Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Life Beyond the Kitchen...

Would you believe I've now been out twice - once last week, and once today.  Both to local community groups, and thoroughly enjoyed the experiment.  I've not been out socialising since we moved here nearly 5 years ago  (or is it 6?), apart from a very few time to B's sailing social club where nearly everyone sails and talks of not much else.
Even better, I'm going out again to another meeting this coming Saturday.  And none of it to do with food. 

So now I'm feeling a new woman, but having to compartmentalise my life into Shirley the 'sous' (chef) and Shirley the gad-about.  The two don't really go together.  But am enjoying it. B kindly takes me to where I need to be, then collects me afterwards.   Otherwise it would be taxis.  Both my knees are crippling me, am walking with two sticks that really do ease the pain but as I tend to walk with a bent back when using them think I must look like those huge gorillas that walk supporting their front with their long arms, using their hands/knuckles as feet.

This has reminded me to ask anyone who has knowledge of horses (Kathryn comes to mind), that if horses that run wild have no treatment to their hooves, how do they keep them 'trimmed'.  We once went to a small zoo (rapidly closed down due to poor treatment) where a pony's hooves had grown and grown so they curled up at the front.  We also see donkeys abroad that have the same problem.
Tamed horses are shod, presumably to ease their hooves on hard roads, and when they need replacing, the horseshoes are removed and the hooves trimmed before the same shoes are nailed back. No need for new shoes each time.

Have had an email from Tesco re my comment about the cheaper eggs, but it seems that not all stores will be supplying these with on-line orders, only available in the shops 'due to lack of demand'.   Maybe if enough people buy them in the shops they will then add them to the on-line listing. and it would be interesting if readers in other parts of the country do have these six free-range medium eggs for £1 in their local Tesco AND on their website, as apparently stores don't always have exactly the same products on sale.  In the London area possibly more of the unusual are on sale.  I want to buy Tahini, but so far have been unable to buy any, from any supermarket in Morecambe, not just Tesco's.

Your mention Anna of sugar in fruit (fructose?) reminded me when I was in hospital with cellulitis, and had been diagnosed with diabetes was told I couldn't eat the grapes that friends had brought me - because of the sugar they contained.  Yet, here in Morecambe, the diabetic nurse said it was quite alright to eat grapes and all fruits (in moderation I suppose).  Personally, I've got past caring.  I avoid sugar by not (often) eating ice-cream, gateaux, biscuits etc, but do occasionally have marmalade on my toast, and Werther's sugar free caramels (the dietician said these were ok and they taste like the proper ones).  At every check up my diabetic level has gone down and now remains well below the diabetic level, the only thing that needs to be lowered is my 'bad' cholesterol (at the normal level but it seems that everything now has to be lower than normal apart from the 'good' cholesterol which has for some reason, risen.
Maybe I've just got used to eating the right things and not eating the wrong ones, and tend to eat what I want when I want with out any complications arising from it (other than still finding it hard to lose weight).

Had to smile with both Anna's and Alison's comments re those who smoke cigarettes but extol the virtues of eating healthy foods.  Apparently food that is cooked on the barbecue until charred is very carcinogenic (only the burnt bits), and I suppose well-done toast is much the same. 
Once we start thinking hard about how we should cook (or not cook) everything properly, it almost takes the enjoyment out of preparing a meal.  Well, it does for me.  Perhaps if I was a nutritionist I'd look at everything differently.
If my B is now working his way to his mid-80's, with the physical age of around 60, and eating what is said to be all the wrong things (butter, cream, home-made beef dripping, jams and marmalades, and countless desserts) then why doesn't he have health problems?  As I've said before, my personal opinion (and not necessarily correct, although I like to believe it is), is that if all food eaten is 'natural' (whether cooked or uncooked) then these shouldn't do us harm anyway.  It's the additives and preservatives in many processed foods that do us harm.

Just one recipe today - this for a fruit fool.  Rhubarb because it is in season, but any fruit that can be pureed could be used.  This recipe makes good use of spare cream and home-made custard (I make my custard using Bird's custard powder).
When folding cream, custard, yogurt, or beaten egg whites together they combine much more easily if they are all the same consistency,  so - with the recipe below - beat the cream to the thickness of the custard, or beat a little milk into the custard to thin it down if too thick before folding with the cream/rhubarb.

Rhubarb Fool: serves 4
12 oz (350g) rhubarb, chopped
2 oz (50g) sugar
1 tblsp water
5 fl oz (150ml) whipping cream
5 fl oz (150ml) cold custard
2 oz (50g) chopped nuts (opt)
Put the rhubarb, sugar, and water into a pan and poach until tender and breaking up.  Set aside until cold.
Lightly whip the cream then fold this with the custard into the rhubarb.  It can be completely blended or left in a ripple effect.  Spoon into individual serving glasses, topping each with nuts (if using) then chill for at least an hour before serving.

Jane, I do have some recipes that use beer/stout, and hope to be able to find and publish them tomorrow. Dark beer is very good blended with beef stock when making Beef Carbonnade, and I'm sure I've a fruit cake recipe that also uses beer.  And a soup.  So watch this space.

That's it for today, the comp. clock shows 12.17 (although blogger will give it at 11.17.  Here in Morecambe it is now Wednesday and if all goes well I'll be back blogging this time tomorrow.  Hope to see you then.