Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time Saving?

Another lovely spring-like start to the day.  Will it stay, or go downhill from here?  Have to wait and see.  Certainly cheers me up to see blue sky and sunshine, and as it is not now so cold (bur rarely has gone below freezing point anyway this winter), we don't need the central heating on so much.
A bit too late for the colder months this winter, I've discovered that wrapping a crocheted blanket round me before I get into bed makes me feel so very cosy I've been sleeping for longer, even want to go to bed for the cuddly feeling it gives me.
(I've given up cuddling B, the last time he did this was when he was having a dream and he called me Lesley!  At my age (thankfully) all it did was make me laugh, until I then thought that this was also a man's name.  Not that this would have mattered anyway. 

I'm sure we've all someone for the first time, maybe just seen them across a room, and been instantly attracted to them?  It could be either a man or a woman.  We can also take an immediate dislike to someone as well. 
When we get on well with either sex, this is called 'being in harmony' when both are 'playing the same tune' so to speak.  When we are 'out of tune' this is when we just don't 'get on'.
Certainly, when I meet someone I've met previously, whether I like them or not, I can instantly tell their state of mind, especially when they are cross or unhappy about something.  They don't have to speak, it's almost as though they have an aura surrounding them that I pick up.  Some people call these 'vibes'. 
As I believe in reincarnation, my belief is that when we get that instant feeling we 'know' a person we have just met, we have met them in previous lives, even a different sex, so they could have been a parent, child, lover.... 

Once I did meet someone like this (well over the years met several), but this one was unusual in that we were both in Civil Defence, and worked together for some months. We were assigned to a stand at a local exhibition promoting the CD, dressed in full uniform, and taking a break after several hours we both went outside the very hot hall for a breath of fresh air, and instantly the door was closed behind us we were walking around an oblong pool with columns at the side of us.  My 'stand partner' was then seen as dressed in a long gown (Roman style), I too was dressed in similar attire.   We just strolled happily in the moonlight, until time to enter our villa.  As we went through the door into the exhibition hall, was instantly back in real time.  I didn't say anything about it to my working 'partner', but the memory has stayed with me.   Maybe I will meet him again in the next life.  He was quite special.

Your mention Janet of the Love Food, Hate Waste tutor being patronising reminded me that my daughter once said that I sounded patronising when I'd offered to help someone to manage their food budget.  Apparently the word 'help' could sound patronising, so I've been very careful since to try and avoid being this.  Preferring to think (and hope) that what I do/say is informative.  To me the two words mean the same thing, but then what would I know?

Think I remember Jamie Oliver once giving cookery demonstrations in a town where he was hoping to encourage people to manage their finances and take up cooking again.  Several ladies (maybe also men) were to take advantage of the demos and cook alongside Jamie, so something like that would work well in your Valley Janet, perhaps run by your foodbank.  As well as watching demos, when people can do hands-on cooking at the same time, then either eat there as a lunch (or supper), or take home their work, then am sure many more would take up home-cooking.

There are many social clubs for people, whether knitting, playing bridge, learning a new language, music appreciation, writer's guild etc, and am puzzled why - especially now - no-one has started a national cookery club.  Maybe it is the old 'elf and safety aspect (and insurance to cover accidents) that prevent this.  Such a pity. 
Maybe there are evening classes for cooks at Adult Education centres, normally not cheap to join, but surely those on benefits etc could go for free?  Pensioners usually do get a discount, but as older folk already know how to cook, hardly worth them bothering (but they could always share their knowledge - teachers today being of a younger generation and quite often don't know what they are talking about.   I believe all social workers should have brought up children so they can understand and NOT decide - by the book - that someone is not a good parent, and remove the children from their care.  How often do we read about this happening, then some months/years later they found they were wrong in the first place?

