Friday, October 18, 2013

If it Ain't Broke....

Thanks for  your comments and concerns Sooze and Margie.  Re my Beloved not accepting money on my behalf for the recent 'soup kitchen'.  Apart from the fact he knows me well enough to know I wouldn't accept anything, it is a 'generational thing'.  As the man of the house HE decides, and as this property is half his, suppose he felt the 'thanks for the hospitality' was due to him (he was the one who offered to provide lunch anyway, it was me that suggested continue doing it). Suppose there was no reason why I couldn't then put my foot down and demand that B pays me the cost of the ingredients, but as there was no (financial) need, I let it go by, especially as it had been agreed by B that a donation to the RNLI would be given (put in the collecting box at the club).. 
The 'diners' did shout out a 'thank you' from the conservatory once they were served.  The table was hidden from kitchen view, and I'd always gone into the living room by the time they left.

Always I've believed that B takes me for granted (and to some extent he does), and only recently have been told by a club member that- when at the club - he talks about me all the time, the wonderful meals I make for him etc. etc.  Just wish he would praise me to my face.  But at least I know he does appreciate my cooking. 

Don't ever think I'm downtrodden.  Even though 'our' way of life is not how couples would probably live today, it works.  We must have done something right to still be living together after nearly 60 married years.  Many younger folk today end up separating only a few years (often months) after marriage.  To share chores etc, isn't always the answer to a perfect marriage. 

Even up to almost the end of last century, more women may have preferred to go out to work after marriage and children, even when not financially NEEDING to (by this I mean the husband earned enough to keep a roof over the head and food in the belly etc).  But everyone seemed to want more and more, and raise their standard of living to that of those much wealthier.  Even then, usually the wife/mother would still have the chores to do on her return.  Only recently it seems the man of the house 'helps'. My B - who used to do nothing but go out to work then return home, put his feet up or follow his hobbies - now does the washing up every day (if I wait long enough), and will hoover the carpet when asked.  As you know, he is now learning to cook his own supper (so far only a stir-fry, or oven chips and fried eggs, but that's better than nowt.  He also does any shopping I need (from Morrison's).
Our domestic arrangements suit me fine, but if B goes too far, I blow my top and let him know.  He has borne the brunt of my lashing tongue several times over the past few years. This works (for all of five minutes), but I'm normally happy with the status quo.  If it ain't broke etc...

To me all above are petty matters I suppose.  The comment sent by Margie has highlighted the more severe problems around today, at least here in Britain. Possible energy cuts, rising food prices, and thousands more people having to resort to using Foodbanks.  New ones opening over the country each week.  Apparently now the job centres are sending their 'clients' to the food banks, originally it was the social services and benefits who gave out the vouchers.  Only those with the correct vouchers can claim the food allocation, the banks are not open to all and sundry.l

The national gripe at the moment is the forthcoming increase on fuel prices - said to be almost 10% for gas, slightly less for electricity. We all know the fuel companies make massive profits, so why are they allowed to do this?  The government (it seems) cannot afford to increase fuel subsidies to those who need it (mainly the elderly), and even these may be reduced to some. Now that I've reached the age of 80 believe I'm entitled to a little more subsidy this winter, and what's the betting they'll change the age to 85 before they start paying it this year.

There are times I almost wish we had a government that ran the country in a similar way to the Communists.  Everyone almost equal (although admittedly there would always be some more equal than others).  At least there would be far less unemployment, and with almost everything state owned, the prices would be capped and affordable. 
During - and for a while - after the last war, much was state owned in this country.  The railways, coalmines, gas and electric companies, all 'nationalised'.  Prices charged then were affordable. Even foods were priced the same in each shop there being no competition (other than local grocers offering dented tins and broken biscuits etc at lower prices to tempt in customers). 
Now everything has become privatised and commercialised.  The main objective is to make as much money (at our expense) as possible to pay good dividends to share-holders and to the management.

Even locally owned and run small businesses have to charge higher prices because their overheads have risen dramatically (the rent and rates and all other overheads -not forgetting electricity costs). With the costs of running a home now getting higher and higher, it's a wonder anyone can afford to shop at all. 

You know me and my 'moans'.  Here's another one.  My feeling is it is time to put a cap on the earnings of celebrities, thinking more of pop groups, footballers etc.  What have they done to earn such astronomical amounts (as apparently many do) when there are those who work many long and hard hours for a virtual pittance (nurses etc) are virtually ignored? 
There are some people who might say that to be in a top football team requires a great deal of training.  Maybe true, but it is only a GAME!  What began as teams from one town (or country) playing against another, has turned into just another 'money-maker'.  With so many players now bought for millions of pounds from other clubs in other countries, we would find it hard to find a player born and bred in the town/country of the team he is playing in.  Cricket is going the same way (but perhaps less demanding of our money).

