Monday, September 01, 2014

Back Again...

It's been a long break this time, sorry about that.  Have to say that I felt so confused and not myself at all that I doubt I could have written anything worth reading.

The side effects of the pills that I am still taking now has worn off (I take them mid-evening so that I can sleep through the effects), and this very moment am waiting for the doctor to phone me (he said Monday morning 1st Sept), so far nothing, he may be waiting for the results of the X.rays. 
If anything the pain in my knee is a little worse in that it now occasionally pains me when I'm sitting down.  Previously the worst pain happened each time I stood up from a sitting position.

Steve sorted the comp for me, and it does seem that occasionally the on-line connection fails when there is interference from something or somewhere.  Can't do anything about that.   Recently many comps over the UK 'crashed' (if that is the right word) for a day because too many people are now using tablets, IPods as well as comps - all 'socially chatting' on the various websites (Twitter, Facebook to name but 2), and some communication systems haven't the capacity to deal with them all at one time.  So won't be surprised if it happens again. 

Again have to give a blanket 'thank you' to all who have sent in comments, and an especial thanks to Eileen who kept the site up and running via the comments box.  It is good to know that you are all able to keep contact with each other this way.

To Kathryn (re freezing apples), could I suggest making apple dumplings (peel and core apples, fill the centres with brown sugar, then wrap tightly in short-crust pastry).  Freeze when wrapped in the pastry and then cook from frozen for about half an hour (180C or thereabouts), by which time the apple will have cooked and the pastry turned golden.  Sometimes I used to fill the apple centres with mincemeat before wrapping.
A good idea to pre-cook crumble toppi9ng and then bag it up/freeze ready to put onto cooked apples or other fruits.

Tomatoes can be frozen whole (still in skins) then dip in hot water for a few seconds (the skins then slide off), leave to thaw (they collapse) and use to make tomato sauce for pizzas, pasta etc.

Alison mentions damson jam, and this is one of the best jams, not usually seen for sale in supermarkets, so worth buying damsons when anyone has the chance.  Freeze and make jam later.
As damsons take time to remove stones, normally the fruit is stewed first, the stones then floating to the top.  Do count the fruit before cooking, and count the stones when removing.  Several times I've not done this, then found a stone in the jam after making and it could break a tooth!!!

Loved your idea of the rumpot Eileen.  Often I do buy boxes of frozen mixed summer fruits (red and black currants, raspberries and blackberries), and carefully remove all the blackberries to bag up and return to the freezer, the same with the raspberries, then I can use these (separately), when making apple and blackberry crumble/pies, or raspberry cheesecakes or jam.  The remaining currants I add to other fruits such as strawberries to make a mixed fruit jam for general use.  The redcurrants have a lot of pectin so help the jam to set.  If there are plenty of blackcurrants, I also freeze these separately as B loves b.currant jam.

Didn't know it was zero waste week this week.  I always take one plastic carrier bag in my bag or pocket when rain is forecast and I am going out.  More than once it has come in handy to place over my head (my head IN the bag) to save my hair getting wet.  I don't pay good money to have my hair set and then the rain make a mess of it.  Yes, I suppose I could wear a scarf, but this would flatten my hair and oh, what the heck!  I just hate getting my hair messed.

Don't know if any reader watched 'Bazaar' (TV series), probably in the 80's.  I was one of the regular cooks, appearing once a week.  One week I was demonstrating other things and took with me the Christmas 'swags' I had made from plastic carrier bags.  The set designer was so taken with them that he later told me that he had made loads himself and decorated his home with them.   Details of how to make are given in 'Have a Goode Year'.  
At that time I used M&S; carrier bags as they were green (and I think had gold print?),  other stores also had brightly coloured plastic bags.  The designer said he had painted coloured strips on white bags using felt tip pens, so all we need is a bit of imagination I suppose.

Because the bags are folded and cut in a certain way, once unfolded and stretched out they end up very long, and so I've found that those large bags of crisps (the ones that hold several bags at any one time), also can be opened out to lay flat, then folded and cut, and these also make good 'swags', and any bag that has a shiny silver lining (like crisp packets) make really good decorations when dealt with as above. 
Kitchen foil works well if cut into thing strips across the width, then each strip folded tightly round a knitting needle or the handle of a wooden spoon (even a biro pen), the slid off and gently pulled open to form a shiny spiral.  Then hung on the Christmas tree look really lovely.

