Sunday, March 01, 2015

May the Force Be with Me....

Sad to hear of the death of 'Mr Spock'.  Let us hope that some of the 'force' he spoke about still has power for us all.  I could do with it.

Last week has not been a good one, a mixture of depression, perhaps due mainly to my gout.  There is nothing worse than having painful feet.  OK while sitting down, but sooner or later have to stand up and move around and at times like that life doesn't seem worth living.

It's not been all bad.  Did enjoy watching 'The Best Marigold Hotel' (and I bet I've got that title wrong).  Even watched some of the repeat yesterday evening, mainly due to it having some of our best actors.

'Bake Off' was good, so was '...Sewing Bee', also other cookery progs.  Maybe I've already given them a mention. 

Decided today to take the bull by the horns and this morning have sent off my details to Contact the Elderly (re hosting tea-parties, and also volunteering to give talks on cost-cutting cookery).  At least it will give me something to plan for/think about if they are interested.

Reply to comments, am realising that perhaps I don't give enough information when I talk about some things.  Les has sent good advice, but the difficulty with me is that my freezer is full of food that was bought for my B (and that I don't like - kidney's etc). Also the freezers cost less to run when they are kept full.  I could - of course - fill boxes full of water to freeze to fill any gaps when the food supply runs down.

Another problem is that I have lost most of my sense of taste, this means I've also lost my appetite, so end up eating less anyway.

Regarding Wiltshire Farm Foods.  The ones mentioned were going to be a present from my daughter, but probably I'll ask not to have them anyway - at least until my appetite returns.  Of course they will be more expensive than home-made, but a great deal cheaper than eating something similar at a café.

Yes jane, it was John Seymour's book on self-sufficiency that I was thinking about.  We had a copy of that and I used as much of the advice as I could. As to (the other) Jane, keeping goats, myself would prefer to keep a Jersey cow, but suppose much depends on how much milk we could manage to deal with - each day.

The chemist wouldn't let me have Ibruprofen/Neurofen to help my inflamed foot as they clashed with pills I already take.  Was told paracetamol was best to take - which I do - but these don't take much of the pain away.  Just have to wait a few more days for it to subside.  It is getting better.
Am fed up with continually having to contact the doctor re things like this Sairy, so am coping with it on my own.

Last week watched a programme about supermarkets, Tesco being the one mainly talked about.  It brought to mind how much we now seem to rely on supermarkets, and the trend is to turn to the discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl - perhaps because they carry a far smaller range of each product - and of course, cheaper.

Maybe we need to change our way of cooking rather than where we shop.  Go back to the old and more traditional meals that we call 'farmhouse fare' in the UK, and 'peasant food' in other countries.
So many inexpensive ingredients can make really tasty dishes.

Here is one of my favourites.  Make the savoury version by using left-over ham or cheese sarnies, or a sweeter version using jam sarnies, and for those who want the best of both worlds, this uses both cheese AND jam.  As we also use eggs, then what seems nothing special could turn out to be quite nutritional.

Before I give the recipe, must mention eggs.  My daughter brought me some free-range large eggs from a Lancashire village where some friends kept a few hens.  Each egg was a different colour, one was blue!  Considering the size and quality, the cost £1.25 for the six was remarkably cheap.  Not only that, each egg yolk was the deepest orange, the like of which I haven't seen in decades.  Almost thinking of keeping my own hens.

The original 'Poor Knight's....' were just jam sarnies dipped in egg, so you could omit the cream cheese if you wished (or use less of it).  If you prefer you could use Nutella instead of jam, or smoked salmon with the cream cheese.  The basic idea (fried eggy bread) can have many fillings, both savoury or sweet, so a good way to use up bits and bobs.

Poor Knight's Of Windsor:  serves 2
2 - 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 fl oz (100ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (opt)
2 tblsp caster sugar
4 oz (100g) cream cheese
2 tblsp icing sugar
2 tblsp strawberry (or other) jam
4 slices slightly stale white bread
1 oz (25g) butter
Put the eggs, milk, vanilla and caster sugar into a bowl and whisk together, then pour into a wide shallow dish.
Beat the icing sugar into the cream cheese and spread this over 2 slices of the bread.  Top this with the jam, covering each with the remaining slices of bread.
Place each sandwich into the egg mixture, and leave to soak for 30 seconds, then turn over and soak the other side.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan, and when beginning to foam, put in the soaked sarnies and fry for 3 - 4 minutes on each side until golden.   Serve with extra warmed jam, using this as a sauce, if wished.

Now I really do have to deal with some chores (not that I want to, but needs must....) and am hoping, now that we have got rid of February, that the onset of spring will bring more cheer into my life. It's my own fault, I must stop feeling sorry for myself.  Life goes on and it's up to me to make it work. 

Intention is I will be blogging more often, so keep watching this space.  TTFN.


 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Week Almost Over....

With delight, as I look through the small window in front of me, I see a clump of snowdrops in bloom. These have cheered me up.  Even my gout seems less painful today. 

Have to say that Kathryn's prospective new life keeps my little grey cells working.  Her mention of sustainable energy (to keep the freezers running) has reminded me of the smallholding (very DIY) where Dick Strawbridge and family made a life.  He made a small water wheel to provide energy (elextricity?) by damming up a small stream so that it ran over the wheel before continuing on its way.  So that's another thought - buy property that has running water through it (stream, beck....).

There are of course solar panels, and wind turbines, and I see no reason why an exercise bike could not be used to generate a small amount of (storable) power.  Take it in turns to fast peddle the bike and gain free power and good health at the same time.

Do remember (was it in the 70's?) when there was an excellent book on self-sufficiency, sadly have forgotten the author).  He covered all aspects, and I learned a lot from it.  Also read three little paper-backs about living in a small cottage (was it in Wales?),  think the first was called 'Hovel in the Hills', the second (I think) was 'Garden in the Hills', and the third was a cookbook - probably got the names wrong, but again it gave loads of suggestions (that worked) on how to turn an almost derelict cottage and overgrown land (including bad weather) into something very productive.

Now then Kathryn....here's a thought.  Would Dolly be more useful for you as a working horse/cob, or as an 'eventer'?  Or could she be both? 

Pigs and sheep definitely, and don't forget chickens. If you were close enough to a main road, you could have a children's section where they could pay to see the baby animals (plus a few others such as guinea pigs and rabbits (the cage litter absolutely wonderful for digging in the soil - and you can eat rabbit),  Ever thought about goats?  Goat milk, goat's cheese.....!   Myself would LOVE to have a Jersey cow, they have such pretty faces, big eyes and long lashes..  They don't give as much milk as a Friesian, but then if for a family you won't need that much, and you would have enough left to make your own cream, butter, yogurt, cheese (hard and soft....) plus clotted cream (all of which I have made myself but from Channel Island milk delivered by the milkman). 

Thanks Cathy, for that link to 'contact-the-elderly'.  As to what I would serve Jane, I'd (already) thought of assorted sandwiches (with the crusts cut off); scones, jam, and cream; and small cakes.  I'd be in my element making all those.  Must look up the recipe for Selkirk Bannock.

If we had a good spell of weather we could have it as a 'garden party' with small tables holding 4 - 6 under sun-shades.
If my ideas would be accepted - and we have a good summer, I might buy more garden tables and sun umbrellas.

Spent much of yesterday sorting out the kitchen drawers, good thing about gout is that if I can sit down (in the kitchen) there is still a lot I can do, so it is perhaps not surprising that I'm now finding a lot of my things are not now used.  Won't get rid of all of them (charity shops) but keep what might be useful later and store them in boxes in the larder - this now having a lot of empty spaces on the shelves.  Most of the time I live on fresh fruit and vegetables, and eggs (omelettes etc).  Really MUST try and sort out the freezer to make more room.   My daughter wants to buy me a week's samples of Wilkinson Farm Foods, and I will need space to store these.   Have to say that being able to re-heat something that has been made by someone else is something I consider a treat.

After a few days of feeling depressed, am now on the up again, and this could be because there is already a slight feeling of spring in the air (thanks to the snowdrops). Weather alternates between one day very cold, the next mild, but not having had snow this winter (at least in Morecambe) we seem to have got through the cold months without too much discomfort.   It could have been a lot worse, butl do miss seeing the lovely large flakes of snow that always used to fall during the winters when I was a child.  And the snowfall last several days and lie for at least 6 weeks!  Those were the days.

