Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Mutterings....

Settled myself down yesterday evening to watch the two new series, and have to say I didn't enjoy either.  Should have watched Mr. Selfridge after all.

The first (written by J.K.Rowling) about village life was not at all like 'Midsomer Murders' as I expected.  Far too 'present-day' to appeal to me.
The second was again more blood-thirsty than I expected, having believe Indian Summers were just 'the good life' where the climate was cooler. 

I do remember my bridge friend (mentioned yesterday who lived in Simla during the hotter days, said this was in the foothills of the Himalayas, and she always pronounced this mountain range differently to most people.  We/I would say 'Him-a-layers' but she called it 'the Him-ar-lee-ers' and I expect this was right - after all, she would know.

Not much to chat about today, best I reply to comments, several of these being about those frozen strawberries, and I have to say the ones we did see on TV looked exactly like the fresh berries that were in a matching punnet at their side.  Perhaps the growers have discovered a new way to freeze strawberries so they don't collapse when thawed, they certainly seemed to keep their shape.
Margie (Canada) sounds as those she has been able to buy this new-improved frozen strawberry, so if anyone hears about them being sold in the UK please let us know.

Lucy Worsley never seems off our screens at the moment Margie, especially now it is the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court where she is the senior curator (and what a wonderful job for such a young lady).  She has a great knowledge of history, especially domestic history (plus clothes and dances of the times she talks about), so her programmes are always worth watching.

I've read several books (and seen some series) by the late Clarissa Dickson Wright who was also full of knowledge of the food/meals etc in times past.  Make very enjoyable reading.

I'd be interested to hear what was served at that dinner party (Jack Monroe's suggestions) Jane.  In the past I've made many budget meals but can't remember them exactly.   There was one I cooked (live on TV) for a local pensioners 'luncheon club' (where they could buy a meal usually costing under £1.   I managed to make a 3 course meal for 50p a portion.

If I remember we began with soup (think it was lentil-based), the main meal was a jacket potato served with a slice of meat loaf plus vegetables (can't remember what these were - maybe carrots and peas?  The pudding was steamed pudding with custard.  Do remember everyone enjoyed the meal, the portions were quite substantial and tasty.

To work out a budget meal from scratch I'd need a target to beat, so if you can let me know the portion cost of J/M's meal, then I'd see if I could cut a few pennies off that.  Probably not as Jack is brilliant at keeping costs low. 

The way I tend to work to a budget is first know how much (or little) I have to spend, and for how many people.  Starters and desserts would be the cheaper meals, the main course usually the most expensive - but not always.  Also food served should be to everyone's taste, many people do not like spicy food, but a 'help-yourself' buffet or choice of dishes could end up suiting everyone. 

There are so many really inexpensive dishes that you could say I'd be spoiled for choice, the one thing about cooking for a budget DINNER party is that the more time we can spend on the preparation and the decoration etc, the more expensive food can look even though it may cost only pennies.  And - if we have time to plan ahead - we can grow a few 'free' pea-shoots to decorate the plates (sowing 4 seeds from a packet of supermarket dried peas will grow loads of shoots).  The more time we have to plan, the better the food will both look and taste, and be cheapest of all.

Splendid news Kathryn, I bet you are so excited.  Thing is where do you wish your new home to be?  Obviously the right size with plenty of land, and the price of this can vary enormously depending on the area.
Have to say that where we live (Morecambe) the property always seems dirt-cheap (compared to Yorkshire/Leeds where we used to live).  Of course there are some that are more expensive, but a lot that are not, and considering the warmer-than-average climate in this area, a lot of produce could be grown.

When our family was younger we used to spend many of our summer holiday in Cornwall - either in Falmouth (where my auntie lived) or near Helston (where a friend lived).  The climate there, and here in Morecambe - were very similar.  Warm, sometimes wet, hardly any frost and virtually no snow.

Ideally property that needs some attention is worth considering - for if it does need 'doing up' (with your own fair hands), this then makes it easier to get the price dropped.   The flat above ours has been for sale for 3 years and it is a really lovely one (would go for twice the price anywhere else), but no-one wants it as it doesn't have a garden.  We own the garden.
My neighbour next door, also upstairs flat and wanting to leave, is having the same problem.  No one interested because this also has no garden.  But then people don't want large gardens either, so property that has uncultivated land could also be worth considering.

Have you thought of contacting the BBC to see if you are suitable to take part in 'Escape to the Country'?  They could find exactly the right property for you, at a price you can afford.

That's it for today, hope to be  back tomorrow (or the day after).  It's good to be getting my blog written more often, even better to feel almost back to normal again (although I still get some low days).

We may be getting more cold weather, or if lucky it may give us a miss.  Just have to wait and see. Hope you all have a good day.  TTFN.