Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Onwards and upwards - hopefully ...

Last night, we finished off the Gardener's Pie with some onion gravy and peas, it was delicious, if a little too much!. 



Whilst the oven was on yesterday, I roasted vegetables for some soup today. We had a hearty portion each with some garlic and tomato paste flat bread.



I also made some combined, rye, white and linseed bread, so my kitchen smelt lovely. Whilst the bread was rising, we went out for a small walk. 



That's the thing I like about making bread by hand, you are free to do other stuff. My bread takes up to 2 hours for its first rise so we can do whatever we want then. We have even gone out shopping, forgotten about it, gathered it up, smacked its overgrown bum hard to deflate it etc. Then it takes around another hour for its second rise. 

Thanks for all your interesting comments yesterday. It's nice to know others are in the same predicament and learn what we are all doing about it. 

Following on from my post on Tuesday, here are a few more changes, the first of which is mainly related to us women.

Change 4. There are quite a few changes that take place in the body of a woman, before, during and after the menopause. I may be past that stage of my life (thank heavens) but here are the changes I have noticed (well the ones I can write publicly about).

Hair: My hair is not so much thinning as receding from my temple areas. This appears to be male hairline loss rather than female according to what I have read (yes folks, apparently some women do get male pattern baldness). There is certainly a little more hair than there used to be in the plug hole after washing it.

Skin: The skin on my lower legs has begun to take on a silver sheen. The lady who does my massage says I need to use oil and sea salt to rub off the dead skin before moisturising it. Haven't yet gotten around to doing that but must give it a try.

It is often said (despite some women having a face lift) that you can always tell the age of a women by her hands and neck. I think that is true from what I have seen. When moisturising my face, I have always done it, plus all my neck down to my chest. The reason for doing so was hearing Margaret Thatcher say she wished she had done so, as she felt her chest area showed her age.

Also, my hands, despite often putting lotion on them, are a constant battleground of dryness. It seems no matter how often they are moisturised, they still look and feel dry.

Change 5. This one has gradually crept up on us both but when we used to visit DB,s parents, we noticed they always had everything to hand, on quite a cluttered table, near to where they sat and thought “blimey, why ever do they do that?”.

Well now we know, because we too are doing so. It isn't just laziness but convenient and more practical. Part of the reason I think is we are feeling it more, constantly getting up, plus to some extent Change 6!

Change 6. Memory. We are great believers in “use it or lose it”. It is very easy to worry that you really are losing it (or have something dreadful to 'look' forward too). 

Words quite simply go walkabout between your brain and mouth. We find ourselves using the words 'thingy' or 'whatsit' more often. Worse still, your partner who is in the same state, knows what you are on about it but also can't find the correct word at that moment in time to help you! Mind you, our walking partners say the same thing, so it isn't just us.

Often, we make each other jump by saying the word out loud, quite out of the blue, as you finally remember it some minutes or often hours later. Great pride is taken in letting each other know we have remembered :o)

Another memory thing is walking out of a room to do something, such as going to put the kettle on, only to get into the kitchen and forget why you've gone in there! We have both found it helps to go back into the room you've just left and usually (but not always) the reason for leaving becomes apparent.

On occasions, we have gone to make a pot of tea and either forgotten to put the tea in the pot – not detected until you pour out clear water. Or, worse still, one time quite a few years ago, I put the tea leaves in the kettle and then wondered when I came to pour out from the tea pot, where the tea was! That took a bit of cleaning out I can tell you.

Following a line of thought is another tricky thing. We are beginning to put our hand up in front of us, especially when we are trying to remember something and the other one of us wants to mention something. Eventually, the train of thought pulls into the mouth station and connects. Unfortunately by then, the other one has forgotten what they were going to say. Hey ho! You can't help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all.

Lists are certainly becoming useful. I keep thinking I might have a little book on a chain dangling from my waist like a chatelaine! 