Hope to be back blogging within the next few days but cannot guarantee writing anything interesting. My life seems to have got stuck in a rut at the moment.  TTFN.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One Thing After Another...

You'll never believe it, but have now got gout/arthritis in my left foot (previously it was in my right foot) and boy, does it hurt!   Am finding I can hobble around with the help of my 'wheelie-pusher', and since I realised that warmth makes it worse, have now decided to switch off the electric blanket in my bed, so although the pain eased somewhat during the night, I felt very cold.

Today have closed the bedroom window as a chill wind blows through (and over me), if I leave the bedroom door open this should help to keep the air fairly fresh until the weather warms up.  Tonight I'll be wearing a cardigan on top of my warm nightie - this worn on  top of a t-shirt.  It's pretty cold in Morecambe at the moment.

Have to say the 'foodie-flyers' that come through the door are probably the same as yours Eileen, mainly from the Pizza parlours/Doner Kebab places.  Tempting, but too expensive for what I would want (which would be pizza, chocolate brownies, and ice-cream!!!

If I was to republish my books as 'E books' Jane, I'd probably have to get permission from the BBC who first published them. At the moment am not thinking in that direction as they can be bought second-hand from Amazon (very cheaply). 

Certainly liked the 'help the aged tea party' idea Cathy,  would I have to contact the local Help the Aged to arrange this?  Our main living room is very big and would hold several small tables (each holding four people) and we also have our dining room that would hold another 8 round the dining table, the bathroom being close to both rooms and all on the ground floor, so fairly easily accessible.
Soon as I feel a bit stronger I will start making enquiries.

Well Kathryn, there will be 3 of you in your new property, so room for another horse for one of the men to ride - this could also be trained to draw a trap or trailer (to hold logs etc).  A cob is a very sturdy horse, but possibly too hefty to pull a trap.   Why not buy/make a traditional 'vardo' (gypsy caravan) that the horse could pull, it could be let out as a holiday 'van', as well as used personally.

Didn't mention keeping pigs as part of your smallholding.  Certainly worth keeping a couple so that you could have pork/bacon/ham to see you through the winter.    Think the idea is to barter one pig. Get the butcher to do the necessary (kill, cut into joints, smoke the bacon, make sausages, then he has the second pig (or most of it) in exchange for all the work.

Did anyone watch Monica Gallati (?) last night when she visited France?  One of the best cookery programmes I've seen in that series.  The French cooks (and housewives) really do take a lot of trouble using the best local ingredients and turning them into something that would be very expensive in this country and not even what we call 'posh nosh', just good peasant food that tastes absolutely wonderful.

Many years ago I was able to gather a lot of info about our ancestors Mary, especially on my mother's side..  My daughter continues to find more, so we now have quite a large family tree covering at least 10 generations (I'm in the middle).  It's more difficult the further back we go, but the Internet now keeps so many records (births, marriages, deaths etc) that it becomes easier.   Thing to remember is that if it wasn't for them (ancestors) we wouldn't be here now.  Same could be said of us and our descendants. 

The sun has now begun to shine.  I'm off into the kitchen to do the washing up (having spent the morning in bed due to my foot), and get it as tidy as possible, for who knows what tomorrow will bring.   These days it just seems as though it is one painful thing after another that makes me remember I'm still alive.  And believe me, at times like that/this I often wish I wasn't. 

Gout doesn't last more than 3 - 4 days, so by the end of the week I could be almost back to a pain-free hobble.  Something to look forward to.  

Depends on how I feel as to whether I'll be blogging over the next few days.  Just watch this space to find out.  TTFN.



 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What's Next?

Sorry for the delay in blogging.  Just when I began feeling almost normal, fell back into deep depression again. But it doesn't last, so hope today I will clamber out of the pit I keep dropping into.

After watching an episode of 'To the Manor Born', thought that it might be a splendid idea for Kathryn to follow Audrey Forbes-Hamilton and start driving a pony and trap to the various localities, especially the village shops.  Would save a lot on petrol and if B & B was an occasional money-raiser, a rid in one of those would be a real bonus to the guests.

Can't say that I found the few B & B visitors we had turned out to be hard work Jane.  Perhaps would be if a regular business, but to me it was no different to having visitors.  There is a interesting series on TV re B & B's, three (or four) residences compete against each other, trying out each other's homes.  Think called 'Three in a Bed' (or 'Four in a Bed'). 

Usually, if the breakfast is excellent, everything else (dust, lumpy beds....) is forgiven.  Myself tried to serve a good breakfast.  On the long, large sideboard in our dining room (in Leeds) there was a choice of cereals, incl. home-made muesli.  A variety of yogurts, fresh grapefruit, a bowl of dried prunes and apricots soaked in Earl Grey Tea and Brandy (a great favourite).  Also jugs of fresh orange juice (with bits in - bought from our milkman), apple juice, and milk for the cereals.

Main meal could be chosen from a menu, anything from porridge, kippers, and a full English (quality sausages, bacon, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, fried eggs, fried bread etc) or eggs as chosen (boiled, scrambled on toast, poached etc). 
Lots of extra toast (brown, white' granary) with home-made preserves (jam, lemon curd, marmalades, also honey, served with butter - or a low fat spread if that is what was desired).  Pots of tea and/or coffee.  Probably other things but have now forgotten. 

Believe in Australia that Vegemite is a favourite spread, supposed to be similar to our Marmite Pam. Both are on sale here, but so far I've not tried the Vegemite. If any reader has, which do they prefer? Or perhaps neither.  Marmite is an acquired taste and I bet there are more people who don't like it than do. 

Having a read about a village (Caton) a few miles away from Lancaster, there was a mention of it needing people to move in who could be self-employed, also that 'rural living' was not very good when it came to the facilities (probably gas and electricity).  Sounds as though a small-holding there would be cheap to buy.

Quite a lot of people resort to using gas cylinders to heat their houses and also use for cooking, but my friend Gill (who phones me each Sunday), used to live in an old Mill House that had few facilities and they bought a second-hand French stove'range (she said it was called a 'Phoebe' or this might be spelled 'Febe'), on which she cooked everything (it made the most wonderful bread).  Every fuel you could think of it would burn, she even burned their old Wellingtons in it!!!  Gill's (then) husband used to go around the farms and offer to remove fallen trees/branches then take them home in a trailer at the back of his car and cut them up to use as fuel in the 'Febe' or burn in the fireplaces in other rooms.

Our daughter and husband - who live in Ireland (Co.Mayo) - have installed a second hand and old Irish range, this also used for cooking, and again burns almost anything, one of the main fuels being peat (a lot of peat bogs around where they live), and am sure they get a lot of drift-wood from the coast when they go for walks.  It's amazing how much stuff can be collected in the countryside that makes for 'free fuel'. 

When we had an open fire in our home in Leeds, it was often kept burning by throwing on meat bones (before and after cooking), dried citrus peel, pine cones, the wax ends of tea-lights, all would burn well for quite a long time.  Occasionally would make paper 'bricks' from old newspapers, soaked in water, then left to dry, and these too would take ages to burn through.   Those were the days.

At the moment I suppose life is too easy for me, all I need to do is go to bed at night, get up, do a few chores, watch TV, then go to bed again.  Boring, boring.  What I need is a real challenge, and am finding it very difficult to find one.   Anyone got any ideas? 

That's it for today, hope to be blogging again within the next few days (if I can raise myself out of my 'fed up-ness') .  I've yet to see any spring flowers in bloom Eileen, if the weather gets warmer may take a wander round the garden. 

Apparently America is again covered with snow (at least in some of the states), so we could be getting some colder weather.  Day temperatures here are around 9C, which sound relatively high compared to the US, although it drops below freezing at night (not necessarily in Morecambe).  My preference is to stay indoors until the outside warms up.  TTFN.







Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Catchup

Days seem to go by so fast, yet not a lot gets done. Maybe one day I'll get back to normal, but am in no hurry (lazy, that's me).

Thanks for sending details of the 'budget menu' Jane.  Working on £5 per head (for approx. 50 people), that allows £250 to make the meal, and it would be wrong for me to suppose ALL this money went on paying for the ingredients, as probably the speakers were given some payment towards their expenses, or maybe a donation given to charity (as usually happens).

