Monday, June 02, 2014

A Bit of A Chat.

Watched 'Little House...' at noon today, expecting it to be a continuation of yesterday's - this being the very first episodes, but sadly it was a much later episode, when Laura Ingalls was married, and the main story was around the Olsen's.  Laura did make a very short appearance, and I'm wondering what happened to her parents/siblings after she married.  Did they still live in Walnut Grove?

As I hadn't seen the episode shown today I stayed with it.  As 'Highway to Heaven' and 'Little House' are produced and directed by Michael Landon, am not surprised that there always seems a leaning towards moral issues in each episode.  Michael Landon (now deceased I believe) was probably very Christian in his upbringing and way of life.  Anyway, I always feel uplifted after I've watched the above programmes (which in later years has not been that often, but for that very reason feel they are worth watching again).

I've been reading the 'Food and Drink in Britain' book (Dairy chapter) to see what it says about cheese, and 'roasted cheese' and 'toasted cheese' were one of the first ways of cooking cheese, probably done on a flat-iron/griddle over a hot fire, rather than in an oven.  This was the forerunner of the Welsh Rarebit as we know it today, or for us lesser mortals:  'cheese on toast'. 

In medieval times they also cooked cheese with eggs, much as we make an omelette today, and also as scrambled eggs, so these dishes are very old, and eaten by generations of our ancestors.  Goes to show that the dishes that are the favourites are often the simplest to make.

Most of the comment sent in have referred to the above cooking of cheese, and all are rather similar, just variations of the old methods.  I must try it myself as I've never cooked cheese on its own, unless grated Parmesan to make crispy biscuits.

The above mentioned book gives a lot of info on the foods our ancestors ate.  We would never eat the variety of birds that were eaten then.  Larks, blackbirds, thrushes, rooks, finches, even sparrows were made into pies.  Swans and peacocks by those who could afford them.  Many centuries ago our ancestors ate bears and beavers (now extinct in our country as probably hunted to death).  Many different kinds of fish, fresh water, seawater and shell-fish, plus dolphins and whales.  (I remember we ate whale meat during the war, and it was horrible).  The Scottish islanders used to eat seagulls and their eggs.

As I'm only a third of the way through the book, what other delights will I be reading about?  I'm beginning to wonder that although we have a much wider variety of fresh fruit and vegetables today, most of these imported, we seem to be lacking when it comes to the choice of meat/fish that our ancestors ate.  With the meat, this was very seasonal as with a shortage of winter fodder, only the breeding animals were kept, the rest slaughtered and dried/smoked to use through the winter.  Same with fish, this was also dried or smoked. 

Thanks to Granny G. and  Mandy for reminding us of some of the old programmes.  I well remember 'Music While You Work'.  And although listened to some of the other programmes mentioned, think my favourite was 'Hancock's Half Hour'.

In my late teens I used to love listening to records.  We had one of those wind-up gramophones that needed a new needle for every record.  During wartime my parents used to use blackberry thorns as a substitute for the needles and they worked well. 
My favourite songs were Guy Mitchell singing 'Truly Fair' (because I was blonde), also Jo Stafford, and I absolutely loved Frankie Laine.  Later preferred the songs sung by Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathi, 'the Twelfth of Never' a special favourite.   There were others of course. Not sure why but I always wanted to cry when I listened to 'The Song of the Volga Boatmen' (sung by a Russian chorus I think), my auntie bought the record for my birthday and I was so choked up when listening to it I couldn't even say 'thank you', so had to apologise and thank her after I'd recovered.  I think I was about nine years old at the time.

Quite a lot of music makes me cry.  I seem to be able to visualise music as though it is a moving  picture.  It doesn't matter where I am, even now I will burst into tears at a certain section in Tubular Bells. This was played once as background music at the hairdressers I used to go to in Leeds, and I sat sobbing in the chair while my hair was being blow dried.  The hairdresser was a trained musician and could completely understand (I had warned him this would happen, once I heard the music start).

Music today is just an unpleasant noise.  The vocals are barely able to be heard, and if they are the words are not worth listening to.  Why does everything have to be so loud?  Yet, as a teenager am sure I played records (and the radio) louder than necessary.  Somehow it seems as though we need to bath in and soak up the sounds rather than actually listen to them.  A bit like eating at speed, we never stop to savour each mouthful, just get it down as fast as we can, so we can start eating something else.

Am tired tonight, so this blog will be published well before midnight - making two blogs in one day. Knew this would happen.  Take it that this blog (written Monday) is meant for reading Tuesday. The next will be intended for Wednesday, and so on, and so forth....   Seems that I am beginning to fret about when my blog is published,  never two close together, but not a big gap between - unless deliberately like taking the weekend off as I've been doing recently. 

The only thing to do is just write a daily blog (or as near daily) as and when I feel like it, and if two appear on one day, you will know why.  Am sure most bloggers just blog when the mood takes them (or they have something useful to write - which is more than I've been doing recently).  I've got into a routine I'm finding it difficult to get out of, but now I'm getting a bit of a life outside the home, at least that will give me something to write about, if not every day.

Today had a call from the Smeg people about repairing our oven.  She rang just as my rolls were nearly baked (the loaf taking a bit longer), so had to ask her to phone back as I didn't want my bread to burn.  This she kindly did, and has referred the breakdown to a local repair man who will contact me to arrange a convenient time to call. 
Although the smaller (lower) oven seems to heat up properly, the bread took a lot longer to bake today.  Maybe it was more to do with the fact I'd used a little more liquid that recommended, or it could be that oven is now playing up.  Anyway, after a good hour (instead of 30 minutes) the rolls and the bread seemed baked enough, so it is now a matter of slicing to see if the crumb is OK.

This afternoon was spent in the garden, lifting all the spring bulbs from the containers (not easy as the roots were clinging to the soil beneath), and so now most of the containers have had their soil mixed with fresh compost, refilled and now waiting for the bedding plants (yet to be ordered) to be planted therein.  I could plant out the geraniums that have kept through the winter in the conservatory, all in bloom, but think I'll just move them outdoors to a warm spot to harden off a bit before planting as I like to put everything in the pots at the same time (geraniums, lobelia etc), then can place them around the patio/lawn, and a few close to the back door, then forget about them.  If we get enough showers won't even have to water them.  Just dead-head when necessary.

Maybe it was the fresh air that has made me tired, but feel it is now time for me to go to bed, I feel exhausted for no particular reason, it's not as though I've been doing very much, but perhaps at my age a little is a lot.   In past times it used to be common for elderly ladies to take to their bed, and stay their for the rest of their life.  Am beginning to feel that is not such a bad idea.  Just as long as I have a TV to watch, and a radio to listen to.

The weather in Canada and America (at least Texas) seems to be very summery and really warm at the moment.  We've not done too badly, even had some heat (27C in the London area) a week or so ago, but now it has cooled down a bit and turned showery, although many parts of the country remain dry.  Said to improve again by Thursday, so will look forward to that and hope to be able to start sitting outside every day for an hour or two. 

Can't seem to concentrate on anything at the moment, so apologies if my blogs are a bit hit and miss. But better a bit of a chat than none at all.  Should be back blogging, sometime tomorrow. Hope you can join me then.  TTFN.