Friday, April 11, 2014

Can't wait to feel Better.

It's not like me to have a 'downer' that last several days.  Maybe I haven't yet caught up with spring.  I just feel so very tired all the time, despite eating at least 7 fruit/veg a day.  And plenty of bean. And eggs and fish. I've had this feeling before, when feeling at a loose end,  a waiting for something to happen to point me in the right direction. And it always does.  So now I wait.

So another short blog as I've done nothing much but keeping off my feet as my joints are playing merry hell at the moment.  So then I nod off, many times,  and at least that makes the day go fairly quickly.  Nothing on TV either that interests me.

Tomorrow is baking day - B has used up all the bread (again) but there are still a couple of rolls in the freezer to keep him going until the new loaf has been baked, plus another batch of rolls.  He loves them so much they last only a few days.  After learning that tip about banging the tins on the work surface as soon as they are removed from the oven, can tell everyone it works.  Works so well the rolls are twice as thick as normal, so can now make them flatter so that after the Big Bang they too will proudly stand to attention, and almost certainly I will be able to get at least a couple more rolls from the dough.

Thanks to everyone who has sent sympathies re my feeling 'off', and congratulations to Pam (Texas) who has now got her US citizenship.   Dare say if we all had Skype (if that is the thing) we would be able to watch me as I type my blog.  Not a pretty sight, my specs pushed to the end of my nose so that I can read the screen more clearly over the top of them.

Thanks to Alison for sending her list of veggies she bought.  It does sound a mite expensive, but maybe some veggies were more expensive, others much the same as from supermarkets.
The way I tend to look at all purchases such as these - especially when wanting to get the most for my money - is to work out how many meals can be made from them.  Or perhaps I should say portions (depends how many you cook for).   If purchases (can be anything) work out at less than 50p a head, then that's workable.  Many magazines now give recipes that show the price per portion, and it's rare for them to be below £1 a head, the average being about £1.60. 

In one magazine read recently I saw a good way of presenting fried eggs - what they did was cut a hole in the centre of a slice of bread - wide enough to hold a shelled egg - and the lightly fry the bread on one side, and when turned over, break the egg into the hole and cook until the white was set and the yolk still runny (or set if you prefer it like that).  Very simple idea, but my mega-thrifty mind immediately saw that there would be a decent sized circle of bread taken from the slice AND THIS CAN BE USED IN OTHER DISHES. Or to make breadcrumbs (to freeze).  Waste not, want not.

We are familiar with using a chicken carcase to make chicken soup, but many meat bones that are leftover from a roast can flavour a soup. If you have only a few at a time, then freeze them immediately so when there is enough (can be a mixture) the soup can be made.
 Here is a recipe from Scotland that makes the best use of these bones with extra ingredients being something we all have in our kitchens.  Yes, even pearl barley and if you have none, then buy some next time you shop for it is one of the cheapest grains, and a very good substitute for rice in a risotto.

The bare ribs in this soup are the ones that have been saved from boned-out chops or roasts.  To keep with tradition, serve this soup with oatcakes.
Fife Broth: serves 6
12 or more bare ribs of pork (see above)
7 oz (200g) pearl barley, soaked overnight
salt and pepper to taste
4 pints (2 litrs) water
1 large onion, finely chopped
12 potatoes, sliced
Put the pork bones, barley, salt and pepper, into a pan with the water.  Cover and bring to the boil. Over low heat simmer for a couple of hours then add the onion and the potatoes.  Simmer for a further half hour and when ready, remove the bones and serve.

Am loving reading this book on soup as it comes up with some very economical recipes - but all traditional.  This next was taken from 'The Fine Art of Italian Cooking', that goes to show that good food can still be made from the simplest of ingredients.
Fresh tomatoes are plentiful in Italy, but costly to buy here, and not nearly as flavoursome, so I'd be inclined to open a tin of Italian plum tomatoes (chefs swear by them), and chop or puree these to replace the fresh.
Even if you have home-made or bought bread that is going stale (hard, not mouldy), never throw it out as it can be dried off to make breadcrumbs (or breadsticks), and is exactly the type of bread needed for this soup (see below).

It is important that the bread is not soft.  It should be sufficiently old, several days at least, rather hard and - if possible - dark rather than light.
Although called a soup, the consistency of this dish is not liquid at all.  It may be eaten hot, lukewarm or cold, or reheated the following day.
Bread and Tomato Soup:  serves 4
1 lb bread (450g) cut into small pieces
1 lb (450g) very ripe tomatoes (or use canned)
4 fl oz (100ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
pinch of dried hot pepper flakes
1.5 pints (3/4 ltr) chicken or beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves
Put half the oil in a pan and add the garlic and pepper flakes. Sauté very gently for 10 - 15 minutes taking care the garlic does not begin to burn or it will then taste bitter.  If using fresh tomatoes, skin and remove seeds, then chop the flesh and add to the pan (or add the contents of a can of plum tomatoes).  Cook for a further 15 minutes, then add the bread and the chosen stock with seasoning to taste, and the basil leaves.  Stir very well to combine and then simmer for 15 minutes, then remove pan from the heat, cover and leave to rest for 2 - 3 hours.
When ready to serve, stir again very well and reheat if you wish to eat it hot.  Spoon into individual bowls, sprinkling 1 spoon of the reserved oil on top of each, with a little more freshly ground black pepper.

Final recipe today is - I have to day - what I would call a dessert, not a soup.  But whatever, am sure it would be eaten with relish by both children and adults.  It's different - what more can I say?

Fried Breadcrumb Soup: serves 4
4 oz (100g) fresh breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) butter
2 pints (1 ltr) boiling milk
5 fl oz (150ml) raspberry syrup/puree
sugar to taste
Melt the butter in a frying pan and brown the breadcrumbs, then remove with a slotted spoon and place into a soup tureen.  Pour in half the milk, cover the tureen and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Pour in the raspberry syrup, adding sugar to sweeten it, then add the remaining milk, stir gently, and serve. 

Before I leave, must thank Granny G for her comment.  Chipotle sauce/paste is quite feiry and a little goes a long way.  Believe it might be made from jalapeno peppers that have been smoked, but whatever peppers are used, they are smoked and dried (look a bit like sun-dried tomatoes).  Myself love chilli, but if not used to it use sparingly and then build up once the body becomes used to it.

With any highly spiced dish (curries, chillies etc), the way to overcome the burning in the mouth is to eat a spoonful of yogurt.  This is why I always provide a bowl of yogurt when serving chill con carne (or put a dollop on top), and Raita with curries.  Sugar also is supposed to kill the heat.  Drinking water makes it WORSE.

For several weeks now I've been taking the weekend off, so my next blog will probably be written either late Sunday night (for Monday reading).  
We're having some lovely weather at the moment, so hope many of you will be able to get out and enjoy it this weekend.  The housework can wait. I'll even shut my eyes to you having a take-away if it gives you more time to spend in the fresh air.  But make it fish 'n chips for at least these are considered 'healthy' compared to some others.    TTFN.