Ah, the joys of getting older and there are many good things as well as those more annoying ones already mentioned. We like to watch quiz shows to keep us as sharp as we can be, read, do things, keep occupied etc. As each day melds into the next, our calendar gets looked at more than it used to.  If we have forgotten to strike off a day or more, we aren't always sure what day it is until we hear the news, though I think that is more to do with not working rather than memory.

We are free to do what we want, when we want. We get braver as we get older as far as speaking our mind goes, yet we get less brave with regard to taking physical risks. We all know we can get up on a chair to look for something high up, climb a ladder, or jump a small wall. We just don't always take the risk due to that nagging voice that seems to say 'careful, you might hurt yourself'

One of the things we have both noticed, and still notice since giving up work, is the slight guilt complex when doing nothing, or very little. If I sit to read a book for more than a chapter or so, I think I shouldn't be doing it. The guilt feeling is diminishing but is still a little annoying. 

With regard to list making, daily as well as long term things. Now we understand why our parent/grand parents had days for things, such as wash day, iron day, shopping day etc. It just makes life easier. Whilst we both acknowledge why they did it, our days are not so set in concrete. We are different to our ancestors, but in others, we are very similar.

Other more personal bodily changes also take place, which are best not discussed here, except perhaps one. I was once at an open market walking past a stall, thinking about what I needed when the chap said 'cheer up'. Actually I was quite cheerful but am at that age where facial muscles relax, and the corners of your mouth turn down, so I do have more of a look of not being cheerful. Mind you, I'm not sure I want to grin inanely all the time either! Needless to say, he lost the sale he was about to make!

If you are reading this and find yourself laughing out loud, just remember, that in a few years time, when you do so, you might need to keep your legs crossed – just to be on the safe side! Oops:o)

I never thought the day would come...

It's true! I never thought the day would come, when I would have to admit, that I think I am getting old/older! So, over a couple of days, I thought I would share some of the changes taking place in our household.

Shock, horror, you may well say as I do too. I consider myself middle aged from an age point of view but feel much younger most of the time. However, of late, I have noticed some changes within myself as well as changes needing to be made around the house.

Change 1. At long last, I have given in and bought flannelette sheets for winter. The cotton ones, which are like ice this time of year, have been packed in with the summer duvet and will not see the light of day until the bed gets too warm at night for comfort. This particular change came about after reading Rhonda's blog where she too changes sheets for the winter/summer season.

There are no electric blankets in our house, mainly because I find them too uncomfortable to sleep on. I'm sure I have mentioned before, that where the bed is concerned, I am the princess and the pea! Cotton duvet covers are bad enough in winter, but now the flannelette sheets are in place, the bed is most definitely warmer. A quick blast with the hair dryer before leaping in, and its ready.

Change 2. I am beginning to get arthritis in some finger joints. I noticed something was happening with my hands a few years ago whilst making pastry. As I was rubbing the fat into the flour, some joints felt stiff (a bit like when you wake up with a dead arm in the mornings after sleeping funny). Only 2 joints are slightly affected at the moment, being occasionally uncomfortable rather than painful. They have the beginnings of a mound forming. A couple of other joints in my hands feel tight but are okay at the moment.

I most definitely cannot unscrew jars, as well as I used too, so have bought something to help. As for pulling J rings on cans, it's impossible, without the help of a J shaped pulling device.

Change 3. I used to be able to kneel to wash floors then jump back up without any problems. Whilst I can still do this, I am slower at getting up and my knees are uncomfortable if I kneel for too long. The same applies for gardening as well.

More tomorrow folks. Anyone else of an age where they too are beginning to notice changes?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Sponge pudding and spicy butter bean soup

Whilst the last batch of pasties was cooking on Saturday, I made a pudding using a basic Victoria sponge mix with a spoonful or two, of my friends Tangerine and Orange marmalade added for extra taste.

Two pears and one apple, which were all pot-marked and beginning to go soft, were then chopped and added and the whole thing baked. Being in an oblong dish meant the middle was still wobbly despite the whole thing being brown. The oven was switched off, the door propped open with a wooden spoon and it was left for 15 minutes whilst we ate our soup. That finished it off nicely, cooked without further browning. It was divided into 6 and will be enough for us for 3 puddings.


