Saturday, January 11, 2014

Time is Money

Having a bit of a hiccup at the moment re the computer, a message comes up about an error with a named module file (but of course cannot understand what it means).  Didn't think the blog had published yesterday, but checked with Eileen who said had.  Let's hope it continues to do so.  I'll email Steve the wording on the box that came up then he can probably sort it for me (he has fitted up a link between our comps so he can repair from a distance).

Thanks for comments, and a welcome to simplyvintage, a reader who has send in her first comment.  Particularly liked her ending "poor in money but rich in time".  Once we think about 'spending' time (wisely), we then find this can save us money, particularly when it comes to domestic skills/crafts - that of course includes cooking.

Simplyvinatage  has been recently diagnosed as diabetic (pres. type 2), and coincidentally so has my daughter who is the same age.  Have to say I've had no problem being diabetic other than the high carbo diet diabetics are told to eat, didn't suit me (I gain weight when I eat carbos) but since changing my diet to high protein (not always but for a few weeks at a time), losing weight has reduced my blood sugar count to 'normal'. I eat all the wrong things, but still stay 'normal', so maybe just cutting down on the sugar has worked the trick.  Or maybe I wasn't diabetic in the first place!
Diabetic nutritionists don't always give the same advice.  When I was diagnosed with diabetes (in hospital) I was forbidden to eat the grapes that visitors had brought me (I love grapes). My daughter has also been told not to eat them.  Yet, here in Morecambe, the nurse says grapes are OK and of course I can eat them, any time I wish (and how good it is now that grapes are sold 'seedless'.  Those days of slicing grapes in half and removing the seeds - or just eating and then spitting out the seeds - are now gone). 

Think the main thing is - if overweight - just losing weight will work miracles.  I'm still taking one Metformin a day (initially took 2 twice a day, then slowly reduced down to one), and may be taken off them altogether, but don't mind if not as they are found to help to prevent certain cancers, and given to non-diabetics for this reason.

Both Tess and jane would like more sandwich (toaster) fillings, and it crossed my mind (after I'd written the blog yesterday), that many of the fillings - if not too thick - should work between those rounds of flour tortillas, to be 'toasted' off in a frying pan (ridged or flat), the same as 'quesadillas'.

Being a Saturday I hope to spend some time baking, but as B has suddenly gone into a 'want to lose weight' mood, and I've pointed out that it is his constant snacking that causes him to gain, perhaps best if I don't make him any cakes, biscuits, scones or other treats. 

Have been asked to cook the meal (for an expected 60 people) for B's sailing club on Burn's Night. I did not wish to cook the whole meal as I've never cooked haggis before, but did offer to make the soup (cock-a-leekie) and two desserts (Cranacan and Tipsy Laird) plus shortbread.  That has been agreed, so whether I like it or not I'll have to supermarket-shop to buy the ingredients at the best (cheapest) prices.  As I'll be ordering on-line no doubt I'll include 'fresh' ingredients that I'll be running out of, but will try to keep this within my £10 a week (new) budget.  As I expect the delivery to be shortly before Burn's Night, this means I'll have not shopped for at least a month since I began this challenge (so even if I spent £40 this would still keep me to £10 a week).

The good thing about the above soup is that I'll be needing to buy several chickens, not as portions but whole chickens because then I will have all the carcases (with plenty of flesh still left on the bones) to turn into several litres of wonderful chicken stock, and possibly up to a lb of cooked meat (maybe more) picked from the bones.  That'll be a bonus.

Here are a few more sandwich (toaster) fillings, and it could be that some might work piled on one slice of already toasted bread, in the same way we make Welsh Rarebit.  Saves using that extra slice, that in its turn saves money.  How much is a slice of bread these days?  On average, 20 slices - plus 2 crusts - with a large, medium-sliced loaf, so round about 5p a slice if the loaf was £1.  Many loaves are £1.50 (some are more, some are less), and as I keep saying 'a penny saved is a penny earned'.

As I bought (mainly for B) a box of assorted cheeses to eat at Christmas we still have the Brie, so maybe other readers also have this cheese still uneaten.  Here it is used in a (toasted) sarnie filling.
Brie and Mushroom Toasties: makes 2 rounds
1 oz (25g) butter
2 oz (50g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 oz (75g) Brie, grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 slices bread
Melt half the butter in a pan and gently fry the mushrooms until tender, then mix these with the Brie. Work the mustard into the remaining butter and spread this on one side of each of the slices of bread.
Lay two slices, buttered side down, spreading the Brie/mushroom mixture on the top (unbuttered sides).  Cover with remaining slices of bread (butter side up), then toast for two minutes on each side.

Another useful recipe in that it uses up the last of the ham we cooked/bought for Christmas.  If you don't have the dried herbs as shown, then use mixed dried herbs.
Always use cream cheese at room temperature as it then is much easier to work in other ingredients (especially when beating in cream, although this doesn't happen with this meal)..
Old English Toasties: makes 2 rounds
3 oz (75g) cream cheese
2 oz (50g) frozen peas (cooked)
3 oz (75g) ham, finely chopped
pinch dried thyme
pinch dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bread, buttered on one side
Beat the cream cheese with a fork to soften it, then mix in the peas and ham, then the herbs and seasoning.  Lay the slices of bread, buttered side down, and top with the cheese mixture, covering with the remaining bread, buttered side up.  Toast as above for 2 minutes on each side.

If you have any left-over cooked chicken or turkey, try this version.  Quite honestly, just eaten as an ordinary sandwich (cold, not toasted) it would taste good, but this time have the buttered side of the bread on the inside, not the outside.
West Indian Chicken Toasties: makes 2 rounds
3 oz (75g) cream cheese
3 oz (75g) cooked chicken, shredded or diced
2 slices canned pineapple, finely chopped
1 slice from a green bell pepper, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bread, buttered on one side
Beat the cream cheese to a smooth paste using a fork, then mix in the chicken, pineapple, pepper and seasonings. Divide the mixture and spread over two unbuttered sides of the bread, covering with the remaining bread  (buttered side up) and toast for 2 minutes on either side.

There are loads more recipes in the book, so will give some more next time I blog, which will be Monday (I take Sunday's off).

With a high pressure area over the UK at the moment we are expecting blue skies and plenty of sun and only a slight frost in some areas last night.  Daytime temperature in single figures, but next week it might turn much colder.  A very much modified version of what has been happening in the US.
Flood waters are still rising even though we have had no more rain, this due water that fell on the highest hills/mountains now draining down to river levels, and with the ground around already sodden, nowhere for it to soak away. 

We don't yet know how much cold weather we can expect,  the normal, maybe small snow showers, or something much more dramatic.  Just make sure we have enough food in store so we have enough to eat, and don't need to venture outdoors to keep ourselves warm.  Keep a supply of UHT (or dried milk) on the shelves, cartons of fruit juice/canned fruits etc.  For those keen on eating the 'five-a-day' fresh fruit/veg, remember that baked beans count as a veg, but potatoes don't (as in this instance they are considered 'carbohydrate').

Hope you can all make the most of this weekend of pleasant weather, and have to say that seeing the sun really gives me the feeling that spring is not so far away. 
If I'm really good today am hoping that the time I spend in the kitchen will prove to be even more money-saving that usual.  Not quite sure yet what I'll be doing, but you will hear all about it on Monday.  Hope you can join me then. TTFN.