Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sounds Good...

Sat and watched TV early this morning (not that early) in time to hear about a man who has been recording as many of the sounds of the past and present that will soon be lost forever (if life continues in the way it is going).  We heard/saw examples such as a whistling kettle; the whine of a milk float; the rag and bone man with his horse-pulled cart.  The sounds of a traditional London pub (probably one of the last of its kind) with customers all singing 'A Long Way to Tipperary' accompanied by someone at a piano; and the sound of an air raid siren giving me chills up and down my spine.

Sounds heard not so long ago are fast disappearing, and I miss hearing the call of the cuckoo (last heard about 30 years ago when in Scotland); the song of the skylark (heard about 50 years ago when we lived near farmland in Leicestershire.  Plus the clink of milk bottles as the milkman puts them on the doorstep; and the 'trill' of the old telephones.   Mentioned the other day about the sound of the Qualcast lawn mowers, and the hand-held hedge clippers, also church bells on a Sunday. Although probably all these sounds are still around, not very often heard these days.   What other sounds that have now disappeared can readers remember and wish to hear again?

Had my Riverford organic veggie box delivered today, and again very pleased with the contents.  Although I have a box delivered only once a (lunar) month, there is enough there to last B and myself without me needing to buy more (except occasionally a bag of watercress or an iceberg lettuce from the supermarket).  This week the box contained tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, a big bundle of asparagus, a white Chard, large frilly lettuce, cauliflower, leeks, squash, beetroot, onions, carrots and potatoes. 
Normally would not buy chard, but because I'm not going to waste anything sent, the last time did shred and steam the leaves with some caraway and it was quite good.  The white crispy base end of the chard when shredded went into the stir-fries.
Asparagus is something I rarely buy because it is not the cheapest of veg, so was very pleased to find it in the box.  We will be eating this tomorrow when I've found a good recipe - if I can't, it will be steamed and eaten with the tips dipped in melted butter.  Can't wait!

Several comments to reply to, the new names getting a big hug and welcome to this site.  One from Anon (no name given) mentions the younger generation (that includes herself) now always seem to use manufactured goods (food and clothing etc).  This made me realise that many of the problems of today - rising prices leading to more shortage of money - is caused by lack of what I call 'domestic' education.  When we are not taught how to do things, then how can we possibly know how to cope when hardship hits?  It's never too late to learn (I was 40 before I began to cook 'properly').

Never thought about putting bottles into a door frame to open them. Thanks for that tip Ciao.  I do have an opener that I slide onto lids of tight-fitting jars that works, it might also work with the softer plastic bleach bottles. 

As I don't have an electric can opener Hilary, have to resort to using a manual one (have two different types, each works better on some tins than on others). When intending to use corned beef I always chill the can first as the meat can then be more thinly sliced.  If using the meat at room temperature it ends up what I call 'spreadable' (this can be useful if intending to use it for sarnies, mashing it with a bit of mustard or pickle).
One of my tin openers opens the cans without the rim being sharp, and although most cans now be opened only from one end, there are a few that can be opened from both ends.  Tuna being one of them.  After emptying these, sometimes remove the base as well as the lid, and after a good wash use them in the same way as those metal rings that are sold to pile food in (then remove the ring) to make it look attractive on the plate.  Also good (lined with clingfilm) to make individual cheesecakes.

Quite understand how fish is expensive in Toronto Margie, when you are living 2,000 miles from each ocean.  Think it was James Martin the other day who said none of us - in England - live more than 70 miles from the sea.  For Canadians and Americans this must be almost like having the beach at the bottom of the road.  But even the closeness of the sea doesn't seem to keep the costs down.

