to make those 'stack's.  May well get B to get some piping and make some for me.
However, the condensed milk can may be slightly smaller than I wish, but certainly - now it has turned into a deep 'ring' - will be able to be used to 'stack' something. 

The other day I started to open a can of Spam (you know how I love Spam!), and the ring-pull came away from the can without any of the lid being opened.  It said on the can 'you cannot open this end with a can-opener', but was able to open it from the bottom using one, but not the one I normally use to open cans, it just wouldn't 'bite', but managed to unearth an old can opener (kept in the kitchen drawer) which did work successfully.  The one I normally use is good as it cuts cleanly, without leaving a sharp edge or any roughness to the cans, and also has a magnet at the end of one handle so that it will pick up the can lids without me having to fiddle with the tip of a knife.

Although I've not yet made any sushi, have been working out some costing.  As I'd bought a pack of smoked mackerel (three fillets for £2.39), two fillets for B to go with a salad, I kept back the third - and smallest fillet which then worked out at less than 80p.  There was enough there to fill 16 sushi rolls (5p work of sm.mackerel in each).  Each sheet of nori (seaweed) makes 8 sushi, and there are five sheets in a pack.  I've yet to cost these out, plus the rice, but considering I bought 11 sushi for £4, it looks as though I'm on to a winner if I now make my own. 

I'll be working out the cost of the amount of smoked salmon that would be used, also the 'sea-sticks', and also omelette (all used as fillings for sushi), plus the 'extra's such as avocado, cucumber etc, and then should be able to give a more detailed costing, also 'how to make' sushi.  These, once made, can be kept in the fridge for 25 hours, and feel that if we get a long, hot summer, this would be perfect 'finger food' to eat al fresco. 

The computer (bless) is behaving itself.  Perhaps because I'm trying to type a bit slower, and it's only had a hiccup a few times, but came back to earth almost immediately after, so I've not been getting as frustrated as I did yesterday.

However, won't tempt providence, and as it's the weekend with all of you wanting to be out and about rather than sitting in front of the comp, will sign off now and return again tomorrow.  Gill will be phoning, so it will be nearer noon before publication.  Advance warning that I won't be blogging on Tuesday as we are leaving the house early to drive to Barton Grange (taking our daughter and neighbour with us). But will remind you about that on Monday.

Yesterday, after watching 'The Chef's Protege' all week (and enjoying it), decided to cook B two partridge breasts for his supper, served with caramelised shallots and apples, with some 'jus' (the 'scrapings' in the pan with red wine reduced to almost a syrup.  Served with mashed potatoes (as per the recipe), and it really did make quite a 'gourmet' meal.  B liked it anyway.

Before anyone says I'm a hypocrite serving partridge breasts when all I claim to do is cook cheaply, the breasts were part of a 'job-lot' from Donald Russell, bought when on offer, and despite ending up with really great quality meat, this still fitted into my budget.  The trick is, is suppose, only buy when I've 'deliberately' saved enough money to be able to take advantage of such offers when the time is right and the price is right.
Shortly am hoping to get a phone call from Glasson Smokehouse to tell me that they are expecting their once a year delivery of the cheaper fresh salmon.  I've already put two on order (half of one for our daughter), and these, when filleted, pin-boned, sliced into portions, then frozen, will last us a whole year.  In this instance the price will be right when the time is right.

Enjoy your day.  I'll be spending quite a bit of time sitting in the garden, then sorting out the freezer because there is still quite a lot of meat/fish there but not sure what it is.  Do know I've just about run out of salmon, but hopefully that should soon be replaced. 

Must get on so that I have enough time to bask in the sun, but will be back again tomorrow, see you then.