Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Just popping in for a quick chat to update a few things.   The roast topside was sliced - some thicker for re-heating in gravy, others thinly sliced for sarnies etc (these melted in the mouth they were so tender).  Total weight of the cooked meat was 1kg (not counting scraps that were enough to make into a small pot of 'beef spread'. 
Comparing the cost of pre-packed sliced roast beef (Tesco's roast topside is £3.53 for 100g), that means 'my' sliced beef would have cost me £35.30p.  The actual cost of the raw meat (from the butcher) was just under £14.  So - as Jamie says "if we pay more we can save more".

Jamie cooked salmon yesterday.  One whole 'side' (fillet) he said would be £10 (when at its cheapest).  Here we've paid £12 for a whole salmon (i.e. TWO fillets) which included the filleting.
As ever, Jamie did show how this 'pay to save' would work out, but I still feel he is making/serving meals that are slightly higher in quality than most of us 'ordinary folk' would be intending to cook.  He still keeps the price per portion way above the £1 (averaging £1.50) and when asked on the radio how much (or rather how little) he would need to spend to feed a family (presumably four), for a week he said "about £44" (but then he does pay more for free range etc and "others could pay less". 

Working on his TV budget it seems that the £44 is about right but ONLY for the main course/s that are shown.  What about breakfast, lunch...?
Because of Jamie's life-style and experience, he would normally buy top quality foods and by making the most of his purchases (showing how the salmon skin could be crisped up - I'm going to try that tip), he is sort of working down from the top of his ladder. 
Me, the queen of mean starts at the bottom and prefers to work her way up.  This can be done once the very basic purchases are made and an enthusiasm for cooking is gained.   We don't always have to LIKE cooking (often I find it boring), but we do need to find an approach that keeps us keen.  Mine was discovering that some ingredients are very cheap and then set myself challenges to make a meal (or something) for £1, for 50p, for 10p, for free.... and this I continue to do.  Challenges work for me, just 'cooking things' does not stretch my mind or give me much satisfaction.  Nothing like the sense of achievement we get when we have proved to ourselves we can work magic with 5p!

Thanks to Kathryn for her comment.  I'm so pleased that I might be giving some ideas that work (and maybe even some inspiration). You've really brightened my day Kathryn. Thanks.  

The Madelines today are small shell-shaped cakes Sarina, but in the past we used to make taller sponge cakes (in small metal tins that were the shape of flower pots), and when cooked the surface spread with jam and then rolled in dessicated coconut - a glace cherry then placed on the top.  I still have the moulds so might start making these again.  B would love them.
As you say, cooking for more than one is more interesting, and when B was away on his long holidays (after away for a month), I hardly ever cooked for myself, although did reheat frozen meals such as spag.bol meat sauce (easy enough to cook the pasta), and chilli con carne.  Rest of the time I ate salads or sarnies or had a can of soup. 

Probably because I became involved in cooking for the media that I am still finding anything foodie to keep my interest, especially as I continue to write this blog.  If I gave up writing, who knows what would happen.  Maybe Wilkinson Farm Foods would become a regular visitor to our kitchen door rather than Tesco.

Began reading 'Bombers and Mash' yesterday, starting in the middle of the book rather than at the beginning because (as ever) it was the foodie chapters that appealed to me most.  Have to say that although I've read a lot about wartime rationing, this book opened my eyes to how bad it really could be.  The 'National Loaf' (only one type of bread on sale) was nationally hated.  It was grey in colour and very heavy.  Seems that many people took sandwiches to work to eat for lunch, and often this was the hated bread filled with - wait for it - grated swede!!  And we keep grumbling about some of the meals served today.  Even the cheapest 'readies' are better than that.

There was also some info about what was called 'Basal' rationing, this was a mega rationing of food if the war got worse.  I'll copy out what it said and let you know, for it is pretty grim. Fortunately our country never got to the point of needing this, but it did get pretty close.

At the moment am watching a re-run of 'Lark Rise to Candleford' (Freeview 20 think on Sunday). This too shows how rural life could be pretty bleak when it comes to getting good food on the table. Yet it gives the impression that within the small hamlet of Lark Rise, the community spirit was so good that everyone could find more happiness than many seem to be able to do today.  Money does not bring happiness.  That is true.  As B says 'money means we can be unhappy in comfort'. How sad is that?