Here I go again, moving off into another subject when I began starting about food.  So I will continue thinking edibles, but first finishing with my reply to Marjorie who might be right in thinking that 'Molacca' bloke (he is at present fronting 'Foodography' at the weekend (Food Network), is the one I mentioned.  Can't place his accent as being Canadian, but it could be as am sure that country has as many variations in accents as do others.
Regarding living on a pension.  Almost certainly those who find it most difficult are living in rented accommodation, or still have a mortgage to pay off.  Many older folk have by pensionable age paid off their mortgages, so don't have this to worry about.
Also the standard of living may - to many - seem depressingly low once they have only their pension to play with. B and are lucky, we never -  as many people of all ages seem to do these days - dined out regularly.  Occasionally we do now, but always when it is 'Happy Hour' (reduced prices) and only when celebrating something (birthday etc).  We don't go to the cinema (always watching films on TV), or even drop in to our local pub for a drink.
If I still owned my own car (and really wish I did), this would probably mean our pension would not cover the costs and - as before - I'd have to take on some work to help pay for it (I used to write a cookery column in our local newspaper, and do a weekly radio chat - ~£5 for the column, ~£10 for radio - this being  but enough to pay for running my Fiat Uno as 'he' was a darling, hardly needed any repairs, and kept me on the road for over 20 years before the bodywork needed too much attention, and too costly for me to cover.  Cars are much more expensive to run and insure these days so I'll have to settle for Norris.   We can't have everything we want.

Maybe pensioners who live alone would find it slightly more expensive to feed themselves, than if they had someone to share the food with.  Also keeping warm can be a problem, especially if living in a bed-sit that has no double-glazing, and the paid-by-coin electric/gas meters are fitted by the landlord.  From looking at our property guide in our local paper, the cheapest rented properties for apartments/flats are in the region of £500 p.c.m.  Over £100 a week is a lot of money to pay out from a pension.

My friend Gill (who phones me each Sunday), lives alone, on a state pension, with a little extra work pension, and she seems to manage extremely well on this.  Her only form of central heating is night storage heaters, and she does have a gas fire in her through living room.  Her fuel bills are much less than ours.
Mind you, Gill is hardly ever in the house during the day (hating her own company), so drives out to visit friends and family every day of the week.  She also does a little voluntary work.
Several of her friends don't have cars, so appreciate a day out where they usually pay for a pub lunch for Gill (so her weekly food budget is then quite low - she admits to preferring a carvery where she can load her plate overfull so she doesn't need to eat anything more when she gets home, now that is clever.)  Some friends even pay for the petrol. 
Gill manages to take several mid-week coach trips a year with one or more friends, usually off-season, so low-priced.  Normally it is Eastbourne, Scarborough, York, and a couple of weeks ago went to Cardiff. 
At one time Gill aimed for one major holiday a year abroad, and several times visited Canada and America,  but think she has pulled in her horns a bit now, and never seems to go much further than Bruges (Belgium) one of her favourite places (as well as the regular coach trips in this country).   Don't know how she manages this as well as she does, but she is very astute when it comes to money, and she says she wants to enjoy her life, her pension is secure so she can spend all her disposable income.  Why bother to save?  She owns her own (small) house, and this is her legacy for her children.   She is one of the lucky ones.  Me I just sit on my savings.  Maybe I should try taking a coach trip.

Beloved chose to have a Fish Risotto for supper yesterday.  Have written this up in an earlier blog so no need for further info re this.  Am hoping he will settle for Cold Meat Platter with salad today (have corned beef in the larder, ham and pork pie in the freezer, and also sausages.  Might also make a quiche (or cook hard-boiled eggs).   He hasn't had that since last autumn (because the weather has been too chilly to serve a cold meal), but if I include a hot jacket potato, then am sure he will find it satisfactory.   Otherwise it will be home-made veggie soup. 
Need to bake more bread today, B loves the home-made baps and even though I now make a dozen at a time (freezing most of them away, two to a bag), he will eat as many as I thaw out (usually two a day) but often he will go and get out more (they thaw rapidly).  Just as well I learned how to extend the bread mix by adding more strong flour (and water).  Makes the bread so much cheaper.