The spicy butter bean soup was delicious and will definitely be made again and again


It was very light and fragrant. Here is the original recipe and my proposed adaptation of it.

SPICED BUTTER BEAN SOUP - Packet Recipe

200g of dried butter beans soaked overnight, then cooked according to packet instruction.**
1 tsp whole cumin seeds and 1 tsp whole coriander seeds, crushed.**
2 tablespoons oil.
1 diced onion.
2 cloves of garlic, crushed.*
1 green chilli, diced.
1 leek, sliced.
1 medium - large carrot, diced.
4 rashers streaky bacon (smoked if you wish) diced.
700 ml vegetable stock using 1 1/2 cubes.* 

** My thoughts were that you could save time by exchanging the dried beans for 2 or 3 cans of butter beans, drained. However, I used dried on this occasion.
** I don't like crushed coriander seeds so we exchanged both the seeds for 1/2 tsp each of ground seeds. 
* I used 3" length of garlic in a tube. 
* Finally, we used chicken stock. 

METHOD

Drain the cooked butter beans (cooked in fresh water until done but not too mushy as they will be cooked further).

Add the whole seeds to a dry pan and when they begin to spit, add the oil. We fried the ground seeds in the oil.

Fry the onion and bacon until softened, (next time I will cook them until lightly browned but not burnt), then add the chilli and garlic for a few minutes to cook through.

Add the leek, carrot, beans and stock. Bring to the boil then simmer until the vegetables are tender - around 20 mintues. 

Liquidise when cool enough to do so or a stick blender can be used straight away.

Season with salt and pepper.  We also added some dried sage to taste.

 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Pie and pasties

Well, we had planned on having a nice walk yesterday but the weather put paid to that. By 4.00pm, we had had around 5 torrential rain showers and 6 or 7 heavy hail stone ones. Several more followed well into the evening. The garden had that all too familiar waterlogged look. The wind was blowing at a fair old pace and the skies, though briefly blue at times, were a mixture of very dark and light grey.

As the temperature was no higher than 5 Celsius all day, we decided, late afternoon, to light the wood burner. It was just ticking over nicely (though this is not so efficient as it tars up the door), so only used around 5 logs. I spent most of the day cooking and baking in the warm kitchen and by early evening, my back was complaining.

So, I mentioned on Friday, that we were going to make Scarlet's Gardener's Pie. It was made yesterday but cooked in the oven just enough to set it, rather than make the top brown and crispy as we wanted to re-warm part of it today, in the microwave. 


It was divided up and had grated cheese on top (once out of the microwave, then grilled and served with grilled tomatoes. I think the only additions we made were 3 tablespoons sage and onion stuffing mix, 1 tablespoon oats to thicken it and a large dollop of tomato puree.


It was needless to say, very nice. The aduki beans and puy lentils (that we used) had the texture of meat, whilst the chick peas added crunch. If one is a meat eater, you might well think it meat.  We plan on eating the rest with peas and onion gravy.

Whilst the oven was on I made some pork and kidney pasties. Having done my freezer audit, I came across a few thin pork slices and a small amount of diced kidney. By adding carrots, swede, onions, salt, pepper and sage to the meat, I stretched it to make 9 pasties. Here are the first 5, fresh from the oven.


More tomorrow. Have a lovely day.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Stock Take, pie and soup making

Reminded by Sue over at Our New Life in the Country, I have done a stock take of our small indoor freezer and tall outdoor one. It is something I have been meaning to do for a long while. Now the list is printed and magnet attached to the front of the fridge. Some extra lines have been added in case I make/have something new to freeze.