The cost of this  meal can vary immensely depending on whether foods that could be made were instead bought (bread rolls, yogurt...) and also whether best quality (jacket potatoes always seem far more expensive bought singly, or in packs of four, and a great deal cheaper when bought in larger packs). supermarket 'best mince' usually more expensive than from a butcher..... some canned (ready-cooked) red beans cheaper than if soaking/cooking from dried -  so each one of us could end up spending more - or less. 
Given the total menu, a good meal was had by all for a low price.  Could it have been lower?  Possibly if that is the aim, but to reduce prices and keep reducing them we need quite a bit of experience and use a fair amount of hard work. 

There were a couple of comments re how food can be made to look more if it has been shredded or whipped, and this is true.  When you think about it, a chunky vegetable soup is almost made that way (especially if shredded chicken - from a carcase - is included).  Minced meat could be classed as 'shredded/chopped', as are also onions, so with the addition of cans of chopped tomatoes and cooked red beans is another dish that fits into the 'shreddeds'.

Sometimes I serve a salad with a chilli, and keeping with the same theme I would make a coleslaw using white cabbage, carrot, and onion  - all shredded or grated - and mixed together in a salad dressing..  Possibly accompanying this with potato salad (chopped cooked potatoes with onions in a mayo dressing).

In a way 'the shreddeds', eaten with a fork, are a bit like a Chinese stir-fry eaten with chopsticks.  Can take quite a time to eat it all up, and this makes our stomach (feels full after eating for 20 minutes) believe it's eaten more than it has.  Or we could do as some people on a diet do - chew every mouthful 35 times before swallowing. 

If the Americans are now beginning to celebrate Pancake Day Pam, do they serve the European type pancakes (large and very thin) or still keep to those normally made in the US - small and thick, very similar to what we call 'drop scones' or 'Scotch Pancakes'?

Do hope your father manages to sell his house soon Kathryn, and no doubt you could start looking for your own new property, just to see what is of offer and for what price.  A lot of property these days have to wait for a 'chain' of properties to be sold before the money is freed to by a chosen one. But you can always make an offer.  Your dad has no chain so this should speed things up a bit.

As to what to grow/rear (what would sell well?).  Keep free-range hens, a variety so you get different coloured egg-shells (I like the blue ones).  If you have a field/orchard, then keep a couple or so sheep to keep the grass down (then spin their fleeces every year and have one butchered for the freezer when it is coming up to years old (a hogget).  You could also keep a few bee hives to give a supply of local honey (would sell well).

If you really fancy living in a hilly area (climate may be a bit cold for growing some veg), you might be able to spare a bed-room to take in B & B, maybe also an evening meal (or packed lunch) for visitors that are touring the area (by car, cycle, or walking). You could even include some craft tuition or pony trekking (buy another pony?).  With anything like the above, if you have alternative work, then you take in visitors only when you have free time.   Build your reputation on comfy beds (pref with an en-suite or wet-room), or barn accommodation for walkers, and plenty of good, home-cooked, home-made/grown, tasty food.  It's the last meal eaten (usually breakfast) that B & B visitors remember and will bring them back again, also pass details onto their friends.

We used to have the occasional B & B (only a handful a few times a year) when we lived in Leeds. So it wasn't a bit stressful, and they normally came when there was the annual Flower (etc) Show on our local park (about half a mile from where we lived), so as there are many annual shows in Yorks/Lancs, you could get several visitors if that is what you want.

Myself used to find that raising money in different ways (baking, preserve making, crafts, and B & B, plus demonstrations to local groups...) brought in necessary pennies, but a lot more interesting for me than doing the same thing all the time.  Just keeping the wolf from the door was enough for me.  Wasn't planning on being an entrepreneur.

Who knows, you new way of life would make a wonderful TV series when filmed from the start. Worth making a few enquiries to see if one (cable?) company is interested.

That's is for today, be back later this week....TTFN. 


;

   

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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another Lovely Day....

Looking out of the window it seems as thought spring has sprung.  They say that birds begin mating on Valentine's Day, and there are several pairs of birds visible in the garden, one pair being robins.
With wall to wall blue sky, and the temperature fairly mild  (or at least it feels like it), does that mean winter is on its way out? Let us hope so.

Thanks Les for reminding us that many pills we take should NOT be crushed/broken.  Details like this are usually mentioned on the instructions that come inside the pack, but how many of us bother to read them?  Luckily, most of my pills are very small and I tend to put all four into my mouth at the same time and wash them down with one good swill of water.  Except for one that needs eating with food.

Glad that you are finding large pills taken with a spoonful of jam/honey works well Alison, and believe that they slide down even better when taken with yogurt (less calories anyway). 

Doubt I'd be buying Asda beans Sairy as that is one store I haven't yet shopped at, although if my daughter goes, she could bring me in a couple of tins.  I used to prefer Branston Baked Beans but they seem more expensive than Heinz, and in any case my choice is now Heinz Five Beans as they seem tastier than their standard ones that we are used to.

One thing I'd like to ask readers (who have watched 'Eat Better for Less') - didn't I see Greg Wallace sampling fresh strawberries alongside a punnet of frozen ones?  Apparently the frozen ones were cheaper (could have got that wrong) and tasted even better, but I've always been under the impression that frozen strawberries collapsed to a mush when thawed.  The ones Greg ate looked exactly the same as the fresh.

A welcome/welcome back to Campfire, and also good to hear from you again Pam. Is Pancake Day celebrated in the US as it is here in the UK?  Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day) is a global Christian festival, I believe called Mardi Gras (Greasy Tuesday)N in some countries, but not sure if pancakes play a part.

Not a lot on TV to appeal to me at the moment, ended up watching two programmes (on More 4?) last night, one on the Trojan Horse, followed by one on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  Myself enjoy any programmes that deal with ancient history, so found them most interesting. 
Tonight 3 progs on at the same time (9.00pm) so will have to watch BBC1 (new series), miss Mr Selfridge, then watch the third prog (Channel 4) about life in India in the 30's, knocking it forward to watch an hour later (or is it knock it back - to Freeview 13). 
Many years ago I had a bridge partner who asked me to go on holiday with her.  She was a lot older than I was, but very young at heart and  had lived a most interesting life.  Her husband was a well-known and respected medical man/surgeon and when younger he worked in India, where they moved to Simla (c 1930) during the hot season (as the series above shows - living the life of Riley).  So it will be good to see the quality of life they had.  What she told me of her life in India was very much like the write-up of the series.

Anyway, must get on while in the mood.  Will be blogging again next week.  See you then.




 



Friday, February 13, 2015

One Man's Meat....

It's been an interesting week now that my thoughts have returned to cost-cutting (culinary level).  It is difficult to decide whether we could save more money by mums staying at home rather than working. Last night we saw the final episode of 'Eat Well for Less' and with the help of Greg and co, savings of over £100 a week was able to be made, but only because too much was spent in the first place.

The programmes have been good, and am sure have opened the eyes of many younger people with small children because today everyone seems to have fallen into that trap - you could say spider's web - that has been spun by the supermarkets..."why spend time making things yourself when we can do it for you"...sort of thing.  

Experience teaches us a lot, and sadly, we need to be about pensionable age to even remember how easy it is to home-cook meals, maybe even manage without going out to work at all.  The downside is they see friends and neighbours who all work then being able to afford more 'luxuries' (new smart-phones, holidays abroad, bigger cars....) when in my youth only the wealthy could afford these (and no mobiles in those days anyway).  Maybe we want too much, expect too much, and certainly life has improved over the last few decades before we had room-to-room central heating.  Yet, my children remember wistfully going to sleep in warm beds (with the help of a hot bath and then hot water bottles and a drink of Ovaltine), and on the plus side a lovely display of fern-shaped ice patterns on their window panes when they woke the next morning.  Almost worth a cold room to be able to see those.. 

The other day was talking to someone whose father sold coal, logs, kindling etc .  Apparently people are now getting fed up of central heating (too expensive?) and more and more are installing open fires and multfuel stoves/burners to heat their rooms.  They also find the sight (and sound) of burning fires very pleasant.    So maybe there is something to be said for the old ways.

Having said that, I really would find it a hardship without our front-loader washing machine given as part of a legacy, so no cost to us - it's now over 25 years old..., even though we don't have a tumble dryer.  Apparently dish-washers are now the norm, even with just two in the family. and you could say who needs one of those?   Maybe I live in the past too much, but it does seem to live 'comfortably' in the present we have to work harder to pay for it all - and if some of it isn't necessary???

