Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Matter of Choice

Comments sent in re the dislike of eating meatballs gave me food for thought.  It had not crossed my mind the problem was more to do with the texture than the content.  So thanks to Hazel, Julie, Margie for pointing this our.  

In reply to your message Shayna, my friend Gill has no problem eating burgers, yet myself am not a fan of eating these, unless they are more the vegetarian variety (softer texture).  So with me it seems it is the texture that makes the difference. 

Don't know much about Tipperary Ger, (other than via the song: 'it's a long way to....')' Suppose the two German supermarkets gathering strength all over Ireland would be Aldi and Lidl (originally two brothers, now in competition). 
Do remember when visiting our daughter in Co.Mayo, we went to Tesco in Castleford (was it?), and the foods was more expensive (for the same things) than we pay in Britain.  One fairly small bag of potatoes cost over £4, and that was one vegetable I thought would be cheaper in Ireland than anywhere else.  Sometimes our daughter and husband drive over the border to Northern Ireland to shop there as the prices are lower.  Although petrol is cheaper in the republic, so those in N.I. cross the border to buy petrol.

A welcome to Denise (South Africa), who has put me in a bit of a fluster as I now can't find the hummous recipe that apparently was in one of my books.  I'm not sure which book gave the recipe,  perhaps someone could tell me.  My first book has fallen to bits, I have most of its pages (all out of order), and the other books are also going the same way.  In a way my fault as I insisted that the books were to be sold at the cheapest possible price (I didn't write them to make any money - the royalties were abysmal),  and it made sense to have a book about cost-cutting to be at a price low enough that people who needed to save money could then afford.   Also proving that if the recipes and hints and tips were followed, these would save more money that the book cost.

Publishers of course are in it for the money, so normally try to get books first published in hard-back, then later as a cheaper paper-back, so a double whammy of profits for them.  I was not popular with the editors due to my not wishing to start with hard-backs.

As my energy seems to have returned, felt I did not need to take more iron pills.  Usually a couple or so days on them seems to do the trick.  No need for overkill. 
Another warm day, partly cloudy but plenty of sunshine as well, and boy - it was hot.  I sat outside doing some more potting up of lavender etc that had grown too big for their pots, moving them into larger ones, my arms almost burning with the sun if I sat still for too long.

The main containers are filled, it is just the smaller ones that have lasted the winter that need potting on.  Herbs have also been planted outside in the window box (and the larger ones such as Angelica) in big pots.  The yuccas have been repotted and now standing on bricks over large trays of water so the slugs can't reach them.  One was blown over last year and every leaf was eaten overnight by the little monsters.  But I kept it, and it has grown new shoots/leaves again this year and now safely on its little island surrounded by water.

My Beloved (when here) keeps the watering cans full and put by the bench so I can easily water the plants. One can could barely dribble out enough water, and I discovered that a small snail had got wedged in the spout.  Think the snail had been living in the can during the winter, and had grown too large to climb out through the spout.  I watched it struggling to do so, and then gently pushed it back down into the can and upturned the water and snail out over part of the garden where snails wouldn't do much harm.   I quite like snails, but absolutely HATE slugs.  Especially when the keep wandering around the house, and I can never understand why as it is fully carpeted (except for the bathroom), so can't be easy for them to slide around.  We keep seeing slug trails that stop and start but not showing where they entered or left. 
My Beloved keeps a torch and a tub of table salt in the middle lobby, so when he gets up to go to the bathroom in the night (as old people do - several times), he has a wander round and pours salt over any slugs he can find.  Then leaves them there for me to clean up later.

You would expect a scone recipe to be much the same in every cook book, but unlike the Victoria Sandwich cake that always uses the same weight of eggs, sugar, butter, flour, a scone recipe can vary.  Some are quite simple using flour, butter, milk and a little sugar, others use eggs and milk, and also add fruit.
The recipe below is for cheese scones, and one of the simplest to make, especially if you keep the cheeses ready-grated in the fridge or freezer.  Ideal for making when the oven is on cooking something else at the same temperature.  Once made they can be cooled and frozen to re-heat for a few seconds in the microwave.  
These savoury scones make a delicious accompaniment to soup, also lovely eaten freshly baked and just cool, spread with a little butter perhaps to eat with more cheese etc as part of a Ploughman's Lunch. 
Apologies for giving weights/measures in 'cups' - one cup holds 8 fl oz of liquid, about the size of an average mug if you don't have a set of cup measuring spoons.

Cheese Scones: makes 12
1 cup self raising flour
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tblsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
half cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
half cup (4 fl oz) milk
Mix together the flour, cayenne, Parmesan, and half the cheddar. Stir in the milk until it forms a sticky dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead gently until smooth, then roll out to 2cm thickness.  Using a 4.5cm cutter, cut the dough into rounds, then place these, slightly touching, into a lightly greased and floured 8cm x 23cm baking tin. Brush the tops lightly with a little milk, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake at 200C, gas 6 for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.

Margie mentioned her dislike of macaroni - that she used to find slimy when eaten.  Possibly this was because it was over-cooked.  All pasta is best eaten when there is a bit of 'bite' left in it (aka 'al dente'), the longer it is cooked, the 'slimier' it does seem to feel when in the mouth.

Although I do use macaroni, my preference these days is to use the pasta penne, much the same but short straight tubes rather than the curlier macaroni.  So use either for the recipe given below - or any pasta shapes could be used. As ever - use what we have.  Even though particular cheeses are mentioned, we don't have to stick to these when we have all those oddments of cheeses that need grating and using up (or to be saved when grated and kept in the freezer ready to make a dish such as this).  Using many different cheeses give a much better flavour to what was traditionally a rather bland dish (often served as 'invalid food').

Pasta and Three Cheese Sauce: serves 4
11 oz (375g) macaroni (see above)
half pint (300ml) cream
4 fl oz (100ml) vegetable stock
5 oz (150g) grated mozzarella cheese
3 oz (75g) crumbled gorgonzola cheese
4 oz (100g) coarsely grated Parmesan
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tblsp each chopped parsley and chives
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just tender, drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the cream and stock in a pan, then remove from heat and add all the mozzarella and gorgonzola, and half the Parmesan, stirring until just melted.  Add the mustard and herbs with seasoning to taste, them mix this with the just cooked/drained pasta.
Pour into an ovenproof dish, topping with the remaining Parmesan, then bake, uncovered, at 180C, gas 4 for 20 minutes, or until browned.   

Tomorrow morning another trip to the local health centre - this time to have the annual diabetic eye check.  Beloved can take me, but as he is working, will need to call a taxi for the return journey.  Do hope it will be the same nice Scottish driver that took me home last time.  If not, maybe another nice man to chat to.

As it is well after midnight, and already Wednesday, time for me to bid my farewell until time for me to write my next blog.  Hope the weather is now fine all over the country (it should be, we have a high pressure area over the UK), and you all managed to get some time to enjoy it.  TTFN.