Sunday, June 08, 2014

Start of Another Week

By the time I've written today's blog (Sunday as I write) it will be published on Monday - the start of yet another week.  Doesn't time fly by? 

Looks like the whole of our street should soon be having major repairs to our drainage system, as this afternoon saw a Dyno Rod van visit the house opposite to ours, and start clearing their pipes out.  My Beloved went over to find out their problem, and it was also massive roots getting into their pipes. 
You would think with so many houses having their drainage pipes continually having to be flushed out, the council would have sorted the problem by now. 
Seems it depends on who clears the pipes.  Different companies just do the job, and don't always explain the problem, so the council doesn't normally hear about it.  Well, they will do now, for my B is gong to see them - with the blessing of our neighbours - all who have had the same problems, several times - and will demand that the council get it sorted.  Like NOW!  So watch this space to see if they will do something soon.  What's the betting they keep passing the buck to someone else.

Tomorrow we get the visit from the repair man re our oven.  Am not expecting they will have the right parts (do they ever?), but am getting peeved as there is so much baking I wish to do (for the foodbank for one thing), and as I can't rely on the smaller oven to bake good cakes (I do not wish to waste an ingredients), am having to wait.  Am praying that they find the oven can't be repaired and the insurance will pay me something towards a new one of my choice.  But life isn't like that.  I'll probably end up with the same or similar model.

Shouldn't grumble, I'm lucky to have one small oven I can use when so many people it seems don't even have that.  It's not unknown for people to only have a microwave.  The late Jimmy Savile (if I dare mention his name) had only a microwave.  He lived either on take-aways or ready-meals that could be quickly reheated, or more often used to patronise the Flying Pizza - a restaurant only a few hundred yards from where we lived in Leeds.

Interesting to hear about that old house called 'Caboches' in the village where you live Alison (Essex).  This medieval name for 'cabbages' does seem an odd name for a house.  But then maybe they liked the name, not realising what it stood for.  Or maybe they grew a lot of cabbages for sale.

In the old days, recipes were always easy to remember, as normally passed down from mother to daughter, generation after generation.  Favourites (or adaptations) were sometimes written down, and these also handed down.  Suppose there were the start of the recipe books as we know them today.

As you say Jane, most of us are familiar with that traditional sponge cake recipes, using the same weight of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter, and very recently I explained on this blog the easy way to make profiteroles (using just one of everything: milk, water, butter, flour, egg), but this only works when using imperial weights and measures.
Mary says she is going to try the profiteroles recipe, so please let us know how you get on.  Forgot to mention that if strong plain flour (sifted) is used to make the profs. this works even better than plain flour as they seem to rise even more and hold their shape due to the high gluten content.

The Yorkshire Pudding recipe that I've mentioned before (think it was Brian Turner who first mentioned this - his aunt used to make it this way - and now many chefs follow this recipe) - also works well.  It is just one measure of egg, the same of milk, and the same of flour.  For instance a medium egg usually weighs 2 fl oz, so break this into a glass measuring jug, fill up with 2 more fl. oz with milk, then top up with enough plain flour to reach 2 fl oz higher (total 6 fl oz).  Beaten well together, this will make four well-risen individual Y. puddings when baking in a little very hot oil in the four-section Yorkshire Pudding tin.

Although I prefer to reply to comments who have given names, must give a thank you to 'Anonymous' because he/she has found this blog has helped to make savings for him/her. so it's good to know I'm not wasting my breath so to speak.

For readers who are interested, my neighbour and I did go to the spiritualist church on Saturday, and of course I was picked out again, with enough information given to make me feel that it wasn't all guess work (although some of it could have been).  My neighbour was very impressed with the medium and has arranged a private sitting with him in the near future, so I'll be interested to know the outcome of that.

I'll be going to the 'Bright Hour' meeting on Tuesday afternoon, where we sit in a circle.  As most of the members there are mediums, I wonder if I suggest we sit and hold hands for a few minutes whether there might be any 'action'.  A bit like having a séance. 
My neighbour suggests we both go to the Cherokee workshop  towards the end of this month.  Could be interesting.  Will have a think about it before I decide.

It takes quite a lot to shock me, and maybe shock is not quite the right word, but certainly was stunned when I saw a full page ad from Aldi offering New Zealand Wagyu sirloin steak for £6.99p (and that's for just one 8oz steak, and the 'offer' limited for only a short time!!).  And there was me thinking Aldi sold food at the lower end of the price range.
Seems that Tesco are having a bad time with their profits, people moving from most of the larger supermarkets to the discount stores, so I can look forward to more discounts.  At the moment they are offering me free delivery if I order by a certain date, and I think this fits in with the normal time I would be ordering.

As Saturday was not my normal baking day (due to the non-usable oven), I decided to sit and watch three Walton films, back to back (there was a fourth but I was going to the church when that was on). Cannot understand why the three I saw were shown in the order they were because they were not consecutive.  The first 'Mother's Day on Walton Mountain' was when the mother was in a sanatorium, the children grown up.  Mary-Ellen was getting married (for the second time), having just one son called John Curtis.
The second film 'A Walton Easter' I had seen before, this was when John-Boy visited his home, bringing his pregnant wife with him, and she gave premature birth to twins while at the Walton home.
The third film 'A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion' followed the one above, but this time John-Boy brought a girl home to introduce to his parents, who he later married (and mother of the twins).
The film I missed was 'Wedding on Walton's Mountain' (or similar name), and presumable this was about the marriage of John-Boy and his girl.

