Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life's Too Short....

Firstly, a big thank you to all who sent me birthday greetings.  It was a lovely sunny day, no wind, and it felt almost timeless as we drove over to Lancaster to our daughter's house.  So many trees covered in blossom.  Even the bluebells are flowering, at least 3 weeks earlier than normal.
It was altogether a lovely day, one of my best for a long time.

Just a couple of comments I wish to reply to.  Mary in Perth (Australia) has asked in the Dairy Cookbook is still available from our milkmen.   As milkmen now are becoming few and far between, cannot myself answer this, but maybe a reader still has her milk delivered and can give the answer.

Like you Pam, I am wary of getting involved in spiritualism, although am still attending the meetings (3 so far).  A recent enquiry from a reader asked whether the mediums charged for their services.  My neighbour asked this very question on Tuesday and we were told they did not.  Some who had travelled long distances sometimes claimed expenses only, but mostly they did not, even if it had cost them quite a bit to get to Morecambe (they come from all over the country).
However, I have had some rather strange experiences since I went to the first meeting, nothing frightening, more like a door opening.  Will have to see what happens on Saturday when the plan is my neighbour and I go to another meeting where there will be a medium in attendance.

This afternoon was watching a repeat of a Hairy Biker's cookery prog.  They were discussing the market place (farmer's markets, the rise of supermarkets etc).  They visited an organic farm, the first to deliver the organic veggie boxes around the country, and I noticed the name 'Riverford' in their cafĂ©.  This is the company that supplies my veggie box.  It was good to hear all about how it began, and how it has progressed since then.

A few easy recipes today.  The first makes use of courgettes - these not my favourite veg, but no doubt they will appear in the veggie box so about time I found recipes such as this to make use of them.
When I have no fresh mint then I use a teaspoon of mint sauce (from a jar).

Courgette and Potato Frittata: serves 2
2 medium potatoes, sliced
1 tblsp olive oil
2 medium courgettes, sliced
4 eggs
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese, grated
Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes or until just cooked, then drain and set aside.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgettes for about 5 minutes until golden , then add the potatoes and fry for a further couple of minutes.
Break the eggs into a bowl and add the mint and seasoning to taste.  Beat together the pour this into the pan over the potatoes/courgettes.  Give a brief stir so the egg falls into any gaps, then reduce heat and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
As the egg begins to set, but still slightly runny, sprinkle the cheese on top then place under a pre-heated grill and cook for 5 minutes until the eggs  are set and the cheese is bubbling and browning. Serve cut into wedges.  Good eaten alone or with salad.

This next dish can be as simple or as complicated as you wish.  The basic recipe is given, but any vegetables that go well with the potatoes and eggs can be included.  It's a cross between a Full English Breakfast, and a pizza, with a nodding resemblance to the frittata above.  I'd definitely be using a lot of onions (because I like them) and sliced, cooked sausage (or chorizo). Or maybe ham, corned beef, Spam.  It's a great dish to use up tiny amounts of mushrooms, red peppers, frozen veg such as peas and string beans, and not forgetting that last rasher of bacon.  My mouth is already watering at the thought of it.  Pity it is too late for me to make it like NOW!

Please note, this is intended to be a meal for one, and probably would be if you use only the ingredients given, but include any (or all) the above and a few more eggs and it should then feed the five thousand.

Use What You Have Eggs plus: serves 1
1 tblsp olive oil
2 cooked potatoes, sliced
few cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, sliced
pinch salt, generous amount of pepper
basil leaves for garnish (opt)
Put the oil in a frying pan and fry the potatoes until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and shallots and fry for a couple of minutes until softened.  Season to taste (plenty of pepper), then shove the potatoes etc around the sides of the pan leaving room in the centre, into this break the egg and continue to cook until as set (or runny) as you like. Scatter the basil leaves on top (if using) and serve.

Final recipe is a speedy way to make Minestrone Soup.  Or a cheat's way if you prefer. It's a good way to use up small amounts of frozen veg.  Either from a pack of mixed veg, or make up your own mixture. If you have no spaghetti, crush up larger pieces.  
Although this is a vegetarian soup, no reason why we couldn't make it with beef stock and include a little cooked minced beef.

Minestrone in Minutes: serves 4
4 oz (100g) spaghetti
1.75pts (1 ltr) hot vegetable stock
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
12 oz (350g) frozen vegetables
4 tblsp pesto
olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese
Break up the spaghetti into small pieces, then set aside.   Into a saucepan put the stock and canned tomatoes and bring to the boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook for 5 minutes or so or until the pasta is almost (but not quite) al dente., then add the veggies and bring back to the boil.  Simmer for 2 - 3 minutes until the veggies and pasta are just cooked (don't overcook). Serve the soup in individual bowls, and drizzle over the pesto, a little oil and a good sprinkling of Parmesan.  

'Life's too short to stuff a mushroom',  Shirley Conran (was it?) once said.  Well, I don't agree.  Today I was choosing the mushrooms from the large 'value' box (Tesco) for B's stir-fry, and the 'rooms were so fresh that I really fancied eating some myself.  I love raw mushrooms when they are as fresh as that.  So I helped myself to 8 large 'caps', removed the stalks (they went into B's stir-fry), and stuffed some of the centres with some chilli-flavoured Philly-type cheese, and the rest with some Moroccan-style hummous.  They were really, really tasty.

Although Philadelphia cheese can be bought chilli-flavoured, I tend to make up my own by buying the cheaper Tesco cream cheese, and then folding in some of my favourite Heinz Fiery Chilli Ketchup.  It works out cheaper and tastes just the same (if not better, as I can add more chilli).
I suppose there are all sorts of spreads that could be used to stuff a mushroom - peanut butter for instance.  Or smoked mackerel pate (or any other pate for that matter).  Not more than a teaspoon of filling is needed for each mushroom, so a little goes a long way.  Would make a good buffet 'nibble'.

Like the Queen, I also have an 'official' birthday.  Or like to think I have as I was born on Easter Sunday so I count that as my special day too.  Only twice since I was born has my date of birth fallen on that day.  Perhaps never again in my lifetime.

Anyway, that's it for today.  As am busy over the next few days, am planning to take a break from blogging over Easter, however as I get withdrawal symptoms if I leave it too long, my next blog should be published on Monday.  Do hope you all have a lovely Easter holiday and make the most of the good weather while we have it (due to rain Sun/Mon further south).  And thanks again for all your lovely comments.  TTFN.