Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Counting the Cost - Again!

It certainly seems that our current challenge to use up food we have, rather than go out and buy more, is stopping me watching many TV cookery progs.  Am not even bothering to watch 'Taste', as the first two episodes were pointless in my opinion - they didn't show us how to cook what was being served, and we didn't even get to see what it should look like if plated up.  It was all to do with the taste of the food, and that is something a viewer will never be able to experience when we don't know the recipes.

Occasionally I watch the 'Baker's Challenge' (ITV 4.00pm) as they professional bakers do show how some quite simple bakes can be made to look impressive. 
At least did find the two programmes 'Are you addicted to sugar?', followed by 'Food Unwrapped' very informative, as the first one showed how manufacturers are removing fat from certain products to make them more 'healthy' for us, but adding (more) sugar in its place.   Seems the sugar is more unhealthy than the fat, so what's that all about?
With the cost of 'healthy products' being more expensive than the 'normal' ones, it benefits us to make our own from scratch then we can reduce the fats and sugar to a recommended level.

In Food Unwrapped, was very pleased to learn how we can make our own vanilla extract (chop up one or more vanilla pods and cover them with vodka, then screw on the lid and leave them to soak for several days/weeks.  Give a shake of the jar from time to time, and presto! you have make your own superb vanilla extract - as good as but much cheaper than the best Madagascan extract.

Have heard more than one person Granny G,  muttering about the aid we give to China when they obviously don't need it (spending billions on their own space activities, rather than on their people).  More and more it seems that a nation is far more interested on spending trillions on warfare, space travel, even supplying aid to other countries when many of their own people are in dire need.  

On our local (TV) news last night there was a bit about Foodbanks and how the numbers of outlets and 'clients' have more than doubled in 12 months.  Even nurses are said to need to use their services from time to time.  It's not that people are always out of a job, it is the rising cost of everything else (especially fuel) that uses up any money left over after the main bills are paid (rent, mortgage etc).

Thankfully, we seem to be getting through our winter without the temperature dropping below zero (C). Apart from an occasional frost here and there, and a bit of snow in the very north of Scotland, our main weather problems have been rain and the flooding this has caused. 
At the moment we are going through a fairly settled spell of weather, but the forecast is for stronger winds and more rain over (our) western side tomorrow and maybe over the weekend.  But at least not THAT cold.

Although I do buy UHT milk Sairy, this is more for 'back-up' and normally buy 3 x 4pt containers of semi-skimmed over a month (£3 when bought together - it keeps well in the fridge).
Several of the empty containers are kept to use in the way you suggested, and I always keep three of them in the conservatory -  filled with water - to come to room temperature, so the plants don't get a shock as tap water is normally colder than they are during the winter.
I might well use one or two of the containers to hold 'back-up' chicken soup (base), with some leeks and chicken in another container to add if needed.

With a request from Jo (New Zealand) have managed to find some suggestions that I hope will suit her needs. 
The first is a room freshener, perfect for anyone who lives in Australia, and am just hoping that the same trees grow in N.Z. as we can also grow them in this country, mainly for ornamental purposes, so here - in the UK - we can make this too.

Tip:If you don't possess a special burner to vaporise air fresheners, then pour into a saucer (if oil based add water first so the oil floats) and place on a sunny windowsill or on top of a warm radiator to allow the freshener to vaporise.

air freshener:
7 oz (200g) fresh eucalyptus leaves
1.75 pints (1 ltre) vinegar
Place the leaves and vinegar in a jar that has a screw top.   When needed, heat a few spoons of the mixture in an oil burner (see above tip) and leave to vaporise in the room.

Lavender 'sticks':
Take a few dried lavender stems and place in a holder.  Light the ends with a match, and allow them to smoulder (not flame) and they will act like 'joss sticks' giving out a lovely scent of lavender.

Essential Oils:
Use lavender, rose or other essential oils sprinkled over dried flowers (rose petals etc). Leave in a bowl, tossing occasionally, and these will help to scent a room.
Alternatively, sprinkle a chosen essential oil over cotton cloth and hang them up around a room - especially good when placed in a draught (in front of a window etc).

When it comes to caring for furniture, we could start by preventing dust from settling too quickly by wiping the furniture with a cloth that has been dipped into the following:
1.75 pints (1 ltr) water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon glycerine
Mix together, pour a little of the mixture onto a soft cloth and wipe over furniture.

This simple polish can be used on all sorts of veneers, but only suitable for wooden surfaces.
veneer polish:
7 fl oz (200ml) olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (filtered)
Use a funnel to pour the oil and juice into a small glass bottle.  Seal with a cork or cap and shake vigorously.  Apply polish to a wad of cotton wool, the cover this with a piece of linen or tea-towel.  Twist to make a firm pad then use this to polish the veneer using a circular motion.  Dry with a clean cloth.
This polish will keep for several weeks, always shake the bottle each time before use.

Traditionally, furniture polish was always made using beeswax, and this wax can be bought in craft shops (where they sell the makings for candles).  I suppose, if we bought a jar of honey - still in its comb - we could remove the honey and melt down the wax to use for this polish that is best poured into shallow containers for ease of use so we can rub a cloth over the surface to gather up some of the polish.

furniture polish for light wood:
2 tsp beeswax granules
4 fl oz (100ml) soya bean oil
Put the beeswax and oil into a basin standing over a pan of simmering water.  When the wax has melted, whisk together.  Allow to cool then pour into a metal or glass container and seal.  This polish will keep well for up to 6 months.

polish for dark wood:
1 tsp beeswax granules
1 tsp lanolin
4 tsp soya bean oil
1 tsp turpentine
Melt the beeswax in a bowl, then beat in the other ingredients.  Store as above.

A busy week for me as you can imagine, and as long as I work slowly and steadily, everything will get done in time and also giving me time to relax.  But - as so often happens - the unexpected may happen.  Heard yesterday that we may be having visitors on Friday, so I'm having to make sure I allow for that should it happen.  
If fortune favours me, then I should still find time to blog tomorrow (Friday and Saturday uncertain).  Much depends on how I get on today.  Keep watching this space,  a shorter blog is better than none at all.   Enjoy your day.