Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Pays To Complain...or does it?

Must apologise to Eileen as had to cut short our phone chat this morning due to Tesco phoning me on my mobile phone while in the middle of our conversation.  Tesco phoning in reply to the email I had sent the previous evening - referring to their re-vamped website that took far longer to place an order than did their original one, so felt I should change phones and concentrate on that.

Their customer service lady told me they had had many emails also complaining about the new site, she agreed that it hadn't improved things when she herself wanted to place an order. 
It's not that the site is complicated, it is easy enough to follow, but instead of being able to write down exactly what we want, the site then coming up with correct pages, we now have to first find the correct section, then the right page, THEN scroll down page after page until we find what we are looking for.  Then do the whole thing over again for each product we want. Takes AGES compared to the very few minutes with the original site.

Am hoping that Tesco will replace the missing 'order box', because if they don't, then I'll just be ordering the very basic items, and B can buy the rest from Morrison's.  Or might stop using Tesco altogether and change to Sainsbury's or any other supermarket that delivers in our area (Morrison's does not yet deliver).

When B chose to have Fish Risotto for his supper, I discovered I'd run out of the Tesco 'Value' white fish fillets.  Made do with (frozen) salmon and smoked haddock, and then remembered I'd got a pack of seasticks in the fridge, so included some of those once I'd chopped them into chunks.  They were white fish after all, and the red colouring on one side of the sticks made the meal look even more attractive.

Also made a big pan of chicken stock.  Hoped to get chicken carcases from the butcher (who has a delivery of them on Tuesdays) but when B went in yesterday (to buy the mince and liver) they said they would have to order them, they were frozen and a big bagful (lots) would cost £10.  Oh for those days when butchers gave the carcases away free.
So, instead, I raided my freezer/s and thawed out 10 chicken wings, plus another bag of wing 'tips' that I'd removed to save to add when making stock.  Chicken wings make very good stock, even better than just using a carcase.

The cooked meat taken from the wings is now waiting in a covered tub in the fridge for B to use for a stir-fry tomorrow (Thursday).  So that's his supper sorted. 
Don't know why but I do find making chicken stock really satisfying.  Some of the stock went into the fish risotto (along with white wine and all the other good things that go to make a proper risotto), and once I'd removed the flesh from the wings, all the skin and bones were replaced in the stock-pot and brought back to the simmer.  Lid on and it will be re-boiled tomorrow to reduce the liquid, then it will be strained.  I will make myself some soup from the carrots, celery, and onion that were also in the stock, and the stock will be put into small tubs (the Philly cream cheese tubs are ideal for this). and when chilled will go into the freezer.

As it was a sunny afternoon, was able to go and sit for about an hour before B returned home.  The sun was hot but a cool breeze made it very pleasant.  An instinctive feeling (possibly) within me when I sit there as I feel that summer is now beginning to slowly come to an end and autumn will not be far away. 

Interesting what you said about the elimination diet Margie.  I've already had several days without eating any tomatoes or chilli sauce (my normal diet) and my arthritis (if that is what it is) certainly was not as painful as it has been.  However, yesterday evening and today I did make myself some tomato sarnies (before they went rotten), and this evening the pain has become more severe, also in other joints, so I bet it is the acidic foods that are causing a lot of this problem. 

As to whether foods we crave (or become addicted to) can do us harm - as you mentioned Jane - that is another thing worth thinking about, although it is known we crave for foods that have the vitamins and minerals/chemicals etc that our body needs and is short of. 
I've been eating a lot of tomatoes (especially when cooked) as these have been proved to have a lot of those anti-oxidants that help to prevent some cancers.  The chilli ketchups etc (also tomato based) I love because chillies contain a chemical that makes us feel good.   

It's next week I see the doctor, so am hoping that he will prescribe some proper pain-killers (paracetamol doesn't work) and see what other advice he can give.  Just want a bit of respite from pain to allow me to gather myself together again.

Was really looking forward to watching 'The Great British Bake-off' this evening, and silly me went and nodded off about 15 minutes into the programme, and must have missed nearly half an hour, so am hoping it will be repeated over the weekend.  My fault as I'd made myself a sarnie for supper - in place of a mug of tomato soup - and carbos always send me to sleep.