OUTDOOR FREEZER CONTENTS

ITEM AMOUNT ITEM AMOUNT
Sweetcorn 1 Rhubarb 4
Carrots 1 Gooseberries 2
Mushrooms 1 Apple Puree 4
Cauliflower 2 Red Stuff 5
Tomatillo sauce (2 cups worth) 3 Quince Juice 2009 1








Chicken Breasts 4



Faggots (foil boxes) 3



Sausage Flats 10



















INDOOR FREEZER CONTENTS
ITEM AMOUNT ITEM AMOUNT
Mushrooms 1 + 0.5 Fish Fingers 3 meals
Peas 1 + 0.5 Fish Cakes 2
Runner Beans 2 + 0.5



Carrots 1 Gooseberries 1
Broad Beans 0.5 Brambles 1




Blackcurrants 1
Light Christmas Puddings 4 Few Sloes 0
Sponge Puddings 2



Spotted Dick 2 Green Thai Curry Mix 1








Ham Portions 8 Chicken Breasts 3
Game Portions from J. & S. - Belly Pork for 2 1
Chicken Thighs 2 Bone In Chicken Breast 1
Chicken Wings 1 Lamb/Beef Mix 1
Bratwursts 2 in each portion 2 Pot of something 1
Trifle Cake 1 Other Cakes










































We have just done our monthly shop and it has come to half of what we would normally buy – not sure why. Anyway, if the weekly top-ups are kept to a minimum, this month should be okay. Certainly have enough meat, vegetables, beans, peas and lentils to see us through.

Overnight, I soaked enough dried goods to make a Gardener's pie courtesy of Scarlet's recipe. Some butter beans about to go out of date, have also been soaked due to finding a nice recipe inside my butter bean jar, for a lovely recipe for spicy bean soup.

Will post about them tomorrow. Have a lovely day folks.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Well...

I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever see blue skies again after such a gloomy, dull and foggy few days. This was the view from our front window around 9.00am this morning. 


Since then, the clouds have arrived but little bits of blue are still visible in places - just enough to patch a pair of Dutchman's trousers, as my mother in law used to say!

Wandered around the garden this morning taking photographs of a few brave souls still in bloom. With frost forecast for us, for the next week or so, this may be the last time I see them – sniff!

The dahlia has only just begun to flower so it will be cut off in its prime.













I have harvested the last few carrots in the raised beds, plus two leeks in readiness for a pie tomorrow. I still have some in a tub but they aren't ready - and might never be. 

The strawberries that I have raised from runners have been planted in one of the raised beds (still in their pots) to give them some protection during winter. 

Taking a handy hint from Hilde, I have also put my potted Rosemary into the greenhouse to see if it fares better than last year.I may well lose my Bay plant as last year, it was in a pot against a south facing wall. This year (completely forgetting about winter hardiness) I planted it in the garden in an exposed place. Might try putting fleece on it.

I'm off now to warm some of the soup from yesterday to have for lunch. Tea tonight will be jacket potato or wedges, bratwurst and some salad using the lettuce that I finished harvesting yesterday.

All go isn't it! 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A gloomy, gloupy kinda day... UPDATED!

First of all, welcome to my new follower hiddenhavenhomestead!

The weather is still gloomy here but the light levels are better than yesterday and at last, we can see some small streaks of cloud.We went on our walk yesterday, just the 3 of us still as E. is still recuperating from her broken leg. 

We think we may have to change our name to The Lost Walkers. This time though, we believe the map attached to the walk was incorrect. Apparently, we needed to turn left at a T junction but only came across a Y junction, where we reckoned we needed to turn right, especially as it referred to the village we were trying to walk to.

Anyhow, we duly turned left at the Y junction as instructed and carried on for another mile or so. Arriving at a village not on our map, we realised we needed to go back. Luckily we had noted several public highways leading back to where we began and took one. After coming out of this lovely wood:


the only place not shrouded in fog by the way, we were not sure whether to turn left and carry on with said route so headed back to where we had begun. After more zig zagging, 2 toilet stops, and very, very hungry and thirsty by now, we arrived back at the car 1 hour and 40 minutes later, having walked around 4 miles. All in all, a lovely walk, but the fog was thick so not a lot to see.All the above refers to the gloomy reference in my title. The gloupy bit refers to not following my instinct and listening to Paul Hollywood on how to make wet bread dough manageable by using oil rather than flour. Yeah, right Paul. The picture below shows my wet dough, plus lots of oil, some 10 minutes into kneading.