Thanks to Floss and Eileen for telling us about Aldi prices.  Do know they are cheaper, but at the moment am not fussed about paying a few pence more.  At midday today (Tuesday as I write) there was a phone-in programme about supermarket prices, and it was surprising how many people differed in their choice of store,  Sainsbury's didn't come out of it too well, but a representative of their company (whose voice was exactly the same as 'a girl called Jack' - so maybe she is now 'the voice of the store, and why not?) praised the store highly and explained about customer care/needs.
Even Aldi didn't come out of it with glowing colours, but in the main - when the cost of the food rather than the quality counted - it did.   Seems, like everything, we have our own personal favourites, and the one thing that did come across was that shopping on-line usually saved a considerable amount of money as our virtual trolley didn't contain food that would have tempted us had we shopped in store.   Also very good for mothers with small children, making shopping very relaxing (orders can be done when the children are in bed), and if the children are old enough to help empty the bags and put the food away,  they probably will enjoy helping to cook the food as well.

I've sent an order in to Tesco, and as it is much below the usual amount spent, have worked out this is because I now cook far more fresh food than before (due to having the organic veggies - these not pushing my food budget higher, but in fact causing it to be lower).  Always thought I cooked enough veggies, but now having different varieties (that I might normally not have bought) it is making me cook slightly different meals - which is no bad thing.  It's getting me away from serving the same old favourites day after day (even if B has given me a list of 15 - am now able to add to this).

See it is now just after midnight, so hallo to Wednesday.  Thoughts are now turning to using the asparagus, and my veggie book tells me it goes well with eggs, bacon, fresh and smoked salmon, shellfish and tangy cheese - and what d'you know, I've all these in the fridge/freezer, so now it's a matter of making a choice as B loves them all.  He doesn't know how lucky he is. 
As the bundle of 'sparrowgrass' (old name for it), is enough to feed four, will be able to eat some myself, and turn the rest into soup/quiches etc.   Even the tough lower part of the stem can be used (bend the asparagus stalk and it will snap exactly at the place where the stem begins to toughen, then just cook the top to eat as-is), as cooking the tough ends until very tender, then blitzing them with stock/cream will give a good flavour to soup or to a quiche.  Don't let anyone say I waste anything.

B takes all our rubbish to the tip as he/we can never remember what should go in the correct bin/s (we have about six different ones) and even when we do we put the bin out on the wrong week. So it is easier to bag up the stuff separately and take to the tip to be put into the correct skips. The most of our rubbish is all that plastic that comes wrapped round things. A LOT!!  Plastic bags are returned to Tesco (incidentally, the ones I use to line waste paper bins - if not needing to be changed, when left in sunlight, after several months the plastic just disintegrates into almost a powder).  Papers also taken to the tip as-  like bottles and cans - are recycled.  Anything else (and not a lot of this) is put into a swing-bin in the kitchen and taken to its special dumping ground.

As it's late, just one recipe - and one of my favourites as it is a vegetarian curry.  Normally served as a side dish to accompany a meat curry, it is a good meal to make just for me while I make something different - with meat - for B (note that the recipes makes enough for four, so I'd reduce the amounts when making for one).  Coriander is not our favourite herb so I would leave this out, also the green chillies (don't have any) and probably add a squirt of the chilli ketchup to add the necessary 'kick'.  May not even bother with the ginger (all though do have this).  The less I have to prepare the easier it is for me (I can spend hours preparing a meal for someone else, but anything more than a few minutes on my own meal is too long, although having said that the recipe below takes about half an hour to cook, but I don't have to hold its hand while doing so).

Cauliflower and Potato Curry: serves 4
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled/grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
half tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
1 x 227g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 cauliflower, broken into florets
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 small green chilli, halved lengthways
salt and pepper
juice of 1 small lemon
handful coriander, roughly chopped
yogurt and naan bread for serving
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion for around 10 minutes or until softened, then stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the turmeric, cumin and curry powder.  Continue stir-frying for a further minute then add the tomatoes, sugar, cauliflower, potates, and chilli, with seasoning to taste.  Cover pan and when boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the veggies are tender.   When cooked, stir in the lemon juice and pile into a warmed serving bowl, scattering the coriander on top.   Serve in individual dishes with a dollop of yogurt on top and warm naan bread to eat with the curry (or you may prefer to serve it with cooked rice).

That's is for now.  Will be back again around midnight tomorrow - give or take an hour.  I try to publish after midnight so the date is right when read.  But do any readers bother with the date/time of publication?  I'd hate someone to miss a blog if I write two on the same day.  TTFN.