Where was I with my 'memoirs'?  Just about to start filming 'The Goode Kitchen' I think.  Jenny Day has been chosen to be joint presenter, and so the director set about trying to track down and old-fashioned bicycle, the sort with a large basket on the front, so he could film Jenny riding through Roundhay Park en route to where we lived.   He later kept the cycle as he said his wife would enjoy riding this through the streets of London (where they lived), he himself owned an old traditional black London cab as his own transport.

The first thing we had to do was work out what food was do be demonstrated on TV, and then rehearse the running order.  Up to a point I could say what I wanted, but only as long as it fitted into the time allowed, and I didn't deviate from it.  So there was someone taping everything I said during rehearsals, and then each day I was given an edited script that I had to remember and repeat when the filming began.  Twice a day in fact, as we did one prog. in the morning, and another in the afternoon.

The first week we did all the outside broadcasts, those where I/we went into the supermarkets and explanations were given as to why this, that, or the other was bought.  As the filming was done when the shop was open to other customers, most of the time they would want to get in on the act, and hover close to me so they would be in shot.   We were not allowed to prevent customers walking up and down the aisles, so had to keep stop filming until they had disappeared.
One time we were standing by the chilled section where the cheeses were, and I had to explain about several of them, and there were a lot of schoolboys standing watching and just as I got to the last line of the script I kept forgetting what I should say.  Must have done about six takes (boys sniggering made it worse), so they wrote the last lines on a piece of card and stuck it so I could see it but out of camera sight, and I was able to say they whole piece - without even using the reminder card. 

We did a shot of the fish counter at Sainsbury's where they had a lovely young male assistant who the director thought would be perfect, but on the day of filming the store had brought in their own top man from London to be the 'fish man' behind the counter, and he wasn't nearly as nice. 
A similar thing happened at our local butcher's (Dewsburys), where they had someone from head office to come to Leeds to dress the counter display and window to show absolutely wonderful cuts of meat, but when it came to the filming they didn't show any of it.  Just a head and shoulders of me and the assistant and him wrapping up some minced beef.

At the end of the first week we had to get the kitchen ready for the filming, so our large 14cub.ft. freezer had to be put in the hall, our ancient (quite large) fridge had to go in our living room as did the microwave oven.  Several days later there was a horrid smell in the living room, and this we discovered was some fish that I'd cooked in the microwave but forgot it was there when we moved it.

Our kitchen table was put in the hall and a young man (normally a floor managed) had been chosen to be the person who prepared all the food ready for me to cook (several lots as we had to do about four takes each time).  He didn't mind this 'labouring' job, as he lived in Leeds and his wife was just about to give birth, so convenient for him.

The new unit for the kitchen had been made and delivered.  But they'd put the gas hob at the wrong end.  I phoned the director to tell him, and said all we had to do was turn the unit round, but as one end had been left open, this wasn't good enough for him, so we had to get it sorted pronto.

On the Friday, after the 'location filming' I felt really poorly, having come down with a bad dose of flu.  I asked if the filming could be delayed until I recovered, but they said no.  The outside broadcast vans (aka OBs) had been booked, as had the sound men, electricians, and camera men.  I never realised that they all seemed to work independently, like free-lance. 
So I phoned the doctor who gave me some pills to help keep my temperature down, but I was really poorly most of the first week of filming.   I could hear my voice rasping (bad throat) in several episodes.

My face was always flushed due to high temperatures, so the make-up lady (who came at 6.00 every morning) used to have to put green foundation onto my face to make my face look a normal colour (don't ask me why it works but it does).   Each day she would take a polaroid photo of me showing my hair, make-up, and the clothes I was wearing - this because occasionally (but thankfully rarely) the director might decide to do a re-take of part of a programme they had made a day or two earlier, and I had to look exactly the same so it could be edited in.

There were two HUGE outside broadcast vans.  One was mainly a generator, the other was where the director and editing assistant would sit in front of several TV screens showing the different views as taken by the cameras. 
To keep to the script and sometimes change the position of the cameras, the director would talk to a floor manager (who would be squatting on the floor in front of the cameras), through a remote controlled mike/hearing aid sort of thing.  Worked well enough until almost at the end of one lot of filming the floor manager's watch suddenly started to play a very loud tune.  '"Oh, ha, ha" he said "this is a Micky Mouse watch my girl friend gave to me".  So, of course, we had to run through the whole thing again.

