Friday, October 11, 2013

Fast Work!

Have to say this week am really enjoying myself, the Goode kitchen/conservatory feels like a pop-up restaurant.  Not only does B's mate come for lunch each day, yesterday he asked ( when he arrived) if his apprentice could come as well.l  With B eating with them I had to make sure there was enough soup to feed 3 men to feed (three different generations in fact), and so I'm a really happy bunny.

Actually it is only soup I prepare, although first mate (before he brought his app.) did eat a wedge of hot Sticky Toffee Pudding - served with cream - when I said I had some.  Who could refuse that?  Seems that although the (home-made soups) are enjoyed, what they really, REALLY like is the freshly-baked bread rolls (mini-loaves).  I expected them to eat one each, but they demolish all (3 each) that I put on the table. Now that the apprentice is coming, almost all a daily bake is eaten, so am up early this morning to make a fresh batch.

Soups made have been chicken and vegetable, Mulligatawny (that was very much enjoyed), a spicy tomato soup (had to thin it down a bit due to the extra helping, but not a lot as served in in slightly smaller bowls), and today am planning to make beef soup (that I will call 'oxtail') or might change my mind and make minestrone.  I do change my mind quite often.

They don't work Saturday, so am hoping they haven't finished the chimney over the road, so that they can return on Monday.  It really feels like I'm running that café I so wished I could, and enjoying every minute.

When I made fresh bread earlier in the week, for once I used a mixture of milk and warm water, barely blood heat, but not cold as I normally use.  The bread machine heats up the dough as it is being made, but this time the rise was much more than usual, so when the dough was knocked back it took only half the time to rise in the tins before being baked (half an hour instead of an hour), so if anyone prefers to make dough only in the machine and bake the bread in a conventional oven (as I do), this that was is a time-saving tip.

Had to put the central heating on yesterday as the weather had turned colder and quite breezy, it was the only way to get a load of washing dry (or at least part of it).  Even though the sun shone all afternoon, it wouldn't have dried quickly enough in the conservatory, and as this is now home to my 'cafe', it saved me moving the washing and airer back and forth.   Don't know if readers have the same problem as me, but my telescopic wooden airer is a devil to set up.  Most of the time the bottom rung won't fit into the notches, and when trying to sort it out it then collapses, usually trapping my fingers.

If I move the furniture in the conservatory (the chairs are solid wood with high backs and mega heavy), I can lay the airer on its side and stretch it out so the rung eventually fit, but then the wooden slats that hold the rung in place are pushed across the slot so I have to then wiggle it about to release them.  Anyway, it's now colder weather and with any luck I won't need to use the airer much more.

Thanks for your comments.  I have two sorts of 'simmer mats' gillibob, one is circular, think made of two matching circles of metal with little holes all over and through.  This spreads the heat so that I can use a wider pan on the smallest ring.  It also does help to lower the heat.  The other is a flat piece of metal that has been dimpled on one side, the 'dimples' pushed through up to the top side, so the pan then sits only on these.  This works even better for lowering the heat.  Sometimes I put 'dimples' on top of the holy one, especially when using a larger pan over a larger ring (which can also be turned as low as the smallest ring).

As Les says, don't ever put a ceramic pot over direct heat, and I wouldn't even put one over a simmer mat. Anyway, we would not be likely to use the ceramic pots taken from a crock-pot, as we wouldn't need to use a hob,  just cook the food in the slow-cooker.  I see there are now ceramic coated pans on sale to use on gas/electric hobs, these apparently need no oil, and nothing ever sticks in them. Find them very tempting.  Maybe will get one as our non-stick frying pan now have very badly scratched bases (due to B using metal spoons, forks and knives despite me asking that he use the plastic utensils bought for the purpose - he did once use some plastic spatulas of mine, several in fact, but these were not the ones I showed him to use, and so the heat in the pan melted the plastic and now the spatulas have very thick and folded tops and no longer fit for their original use).

Liked the sound of that Polish-run one-time greasy-spoon you mentioned buttercup.  Have a feeling that many of the smaller cafes are now improving due to the competition.  Also gourmet-type 'street-food' is becoming more available, especially in the London area and probably at country fairs etc, one of the better ideas that seems to have arrived here from the US.

Your holiday sounded lovely Margie, and able to get a sense of the areas you visited as these last few days there had been a repeat of The Hairy Biker's 'Bakeation', where they travelled over much of Europe, and they did visit Budapest, Vienna and possibly Prague (the latter I'm not sure).  Mostly it was all about baked foods (bread and cakes mainly), so didn't get to see much of any other sort of traditional cooking, but it was good to see where you had also been.  Maybe you will be able to see the prog. yourself and it will bring back happy memories.

