Thursday, January 23, 2014

Making Ends Meet

One (financially) main advantage of losing weight is that clothes that were too tight, now fit again and can also be made smaller.  Even belts (with gaps of inches between ends) now meet in the middle.  Another month and I hope I'll be able to fasten them with room to spare.  We can always hope.

Making ends meet works also with food.  The past few days I've been really busy in the kitchen, not even giving a thought to B's supper until he arrives home at 4.30pm asking me "what's for supper".  I'd love to suggest he cooks his own (stir-fry) but after a hard (?) day's work, that really wouldn't be fair.  After all, I'm used to it, he's not.

Thankfully, my pre-cooked and frozen minced beef made a quick Chilli con Carne.  I thawed the beef in the microwave (8 minutes on High), while I cooked a pack of Mexican Chilli 'Beanfeast' in a frying pan (and for once didn't first fry onions to include, I just couldn't be bothered!!).  With the dry mix, a can of chopped tomatoes, some more water and a bit more chilli powder to add more 'heat', adding the mince when the mixture was cooked, along with a can of red beans, there was enough for four portions.  B and I had one each, two were frozen as 'ready-meals'.  #

I know we are not supposed to re-freeze anything that has thawed (with the exception of plain cake, bread and pastry), as the meat was thoroughly cooked (again), this made it OK.  Well, I think so anyway.

Yesterday made B quite a good meal of some cooked chicken (taken from chickens that had been simmering in pots for a couple of hours - to use for the Cock-a-leekie Soup).  In a separate pan I cooked some small potatoes while I made gravy in a small frying pan (using Bisto Best chicken gravy granules).  As I cooked big chunks of carrot with the chicken, I fished those out and quartered them (B likes his veggies really soft anyway), added those with the chicken to the gravy, plus the now cooked spuds, and in the spud water cooked some frozen peas.  Took about 20 minutes to prepare/cook/assemble the meal, but a lot faster than if I'd made it 'properly'.  It looked good on the plate (surplus gravy poured over the meat), and B thoroughly enjoyed it.

Today I'll be finishing off making the chicken stock (keeping it in the fridge to cook tomorrow with the leeks and pearl barley), also chilling the cooked chicken that will be added during the last 5 minutes of heating-to-simmering.  
Must then turn my thoughts to making lemon and lime, and orange and ginger marmalades for the club to sell to members (they keep asking for some).  Will also thaw out some fish to make B a Fish Risotto for his supper.

Not sure yet whether we will be having visitors tomorrow (won't know until later today), but as I can't make the desserts until Saturday, will just have to gather together the 'makings' so that I won't have to waste time doing this on the Saturday morning.  Need B on Saturday to ferry the soup to the club in the morning, the desserts in the afternoon, also go to the tip to get rid of all the rubbish, and now he tells me he'll be busy part of the day as he'd made appointments to go to the optician and elsewhere. 
It'll all get sorted. 

This means that almost certainly I won't be blogging tomorrow or Saturday, and as I normally take Sunday off (Gill phones me for an hour during the morning), I won't be back with you until Monday. However, if I do have an hour or so to spare late Friday evening, I may write a few words (to be read the following day), so as always - I say 'watch this space'.

Our front door bell now won't work, our back door bell hasn't worked for ages, new batteries don't help, so it looks like we'll have to buy new ones AGAIN.  We seem to need a complete new bell every couple of years. Maybe it is the damp that is the problem. Can't do much about that.  Does anyone know of a reputable bell that will work? 

Thanks for comments.  We have a good local bakery here in Bare Granny G.  But have only been in once to buy a couple of small cakes as a treat for B (and as they charge around about £1 each realised that home-made is far cheaper).  Probably most of the shops seen on 'Britain's Best Bakers' also charge quite a lot, but then that is not out of the ordinary.  Trouble with me is that I always know how relatively little  the 'ready made' can cost if I make the same myself.   If I was 'in business' then of course I would charge a lot more (to cover all the overheads). 

Every time we buy anything, we pay more than the cost of ingredients/materials used. We pay for the skill of the maker, plus any advertising, delivery, and all the many other costs that have to be charged (rent, rates, fuel, wages....) sometimes I wonder how on earth some things are sold at such a low cost.  Slave labour?  Cheap and nasty ingredients/materials?    Perhaps better we make as much as we can ourselves then we can use the best for less expense.

I've seen Cravendale milk on Tesco's on-line site jane, but as you say - it is more expensive.  Tesco's milk I find will keep for up to a month in the fridge (our fridge set at 5C).  As semi-skimmed (and skimmed) milk will freeze successfully, I often do freeze some in smaller containers so that I have more room in the fridge.  I freeze it when it is newly bought, not when I've had it for a week or two. So if wishing to save a few more pennies, we could buy/freeze milk when on special offer.

How lovely that you now have your wood-burner fitted jane, and bet you are enjoying sitting around enjoying the warmth.  Am sure you could burn other things as well as wood (meat bones burn particularly well, as does dried citrus peel, pine cones....). 

One recipe today that is an upmarket version of the wartime Woolten Pie.  Being meatless a good serving should cost us not much more than 50p each (depending on how many of the cheaper veggies you choose to use and less of the more expensive ones).
This seasonal winter pie can be frozen (but no details for this given in the original recipe).  My suggestion is make-to-eat, using up the veggies you have.

Mid-winter Vegetable Pie: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1 tblsp plain flour
2 large carrots, cut into batons
half a cauliflower, florets only
2 - 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes plus...
..1 can of water
4 oz (100g) frozen peas
2 lb (900g) potatoes, cut into chunks
approx. half pint (150ml) milk
salt and pepper
Fry the onions in half the oil over medium heat until softened, then stir in the flour and cook for 2 mins. Stir in the other veggies and herb and cook until they also begin to soften.  Add the chopped tomatoes with the can of water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove lid and cook for 15 minutes more or until the sauce has thickened and the veggies are cooked.  Add the peas, give a stir and cook for a further minute.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and mash with the remaining oil and enough milk to give a fairly soft consistency.  Add seasoning to taste.
Spoon the vegetables into a heat-proof pie dish, topping with the mashed spuds, forking it up to give a rough surface (this will help to crisp it up).  Place under a pre-heated grill for a few minutes until the top is golden and crunchy.

That's it for the time being.  Am now taking a few days off blogging but will return on Monday (unless I can't wait and need to have a relaxing chat with you around midnight!).  Keep sending comments so that I will have something to reply to (recipes requested, queries to answer etc).  Enjoy your weekend.  TTFN .