A couple of weeks ago I saw another Walton film.  The parents were not in it, and most of the family seemed to be married and living elsewhere, only Elizabeth and Jim-boy seemed to be at the family home.  John-boy did appear towards the end, but he was played by another actor, and so it just didn't feel right. 
I must be a sad person to now keep getting myself tangled up in the story-lines of 'Little House on the Prairie' and 'The Waltons'.  I've noticed that Victor French - who played Mr Edwards in the very first episodes of 'Little House....' when they lived in Kansas, I now see him living/working in Walnut Grove some many years later.  He also appears with Michael Landon in 'Highway to Heaven'.

Perhaps time I switched off the TV and got a life.  But at least I get more pleasure and can learn a lot more from TV programmes, than I would do if continually Tweeting and messing about with 'apps' as the youngsters do today.
There was yet another article in the paper about a young girl who had committed suicide because of unpleasant texts and tweets she kept getting.  Think it was her mother who said that this has all got out of hand as this habit now is 24/7.  Every hour of every day throughout the year/s.  This to me is alarming, frightening, and I don't care how good this form of 'social contact' can be )but only if used wisely and occasionally) - it would be far better and safer not to have started it at all.  We managed to 'socialise' without all this technology before, so why can't we still do it the old-fashioned way?

The recipe today is useful in several ways.  Firstly it requires no cooking (other than the melting of the butter, a bit of cooking in the pan, and melting chocolate for the topping).  It needs chilling so can be made several hours (or even a day) ahead of serving.  As it is very rich, one 23 x 33cm baking try will cut into 35 squares (sweet canapés), so very suitable for a buffet party.

It can often be difficult to work out how much buffet food to prepare for a set number of people.  If a wide variety of dishes will be served, then normally each person will choose to eat only a few, not one of each. 
To avoid waste, the recommendation is to serve 8 bites (canapés) per guest for a party lasting 1 hour. Allow 10 bites for 2 hours, and 12 bites for 3 hours.  With family we are probably used to knowing if they tend to eat more rather than less, so allow extra as and when necessary.  To play safe, a mixed cheeseboard with grapes/biscuits will always fill gaps, and any leftovers of these can be returned to the fridge/biscuit tin to be kept for several day to be eaten later.

These sweet bars can be made as the recipe states, or we could use chopped almonds instead of walnuts.
Chocolate Layered Custard Bars:  makes 35
bottom layer
11 oz (300g) digestive biscuits
6 oz (175g) butter
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
2 oz (50g) cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz (100g) desiccated coconut
3 oz (75g) walnuts, chopped
middle layer:
3 oz (75g) butter
12 oz (350g) icing sugar
3 tblsp custard powder
4 fl oz (100ml) double cream
top layer:
8 oz (225g) dark chocolate, chopped
7 fl oz (200ml) double cream
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
First make the bottom layer by crushing the biscuits.  Put the butter in a pan over low heat, and when melted, remove from the heat, add the sugar and cocoa and whisk together, then gradually beat in the eggs.  Place back over the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut, and walnuts.  Spread this this mixture over the base of a foil-lined 23 x 33cm baking tin, pressing it down firmly, then chill for about an hour or until firm.
Make the middle layer by beating the butter until light and fluffy, then slowly beat in the icing sugar until smooth.  Gradually add the custard powder and cream, then increase the speed, beating until light and fluffy.  Spread this evenly over the chilled base, then return to the fridge to chill for a further 30 minutes.
Make the top layer by putting the cream into a pan, bringing it just to the boil (as it starts to simmer not rise in the pan), then add the chocolate.  Remove from heat and leave to stand for about 5 minutes, then add the butter and stir until smooth.  Pour this over the custard layer, spreading it evenly, then chill until set.  Cut into squares to serve.

It is now after midnight, so now the week has begun.  Although a bit of a wet day (just drizzle) the Bare Village Festival went ahead with the usual crowds (they close the road through the main part of the village so people can walk everywhere).  Further south (Wales/Shropshire etc) there were heavy downpours of rain and bad thunderstorms, so we were very lucky it wasn't worse.  By late afternoon the sun came out and almost certainly the festivities carried on.
Today was mainly blue skies, with occasional clouds, and the weather does seem to be improving. It is now quite warm during the day - cool in the shade - and pleasant enough to sit out in the garden for morning coffee.  Let us hope it continues.  In about two weeks it will be Midsummer's Day.  Not that this will be the middle of our summer, more like the start.

Should be back with you again this time tomorrow.  All depends how things go with the oven.  If there is a problem I may go into a massive sulk and go to bed early, writing the blog Tuesday.  So watch this space and find out.  I'll try and keep smiling whatever happens.  Keep telling myself I should be very grateful for what we have as thing could be a lot worse.  A LOT!  TTFN.