Am having to re-think my kitchen work, think it is called 'time and motion'.  This morning, as I was about to make my morning mug of coffee, instead of going to the fridge and getting out the milk, then adding it to the mug, and then putting the milk back into the fridge (that's 4 trips: to the fridge, taking milk back to the coffee, milk back to the fridge, me back to the coffee) decided to take the little milk jug to the fridge and fill it there, then back to the coffee.  Two trips instead of four.  It crossed my mind that as I really need to take exercise, I wasn't doing myself any favours by walking less distance, but it did save time (like 20 seconds).   Even so, we do spend a lot of time gathering ingredients even before we start preparing a meal (then having to put a lot of them back on the shelves again), so I remind readers that if we spend a relatively short time weighing then filling bags with (say) 4oz/100g self-raising flour (or plain - but mark the bags so you know which it is),  do the same with caster sugar, the same with butter/marg (keep this in the fridge) then all we have to do then when we wish to make a cake is take a pre-measured bag of flour, ditto sugar and butter. All we need then is the right amount of eggs (I keep these close to my work table).  Then mix the lot together in the normal way.  Speeds up the backing and saves an incredible amount of time (and labour on the day).

When I used to bake bread from scratch, needed to measure out the flour, salt, dried milk powder, sugar, fat etc, then put into the bread machine before adding the yeast and water.  Very soon worked out that I could make up my own bread mix by putting the correct amount of each ingredient (but not yeast) into a bag, even adding a cube of butter/lard.  I made up a dozen at a time, kept them in one large container, then when I wanted to make a loaf (every other day), just put the yeast in the base of the bread machine pan, tipped the mix on top, and then poured the correct amount of liquid over that. Closed the lid, pressed the right buttons and job done.

This reminds me - time for me to make up more crumble mix, scone mix, and grate more cheese to freeze away. I could even make pastry mix (adding sugar to turn it into crumble mix), and with boxes of these in the fridge and freezer, another lot of time saved. 

This reply was supposed to be higher up, but must have gone and added something to the end of another, and then carried on - as I do - writing about something else.  Sorry Cheesepare, I'de not forgotten you.
We don't have primroses in our garden, and any in the council beds along the prom would be raised in greenhouses, and so ahead of their time.  These are not proper primroses anyway, they are 'primulas'. 
How wonderful to eat at Georgio Locatelli's restaurant.  He is a chef I like to watch due to his personality as well as him being a gorgeous Italian.  Can't say I recognise G.L's Cassata as being the traditional type, it sounded more like sloppy trifle.   The true Sicilian Cassata is layers of cake (I use trifle sponges fitted into a 2lb loaf tin lined with cling-film) this then drizzled with a little liqueur (I use Cointreau), topped with a mixture of ricotta cheese, candied peel and grated chocolate.  Three layers of sponge, two of the filling.  Then a weight put on top and left to chill in the fridge overnight.  The sponge has then absorbed some of the moisture from the cheese, making the filling firmer.  It cuts like a cake.  Once chilled/compressed the Cassata can be frozen.

Because at that point in the preparation the Cassata makes a good dessert in it's own right,  I don't continue with the traditional coating of the Cassata with a ganache.  This would - of course - make it sublime, but a bit too rich for most  people.  However, impressive when entertaining and fairly economical as then a little would go a long way.

Your mention CP of herbs with salt makes me wonder if we are telepathic as yesterday, when in the larder, picked up a jar to see what it was and on it I'd written 'Adriatic salt with herbs'.  Think I may have bought these from Lakeland, many years ago.  Myself don't really care for the herb flavour, so probably why it still stays on the shelf.
My favourite salt at the moment is Himalayan Pink salt.  Also use Maldon sea salt and rock salt.  Welsh salt when I can get it.  All the salt I use now is the large crystal type, we keep the free-flow fine running table salt to sprinkle on the many slugs that keep wandering around our house at night. My B has now a habit of getting up in the night, taking a torch (why doesn't he put the light on?) and the tub of salt, then going into the kitchen, living room, and conservatory, chasing slugs.  I've even found them in the bathroom - this being fully tiled and with no obvious place of entry for the slugs.

Have to go now as expecting a delivery from Riverford, and also need to sort out more things in the kitchen, especially with time-saving being given priority today.  Need everything to hand to make my work easier, but first must find the space, or make the space, and that means putting things somewhere else.  But where?  I hate this kitchen.   TTFN.