But too early to think of Christmas.  This week we are expecting high pressure over the UK and warmer weather again. Although slightly overcast at the moment, the clouds are thin enough for the sun to shine through so hope to be able to get a few hours of sitting in the sunshine during this week.

My larder shelves have been getting alarmingly empty, so have decided to order from Tesco despite their new on-line ordering system taking longer to sort out what I need.   I had a £10 voucher from them (probably because I complained), and also several more vouchers I'd saved up, so it seemed silly not to use them. 
Tesco have (apparently) had a slump, and making a loss.  Could it be that more customers have now chosen to shop elsewhere because they too are finding the new site too time-consuming when ordering?
However, this could mean good news for the remaining customers as this will surely mean more price reductions and better offers to bring in more custom, so their losses could mean we gain.  Let us hope so. 

Because it is the season, am repeating a recipe given some months/years back. The recipe uses what I call the 'cheat's way', because it uses canned rice pudding, but of course we can make our own rice pudding (can't we?) and also apple sauce (from a jar!!).    As the pudding can end up chilled, and the berries are used from frozen (then defrosted) am pretty sure the pudding - once made - could be frozen to thaw later and eat either chilled, or heated in the microwave.
This is an example of how we can make a pudding using 'instant' ingredients, or take the time to make from scratch, and by doing so save a bit of money.

Apple and Blackberry Rice: serves 4
1 x 435g can rice pudding
1 x 185g jar apple sauce
5 oz (150g) frozen blackberries (defrosted)
2 tblsp light brown soft sugar
Layer the rice pudding, apple sauce, and blackberries in four individual dessert bowls (or glasses - glass is best then you can see the layers).
Scatter the sugar over the surface, then chill until the sugar has dissolved (about 15 minutes).  These can be made up to 2 hours ahead of serving as long as kept covered, in the fridge. 

Because plums are also in season, and this year we are getting a wonderful crop, here is a recipe for these. Just because it uses bought biscuits, this doesn't mean we can't use similar home-made biscuits or maybe another variety.  Myself am not too keen on the flavour of star anise, but as chefs seem to add this to a variety of both savoury and sweet dishes, perhaps I should give it another try.
The cooking time for the plums really depends on how ripe they are - so allow extra time if necessary.

Crunch Spiced Plums: serves 4
2 tblsp sugar
2 tblsp water
2 whole star anise
8 large (or 12 small) plums, halved
knob of butter
4 HobNob biscuits (see above)
custard (or ice-cream) to serve
Mix the sugar with the water in a baking dish, add the star anise, then place the halved (and stoned) plums on top, cut side down (they need to fit snugly).  Dot with the butter, then roast in a hot oven (200C, gas 6) for about 5 minutes - or until the plums are beginning to soften on the bottom - then turn them over.  Roast for another 5 minutes or until tender.
Roughly crush the HobNobs, the spoon a little onto the top of each plum half, return to the oven for a few more minutes until the biscuits have turned a dark golden colour.
Serve the plums with the scented, syrupy juice poured over, and lashings of custard or a good dollop of ice-cream.

Usually I try to give recipes that use seasonal produce, so it's quite a good idea to move over to Archives and click on the month we are in, hopefully then you will find recipes to suit this time of year.  However, this year we seem to be a few weeks ahead and crops are ripening early so perhaps worth viewing viewing October as well as September.  August could also come up with something to tempt your appetite.

The doctor has just phoned me and has told me to stop taking the pills.  The X.ray showed bad arthritis, so he is going to inject my knee(s) with steroids that should reduce the inflammation.  This will be done this Thursday morning (ouch!!). Am not looking forward to it (if it is a big long needle) although normally don't mind little injections.  Worth putting up with any pain if it gives me relief.

That's it for today, so now I won't need to take more pills, hopefully I will be less confused and my blog gets back to normal (and the comps stops going off-line).  Should be back again tomorrow - not sure what time.  Hope to see you then.