Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Counting the Cost...

Busy day again, this time mainly cooking.  I made another batch of bread (extending a bread mix by adding 250g of strong plain flour and extra liquid).  Am finding each time I end up with more.  There is enough yeast in the mix to raise the extra flour and when I make the dough (admittedly do this using the bread machine) I use half semi-skimmed milk with half warm water.  Having already taken the chill off, by the time the dough is ready (45minutes later), it just needs knocking back, dividing in half, one half is shaped to put into a 2lb loaf tin, the remainder using makes 8 rolls. 
The warm dough normally has risen enough to be baked in half an hour (or maybe a bit longer when the weather is colder), and takes 20 minutes to bake for the rolls and half an hour for the bread.  I set the oven at 200C (fan), and when I put the bread and rolls in to bake turn it down to 180C and the rolls take 20 mins.  If the bread is browning too much I cover it with a tent of foil (shiny side up), and it then bakes 10 minutes longer.  

Both the bread and the rolls rise quite a lot more once in the oven, the rolls being thick enough to slice into three (although B only splits them in half), so today I rolled out the remaining dough using a rolling pin, so it ended up quite a lot thinner, and cut out large 'baps' using my largest scone cutter.  This made six, and I gathered up all the trimmings and rolled them into six sausage shapes to make long rolls (sometimes called bridge rolls), just the right size to hold a cooked sausage (I also cooked some sausages while the oven was on).  So ended up with one large loaf and 12 rolls. 
The baps were much better - wider, perfectly round and this time the right thickness, so I was well pleased.

I'd made the bread first thing (loaf baked and out of the oven by 11.15) and after his supper (chilli con carne), B went to get the first of his 'snacks'.  He had cut the loaf (although there were two rolls there to eat I'd taken from the fridge from the last baking), and said it was so good he could eat all the loaf. So he went back for more....and again more.   As I came into here to write my blog (just after 11.00) he was out in the kitchen stuffing a couple of the long rolls with sausages!!!
Looks like I'll be baking bread again shortly.   Have to say that home-made bread doesn't always save money when so much of it is eaten so quickly, but it is lovely to know that it is appreciated.  And what's a few pennies here and there?

We did have visitors today, but they were not really social ones.  The upstairs apartment is being sold and the lady who was wanting to buy it wanted to buy some of our garden (we own all the garden), and it seems she has decided she wants to buy our front garden and that makes it awkward as the path runs across it from the gate at one side to our front door.  She says she will move the  path to the other side, also the gate etc.  I don't want this to happen but B doesn't mind.  We own our apartment between us, so he can't sell unless I agree. 

I was expecting the prospective owner to want to look round our home, not sure why, but that's why I had the spring-clean.  As it happened, they only popped their heads in and then B took them round the garden, but as I said to B, 'the place looks lovely now, let's try and keep it that way'. 

One thing I did suggest B do before he hoovers (that's the one job I ask him to do - which he does only about every other month), was to go and get a very stiff yard broom and brush the carpets before he hovered - this is something I used to always do as it lifts up a lot of deeply embedded dust, and it worked like a charm.  The carpets look almost as though they have been cleaned. 

What with one thing and another, after the 'visitors' had gone, and my neighbour had called me to say she had returned from her short holiday with a sore throat so was not going to the spiritualist church today, I decided not to go.  Instead sat and watched a bit of cookery on the Food Network, and have to say that it was good, perhaps because the cook was English.  It was our dear Nigella, must be very old series as her children were being taken to primary school and she looked so young and - well ordinary.  Nothing sexy about these programmes called 'Nigella Bites'.  Must have missed these the first time round.  On at 4.00pm Freeview 48.  Worth taking a look.

Thanks Hazel for your comment.  Don't think any of us are sure whether the 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out' means the may flowers or the month.  Probably the month as we can still get frosts up to the beginning of June.  In my youth we then packed away all our winter clothes and brought out all the summer ones to wear until the autumn.  Nowadays I seem to wear the same things all year round, mainly it is only the length of sleeve that varies.  Long sleeves in winter, shorter sleeves in summer, and in the very hot weather, no sleeves at all (at least at home - my 'bingo wings' really need covering up when out in public).

That £1 mix veg. pack sounded a good idea (to include in the £5 shop), wish I'd noticed that, but would definitely need an onion.
Future purchases would include a bag of plain flour and a block of lard (so much can be made with eggs, milk, oats, flour, fat:  pastry, oat cakes, pasta, biscuits.  Also lentils or pearl barley, bulgar wheat or couscous. Certainly cheese. When able to afford it I would buy a bag of (frozen) chicken portions, because not only do we get plenty of chicken (at least a dozen portions), but cooking these in water (poaching) will make plenty of stock and also give us some chicken fat that can be used for frying.  Once we have chicken stock then this adds great flavour to soups etc.
Tinned tuna, sardines or pilchards, corned beef would also be something I'd hope to be able to buy. 

It's only when we can afford to make savings by buying 'in bulk' that we are able to end up with more in store.  Larger packs of pasta, rice, oats, carrots, onions, potatoes.. Also the trays of 15 or 18 eggs. It may mean that for a few weeks the meals are a bit repetitive, but with plenty of foods in our larder we can then spend money on a wider variety of fresh products.

When sorting through my box of papers (related to cookery) I came across the recipes I typed out for the food bank.  The ingredients are those that are included in the boxes of foods given out - in other words only canned foods or those in packets.  No fresh foods at all.  If any reader is interested I can give some (or all) of these on this blog. 

I was told that the contents of the above boxes worked out at about £40 (to last four people three days), and when you think about it, the £5 challenge to feed one for a week would be a darn sight easier if we had more to feed.  Just think how much we could buy for £20 (to feed four).  The more we have to feed the cheaper - per head - it becomes.

Seems odd to think that it is already autumn in Australia (as Mary from Perth) mentioned.  She is now making soups, and that is something we are probably not now thinking about (although I still make my own tomato soup for lunch each day (one can of chopped tomatoes with a good squirt of Heinz Fiery Ketchup in it, sometimes adding half a sachet of Batchelor's tomato cuppa soup. Lovely!).
Today Nigella made a similar soup, just adding basmati rice to a can of chopped tomatoes and simmering them together for about 10 minutes.  Suppose crushing up some spaghetti and using that instead of rice would work just as well.  In my case always adding the Fiery chilli ketchup.  Need that chilli kick each day, it really does cheer me up (chillis - and oats - contain that 'feel-good' chemical  as does chocolate!).

Each day our wisteria seems to have more blooms, it looks like one of those photos you see in magazines, layers of lilac blossom falling water-fall fashion down the side of our garage.  Will give it a bit of a prune later and if I live long enough, hope to see it looking even better next year.

Watching a bit of Ina Garten's prog today (aka Barefoot Contessa), saw her making some nibbles for a cocktail party.  She did the same Mary Berry trick again (making sandwiches in advance, covering them with damp kitchen paper and then cling-film before chilling overnight).  One really speed nibble was to serve bought cooked prawns with a dish of 'Russian dressing'.  Ina made this by blending together mayo and tomato ketchup (isn't this what we call Marie Rose sauce?).l

Could an American reader please give me the recipe for Ranch dressing?  I've eaten this in a tray of mixed dips and really liked it, enough to want to make it for myself.

Half an hour after midnight, so had better toddle off to bed.  I enjoyed writing my blog in the morning earlier this week, so might go back to doing that again.  If/when I do, this could mean a gap between one blog and the next, or two closer together.  Perhaps best to write at a time when convenient to me rather than stick to a rigid routine.  Anyway, that's it for now.  Back again this time tomorrow (or the morning after).  See you then.