Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Holidays at Home

Don't know where you got the idea that I don't patronise our local shops Les.  I've often mentioned shopping at our local butchers, our pharmacy gets me my prescriptions (and other things), the florist I buy my plants from (but not yet from the new one that has opened in competition), From the charity shops I buy book and give them loads of things to sell, the post office obviously used, and of course our local newsagent.  We - so far - have not needed the services of any of the more 'commercial' businesses (chiropodist, optician, solicitor....).  I don't go to the local hairdressers (forgot to mention them) as they only do blow-dries, and my hair won't stay in curl unless 'cooked' under a hair-dryer (which they don't have). 

The only shop that I mentioned that I am not keen in patronising is what was once The Coffee Shoppe' (now under new management with a different name and facade), only because I like to be waited on, not have to stagger up to a counter (far end of the shop) because of mobility problems.

Good to hear that your local shopkeepers are so helpful and pleasant buttercup.  I think most are in local shopping parades (the coffee shop - above - an exception in our area).  I must look up Brightlingsea on our road map as you say it is an 'island community'.  I'd love to live on an island. I mean a small one, Great Britain IS an island, but too large for it to feel like one.

Watching 'Unwrapped' (food network) this morning - all about 'candies' (UK 'sweets'), was surprised to see that in the US they have 'Smarties'.  But then so do we and ours are much different being very similar to M & M's (which they also shown being made).   Can't believe that two companies can make different sweets selling them under the same name, or for that matter two almost identical sweets sold under different names.

Can't say I've actually 'seen' any ghosts of people I have known Pam, but have 'met' them in dreams where they have come to say goodbye.  These dreams have always been very real, and I always felt they actually did appear especially for the reason given.
Oddly, only some relatives and friends have 'appeared' to say goodbye, wish all of them had.  Maybe they did and in a different way. 

You didn't mention whether you had covered the pan when simmering your chicken stock Pam, but if you didn't, then probably - because it was on a low heat, simmering - it wouldn't evaporate so rapidly and as fat rises to the top this would also form a sort of 'cover'.  Although it is usually an hour an a half recommended to make chicken stock, many cooks will keep it going for 3 hours and this longer time also helps to reduce the liquid and gives a stronger flavour.

It's always been said Barbara, that eating raw veg is better for us than cooked, and to some extent I agree with this.  However recent finding show thatwe gain more nutrition from carrots and tomatoes when they have been cooked (esp. tomatoes).  Potatoes too can be very indigestible if eaten raw, and I doubt many people do eat raw potatoes.

As several club members are providing cakes for 'Tea by the Sea' jane, this year I've been asked to only provide quiches, scones, and the chocolate and beetroot brownies (the latter much enjoyed last year with children clamouring for seconds).  Am thinking about making some madelines as I've recently bought myself a madeline mould.   (Not sure of the spelling, perhaps it should be Madelaines).  Am I bovvered?  Not really, but - as a cook - try to be correct.)

From this weekend onwards it seems as though we should be having a week of really hot weather, almost a heatwave in fact, so we could take advantage of this and eat meals outdoors.  Maybe spreading a blanket on the lawn and having a picnic, or being a bit more adult and sitting on chairs around a table. 

Many towns have 'city farms' where parents can take their children to see the animals.  So worth checking if anyone needs to discover a new way to keep children amused.  Most children love to see young animals, and this is the right time of year.

Ideas for 'home-picnic' food could be Cornish Pasties (can be eaten warm or cold), sausage rolls, sandwiches (or filled baps), pork pie, cold meats, salads, cheese, pickles....  strawberries and cream, fruit set in jelly (in recycled yogurt pots).

To give a 'seaside' flavour to a picnic, buy some ice-cream cornets/cones (Morrison's sell them and am sure other supermarkets too), then either make your own ice-cream or buy a tub and scoop out to fill a cornet.  Decorate with a few sprinkles.

On the cover of the August 2013 issue of Good Food mag. shows cakes bakes in ice-cream cones (the cones that have flat bases, not pointed ones).  When filled with the cake mixture the cones won't go soggy as long as they are baked immediately.  They don't burn in the oven and stay crisp when cooked.
The cake mix is very similar to a Victoria Sponge, but slightly more dry ingredients, and less egg.  I give the proportions below, and I've slightly adapted the original recipe to make it easier.  Once baked the idea is to top the cakes with huge swirls of whipped cream or buttercream, and sprinkle on 'the usual' (hundreds and thousands, chocolate flakes, caramel sauce, stick in a bit of 'choc. flake' and/or a glace cherry...).  The idea is to make them look like an ice-cream.
Myself would probably take advantage of using a can of 'squirty cream' when decorating, adding sprinkles, and then eating immediately (as squirty cream won't hold its shape too long).

Stand the cones in a muffin tin or deep tartlet tin so they keep upright when cooking.
Cornet cakes: makes 10
10 flat-bottomed ice-cream cones
7 oz (200g) plain flour
4 tblsp custard powder
7 oz (200g) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla essence
7 oz (200g) caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
Sift the flour and custard powder together into a large bowl. Add the butter, vanilla, sugar and eggs and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Although you can fill the cones using a teaspoon, it is quicker if you pipe the mixture in using a piping bag with a wide nozzle.  Fill three quarters full, so the batter reaches to the bottom of the cones and leaves room to rise.
Immediately bake the cakes (standing in the tin) for 30 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.   Leave to cool.
When ready to serve, decorate each cake with chosen icing or cream, and sprinkles, chocolates and/or cherries.  Children can be given little bowls of different 'sprinkles' and once you've piped on the creamy cap, they can sprinkle over what they like.

Just time to give one more recipe.  This because recently there was a mention of crispy 'seaweed' that can be bought to serve with oriental dishes.  This is more often crispy cabbage rather than true seaweed.

A few months ago I copied a Jamie Oliver version of 'crispy cabbage' when serving a Chinese meal to guests and they all thought this was WONDERFUL.  Myself enjoyed it so much wished I'd made more.  Am sure children would enjoy it too as it is very crunchy and tasty.
Although Jamie's version was made using kale, it would work just as well using the outer leaves of dark-leaved cabbage.  If you like it all crunchy, then pile up the leaves, roll up and cut into strips. Otherwise follow the recipe and you then get crunchy edges and tender centres.

Sesame Roasted Kale: serves 4 as a side
1 lb (450g) kale
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp sesame seeds
salt and pepper
Rinse the kale under running water and dry the leaves very well.  If you haven't a salad spinner to help remove water, put the leaves in a tea towel, twist the ends to close then spin the towel around your head - this works the same way as a spin-dryer.
Taking a knife, remove the centre stalks, then cut the leaves into 2" (5cm) slices.  Place on a baking tray and drizzle over both oils. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and seasoning to taste.
Roast in the oven - 220C, gas 7 for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes, until crispy, especially at the edges (the centres will still be tender).

All being well should be back blogging again tomorrow.  Hope you will be joining me for our daily 'chat'. See you then.