Monday, September 22, 2014

Not Enough Hours...

Finding difficulty in finding time to write a blog these days.  Don't think I've worked so hard for many years  (like ten?).  Combination of things causing my activity I suppose.  Freedom from the severe pain in my knee.  Seeming to have loads of energy, perhaps supplied by the supplements taken for the arthritis?  Good weather helps, everything seems better in the sunshine, and have to say that having learned to crochet, as well as returning to knitting after many years, fills all the 'free' time I have left.  The rest taken up with coping with preserving (bottling, cooking, freezing...) the abundance of soft fruits that keep coming in - apples and some blackberries from the garden, more blackberries growing wild, bags (and bags) of plums given by friends....

Add to that the food cooking for various organizations, or for charity.  Four lots in one week - so you can see how busy I am.  Not of course busy by normal standards,  happy though that I can still cope with doing it as a 'geriatric', and only because most of the work is done sitting down.  If I had to stand up writing this blog there wouldn't be one.

Two things to mention, one is that on Thursday afternoon in the Taste of Britain, BBC 1, 3.45pm, it covers Warwickshire, with a mention of Berkswell.  This is/was a small village north of Coventry, and after the main Blitz, when the bombs were dropped each night for seemingly weeks, and many incendiaries landed in our streets, my parents decided to rent a room in Berkswell, over the village shop, so that we could all sleep in our (camp) beds, instead of spending each night sitting huddled in the shelter.  We would leave at 5.30 each evening, returning about 9.00am the next morning.

It was Christmas Eve in Berkswell when I was so worried that Father Christmas wouldn't know where I was, but - bless him - he filled the stocking that had been hung at the end of my camp bed, but mercenary me couldn't wait to get back home in the morning to find out if he thought I was someone else, so he'd also left some pressies hung on the end of my proper bed.  And very disappointed I was that he hadn't.

Berkswell, at that time (early 1940's) was, as I remember, just a village green with a few cottages built around it, and the one village shop.  Now I expect it will be much larger.  Perhaps the village shop is still there, maybe it will be on the TV prog.

Second thing I wanted to give a mention to was the beef dripping.  If you remember I added some clarified beef dripping (sold in supermarkets) to the pan to extend the real dripping.  When the silverside was cooked, I drained off all the fat into small pots, but as there was still quite a bit of fat still tied onto the top of the joint, this I removed, put it into the shallow lid of the roasting dish, and continued to render it down.  This filled another small pot. 

Asked B to try both to see if there was much difference, and he said the flavour was much the same but the 'real' dripping was much softer.  B has already used up all the 'real' on toast, and half of one of the other pots of the 'mixed'.

Today made B a beef 'casserole' for his supper, I call it that although it was cooked (more like heated through) on the hob.
What I did was melt a chunk of the 'mixed' dripping in a frying pan and used this to fry some chopped onions, then added quite a few halved small chestnut mushrooms that needed using up.  A few of these were removed for me to add to my salad, and I tasted one while it was still hot.  White mushrooms tend to soak up fat, but chestnut mushrooms stay firmer.  Being already brownish in colour, as they cooked they got darker and really looked a bit like meat.  They tasted like meat, thanks to the beef dripping, so that's mixture of 'real' and clarified beef dripping is something I'll be making again for culinary use as it's a good way to make mushrooms (and anything else) taste really 'meaty'.  Perfect for Strogonoffs.

As always, thanks for your comments.  Wish Mary Whitehouse was still alive, she made a lot of sense, and as you say T.Mills, reviews and reports in the press so often get twisted.   So often the headlines are carefully worded to catch our eye and think they say something else such as:  'Vicar raps...'  This I've seen many times, my mind always seeming to want to adding an 'e' between the 'p' and 's'.  Not even because I want to, it just does.

Can  understand how busy you are jane, sometimes wonder why we do it.  Must be the squirrel instinct in our genes as it is something that generations of rural cooks have been doing for centuries. They knew it was sensible to take advantage of nature's bounty, not having any shops that provided the same, and although we could buy the fruits in supermarkets, at least home-grown and the wild are 'free', worth putting that in big print.  FREE.  Also fresher than any in the shops, and those of us that have freezers can hold them at that level to thaw and eat through the winter months.

This is one reason why I'm so busy this week (and probably for the next few weeks), my 'storing for the winter' instinct is very strong.   Wish the 'spring cleaning' instinct - also strong' - could be carried out with so much vigour.  But I'm not perfect.

Not heard, buttercup, of that historical novel where - in the 1900's - the maid took down her tights. Was the books returned to the library because of the inaccuracy?  Or because the tights were taken down for - lets say - romps?  Think 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' was once on the banned list.  Doubt that any books would be banned now.  Mores the pity.

Have to say that after reading "50 Shades...." am sorely tempted to write a steamy cookbook.  Could call it 'Crude Food'.  Perfectly normal recipes but with a bit more description in the method.  Love to give an example but this blog would probably be stopped because it was 'pornographic'.   Don't let me stop anyone writing something similar, it would be bound to be a best-seller.

Just a couple of recipes today as I have to allow time to lay out all the necessary for an early start to marmalade making tomorrow morning.  If I stay up too late than wake too late, and as I do my best work early in the day it makes sense to stop blogging late and night and try and write earlier.
Not sure what time tomorrow as I'll be at the church in the afternoon, but hope to grab an hour either after I return or during the evening.
Same on Wednesday as I'm hoping to visit the haunted Winter Gardens during that afternoon, and goodness knows what might happen there.  In a way hope something does, then I'll have something interesting to tell you - which makes a change.

Have chosen these two recipes as they are seasonal and although slightly different, you may like to improvise and do a bit of mixing and matching.
With the first recipe, if you don't have butternut, you could instead use marrow or courgette (or a mixture).
Second recipe is similar to piccalilli.

Butternut Pickle: makes about 5lb
4 lb (1.80g) butternut squash (see above)
1 lb (450g) cooking apples, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
5 fl oz (140ml) sunflower oil
3" (8cm) piece root ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp garam masala (curry powder)
half tsp chilli powder
5 oz (150g) stoned dates, chopped
8 oz (225g) dark brown sugar
3/4 pt (425ml) distilled malt vinegar
Peel and dice the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for one hour.  Rinse off the salt and drain well before putting into a large saucepan with remaining ingredients.  Stir well, then bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently until thick and pulpy and a wooden spoon dragged across the base of the saucepan leaves a path.
Pot up in warm, sterilised jars, seal with vinegar-proof lids.  Keep 2 weeks before eating.

Courgette and Sweetcorn Chutney: makes 3lb
2 lb (900g) courgettes, finely sliced
3 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 lb (450g) onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
8 oz (225g) tiny florets of cauliflower
2 tsp mustard powder
8 oz (225g) Demerara sugar
19 fl.oz (540ml) distilled malt vinegar
half tsp turmeric
6 whole cloves
1 tblsp cornflour
Sprinkle the courgettes liberally with salt and leave to stand for 2 hours, then rinse well and drain.
Place all the vegetables in a large saucepan and add all the remaining ingredients except the flour and 4 fl.oz (115ml) of the vinegar.
Stir the veggies as you bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1.1/2 hours, stirring frequently.
Blend the cornflour with the reserved vinegar, stir this into the pan, and bring back to the boil, then continue stirring for 2 minutes as it thickens.  Pot up as above recipe.  Will keep for 6 months.

Really must love you and leave you,  but have to say am thoroughly enjoying my busy life, was afraid those days were past me, but not so.  Will enjoy being active while I can.  TTFN