Saturday, November 30, 2013

thank Goodness for my Blog!!

Having had an almost sleepless night last night due entirely to B muttering to himself, having coughing fits, thrashing around in bed, singing in his sleep, shouting in his sleep.... I was not able to get to sleep until 5.00am this morning (and didn't sleep during that time as I kept checking the bedside clock). I prodded B, shouted at him to wake him up, and nothing I did got through, he just carried on making a racket, fast asleep.  And on and on....
Just began to fall asleep when the central heating burst into life (the boiler is in our bedroom) but did manage to snooze for an hour, at least until I needed to go to the bathroom at 6.00 decided then I might as well stay up, and spent a couple or so hours watching the Food Network (all about the different cookies made in the US and gingerbread decorated for Christmas). 

When B woke up a few minutes ago, bringing me in a cup of coffee, he said he'd lost his false teeth during the night - somewhere tangled in the bed clothes no doubt.  I really rocketed him for his 'behaviour' (he's usually like that after a Friday evening at the social, but yesterday was the worst ever) and told him every 'social Friday' from now on he'd have to sleep on the futon in the living room so that I could have a good night's sleep.

I felt in a very black mood when I sat down at the comp this morning, but as soon as I saw there were several comments in my 'inbox', I immediately felt better.  If nothing else, my blog seems to bring me back to feeling a lot better about life in general, maybe because by 'having a moan' it gets it out of my system rather than brooding over something.

Because I couldn't sleep last night, decided to use the time to 'have a think' about the difference between life here and that in the US.  Earlier that evening had caught a snippet of news about a store in the north of England (and possibly other branches had the same thing happen) that had decided to copy the US and have its own Black Friday sale.  Apparently lots of people went, almost a stampede, think one or two people were hurt (I've not yet read the paper so don't know all the facts). 

Why is it that we always seem to have to copy what America does? Seemingly choosing to do all the wrong things that can do us more harm than good, and that's on top of what has already been foisted upon us.   Granted, I'm not complaining about the introduction of Heinz Beans, Heinz Salad Cream, Kellog's Corn Flakes, and even Spam (although it is probably only me who enjoys the latter).  But all the other stuff:  Wimpy Bars, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza take-aways....not to mention all the sweets, fizzy drinks and junk foods that are now so popular, and the cause of much of the obesity in both adults and children.

As Chef Duff says about his cakes - they have to be 'bigger, better, and awesome' (and how I dislike that word, seems to be used for just about everything 'liked'.  Am finding Ina Garten's continual use of 'amAzing' almost as infuriating).
It seems that everything in the US has to be bigger than it really need be. Just after the war, when we still had rationing - how we used to envy the Americans with their big cars (almost every family seemed to have one), and their big fridges, central heating and air-conditioning.
Myself was always puzzled as to why most houses seemed to have no inner doors, rooms just led one into another.  In Britain every room had a door.  American life seemed so much better than any other. At least THEN.

Perhaps the American way of life was not always as good as it seemed, after all, the only way we knew much about it was watching films.  Even the poorer folk seemed to have a better life that we did (The Waltons, the Ingalls etc...).  The sun always shone, teenagers seemed to just 'enjoy life' with their school proms, holiday camps, even owning their own cars (or at least driving them). There were sit-coms that showed other sides, such as 'Roseanne', but even then life seemed far more laid back than in Britain.

Thankfully we haven't (yet) taken up the incessant 'eating giant portions' that seems to be happening all over the States (based on watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and Man v Food). To us Brits the amount that people eat in one sitting seems obscene.  Granted, some of the meals do look delicious and certainly a lot of trouble goes into making cuts of meat taste wonderful (hours and hours of slow cooking and basting with chefs own choice of spices etc).  The one thing I can guarantee is that we will never see a British version of Man v Food.  We would be ashamed to be seen eating so much.

The minute we take up an American 'tradition' - such as Trick or Treating, and now Black Friday, this means more pressure from manufacturers and stores to get us to spend, spend, spend.  Where will it all end? 
The question should be asked:  What has Britain to offer America? Is there something we have that they want for a change?  At one time I'd say - for a certainty - our chocolate, particularly Cadbury's (the US Hershey choc is awful), but now that Cadbury's has been sold to an American company, no doubt this chocolate will be considered 'theirs'. 

Thankfully we do have our Royal Family and our National Health/Welfare State that still keeps Britain Great, although the latter abused by many people who decide they will be better off if they come to live in our country rather than stay in theirs.  But on the whole I always get the feeling that we are the 'poor relation' when it comes to the USA, and they feel more sorry for us than anything.  We are pathetic compared to them.  Allowing us to have McDonalds and all their other 'stuff' may be their 'aid' to give us a better standard of living (although I'm far more inclined to believe they are in it only for the profits).  I don't know, I just feel that now that Black Friday has arrived here, that is one step too far and we should now ban every new idea that comes to us from over the pond.

Do hope I haven't upset our American readers, and they are able to see it from our viewpoint for our way of life is very different from theirs.  Someone once said we are like two different cultures, the only thing we have in common is speaking the same language (and I'm not so sure we do that any more when they seem to need subtitles when anyone speaks English on the TV).  Personally, I would like to remain British, and enjoy the difference, not try and be the same.

Well, that's my moan for today.  I'd probably not have gone on about it so much had I had a better night, but there you go.
Time for me now to reply to comments....

The other week we had our dual fuel statements Les, telling me that the Fixed Price Tariff I'd set up a couple or so years back was due to expire.  I was given several options but decided to stay with a new Fixed Price Tariff that will hold the (new - and not much higher) prices until 2016.  If - as expected - the prices rise again and again, at least ours will remain as they are now - at least for 3 years (and by then I could be dead).  Because we pay by D.D. we also get a substantial discount.

