Thursday, May 22, 2014

It Never Rains but it Pours....

It's been a funny sort of day.  Yesterday the toast blew up (we now have a new one), today the main oven had a hissy fit.  I'd heated it up to bake bread, and had put the rolls in to bake, leaving the main loaf another 20 minutes to rise a bit more.  When I went to check the rolls saw that inside the oven it was full of sparks, just as though a sparkler had been lit.  The oven light was on (first time that had been on since we moved here!).  I cautiously removed the rolls - they had baked perfectly - and decided that as the dough in the loaf tin was ready, I'd put it in the oven, sparks and all, and hope the thing wouldn't explode before it was baked.  Then quickly left the kitchen just in case it did.

While in the living room, could keep hearing snap, crackle and pops coming from the oven, but that stopped and I went in and saw the oven light was no longer on, although the oven temperature light was.  I checked the loaf - it was golden, but it felt as though it needed longer, so I gave it a further 14 minutes.  Realised then, by turning the regulo switch back until the light went out, the oven was cooling, not keeping its heat.

We do have a smaller oven, under the large one, so I switched that on and thankfully no problem with that (yet), so when it had heated up I finished off baking the loaf in that.  Even after 20 minutes - when it was easily lifted from the tin and sounded hollow when tapped underneath, it still didn't seem right after half an hour cooling.  Knowing that we can buy part-baked bread to cook on in the oven, thought it wouldn't come to any harm if I heated the oven again and gave it a further 15 minutes, and this worked!  B sliced some for toast this evening and he said it is perfect.  So there you go.

Luckily I insured the oven (and both fridges, and washing machine), so if it can't be repaired I will get a new one (and do hope that will happen).  With the Bank Holiday probably won't be able to be sorted for at least a week, perhaps longer, but still have the hob/microwave to use for cooking, as well as the small oven.  Am just keeping my fingers crossed the fridge doesn't now decide to pop its clogs.  Things always seem to go in threes.

Thanks for your comments.  Think the Milliband statement may well have been true, but not as a permanent way of life.  It is easy for those who have done it to say 'I can feed my family on £80 a week' (I could probably feed my family on £10 if I had to), but not ALL the time.   Many readers of this blog will have attempted the various challenges that go around such as a recent one of 'Living on £10 a week' or 'on £1 a day'....but again not continually after (unless necessity makes it so). 

As you say Les, the Millibands earn enough to pay more for their food.  Perhaps you yourself have enough money to pay more for food than you actually do.   Some people are able to be very frugal, and sometimes have to be if mortgages take much of their earnings, add to that child minder fees, or private education, even saving up for the future. Unless we know EVERYTHING, then we are not able to judge. 

What is true though is that many people do manage very well on £80 a week, and without feeling deprived.  Perhaps simplicity is the reason.  Children don't have to expect to be given sweets, snacks, treats all the time. Just three meals a day keeps the obesity at bay.  Some children are very content to just drink water instead of fruit juices (these supposedly helping to rot teeth).

Another article caught my eye in the paper today.  This by Emma Thompson, saying something I really agree with.  "Along with Facebook, Twitter is 'killing a generation' that is obsessed with being 'connected' 24 hours a day", she said.  Going on to say "I hope we realise we are all one giant human experiment at the moment.  We are just a big bunch of little gerbils on wheels".

While I can understand that there are many lonely people who cannot get out to meet people, then perhaps Facebook/Twitter helps to keep them in contact with the outside world.  But when young folk seem to be addicted to their mobiles/tablets or whatever is used these days to 'connect with others', and I wouldn't be surprised if they even take them to bed to continue 'contacting', then what hope is there for their future? 

I've never even 'tweeted', so don't know much about it other than millions of people seem to delight in telling the world what they are about to do (like having a shower), and expecting others to be interested.  They even take photos of themselves, and then get dangerously depressed when someone tweets back and says they are ugly.    Bullies apparently text messages to upset others, and it seems that every text HAS to be read.  Me - I'd just throw away the mobile and get another with a new number.  Or perhaps not have a mobile at all. 

Why is it that the actions of people we have never met and don't even know, who have 'tweeted' extracts of their daily life-style are so important to so many?  To me it is like snooping, or every voyeurism.  And I bet if a celebrity has replied to a tweet sent, the person who sent it will then boast that they are now on speaking terms with said celeb. Is that what it's all about.  One big game?  Get a life.