In the end, DB had to un-stick me with lots of oiled implements so I could finish this part of bread making. I'll post a photograph of said bread if and when it is finished. It may turn out well, but in future I'll stick to what I know works for me with regard to making bread. Here it is:
Finally, a sunny bit of info. As you know, we love beetroot soup. Our beetroot crop had failed as had that of a friend but she gave me her little bunch of golden beetroot. Not quite enough to make beetroot soup so I added a bit of swede and a few carrots - in keeping with the golden theme. Here they are, freshly peeled, diced and ready to go. 

Now doesn't that colour cheer you up on such a dull day.



The soup was a little pithy in places so we liquidized it and that helped. Despite being made with golden beetroot and a few extra veg, the smell and taste was almost the same. Anyway, we served it with home made bread, salt & pepper and a dash of soy sauce.


Whilst the bread was still rising and the oven on, I made a 1/2 quantity of Granola. It has just come out, had its dried fruits added and is now cooling. The kitchen is as warm as toast and smells wonderful.

 
I saved a little bread dough to make a pizza for tea, which we had with some fresh tomatoes. The base was covered with some of the beetroot soup with added tomato paste and garlic. Then a layer of pepper, ham and cheese finished it off.


 
 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A little bit of everything

Welcome to my new follower The Gardening Shoe and also a new comment leaver Hazel. Glad to see you both. Hazel, I was going to give you a really useful budget food link, but unfortunately, the blog owner Anne-Marie, has taken it off line. A shame really as it was really useful and the recipes were sheer bliss!

Anyway, not a lot happening today. About 3 weeks ago I sowed some hardy stir fry vegetables in a pot and have finally remembered to pot them on. They look a little weedy but we'll see if they survive, especially as the early part of their life will be in my little greenhouse.

Have pulled the last few bunches of runner beans off my wilting plants. Hopefully, they will be okay and not too tough. I had previously brought in my peppers, chillies and tomatoes. They are now going red so some are in the oven roasting ready to make a soup for lunch and tomorrow. It really is soup weather at the moment.

The weather here in Norfolk is damp, grey and cold so don't think my washing will dry. As we haven't got our heating on yet or the wood burner on often, it will have to take its chances in the conservatory for a few days.

The thing I have noticed about frugal laundry liquid (and using white vinegar as a conditioner) is that the clothes do not readily seem to pick up a musty smell – which is useful.

Bought a half price gammon yesterday. It has soaked overnight and will be boiled ready for tea tonight. It weighs 6lb so that will really give us lots to slice and freeze in 1/2lb bags.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Yesterday...

Well shiver me timbers, yesterday was the 1st anniversary of my blog and despite writing on the calender, I clean forgot! Ah well, shows it is not the be all and end all of my life. Forgetting about the date made me think why I write it or even started it.

When I was doing my degree, I really enjoyed writing though not necessarily the topics I sometimes had to write about! Although I still have no desire to be creative in the same way anymore, I still enjoy writing, hence the blog.

Primarily though, it is for DS and FDiL to read what we are up to, as well as other family members and friends who live away. I refuse to use twitter or face book and this is a way for us all to stay connected (when they remember to read it as being on twitter and face book, they forget about blogs:(

I also enjoy 'pootling' about in my life, learning new things, practicing being thrifty and passing on anything I think relevant.

So, to that end, here is a picture of another part of my Christmas baking. There were 24 deep mince pies before the photograph was taken but B. called round for us to go for a walk so had half of one of them for 'energy' – yeah right!



I've experimented with a new topping. Half of them have the traditional pastry topping, the other half have a frugal 'maid of honour' topping. 3oz sugar, 2oz ground almonds, 1oz ground rice, mixed spice, vanilla essence and an egg. If you don't have any almonds you can use all ground rice but it will be more crunchy.

Traditionally, this topping uses 3oz sugar, 3oz ground almonds, 1 egg and some almond essence so you can see the changes I have made.