It is true that Jamie's prog does tend to rely on having a well-stocked storecupboard to back up the basic fresh ingredients that he uses for his meals.  One reason why I suggesting building up stores from scratch even when having only £10 a week (for one) food budget. Giving some examples over the weeks.  It's surprising how stores can soon mount up, especially with dry goods, as we don't always need to use a whole pack at a time. 

The Great British Bake-off is tending to annoy me a bit.  Ruby in particular. There is something strange about that girl, she seems always to be apologising for baking that didn't work out as she hoped it would, but then she always get high praise (at least by Paul, even when there is something not quite right). Perhaps she is giving off 'want sympathy' vibes that touches his heart-strings. It is not difficult to feel sorry for her if she truly is as miserable as she always appears, her mouth turned down and that look in her beautiful eyes...  She's either been downright lucky in that her baking has always turned out better than she expected, or she's pulling the wool over our eyes.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she pulled out all her stops at the final and actually won. 

At least Ruby has now given me a reason to become more interested in the programme, and possibly others may feel the same.  A little more excitement helps to keep me awake.

One thing I'm finding, old age does tend to lead to memory loss.  With me it is not the more worrying recent memories, but those from the past.  I'm now finding that watching the 'classic' repeats on BBC during the afternoons that I can't recall seeing any of them before, and as I know I did see all when they were originally on, this does mean I can enjoy them now  as they are now 'new' to me.
Some other 'classics' I know almost word for word as they are repeated so often (Dad's Army, Only Fools and Horses, The Good Life, etc).  But the above mentioned I've not seen for many years.  Same with Tenko (sadly ending soon).  Am sure there will be other classics to take their place, so am looking forward in the hope that they will be repeating some of my lesser shown favourites of mine.

Apparently the hour goes back this weekend, so that gives us an extra hour in bed although doubt I'll take advantage of it.  Got up early this morning, well not THAT early, it was just after 6.30am, and still dark.  It's now 7.30 and just getting light outside, all due to the heavy cloud which may disappear by noon as it tends to here in Morecambe.  Whatever the weather early in the day, you can be sure the afternoons will be sunny.  Well, nearly always.
We have had none of the torrential rain recently forecast (although we have had some rain during the night), but apparently some other parts of the country had not fared so well. Let us hope we don't have a lot of rain this winter to ruin crops again and cause major flooding.  Our weather always seems to cause problems, at the moment it is 'leaves on the tracks' that are causing the trains to slither and slide (or something that prevents them arriving on time or even running).  Other times it will be rain causing landslips near the tracks, or ice on the tracks.  Other times it is signal failures. Oh for those days when we had steam engines and men to work the signals by hand in the 'signal boxes' (is this still done?). 

Seem that our fuel prices are going up (and up) again.  How can this be when they appear to make so much profit each year?  Is it not possible to nationalise the fuel companies again, like happened before. Once something is privatised, the intention then is making as much money as possible to pay good dividends to the share-holders and huge bonuses to the management and directors.  Our money, and what do we get in return?  Zilch.

Also we are threatened with fuel cuts this winter - that is if we have a 'hard' (cold) winter like we used to have.  Maybe a lot of the problems are being caused by the excessive use of electricity to light up the streets with neon signs, and in our homes using computers, TV's (some homes have them in more than one room), and of course - central heating.   j
Apparently a few decades ago we were satisfied in heating our rooms to a certain temperature level, and each decade this has increased slightly, so it seems now we want our rooms to be much warmer than we really need. This also uses more fuel.

Lucky are those who still have working fireplaces, and - from what I've read - it seems that wood-burning (or multi-fuel) stoves are now on the increase.  These give out a huge amount of heat, and very satisfying to watch the flames, and hear the wood crackle and send up sparks as the logs fall.  Some even have a metal cover on the top that can be lifted and used for a cooking 'hob'  With or without the lid, with a flat top the stove would give off enough heat to slow-cook a casserole.
However much we are supposed to appreciate the advancement in technology, sometimes the old ways are best, more enjoyable, and cheaper.  Or is it that I'm just being nostalgic (again!).

That's it for today, need to find time to make the bread, make the soup, maybe make a dessert.  Also sort out supper for B.  Funny how I'm finding it more enjoyable cooking for not one, but now two and now three men.  Perhaps because men don't seem to want to bother about how many calories (fats, salt or sugar) are in the meals set before them.  No need to first ask about diets or food preferences, I can cook just what I want.   From what is said ("wish I could have lunch here every day"....) it sounds as though 'home-made' isn't something they are used to.  But I could be wrong.  Maybe it's just the smell if freshly-baked bread (and eating of it) that is appealing.  Time for me to wear my baker's hat, so must take my leave.  If I can find time, I may return for a chat tomorrow, or I might take the weekend off (as I seem to do these days) and return on Monday.  Watch this space, I may be back tomorrow, depends on how fast I work today.  TTFN.