Friday, October 25, 2013

Sometimes I wish....

Thankfully am able to write my blog today.  Really was concerned as I seemed to have spent most of the night having terrible nightmares that the comp had been replaced by another that I could not work at all, and our previous comp had been given to someone else and dumped and I had no records of any of my previous blogs, recipes etc.   That was bad enough, but once I had returned to bed after my night trip to the bathroom (an elderly thing), once back to sleep the dream carried on.

At one point I began to cry, out loud so B gave me a big push (nearly fell out of bed), and THEN when back to sleep the nightmare still continued.  Eventually (after another trip to the bathroom), I eventually began dreaming about something else, but this too was nightmare level, but not quite as bad.  Must have been something I ate!

A good article in the Daily Mail yesterday (part of a two-pager about Ruby), that explained exactly how TV producers know exactly what we like to see and adding this to the two other articles on those pages, it seems that this programme is veering towards the dramatic rather than concentrating on what the contestants are there for in the first place.
There was a mention of how the cameras used often to zoom in on P.H fixing his blue eyes on Ruby, but as I recall, we could never see who he was actually looking at, so he could have been talking to and looking at someone else.  Because we next see Ruby looking (at Paul?) doesn't mean the two shots were taken at the same time.  Clever editing can make us believe anything.

Ruby in print is now showing her full colours, and admitted she played the 'self-deprecation' card (is that the word? - she uses a lot of big words, I still have to ask what misogyny means) because she didn't want to appear smug.  Glad she's admitted that she was only playing a part.

It crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe, because P's peccadillo happened at the beginning of the series, leaving a bit of a bitter taste in our mouths, the producers thought it a good idea to take viewers minds off P, and focus them on someone else, and we all know who that was.  With Ruby now appearing almost daily in more than one newspaper (and sometimes on more than one page), certainly she has turned out to be 'media fodder', and no doubt it will be some weeks before her 15 minutes of fame has faded away.  But all very enjoyable while it lasts.

Just two comments to reply to.  The first from Margie who seems (for the first time this year) to be having colder weather than us.  Despite the time of year, our temperatures are still in the high teens during the day, and not much lower at night.  This weekend the north is supposed to get colder, and we may get a taste of that, but the Midlands and further south should still stay unseasonably warm (as they put it).

Our baked beans have also risen in price, but as many brands are often on offer we don't always notice.  Have to say that I've now taken to buying a cheaper brand of baked beans and only the better quality if they are well-reduced in price (which is not as often as they used to be). 
We are becoming so used to rising prices that I don't think we appreciate how much they do rise.  A penny here or there can be almost ignored, but nowadays it does seem that prices rise by as much 10p in one go, and sometimes more.  When almost every item in a shopping trolley has gone up in price, these extra pennies can add up to several £££s.

You say you are stocking up with beans and 'perogies' Margie, and although I know what the beans are, have no idea what a perogie is.  It sounds like a sausage.  Am I right?

We give a welcome to Lizzie, another reader who lives in Australia, hopefully not in the area of those huge bush fires we hear about and see on our TV news.
At one time I did write up a complete index giving every recipe posted, but later blogger decided to remove many of the earlier blogs from each month - due I believe to shortage of space.  At one time all the blogs were published, but as these were lengthy, believe that blogger now have a limited space for each month, so only the last few ever got saved.   
A year or so back I went through every blog I'd written (all were kept on the editing page of blogger even if not shown), and removed all the chat, leaving only my best recipes and hints and tips. It took me a month, working every day, to sort it all out. Haven't done that for a couple of years, so will have to check and see what remains.
It might be possible to get another index, but am hoping to get my new website completed, this giving just my recipes with photos and other useful info.  Am waiting to get my camera mended as need to take the final photos.   This new site will - of course - be indexed so easy to find any recipe.  Details will be given when it is up and running.  Until then, anyone who wishes to be reminded of a previous recipe posted on this site, just ask and I'll can either refer you to the correct page (if blogger has still left it there), or can put up the recipe again.

Yesterday I had a real baking day (at least from 10am - 2pm).  B had run out of bread and as he was going to Morrison's anyway I asked him if he wanted to buy a loaf or should I make him one? He said he preferred home-made.  "Anything else you'd like me to make while the oven is on" I asked. "More cheese straws".  Said that was doubtful as the only pastry I had was in the freezer, and I only make cheese straws with the trimmings.  So he settled for a cake.

