Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pre-supper Chat

Not my usual time to blog, but as I've just returned from the church meeting, and B's supper is already to re-heat in the oven and get a crusty top (Cottage Pie), thought I'd write now so that I could go to bed early if I wished.  With footie on TV tonight, this room won't be free until after 10.00pm.

Got up early this morning so managed to work through quite a lot, in fact had 'cleared my desk' (in other words done all on my list) by 11.00am, so decided to sit and do some knitting, with the TV on so that I could part watch/listen to first The Waltons, followed by 'Little House....'   then half a hour of BBC news.  Pleased to discover that I'd managed to knit a whole square (for my throw) in that time (first putting 40 stitches on the needle, not sure how many rows, then casted off).  Tonight, after my own supper (salad with seasticks - or shall I have hummous and crudités?) then might manage to knit and/or crochet another couple of squares.  Think already have made nearly 30 squares so soon be time for me to lay them out to make an interesting pattern and find out if I need more of a certain colour before finally crocheting/stitching them all together.

My Beloved is helping his upholstery friend occasionally, and I've asked for any offcuts of foam that he may have so that I can cut them up into little pieces to stuff my cushions.  These have been promised to me, so that means very shortly hope to have at least six knitted cushion covers to scatter onto the two couches. 

Am sure you are right Jane, as my back pain could be caused by different posture, not so much caused by my knee, but the fact I've lost about a stone over the past few weeks, and in the past have found this tends to change my balance slightly.  The aches and pains are not too bad, just an occasional twinge.

In the past my mother always used to send me to the butchers/grocers to buy Wiltshire cured back bacon, number 4.  The number was the thinness of the slices as in those days the sides of bacon were always hung on hooks in the shops, brought down and then placed on the slicer to be cut to the width the customer wanted.  The flavour (and smell when cooking) was absolutely gorgeous and although I have - several times - bought Wiltshire bacon (pre-sliced and packed), it is nothing like I remember.

It's a small world.  There is Anna, now living in France, who remembers well Berkswell, Warwick Castle, and the ice-cream sold in Henley-in-Arden.  Too much of a difference in our ages no doubt for our paths to have crossed, but it is good to know that people recognise places I talk about.

One place I don't think I've yet mentioned is where my parents often used to take me on picnics when I was small (pre-war).  It was a place called Yarningale Common, and all I remember was there were quite a few trees, bushes and scrubs, with clearances where we would sit on the ground to have our picnic.  Can't say it was my most favourite place, and expect now it has been built over.  Not even sure where it is/was.  Anyone know?

As you know, each time I make bread (using a 500g bread mix) I always add half as much weight again (250g) using strong plain bread flour.  Plus half as much water again, although I tend to use half milk, half water and to save me working out exactly how much more liquid I need, find that 500ml is exactly the right amount.

The dough is made in my bread machine, and after the 45 minutes (when the dough is ready and risten) I remove it from the pan and remove one third - the two-thirds I place in a greased and floured loaf tin, slightly larger than the standard 2lb loaf tin.  The remaining dough I make into small rolls.

However, this extra dough can also make pizza bases, so I could make several rolls and still have enough dough left to make one medium sized pizza.  Here is a recipe worth making when we have the spare dough (freeze it and make it later if you wish.

As always, alter the toppings to suit what you wish to use (get rid of in other words), and use this recipe as a guide.  Myself prefer to first fry the onion slightly then scatter this on top of the tomato puree mixture before adding the tuna, etc.  Also omit the rocket because usually I have none.
Tuna, Olive & Rocket Pizza: serves 2
Enough bread dough to make a pizza base
2 tblsp tomato puree
2 tblsp water
salt and pepper
1 x 185g can tuna in oil, drained (reserve oil)
1 tblsp capers
1 x 125g ball mozzarella
10 black olives, pitted and halved
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
small handful rocket
Mix together the tomato puree, water, seasoning to taste, and the oil from the canned tuna.  Then roll out the dough on a floured board to make two fairly thin pizzas base (or one large thicker if that is your preference), then place the bases on an oiled baking tray.
Spread the dough with the tomato puree mixture, then top with flaked tuna, capers, cheese and the olives.  Bake at 240C, gas 9 for 10 - 15 minutes.  Serve scattered with the onion and the rocket.

We often see 'onion marmalade' suggested as an accompaniment to a pork (or other) dish. Not a true marmalade as we know it, and one that is normally made to be eaten within a day or two, not stored in jars in the larder.  As this relish would eat well with cheese, thought it worth given the recipe.  We can alter the flavour by using red onions instead of white, a different sugar, and maybe balsamic vinegar.  So worth having a play. 

Onion Marmalade: serves 4
1 lb (450g) onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 oz (25g) butter
3 oz (75g) light muscovado sugar
4 fl oz (100ml) red wine vinegar
Put the onions and butter into a pan and fry gently for 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar and vinegar.  Cook for approx. half an hour, stirring constantly, until the onions are slightly caramelised and very soft, and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Serve warm with roast pork, or cold with cheese.

Ten people at the meeting this afternoon, but nothing very interesting happened. Each week we have a raffle (we each bring a small gift), and as often it is packets of sweets or biscuits, I always bring one back for B to munch while he watched TV.  Unfortunately, my number was called last, so by the time I got to the table there was only a very tiny teapot, a small ceramic jar with china roses stuck on it, and a tube of foot balm.  None of these of any interest to either B or myself, so came away with nothing, so this evening he will have to make do with an after supper snack of cheese, biscuits, grapes.  That should be enough, he is having Cottage Pie and Apple Pie (with cream) for his main meal. 

Thinking about the way restaurants charge what to some of us are ginormous prices for dishes on their menu, suppose it is not that much different to paying hundreds (and that's the lower end of the price range) for shoes, handbags, and designer clothes.   Thing is, almost everything we do pay a lot for we can at least use again (and again, and again).  Once we have eaten a meal - that's it. Same, I suppose goes for a bottle of wine.

The bonus of home-cooked food - at least for the cook - is that the pleasure comes from creating something, and most people who do crafts are not interested in what they make, it is the MAKING  that brings the enjoyment, then put it aside and make something else, then something else.....
When we cook we don't have the meals left lying around, they get eaten, so it's even better - we can continually make, bake, and create.  This may seem a chore to some, certainly not to me - and most of my readers am sure feel the same. 

An interesting programme last night about the differences between men and woman.  Just about proved there were differences (monkeys proved this when given certain toys to play with - the makes interested only in things that had wheels, and the females in the dolls). Certainly men seem to see things more in black and white, while women see the many shades of grey (and I'm not thinking 50) between.  Also all the women seemed to be more creative, and enjoyed being so.  Not that men aren't creative, but on balance there definitely is a difference and almost certainly naturally built-in so that the genders complement each other.

Anyway, supper time so I'll take my leave.  Not sure what time I'll be blogging tomorrow, but should be back.  Weather still good, although France has not fared so well - they have had a LOT of rain in a very short time.  Just as long as it doesn't come our way.    Already looking forward to tomorrow's chat - so see you then.