Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nowt So Queer as Folk...

Have been planning what meals to make when my friend Gill is staying with us in a couple of weeks. I do know what she likes, but also what she doesn't like, and yet with one instance the two are just the same, presented differently.   Problem is Gill HATES meat balls (with pasta and a tomato sauce), yet loves lasagne.  Even though I have made the meat balls using exactly the same ingredients as I would for the meat filling in a lasagne (just shaped it into balls), the sauce is the same, the pasta a different shape (but pasta is pasta) when I serve this as meat balls she refuses to eat them. She just pushes the food away, and tells me she hates meat balls, so that's that.  So meat balls are a no-no this time round, pity 'cos I love them. 

Funny how some people can't seem to understand that just because the presentation is different, the contents of what seems to be different meals can still be the same.  Also a home-cook has control as to what goes into the meal anyway.  Another friend of ours refused to cook curry for her husband (who loved curry), because she said to us 'you don't know what goes into them, the meat could be anything', and however hard I tried to explain that if she made the curry herself, she could choose what meat to use, she still wouldn't trust it.

Have readers had similar problems with family and friends over food they refuse to eat/cook?  Or do they just dislike a food themselves so never cook it for anyone else?  Have to say there are quite a few that I don't care to eat (kidneys, scallops, and quite a few other things that B loves and I don't), so probably why I tend to cook my Beloved his meals separately, and I tend to eat something completely different.  B doesn't like chorizo, but I do, so I buy it just for me. 

Some foods neither of us like - tripe comes to mind - but generally we are not that fussy, just as long as it tastes good.  But as they say 'there is nowt so queer as folk' as we all have different tastes.

Lovely weather still, very warm and going to get warmer I believe.  The rest of the bedding plants came today so spent most of the afternoon potting them up.  It takes time.  Although I now have more energy, I have to work in short spells, have a little sit down (on the garden bench in the sun), then up again to do a bit more. 
This time last year I could do the job all in one day, and remember carrying watering cans around and not needing to use a walking stick, so realise how much I have gone downhill over the last 12 months.
However, the iron pills certainly have given me a lot more 'get up and go', and not watched any daytime TV for the past couple of days.  This evening settled down to watch EastEnders, and Corrie, then watched a two episodes of 'Little House....'.   Laura Ingalls Wilder, now married with a baby, we saw only occasionally, but in this episode Charles Ingalls returned to Walnut Grove (from where?), to sort out his (adopted?) son Albert.  Charles looking older (but not much) and with grey hair.  He and son then left to return to where?  No mention of the rest of the Ingalls family.

Sorry you've been having colder weather over on the eastern side of the country Sairy, think it will improve by Tuesday (this day having already arrived because I see it is after midnight). Your husband must have loads of tales of his service life.  How lovely to be a Coldstream Guard, and to have been at Windsor Castle when Charles and Anne were young. 

We give a warm welcome to Ger who lives in Ireland.  Love to hear what part of that country.  Our daughter lives in County Mayo.  I'm very fond of Ireland, not that I've seen that much of it, but the rural parts that we visited seem very like Ballykissangel.  Not really moving with the times.  Happy to stay as they are, and don't I wish this country could be like that.

Almost certainly some readers will be thinking about having a barbecue or picnic while the weather stays fair, so this first recipe is a tasty one to either eat hot from the barbie (or can be oven-cooked or grilled).  Just as good eaten cold when taken as picnic fodder. 
This recipes suggests 3 drumsticks per person, but if part of a buffet when plenty of other foods are on offer, depending on the size of the drumstick, one or two should suffice, in which case reduce the amount of the other ingredients.
Red food colouring is a matter of choice, myself would instead probably use a spoonful of tomato paste or ketchup to give the same colour.

Tandoori Drumsticks: serves 4
12 chicken drumsticks (see above)
5 fl oz (150ml) yogurt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
few drops red food colouring (see above)
lime pickle and mango chutney
Score each drumstick across in three places, then - using a large bowl - mix together the yogurt, spices, garlic, and food colouring (of your choice), then add the chicken, making sure each drumstick is covered with the yogurt mixture.  Cover, place in the fridge, and leave for at least three hours, preferably overnight.
Cook the undrained chicken on a heated, oiled barbecue or grill, uncovered, turning several times until browned all over and cooked through.  Serve with pickle and chutney.

Next recipe again uses chicken - this time the thighs (although drumsticks could be used). Although this is a one-pot dish, and not quite a casserole, because this is a Moroccan meal, normally served in a much warmer climate than ours, it is perfectly suitable for al fresco eating during the warmer days we are having in the UK at the moment.
Couscous is the perfect partner for this dish, as this will only need soaking for about 15 minutes in hot water, then fluffing with a fork ready to serve.

Moroccan Chicken: serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
half pint (300ml) chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
3 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp runny honey
1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
good pinch each chilli powder and cinnamon
salt and pepper
8 oz (225g) courgettes, cut into sticks
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
couscous or cooked rice to serve
Put the chicken, stock, onions, oil, honey, and spices into a pan with seasoning to taste.  Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the chicken is tender.
Add the courgettes and chickpeas, and cook for a further 15 minutes, then stir in the parsley and lemon juice.  Check the taste, add more seasoning if required, then serve with couscous or rice.

Have to admit that cooking is not being given top priority at the moment.  When the weather is warm I prefer to eat salads (this evening had salad with canned tuna).  Yesterday Beloved had a lamb shank with new potatoes and peas (plus mint sauce and redcurrant jelly), but the shank had been precooked and frozen, so it only needed reheating.  This I do from frozen, putting it into a small and deep foil dish (that once held a chicken breast or something), then added the small potatoes so they would cook as the lamb reheated, adding a little gravy to keep the food moist, wrapping the container with foil, then into the oven at 180C, gas 4 for 1 hour. 

I do this re-heating from frozen because this is what the instructions said to do with the lamb shanks when bought ready-cooked/frozen from Tesco.  Now I cook my own, it seems to work just as well, so I usually pre-cook several lamb shanks at one time, then freeze them separately.

There has been quite a bit of talk recently about the bugs/viruses/germs (or whatever they are) that many chickens have - all killed when cooked thoroughly so no need to be alarmed.  But they are saying we should never wash chickens before cooking as the water could splatter all over the sink and surrounding surfaces, and these whatevers could then contaminate what they touch.  
Do people wash chicken?  I've never read that we should, and I've never done so all my cooking life. I don't even wipe them.  Just rub with a little oil and roast (or cook as per recipe instructions).  What I do make sure of is when dealing with raw chicken is that my hands are thoroughly washed after touching the bird, also all utensils/plates used, and even the taps washed afterwards (as they would probably have been touched with soiled hands when turning them on). 

Nearly 1.00am, so time for beddy-byes, and another night of lovely dreamtime.  Have to say I'm sleeping a lot more soundly now I'm becoming more active.  Being out in the fresh air helps too.
Back again blogging late Tuesday evening (which is now this evening), see you then. xx