Yes, Juliette, I agree with all you say, and in all the episodes of the above prog, the parents have been on the young side.  Growing up without the experience of how to manage on a small income, Myself feel I'd perhaps be the same if I hadn't grown up in the 'lean years' (during and after the war), thing is to keep learning, understand the why's and wherefore's.  realise that what suits one does not always suit another even if we think it does.
Yesterday there was another 'same buy' (Hovis Bread) that was disliked intensely when they didn't realise it was what they normally bought.   Just shows how our minds can lead us astray, so always worth trying different and cheaper brands.  Apparently the family loved the cheaper brand of baked beans instead of the usual top of the range bought, but I couldn't see what brand they ended up with, did anyone notice as I'd like to try them myself.

A thanks to Margie who gave quite a few details of salaries paid and cost of living etc., although I was slightly shocked to read she bought carrot 'batons'. Raw carrots keep for AGES in the fridge, but once prepared would need cooking within a few days (although I suppose could be blanched and then frozen?).  Bagged salads keep fresh only a few days, while an iceberg lettuce /Little Gem, will keep for at least a couple of weeks in the fridge (cut with a plastic knife, or tear off the leaves which prevents the cut-with-a-metal-knife part of the lettuce turning brown.

In my fridge I always have a large iceberg lettuce, a white cabbage, a large cauliflower, a head of celery,a bag of carrots, a bag of parsnips,  and a bag of small potatoes, just using some of each all of which I can use part as and when I wish - because they all keep well.  The carrots, parsnips, spuds and celery are still kept in their bags to prevent them drying out, but the bags are split to let air in as otherwise the contents would go soggy and mouldy.  Lettuce and cabbage also loosely wrapped in cling-film to prevent drying out. Just a matter of checking once a week to make sure all are kept in best condition. 

Can understand the sense of working part-time for £100 a month Kathryn because from previous comments of yours I know you don't waste money.  So your earnings enable you to have those few extras that you can enjoy.
How did you get on with your allotment last year?  Were you able to work out any savings made by growing your own other than buying?

The Occ.Therapist came yesterday to fit the frame under my bed-mattress to make it easier for me to get into bed (the mattress is normally very high), and it works very well, so when I went to bed I only managed to think up a few new names for songs before I fell fast asleep and slept right through until 7.00am. 
Apart from having a grab-rail and support rail fitted by the back door, that should be the last of the 'aids' I need, and am hoping to be able to manage by myself from then on.  Am finding sitting down for 15 minutes, then having a toddle round the house (with the help of my zimmer frame or two sticks), tends to help keep my leg muscles firming up, sit too long and it is more difficult to walk, so the more exercise I get (even though only a little at a time) the hope is I'll get back to walking more easily.

Norris has been fully charged, so as soon as we get a dry and slightly warmer day, then I'll be off down to the shopping parade to take my prescription to the pharmacy (they will deliver it for me), call in the wool shop to get more yarn to knit/crochet, and do a bit of window shopping while I'm there. 

As I write, the garage roof is being sealed (it leaked when it rained), and my neighbour is due in for our regular coffee morning in 15 or so minutes so time for me to depart.  Hope to catch up with you again some time this weekend.   All weekends are the same for me as any other day of the week, but hope that you all manage to relax from work, get out and about, and maybe even wander round the garden to see if any snowdrops/crocus have appeared.  TTFN.




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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time and Motion....

Am hoping a reader will be able to tell me the average wage-per-hour paid for full-time work, and also (perhaps more important) for part-time employment as I've always believed it can cost more to work (certainly part-time) than the savings that can be made if we stay at home and make all the things we would buy due to shortage of time.

Look at those carrot batons "no time to chop carrots" we heard a lady say.  I've checked the price of loose carrots = 75p kg.  Buy the carrots already sliced into batons and we would have to pay £1.39kg - more than double the cost.  But buying carrots loose isn't always the best buy, go for those grade 2 carrots (slightly mis-shaped and these are only 60p a kg.

Taking 1lb (500g) of carrots from the bag in my fridge, I topped and tailed these, then cut into batons and it took less than 4 minutes to do this, saving me 40p - and that's 10p a minute.    If we went out to work we would expect to work most of the time - earning how much? -  so would cutting carrots in our own kitchen (saving £6 an hour) be worth doing? At first thought maybe not, but how much of our out-work earnings stays in our purse.  We would have travel expenses, pay more for our food 'because we don't have the time to make/prepare it ourselves' plus any child-care costs.
Preparation at home usually means no further delving into our purses, so by the end of the day/week/month/year, a bit of working out should prove we can save a lot more money that we might otherwise have eared if working for an employer. 

This is - of course - assuming that we are prepared to work hard, for no pay, from home.  Any free time could go towards growing our own produce on windowsills, in the garden, in an allotment.  Maybe how life used to be lived, sadly not so much these days.

All too often I hear about harassed mums trying to make ends meet, money being paid for crèches, nurseries, pre-school etc (and what happens to the children during school holidays when mums still have to work? ).  Too tired to cook after work, so a diet of ready-meals etc.  There is a lot to be said for those good old 'Just William' and Enid Blyton days when the only tweeting was the birdsong in the trees, and thank goodness I can still remember them. 

Perhaps being nostalgic doesn't help much in this modern world.  We are all free to choose the way of life we believe suits us best and as the saying goes 'what you've never had you never miss'.  But we could give children a chance to find out how life used to be, if not for mum, at least for grandma.

Having read Margie's list of 'foodie songs' am amazed there are so many.  The only other one I thought of - and not mentioned - was 'If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake.'  Thanks also to Hazel, Eileen, and Gill for their input.
It is quite a fun game to do when in bed and sleep won't come.  Better than counting sheep.
Slept quite well last night due to expecting an early visit from a builder (repairing our garage roof) but he hasn't arrived yet, hopefully this afternoon, it has to be done before it rains (this due on Friday) otherwise another long wait.

This week is the last of the 'Eat Better for Less' so they only made three progs anyway, would have liked to have seen more on this theme.   There is to be a 'Celebrity Great British Bake Off'  that I'm looking forward to watching, Dame Edna being one of the contestants.  Let us hope I can keep from nodding off.

Didn't expect to blog today, but as I'd got myself interested in the money-per-minute that can be saved using our own efforts (in this instance chopping carrots), thought it was worth a mention. Would be interested to hear from readers about other useful money-saving ideas that might swing thoughts round to not going OUT to work, but staying at home and ending up far more relaxed and hopefully with more money staying in that purse.   It can be done.  So let's hear it from you.  TTFN.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

No Two Days the Same....

Another sleepless night for me.  Cannot understand why as I was in a good frame of mind when I went to bed at 10.00pm, but only managed to fall asleep about 5.00am the next morning.
However, I amuse myself with playing mind games while awake, the current ones being "think of five song titles that has a colour" (not difficult), or five with a girl's name (again easy), or five with a boy's name, or five with the name of a flower; or a number....  next time I will try five different forms of transport, and then five different names of towns/villages.   Am having a go at trying to find five different songs that have a food/meal mentioned in the title.  That needs more thinking about.

Of course I could try working out five different ways to serve potatoes/carrots/peas.....and I did like the idea that Cheesepare put forth - 'three different ways of serving the same meat' (including offal). This is definitely a 'cheffy' thing, and one that we would pay for the nose for if served 'three ways' when eating out.  It's certainly a good way to serve three people if we only have small portions of each of the 'three ways'.  Looks posh, but less meat overall than we might normally have served if as one cut only.

Regarding white pepper not discolouring light-coloured foods (scrambled eggs, white sauce etc).  When I was young, all we seemed to have was fine table salt and white pepper.  Nowadays salt is usually larger crystals (rock or sea salt), and black peppercorns, both in individual containers to be ground over the food either when cooking or at table. 

Thankfully, I've discovered ground white pepper sold in small pots, and have taken to using this much more often as it has a stronger flavour than the black peppercorns.   Not essential of course, but it can make a difference to the appearance of a meal (who wants black specks in a white sauce?).

Am hoping to watch the second episode of 'Eat Well....' on iPlayer, but have to say I did lose interest when the mother said she didn't have time to chop carrots, and Greg Wallace almost agreed with her as she had four children.  As did I.  
As the children in the programme were of school age, then perhaps the mother went out to work so would be short on time.   However, as Cathy mentioned 17 trips to the shops per week seemed the norm (was this for the second family shown?) something wrong somewhere. 