Yes, it is good to keep in touch with distant friends, but surely 'having a chat' should be between pals, not for the whole world to listen to.  At one time myself and friends used to write letters to each other, sometimes more than once a week, but now the price of stamps has risen, we now take advantage of the free hour-long weekend phone calls and regularly keep in touch that way.  Even better, those friends of mine who have Internet can then email me news and even photos, and I can instantly send a return message.  Perhaps email is veering close to 'tweeting' but at least it is kept personal and for the recipient only to read.

By now you know I am old fashioned and slow to catch up with 21st century trends, but if this is the way the world is going, then I'm thankful I'm not young enough to get caught in that particular web.

As the comments sent referred to the £80 budget, so a blanket thank you to all for your views.  With the Frugal Queen giving her views, I went on to her site and was so envious.  Do wish I could set up my site to match hers.  All I had to do was click on the link word, and up came the Daily Mail article.
How much time that would save when I read something that I hope readers will check up on.  Normally I fill a my page with extracts from articles, and then give my views (as with the above 'tweets), and this can often be confusing (to me as well as to everyone else).  Congratulations Frugal Queen on having one of the best sites.

Not so long ago I was in contact (more than once) with a site called which explained how we could feed a family of four on just £24 (or was it £25) - and am sure this was for a month, not a week.  Although it does come up via Google search, when I click on for it to come up it says 'this page cannot be displayed', so can anyone tell me if the site is still running?  That is/was the site for anyone who really was almost living on the bread-line as it showed simple recipes that were both cheap and very tasty, and proved the point that we really don't have to spend very much to eat good healthy meals.  We just need the time to cook them.

Don't anyone tell me they don't have time to cook.  Add up the hours spent texting/tweeting or watching TV or reading blogs, then stop doing all these things for a week and spend the time cooking instead.  Life would then have more purpose.

Having almost run out of chicken stock (I did find a couple of small tubs today), decided to make another big batch, this time using chicken wings.  At the time I bought the wings (Tesco's), I had bought two boxes, 12 chicken wings in each box, not frozen.  I was going to freeze them to later make stock, but decided to pack them in smaller containers, so discovered that six wings in each box were much plumper than the rest.  So these I set aside, the scrawny wings to be used for stock, the 'fatties' to be frozen to later be cooked - preferably barbecued.   It made sense to cut the pointed wing tips from the main wing (no flesh on these anyway), and so added these to the stock pot today, along with the scrawny wings, plus with carrots, onions, the green parts of leeks I'd save, some bay leaves and a couple of ribs of celery.  Then covered the lot with water and simmered for a couple of hours.
Left overnight for the flavours to develop, tomorrow the stock will be reboiled, then strained.  The veggies made into soup (for my supper), and usable flesh taken from the wings to add to a stir-fry.
The stock will be chilled and then there should be a useful amount of chicken fat that has set on top (it never sets hard), than can be scraped from the jelly beneath and used for cooking.  The jelly then reboiled again to reduce even further, to then fill small boxes (I use Philly cream cheese containers), and freeze.

Am also going to cook a gammon - at the moment this is standing in a large bowl of water to remove some of the salt.  Then once cooked, allowed to cool in its stock before being wrapped in foil and kept in the fridge overnight.  It is easier to carve thinner slices when the ham has been chilled (although I tend to use the electric slicer as this gives me a lot more slices than when hand carved).

It's not been a good-weather day today.  Showery and breezy.  The weekend forecast much the same, although Sunday/Monday is expected to be sunnier.  Let us hope so for this weekend I'm having to get the containers ready for planting out.   Haven't yet bought the lobelia, petunias, begonias, but do have a lot of geraniums, still flowering, so as soon as I can the lot will be potted up and the garden then turned instantly into a flower garden (at the moment it is just shrubs, with a few yellow/orange Welsh poppies - these grow like weeds - popping up here and there.  The lilac is in flower, but a young bush so not so many blooms this year, the wisteria is now on its way out. 

An early blog tonight as I want to watch something on TV, and then feel I need an early night.  Will be back again tomorrow (Friday evening) for my last blog of the week.  Being another Bank Holiday I may take a couple of days off before I return.  Much depends on what life throws at me.  TTFN.