Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Keeping things in Perspective

Had a fairly busy morning, doing a load of washing to take advantage of a dry and breezy day, then baking loaves of bread to keep up with B's constant eating of same, then decided it was time to peel/core and chop the apples that had fallen from the tree.   Started off by filling a big bowl with cold water, having first dissolved some citric acid crystals in it (prevents the cut apples turning brown).  Took me AGES to do the apples, ending up with more peel and waste bits (bruises and maggoties) than apple.  Drained them and divided them into two batches that I popped into the microwave for 3 mins (each batch).  This barely cooked them but now they won't turn brown and anyway are in the freezer for later use.

Noticed that there were loads more apples on the lawn and the patio - these having been blown down during the night.  The seeds are brown so ready for picking anyway.  Some are quite large - like Bamleys (although a different variety of cooking apples), but lots of small ones too - these taking most of the time preparing. 

I'd already sorted the good from the bad - those apples that appeared perfect (no bruising, no pecks or holes) and with any luck these will keep for several weeks.   Now I have to sort out the ones that B brought in today - three bags full.  The best year for apples since we moved here, and luckily the pecking birds seemed to have kept away, also some of the maggots.  So tomorrow (Wednesday) will be another apple-preparing day.

As I was coping fairly well in the kitchen, and with the oven being on (for the bread), decided not to go to the church but carry on cooking, so set about making a large tray of Sticky Toffee Pudding.  It must have been about a year since I last made some for B (although did make one once for the social club), so he was thrilled to bits.  He has already eaten a couple of chunks (reheats well in the microwave), but as it made 12 large squares (and it is very filling), will save a couple more, and the rest will be individually wrapped and frozen.  That is if I can find room in the freezer what with the apples, chicken stock, surplus bread taking up precious space.  

Tomorrow really must sort out the freezer drawers and probably will thaw out all the bags of 'fresh' soft fruits that have been in there for some time (obviously some must have been in a year as they are in season again now), and turn them into mixed fruit jam.  That should give me a whole drawer to put in the apples, ST Pud, and lots more.

However good the summer has been, it gave me much pleasure to make the ST Pud, with its lovely aroma wafting around the kitchen.  Almost an autumnal feeling in the air outside even thought it is still only August.  However much we look forward to spring and summer - and even autumn, we never feel the same about winter, but for the cook this can be one of the best seasons.  Lots of lovely casseroles and hot puddings, not to mention the central heating on again.

Had to smile at your comment buttercup, driving off wrapped in a towel (sorry, bathrobe).  Hope your hot water is back on again. 
Like you OH, my B remarked how chilly it has been getting (especially in our living room), although today - in the garden - he said the temperature was quite warm (again).  I've been snuggling up under my now ancient patchwork quilt (falling to pieces but I love it), plus a crocheted throw our daughter made for me.   I have a larger throw that Gill crocheted, and when the weather gets colder that will be added to the others, so you can visualise me sitting in my chair with me feet up on the pouffe and just my neck sticking out at the top.

With the stores now competing with each other there are always bargains to be had, and as long as we don't get tempted and buy what we really don't need, then worth stocking up when we get the chance.  As you rightly say Margie, we should never judge others by how they shop.  Everyone has their own method, and what might seem wrong to one, could work well for another.  All we have to be concerned with is keeping within our personally set food budget.

Another bit of good shopping advice has come from jane (via Shirley Conran). This is working out how many portions of certain foods will be needed during the week and then seek out the offers and reductions and buy just enough.

Agree with you Cheesepare that home-made crisps really are the best.  These are so good they are often served in top restaurants where they are given the grand name of 'game chips'.  Problem with the home-made is that they are limited in flavour, mainly 'plain with added salt'.  In the past I used to stir some rock or sea salt crystals into a little vinegar and then let the vinegar evaporate, then the salt would have taken on the vinegar flavour so I could make 'salt 'n vinegar crisps', but that is as far as I got. 
When we consider how many chips we can make from one large baking potato (and why not leave the skins on?), even allowing for the cost of the oil (and when hot enough the potatoes absorb very little of it) we can make buckets of crisps for the price of one large bag.