Despite the fact we had no automatic washing machine until the children were teenagers (and that was a twin-tub that walked across the floor the moment it started spinning), no disposable nappies when the children were small (my third child was born when the first was 2 years 11 months). am thankful that we didn't have mobile phones, TV, or computers. No central heating, baby foods were all home-made.   No time wasted texting, tweeting, and Facebooking.  Time was spent cooking from scratch (including chopping carrots!), knitting, sewing, and playing with the children.
Meals were simple and traditional, and not expensive when we made them ourselves (convenience foods at that time were almost unknown - apart from cans of baked beans and soups.

Not sure how they choose the families for the progs Margie, perhaps advertise for them?  Maybe to prove that however well educated we/they are, this can sometimes cause more problems. Today it seems we 'go with the flow' - if there are ready-meals on sale, then why not save time and buy them?  Don't look further at the contents, nutrition etc, just make things easier for ourselves. 

Today we seem to be living a life of technology, much done for us by machines, food processed etc.  No need to think for ourselves any more.  And there the danger lies.    Perhaps there should be a programme called 'Think More and Spend Less'. 

It could be said that with almost everything 'domestic', we have allowed the manufacturers to take over, and it does seem that food is the only thing we allow ourselves to get concerned about.  If at all.
Once upon a time we used to hand-knit all our sweaters, baby-clothes, socks, hats, gloves, scarves.  Some people used to even spin the wool from sheep's fleece. Now we buy the garments and no-one complains about that.

 We used to buy material and make our own dresses, suits etc, but few do that now, and if they do it is counted as almost a hobby.    Maybe home-cooking is also regarded as a hobby, an art-form, a skill.  Skills that should be brought back as a way of life, not just when we feel like doing something different.  But then, not everyone is the same.  Many are not really interested in food other than it tastes good, who makes it, what goes into it seems not that important.   Thing about a blog such as this it is food-based (or used to be), so there will be more interest, especially when we find out how easily we can save money when we put more thought into the foods we buy and the meals we then make, and if we can buy a really inexpensive ready-meal that appears to cost less than if we made it ourselves from scratch, then who would blame us if we walked up that road?

As I'm in an awkward mood today, finding fault where there really shouldn't be any, and blaming progress, it's because I preferred life how it used to be.  In many ways it was a lot harder than it is now, but far more enjoyable as we could then pat ourselves on the back when we managed to achieve the things that no-one seems bothered about today.   Quite honestly, if I could go back to those 'Little House on the Prairie' days I'd be mightily content with my lot. 

Unfortunately, I've missed almost a week of viewing the above prog. so have missed the arrival of the replacement for the Oleson daughter  (who had grown up, married and had twins).  Another young girl seems to have joined the Ingalls clan, a half-sister to some-one? It's not quite as interesting now that Laura herself has grown up, got married and is the school-teacher.  Liked it better when the Ingalls children were younger. 

Anyway, that's me for today, hoping that tonight I will manage to get a good night's sleep.  Busy tomorrow, so my next blog will probably be Thursday/Friday.  All depends on circs. 

As to those little treats Jane, have allowed myself several, but sadly - now I'm losing my sense of taste - these don't cheer me up as hoped for.  Some days better than others, so let's hope the flavours return in full strength once again.  Last time I 'went off' coffee was when I was pregnant some 60 years ago!!!

Really must finish now,  hope you all have a good day.  Norris is on charge in the hope I can grab a trip down to the shops later this week.  That'll make a change (for the better).  TTFN.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Early To Bed, Early to Rise?

Once upon a time it was normal for me to rise early (at first light in the summer months), and then write my daily blog.  This would give me the rest of the day to do all the cooking, chores, etc... (well, some of them...).

My life has changed so much that I really don't know what each day will be like. If you can imagine we are back in the old days when we had smog (that's thick fog made even thicker with trapped smoke from chimneys), and going outside we could barely see the kerb let alone dare to cross a road, well, my life seems a bit like that.  Lost in a fog, losing the way back home and ending up who knows where?  I've only once been in a real smog with that happening, and it was scary.  

So thanks Margie for your comment re the doctor who had lost his wife some months earlier.  It makes me feel a mite better to know that I thought was depression is almost certainly part of the grieving process, after all it is only just over 3 months since (but feels like an eternity). and am finding it very difficult (at times) to stop sinking back into misery.   However, as each day (month) goes by, and with spring not that far away, this will help give me more to think about, even the days lengthening (and the nights shorter - although it is still dark as I write) should make me feel better.

The Occ. Therapist came on Friday, and I've just about managed to keep control.  Our living room does not feel the same now we have taken up the rugs, but not as bad as I expected, and - thankfully - the cream carpet is NOT paler beneath where the rugs were (my one fear), so won't need to hire a carpet cleaner. 

Your mention of pills Ali has reminded me that I read a good tip about taking larger pills (that often get stuck in the throat).  Take them with a spoon of yogurt and they easily slip down, or crush the pills and take them with the yog (or a spoon of jam!).

Last week had to choose between watching the 'Eat Better for Less' prog and the 'Sewing Bee' (why does the BBC put them on at the same time?) and even choosing the 'eating' one, still managed to fall asleep, but both were repeated this weekend.  Enjoyed the Sewing Bee one, and most of the Eating one (but had a phone call towards the end so missed the important bits - it didn't seem quite as good as the first episode). Like Granny G. I find these two progs worth watching, and if I have a fairly sleepless night (not often now), I try and rest (in bed) in the early afternoon so that I will stay awake for the progs I do want to watch (or their repeats). 

I do not know why it is, but every time I wake up (day or night) I still feel there is someone in the house so I have to keep quiet in case I disturb them when I get up.   It still feels very, very strange to realise I am completely alone in the house, can stay in bed if I want to, can get up when I wish, and no one to look after except myself (and I'm not used to doing that anyway).  
Thinking back, it has a similar feel to when our last (fourth) child went to school for the first term.  The house seemed SO empty, and with B being away (most of the work he did was away from home, returning weekends), I felt so alone until time for all the children to be collected from school and tea/supper ready for them, plus games, baths, bed-time stories.... 

Had similar feeling when the children grew up and eventually left home (to be married, university or work away from home etc).  Again the empty nest feeling.   Takes time to accept this, but we usually can.  Must remember that.

Went to bed yesterday evening, early for me (10.00 - after Mr. Selfridge), and so woke at 5.00am. For me that was a good long sleep.  Stayed in bed until 5.45am, and now it is nearly 7.15am but still dark.  With any luck I can get the laundry washed, and a host of other chores done before my usual 9.00am start.   If I can keep this up then maybe I can get back into a more normal routine (like doing something instead of nothing!!!).  l

Realise that Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) should be soon, followed by Valentine's Day, and do remember once these both happening on the same day.  It was then I was doing a cookery spot on the local BBC (Leeds) TV, so I made a thicker pancake batter (as for Scotch Pancakes), pouring some of this into a large frying pan in the shape of a heart and cooking this (and more)  'live' on TV.

One of the chefs on a recent cookery prog (was it James Martin?) was bemoaning the fact that those frozen stuffed pancakes were now not on sale any more (so he showed how to make them).  They were just simple pancakes with a savoury filling (can anyone remember what?) that I believe were egg and crumbed then fried (or oven baked).  So that is something we could make to serve on pancake day.  Make the pancakes in advance, layer and freeze then we are halfway there.  Just fill with some 'leftovers' (chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce; spag bol meat sauce; canned salmon/tuna in a parsley sauce....).

Dawn is just breaking (7.20am) so by the time I've read the rest of my emails it will be light enough for me to work in the kitchen, and although always intending to write my next blog sooner rather than later, at the moment I have to keep reminding myself I have a blog that needs updating, let alone what to write about when I do.  Blame that 'smog'. 

With another week of good weather forecast, can hope this continues for some time for here at least (in Morecambe) we have yet to have any real wintery weather.  Frosts only, and cold, and compared to Canada and the US, not THAT cold.  often a few degrees below freezing at night, but can rise up to 10C during the day especially when the sun is shining.    Not sure about the rest of the country, but we do seem to get the best weather going at the moment,  although pink clouds in the morning (like today) is not always a good sign.

Today begins another week, so hope you all manage to enjoy some of it, and hopefully all of it. Myself am going to have a good try and allowing for a gap of a day (or two) now and then, hope I will find something interesting to write about.   TTFN.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Catching Up

Is it Thursday?  Have to say each day is much the same now, and tend to forgot what day it is, but they go by so quickly that it could be Monday of next week for all I know.

