Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Almost Back to Normal...

Was amazed to see the photos in the paper today about the huge hailstones that fell down south, also some flooding.  All we have had is light rain.  Cloudy at first today then it cleared up and the sun shone again, but thankfully slightly cooler.

When we left the Barbar Elephant yesterday, there was a lovely sunset, so B took the scenic route home so we could drive along the prom to see it.  Tide was out leaving pools here and there in the sandy Bay, these reflecting the sunset. 

We had a good meal yesterday, the staff remembered us from our anniversary 'banquet' we had there, and made a fuss of us, the chef providing a couple more 'freebies' (aka 'compliments of the chef'). They even offered us each a free liqueur at the end of the meal (and this after we'd paid the bill), but we really had eaten loads, so regretfully declined, although B asked if he could have a lemonade, and it said it was the nicest one he'd ever had (think it was fresh lemon juice with lots of ice-cubes, not the fizzy stuff).

My knee was playing up a bit, and the two most handsome staff helped me to the car,  I wanted to take them home they were so gorgeous. 
Don't know if anyone watched 'Dragon's Den' the previous night, but there were two men wanting to raise money to expand their Indian take-away franchise business and the start of their presentation was a display of Indian dancing.  I could have watched that all night.  One of my weaknesses is watching Indian films, those with lots of dancing.  The culture (and food of course) really appeals to me, and I don't really distinguish between the Indian and Pakistani cultures, to me they seem very much the same (in appearance and food).  Suppose it is much the same when people think of us in the UK, anyone from abroad would not notice the difference between the Welsh, Scottish, and the English (other than the accents).  We tend to think (or at least I do) that they are completely different countries with their own cultures and traditions, and even a different language, although very few Scottish speak Gaelic now.

Managed to get to the meeting at the church today.  They say I can join their 'awareness' class in September, trouble is it is during an evening and usually this is not a good time for B to give me a lift, although he will do on Saturdays (when there is a medium at the open meeting).

My knee was really REALLY painful today, and I could barely walk even using two sticks.  After I got home I searched for (and found) a wrap-around padding 'thingy' that is supposed to provide knee support (it fasted with Velcro), and this really did seem to help - at least when walking around.  Trouble is it creased itself up under the knee and I was afraid I might cut off my circulation, so I removed it later, but it is worth wearing for a short time when I go out.  Anything to make it easier for me to walk is worth it.  Still hurts most when I get up from my chair, so hoping the doctor will give me stronger painkillers than the paracetamol I take - that hardly works anyway.   Still have to wait nearly 3 weeks before I can see the doc (he is on holiday).  Just have to grin and bear it.

We were talking at the meeting about the highs and lows of life (or at least I was), and how it so often seems that however low we get, it always seems to teach us something.    Life has a habit of dangling the carrots in front of us, and if we decide to take a bite, then who knows what can happen.

Even though I've occasionally mentioned how my 'media work' began mainly through my interest in working out exactly how much things cost to make and how cheaply many of them could be made, today I suddenly realised it began long before that, and it was my friend Gill who lit that particular match.

What happened was that I read a letter in our local (Leicester) newspaper, written by a lady who wanted to meet up with other ladies who wanted to lose weight.  She was asking for any 'weight-watchers' to contact her.  So I did, mentioning I looked like a Dalek with legs.  Pretty accurate really.

Although what happened next has nothing to do with my future 'cooking', you might find it interesting. 
Because Gill had mentioned 'weight-watchers' (with a small 'w'), it still caught the attention of the - fairly new at that time - slimming group called 'Weight Watchers'.  And the then owner Bernice Weston I think was her name, then sent her husband up to talk to Gill to make sure she wasn't trying to muscle in on her act.   Of course Gill's idea was just a social club of like-minded 'fatties', so no threat to the larger W.Watchers.
So Gill, her friend Rita, and myself began 'The Figure 8 Club', and we had a really good time, non profit making, and loads of people joined. We gave prizes when anyone had lost half a stone, and we also had coach trips out and an annual (calorie counted meal) each year.  But all that is another story.

