Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dress For The Occasion

Thanks for comments.  Regarding the surplus food Les, it appears that the social club collects names of those who 'intend' coming to any meals that have been arranged, but normally the money is collected only when they arrive.  This means that if anyone decides not to turn up, then they don't pay any money.   It would be a better idea if each person - who said they would go - would pay a small (non-returnable) deposit, and this would cover most of the food that was made and then left-over.
B is manfully working his way through great wedges of Blackberry and Apple Crumble for his suppers.  He will soon get fed up of eating them, but anyway the rest have now been portioned up (large size) and frozen.  Should last him until next summer!

Thanks to buttercup for sending us her winter memories.  Really took me back, and has made me realise how different things are today.  For one thing we all seem to have gone a bit 'soft'. A drop in temperature or an inch of snow on the road and the nation seems almost unable to cope.  At least cope as well as we used to.

Crossed my mind that in 'those days', we always had sets of summer and winter clothing.  Today it seems as though most people wear the same clothes almost all the year round.  No need for heavy overcoats when we can leave the house, jump into a heated car, then back out again into a heated supermarket (or other store) or work-place.
Even in the '60's it was unusual for a family to own a car.  We rode bicycles or used public transport.  In late autumn we brought down all the suitcases and removed all our winter 'clobber', and do remember how often we would pass someone in the street whose clothes still smelt of mothballs. 

To keep warm we would wear vests (the ladies vests were then and a bit lacy, some with arms called 'camisoles') over this we would wear a thin jumper, and when a bit cooler a matching cardigan (we called these 'twin-sets'?).  The colder the weather the thicker the jumpers, and these always made from pure wool.
Girls didn't wear trousers much in those days (we called them 'slacks'), so kept our legs warm by wearing thicker stockings.  Outdoors our feet tucked into fleecy-lined short boots.  Our coats were always made from heavy material and mainly long (none of the short 'jacket' types seen today).  Do remember one of our daughters wearing an RAF 'greatcoat' (warm as toast) that she'd been able to buy from the Army and Navy Stores.  And that must have been in the late '70's.

Possibly the most useful coat that I wore in those times was a duffle coat.  Good to see they are still on sale, although possibly not made now from material as warm as those in the past.  The more modern 'fleece' seems to keep us warm, and being light-weight useful for all-year round use.  When B begins to feel the cold (even when the central heating is on), he just puts on his 'fleece', over his long-sleeved fairly thick sport 'jersey' (he never wears a proper suit and shirt unless for weddings, funerals, and special occasions).

To keep out the cold, the trick is to always make sure our feet, hands, and neck are kept warm as it is here the blood vessels are closest to the skin, and if the blood gets cold, it cools down the rest of us (remember how we used to hold our wrists under cold running water to cool us down when the weather was too hot? It works the other way round as well).  If possible always warm socks, gloves, scarves before wearing them.   It's surprising how much heat we lose from the top of our heads.  If you don't believe me, wait until a hot day next year, then sit against a plainly painted wall with the sun shining on your head, and take a mirror and you will see the heat-shimmer rising from the top of your scalp.  So wear a hat or some sort of head covering as well as everything else.

It's not only clothes that have seasonal changes.  During the colder months I used to put winceyette sheets and pillowcases on the beds, extra blankets, and myself wore winceyette nightclothes.  I'd even turn the large cushions round (on the living room couch) so the warm red/orange velvet side faced outwards (plain or floral cotton in cool colours on the reverse side for summer 'viewing').  Warm colours give a feeling of warmth.  I even used to change the loo roll, pale (daffodil) yellow in the spring, and a warmer pink for the winter months.  White paper would seem obvious (snow etc), but far too cool in appearance for my liking, I'd keep the 'whites' for the hottest summer days.

Thanks jane for giving me the translation of 'alla prossima'.  Nadia doesn't add 'goodbye', but now realise what she is saying I can return her farewell (I'm a bit like that - talk to the TV as there is no-one else to talk to, B prefers me to be seen and not heard - and not necessarily that.  More and more he is now living in a world of his own - so what's different?).

Not sure if a welcome is due to Kath M (have heard from a Kath before but may not be the same one), but a welcome anyway.  Do understand why 'Happy Holiday' is the now accustomed greeting in the US, but still feel it is a pity. Why is it that we seem so frightened of upsetting all other faiths? We used to live in an area of Leeds that had many Jewish people living there (five synagogues within walking distance of our house), yet they would say 'Happy Christmas' to us, and I've known many people who have Muslin neighbours who send them Christmas cards..  I used to say 'Happy Hannuka' to our Jewish friends, who appreciated that I'm sure.  If we all start saying 'Happy Holiday' then we lose all our traditions. .Let us hope this is one saying from over the pond that we refuse to enter our shores.  I'm still annoyed that our 'Mothering Sunday' has now to be called 'Mother's Day', even though this is a completely different date than the Mother's Day in the US.
A thanks also to Margie for sending us her views on this.

A welcome is given to Kristen who I'm pleased to hear lives in Morecambe. It is true that Morecambe Bay has one of the best seaside views in the country.  Problem is I'm not often around to appreciate it, as usually out only when the visibility across the Bay is nil due to mist.  On the clear days, seeing range after range of the Lakeland hills the other side of the water - then it truly is a magnificent sight.

An interesting point Mandy.  It does seem that babies - when properly wrapped up - don't feel the cold.  Perhaps because their little hands and feet are snugly tucked inside blankets, and bonnets keep their heads warm (hopefully knitted from real wool).   I dare say if someone wrapped up adults (Egyptian mummy fashion) we too wouldn't feel the cold.  We just wouldn't be able to walk anywhere either.   Imagine having all that unwrapping if we needed the bathroom!

