Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Full Monty or Just the Basics?

After listing to 'a girl called Jack' on Woman's Hour last week (that girl is so inspiring), went to her website to see if she'd written up about it.  At the time she hadn't, so - instead - clicked onto a box that linked onto her ingredient list and how she did her costings.  This intrigued me -  such a variety of foods and at least a quarter of these have not yet crossed the threshold of my kitchen. 

With having all the ingredients in Jack's list, we could then make any of her recipes, and armed with her cookery book, we would never need to venture into the supermarkets again (except for topping up fresh foods, and replacing any when used up)  What a good idea I thought, and wondered if I should make similar listings, but faced with the collection in my larder rapidly decided against doing this as not everyone likes to eat the same foods/dishes/meals, and viewed as a bulk purchase would frighten anyone off.
However, lists of 'what we need' can be very useful, and see many cookery mags are now giving suggestions/recipes for a different budget meals for each day of a week (such as  'for under £25 total)and with every ingredient listed at the start to take with us to the supermarket so that we can buy all the makings (some ingredients of course we may already have).

Practically all my old cookery books have lists in the front that give readers an idea of all the most useful foods that should be kept in the larder, and many of these certainly have never graced my shelves, proof that times and fashions change when it comes to what we like to eat.
Cooking/eating is always to do with personal taste, and whoever writes a cookery book (with lists)tends not to bother about ingredients that are not (at that time) necessary.

Myself tend to veer on keeping any ingredient list (in a recipe) as basic as possible, although the recipes given sometimes do use ingredients that are not often used in the Goode Kitchen (goat's cheese, brie, celeriac, bulb fennel....) mainly because I appreciate that readers probably DO enjoy these, but also try to suggest alternatives/substitutes to suit a different palate.
As I've said before, recipes with long lists I find daunting and quickly turn the page. A pity because over the years I've probably missed making some really lovely dishes.  It took a long time for me to realise that there are probably no more than three main ingredients to a dish (the modern name for these is 'heroes', the rest are there to give colour, texture - and specially add extra flavouring.  When making (say) a curry, there could be half a page of spices listed, and although I probably have all of them, still prefer to lump the lot together as one ingredient - which to me is 'use the heroes, then open a jar of curry sauce'.  But that's just me being lazy, and also mindful of the challenge:  Keep away from the shops, and use up what I have.

Still feel that it would (or could) be useful if as many readers as possible could send in a list of their personal choice of 'basics' (dry - larder - goods, also chilled/fresh etc).  It could be that most of these we all keep in store - and from then I would hope to be able to give a selection of recipes that could be made using just these, with suggestions to add other ingredients (but only if we have them). 

Busy (baking) day for me today, so before I leave here are my replies to comment.
Yes, Les a TV in the kitchen could be good, but prefer to listen to the radio as I don't then have to lift up my head to watch something.  If my eye was suddenly caught by James Martin twinkling his eyes at me, my attention would go and if cutting veggies a sharp knife might slip and....where's the plasters (again!).
Don't dismiss all white veggies Les, cauliflower, mushrooms are very good for us, as are turnips.  Some red meat (venison) also.  And fresh tuna fish. 
The colour of food is very important when plating up.  One of the worst meals (often given to invalids who really could do with being faced with something more attractive and tempting), is steamed white fish, served with a white sauce, mashed potatoes and cauliflower.  Yet, I've seen this suggested in more than one (decades old) cookery book.  

The beef/pork mince - slow cooked together - was excellent.  Much more depth of flavour than just cooking them separately.  The cooking liquid - when strained and chilled - had a good layer of fat on top that had set, and was able to remove this, reheat the fat to allow any jelly to settle beneath (keeping the air from it), and perfect for frying.  The remaining 'stock' had become a firm jelly in it's own right, so packed this into small containers to freeze to use later for soups/gravy/casseroles etc.  At the bottom of the 'jelly' was a fair amount of shreds of beef that ended up in a pan of soup I was making that day.   As ever, nothing wasted!

Have to say Treaders, you are exactly right.  I type so fast that the blog ends up with my thoughts put down at the speed of speaking, so it is as though you are 'hearing' what I would be saying had you (or anyone else) dropped in for a  coffe and chat, even though you'd probably never get the chance to open your mouth and have your say (when my neighbour comes for coffee I have to be very careful to allow her time to speak!!!).  I just can't stop talking, but put this down to the fact I have no-one to talk to each day (B doesn't do 'talking') and so make up for it the moment I meet someone.  Gill often points out - at the end of our hour-long Sunday phone-chat that 'time is up and I haven't yet told you about my week!'  Considering my life hardly changes at all, what on earth is there about it that I feel worth saying? (We talk a lot about our favourite soaps, and the way the world is going downhill fast etc).   
Haven't seen the 'Marigold Hotel' films, maybe these will be on TV one day.  Have heard they are very good.

Sorry, but really do have to love you and leave you.  Having my usual Sunday off, so will be back with you again on Monday.  Incidentally, today is officially the first day of Spring, and - what a surprise - snow is forecast for some areas. 
Was anyone awake (and outside) to see the amazing display of Northern Lights that was visible over all of the country on Thursday evening.  Some lovely photos shown on local TV, with Cumbria having some lovely colour range.  Hope Cheesepare didn't miss it.  The north side of our property has no windows, other than at one end of the conservatory, so we didn't get to see anything.  Had we known about them we could have taken a drive out. 
Took a look last night, but the night sky was just the normal grey, and as I had seen these 'lights' many years ago when driving home from Chester le Street (yes, was being driven down south, but just happened to look up at the right time when the road took a sharp bend, so 'been there, done that' comes to mind.  Feel the same whenever there is excitement over the eclipse of the sun (or moon ). Seen it once (or more than), don't feel the need to see it again.  How sad am I?

Hope to meet up with you all again next week.  Enjoy our spell of good weather while it lasts.  TTFN.