Thursday, February 06, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Quick blog as re-arranged my coffee morning to today instead of tomorrow.  Just time to reply to comments, then Norma the Hair tomorrow afternoon, giving me more time for the Friday blog.

Sorry Cheryl if I always seem critical about America, but it does work both ways.  We have visited America (my daughter and cousin both live there), and have had American students staying with us here in the UK, and always it seems Americans we have met (and seen on TV)  is the way they seem to like to brag about their country, proud that everything is so much bigger than ours.
One American student who stayed with us was so obnoxious I had to take him to one side and point out that he should stop sneering at seemingly everything and everybody, and that in the UK it was extremely bad manners to talk about how wealthy his family was. (He said his father owned a large ranch,  this may of course have not been true but he showed us photos...).  Over here there are a few things about ourselves that we normally never discuss with others,  money, politics and religion, so usually we have no idea what party our neighbours are likely to vote for at the next election, or even what religion they are (unless in your face) and certainly we don't even care - it is their business, not ours.  In the US I understand much misery can be caused by neighbours clashing with others who have not the same views, even refusing to speak to them just because they choose to be different. We have been told of this via comments sent in by American readers. So perhaps it is just we hear only the bad things, and nothing of the good.

The trouble is meeting people who put us down, the tendency is to believe the whole are tarred with the same brush, and it has always been said that the only thing the same between the UK and the US is we speak the same language, so not surprising there is a difference between the way we do things.  It would be good to hear from you again Cheryl, letting us know how the Americans feel about us as a nation.  Feel free to criticise, we know we are not perfect. 

It is true Anna, I do feel more stressed when things get in a mess, and then go and stick my head in the sand, but as it won't go away, sooner or later have to stir my stumps and get on clearing it up.  It hasn't helped having a bad hair day (like all this week - because I had to cancel my appointment last Friday).   At least half the kitchen has been sorted, I have the conservatory to do this morning ready to receive my friendly neighbour - so that is the first thing to tackle once I've published this.

Just had a phone call from my neighbour who has migraine and taking herself to bed, so no coffee morning today, postponed until tomorrow, so that gives me more blog time.

Recipes have been given to the Foodbank Jane, and some of these may be put up on their website as they are now setting up one of their own (rather than the one the Trussel Trust gives).  The intention is to (desk-top) publish their own cookbook (hopefully free) so that their clients can take one when they collect their food allocation. 

Good to hear from you Sheridan, better occasionally than never.  Just wish we had a bit of your hot summer (but not quite as hot) as here in the UK things are going from bad to worse.  The storms and high tides have been so bad that yesterday the railway line in Devon (close to the coast) had the land under it washed away, and now will not be able to be repaired for several months.  This is the only rail line leading to Cornwall.   Even more bad weather forecast for the next few weeks in that area. 

My chosen recipe today is the Falafel... a sort of vegetarian 'meatball'.  Although normally made with chickpeas (as in the recipe below) I have made it using cooked split peas or cooked lentils.   Falafels are normally eaten hot or cold stuffed with some salad into a pitta bread 'pocket'.  But could be made smaller (so makes more) and -  after frying - be served hot with pasta and a spicy tomato sauce.

Spicy Falafels: makes 6
2 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained/rinsed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped OR...
...1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Heat half the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until softened, then stir in the garlic and fry for a further minute.  Tip into a bowl and add the chickpeas and spices, then use a fork or potato masher and work everything together until the chickpeas are completely smashed.  Stir in the parsley or dried herbs, adding seasoning to taste.  Finally add the egg, then - using clean hands - knead everything  well together, then form into six balls, flattening them slightly to form 'patties'.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and fry the falafels over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side - or until golden brown and firm.   Serve hot or cold.

Despite now having more time, think it would be sensible to continue sorting out the kitchen and get the chore over and done with, esp. as I now have a couple of hours more spare time than planned for. 
This will allow me to return tomorrow and blog, get the supper prepared etc, before Norma arrives early afternoon.  Then with my hair back in place should certainly feel a whole lot better.

One final query to Pam (an American expat), am wondering if you are able to watch 'Escape to the Country' and Michael Portillo's railway travels around the country, via your TV (but both being BBC you might not be able to receive them), as these are wonderful ways to view our countryside, and see the pretty villages and small towns, also the inside of many homes (in 'Escape....').  Otherwise we can get a good idea from watching Midsomer Murders, Poirot, All Creatures Great and Small, Last of the Summer Wine, and similar series.  We truly do have a beautiful countryside and extremely, each country being different to the next (esp. with architecture). We have everything from gorges to deserts, but naturally all small scale compared to the larger continents.  Why we go abroad for our holidays beats me, but perhaps we just take our country for granted, as with everything almost on our doorstep we put it off to view another day.  All we need is for a proper sunny - and not too hot - summer to return.

By the way, apart from buying a 4 pint container of fresh milk (I still use some UHT milk and long-life cream that I've in store), only needed to buy a tray of 18 eggs yesterday (£1.79p). Have enough meat/fish in the freezer to last for weeks, and the organic veggies (including the ones I already have) will keep me going.  Plenty of 'dry goods' in the larder, so although will shortly be running out of some foods (baked beans, bacon...) it will cost very little to replace these, and so am keeping well within my £10 a week 'top-up' allowance.   Probably not spent more than £10 since Christmas (other than the food needed for the Burn's Night, which has been paid back so doesn't count - and I was able to make free stock from the chicken carcases!).

Yesterday made B three individual trifles using some fatless sponge (trimmings from a cake that had been kept in the freezer), a jelly (I still have about a dozen packs of different flavours), and the contents of a tin of fruit cocktail.  To be topped with Elmlea long-life double cream when B wishes to eat them.   He had his favourite stir-fry (uses up odds and ends of veggies), and I cooked myself hard-boiled eggs to eat with a coleslaw-type salad.   Today may make a big pot of vegetable soup with chicken stock and pearl barley as this is another good way to use up veggies.   Or I might make something else.  I find it difficult to plan ahead, I just look around to see what needs using up, and then turn it into something.

Hope you can join me tomorrow.  TTFN.