Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is It Worth It?

Do agree with you Hazel, libraries are the best place to find cook books.  It is said that only 2% of the recipes in a cook book will ever be used, and as most books have 50 - 100 recipes, then that's only one or two at most.  Have to say I do agree with this.  Over the years I have bought countless cookbooks, and with some have never used any of the recipes, the books mainly of interest as they give a lot of background info about the writer.  Or at least a bit more than just recipes.
Have to ask whether most of the cook books on sale ARE worth the money.  Am sure some are, and I am a sucker for buying cook books that LOOK useful, but have now enough and busy getting rid of most of them to the charity shops. 

It has taken me years to realise that there are no new recipes, everyone we read is just a variation of the original, and when the original was 'invented' can be anyone's guess.  Could be centuries ago. and having read the 'Food and Drink in Britain' (over 1,000 years of development in cooking), we still make today what the Romans used to enjoy, and also our early ancestors.  And still these appear in cookery books/mags as though they are something new and special.  Perhaps to the youngsters of today they could appear so, but then that is what the publishing companies wish everyone to believe.

Just for interest I looked up my books on Amazon, and do not know why this should be, but sold as new the BBC books in the 'Goode...' range can cost up to £100 (Have a Goode Year, a lot more).  The Penguin 'More for Your Money' shown as new £599.00p.  Only pence if sold as used, which could be any condition.  It does seem that some people are prepared to pay the larger amount.   If I'd known that was going to happen I'd have bought 10 copies at author's discount and kept them until now to sell 'as new' (and signed by the author). 

Although trying to keep up with food news Granny G,  I missed hearing about the Jersey Royals, discarded because they were too large. The amount of fruits and vegetables that are thrown away by growers because they are the wrong size/shape and so the supermarkets won't buy them is truly criminal.  In the old days (like when I was a teenager) greengrocers sold all sorts of shapes and sizes, and it was the flavour we wanted, not perfection of appearance.   Considering most vegetables are peeled and cut before being eaten, then does it matter if they started out a bit misshapen?

Considering we are close to mid-summers day, as assuming in Sydney you are experiencing mid-winter Kate, so surprised you are getting such warm temperatures.  Do you ever get get snow in your area?   Here in the UK at the moment it is even hotter - think it was 27C in Scotland, and not much less elsewhere, although said to cool down over the next few days, in the low 20's or even less, with isolated showers (the garden could do with some rain, I am fed up of watering the containers twice a day).   It doesn't matter how much watering I do, just one spell of rain makes the plants look tons better within very few hours.

Although have given this tip before, it must be some months back and probably is not now shown in 'archives' due to a lot having to be edited out to leave space for recipes.
When watering pots that have just about dried out, to avoid the water being wasted as it drips down between the soil and the inside of the pot,  and out through the holes at the base, none of it being soaked up by the soil, first add one drop of washing up liquid (I use Fairy), to the water.  The detergent breaks the surface tension of the water and then is absorbed instantly by the soil rather than just running off.

Can imagine that slugs/snails hate crawling over sawdust.  It would stick to them.  They also hate going over hair, so anyone plagued by slugs could ask their local hairdressers to give them their 'sweepings' of cut hair, then spread this around the veggie patch. 
Not sure if curry powder and other hot spices would deter slugs, but these are said to prevent cats fouling the ground, so any old spices could be sifted over the soil when the weather is dry, not sure if they would work after rain.

Haven't managed to keep shrivelled apples for a number of years Alison, but had a pomander I made for my mother some 20 or so years previously.  What began as a normal sized orange, then studded with cloves, ended up as much smaller, very hard (like a cricket ball) with the cloves tightly fixed and impossible to remove. 
Did once read about a place where a hot-cross bun was saved to give a sailor son on his return, and he never did return, so the bun was placed on a shelf and it just dried out, each year another was made, and never eaten, and every year since a new bun was made and saved in the same way and added to the rest.  It was said the buns had magical curative properties if eaten (although doubt any were).
With this in mind I began saving a home-made hot cross bun each Easter, and ended up with about a dozen or so.  These all dried out, none went mouldy, and were kept in a basket on the shelf.  Threw them away eventually.

