Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Even More in Store

That's a good idea of yours Joy to add dried milk powder to the flour when making bread (instead of using fresh milk).  When I used to make my own bread mixes from scratch, milk powder was one of the ingredients.  It is always cheaper to make our own bread mix, but I'm getting a bit lazy these days and prefer someone else to do all the hard work, just adding extra strong plain flour to the bought mix to extend it - still makes a cheapish loaf, but if I was having to count the pennies would go back to making my own mix again.  

A reminder that when I used to make my own bread from scratch, this entailed measuring out the flour, salt, sugar, milk powder... and this took time.  Not a lot, but when I began making up enough to make several loaves (weighing out the right amounts for each and bagging separately) could easily make up a dozen 'bread mixes' in a very few minutes, then all I had to do each time was put the yeast into the bread machine, tip in the bag of 'ready-mix', then the right amount of water, close the lid, press the button.  Job done.

Most of us have heard that Cleopatra used to bathe in ass's (is that how this is spelt?) milk, and often - when I had some dried milk that was long past its best before date - used to dissolve some of that in my bath water.  It's very good for the skin I believe.

Whether to buy a bread machine or not is a matter of choice.  Not sure if you are thinking of getting one Margie, but if you have an electric mixer (pref. on a stand) that has dough hooks, this would probably make as good a dough as if you used a machine.   Originally I used to bake the bread in the machine, but the shape of the loaf was not the right size.  By this I mean when cut the slices were too large to fit into our toaster.  Smaller loaves made in the machine were a better shape (rounded top), but my preference is to always make the dough in the machine (this also warms it up and makes it rise faster after knocking back), then bake it in proper loaf tins. 
The tip I saw on TV recently (and mentioned on this blog) about banging the loaf tin on a hard surface after removing from the oven, really works.  No longer do my loaves shrink slightly when cooling (the top crust crumpling slightly), the top now stays perfectly round.  It looks good, smells good, and according to B - is wonderful!!

Our potential neighbour seems OK, but is quite young.  "Upstairs" (who are very young) said she was an older lady, about 50!  She probably is, but to use (in our 80's) this is still young, and she really doesn't seem middle-aged, but who does these days.  Our daughter (closer to 60 than 50) to me still looks (and acts) twenty years younger.   All our children look very young for their age (must take after their father).

You made some excellent purchases for week two Hazel.  Do agree that chicken livers are good value, and there is virtually no waste.   Bacon offcuts too (sold by the pack) also good value as most of the time we chop rashers up anyway, and if there is more fat so much the better, just render it down and use it for cooking - it has wonderful flavour.
Already we can see how - once the first week is over - the larder shelves are beginning to fill up, each week and we end up with even more in store.  It should always be that way, but rarely do we consider planning for it.  Once we set our mind to really thinking hard about what we can make from what we buy, and then not use it all up just because it's there, then we have taken control away from the supermarkets and become masters of our own kitchens.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how much we try to persuade someone that it is much cheaper to cook meals from scratch, when they are used to buying the 'ready-meals' and other convenience foods, they just don't seem to want to stray from doing that.   Perhaps the best way to inspire them is to invite them to a 'cook-in' in your own kitchen where they can have a 'play' at making their own lunch.  Maybe just something as simple as a pan-fry pizza.  Or have a go at some of the recipes below (using some of the food bank's allocation.
To make it easy (some people don't even have scales) I use a standard mug as a measure.

Fish 'n Pasta Bake:
1 can tomato soup
2 mugs dried pasta
1 - 2 tins tuna, drained and flaked
1 tin sweetcorn or peas, drained
1 pkt. potato crisps, roughly crushed
Mix together the soup, pasta and chosen vegetable, and place in a heat-proof dish. Top with the crisps and bake at 180C, gas 4 for 30 - 40 minutes.

Fish Cakes:
Either mash canned new potatoes (drained), or make up some instant mash.  If possible, use tuna or sardines that are canned in oil, drain and use the oil to fry the fish cakes.
To make the cakes mix together equal amounts of mashed potato and flaked canned fish. Form into flattish cakes (or fish fingers) and fry until browned and heated through.
If you have no oil for frying, they can be crisped up by placing under a grill or baked in a conventional oven. 
To give a more interesting flavour, press the fishcakes into crushed cornflakes or crushed and flavoured potato crisps before cooking.

Mock Cream:
Put two tablespoons of dried milk powder into a cup and add one teaspoon of cold water.  Stir vigorously, adding a few drops of water between stirs until you end up with a very thick and smooth cream (like whipped cream).
To make a 'Mocha Cream', make as above using strong black coffee (made with instant coffee) instead of water.

Fruit Fool:
Use part or a whole can of fruit to make this, and mash the fruit with a little of the juice to make a soft mixture (puree).  The recipe for the mock cream is above.
1 can fruit, mashed to a puree
1 sachet (or can of ready-made) custard
2 - 3 tablespoons of mock cream (see above)
If using a dry custard mix, make up as per packet instructions and leave to cool, the fold the fruit, the custard, and the mock cream together to give a ripple effect.  Serve from the bowl or spoon into individual dishes.

As you can see, nothing difficult there, and have to say maybe a bit too ordinary.  But have to say there is not a lot we can do when all we have are a few cans.   More recipes will follow over the next few days.

An early finish today as feel like having an early night.  Having said that it is moving towards 11.00pm, so not that early.  Should be back again tomorrow usual (late) time.  Plenty of culinary work for me to do during the day.  I have dried fruits soaking in rum ready to make a fruit cake, and a pack of D.R's beef rib trim, also a pack of their boneless shin beef, and one of their diced beef put together with a pint of water into my slow cooker where they will simmer very slowly during the night, ready for me to divide up and pack into small boxes tomorrow morning, and after chilling and then freezing they will be ready for me to use at a later date.   I've also one more pack of diced beef to cook (I'll add that to the stock in the pot and continue slow-cooking.  In the oven I'll be cooking a couple of lamb shanks, and one large piece of belly pork.  These should keep my Beloved happy for several weeks.  Plus about a pint of gorgeous beef stock to freeze away. 

It rained last night and earlier today.  First time it has rained properly for AGES.  I've got several pots of herbs I want to plant out into the window box (but first must remove my miniature daffodils) then hope to have a good selection to see me through the year.   The one thing about fresh (and dried) herbs is that they really add wonderful flavour to what might be a pretty boring dish. 
I can feel myself getting into 'rambling' mood again, so must be firm with myself and sign off.  So TTFN - until tomorrow.