Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Tittle-tattle....

Just popping in while I remember what I did with the microwave chips.

The other day fancied eating some chips, the only ones in the freezer were 'oven chips', so I heated a box of these.  Despite following directions to the letter, the chips still ended up what I call 'soggy', so decided to heat up some more (not many in a box anyway).  This time I tried heating them up in a pre-heated dry frying pan, oil already covering the chips, and although it took longer than in the microwave, I did end up with a lovely crispy surface to the spuds, with the innards nice and soft.

So - even though the box tells us the contents should ONLY be microwaved, seems that we can improve on the result.  I did some more yesterday, serving them with Tesco's Vegetarian Lincolnshire Sausages.  There should have been 6 sausages in the pack but there was an extra one!!!  Cooked the lot for half their time (12 minutes total, 6 mins half-time),  then added a pack of crinkle-cut microwave chips.  When the sausages were cooked, I removed them from the pan, raised the heat to full and gave the chips and extra couple of minutes to really crisp the surface.  Worked well.

The above veggie sausages - I find - taste more 'meaty' when left to eat cold after cooking.  Or eaten hot with a good meaty (and onion) gravy.  Am partial to pork sausages, but they are not the healthiest of foods, so recently have been buying the veggie sort, and only the Lincolnshire variety of these seem to suit my palate, perhaps it is the herbs in them (preferring Tesco's rather than any other brand).

After several good days of sunshine, but still quite cold, we've had some pretty unpleasant weather.  Did not see any snow in our area (when do we?), but it has been very wet and windy, reminding me of a narrow-boat holiday that we (plus three others from family/friends) took about 15 years ago.  It was at the very end of April - the last week being a scorcher, so we didn't take warm clothes, other than jackets. 
Once on the boat, after a night's sleep we woke to a change in the weather.  It had turned very cold indeed and was actually SNOWING.  So we spent most of the week huddled inside the boat, sharing the couple of heavy jackets that we had taken when it was time to open the locks, or drive the boat.

As we slowly drifted (4mph max speed allowed on the canals) along, we could see loads of tiny lambs leaping around, also great clumps of primroses along the banks, and one wonder and huge bluebell wood in full flower towards the end of the week (it then being first week in May this was the time to see bluebells). 
A few years later it seems we can never be quite sure what will be in flower at the right time. 

Am managing to keep sorting out my larder and have also cleared space in one of the freezers, and don't intend refilling the gaps with anything but milk (or water), so that I have space when needed.  So things are slowly getting better and once something is cleared up it now tends to stay cleared. In the old days I used to wish it could stay tidy, but my Beloved said it felt more like home when he could leave his stuff where it fell, so now I would give anything to go back.

Thanks for your comments. The Remoska does sound good T.Mills, although wonder if it is worth me getting one, as am not so short of money that I need to save fuel. Will have a think about it.

Several of you have commented/enjoy the series 'Back in Time for Dinner', but have to say that even considering how limited the variety of foods in the early decades of that series, we didn't seem to feel deprived, isn't there a saying something like 'what you never have, you never miss'?
Also, Granny G. myself feel that our now over-abundance (foods from all over the world) could give us that 'truly blessed' feeling, but myself (and I'm probably alone in this) feel we have far too much variety, and this in itself causes us to buy more food than we really need (to keep us healthy).  Yes, it was a struggle in war-time and right up until 50's when rationing ceased, but if anything, it made us think more about nutrition and what dishes could be made from simple basic ingredients.   But then we 'ate to live' not as today 'live to eat', so meals were not given so much importance as they are today and we had to clear our plates whether we liked the food or not. 

Today it seems everyone wants to eat a meal that is a favourite, and often the cook (usually a working mother) provides different meals or foods for each member of the family (for one won't like this, another won't eat that) and solves the problem by buying the ready-prepared - that costs more and not always good for us. 
Naturally I am old enough to remember how it was, and how it still could be, but will anyone listen?  Take the easy way is today's motto.

Having mislaid my tin-opener Kathryn, I'm having to resort to an older one, but not as old as the one shown in the above series.  Having one of these years ago can confirm they did work well.   Now I've become even lazier and always moan if I get cans delivered that don't have ring-pulls.  Not that these always work, all too often they snap off and I have to struggle to open the can using a tin-opener again, often difficult if the tin is not round (like Spam!!!).

Think many homes bought their first fridge in the early 60's like yourself Jane.  Ours was quite tall, retro style, and it was still working well, as was our chest freezer (bought 1969) when B decided to dump them both and buy an American style fridge/freezer to take their place.  Haven't really forgiven him for that (it was on offer, and he could never resist and offer), but it turned out the freezer capacity was quite small, although the fridge size was large.  B 'thought' the freezer part was large, but he had forgotten it housed all the 'working's for both sides.l   In the end had to buy a four-drawer front-loading smaller freezer to take the surplus frozen food.

Still, with only the two of us, didn't really need too much freezer space, and it was only because of the catering for the various clubs and charities I used to do that I needed the shelf-space.  Now - on my own - doing less cooking for others, I suppose I could manage with just Boris (the name given to our US fridge-freezer).

When we lived in Leeds, our next-door neighbour used to run a B & B and often bought catering packs of mixes (scone, cake, pastry mix, custard, bread etc), she sometimes gave me some to try.  Have to say the majority of them tasted more of the 'additives' (raising agents....) than if home-made, but they were easy to use, all needing nothing but added water.

Once or twice I would buy a cake-mix from the supermarket.  Usually a Betty Crocker one for Brownies, chocolate cake etc.  These needed liquid adding, which included an egg.  Apparently the mixes could include dried egg, but the manufacturers felt that if the housewife added an egg she could then say the cake was home-made.  Amazing how we can fool ourselves at times.

Nowadays I believe cake-mixes (including scone mix, pizza mix, pastry mix, cookie mix......) are much improved, so when time is short no doubt if I was a busy mum I would use one, but have to say the last time must have been over 30 years ago, and then mainly 'for research purposes' (a true reason but still an excuse).

An interesting two page feature about Mary Berry in last Saturday's Daily Mail.  Don't know why, but I expected her to be an ordinary mum, with maybe a cleaner once or twice a week.  Seems she has quite a large staff, but then her work-load has increased dramatically over the last years (mainly due to '....Bake Off', so although not at all jealous, am truly envious of her life-style and what she has done in her life.  She and I are not that far apart in age either. Makes me feel ashamed of myself.  All power to her elbow I say.

That's it for today. As I write there is a man fitting a much larger step and grab rail by our back door so that I can leave the house safely (without slipping/falling).  Of course he came to the front door, and by the time I had reached that had walked round to the back door.  Takes me ages to get from one to the other, even using my zimmer frame.  He doesn't need me to oversee what he is doing, so I've left the door locked and asked him to get on with it.

That's it for today, visitor tomorrow and Friday, and not sure about Thursday, so it might be the weekend (is that Easter?) before I'm blogging again.  As usual, ask you to 'watch this space'.  TTFN.