Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ration Passion...

Fascinating article in today's Daily Mail about a lady who went on a year long diet based on using war-time rations.  She lost nearly six stone (but since going back to eating normally again has gained back several stones and now beginning to live on 'rations' again. 
There is a link to a website that covers this: that gives 100 wartime recipes, so could prove to be an excellent site to discover meals made using low fat, low sugar, and plenty of vegetables.  I'm looking forward to browsing through it when I find the time (I'm not one for sitting in front of the computer longer than I have to, and only use it to write my blog.

Am myself finding I'm eating a lot more veggies these days, mainly due to using up the very fresh organic veggies from 'the box', as these are best eaten within days of picking.  The fresher the better.  B is not so keen on cabbage, Chard, asparagus, preferring frozen veg such as Brussels sprouts, string beans, and peas.  However he will eat the root veggies such as carrots, parsnips and beetroot as long as they are cooked until very tender (I prefer them slightly more al dente), and - of course - onions.

I've probably told this tale before, but when I cooked my first casserole after we were married, B removed all the pieces of onion and put them on the side of his plate.  "I don't like onions" he whimpered "my mother never used to put them in her stews".  Next time I made the casserole I didn't include the onions..."It doesn't taste as nice as before" B almost sobbed,  "That's because I left out the onions" was my response.  After that he had onions in his stew and ate them all up.

Ali (Shropshire) dislikes the smell of onions when she slices them.  Some can be quite pungent, but have to say I really do like the smell when they are frying. 
Sometime my eyes run when chopping the really strong onions, but not often and perhaps this is because I wear glasses, but it I happen to rub my eyes when I've onion juice on my fingers - boy, does it make my eyes sting and then they really do run. 
I too used to love the smell of creosote - this not often used these days as it can kill plants that touch it while it is still wet.

A welcome to Suzi xx who asks if there is a way to have my blog show up on her reading list.  As I am completely computer illiterate, hope that a reader will let us know how this can be done.

It could well be I sometimes write my blog late at night or maybe leave it until early next morning. What I don't wish to do is write two on the same day so that if a reader leaves it until late evening to read, he/she might then read the most recently one published and miss the preceding one.  Perhaps I should put the day that it is intended for at the start of each posting. 

It is still Friday evening, but this is intended as the Saturday blog ( and probably will be posted just after midnight),  and - as is now usual - will be taking Saturday off, so won't be blogging again until late Sunday evening (for the Monday blog). 

Here are a few more recipes that I hope will be of interest.  The first is a store-cupboard one, and although spaghetti is the chosen pasta, any pasta shapes could be used.  A red chilli is one of the few ingredients, but I never buy these, preferring to add a few dried chilli flakes or a dash of chilli sauce, Tabaso, or Fiery Ketchup.  Add as little or as much of this 'heat' as you can take, or leave it out altogether.
I've found that adding plenty of ground pepper gives just as much heat as chilli sauce does, and white pepper (which went out of fashion once ground black peppercorns became popular) is far stronger than the black and now I use it a lot more when cooking - keeping the black peppercorns in the mill on the table to grind over when we eat.

Fresh tomatoes (when in season) are best to use for this dish as with the tuna and chilli they form a 'salsa', but canned chopped tomatoes would work just as well, especially when using a chilli sauce instead of the chilli.

Pasta with Tuna, tomato and chilli:  serves 4
12 oz (350g) spaghetti, or other pasta shapes
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 lb (450g) fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tblsp olive oil
1 red chilli (see above), seeded and finely chopped
1 x 140g can tuna in brine, drained and flaked
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water as per packet instructions. While it is cooking, put the onion and tomatoes in a pan with the oil, heat gently for a few minutes, stirring in the prepared chilli after a couple of minutes, giving a good stir from time to time.  
Drain the pasta and add to the onion/tomato mixture in the pan, finally folding in the flaked tuna with seasoning to taste.  Toss well together and serve in individual bowls.

A couple of days ago I gave a recipe for a pea and prawn risotto.  Here is a similar dish this time made with linguine pasta (this is like spaghetti, but thicker).  Use ordinary spaghetti, macaroni, pasta penne, or pasta shells.  Or whatever you have.  That's one of the great things about pasta, use what we have, it really doesn't make that difference (well Italians probably think it does...).

Prawn and Peas with Lemon Linguine: serves 4
12 oz (350g) linguine
7 oz (200g) frozen peas, defrosted
8 oz (225g) frozen cooked, peeled prawns, defrosted
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 fl oz (100ml) double cream
Cook the pasta in salted water as per packet instructions, then put the peas, prawns, peppers, the lemon zest and juice in another pan and heat gently for 3 - 4 minutes until hot.  Add seasoning to taste. 
Add two tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the pan of peas/prawns... then to this stir in the cream, bring to the boil and let it bubble away for one minute.  Drain the pasta, and either put it back into its pan and add the cream sauce, or add the pasta to the pan of sauce.  Doesn't really matter which way it goes together as either way it has to be tossed together before serving in individual dishes.

It is now one minute past midnight so I can safely publish knowing it is now Saturday, my day of blog-rest although a busy one in the kitchen (Saturday being my baking day).  The weather seems to be set fair for the weekend, looking more spring-like as each day passes.  The little blue tits much have already hatched their babies as the parents are flying back and forth to and from the tit-box with barely a break every daylight hour.  They must be exhausted.
The house at the back of our garden has the seagulls building a nest again between the chimney pots.  Last year they hatched three baby gulls, all falling out of the nest and having to be reared on the sloping roof, very visible, and fortunately the weather was fairly dry at that time.  The previous year they had to babies, one only being reared on the roof (and getting very wet most of the time).  The year before that they had only one baby.  Interesting to see how many they have this year (one or two is normal.  Three is one too many).

Will be back here blogging again late Sunday evening, so it will be in the wee small hours of Monday my next blog will appear.  Please keep those comments coming so that I have something to reply to and also have time to find the answer to any queries you might send in.  Have a lovely weekend. TTFN.