Am trying to blog more often, not that I have much to report, not a lot happens at the moment.  By the evening I'm tired and nod off in front of the TV missing all the programmes I had intended to watch.  If I manage to stay awake, sure enough I've nodded off in the afternoon missing the repeats of 'To the Manor Born' and 'Hi-di-Hi' that I was looking forward to.  But there is more to life than TV.

Slowly, very slowly, I'm managing to tidy up/clear out one room at a time, and they look all the better for it. Not that I've done more than two (bedroom, living room) but once tidy they won't get messed up so fast as they did when B was here - he just loved living in a mess, said it felt like home.  Not sure which way to take that!  But to me now, a tidy room doesn't feel like home any more.  Suppose every silver lining has a cloud.

Again thanks for comments re the photo.  Everyone, either a reader of this blog, or friends and neighbours... , say the photo is really lovely, yet to me I still look 'ordinary', and I look for faults like 'eyes too small' etc.   We all have different ideas of beauty.  Expect many girls are the same.  Having blonde and very straight hair (permed to make it curly), I always wanted natural curls and dark brown, pref. black hair.  No taller than 5'4" (I was 5'11"), and definitely with perfect sight (no need to wear glasses!).   Nowadays I don't really care what I look like, just want to manage to walk more easily again, and stay alive.

Three comments to reply to individually.  Regarding the bread mix Granny G.  Sometimes Tesco do 'buy two get the third (cheapest) free), so I order three and do get the third free anyway.  The price has risen recently, think it is about 79p a 500g mix now, crusty white, or brown.

When I add half more strong plain bread flour (250g) to the bread mix, I then add half the recommended amount of liquid as well.  This brings it up to around 500ml which makes it easy to measure.  The liquid I use is half milk, half water, or one third milk, two-thirds water as I find the milk makes a crumb that is softer and keeps longer.  Tastes good too.   
By adding the extra flour this makes one large and one small loaf, although I normally make mini-loaves or baps from the extra third of dough made.

Normally I make the dough using my bread machine and cold liquid (the machines warms it up) then place the dough into the bread tins and leave to rise for up to an hour before baking in the oven.  If making by hand, sift the added flour into the mix, then just make in the normal way using warmed liquid before leaving to rise (covered) in a warm place.

That Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup sounds good Margie.  A good idea to use Parmesan rinds, but have you ever tried using Stilton rinds when making Cauliflower Soup?  This gives a classic flavour, and who knows, you might be able to buy (or be given) Stilton cheese rind to add to the soup.

Never expected that new-laid eggs would be cold enough to freeze before being collected Marjorie. What would I do? (I thought).  Perhaps covering the outside of the egg-laying nests with thick polystyrene to keep out the frost and away from pecking hens, then fill the nests with straw?  But then not had the experience of the really cold weather you are getting at the moment. 

Tonight I believe it is the second episode of  'Eat Well for Less' (if that is the right name, I never do seem to remember), and am looking forward to watching it.  Will try to keep awake, but believe it is repeated at the weekend on BBC1. 

Really must try to keep awake because if I nod off during the evening, then I find I can't sleep during the night.  This happened last night and I settled down to many hours of wakefulness once settled in bed, but after a couple or so did manage to fall asleep until 5.00am.  Decided to listen to the radio (news) before I got up, this sent me back to sleep and it was 8.00am before I forced myself to get out of my warm bed.  There are times I would love to stay in a warm bed all day, but having done that recently due to my bad foot, have to say it isn't always as pleasant as it seems.     To enjoy the moment I would need a hand-maiden to fetch and carry for me, bring me treats to eat and mags to read etc.  Being on my own wasn't that much fun.

Another good day weather-wise.  The cold is still with us, but no wind or rain (or snow or sleet).  Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous (through the windows).  Soon as it warms up I will be out and about with Norris.

Am still finding I've lost my sense of taste.  My appetite has returned but don't find I gain any pleasure from eating when I find I can't even savour any of the flavours.  Do hope this doesn't last. The only thing I fancied yesterday was a long swig from a bottle of sparkling lemon and lime flavoured water, and of course found I couldn't twist off the lid.  Needs the strength of a man's hand to do that.  Or perhaps if I put the lid end of the plastic bottle in the hinge-part of the door, then closed the door to trap the lid tightly before giving it a twist, it might work.    I've found a small rubber band on the floor when I came in here this morning, that wrapped round the lid might also give it a bit of friction between hand and lid, so will give it a few more tries.  Nothing more frustrating when you can't remove a lid.

Well, perhaps one thing a bit more annoying is trying to get the medication  pills out from beneath a seal of foil.  Half the time the seal breaks and the pill shoots out and ends up somewhere on the floor (or table, or....).  I will have to get one of those little sets of drawers where the pills can be taken from their foil covers and placed in ready to be taken each day.

That's it for today, better a few words than none at all.  Occ.Therapy lady comes tomorrow to see if the things sent are suitable (not really!), so I may/may not have time to blog.  Will be back probably Saturday as although this used to be baking day, now I have no one to bake for, most of the day now left twiddling my thumbs.  TTFN.





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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts

Just a short blog as I'm at the comp anyway....
As ever, thanks for comments.  Interesting about the photo, styles and fashions change,  what seems attractive now, wasn't fifty years ago. 

Must say I enjoy watching 'Call the Midwife' for it reminds me so much of my mid twenties.  They mentioned Civil Defence in the recent episode, and I joined that in 1959 I think.   Otherwise all the clothes and hairstyles, prams and babies were exactly as they were at that time, it could have been me wearing the dresses and pushing those prams.

If you have several freezers full of food jane, then worth working through at least three of them as although frozen food does keep well, after about 6 months (sometimes 3 months) the flavour, esp if not vacuum packed, can reduce
Know what you mean about being tempted by Bogofs, and reduced price stickers.  That's why they are there - to get us to spend/buy more than we need.  Been there, done that myself.   Since doing my shopping on-line (Tesco), find I am not tempted nearly so often, and even if I have been, have allowed a day or two before delivery so that I have time to remove these items from my 'shopping basket'.  That way I succumb to temptation, but have time to realise I didn't  need things after all.

Sounds pretty cold where you are Margie, and although you do have UHT milk, there is nothing like fresh bread (especially when you haven't any).  Have you thought of buying/storing a few packs of bread mix so that you can make your own bread/rolls?  I make the bread using half milk half water and it really is very good.
Think the best meal for lunch on a cold day is a big bowl of homemade chunky soup.  My favourite being basic mixed veg (carrots, parsnips, onions, celery, potatoes) with a base of home-made chicken stock' and in the depths of winter usually add some pearl barley to give added bulk.
I do have other root veg and butternut squash, but find the 'basic' has the most wonderful flavour, especially with some added pepper and a pinch of salt.  Maybe I'm too lazy to try other combinations, but as I find the above homemade really warms and cheers, why change it?

Watched Hairy Biker Dave travelling around Egypt in a new series yesterday evening.  Partly travel, partly history of the country, partly cookery, and the latter seemed to be mainly about the different breads made in the various regions.   The Falafel looked good, as did a few other dishes, but don't think we saw much about the 'how to make'.  Expect we will have to wait for the cook-book to be published to find out,  Or maybe the recipes will be on BBC.co.uk/food?  Think it is a different cook/chef for each episode of the series.

The emphasis seemed to be that the food was very simple, few ingredients but all were very fresh and local, and it made me think that perhaps we have gone a bit too far when it comes to cooking - preparing very complicated meals when really the traditional ones still taste the best and are easiest to make with - I stress - local ingredients.  In other words choose to use what is grown/reared close by.  Even better, grow our own.

Someone the other day sent a comment asking me what I would do with my 18 eggs.  As my daughter often stays for a light lunch, almost certainly these eggs would be used for a 3-egg omelette (each), probably adding grated cheese in the centre.  If we each ate 2 of these a week, the rest might be used for baking, or alternated days maybe I'd have poached egg on beans on toast.  Or Toad in the Hole....  As you can imagine, I use loads of eggs.

Another gorgeous sunny day today, but still very cold.  Lots of clearing up for me to do, so must get on and try and roll up most of the rugs before the Occ.Therapist comes on Friday. 
Had two of the larger pieces of equipment delivered yesterday (again at the wrong door), and they are getting in the way (we don't have THAT much room in parts of my home), and my daughter nearly tripped up over one of them.   It's no good supplying me with so much that tripping on a wheel becomes more dangerous than a rug that was there in the first place.   Wish I could get better quickly so that I can return a lot of the stuff.