It doesn't matter what jobs we have, road sweepers, cleaners of public toilets... every job should be valued as good as any other.  It's a bit like nature... if the worms didn't pull the leaves into the soil so they could rot,  or the molluscs didn't eat the sewage and other residue in the sea to help keep it clean (and a million other examples of 'recycling', then the whole earth would end up a mess.  Every creature has its own job of 'housekeeping' to keep our globe running perfectly, and we humans should respect our various positions in life (the workplace) so we are able to do the same. 

Was thinking about nature the other day, especially the difference between men and women.  Our human striving for equality hasn't always worked for the better.  One interesting thing is that women are supposed to live longer than men.  This is odd because once the child-bearing years are over, you would think nature would have decided 'enough is enough'.  Men, however could be allowed to live longer as they can father children up to quite an old age (or so I have read).

But then who would look after the men if women were not always around?  The king of the jungle, the magnificent lion, all he has to do is lie down most of the day and send his harem of lady lions off to kill and drag back the food.  Only then will he get up, yawn, and go and take the first and most tempting offerings.  Other than defending his territory, he does very little else.  Not a lot of difference between a male lion and (some) human men don't you think?

Sea-horses have got it sorted.  The female lays the eggs which then end up in the pouch of the male, and he has to carry them until ready to give birth.  No chance of that working with human animals, but with our great advancements in science and technology, can always hope that sometime in the future...

All I meant to do was say a few words today about some of yesterday's TV and the cooking I did, you see how easily I get carried away when something niggles me.  So had better make a start before the morning runs out.

Firstly, am enjoying the repeat of Rick Stein's 'Indian Odyssey'.  Can almost smell the curries he makes/samples, and it's inspired me to make a curry for tonight's supper (not yet sure which one, but chicken will be the meat).
Can't get interested in Gordon Ramsay's series (mid-day), not sure why, maybe have too many other foodie things on my mind recently.  Only so much I can stomach without having a break.
Did however watch an early morning prog on the Food Network (Unique Sweets), and there was one dish served in a confectioners/cafĂ© that did sound very interesting.  Was a cross between bread pudding and pancakes.  Showed how it was made.  Cubes of fresh bread soaked in milk, then beaten eggs poured in, the flour and sugar added.  This mix then ladled onto a big frying pan, and then when cooked on one side, turned and cooked the other, they ended up looking like chunky Scotch Pancakes (aka drop scones).

As 'the lads' had eaten all the scones (jam and cream) served the other day (expected some to be left over for B), made another batch of scones yesterday (for B), and this time tried a tip that had also be seen on the Food Network (in two different progs).  Seems that the butter used should not be finely worked into the flour when making scones, but either cut up into tiny cubes, or just gently rubbed in with the fingers.  Apparently, when the scones are cooked, the water in the butter then turns to steam and this helps the scones to rise.   This makes sense as when we make puff pastry (if we ever do) it is presumably the layers and layers of butter that help the pastry to rise.  Never thought of it like that.

So, yesterday, put the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt...) into a bowl, and just dumped in the butter (room temp), then stuck the forefinger and thumb of my right hand into the flour and began to pull flakes of butter from the block.  Very easy to do, the flour coating each 'flake'.  Once all the butter had been worked, poured in the milk (mixed with beaten egg).  As I'd 'guestimated' the amount of liquid, slightly too much (or maybe just right) the dough ended up a bit sticky.  Floured the board well and tipped out the dough, then rolled this gently around so it got coated with the flour, then lightly flattened it with the rolling pin.   Using a scone cutter dipped into flour, cut out the scones, and used the little bit of saved egg/milk to brush the tops, then baked for 12 minutes (200C, gas 6). They were perfect, each with that little split on one side (why do they do that?) to make it easy to prise the two halves apart.  After cooling (but still very slightly warm) I tried the one made with the last piece of dough (a mis-shape), it was GORGEOUS.  Never have my scones been so light.  It must have been the butter flakes that did the trick plus the extra 'stickiness' of the dough. But whatever, from now on this is the way I'll be baking scones.

Time is up, so will wend my way into the kitchen, begin preparing supper (I need to have it ready to reheat as today is the very last instalment of 'Tenko' 4.30pm, and don't want to miss that). Tonight B is off to the club, hopefully expecting another free drink?  I will know once he has fallen asleep in bed for if he has had more than a couple of drinks he spends the night dreaming, thrashing his arms around, and breathing out through puffed and flapping lips, blowing his breath all over my face. Always now I have to remember never to put garlic in his Friday evening meal before he leaves or I'll be sniffing it all night long (once done, never forgotten!).

Weekend tomorrow, and recently have been taking this time off from writing my blog, but now the comp has speeded up, am more inclined to return, so I may be here tomorrow (not Sunday), otherwise it will be Monday.  As ever, keep watching this space, and - of course - keep those comments coming.  Enjoy our weekend. TTFN.