As always, I had to remember where I had put back something I had lifted from the worktop, remember exactly what I'd said,  and keep repeating the same things over and over again while they did all the different takes.  Close up of my face, the close up of my hands mixing something, then close up of Jenny, then close up of me and Jenny, then a distant take of me and Jenny behind the unit.

We are so used to watching cooks on TV that I bet it hasn't occurred to many viewers that things are often done back to front.  Normally, when we pour something from a pan into a bowl we do that with the bowl in front of us, holding the pan behind the bowl so we can see the contents, but when demonstrating in front of a camera, we have to hold the pan in front of us, facing outwards so people can see what is inside, and then pour this into a bowl that is further away from us, trying to spoon it all out and not really able to see if the pan is empty.  And it's not easy to do this, as sometime we have to use the left hand when normally we might use the right.  Try doing this yourself and you will see what I mean.

Every evening there would be a script editor who would be typing up the next days scripts (I still have them), and early each morning I would be given one to read through and LEARN, while the 'set' was being prepared.  Then the crew and Jenny would pop up the road to a local restaurant while I was given a new script to learn ready for the afternoon filming.  As well as having the flu, I had to miss the 'eating out' each day, and also the really good evenings they all had when they returned to the hotel at the end of each day's filming.  Jenny included.  I just had to stay and home and try and grab some sleep before the next day began.  It was very hard work, and I cannot say it was enjoyable at all, perhaps if I hadn't felt so poorly I might have enjoyed it more.

Of course we had a problem with the OB vans.  Seemed that parents who used to park their cars outside our house each day when taking their children to the primary school close by had now been deprived of their regular parking space.  For goodness sake!  There were ample roads close by, nearly all empty of cars where they could have parked, but they just didn't want to have to walk those few extra yards.  Complaints were made to the school, so the director arranged that teachers could bring small groups of the children to the production van so they could see how the series was being filmed, and watch what was happening in our kitchen. 

Because the vans were so important and I supposed expensive, there was also a security man employed to keep an eye on them during the night.  He was parked round the corner in a little motor home where he (presumably) slept during the day.

Our neighbours did quite well out of the filming.  One of the OB vans had to be parked a little way in front of next door, so was paid for the 'inconvenience', and our neighbours on the other side were asked if they could wash up the various pots and pans, bowls and utensils we used (as our sink was out of action when filming), again paid handsomely for this, so happy to do so, and the pots etc were were put into a large laundry basket and handed over the fence to be washed and returned.

During the making of the programme, a copy of the 'book of the series' (previously written by me) was sent and in the evenings I had to write down the names of every recipe and note the page number then make up an index to go at the end.  It wasn't just as simple as that, if a recipe had two ingredients in the name (chicken and ham for instance), then it would be indexed under 'chicken' and also under 'ham'.  Sometimes a recipe would be entered three times.  
It was necessary for the index to be finished before the series ended as the producers wanted the book published and for sale without any delay. 

We did one extra episode, this time filmed in a house in London where we met up with the winner of a competition that had been running in the series.  Of course it didn't run smoothly.
The hotel where the BBC had arranged for me to stay seemed fine, only the light in my bedroom didn't work.  Even though I reported it (several times - I was there for two nights), it was still not repaired.  When they delivered my morning pot of tea to my bedroom, there was no tea in the tea-pot, just hot water. 

The morning we did the filming, the script editor (general dogsbody that day), had filled up a very large thermos with soup, this to be lunch for me and the 'crew' (producer, cameraman, sound man etc).  While we were waiting for the min-bus to collect us, the s.c. dropped the thermos on the kerb and it smashed to bits.  So think we went without lunch that day.  Just can't remember.

After the success of the series book (went into many reprints), the BBC asked me to write another.  I'd already asked if I could write 'Have a Goode Year', but they wanted one for single folk, so had to write 'Goode for One' first.   Not sure which one, but at least once I had to go to the BBC publications office in London, and that again is a story worth telling.  Probably tomorrow.  So watch this space. TTFN.