Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beginning the Experiments

Very pleased to say the purple sprouting broccoli/cheese/walnuts recipe given yesterday was a success.  My 'Garden to Kitchen Expert' book has several pages of recipes using this veg as well as the ordinary broccoli (which really should be called calabrese - learn something every day).

Thanks to all who wrote in giving details of the best way to cook the  including Grub-lover who is new to this page, and to whom we give our welcome.

If  the Scottish make 'neeps' with swedes Margaret, and am assuming 'neeps' is a shortened form of turnip, do the Scots call swedes 'turnips', and if so what do they call turnips?  In the US I believe a swede is called 'rutabaga', and have a feeling that a veg in the UK called a Mangol Worzul (given to cattle) is almost the same as swede.

Apologies to Canadian readers: we welcome Margaret (from Manitoba) and also Margie (from Toronto who is already known to us) , for not realising that Canada has a lot of pasture land.  As so often happens, the only parts of a very large country that we read about or see on TV are the areas that are usually visually exciting (mountainous areas etc), and certain  tourist areas/cities (Calgary, Toronto, Quebec et al).  
Myself would love to visit Canada, but as I can barely walk from our back door to our gate, cannot even travel around our own country, let alone anywhere else.  Possibly the only holiday that would suit me would be a river cruise, with any optional expeditions being on a coach.  So am a bit tempted by the offers of cruise holidays on the Rhine.

Also thanks to Alison (Sussex) and Ali (Shropshire) for also letting me know the best way to cook the purple sprouting broccoli.  I cooked only the heads yesterday, but did keep the stems and leaves, so can probably use these in a stir-fry.  As the sent was in short lengths (about 3") and very fresh (looked as though it had only just been picked), seems that all of it can be used and NO WASTE! Yipee!

Reviewing my delivery again yesterday afternoon, I sorted it out as though I was going to pack it into small bags, the amount that would normally have a £1 sticker on them in the supermarkets.  As you know most veggies can now be bought prepacked, all seeming to cost £1 (even if they would be a lot less if bought loose).  I worked out that I could make up 20 bags (if I cut the savoy cabbage and swede in half) which would then cost much the same as the price I paid - and as supermarket bagged veg are NOT organic, then it seems I've actually got a bargain.  Or thereabouts.  I like to think positive.

Many years ago buttercup, my B used to use Swarfega to clean his very greasy hands, and it always worked well.  Think then it was a sort of paste, but possibly there is a liquid version that will also help to get rid of grease embedded into material.  Perhaps Kathryn will be able to get some.

If you have a small freezer Sairy, I can give you a tip on how to make the best use of space.  If bagging up minced meat, the first put some into a bag, then roll it flat using a rolling pin, these can then be frozen and if you only need a small amount of mince, it can be easily snapped off from the flat 'tile'.  Single slices of bread can be bagged up (bags can be reused of course), and these - when frozen can be packed into a freezer along the sides, back or base (as can the mince).  This leaves the centre of the freezer space to pack other things of a more bulky shape.
If wishing to make home-made stock, then boil it down to reduce (only the water steams away, the flavour is retained and then becomes very concentrated. Freeze this in ice-cube trays, and these can then be added to (say) half or a pint of hot water to thaw and use as stock in the normal way.

Tonight am definitely making the tagine, probably a bulk amount as it will freeze.  Will have a taste at the finish as every cook should do (checking the seasoning etc), but my supper will be some canned tuna (or maybe hard-boiled eggs) with coleslaw and watercress.  Plus an organic tomato.  Am still struggling to lose some weight.  My own fault, I couldn't resist eating one of my mini-loaves baked yesterday.  One batch of bread mix (that I did not extend this time) made six big baps and nine mini-loaves.  Enough to keep B going for a week (if I can keep away from it).  Much of it is being frozen, so that some can be taken out each day as then it will thaw as fresh as if just baked.

Spent some time yesterday grating quite a lot of cheese that has been hanging around since Christmas.  Double Gloucester,  Cheddar, Red Leicester.  Mixed together, some will be used today to make a cheese quiche (adding some crème fraiche that has not yet been opened but has just passed its 'use-by' date (sniff and taste will tell if it should not be used, but it will be cooked anyway). The rest of the grated cheese will be bagged/boxed up and frozen. 
There is still a bit of 'block' cheese left for B to eat as a snack, but soon will have to replace the cheese.  At least if I can wait a couple more weeks, then my expenditure since Christmas will be extremely low - even when buying cheese.  

The good thing about grated foods (cheese, veggies etc...) it goes a lot further than if served as whole pieces.  One chunk of cheese that B would eat in a very few minutes would serve three people if grated and used in a quiche.  The same with onions, carrots, white cabbage.  Eaten whole as hot veggies to accompany meat would serve one.  Grated into coleslaw (with the addition of mayo), would make enough for at least four servings.

Where has the winter gone?  Today we have blue skies and of course sunshine.  Still cold, but not below freezing.  Early this morning could hear the collared doves cooing, and yesterday saw the bluetits busily flying around also in and out of the nesting boxes.  Do they know something we don't?
Even I feel a sudden urge to at least THINK about spring-cleaning.   Wouldn't it be lovely if our weather began to behave as it used to, at least in my memory of my early childhood.  But they do say that wasn't normal anyway, we just thought it was.   All we can do is wait and see whether nature is in a good mood this coming year.  Wouldn't blame her if she wasn't considering the mess we are making of her world.

Have to go now as kitchen-duty calls.  First must blind-bake a couple of pastry cases, then make cheese straws out of the remaining pastry scraps, then bake a quiche, at the same time bake a Bakewell tart (or some dessert tart - if I had stale breadcrumbs, which I don't, it would be Treacle tart).  Also hard-boil some eggs, and try and fit in making a batch (or two) of marmalade.  PLUS slow cooking the chicken tagine.   Expect by then it will be late-lunch-time, and somehow or other must make time to watch 'Doctors' and drink my lunchtime soup', then if anything more has to be done, it can be done when that has finished.  Only when all done and dusted I'll be able to have a proper sit down - at least until 5.00 when I'll need to make the couscous and serve B his supper. 

So farewell for today, Norma the Hair will be here tomorrow afternoon (not morning) so even if I do have a coffee morning with neighbour prior to that, should have time to have a chat with you all, at least reply to comments if not much else before I start my 'social day'.  Hope to see you then.  TTFN