Now we have two readers of the same name,  I'm calling one Ali (from Shropshire), the other Alison (from Essex) so hope both remember to give the short form (or full name) with future comments then I won't need to add the county.

Do hope your sore throat doesn't develop into something unpleasant Ali,  myself find that eating raw onions (the stronger the better) really does help to get rid of a bad throat - although it does then loosen any mucus and you will need a box (or two) of paper hankies.  Lemon and honey is also soothing for a bad throat.

Your mention of dolls Alison - and Teddy Bobby - reminded me I'd forgotten to mention my own Teddy Alice.  How I loved that bear, took it to bed with me every night.  Believe it is still in the family, now owned by my cousin's daughter (does that make her a 'second cousin' or 'cousin once removed'?  I never know the difference).  My Teddy ended up also threadbare, but always loved.

A welcome to Judy and David.  It was good to hear that you enjoyed making/eating some of the recipes from 'Have a Goode Year'.
You also mentioned the large portions cooked in Ina Garten's kitchen (often just for her and her husband). and perhaps the only cookery prog on the Food Network that does seem to show smaller portions is Nadia G's 'Bitchin Kitchen'.  Although Nadia is very OTT (as is her kitchen), once you get past her attitude, she really does cook some very simple, easy to make, and what seem to be very tasty dishes.  Certainly a programme that would get the younger folk wanting to cook.  She doesn't make it look at all 'domestic' (which can help especially in these 'modern' times).  And of course there is always Hans popping up to bring a little pleasure to us older women.  Sometimes I watch purely to see him, but still taking note of what is being cooked.  It's a programme worth watching (usually on very late at night - from 11.00 onwards I think).

So Canada now has Black Friday Margie. Can understand the reason you gave, but again isn't it just using psychology (again) to get us to part with our money.  The stores seem to know that we cannot resist a bargain, even if we don't really want it.   We see TV programmes of people living in houses where their rooms are stuffed so full of things bought (that they didn't really need), that they can hardly open a door, and sometimes have to end up sleeping in a chair as that is the only 'free' space they have. 

Many clothes bought in such sales end up in the charity shops, Never been worn, labels still attached, but bought because 'it was a real bargain'.   A memory of seeing (American films/TV) wallets taken from pockets, opened out to show long strips of credit cards (over twenty different ones at least) makes me wonder if the US were first with these cards and we (again) followed the trend to  'pay with plastic'.

The query from Margie as to whether the yog/curd mixture should be churned.  No, it normally freezes well - once mixed - put directly in the freezer.  The high proportion of sugar in the lemon curd helps to prevent it freezing rock solid, but if it is firm, then just put it in the fridge for half an hour or at room temperature for 10 or so minutes before scooping out.
Adding alcohol when making ice-cream also prevents it freezing solid, so if wishing to add a little limoncello to the above ice-cream don't add more than a teaspoonful or it may not freeze firmly enough.

It always surprises me how some people really don't enjoy doing jigsaws.  We love them, so was pleased to hear from Taaleedee that she too enjoys these.  We have about twenty at the moment, and prefer those that have lots of pieces as the jigsaw can be laid out on our dining room table and left there to 'play with' when we have nothing much to do. B can spend many happy hours putting them together. 
After we've done them once or twice we take them to the charity shop and buy others from the same place (only about 50p each and considering how much fun they are to do, well worth the money). Then we take those back for resale and come back with others we haven't yet done.   Sometimes I even buy a new one.

The comment from Lynne - regarding stuffed potato skins - has reminded me that I should have added that it is easier to make perfect mashed potato if the spuds are first cooked, in their skins, in the microwave (as we cook them for 'jackets').  Once cooked, scoop out most of the flesh (or all the flesh if not using the skins) and mash it us with a little pepper and salt and butter.  Microwaved potatoes end up with no lumps (unlike when first peeled and boiled in a pan) as they are so very easily mashed down with just a fork. 
Myself prefer to leave a bit of potato flesh clinging to the skin as I just love eating the skins, sometimes as-is, still hot spread with a little butter, or piling them high with a mixture of mashed potato and grated (or cream) cheese.  The other day I filled them with the little bit of leftover minced beef, mashed potato and grated cheese (deliberately left-over after making the Cottage Pie).  Although not a lot - if served on a plate - it did fill 8 half-skins that really made a meal in itself.

The good thing about potato skins is that they are very 'filling', and a good way to make a small amount of everything else served is to add a jacket potato then you still feel as though you've eaten a good meal.

Yes Lynne, syllabub is very moreish, but if we have only a small amount of double cream and a little white wine left-over, then we can only make one portion (or maybe two), so we can avoid temptation but still enjoy the dessert.  So go on, treat yourself!

Although cold, the sun is shining in a cloudless blue sky, this alone has cheered me up.  One almost amusing thing happened about an hour ago - our upstairs neighbour came down to speak to us as their new baby had - apparently - had a very bad night, crying loudly.  They had heard me shouting at B - about being kept awake all night - and they thought this was due to the baby.   Had to explain it was B that kept me awake and the neighbour (father) couldn't believe we hadn't yet heard it.  I suggested that next time it was crying, he came down and had a listen.  It's quite true, we cannot hear it at all.  Perhaps sound goes up rather than down.  

That's enough for today.  I won't be blogging tomorrow as Gill will be phoning, and - if the weather is good - we may be going out for a drive.  All being well will be back with you again on Monday.  Have a lovely weekend. TTFN.