Friday, June 06, 2014

Trials and Tribulations

We can go for weeks/months without anything much happening, but over the last days we have had the toaster popping its clogs, the big oven also (due for repair on Monday), and then part of the food processor.  Today we had a problem with the drains.  Clogged up and all waste water would not flow away. 

We called out United Utilities (who in previous years have come to sort out the same problem), but they said our insurance had lapsed (we never had an insurance), and they wouldn't come out unless we paid them, and then they couldn't come until next week!
To cut a very long (and numerous phone calls) short, B sorted out an insurance for the future and also someone to come and repair.  They said they couldn't come until Monday either, but B insisted, so eventually they gave in and someone came at 9.00pm this evening. 

The sewer pipes were all cleared and the problem did not lie with our pipes but those in the road outside where the large chestnut trees had broken into the pipes and their roots were growing in and blocking the pipes.  So almost certainly we can claim back the money we paid the service man, and we have to let United Utilities and the council know.  Probable the tree outside our house will have to come down, and possibly new pipes laid outside our house.  Thankfully, not our problem.  That's a relief.

Lovely sunny morning so my neighbour and I were able to sit outside with our coffee and chat.  She will be going with me tomorrow (Saturday) night to the spiritualist church as the visiting medium on that evening is a very good one.   We may also go to a whole day meeting (take our own lunch but coffee and biscuits provided) later this month - this being about the Cherokee Indians (Native Americans), the lady taking has Cherokee blood.  She is also a medium, but mainly the day is all about the history, crafts, dances etc of that tribe. 
I was once told that one of my spiritual guides is a Native American man.  Didn't take much notice at the time, but maybe if I go to the above meeting, the medium might be able to 'connect' with it and let me know his name. 

Your mention Hazel, of jelly whipped with evaporated milk took me back.  I used to make these every Saturday for our 'high tea' when the whole family (4 children, 2 adults, and dog) sat together round the kithen table (dog under the table) for the meal.  Each week the jelly 'mousse'[ was a different flavour according to the jelly used.  Haven't got a copy of 'The Goode Kitchen' to hand, but think it showed this dish in front of me, with cream piped on top and maybe chocolate leaves to decorate.  Certainly it was part of the photo for the cover of one of my books.

When making profiteroles, why not try my easy version, it is just one of everything (always supposing you still work in lbs and ounces).  Put 1 fl oz of water in a pan with 1 fl oz of milk and 1 oz of butter.  Heat gently until the butter has melted, and then bring it just to the boil, then immediately chuck in 1 oz of sifted plain flour and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened and left the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat, leave to cool slightly (for a couple of minutes) then beat in one egg.  When smooth the mixture should fall from the wooden spoon in a wide ribbon.  If too thick just add a teaspoon of water, if too thin add a teaspoon of flour.

Spoon the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  For profiteroles just use a teaspoon of the mixture, placing it in blobs well spaced apart.  Then place in the oven 200C, gas 6 for 20 minutes (do not open the oven door), then open door and quickly slash each profiterole with a knife to let out the steam, then replace in the oven leaving the door partly open to allow moisture in the oven to escape. You could also turn the oven out if you wish, the idea is to leave the profiteroles in the oven just long enough for the hollow insides to dry out.
One batch of the above mixture will make 10 profiteroles or 5 - 6 eclairs.

When ready, remove from oven and leave to cool on a cake airer, then split and fill each with whipped double cream sweetened with a little icing sugar (to taste), you could also add flavourings or a little liqueur if you wish.  The profs can then be frozen, and when solid can be bagged up (or put into boxes), to later top with melted chocolate or caramel.

Am pretty sure I have some Pyrex dishes lurking somewhere Granny G.  These were always useful, but they are not non-stick, food can still burn/stick to them, but easily cleaned if they are left to soak. I do have three clear brown glass saucepans that are probably a sort of 'Pyrex'.  They retain the heat well, and the water carries on boiling for at least a minute after the heat has been turned off.  The only problem with them is that they are rather heavy, so I don't use them that often.  If the water boils dry, then the food inside tends to burn/stick, and not that easy to remove.

One tip when washing any containers that have held protein (raw eggs, flour.....).  Never put the dirty pots straight into hot water to wash them, for the heat immediately 'cooks' the protein and makes it stick to the pans/bowls, and these then take quite a time to get them clean.  Fill them first with cold water and leave to soak, then pour this away and then put into hot water and they will then be easily wiped clear of all residue, and come out sparkling clean in seconds.

Just one recipe today because this really is an oldie.  It comes from a mediaeval cookbook, and so thought I'd first give the recipe as written.  Takes a bit of time to work out the words due to the different spelling at that time, but shows how simple a recipe could be then compared to the same recipe as written up today. 
Whether you wish to make this or not depends on how much you like cabbage,  but it might get children eager to try it as part of a history lesson.

The old English spelling for this Cabbage Chowder is first shown in italics, followed by the up to date version that we are more familiar with.
'Caboches in potage'.  Take caboches and quarter hem, and seeth hem in gode broth with oynouns ymynced and the whyte of lekes ysylt and ycorue smale.  And do therto safroun & salt, and force it with powdour douce.'

Cabbage Chowder: serves 6
1 lb (500g) firm-hearted cabbage
8 oz (225g) onions, peeled and finely chopped
8 oz (225g) white part of leeks, thinly cut into rings
pinch dried saffron strands
half tsp each salt,and sugar
quarter tsp each ground coriander, and cinnamon
1.5 pints (659ml) chicken or vegetable stock
Cut the cabbage into 8 segments and remove the centre core.  Put into a large pan with the prepared onions and leeks. Add the saffron, salt, sugar, and spices to the stock, adjusting salt if required, then pour this over the vegetables.  Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
This will make a main-course soup for supper if you add sippets of toast, and small strips of fried bacon - both well known medieval additions.

It is now after midnight, so have now reached what started out as tomorrow when I began this blog has now reached the next day (aka today)  As Saturday is my 'blog-off day' my next will be written late Sunday night (or early Monday).  Am hoping the oven will be repaired then.  Am not expecting it to as I had an email from the company saying they had ordered one part 'FAN', and I had told them the fan was working it was the thermostat/heating element that had broken down, and also the oven light.  I told them that when they phoned to let me know the new appointment time, but they didn't seem to know about it, so fingers crossed they have brought the right part.  Bet they haven't. 
Got past caring. All I hope for is that nothing else breaks down over the next few days.

If it is a good night at the church meeting, then I will have plenty to write about on Sunday.  So hope you visit this site on Monday to find out.  Weather good today, rain and thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow on the western side (our side) of the country.  This will spoil our Bare Village Festival, but we can always hope it moves faster up to the north and clears up here by mid-day instead of evening.

Whatever the weather, do hope you all have a relaxing and pleasant weekend. You deserve it.  TTFN.