Monday, September 16, 2013

If it works, then why not?

Most of the time I seem to be trying to keep track of what I have in the freezer/s.  Discovered a piece of topside (beef) that I was keeping until I got extra beef fat (supplied by the butcher for free the other day), so - after thawing - pan-sealed the beef, then put it in a roasting tin, put some of the tat on top, the rest around the sides, then into a low oven (80C) it went until the joints internal temperature reached 65C (allowed four hours, a mite too long, it was then 70C), removed from the oven, covered with foil and spooned off the melted fat - this gave two pots of dripping.  B will be in heaven, he loves dripping on toast with a sprinkle of salt!
Not all the fat had been rendered down, so left it in the pan, raised the heat to 180C, covered pan with foil and put it back in the oven for a further 30 minutes.  By then it had given off a little more dripping (this was reserved) and the bits of fat were then lovely and crispy.  These saved for B to nibble (with a sprinkle of salt).  Not healthy I know, but it seems to do him no harm, and as I cook a joint only once or twice a year, then dripping on toast is a real treat, not an everyday one.

Some of the dripping I put into a Fray Bentos tin, for roast potatoes.  The spud was a large baking potato that I had put in the microwave for five minutes, then left to cool.  The skin then peeled off like tissue paper (no loss of vitamins there then), and I was able to cut the potato into large chunks to be roasted in the hot fat in the oven.  I allowed 30 - 40 minutes for the spuds to become lovely and crispy.

One thing - and I was a bit annoyed I have to say.  I went into the kitchen about 45 minutes before supper would be served, and there was B making himself a couple of slices of toast and butter.  "Oh", I said, "Supper will be served soon, so now you've already starting eating bread, I needn't bother making the Yorkshire Puddings".  Black look from B.  "I'd still like Yorkshire Puddings" he scowled.
At least he had the grace to actually thank me for making them, and thanks don't come often from B, but that is not to say he doesn't appreciate what I do.  Just wish he'd tell me more often.

The 'Yorkies' themselves were not made the usual way. I still did the 'three measures' based on one egg (one measure of egg, one of milk, one of flour - well that's what it should be), but as I was a bit miffed and as there was just 1 fl oz of milk in the measuring jug (put there for coffee but not used up), I decided to top it up with water from the (cold) kettle at the side of the jug rather than walk a few steps to the fridge, bring out a heavy milk container (a newly opened 4 pint one), then measure out what I needed and return container to fridge - you see how lazy I'm getting).  I also used strong plain flour for the Yorkies instead of ordinary plain flour (because the bag was close to hand and it saved me walking into the larder).  Method in my madness as I already knew that choux pastry (not a million miles away from Yorkies when cooked) can be made with water (or water and milk), and also choux cooks well using strong plain flour.  Anyway, didn't really care if the Yorkies didn't turn out well.  B wouldn't starve, he'd already eaten toast!!!.

Cooked the Yorkie batter in hot dripping in a four-section Yorkshire Pudding tin, and they rose BEAUTIFULLY,  lovely and crisp.  While they (and the spuds) were cooking, I sliced some of the beef, that was very tender due to the slow cooking.  Made a little gravy from the pan scrapings, and reheated the sliced beef in this, then plated up (on a hot plate, always a hot plate for hot meals - this I heat by standing the plate over a pan that is simmering on the hob), beef, roast potatoes, string beans (I couldn't find the frozen sprouts, maybe I have none), extra gravy in a small jug, and gave B the tray of Yorkies to take as many as he wished.  He seemed to wish to eat them all for when I went back into the kitchen (after he had complimented me on the meal), noticed they had all disappeared). 

About an hour later went into the kitchen to find B making himself two more slices of toast and butter (I'd forbidden him to touch the dripping until it had set).  Later he got himself a 'Morecambe Mess' (my suggestion for dessert:  crushed meringues folded into whipped cream with blackberries. Using 'squirty cream' to save the 'real' cream.  The blackberries were some that he'd picked that morning from the club compound, and being wet with rain I thought they might be better used up rather than frozen - already there are loads in the freezer.  B enjoyed that so much he asked if he could take more meringues (these were the 'nests' I'd made from 'free egg whites' a couple or so weeks ago - they store well in an airtight tin).

