Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keep it Simple

Still not in the mood to spend time cooking, decided to thaw out a pack of lamb's kidneys to make Devilled Kidneys (on toast) for B's supper.  Just because I couldn't think of anything else to make with them.   If I'd made them before I'd forgotten how to, so searched several books to find a recipe and blow me - found several, all of them different.  

This is the problem with recipes today, a fairly basic/classic dish is messed around with and we then don't know which we should choose to make.  Fortunately I settled on the simplest because I just didn't want to spend the time making something more complicated.   As it was I tweaked the recipe a bit, following a bit of one, and the rest of another.

As I really don't care for the taste of kidneys I didn't taste the meal once made (a cook should always taste, and usually I do), but it obviously worked alright as B said it was absolutely gorgeous and I can make it any time I wish.  He even went to say "That TV chef you like" (he meant Michel Roux jnr) "would give it top marks". Praise from B indeed!

I'd scribbled the recipe down in short-form (I know what I mean even if others don't), so told B I'd write it out properly for him so next time he might like to try making it himself (for it really is very simple and quick to make).  For anyone who would like to have a go - here is my version.  Suffice to say I used a pack of (frozen) kidneys - think there were four, maybe five in the pack - probably would make enough for two as a light meal, or even four as a starter.  B of course ate the lot on two slices of toast.
Myself felt there was too much sauce so suggested to B he used a slotted spoon to remove the kidneys and use only as much sauce as he wanted, but he said he used it all as it was lovely and creamy but still had plenty of 'kick' to it.  Worked well with the toast.

Devilled Kidneys:
4 - 6 lamb's kidneys
1 tblsp plain four
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 shallot, finely diced
1 knob butter
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
2 fl oz (50ml) double cream
Cut the kidneys in half and remove the white core, then cut the kidneys in half again (or in smaller chunks if you prefer).
Put the flour and cayenne pepper into a bag, add the chopped kidneys and shake the bag to coat them with flour.  Tip onto a plate, discarding surplus flour.
Fry the shallot in the butter over medium-low heat for a few minutes until softened, then raise the heat slightly and add the kidneys, fry these for 3 - 4 minutes, turning them often. 
Stir the mustard, W. sauce, and the redcurrant jelly into the kidneys and when the jelly has melted, stir in the cream.  Let it come to the boil, and bubble away until the liquid part has thickened (the longer it bubbles the thicker the sauce becomes). 
Meanwhile toast two slices of bread, and the spoon the devilled kidneys onto the toast, including the sauce.

A few hours ago watched the first of 'Famous, Rich and Hungry' (or some such name, I've got to the age when I can't remember).  Had a great feeling of guilt when seeing how such a small amount of food people had in their kitchen cupboards/fridge.  It's easy enough to see how the money they did have was not used wisely, but it's one thing viewing it when sitting comfortably, and another when actually having to live the life.

It does seem that one of the 'essentials' today is having (and paying for) Sky TV, and maybe TV today is seen as the only pleasure people have when they can't afford to go out and find it elsewhere. Yet many older folk remember times when money was very short, yet families managed to enjoy themselves, both indoors or out. 
Children would run around, and if close to the country climb trees etc, but now our nanny state seems to ban anything that might cause a child to get the slightest scratch, and so much fun has been taken from their lives.  Far better (the state feels) for children to stay indoors out of harm.  So now they sit in front of TV or computer screens and nibble snacks.  Or sit and endlessly text using mobile phones (none of which are free). 

But enough of that, I could carry on moaning for hours the way I feel our nation is going at the moment.  What we need is for the schools to teach the necessary skills to enable youngsters to care for themselves as they grow older - to manage their money, to learn how to cook, grow vegetables, and become skilled in as many crafts as possible.   Or is that expecting too much?

Thanks to Alison, Margie, Hazel and Ali for their comments - all of us with the same thoughts.  Spring cleaning taking priority, and enjoying the amazingly good weather and the beautiful Spring flowers. 

Earlier comments have prompted me to try out this 'plan the menu for the week ahead' approach.  Maybe it was because I used to get mightily bored when my mother did something like that (actually everyone seemed to serve the same meals in those days).  She began with the Sunday roast, and the rest of the week used up the rest of the joint (cold meat Monday, Cottage Pie Tuesday, Stew on Wednesday. Think she bought chops or liver for Thursday, then fish on Friday and egg and chips on Saturday, then back to the joint - beef, lamb, or pork - on Sunday, then the same all over again, throughout the year, the only difference being vegetables served were seasonal - as was the fruit).

It seems to make sense.  Once worked out, with a bit of thought as to what will be served when, this could mean much preparation could be done in advance with 'planned leftovers' to add to a following day's meal.  
Perhaps best if I asked B to give me a list of the meals he would like me to make for the next seven days, then he won't complain if I serve him something he doesn't like.  But as he does tend to suddenly say he doesn't want me to get his supper (he'd rather get himself a bacon butty, or bacon and eggs, or do himself a stir-fry),  it will have to be just suggestions, then work round it.   It'll either work or it won't.

Was late starting the Thursday blog as I'd been watching more TV during the evening.  In fact it is well into Thursday already, so think it's time I went to bed or I'll be too tired to work (any excuse not to do any).

Yes, have decided.  Life IS too short to stuff a mushroom and from now on I'm going to keep my cooking as simple as possible.   It used to be that a quick meal to prepare meant using ingredients that took only minutes to cook (such as fillet steak, expensive fish etc), but I'm discovering that what I call 'fast food' (and that doesn't mean 'take-aways', or ready-meals - unless home-made), can be really quite cheap to make, yet still make good eating.   More recipes will follow.

As I've a coffee-morning and Norma the Hair on Friday, also want to take a day off at the weekend, so am not yet sure what day I won't be blogging.  Certainly will be blogging again at the end of today (which has only just begun) so there will be a blog to read on Friday.  Also  will blog on Friday night to read on Saturday.  Sunday there won't be a blog (but will be writing one late Sunday for Monday).  Hope you can sort that out, I'm now getting myself very confused with it all.  Best thing is for me to just say if/when I'll be missing the next day.    Hope you can keep up.....TTFN.