There was a little bit of pastry left over so I made myself one tiny square of jam pasty as a treat (DB was out for the day).

Friday, 19 October 2012

Borax versus Borax Substitute

This discussion regarding using Borax or Borax substitute, seems to be appearing again on posts so thought I would share my views. Notice I say, my views, I am not trying to tell you what to do before any of you get annoyed!

There is quite a difference between these two items, both of which can be used in frugal laundry detergent.

Borax Substitute (Sodium Sesquicarbonate)

Is ideal for formulating into laundry powders for low temperature use and cold water fill machines. Its pH allows gentle grease removal especially when aided with surfactants (soap to you and me).  

Sodium Sesquicarbonate is included on the INCI list of cosmetic ingredients and is the industry standard builder for traditional bath salt formulations, treating hard water for a relaxing bath.

The product can also be incorporated safely into bath bombs and bath cubes. It is phosphate free and bio-degradable.

How does the above product compare to Borax itself, which seems to be a whole different animal, although you wouldn't think so on some of the sites I've visited this morning.

Borax (Sodium borate, Sodium tetraborate, or Disodium tetraborate)

Borax, whilst being a natural product, is non-biodegradable and can be used effectively as an herbicide and insecticide! Care should be taken whilst using it, as the powder can be toxic if ingested, gets into the eyes or through prolonged exposure on the skin. 

None of the above risks mean that you shouldn't use borax, just don't use it around food, keep it out of reach of children and pets, and make sure you rinse borax out of clothes and off surfaces before use. 

However, I do feel you need to know (and no on-line places that sell this product seem to mention it), is that Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings "May damage fertility" and "May damage the unborn child". It is for that reason that we can only generally buy Borax substitute in shops. On-line is a whole different ball game and the 'warning' label slapped on the front, is quite frankly, enough to put me off using it all the time.

I think it is really a case of 'you pays your money and makes your choice'! 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

You’ve never had it so good, but prepare for the return of rationing Part 2


The lower a family’s income, the more of its budget goes on food, and the lowest 10 per cent income earners have already felt the pinch as wages have not risen with inflation. Food affordability for this group has dropped by 20 per cent in eight years, according to government figures.

Our pensions are not keeping up with inflation and an awful lot of people find the same applies to their wages. Whilst the above statement may well be true, it is perfectly possible for most people (but not all) to eat reasonably well on a small budget, if they choose to do so

Breakfast doesn't have to be the myriad of sweet cereals that don't keep you satisfied for long. Porridge may be an old fashioned breakfast but it keeps you full for longer, mind you many people don't eat breakfast. That may well be a short sighted saving as they will just grab expensive sweet things to keep them going until you buy your lunch!

People seem to not be able to cook from scratch nor are they willing to learn. Many don't even bother to cook and instead, buy ready meals - hugely expensive things. Although I was taught to cook at school, I didn't know much and taught myself everything else from books. I certainly wasn't taught how to boil the proverbial egg! 

A filling and hot evening meal could be for example, a hearty pan of soup, served with pasta or rice one night. Some of the leftover soup can be served with large chunks of bread for another meal. Finally, the original remains can be served as is, or re-flavoured and served with potatoes and vegetables. A little meat could be added to it to make it more meaty if required.

One pan of soup, 3 or more meals (depending on pan/family size of course)

Seven years ago the cost of a typical family shopping basket of basic foodstuffs was £25.09; now similar items are £46.42. During the Second World War, when food shortages were more acute than at any time in living memory, Britain was as healthy as it has ever been.
  
I'm not sure what historical inflation price site he used but the one I use, suggested only £10 more than the first price, even so, it is still a steep price inflation. Yesterday, we made a huge bowl of stew in our largest saucepan. We used 1 onion, 2 1/4 lb of seasonal vegetables, 1 1/2 lb potatoes, 1 lb mixed meats (lamb, pork and beef), 1 tin of tomatoes, 3 stock cubes, 2 cans chickpeas, water and herbs. 