Expecting to be busy both tomorrow and Friday, not yet sure what part of each day, but am hoping to write a short blog before the weekend if I can find time. So watch this space... TTFN.. 



Monday, February 02, 2015

Monday Quickie...

Glad you liked the photo.  It's not often I have one worth showing as it's not unknown for a photographer to take 100 pics before one turn up worth publishing (when I was doing media worth that is).  The camera really doesn't like me.

Suppose I didn't look that bad at the time the photo was taken.  Even then didn't like it as I'd grown up with the idea I was too tall, not pretty, wore glasses most of the time, and not at all in the style of the young ladies of that time.  My best friend (who I hated!!!) was about 5ft tall and looked exactly like Margaret Lockwood (some may remember her), so the lads used to flock around her like bees round a honey pot when we were out, and I stood on the side-lines towering over her.

In a way I've always considered myself downright ugly ("what a pity you look like your father" my beautiful mother used to say - and she truly was beautiful.  And "how dreadful you have to wear glasses"....), and words like that sort of stick.  Never mind, I got the man of my dreams, and he WAS good-looking, and I've decided I wasn't THAT bad after all, so thought you'd like to take a look.

Yesterday watched the repeat of that 'Eat Better for Less' (or whatever it is called), and although Greg Wallace is quite right when he says we should eat what we buy, not store it up 'like decorations', myself do feel we should keep some food always in store ready for an emergency such as extreme weather conditions.  It's no fun going out in very cold snowy weather to buy food when there is none in the cupboard.   The Booth family did go over the top though - seems they had over £1,000 worth of food in their cupboards, so we really don't need THAT much. 

Did anyone else notice how the Booth father's voice/accent was exactly like that of the man who played Dave (Denise's husband in the Royale Family?).

Still decent weather as I look through the window. But the forecast is for very cold, so am glad I'm indoors.  Yesterday evening I was even cold in the living room, and that with the central heating on.  Perhaps there was a draught.   I've noticed that if I put my feet up on the pouffe, it seems a few degrees warmer than at ground level.

The comment from jane - re her grandson not bearing the weight of bedclothes on his painful leg - reminded me of when I fell down a small flight of stairs and broke my big toe - not the toe that usually is painful (with gout?).  Didn't go to hospital (thank's mum!), so had several weeks of similar pain when I went to bed, couldn't bear the weight of sheets on the toe, so found a small and firm cardboard box, opened up both top and bottom, then slid this over my foot, draping the sheets over the top.  This kept my foot clear of any weight (I may have put a pad in the box to support my heel), and it took 6 weeks for the toe to heal and the pain to go, but it worked. 

Have not yet heard when the various appliances are being delivered/fitted this week (or maybe later) so have to keep most of each day clear.  Could be I'll be blogging tomorrow, just have to wait and see, but certainly am improving and managing to hobble around more easily as each day comes.  Things could be a lot worse (I keep telling myself), so as long as I can keep thinking positive, then my life should improve quite rapidly.  TTFN.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Photograph



Taken around the time of our engagement in 1953

February already....

Doesn't time fly by?  With no visible snow and today seeing the sunshine, it could almost be the start of spring.  One more month and it will be.  Getting lighter each morning as I wake.

Thanks for comments, what a good idea Margie - my cow-hide rug would make a lovely pouffe, so will have a chat with B's upholstery friend to see if he can make me one from it. The other rugs are older and of no particular value, but must keep the hooked wool one I remember my mum and dad making together, it must be nearly 70 years old and despire being on various floors all that time, still looks as good as new.

Good to hear from you again Marjorie (Canada?), myself have not got around to juicing fresh fruit and veg, preferring to eat the skins when I can (extra fibre?), although do enjoy drinking fruit juice (sold in cartons).  Envy you having a good supply of (home-grown?) beef and chickens in your freezer.

My mum used to always buy capons when I was small.  Chickens then were roasted only for special occasions, and 'an old boiler' would be bought when chicken casserole/stock was to be made.  Haven't heard of capons (castrated cockerels) being sold these days, but believe they do have more flavour than a more tender hen raised for cooking.

Have a feeling Sarina, that if I do rearrange the furniture and move my 'sitting room' into here (presently the dining room), this will help me start my new life.  At the moment it feels as though B is still here, not that this is unpleasant, but I should move on without such distractions.
Regarding the brawn/haslet, I'll look up the recipes my mum used (am sure these will be in Harmsworth's Household Encyclopedia c. 1910) and do remember making brawn myself - very easy when you start with a pigs head (25p in the 70's) but found half a head was enough.

Sorry that you haven't yet found work jane, but believe you are the person who often bought from Approved Foods, so expect you still have plenty of food to keep you going.
There have been several comments about the 'Eat well for less' programme (with Greg Wallace, I believe repeated today), everyone finding it worth watching, and as Gillibob says, it's not a bad idea to work out just how much value (cost of food in store) that is on our shelves.  Have you tried that Alison?  Thinking about having a go myself.

Myself have always believed that it is possible to feed a family on less than we think, certainly if we work out how much it cost us to go OUT to work, we might find most of our pay is taken up with that (transport, clothing, processed foods etc....).  The more free time we have at home, the cheaper it becomes to feed ourselves.

Many ladies always like to wear make-up for work, have their hair done, buy decent clothes etc.  All these can be expensive.  At home we don't need make-up, we can wear old clothes (well I do), and less money then goes on these.   We might find one of the new series (mentioned above) deals with a one-person wage earner, or even a person living alone (on a pension?).

A Marmite Easter Egg!! What will they think of next?  There was something on the radio last week about this years flavour of Cadbury's Crème Eggs, and apparently these taste awful.  Well, what can we expect when the company was sold to the Americans?  They make things to suit their own palates, everything far too sweet.  That's another of our traditional sweets ruined by those over the pond.  Wish they would leave us alone.

Having forced myself to eat more (little and often) over the last couple of days, have to say I do feel a lot better, my taste is coming back, also my strength.  Think that having 3 days without eating any food, and taking only sips of water did me no good at all.  Pretty sure this was the cause of the painful foot - this is getting better now but still hurts, and I notice (via the Internet re gout that foods I should avoid are liver and oily fish - these being two foods that I thought I was SUPPOSED to eat for good health.
However, also saw that ice-packs should be put on the swollen foot to reduce inflammation, and there was me trying to warm up my bed using the electric blanket (bedroom very cold when the heating is off).  No wonder my foot hurt more as the mattress warmed up.   Now I put the poorly foot out from under the duvet, resting it on top of the duvet (in the old air) and the pain does subside.  Live and learn.

With nearly 10 day without watching TV, in the end had to request the radio (normally in the kitchen) be brought to my bedside, and this has kept me sane.  Even though missing all my favourite soaps, plus a couple of other progs, was able to see the 'eat well for less', and glad I didn't miss that, the rest I've discovered are not as important to me as I thought they were.  All I want to do is get better as soon as possible.  So much to do, and now I feel more like doing it, then strike while the iron's hot as they say.

That's it for today.  May blog tomorrow, it all depends.  At the moment it is never a certainty as to when I have free time (so many callers from various care organisations etc), but I'll be back. TTFN.






Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekend Coming Up

No sooner had I written my last blog when I discovered another batch of comments had arrived in my email while I was writing, so although I thanked only one (Ray was it?) for reminding me of sago, there were several more I discovered later.  Please believe me, I do eventually read all comments, it's just that these last few months I've not replied to each as I always hoped to do.

It's not been a good week for me.  I now think I've got gout!  Something anyway that is causing me pain in both my big toe and the arch of my foot.   Have had it before and it never last too long - on the way out now - but it confined me to bed (or bedroom for ease) for the last few days.  If it isn't one thing it is another!!!

Am still finding it incredibly difficult to come to terms with what has happened over the last six months (beginning with the steroid arthritis jab that worked brilliantly).  It is now 3 months and 2 days since my B passed away, and although sometimes it seems like yesterday, other times it seems a lot longer. 

Yesterday the Occupational Therapist came, able to get me quite a few things to help my mobility etc, but I've been told to remove all rugs from the house to prevent me tripping/falling.  Most of these rugs were placed to keep our pale cream carpets clean, and the majority are of great sentimental value.  It will seem even less like home if they are not there.  Am thinking about using this dining room (where I write on the comp) as a living room, just pushing the dining table over against a wall to leave plenty of floor space in the centre of the rooms (they are large rooms), and bringing a couple or so easy chairs in from the living room to sit and watch B's TV - this being larger than the one I normally watch in the other room.

