Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Making it Work.

It really is amazing.  Got up this morning at usual time, but instead of blogging (already did that earlier - midnight!) went into the kitchen and began my work.  After loading the washing machine with laundry, then made a dozen jars of orange and ginger marmalade, followed by making another batch of bread - this time a blend of brown and white bread mix to which I added grated cheese.  These made 12 baps that looked (and smelled) gorgeous. 

After washing up the pots, I looked at the clock, not yet 11.00am (about the time I would have finished writing my blog, and not normally have begun my 'kitchen work') and already I had made/done a lot of things.  Decided to go and have an 'elevenses' (cup of coffee) in the living room and do the crosswords and other puzzles in the newspaper.  These completed by 11.30, so back into the kitchen to begin sorting out the larder and gathering all my baking tins together so I can then put them all in one place so I can find them easily. 
Then went and watered all the plants in the conservatory (I have quite a lot, it takes 4 x 4pt milk containers full of water to go round them all, and that's not even giving them a proper soak).

As B had chosen mushroom stroganoff for his supper, this needn't be prepared until just about ready to cook (5.00pm), so then went into the bedroom to sort out some of the drawers and wardrobe, packing away the heavier clothes (never wore them anyway as it never had got cold enough this winter, then back to watch the `.00pm TV (news, followed by Doctors), then back into the kitchen to do more sorting, plus hanging the washing on airers in the sunny conservatory, and some on the radiators to dry when the heating came back on later. 

With all the pots washed up, the kitchen becoming much tidier, it looked as though I'd been working hard there all week.  Just shows how switching to writing my blog in the late evenings now makes a lot more sense.
Just the little bit of extra exercise I've had this morning seems to have eased my joints, probably because instead of sitting for (say) three hours at the comp in the mornings, this morning found that alternating between doing one thing, then sitting down to do another (such a standing to stir the marmalade, then moving over to fill the jars, then sitting down to screw on the lids and label them), really does work well with my old bones.  

Have to say, by the afternoon had almost (but not quite0 settled back into my old routine of watching TV), but felt so energetic decided to just see James Martin then dash back into the kitchen again.  Even this evening didn't really feel like settling down, so after I'd seen the first of the new Mary Berry series, back up and out doing chores again. 

How very strange this is - just switching from a sit-down-at-the-comp in the morning to doing this at night has given me a whole new approach to my domestic life.  Am still blogging (nothing changed there), but just seem to have many more hours of 'free' time to work, and such a lot can be done in that time without me feeling the tiniest bit tired.  Why has it taken me all this time to discover I'd been doing the work (comp and housework) back to front?  

Discovered a few things today.  Useful perhaps only to me, but still worth considering.  When I weighed out the sugar for the marmalade (I needed 2kg),  put a stainless steel basin on my digital scales, then set the scales to zero gr.  Poured in 2kg of sugar that exactly filled the basin.  So next time I won't need the scales when making marmalade, all I will need to do is fill the basin with sugar.  As it was a 5kg bag of sugar I had opened (sugar is cheaper when bought in large amounts), and I needed 2 x 2kg for the two batches of marmalade (filling the basin twice), I decided to put the remaining sugar into a storage jar so I could get rid of the bag.  Having an empty 300g Nescafe jar, decided to put some of the sugar in this, then found this held exactly 1kg, so another way of measuring the sugar.

In the old days, cooks hardly ever used scales, they used to measure by tablespoons/teaspoons or perhaps with breakfast cups etc, and a good heaped tablespoon of flour does measure 1 oz, and cooks soon worked out exactly how many spoons of flour would be needed, the same with sugar etc (not every ingredient weighs 1 oz per tblsp, some weigh more, some less but the old fashioned cooks knew it all).

When making the bread today, having decided to mix half a pack of brown bread mix with half a pack of white, opening both bags and decanting each by the tablespoonful into another empty bag until this weighed 500g, then tipped the remaining white flour into the bag that was half-full of brown so that is ready for my next bake.   Am saving a few of the empty bread mix bags so that I can measure out 250g of strong plain flour into each ready to add when I'm next baking white bread. Having these ready weighed saves having to do it each time I bake (as I used to previously).

Although mentioning it before, if any reader makes marmalade using MaMade (Lakeland sell a similar mix -including lemon), by using 2kg sugar with one pint of water (slightly more than the amount stated on the tin) the marmalade still sets perfectly and so we gain an extra pot.  Also easier to measure as sugar is sold in kg bags.  To the orange marmalade I often add some chopped crystallised ginger, and to the lemon I add the grated zest and juice of 3 limes.  These flavours (orange and ginger, and lemon and lime), are much liked and loads of people buy them from me (proceeds go to charity).

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day, so that's B's dessert sorted (pancakes already in the freezer).  All I have to do now is think up something for his main course.  He will - naturally - be asked what he would like - he usually just mentions the type of meat, then I have to give him an idea of what dishes can be made using the one he chooses (be it chicken, pork, lamb, beef....), up to him then to make the decision.   Are all husbands like that?  Or do some of them just wait and see what the wife/partner has chosen to make?  Not sure whether it's easier to be informed what my lord and master wants for his evening meal, or do what many readers do - make up a menu for the week ahead and just work my way through it.

Am already looking forward to going to bed (having lovely dreams at the moment), and even more looking forward to making an early start again in the kitchen.   Am planning more baking, and maybe a bucket of popcorn and goodness knows what else.  All of a sudden domestic chores are turning out to be fun.   It gives me a great feeling to discover I've done a lot even before the clock shows 10.30am.  And it doesn't even feel like work.  Yippee!  Roll on tomorrow.  Oops that is already now as it is five minutes past midnight.  So time for me to take my leave and back with you again this time tomorrow with the Wednesday blog.

Before I depart, a thanks to Jo (NZ) who has given us an idea of her stores.  Myself remembering having tinned carrots and peas in my larder when my children were quite small.  Perhaps it was because the carrots were very tender and easy for them to eat, but as they grew up soon changed to buying the vegetables fresh, although peas now are always bought frozen, to use all year round.  Carrots keep so well in the fridge I rarely freeze them, but if - say - I was sold a sack of carrots (very cheap when bought this way), then I would prepare many of them for the freezer.

Hope you can all join me again tomorrow, and keep those comments coming. TTFN.