When it was nearly ready, we made 12 war time dumplings using 8 oz self raising flour, 1 heaped tsp baking powder, herbs, salt, pepper and made it into a dough with water. They were added to the stew and it was cooked in the oven for another 20 minutes turning them over halfway through.

We had 3 dumplings each with stew. A similar portion was served into a container for another night. The remainder, which by now hasn't got so much whole food in it, will give us one lot of soup with bread and the final bit will have curry paste stirred in and be served with rice. 

That one pan of stew cost us around £6.50 and will make 4 meals for 2 people. That is 81p each for the 'stew' element of the meal.
 
Thrift, organisation and the ability and knowledge to use food well were invaluable skills which might need to be retaught.

The worry is that people will be unable to reclaim that knowledge which allowed our parents and grandparents to eat adequately in hard times. There are more hard times ahead, and fears that we are now incapable of meeting the demands they will place upon us.

I believe that last part is a load of old squit as they say in Norfolk (or twaddle/rubbish elsewhere). Before the advent of the world wide web, such a statement might be true. We do today however, have access to numerous ways of obtaining such information.

I think it is more a case of 'where there's a will, there's a way'. Elements of our population seem to not have the will, therefore they won't find a way.

Here endeth my review:o)




Tuesday, 16 October 2012

You’ve never had it so good, but prepare for the return of rationing Part 1

I thought I would publish an abridged version of this report and think it through over a few days. In case you missed it (normally includes us as we don't buy daily newspapers but this was a free gift from a petrol station trying to close as we pulled up for some milk!) it was in the Sunday Express and written by Geraint Jones. The link to the full version can be found at the end of each posting.


ON July 4, 1954, almost nine years after the end of the Second World War, food rationing in Britain finally ended. The years of scraping together meals from whatever was to be found in an understocked larder were over. The next half century saw nothing short of a revolution in food production and consumption.

Now those years are being viewed as a golden age, when cheap, plentiful supplies of food flooded the market and families had unprecedented choice in their daily diet. Experts say the era of cheap food is over, probably for good, and rising prices will have profound effects on health, particularly of the least well off.



The first thing I thought when I read the title, was GOOD! Maybe now, governments with their food mountains, individuals, shops and catering establishments, who throw away excess food, might get a grip on their common-sense (assuming they have any).


Then there are the numerous programmes on TV that think people stuffing themselves until they are sick, or preparing mountains of food that you just know is going to be thrown away might just change their habitual, disgusting habits, but I doubt it.


No, I thought GOOD from the viewpoint that possibly, just possibly, 'proper' cookery and life style programmes might be made that teach how to shop diligently and understand budgeting. Maybe how to prepare food carefully and then cook it properly (and use up the left overs if there are any).


I suspect that for the poorest of families, not much has changed, but it could. You can eat far more cheaply if you buy the correct things and cook from scratch. Simple changes produce enormous reward. It is a question of a) being willing to do so in the first place. b) learning what to do if you don't know how and c) stop being lazy and making excuses and just get on with it.


The recent difficulties and soaring prices can largely be blamed on climate, with drought in the US and a heatwave in Russia combining with the wettest British summer for 100 years to send cereal production levels plummeting. Wheat yields in Britain fell 14.1 per cent this year and prices rose by 29 per cent compared with 12 months ago.

Cereal prices impact directly on other sectors, especially pig and poultry farmers who are already struggling with higher feed costs,” said Guy Gagen, National Farmers’ Union chief combinable crops adviser.



So now we know and I have to admit it hadn't occurred to me either, why the price of meat is rising quickly. Well, the above is partly responsible but increases in fuel, tax and whatever else isn't mentioned here, also contribute.


Meat consumption has dropped considerably in our household. We eat less now than we did when on our war rations. Many of my war time recipes are beginning to see the light of day once more, especially where meat is concerned.


One example I can give is this. When you have sausages, how many do you have per person? When we were on our war rations, we chose to have (to leave a little for other meats) one sausage, per person, per fortnight.