Silly me made a mistake with the appointment time this morning, so B was then able to go off to work at usual time, and I then had to take a taxi to the health centre and then back again.  Two different drivers, and neither really in the mood for chatting, so spent most of the journeys keeping my mouth shut (and how difficult THAT was). 

One of the foods that we are encouraged to eat is tomatoes.  Especially when cooked as they do us a lot of good.  Have even seen it suggested we eat them every day.  In fact I usually do, as I make my lunchtime 'soup' from a can of chopped tomatoes, with a good squirt of Fiery Chilli Ketchup. That's all it is, and I love it. 

Here is a recipe that makes good use of those cheaper bacon rashers that can often be bought.  Canned tomatoes (of course), with butter beans making the dish more filling.  If the topping had been made with suet, flour, and water this would be more like dumplings.  But made with butter and milk (as per recipe) it tastes more like savoury scones.
As I write I can see that we could cut down on the bacon (maybe leave it out altogether) and use grated cheese or cheese slices instead.  Or perhaps leave the filling as it is and include grated cheese in the 'cobblers'. 

Bacon and Tomato Cobblers: serves 4
8 rashers streak or back bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 tblsp olive oil
4 ribs celery, thickly sliced
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
5 fl oz (150ml) chicken stock
1 x 400g can butter beans, drained
salt and pepper
cobbler topping:
3 oz (150g) butter
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
pinch salt
6 fl oz (175ml) milk
Cut half the bacon rashers into small pieces, then cut the rest into 3 pieces.
Fry the onion in the oil for a couple of minutes, then add the larger bacon pieces and continue frying for five minutes, then add the celery and fry for 3 minutes longer.  Pour in the chopped tomatoes and stock, bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes, then add the beans and seasoning to taste.  Then spoon the mixture into an ovenproof dish (approx. 3pt size).
Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour, then stir in the herbs, with a pinch of salt and the milk. Using a tablespoon, dollop this over the tomato mixture in the dish, covering as much as possible (the topping will spread slightly as it cooks), and scatter the chopped bacon over the surface.
Bake at 200C, gas 6 for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Was listening to a man on the radio today talking about the 'social networks'. Apparently he tweets a lot.  How good it is that we can 'socialise' so easily, was how he thought about this 21st century technology.  He can sit in his garden and see a moth he didn't recognise and tweet about it (even sending a photo) and within a very few moments he got several replies telling him what it was.  Saves going to the library he said.

Well, maybe something like that can be useful, but to me this sitting alone in the garden having to rely on a smart-phone or whatever it was to have what you need, is more like being anti-social.  Never having to be in real contact with anyone, never having to speak face to face.  Just press a few buttons and you have instant 'friends', instant information.

Thinking about it, I dare say we could now go through most of our life without even needing to be in contact with anyone.  Our bills can be paid through direct debit, our food and clothes ordered on-line and paid for by credit card.  We can have 'company' via our TV and radio, 'tweeting' and Face-book, and even educate ourselves via the computer.  And do you know, I'm getting a bit that way myself, as hardly leaving the house for months (until recently), know it can be done.

Although I don't normally read other blogs, have noticed in most cases that the popular ones do receive a lot of comments, but usually these are not replied to by the author of the blog, the people who have commented then tend to reply to each other. 
When I get comments, each is treated individually and given a reply (by me) as my aim is to keep this blog as personal as possible.  Suppose in a way, what began as a cost-cutting cookery blog has developed more into a sort of diary plus having a virtual coffee morning together, with a few recipe suggestions thrown in.
We can never get together and have that coffee and proper chat together in my kitchen, but at least am having a good try to keep as close a contact to you all as is possible via the computer, and make our virtual meetings seem as real as possible.  Do hope you feel that way too.  Hearing about your way of life, especially in other countries, widens all our horizons and makes for the most interesting reading.  So keep those comments coming.  Many thanks in advance.

Late again, so off to bed.  Hope you are all able to enjoy the good weather while we have it. Long may it continue (but I bet it rains by the weekend).  TTFN.