As I was making an extended loaf decided to make some Chelsea-type buns with the extra third of dough, baking these in a Victoria sponge tin (five round the sides and one in the middle).  While the dough was rising made a chocolate cake and baked this in the second V. sponge tin (more about this in a minute).  When the dough was ready, the cake had been cooked, so I upturned the second tin and placed it over the top of the buns in their tin so they would steam rather than bake (helps to keep the dough soft and not brown too rapidly).  Half-way through the baking I removed the top tin to let them brown, then when baked, brushed the tops with golden syrup and butter (melted together), sprinkling Demerara sugar over.  Worked really well.
There was enough plain dough left to make six mini-loaves, and the main loaf also rose beautifully.  As I make the dough in the bread-machine, instead of using cool liquid (as normal), have begun to use a tepid water (less than hand-hot but certainly the chill taken off), and am sure this helps the dough to rise better and slightly faster than usual.  The liquid used is now one third milk two thirds water and this too gives a better texture/flavour. l

The chocolate cake - mentioned above - was made using a Tesco Value sponge cake mix (think this is 15p).  I tipped some cocoa powder into a bowl (guestimated 2 tablespoonsful), added a teaspoon of baking powder, mixed in the cake mix, then added a large egg and the water.  I misread the amount of water needed, so added too much, so slung in a bit more self-raising flour and when I felt it was the right consistency (still a bit on the soft side) poured it into the greased and base-lined tin.  It baked perfectly, and when removed from the tin and cooled, I split it in half and spread Nutella over one half to make the filling, the clapped the top on.  Apart from the cake being very fragile (tending to break easily) it did make a very good cake, and anyway B's intention was to cut a large slice, warm it in the microwave, pour cream over and eat it with a spoon, so if it crumbled a bit, no problem.

Even before I got to making the cake, went to the freezer to get food for B's supper (he wanted a beef casserole), and saw half a pack of short pastry in there, so took that out to thaw, along with four sausages (B likes - as a snack - a cooked sausage tucked into one of the mini-loaves).   While the above bakes were cooking, I cooked some potatoes, carrots and parsnips until just tender, heated the pre-cooked stewing meat (with its gravy) in the microwave, fried an onion in a frying pan, adding the meat/gravy, with a little dry casserole 'mix' to thicken it, and also a little HP 'smokey barbecue' sauce (last bit in the bottle, water added, give a good shake and pour into the pan).  Finally added the cooked veggies.  Let them simmer for 5 minutes, then turned it out ready to reheat at supper time.

By the time the various breads and cakes were baked (I also cooked the sausages on the top shelf), then set too and grated some cheese, rolled out the pastry, covered it with first a shake of pepper and salt, then grated cheese, folded it into three, rolled it out thinly, repeated the act, and after the final rolling, cut the pastry into thin strips.  As it was half a pack of pastry used, it made a LOT of cheese straws. Cooked two baking sheets at a time, twice.

After all that was done, staggered into the living room where B had almost nodded off, and said there was enough there for his toast and pud and snacks to last him several days, just make sure none of the bread got stale before ate it.   B said "you didn't have to cook all that much" (which was true), but I repleied (also true) that it was better to cook it all while the oven was on as this saved fuel, otherwise I'd be oven-baking every day to keep up with what he likes to eat.  He understood.

Sometimes I wish I could allow myself to 'buy convenient'.  How much easier it would be for me to buy biscuits and cakes, bread and ready-meals.  On a bad day I've even thought about ordering meals from companies such as Wilkinson's Farm Foods et al.  It could be, that if anything happened to me, B would have to rely on these, so yesterday worked out how much these would cost him, and believe it or not one meal a day - over a month - would cost B as much (if not more) than my total food budget spent now covering meals for both myself and B, including B's snacks and treats, food for storage (freezer and larder) and bulk buying quality meat from D.R.

Still, having learned to cook stir-fries (and now able to poach eggs) am hoping B will extend his cookery horizons and - who knows - he may even be able to bake his own bread and make cheese straws.  At least making sure the the larder is full and the freezer has plenty of ready-to-heat meals means that B won't starve if I suddenly disappear to that great kitchen in the sky. 

My Beloved has just come in to tell me that he saw "by one get two free" at Morrison's yesterday. Apparently three large packs of prawns for the price of one (and that was £4!!). He desperately wants to go and buy them because they are such a good offer.  I asked him if they were fresh or frozen, he said (vaguely) he thought they were frozen as they were in the chilled compartment.  I said if chilled, that meant fresh.  We could never eat that many prawns in one go (or even several goes and they were obviously just about at their 'use-by/eat-by' date. 
But he wants them.  And if B wants....  Suggested he went and looked at the pack - if they said 'can be frozen on day of purchase' then OK, but if not DON'T BUY!  But I bet he will. 

"You must come with me to Morrison's" says B, "they have LOADS of things on offer, you'd love it!".  And that's why I won't go.  I may want but don't NEED, and ordering on-line is the best way for me to spend less.   Even yesterday B came in with two Pukka Pies (that are good and he does like them) that were reduced this week.  With loads of meat in the freezer (and pastry) we didn't need them, but at least I was able to freeze them.  B cannot resist anything 'reduced' (and not only food), he can waste loadsa money on things that really are not needed, and then moan that he never has enough money to buy what he really needs.

Anyway, time for me to leave (my coffee morning so things to be done prior to that), and apologies for not giving a recipe today.  Should be back tomorrow with suggestions for things to make.  Then will take Sunday off.  Hallow'een next week, then Bonfire night.  It's all go.   TTFN.