Saturday, January 18, 2014

Worth Having a Go...

Lovely comments to read this morning.  Thanks to all who sent them.  Loved hearing how Shayna's mum used to say a casserole was a 'posh' stew if it contained peas.  Maybe in those days peas - being seasonal - were considered almost a luxury (like chicken was at that time), now with frozen peas and chicken one of the cheaper meats, almost a U turn.

Mandy, you were fortunate it having such a good economics teacher in the '80s, as by then cookery seemed to have been almost a lost art in schools.  As Alison says, schools must have varied a lot at that time as she didn't fare so well when it came to cookery lessons.
In those days I believe teachers had much more of a free hand in what they taught, nowadays there seems to be a set curriculum that every primary/secondary school has to keep to.

My heart goes out to you Lynne (Australia) having to cook a hot meal (bangers and mash with Yorkshire Pudding) in all that heat.  Of course we never do experience the heat you are having at the moment, but last summer was almost 'normal', quite warm and with plenty of sun, and have to say cooking anything more than perhaps frying a steak/chicken/fish on the hob - served with salad was all we could face.  Although curries (again cooked on the hob) were enjoyed. 
The only time I used the oven during (our) summer was when I cooked bread (or maybe a quiche).

Thanks RAY for giving your name.  It's lovely to hear how all your sons learned cooking from an early age, and now your very young grandson.  Was cooking a hobby of yours or was it your profession?

Yes Alison, I do remember Grace Mulligan, can't quite place her visually, but think she made up the trio of 'home-cooks' who had TV series, was it in the 60's/70's?
Bacon Pudding sounds horrendous, but like many other not-enjoyed-at-the-time meals, eating them again now brings back memories, and nothing like a bit of retro food to do that.  Think I'd even enjoy a dish of prunes and custard (having not had them for the last 65 years).

We live at the east end of Morecambe Kristen, in Bare.  Once a village it still keeps the community atmosphere, especially in the Crescent where are most of the shops (the butchers at the top end on the right, driving up from the prom). They also sell a few vegetables and some fruit.  If you want any chicken carcases to make stock, they now sell them (not give them freely) but they are very cheap and Tuesday is the day they usually get a delivery of them (some customers want them to cook to make stock or to use the meat from them for their pets).   They also have a small deli there where you can buy cooked meats and they have other 'treats' (sticky toffee pudding, ice-cream etc).  I can recommend them.

The shopping precinct is lovely, but sadly many of the older shops have closed down to be replaced by estate agents, solicitors, opticians etc.  But a new craft shop has opened, and there is a bakery, a charity shop (lovely bargains in there), a pharmacy, Post Office, hairdressers, and one or two fashion shops.  Also a cafĂ©.  Bare is worth a visit as it is a very pleasant area.

Now for the foodie chat.
Most of us buy food because we enjoy eating it.  How many of us buy purely because of a food's nutritional value?  Even so, it is always worth knowing that little bit more about some of the fresh veggies we buy just to make sure our money gives us the best (health) value.

onions: these contain a compound that acts as a natural anti-histamine, helping to dampen the effects of hay fever etc.  Also good, eaten raw to ease a cold.  Garlic, another member of the onion family, helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure and eating regular amounts of garlic also seems to help the body fight off infections.

mushrooms: a very good source of B vitamins as well as minerals (such as selenium), vital for a strong immune system.  Also rich in protective antioxidants that help to defend us against certain health conditions, and may help to minimise the signs of aging.

green cabbage: gives the body plenty of fibre and also vit.C.  Two types: Savoy, and bok choi are especially rich in beta-carotene that helps to beat cancer and heart disease, these two also useful sources of calcium, helping to prevent osteoporosis and also in controlling blood pressure.

tomatoes: unlike most vegetables, this is one that benefits us more when cooked.  The more concentrated the tomato (its water having evaporated) the more lycopene per unit (than in a fresh tom), this acting as a natural sunblock, helping to prevent sunburn.

apples: the old saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away' is now proving to be sound advice.  Eating an apple helps to prevent muscle loss, helping to keep us toned and fit.

Marmite: rich in B vitamins (esp. B12 - normally found in animal products), also folic acid and riboflavin. If you are the one that hates it - learn to love it.  I do.

canned salmon v tuna:  if you have the choice, then choose canned salmon as it is higher in omega fats than tuna.  Also eat the salmon bones (soft enough to crush) as they contain a lot of calcium.

Maybe expecting too much for every reader to have the same foods in their larder as myself, but anyone that has either canned coconut milk/cream or those sachets of coconut cream (that need dissolving in water), desiccated coconut, and some cornmeal/polenta, then this is the recipe for you (and very useful if you do have these as a way to using them up). A bonus is it contains no eggs, and it can be frozen (un-iced).
Coconut Cream Cake: serves 10
5 oz (150g) butter, softened
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
1 x 200ml carton coconut cream
5 oz (150g) plain flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3 oz (75g) fine or medium cornmeal
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 oz (150g) icing sugar, sieved
2 tblsp toasted desiccated coconut
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add 5 fl oz (150ml) of the coconut cream and the remaining ingredients, beating lightly to a soft and slightly wet consistency.
Spoon into a greased and lined 7" (20cm) round cake tin and bake at 180C, gas 4 for 50-55 mins, until the top is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin.
When cold, remove cake from the tin, peel away the paper (it can be bagged up and frozen at this point). Or continue by mixing the icing sugar with enough of the reserved coconut cream to make a thick but flowing consistency, and spread this over the cake, allowing it to fall over the sides.  Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top and leave to set before serving.

Final recipe today is one for oatcakes (I'll be making something similar for B's sailing club's Burn's night). These contain both nuts and raisins, and although walnuts are the recommended ones in this recipe, we could use other nuts(or a mixture) as long as they are finely chopped.  As these are meant to be eaten with cheese, then stick with the recipe, but if intending to eat them on their own - as a snack - then you could use chopped no-soak apricots or other larger dried fruits in place of the raisins.
The dough can be made and frozen unbaked, either frozen in the piece or, rolled out and cut into shape before freezing.  Once cooked store in an airtight container.
Raisin and Walnut Oatcakes: makes 40
half tsp. baking powder
4 tblsp milk
6 oz (175g) butter, softened
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
11 oz (300g) rolled or porridge oats
5 oz (150g) wholemeal flour
2 oz (50g) raisins, chopped
2 oz (50g) walnuts, finely chopped
Dissolve the baking powder in the milk. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in the oats, flour, fruit, nuts and milk to make a firm dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the biscuit dough to about 1 cm thick and cut into circles using a 5cm scone cutter.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 180C, gas 4 for 15 minutes until light golden.  Leave to cool on the tin.  When cold store in an airtight container where they will keep well for 2 - 3 or so days.  Good served with cheese.

That's it for today, and as no blog tomorrow will be returning on Monday.  Hope you will be able to join me then.  Enjoy your weekend.  TTFN.