Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Autumn in the kitchen.....

At the moment our kitchen is very autumnal in appearance.  On the table are a couple of bowls of soft fruits thawing out ready to make jam, and am contemplating on cooking these first then pressing them through a sieve to make a seedless jam rather than have one full of pips.   Would work well if I could find a use for the bits of fruit left in the sieve as I hate to throw that away.  Maybe set it in jelly?  Even if B wouldn't like it, I certainly would eat it.

Then, on the floor or several brown paper carrier bags of fallen apples still to be sorted, some to be added to the big bowl of 'good ones' on the table, hopefully to be kept (somewhere!), during the next month or so, the remainder prepared for more pies and apple sauce.

A smaller bowl - also on the table - is now holding the few pears that I found on the garden path this afternoon when I went to take advantage of another sunny and warm day.  Having a sit on my bench, soaking up the sun, really lifts my spirits.

This morning cut the Sticky Toffee Pudding into 11 pieces, and considering B had already eaten 2 chunks (and I sampled one) this particular one must have ended up as 14 servings.  Not small either - and it is very filling as well.   Certainly one of the best I've made (but then it always tastes good).  Strangely, although instant coffee is one of the main flavourings, the pudding doesn't taste of coffee at all, maybe it is the coffee together with the dates, but to me it is as if it had chocolate in it.  Which it hasn't. 

If anyone wants the recipe for the S.T.Pudding, it will be found at the bottom of the December 2006 page (find this in Archives), under the name of 'Ticket Office Pudding' (B's name for it).   The one I made yesterday used one and a half times the ingredients as listed,  the recipe as shown makes 9 portions, and when cool, the sauce (I make double the amount of this anyway), is poured on top, left to set and then it is cut up into the size required,  put into a box (I use an ice-cream carton), with strips of baking parchment between each so they don't stick together.  About a minute (or less) in the microwave is enough to heat one at a time from frozen. 

B requested liver and bacon for his supper tonight, and this was easy enough (I've cooked this umpteen times).  Previously I used to cut the lamb's liver into 'gougons' (fingers), but recently have cut the liver into slightly larger strips and they then don't dry up so much when fried.  They take very few minutes to cook through anyway so first cook some small potatoes until tender (usually cut these in half or quarters first), steaming some finely shredded cabbage on top).  Then I fry a couple of rashers of bacon (cut in half) in a small frying pan, heating some bacon fat (or oil) in a larger pan, then fry the drained potatoes, meanwhile dusting the pieces of liver in flour and frying these alongside.  When the bacon is cooked, this is placed on the liver (which by then is cooked so the pan is removed from the heat) and the cabbage is tossed in that pan so it is flavoured with bacon fat.  The lot then put onto a plate that has been heating up over the potato/cabbage pan.  

All that fills a meat platter (B's meals are always served on meat platters as he has a large appetite), and working it out realised all that came to less than £1!  The liver - and plenty of it - was just 50p. So probably one of the most nourishing meals to serve when every penny counts.

Thanks Margie for sending that link re arthritis.  I clicked on it and it came up instantly.  Very pleased to read the list of foods that I'm able to have, and have to say practically all of them I eat regularly.  The one product that wasn't mentioned was tomatoes, but it didn't say not to eat them. 
It may not be arthritis I have, but almost certainly it is - I'm now getting pains in my left elbow and also the joint at the base of my left thumb, none of them bad enough to make me squeak.  My right knee also aches a bit, so not sure why my left knee plays up more.  But then I've always had problems with that leg since I had a slipped disc(nearly 50 years ago now) and this trapped the sciatic nerve on that side and part of that leg still remains numb and the muscles atrophied a bit.  Also the leg that had cellulitis and leg ulcers. 

Loved hearing about how you managed to raise the money for your outing buttercup. I got almost as much as thrill reading about it as you must have felt when you used that voucher and found that coin.
When we are down to our last pennies it is surprising how fate sometimes gives us a helping hand, and I remember when the children were small and we used to go out for our afternoon walk, I'd keep my eyes on the pavement looking for any coins that someone might have dropped and usually found one or two.  In those days sixpence would have bought a loaf of bread.  And believe me I often needed those sixpences.

Many years later, driving the car after giving a demo, and with barely enough money to buy petrol to get me all the way home, I drove into a garage to buy what I could afford, and when I got out of the car into the pouring rain, stepped into a deep puddle, and when I lifted out my foot, under it was a very wet £5 note floating in it.  I suppose I should have been honest and given it to the assistant, but I used it to pay for the journey (was giving the demo for free anyway).  In a way still feel guilty about it, but only when I remember (which is not often), and I do now give plenty to charity in the hope the gods will forgive me.