Gill and I have remained friends since that time, and when B and I (and family) left to live in Leeds we still visited each other.  Gill and family moved to an old Mill House in Huncote (near Leicester) and it was when I went to stay with her that they showed me a magazine called 'Practical Self Suffiency', written mainly for people who lived in the country and could perhaps keep live-stock as well as grown all their own produce.
Gill gave me some back copies to bring home to Leeds, and as by they I was well into being fairly self-sufficient in my own suburban kitchen, wrote to the magazine editor to ask if they could publish articles for people who lived in towns as I'd discovered it was possible for small-scale self-sufficiency to happen there too.   The wrote back and asked me to write an article about my own efforts, no pay but in return I could have six months free copies. 
So this I did, took me AGES as I was then no good at writing anything worth reading (and probably still can't), but they published it, and this was read by the researchers at the BBC who were looking for people who did 'interesting things' for a new programme.  This led to me being contacted by Erica Griffiths and although it was supposed to be just a 'one-off', there was so much interest in the cost-cutting approach that I was asked back, and continued to be asked, and - well, the rest of it is history.
But none of it would have happened if I hadn't picked up that newspaper and read Gill's letter.

The recipe today is very adaptable, and I've chosen it as a useful dish that can be made a day ahead (frozen if uncooked), then cooked to eat hot with spiced yogurt - and salad if you wish.
Burghul (sometimes called bulgar wheat) is the base grain for these koftas, but couscous could be used instead.  Or rice if you prefer.  Or breadcrumbs.  You get the idea.
Normally I make koftas rather like thick sausages then slide these onto skewers to cook in the oven (or on the barbie).  This recipes rolls them into balls, so basically they are lamb meat balls, and although cooked on the hob, could also be cooked in the oven.

Lamb Kofta with spiced Yogurt: makes 40
2 oz (50g) burghul
cold water
1 lb (450g) minced lamb
1 egg
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
1 oz (25g) pine nuts, finely chopped
2 tblsp chopped fresh mint
2 tblsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
sunflower oil
Put the burghul in a bowl and cover with cold water.  Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then drain in a sieve, pressing out as much water as possible.
Place the just-moist burghul in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well until well combined.  Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll them into balls.  Place on a baking tray, cover and chill for half an hour.
Put a little oil into a large frying pan, enough to cover the base plus a little more (for shallow frying), and fry the meatballs in batches, turning/rolling them around so they become browned all over.  When cooked through, drain on kitchen paper, and keep hot until all have been cooked, then serve them with spiced yogurt.

spiced yogurt:
1 tblsp each of chopped fresh mint and parsley
1 tblsp chopped fresh coridander
1 clove garlic, crushed
half tsp ground cumin
7 oz (200g) Greek yogurt
chilli sauce, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together.  This can be made the day before serving, covered and in the fridge. Serve with the hot koftas (above recipe).

That's it for today,  nothing done worth mentioning other than I made a couple more loaves for B this morning.  Let's see how long they last.  B is still not wanting 'proper' meals, today he made himself an omelette, and I settled for making myself some sardine sandwiches.  How very boring is that?  Will almost be glad when the hour goes back and it will be time to start cooking casseroles and soups and lovely warming dishes that make the kitchen smell wonderful.   Even so, am still enjoying sitting in the garden surrounded by umpteen containers full of flowers.   Next thing will be to start buying a new lot of spring bulbs to plant in said containers, and then spend the winter months crocheting while waiting for the first flush of spring growth when (hopefully) all the pots will be full of daffs and tulips and the wisteria is in full bloom, as also the jasmine, then summer starts all over again.  Always work to do that gives us something to look forward to.   What is it someone once said "it is always better to travel than to arrive".  In other words the expectation can give us more pleasure than the actual event. When it comes to flowers, we get the best of both worlds. 

Hope most of you managed to escape the more unusual (and stormy) weather that parts of the country have been having.  Apparently it will improve and we will still get high temperatures, especially down south (London area and surrounds).  Am already looking forward to chatting to you tomorrow, hope to see you then.