I've discovered the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding (B calls this 'Ticket Office Pudding' and this is the name I gave it when posting it on this site.  The recipe can be found early December 2006. 
Want to make this pud today as it freezes beautifully and as it is so rich (esp with the sauce) a little goes a long way. 
We had a dreadful day yesterday with the weather, rain and strong gales.   The skies are clearing now, but the wind is still with us but has moved to come down from the north and swing round from the west as the low pressure moves across the country.  We are on the edge of it now, so hopefully the weather will improve but know now that it is truly the end of our summer, and autumn really has dug itself in. 
It was so dark yesterday that I had to put the lights on during the day in the kitchen and in the living room (when I wanted to read).  Lighter today as the sun is trying to break through and as I look through the window can see quite a bit of blue sky , but also plenty of grey rain clouds scudding across the heavens.

Need to bake bread today as B keeps wanting toast, and more toast.  Think I'll serve a Cold Meat Platter for supper (home-cooked beef and ham with some butcher's sausages, hard-boiled eggs and salad).  Then a hot pudding (the one mentioned above).  By the end of the day the freshly baked bread will have cooled enough for B to start slicing for toast for late-evening snacks.  Probably let him have some dripping on it as well!  He eats well, have to say that for him.

Your comment made me smile Ciao.  My B also seems to have a mental block when it comes to what goes in a fridge and what in a freezer.  Several times he's taken some frozen peas from the freezer side of 'Boris', and later I've discovered he'd put them back in the fridge side.  It's got so I now check the fridge each evening when he's cooked his own meal (or reheated and just helped himself to frozen veg).  Once in Leeds, after I'd gone to bed, B got three big boxes of newly bought ice-cream from the chest freezer (that was kept in our hall), to help himself to some of each (different flavours) for a late night snack, and when I came down in the morning, all three boxes were on top of the freezer, and all had melted.  Why he didn't see them still there as they were in full view when he left the living room to go to bed I don't know. 
I had to throw all the ice-cream away and refused to buy him any more for months. "That'll teach him" I thought, but he still has a problem.  I've found quite a few 'fridge' things (bags of watercress etc), he'd returned to the freezer, so he's obviously not safe to leave alone in the kitchen.

A welcome to Ivy. I too hate hearing the expression "the wife" - or "the little women" (even worse "ball and chain" or " 'er indoors". "MY wife" would sound so much better, but even then it is nice to be given a name. 
My B once told me how men (of his generation) used to prefer to be with women with good looks sot they could show them off to their mates and their boss.  'Arm candy' I think this is called today. Women who had any intelligence were usually avoided, probably because they made their male companion feel inferior.  Who knows?  Of course people marry for love, but with some, love of what? 
Once asked one of our grandsons that if he had two girl friends, liked (even loved) them both, and was deciding which to marry, I asked him if he would prefer the better looking one, or the one who was a good cook.  He said 'definitely the one who could cook'!

Lovely to hear from Wimmers (Australia), who has made the Fork Biscuits and really seems to have enjoyed them.  Thanks also for giving the weights in 'cups' as this helps those who live in the US, Oz, and Canada (and anywhere else that uses 'cup' measurements). 
Did I mention that adding a little grated orange zest to the ginger flavoured Fork Biscuits makes them taste even nicer?  As it would do if making the chocolate (cocoa) flavoured ones.

Do agree with you Louise, marriages break up so easily these days, even when there are children, and you've made good points on both sides.
Somehow though it does seem that 'responsibility' is a dirty word these days.  Family life comes second to what an individual person/parent wants for themselves. 'Look after number one', or selfishness - call it what you like, once a parent we can never put ourselves first - at least not until the children are grown up.

There will always be 'partners' (as they call them these days, married or not), that are better off away from each other, but only when things like mental or physical abuse is the cause, not just because marriage has become either boring or restricting.
Also there are many couples who feel that both should work, even when they have children, to enable them to afford the life of luxury (well I call it that. for I grew up when what everyone expects to have now, was then only affordable by the very wealthy).  Babies are taken to a crèche so the parents are free to earn more money (and much of this money goes towards paying for child care). 

