Saturday, July 12, 2014

Always Something New to Learn...

Did I mention that Gill had taught me how to crochet during her visit to me?  A slightly complicated stitch (that she said was easy. Not!), but think I managed to master it, at least enough for me to start crocheting cushion covers, and eventually a throw.  She left me the crochet hook and wool for me to practice, and as we now have a 'bobbins and bows' wool and craft shop in the village, am now able to buy wool (the cheaper balls that end up in the oddments basket).

Noticed today that B has just about demolished the loaf of bread that I made a couple of days ago.  He really does love home-made bread, so I took four baps out of the freezer for him to use (they can be sliced for toast I suppose), and will make more bread tomorrow. 
Home-made bread is very easy to make as I use a bread mix, plus half as much strong flour again (with extra liquid), there being enough yeast in the mix to work the lot, them put it into the bread machine for 45 minutes at the 'dough' mark.  Then turn it out, divide up, putting some in the loaf tin, and making rolls out of the rest.  After half an hour (warm room) or an hour (winter), the dough has risen enough to be baked, then it goes into the oven for 20 mins (rolls) or half an hour (loaf).  So not really hard work, just making sure I am free at the right time.

As I will be using the oven, tend to make a batch of biscuits or scones to cook either just before or just after, or even during the bread baking, so as Saturday is my 'baking day', you can imagine me spending most of the morning in the kitchen tomorrow.  Oops, already it IS tomorrow as I see the clock on the comp reads 00.04.  So baking day has arrived, but before that I will make sure I have a good nights sleep - not so easy as it is now very warm at night and quite humid.

It's been a very sunny and warm day today again.  Still missing the occasional showers that the weather chart shows, we might be getting some over the weekend, but not necessarily.  The plants in containers now need watering again, so if we have no rain tonight, will water them anyway.  Then hope nature will take over that chore for a while.  The flowers/plants always look 100 times better after fresh rainfall, even though watered with rain-water from the garden tubs.

The lovely thing about knowing it will be a dry and sunny day is that a lot of washing can be put on the line to dry.  Large things like bed-linen, towels etc, and some clothes.   My 'smalls' (that's a laugh, they look more like deflated baby barrage balloons), I always hang on the extendable wooden clothes dryer I put up in the conservatory, where - in the sunshine - they dry rapidly.

Today removed the last batch of 'smallx' I had put on the racks to dry the previous evening, and found one had fallen, unnoticed, onto the floor.  Still as damp as when taken from the washing machine, so thought I'd try putting it into the microwave, loosely placed on a plate, to see if a few minutes on High would help to dry it out.  After 3 minutes of 'cooking', nearly dry, so gave it another couple of minutes and it was bone dry and had come to no harm at all. 
So pleased I'd tried this as very often I do have one or two items that need rapid drying (as needed to be worn) and on a cloudy and wet summers day these would take hours, maybe over a day on the airer, but now I can dry one or two at a time in the microwave in a very few minutes.  that's two new things learned within a week.   Not a lot I grant you, but at my age there doesn't seem much left for me to find out.  Obviously there is, but not that is much use to me now.

Thanks for comments.  Those birthday cakes sounded lovely Janet, and although August sounds a long way away, it is next month.  I can't believe this year is going so rapidly.  In a blink of an eye it will be autumn, and then winter again.  But this year we do seem to be having proper summer weather, at least in Morecambe.

As you say Sarina, white cabbage has many uses, both cooked and raw.  I love eating it as coleslaw (with grated carrot and onion), and I've also added it - shredded - to the Italian minestrone soup.
When making steamed shredded white cabbage for myself, I now add a few caraway seeds, and they really do make the cabbage taste extra good.

Thanks to those who sent sympathies about my missing baking tin.  Beloved asked around this evening at the Friday 'social', so possibly it may be found.  Several ladies had baked cakes for that weekend, and maybe someone had taken it home with their other tins, not realising it wasn't one of theirs.

My sympathies go to Alison who lent her son some cooking utensils when he was at uni, and didn't bring them home, so someone 'threw them out'.  How thoughtless youngsters can be.  Yet I've noticed that if they pay for something out of their own money, they make very sure THAT doesn't disappear.
Seems that Alison has been one of the unfortunates to have rain in her area, so let us hope that she now gets the sun, and we get some of her downpour (just a little).

The old-fashioned rice pudding doesn't get much of a mention these days, although I hear on the culinary grape-vine that it will be making a come-back next winter.  Another traditional pud that the restaurants will be serving (and charging high prices for no doubt).

Here is a variation that has more flavour than the classic version, and somewhat richer.  Myself omit the saffron (as it is expensive), as the lemon adds enough flavour.  Instead of spooning lemon curd on top when serving, this could be folded into the rice pudding prior to serving.
To reduce costs even further, use evaporated milk instead of the double cream

Saffron Rice Pudding: serves 4
large pinch of saffron strands (see above)
2 tblsp hot water
6 oz (175g) pudding rice
1 pint (600ml) milk
half pint (300ml) double cream (see above)
4 oz (100g) caster sugar (more if you wish)
zest and juice of 2 large lemons
2 - 3 tblsp lemon curd
Sprinkle the saffron over the hot water and leave to stand for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, putting the rice, milk, cream, sugar and half the lemon zest into a large pan.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 - 25 minutes until the rice is tender and the mixture thickened.  Stir in the saffron-infused water (if using) and the lemon juice.
Spoon into individual serving bowls, and spoon the lemon curd over the top, finishing with a garnish of remaining lemon zest.

As am now well into the weekend, and taking Saturday off from blogging, my next chat will be written sometime Sunday (maybe early, maybe late for a Monday read).  Am planning to go to the spiritualist meeting Saturday evening as there will be a medium there and although I don't go in the hope of making any 'contacts', more often than not they do pick me out, but my interest is far more in watching how the different mediums work (they all have different ways), and I hope to learn more from that, so maybe there will be something of interest happening that will be told in my next blog.

Whatever your weather, do hope you all enjoy this summer weekend, and am looking forward to hearing all your news.  Bye for now. xx