Have heard that glucosomine is good for aching joints.  Used to take it at one time, but that was before I had any pain.  Will get some (or maybe the doc will prescribe some for me).  I see Lidl are selling strong wrap-around knee supports and also elastic bandages (for knees, ankles, wrists etc) that have copper in them.  Not expensive and also on offer from this Thursday so will get B to go and get me one of each, can't do any harm and may give me a lot of pain relief.

I'd been watching Kay Mellor's new series on BBC tonight while B watched a footie match in this room, but of course missed the first part (as I did last week) because I'd nodded off again.  When B came into the living room to let me know I could come in here and use the comp, the news was just starting and was showing the dreadful conditions in Iraq where people were sheltering in mountains from the militia, having to rely on food/water delivered by planes and dropped from the air.  Said to B "this makes me feel really guilty complaining about my knee all the time",  and so it should for what is a little (or even a lot of) pain compared to all that suffering?

It made me think how often we do moan and groan about the hardships that we hear about in this country.  Nobody, but NOBODY has the problems that so many people are now having abroad. We should be thankful and grateful for what we have, not what we don't have.   Not that I want to preach. It's just a fact.  As B says..."there is always somebody worse off than us".  
Maybe it is in our nature to complain, to try and better ourselves or at least make things better than they were.  We'd probably still be living in caves if we hadn't.   What saddens me is what seems to be the incessant need to find a reason to fight wars or terrorise people.  If we could all live in harmony what a wonderful world we could have. 
But perhaps not.  It was only this morning I decided that if heaven was the perfect world and we would live there for an eternity I very soon get bored.  Maybe that is why we can choose to keep returning to this world to a better life than the last or suffer more (depending on whatever lessons we need to learn).  That probably is my idea of heaven, and if everyone could believe this, then maybe they would make sure that in this life we don't pollute the atmosphere or worse so that we have a better world to return to, not a worse one.

Myself like to think the world we have now is pretty nigh perfect, apart from the few wobblies that Mother Nature throws at us, but then we do need to learn it is wise not to build where earthquakes are likely to happen, and keep rivers and water meadows clear so there is far less danger of flooding. 

Don't know why I'm in this funny mood, probably reading the papers, hearing and watching the news. Nothing nice seems to happen these days.  But keeping things in perspective, we can at least make sure our own little castle is fairly secure, drawbridge up (aka gate shut), and grow our own fruit and veg if we can, and if not, make sure we buy food at the best possible price.  Learn a few of those old crafts as well, then let the world sort itself out while we enjoy our own little life.  Or is that being selfish?

Think time for me to sign off, and hope I'm in a better frame of mind tomorrow.  At least the stirrings of autumn are now in my veins (or at least can feel something stirring somewhere in me), and I'm looking forward very much to making my pots of jams, more marmalades, and sorting out my freezers over the next few days.

Before I go, forgot to mention about the colour of egg yolks.  My friend Gill plays cribbage each week with a couple.  The husband is connected with the egg industry, and often gives Gill a tray of free-range eggs to take home.  Asked Gill to ask her friend if he could explain why some yolks are deeper in colour than others, and it is to do with the food they eat.  For deeper yolks they feed the hens maize or orange peel (yes, orange peel!), but as these cost more normally they choose the cheaper chicken feed, and this is why the yolks are pale.
People who keep hens and give them plenty of greens and maize should then have eggs with richly coloured yolks.  Worth adding some orange zest to the feed to see if that makes any difference.  Do wish B would let me keep hens, but common sense tells me that the colour of yolks really has nothing to do with the nutritional value and that - I suppose - is the most important thing.

Off to bed now as I can't wait for tomorrow to start so I can have my 'play' in the kitchen. My good intentions often never get off the ground, but I'm determined that at least some of the above will be done.  Tomorrow you will find out.  TTFN.