Sometimes this money is necessary (to pay off all the debts??), but surely, staying at home until the children are at school age (and by this I mean 5 as in the old days),  and being there when the children return from school makes for a closer family?  But times change, and children are now far more used to sit in front of TV's and comps. in their bedrooms, their 'social life' confined to mobile phones to chat/text to friends (or 'Twitter' to some-one). Sometimes meals can be more 'snacks' than 'table fare', the sort that can be eaten in front of the screen.  Many children seem to think their parents are there purely to provide the expensive 'gifts' such as trainers, mobiles, smart phones etc, and like NOW, not wait to have them for birthday/Christmas gifts.  As they get older, and maybe go to university (where often any degree they get will be no use at all when seeking work), many then rely on the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' to keep them afloat.   And if you don't agree, then don't even think about telling me so.  You are entitled to your views, and I'm not going to argue about them with you.  I just say it as I see how life is today.  For many, but not all.  There are still enough out there who have the sense to get it right.

When we lived in Leicestershire, a mile (or so) away from where we lived was an industrial estate, and on this was a company that make 'Snowballs' (those balls of marshmallow, coated with chocolate and then desiccated coconut).  My B used to love these, and would often walk over to the estate and buy a box of mis-shapes (very cheap they were too), and devour the lot (with a little help from me and our children).
We missed being able to get a cheap supply of these when we moved to Leeds, so set about making them myself.  Here is the recipe for the marshmallow that made the centre of the 'balls'.  Follow the recipe to end up with the 'snowballs'.
2 egg whites
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 sachet gelatine
Put the egg whites and sugar into a bowl that is standing over hot water, and beat together until thick. Dissolve the gelatine in a very little warm water then beat this into the egg whites.  Spread the mixture onto a parchment lined baking tray and leave until set.
If wishing to make sweets, cut the marshmallow into squares using small cutters that have been dipped into icing sugar. Toss the cubes in more icing sugar and leave on a wire rack until the surface is dry, then store in poly bags.

to make 'snowballs':
make the marshmallow as above but leave it in the bowl and chill until set. Scoop out a 'ball' with a large spoon (a soup spoon gives a good shape), then impale each on a fork and quickly coat the surface with melted chocolate, finishing with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut.  Chill until set. 
These freeze very well, or can be stored for several days in the fridge.

My Beloved (like myself) now prefer our meals to have a bit of a 'kick/bite' rather than be boringly British.  So have taken to spooning a little sharp sauce over chicken joints when oven-baking.  Works with other meats too.
Here is a favourite recipe for Barbecue sauce made with ingredients that are always in the larder, but even though they are I still like to make it in bulk and then pour it into hot, sterilized jars, where it will keep well for several months (chill when the jar is opened and use within a week or so - or it could be frozen).
As several of the ingredients have easy substitutions I give both then you can use what you have.
Barbecue Sauce:
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tbls honey (or golden syrup)
2 tblsp plum jam (or marmalade)
1 tblsp vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard (or made mustard)
2 tblsp tomato ketchup (or tomato puree)
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and place over a low heat,  stir to blend together then bring to the boil.  Simmer for 3 minutes, then pour into hot, sterilized jars, seal and store in a cool place until needed.

The first four ingredients of the above, together make a very good Sweet and Sour sauce that can be served with a Chinese stir-fry.  Normally this is made when needed, not to store.

Nearly 9.00am, so if I finish now I'll have 3 - 4 hours of 'work-time' in the kitchen, and with that hope to do quite a bit of culinary work.  Who knows, I may be back tomorrow to tell you all about it. Now the comp has speeded up to almost 'instant', this means I don't now have the stress of frustration as I wait for (sometimes) 40 minutes to get to where I wish to be.   And believe me, it sometimes used to take me over an hour and a half to read my emails (your comments), then get over to blogger, and then wait (and wait, and wait) for the page to come up, and then - after writing - wait (and wait, and wait) for it to publish, and sometimes it wouldn't.  Now I get onto emails in seconds, then to blogger With the click of the mouse, and once written, the blog is also published in seconds. Bliss.
So who knows, I may start a daily blog again.  All depends on how I feel and the tasks I have set myself to do.  TTFN.