What, I hear you ask, can you do with such a small amount - well, bend back your ears and I'll tell you. That minuscule amount will produce 2 meals for each person on the week you have them. Yes, you heard me, two meals.


Meal One - for 2 people - Pigs in clover

Turn on the oven to 180 or so. Use an apple corer to and push it through 2 medium/large but not huge potatoes,  sideways in two places. Skin one sausage and use it to stuff each of these hollows. Don't force it in, any that is leftover will be added to meal 2!. Lightly oil and bake in the oven until the potato is cooked and crisp. Serve with vegetables and gravy.


Meal Two for 2 people - Toad in the hole

You will need to cook some vegetables and potatoes to go with these as they don't take long to cook.

Using the other sausage and any left over from meal one, de-skin and roll it into 4 - 6 balls (if you have a few breadcrumbs/onions etc., to add to it then you should get 6 easily!) Pour a small amount of oil into 6 parts of a 12 portion baking tray (the kind used for small cakes or mince pies), warm it in the oven. Then add a ball to 6 of the dips and roast in a 220 Celsius oven for 5 - 10 minutes. Whilst that is happening, make up some Yorkshire Pudding Batter, the recipe can be found here

After 10 minutes divide 1/2 this batter between the 6 balls and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Serve 3 each with the veg and potatoes, plus some gravy and LEAVE THE OVEN ON.

Just before you serve, put a little oil in the 6 unused tins, get it hot, then add the remaining batter. Now you also have some for a pudding. Serve them with golden/maple syrup, jam or honey poured over.

That is just two examples on how to use 2 sausages, there are many more ways to eek out meat.

I'm not here to preach or solve anyone's problems, just bringing ideas to your attention. All I would say for this first part (and probably those that follow), is this - we all need to learn how to ration what we have, whilst we still have it. That goes for everything, water, heating, fuel etc.

Know one knows what the future holds, who will have a job or how much everyday living will rise.

Do you really want to be getting further into debt and possibly lose everything you have now because you can't be bothered or one or both of you won't reign in your spending?

The full version of this post can be read at:  http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/351988/You-ve-never-had-it-so-good-but-prepare-for-the-return-of-rationing  










Monday, 15 October 2012

A visit...

Went to see DS. and FDiL. and our two grand-dogs this weekend. The weather was good but cold. As DB was still recovering from a bad back, gardening was abandoned!

We helped them strip the one wallpaper wall in their lounge ready for painting. Whilst sausages and bacon were grilling for lunch, helped S make two batches of frugal washing machine liquid and also showed her how to make frugal cleaning spray. 

We trialled it on the walls where it removed most but not all of the sticky wallpaper paste from the wall and was also used to wipe up 'occasional mistakes' from M. It smells wonderful. As they are still finishing unpacking from their move, FDiL. couldn't find her aromatherapy bottles but we did have Tea Tree so that was used on its own.

I made a large pan of vegetable and chickpea soup for us to have before we left. They have enough for another meal.

Herewith a front shot of M. on her own. I meant to get one of them both M. & S. together but kept forgetting my camera.

This one (a bit like a mug shot) of her sideways on before she shot out of frame. 

She is 15 weeks old at the moment and although the first photograph doesn't show it, she has almond shaped eyes at the moment, which reminds me a little of Sophie Ellis Baxter!
 
The drive home was interesting. Kept getting behind those blasted lorries that drive at 40 m.p.h., forming long queues where you just cannot overtake. That didn't stop those with a death wish doing so. If DB hadn't been so vigilant (2 eggs if vegetarian) and on at least two occasions, nip back in, we would have been taken out by those in high speed cars who aren't prepared to wait their turn and overtake from about 6 cars back! It was sheer madness on single carriage roads that have lots of turns in them where you just cannot see. Ignorant peasants!!

We gratefully arrived home to a very cold house. A quick change into jim jams and dressing gowns, followed by a steaming mug of hot chocolate warmed us up.

The heating was put on this morning for 1/2 an hour only as the outside temperature was 2.2 Celsius!