Am getting a bit confused these days watching repeats.  'Mr Bates' (valet in Downton Abbey) is also in 'Lark Rise....'.  and has anyone noticed how EastEnders and Coronation Street seem to be running the same story-lines (although some distance apart).  Corrie now has copied the same 'noises off train rumbling' from EastEnders when there is a bit of tension in the plot.  In E.E the noise is from an overhead train that arrives at the Underground station, in Corrie it is the local train that crossed the viaduct at the end of the street.

The Queen Vic burnt down (because a new one was being built for High Definition TV) and the Corrie Pub was burnt down as the 'street' was being moved to a new venue for filming.   We've had young teenage unmarried mothers in both series, a new restaurant, same sex relationships, cancer scares and worse, Asian families (as yet no Muslims in Corrie but am sure this will happen soon). Several murders....

This morning meant to watch Food Network (Freeview 48 and by mistake pressed button 8 and then 4 - channel 84).  Was very surprised to see it was the Aljezeera UK news programme, this it seemed was from a studio in Dohar (or some such name).  Most of the news seems confined to the Asian countries, but interesting enough.   B said it was a Muslim channel, and think it could be interesting to watch in the event of some European 'crisis'  as it is good to get both sides of a story that might be unbalanced if it came from the US or even Britain.

Yesterday made a 'Ticket Office Pudding' , enough to cut into 9 from the 8" tin, and B had one helping for his 'afters' yesterday.  One more portion will be put into the fridge, the rest cut up and frozen (heat up well in the microwave). 
First I have to sort out the contents of the freezer/s AGAIN.  This because I keep thawing meat out in bulk, then cooking and making it into several different meals that are then frozen, so I need to know how many of these I have.

As you say Les, I could keep a 'white-board' record and hang it by the freezer/fridge, and how that name enfuriates me.  'White' board.  Believe that came about because the word 'black' was not to be used for just about anything in case it caused offence to those who had darker skins.  So schools now have 'white boards' and the old 'blackboards' are now obsolete.  Or are they?  Maybe the names has been changed to 'chalkboards'.
The other day I asked for and bought a ball of black knitting wool. What other colour could I have called it?   If we don't mind being called 'white-skinned' (or is that also verboten and 'Caucasian' is what we are now?), then others should not be so sensitive.

Back to freezer contents.  Freezers are supposed to be packed solid, no gaps between packaging so that there is no air that can warm up each time the door is opened.  On the other hand, fridges need space around food for the air to circulate.
My freezer records are kept in a book.  I write down each food bought, in detail (stewing steak; minced beef; spare-rib trim etc....Small prawns, jumbo prawns.... Chicken breasts, quarter chickens, chicken offcuts, drumsticks, thighs, wings etc...   Then write down how much/many of each - not a whole number, but as 1,1,1,1,1,...   The intention is that I cross of each when used, and when buying more, just add more 1,1,1s until the line is full (spare lines underneath to fill up later).  But of course I mislay my book, forget to cross off what has been used, and don't write down what I've added, so have to start again.   Like today.

However, when I read books like Bombers and Mash, this  does make me realise how lucky we are with the food we have now - so many that would have been new to cooks some 30 or so years ago.  I give thanks for the chipotle sauces that are now available, these give me my daily 'kick'.  Presumably the young get theirs from drugs. Chipotle is cheaper!
Main thing though is that discovering more about the dishes cooked in wartime has made me realise that many were really quite good (even though strange), and some of these I'll be sharing with you over the next few days.  If nothing else these are now really cheap to make (food was expensive in wartime, and we are fortunate that we don't have the problem of having to queue up for ingredients and then finding the grocer has sold out just as we reach the counter).

'Great British Bake Off' tonight, and this I'll be watching (I'll try not to fall asleep half-way through), B being happily watching footie on the other TV.  He'd like me to make some Fork Biscuits so that he can snack on them as he watches.  So that's something I'll start making as soon as this is published.

There was me intending to write just a very few words today and then 'get on' and blow me, I've spent a couple of hours chatting to you.  Like old times.  Maybe I'll be back again tomorrow. Have to wait and see.  Have a nice day.  Bye for now...