Talking about charity, one of the things that happened to me when I'd done my TV appearances was to be contacted by a charity who wished me to go abroad - somewhere in Africa - to see if I could show the ladies there how to cook cheap meals.  The suggestion was to spend several months 'in the bush', but I declined as I'd checked the area and it did seem that the natives (if you'll excuse that expression) didn't really like 'foreigners' telling them what to do. 
It so happens that some 30 years later they still haven't changed their cooking skills because they prefer to cook as they always have done, and why should anyone tell them different.  I agree with this, and prefer to donate to the charities that teach them how to grow their own produce, and provide them with free seeds, and also give them a cow or goat etc (that as well as providing them with milk also provides fertiliser) as this has proved very successful. 

Myself believe that we should all live our lives in the way we wish, just mindful of that Dickensian saying (have to paraphrase as I've forgotten it - can any reader give us the correct version?):  "Income £1, expenditure 99p, result - happiness.  Income £1, expenditure £1 and 6p - result: misery."

We don't always need to give money to help charities.  Usually giving away some bric-a-brac or books that we might normally have thrown out can often raise several pounds when given to a charity shop.  Makes more room for us and money for the charity - a real win-win situation.

Yes Jane, the mention of hens eating garlic (thus flavouring a cake with garlic) reminded me of those eggs we had on that sailing trip where the hens had eaten seaweed.  Certainly gave a slight 'sea' flavour to the breakfast eggs.  Yet eggs flavoured with orange zest would be great when making cakes, and one thing I forgot to mention was that Gill was told that egg yolks could be made any colour, even blue, according to the food (or dyes) they were given, but apparently cooks like their yolks to be the normal yellow so that is what we get.

A welcome  to for letting us know that glucosamine is now not on prescription, but at least it can still be bought as a supplement.  Once I've seen the doc and found out more, then will try almost anything to ease the discomfort.  Have to say I'm just about getting used to it by now, and although I'm finding it difficult to more around easily, there are times when I hardly feel it - usually when I'm concentrating on something else.
Think it was yesterday, when sitting at the kitchen table, there was a knock on the (open) back door and the man from the flat upstairs came in holding his baby girl (now nearly 9 months old).  I was so pleased to see them that I got up immediately to have a chat, and realised when they had left that I hadn't even noticed the pain in my knee when I rose, presumably because my attention was on the baby, so perhaps I should stop feeling sorry for myself and start thinking about more important things then the pain might (almost) go away.

It's been another lovely sunny day today and very warm again.  Just like it has been the past few weeks (prior to Bertha's appearance).  The container plants are now just passing their best, although two rose bushes (in pots) given a recent gifts - are going from strength to strength.  One has already had four blooms, and after dead-heading I see another 6 buds have appeared, this is a coral turning to copper rose called 'Love Never Dies' (bought esp. for our anniversary by a friend of our daughters). The other has clusters of smaller red roses, but see more buds have appeared on that. 

Being used to living in gardens full of roses, was very surprised to find none growing in the garden here in Morecambe (although neighbours do grow them).  Our garden is full of assorted shrubs, such as holly bushes, Acer, cordyline, bamboo, with just a few that flower, these being hydrangeas(long flowering period thank goodness) and Rose of Sharon.  Believe we have Golden Rod in the front garden (hardly ever go in there), and some Montbretia.  In the spring the front bed is full of bluebells (again hardly ever seen).  Plus a lot more green shrubs, name unknown (and don't really care).

In the back garden we have a lilac tree that was very young when we arrived but has now grown large enough to flower each year.  And of course the wisteria.  Otherwise the garden is green, green, green, although various shades and very different types of leaves - attractive in their own right I suppose, but I do like to see some colour, hence all the container plants.

Took a look inside the freezer today and gave up sorting even before I began.  Just cleared on small drawer of the soft fruit leaving enough room to put the S.T.Pudding.  Then shut the door again.  There is so much in the upright fridge/freezer, by this I mean small tubs and packets of things that I've forgotten what they are, I really can't face sorting them out.  Suppose the best thing is to get a trolley and put it by the freezer, then quickly unpack onto the trays, then sit and sort things out.  Almost certainly I should be able to make something from some of it - once I've found out what it is.
A job I'm not looking forward to but MUST be done as this is the time of year to start stocking up again with things like casserole meats, more fish (running out of that), and mince and more mince.  Then sit back and enjoy cooking warming dishes through the cooler and colder months of the year.

Yes, definitely got that 'stirring' in my veins, autumn is just about ready to put its foot through my kitchen door, and I'm really looking forward to this.  Eating salad practically every day has got boring, and today - in desperation - I made myself tomato soup with the dash of fiery chilli sauce just because I'd got withdrawal symptoms (having deprived myself of it for 2 weeks in the hope it might make my knee a bit better.  Well it got no worse).  It's almost worth having the pain to enjoy the 'kick' (pleasant mood-giving) the chilli gives me.

Anyway that's me for today.  Can't think of a recipe that will interest any of you.  Maybe there are too many blogs now giving recipes and perhaps time for me to depart blog-land.  Do we really NEED new recipes?  What perhaps would be good to know is what YOU (and I do mean you personally, not a general 'you') would like me to write about.  Will be back again tomorrow in the hope that somebody might actually write and let me know.  TTFN.