Thursday, August 08, 2013

Can it get any Worse?

Still apolgising for the computer problems. Can't even edit or spellcheck, so you'll have to ignore any mistakes. But still struggling on, and hopefully, by the end of this month, I'll be able to use a different computer. Many, MANY, thanks for the comments that have come flooding in, for as you know I love to read them, but it's sad that often people prefer to write only when they wish to criticise, never to say they like anything. This was something I was warned about when I first began my media work, and why I always suggest that when we do like any programme, always to write in and let the producers know, otherwise they have only the adverse comments to rely on and believe no-one likes it. Must thank those who have understood what I wrote, and seen that no criticism of mine was intended (although I do understand why it might have been seen that way, and will take steps in future to make it absolutely clear as to what is meant). Regarding the comment about writing Jack as 'Jack' (how condescending!!), I fell about laughing. It was a way of saving me writing: 'a girl called Jack' each time and was meant to differentiate the blog Jack from any male called Jack who could be a cook, or someone who wrote in. There ia a man called Les who comments regularly, but if I gave his other name 'clevercloggs' it would almost certainly be with the '......' included as it is not his real name. It is true, the young of today do seem to have a quite different outlook on life than us older folk, it often seems as if many now go around with a chip on their shoulder about something or other, and it cannot be easy to grow up in today's world, I certainly wouldn't like to. But moaning about things never really helps. And don't even bother to write in complaining about what I've said, because if you do you are proving my point! With so many comments flooding in over these past few days it would take me ages to reply to each, so hope you will excuse a blanket 'thank you' to each and every one, whether the comments were pleasant (or not). Perhaps time now to let the dust settle and get back to the normal day-to-day problems of cost-cutting. Was stunned the other day when I saw on TV (then read an article the day later) that a beefburger had now been made from laboratory grown beef (from stemcells). What with encouragement from some chefs for us to begin eating grubs and insects, can things get any worse? The problem, it seems, is that the world population is outgrowing the amount of food that is produced, and soon - it is said - there won't be enough meat to feed us all. We could, of course, turn vegetarian, but it should be remembered that there are umpteen places on the earth where the ground is quite unsuitable for crops (moorland and hilly areas etc) but would certainly be suitable for sheep and goats Yet we hear of massive food storages (often in the US) that would feed many people in the Third World areas, but it never seems to reach them for one reason or another. For that matter, with the poverty in the US seemingly as bad (if not worse) than here in the UK, is this surplus given out freely to those who need it? I wish I knew. The problem with food (all food it seems) is that it is controlled by manufacturers and then supermarkets etc, all who wish to make as much profit as possible, and not at all interested in cutting costs to meet the needs of their customers. It may seem that sometimes they do (as when foods are 'on offer') but this only to bring in more custom and we may hear that (because of this?) some stores have made a lower profit one year (but what has been made is still obscenely huge). As long a store breaks even (no gain but no loss), then isn't that what should be aimed for especially in this recession? Am sure the first store who agrees to do this for a year would get ALL the custom that flee from the other stores. Perhaps worth a thought? One good thing - the Food Standards Agency have now ruled that volunteer cooks and charity groups who occasionally prepare food for community events are not covered by EU laws AND NO LONGER NEED TO POSSESS A FOOD HYGIENE CERTIFICATE. Thank heaven that someone has some common sense. Did anyone watch the programme about a family living in Germany, following the German way of life? A mother, father and two children just couldn't cope with it. The mother did not like to be a stay-at-home mum with her small children (as many German mothers are expected to), the father was expected to work, not use his mobile phone, or 'chat' to fellow workers during his working day. Neigbours reported the family to the police as the children were being noisy on a Sunday (this being a day when silence was required to allow everyone to have a restful day), and I have to say that all this seems a lot better way to live than how it seems now to happen in the UK (or maybe in all other countries). How many of us have gone out on a lovely sunny weekend day (maybe the only sunny day for weeks)to sit quietly in the garden, then be intensely annoyed by someone mowing a lawn using a very noisy electric mower, or electric hedge clippers, and another person drilling or sanding something for seemingly hours. In the 'old days' the sound of a Qualcast hand-pushed mower sounded relatively quiet, as did hand-held hedge shears, in fact is sort of added to the 'sound of an English summer'. Now it seems noise rules OK. This is an age talking, because in my teens I would be the one playing the same record over and over again on a wind-up gramophone and my mother, bless her, did not complain. Perhaps there was no volume control on the gramophone, so it was never THAT loud. When I later had a Hi-Fi, it was possible to turn up the sound, and I did, but by then was married and in another house and if it bothered the neighbours have to say this didn't cross my mind at the time. Consideration for others was what my mother taught me but I had to grow up a bit before I realised the sense of it. Because I was baking more bread yesterday (the extended loaf plus mini-loaves), decided to bake scones, biscuits and cake while I was twidding my thumbs between the rising of the dough and the baking of it. It made good use of oven-heat, also managed to cook some sausages at the same time. Going back to the bread, have found that the loaf is even better when baked in a steamy atmosphere, so over-heat the oven (240C) then when ready to bake the dough, open the door and immediately pour a pint of cold water into the roasting pan that has been heating and standing on the base of the oven, place the loaf tin on a rack above this, close the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 190C. Bake for 30 minutes and the bread in perfect (the mini-loaves take only 20 minutes). As you know I often buy meat from Donald Russell (but only when on offer as otherwise it is beyond my pocket). At the moment they have an offer of minced steak for 6 packs at £21 (each pack around 1lb in weight). As their minced steak is formed from offcuts of rump steak, fillet steak and rib-eye steak it is TOP quality, unlike butcher's mince which - although good - is usually from a cheaper cut. The DR mince, being so flavoursome and tender, goes a lot further than ordinary mince, so I noramlly add it to TVP mince (or Beanfeast products), and get oodles more servings that still have the superb meaty flavour. Can also make my own beef burgers using this mince, but as we are not 'burger' folk, rarely bother to make these. The offer lasts until 11th of this month, so if anyone is interested, now is the time to order. I've put in my order today (free delivery). Not sure what packaging it will come in, but usually it is a strong and thick polystyrene box, and these I always save. Some are now in the garden holding plants, others are kept as 'cold boxes' to hold food when I empty the freezer, or one taken to the supermarket to hold chilled/frozen foods so they don't 'warm up' on the way home (which in this heat can quickly happen). One of these boxes can also double up as a 'hay-box'. So it's not just the meat we get, we get more for our money when we include the box. Is that called 'thinking outside the box' (or just 'thinking about the box?). Until my comp gets sorted, I won't be writing every day as I can't stand the way the blog ends up only as one paragraph because it makes it very difficult to keep one topic separate from another (and misunderstanding could be made when reading it), So I'll continue to blog a few days each week, and try and keep it short enough to be understandable. Anyway, after the few days rain (and am still waiting for the thunderstorms) we now seem back to dry and sunny weather again, so I'll be sitting outside as much as possible, with the occasional wander round the garden, dead-heading etc. Thanks again for the many comments sent in, and even though not replied to each and everyone, do appreciate you taking time to send in your thoughts, and know that some people do understand the way my mind works. In any case, how boring it would be if we all had the same opinions. See that a new series of 'The Great British Bake-off' will shortly be starting. Am looking forward to watching it now that the dust has settled re 'you know who' (even though I might throw a few ping-pong balls at the screen from time to time). Wish they'd show the American version as the cakes made then were quite different to the type we bake in Britain. Have to say that now I've begun watching 'Unique Sweets' (Food Network), although many are OTT by our standards, have learned some new ways to serve old favourites. Watch and learn, watch and learn....! Hope to be back sometime over the weekend, if not it will be Monday. Enjoy the good weather, TTFN.