Am pleased you found the filling suggestions for Swiss Roll were useful Barbara.  On Paul Hollywood's prog yesterday he was making an Arctic Roll using a slab of sponge wrapped round a roll of ice-cream (kulfi in this instance).  So this is another idea that might be able to be used - perhaps making a roll of cheesecake 'filling' with the sponge wrapped round it.  This will freeze and then be thawed before slicing.
Where about in Leicestershire do you live?  I was born in Coventry, but we moved to Leicester when I was nine (to get away from the raids - having spent a short time living in Leamington Spa before that).  Lived with my parents until marriage, and for a couple of years after marriage until we could afford our first house. B and I then moved to Oadby where we lived for 12 years before moving to Leeds. 

I'm always starting to chat about something else when I should be concentrating on what I began writing about, so had better return to the Swiss Roll et al before I forget to remind readers that although most frozen foods should never be refrozen after thawing (unless raw and then cooked), this doesn't apply to plain cake which can be frozen, then thawed, and refrozen again. Filled with jam and butter cream is OK for re-freezing, but never re-freeze if fresh cream has been used. Bread also can be frozen, thawed, re-frozen.  Don't overdo it though, just once out then back in again and maybe just one more repeat (if you have to).

A few recipes today that - if you already have the ingredients - will save a fair amount of money.  In other words - why buy if you can make instead?
The first is a recipe from The Goode Kitchen, and a marzipan that is less expensive than any on sale. Worth mentioning that anyone who has a liquidiser blender has the right equipment to make their own caster and icing sugar.  All you do is grind down some granulated sugar until fine enough for caster, then grind a little of this caster sugar down until as fine as icing sugar (do this a little at a time), sift to collect the really fine sugar and store in air-tight containers. 
The 5kg bags of granulated sugar usually work out cheaper (per 100g) than buying the normal (smaller) sizes.  Sugar will keep indefinitely so worth buying when the price is right. Just make sure it is stored in a place that is not damp.

economical marzipan:
8 oz (225g) icing sugar (see above)
2 oz (50g) caster sugar (see above)
2 oz (50g) ground almonds
1 teaspoon golden syrup
2 drops almond essence
1 egg white
Put everything into a bowl and mix well together (if the egg white is on the large size you may need to add a little more icing sugar).  Knead until smooth.  Keep wrapped in a polybag if you're not going to use it immediately.

For many years I used to ice special occasion cakes for anyone who wanted one.  Always then the cakes were heavy fruit, iced first with marzipan and then topped with many very thin layers of royal icing.  Nowadays it seems cakes are fruitless and covered with fondant (and how I hate fondant - far too sweet for me, although easy to handle and model, I grant you that).
The recipe below explains how to make fondant, very similar to that on sale but not pure white because of the syrup (as I write I am thinking that we could dissolve a little sugar in water and boil down to make a 'white' syrup but is that a step too far?).  Who needs white icing anyway?  The icing we can make will accept a drop of food colouring perfectly. 

fondant icing:
1 lb (450g) icing sugar
1 egg white
2 tsp golden syrup (see above)
Put 12 oz (350g) of the icing sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the egg white and syrup.  Mix well together then turn out onto a work surface (or large plate) with the remaining icing sugar.  Knead until all the sugar has been worked in and the fondant is smooth.  You may need to add a little more (or less) sugar depending on the size of the egg white.

Final recipe today (again from The Goode Kitchen) is a real winner, but unfortunately only useful for people who grow their own parsley, and you do need quite an amount.  A good recipe to use up 'old' (overgrown) parsley.  The traditional way of making this did not include honey - that is my way of making it taste even more like the real thing.  And tasting like honey it really does. 

Parsley Honey:
4 oz (100g) parsley (leaves and stalks)
1.5 pints (900ml) water
1 lb (450g) granulated sugar
1 heaped tablespoon thick honey
Wash the parsley then put it into a large saucepan with the water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain through a sieve into a measuring jug.   You should now have 1 pint (570ml) of liquid - if not make up the shortfall by adding more water.  Return the liquid to the pan, add the sugar and stir until dissolved then bring to the boil, and cook at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.  Stir in the honey until dissolved, then remove from heat and put up into small, warm and sterilised jars.  Seal and store in a cool place.  Use as honey.

Have decided not to scoot out today as it is flippin' cold.  Supposed to warm up a bit tomorrow, so may well go out then as the colder weather is set to return by the weekend.  One good thing about the cold and frosty weather.  We only get the frost when the skies are clear, and this means we get more sunshine, and who can feel miserable when the sun shines?

A reader thought that I was small (short).  Funny how we visualise people in different ways.  I was just about touching 6 ft when I was younger, but age has apparently made me sag and I'm now only 5'6".  Probably why my hips keep expanding, it's got to go somewhere.  I'll probably end up square.

It occurred to me that the economical way to make the best foodie treats for the festive season is to use what we already have.  Well, possibly not yet have, but if we know what can be made, this might give an idea of what would be the best purchases, it's up to us then to make the most of them.
So tomorrow I'll be giving some suggestions.  Not to everyone's taste perhaps but hopefully some ideas will be useful and just might get your own little grey cells working to invent your own versions.
Do hope you will find time to take a look as I'm already looking forward to getting those recipes onto this blog.  Enjoy your day.  TTFN.