Monday, June 09, 2014

Good(e) News

A very interesting day.  Began with almost a thunderstorm, just the lightening, then a beautiful sunny day until evening when the rain began to fall and thunder did arrive, but only for a short time.

During the day domestic life improved.  My Beloved got in touch with the council (Highways dept), and informed them about 'their' tree roots breaking through into the sewers along our road.  We are able to claim back the money it cost us to get the stoppage sorted, and we will also get a bit extra for compensation.

Things got even better.  The repair man came on time and did bring the right part for the oven, so that is working again, even better than before as it now heats up more rapidly - up to 200C in 5 minutes instead of the previous 10 - 15 mins. 
I wondered why the oven light never came on, and now I know why.  The man discovered there was no bulb in there, someone had taken it out before we moved in and not replaced it.  So B is going to get one for me - not that I really need one, I've done without it for five years.

Not only that, the service man was able to show B how to remove the plastic casing in the fridge freezer so that we could remove the dud bulb in there, and B has bought a new one to replace it and now the light comes on again when we open the door.  Even though we could make out what was inside, it really felt quite depressing when we opened the fridge door and no light came on, especially as the freezer side of the cabinet light still worked.
Suppose it is a bit like winter/summer.  Things always look/seem/feel better when there is more light.

So looks like it will be back to baking again , although I may leave it until the weekend.  Need to sort out the larder first, then try and use up many of the dry goods that have been hiding there for some months. 
My daughter brought me a couple of jars of tahini, and I asked B to bring in a couple of cans of chickpeas, so will be making myself some hummous, but realising that I have a large (300g coffee jar) full of dried chickpeas, thought it made more sense to soak these overnight (which I have forgotten to do), and then cook these instead of opening the cans.  If I can remember I will put them in water before I go to bed.  Or may leave it until tomorrow.  Waiting one day longer won't matter (and how often do I say that?).

No comments today so no one to reply to.  Sad that.  Not really much for me to moan about either, although the programme tonight about children on the breadline was thought provoking.  Even though a mother had begun to hit the bottle (so her daughter had to go to a breakfast club at the church to get a free meal before school) who are we to judge?  One of the mothers had no more than £20 a week to feed herself and two children (not sure if it was the same woman as the above), and this can be extremely difficult. 

I'm very puzzled why the seems no longer to be able to be reached. This was mentioned a few days ago, and at the time a reader gave a link and I was able to find it (eventually). This site explained how to feed a family of FOUR on only £25 a month, and healthily..  Possibly one of the best sites to show 'how to', as they went into great detail, so should not be allowed to 'disappear'.  Believe it might be able to be seen on Facebook, but then anyone who is anti-Facebook/Tweeter (or is that only me?) would not be able to find it.

With no comments to inspire me, I'm giving just a recipe today that could be useful for future buffets (or - as the Italians do - serve these with coffee).  These are a type of biscotti (twice-baked biscuit) that begins by baking as a loaf of bread, then sliced and baked again. 
As baked twice, after the first baking, the loaf can be frozen.  Then thawed and sliced it can have the second baking, where the crisp slices can then be stored for up to four days (or a bit longer) in an airtight container.

The recipe below uses shelled pistachio nuts, and although they are seen to be very attractive when the bread is sliced (pale green rim round each nut slice), no reason why we couldn't use shelled almonds.  As an alternative flavouring, use half a tsp of ground cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

Pistachio Biscotti: makes 36 slices
3 egg whites
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
quarter tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
4 oz (100g) plain flour, sifted
4 oz (100g) shelled pistachio nuts
Put the egg whites into a bowl and using an electric whisk, beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar, a little at a time, until dissolved, then fold in the cardamom, orange zest, flour, and nuts.
Spoon this mixture into a fully lined 8 x 26cm pan, extending the parchment lining 5 cm above the long sides.
Bake at 180C, gas 4 for about 20 minutes until lightly browned, then leave to cool in the tin.  Wrap in foil and leave overnight (or freeze).
Using a serrated knife, cut the bread at an angle into 3mm slices, then place these on ungreased baking sheets, and bake at the lower temperature of 150C, gas 2 for about 15 minutes or until dry and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight tin.

Next recipe is one I enjoy as I've a preference for vegetable crisps (parsnip, beetroot, etc) instead of the ordinary potato crisps.  Being slightly less likely to break than bought potato crisps, these I tend to serve instead of tortilla chips when eating dips.
This recipe does not mention beetroot, or carrot, but most root veggies will crisp up when oven-baked in this way, just as long as they are very thinly sliced (if you have a mandolin, this is the best tool to use).

Vegetable Crisps:  serves 8
cooking-oil spray
4 medium parsnips (1kg)
4 medium potatoes (800g)
1 medium sweet potato (400g)
2 tsp sea salt
Spray 3 oven trays with the oil.
Slice the vegetables thinly (2mm or even thinner), then place the parsnip slices on the oven trays, lightly spray with the oil, give them a shake, then bake - uncovered - for about 40 minutes at 150C, gas 2  or until browned both sides and crisp.  Cool on a cake airer.
Repeat with the potato, and then again with the sweet potato, and sprinkle all crisps with the sea salt.
Note: the thinner the slices the faster they become crisp, so depending on how they are sliced, it may be necessary to remove some before others.  Rotate the oven trays frequently, and turn them around so the slices get a chance to brown/crisp up evenly.

Final recipe is a way of making crispy wedges (similar to tortilla chips) using ready-bought pitta bread.  Keep pitta bread in the freezer, then these can be made fairly rapidly.

Garlic Cheesy Wedges: serves 6
4 large pitta breads
5 oz (150g) butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 oz (50g) finely grated Parmesan cheese
Split the pitta breads in half, then cut into wedges.  Place, split side up on baking trays.  Blend the butter and garlic together, then brush this over the pitta wedges, finishing with a sprinkle of cheese.
Bake for about 8 minutes at 200C, gas 6 or until lightly browned and crisp.  Then eat with a dip of our choice.

That's Monday done and dusted, and as it is now in the wee small hours of Tuesday, my plan is to visit the spiritualist church during the afternoon, so more about that in my next blog, written late evening.  Hope you will find time to have a read, and maybe send me a comment just to let me know you are still there.  When I don't hear I immediately think you have all moved to pastures new.  As I tell myself, it isn't as though all you have to do is read blogs.  Everyone should get a better life than that. Just read mine, that's all I ask, and not necessarily every day, although with blogger limiting my monthly space, removing early ones from each month best read soon as written or these might soon disappear from the screen.  Perhaps if I kept them very short, blogger would keep them all.  But then I wouldn't have room to ramble on, and on, and on..... TTFN.