Because I was busy, loads of people calling in, and my foot etc, I haven't been watching any TV for over a week.  Missed even my favourite soaps, Benidorm, Birds of a Feather etc.  In the end did ask for my radio to be brought in from the kitchen to the bedroom to keep me company.   Think I could almost manage without TV, but would need the radio.

Have cancelled the daily newspapers from the end of this month (tomorrow) just having the Mail on Saturday that comes with an excellent TV supplement/mag.   Getting rid of all the old newspapers has been a real problem (B used to take them to the tip), so the less waste paper the better it will be for me.

Did watch TV last night because there looked to be a good programme with Greg Wallace about reducing a families food bill, and have to say the prog was EXCELLENT.  Well worth watching on iPlayer if you haven't yet seen it. 
What was proved (more by taste testing foods where the manufacturers names had been removed) was that cheaper brands were often preferred, and what made me smile was that the man of the house didn't like the jam he was given (he thought it was a cheaper substitute) even though it was the normal brand he always bought for himself as he liked it best.  Just shows how our mind plays tricks.

The aim was to save £40 a week from their normally excessive food bill, and at the end of the week £74 had been saved.  Has to be said that they did have a lot of foods stored in their cupboards (made me feel guilty because I also store quite a lot but am now working through them), believe that added up to over £1,000s worth.  Perhaps I should work out how much my stores come to.

A few days/weeks ago there was a short comment from Frugal Queen re foods she remembered, one being brawn, the other 'hamlet'.  Think she meant to write 'haslet'.   My mother was very fond of haslet, also faggots.

With 'hamlet' making me smile, this then led my brain to try and work out other Shakespeare plays that could be almost 'foodie' such as:
Romeo and Jellyette
Taming of the Stew
Midsummer Night's Cream
Merchant of Venison
...anyone think of any others?

Cheesepare's query re grey scrambled eggs.  Don't know why they discolour unless it is that they are cooked in the microwave (we always cook ours in a pan on the hob).  It could be pepper, and myself prefer to use white ground pepper instead of black to avoid the black speckles in the cooked eggs.  

Once upon a time (at least in my youth) we seemed only to have ground white pepper and fine table salt to shake over our food.  Then black peppercorns appeared, these to be freshly ground in a special mill over the food when ready to season.   
Salt is now more likely to be large crystals (again to be ground) either sea salt or rock salt, and I have several different kinds, most of them slightly coloured from grey to pink to brown to white.  So if the eggs change colour before any seasoning is added, then it could be the way they are cooked.  Doubt it would be the eggs themselves.
Normally I just break the eggs in a bowl, pour them in a pan with a little milk (or cream) and then cook them very slowly over low heat.  Omit butter (this can go on toast).  Believe the professional way to make scrambled eggs (and the best way - I've tried it - but it does take time), is to pour the beaten eggs into a bowl, place this over a pan of hot water and cook/beat until the eggs are lightly scrambled and very creamy.

Not sure how the rest of the country has fared (esp CP in Millom who normally gets the snow).  Yesterday noticed it had begun to snow mid-afternoon, visible-sized flakes so was hoping to sit an watch it settle, but of course it didn't.  Lasted about half an hour, nothing worth seeing really, and today it is lovely and sunny,  wall to wall blue skies.  Expect it is cold outdoors, but then I'm not venturing past the back door except to throw the rubbish bags into the bins (these outside the door) and that can wait.

Not a lot of rubbish to throw out these days.  I seemed to have completely lost my appetite, and when I do eat nothing seems to have any flavour.  Even Marmite!!!!  Maybe my pills are causing this.  All I want to do is drink fluids, especially water.  Even coffee has lost its taste.   Luckily though I did eat something yesterday that I enjoyed (almond croissant that I heated in the m/w), so perhaps this has been a short term thing and I can soon get back to the pleasure of eating again. 

Steve says he has found the photo I want put up on this blog, and he will do this a.s.a.p.  Maybe he has already done it.  If not it will be soon (will keep reminding him as his 'soon' is not the same as mine).

Now that I'm managing to get back on track (but for how long?) am hoping to write regularly, but as I'm finding out, one day I'm fine, other days I'm feeling really low, so just have to take each day as it comes.  Writing does help to cheer me up - so must do more.   

With the weekend coming up,  in this country at least we need to make sure we keep warm, don't venture out unless you have to, and remember - all those larder stores we've been building up these last months are there for the eating, not 'decoration' as Greg Wallace put it. Makes sense.  TTFN.




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Back Again for a Chat

For almost the last eight years I've written my blog every day give or take a day or two off for Christmas etc.  Now, all of a sudden, with more time on my hands - as I thought - I find blogging is now not the first thing I do, with usually so much more to deal with that it doesn't get done at all.

For this I apologise, but am sure you understand that the last 3 months (4 - 5 if you include my arthritis and heart failure), have filled my life with more than I could handle.  No sooner does one thing happen and then begin to get better, another falls into my lap, and so it continues.  But I am coping and this is something I'm happy about for my one wish is not to be surrounded by 'carers' but to keep as independent as possible and never, EVER end up as 'a burden' to my family.

It is amazing how what seems like a difficulty can be sorted when thought is given to it.   I've got very good at lifting my right leg onto my high bed, followed by my left leg.  Previously I used to have to drag myself on holding onto the metal bedhead, but now all I need to do is sit on the side, turn my walking stick upside down, put my right foot into the handle-hook (using it as a stirrup) and then pull up the stick and do the same with my other leg. Easy peasy.

All of a sudden the various societies have suddenly realised I need some of their supports, so they have contacted me.  Nothing runs smoothly,  they left one important contraption at the wrong door (patio door instead of back door) but luckily phoned me to see if it had arrived, so that was sorted - at least until I went to use it and found the most useful piece they had forgotten to include, so that meant another delivery....!!!!  Anyway it was sorted.  More to come this week, don't know which day, they will phone me.  Deliveries could be between 9 - 12 or 12 - 6 so this limits me a bit when it comes to other commitments (blogging etc).  
Thursday at 9.00am the Occupational Therapist will be calling (about time!!), so hopefully I'll be able to get the necessary grab handles fitted by the steps leading from the outer doors.   Plus a few other bits and bobs.

Should be visiting the health centre to see the Diabetic nurse this coming Monday, but if the weather is bad (snow forecast) may have to postpone it as I've twisted my foot somehow (this has happened several time over my adult lifetime, it always gets better) and can only walk a few yards with sticks, a few more yards with the help of my walking frame.  OK around the house, but no good at the health centre as there are long passages to travel down and that is after crossing the large waiting room. The nurse has all the results of the tests, so maybe able to talk over the phone, or she could visit me.

Thank you for your comments, and thank to Eileen for letting you know I have been busy these last few days.  Am still busy but determined to grab a few minutes to let you know I am still here.

Was very interested in your son's budgeting plans Ray.  Wonder which he will choose, or he may do all of them. Let me know how he gets on.  Even using Jack Monroe's pricings, he could still lower the costs as she sometimes pays more for her products than I do.  On the other hand she makes some really cheap 'eats'.  Doesn't matter where we get our ideas from, all we hope to do is make the most of the little we have and for the lowest cost.

For days I've been trying to remember the grain similar to tapioca, and so thanks to Jane Hurd, I now know it is Sago, and yes, I do remember Rice Cremola.   Are any of these three products still on sale, and if so where? Have eaten a tapioca pudding-dessert a couple or so years ago at a Thai restaurant in Lancaster, served with fruit (can't remember which fruit) and I really enjoyed it.

Well, it seems we are due for some snow if the forecast is correct, probably from Thursday onwards. The Eastern states in the USA were forecast a blizzard with all transport to keep off the roads other than the essentials.  Turned out the snowfall wasn't as bad as expected - at least in N.York city, although the rest of that state might have had more, but with people and children staying away from work/school, they had a fun day today playing in the snow. 

As I've still lost my appetite, at least not wanting to eat very much when I do make something for myself, I've now managed to lose over a stone in less than 2 weeks. so feeling much lighter.  This means I've still got plenty of food in the fridge, freezers, and the larder, so no need for me to stock up. Even got plenty of UHT milk (as well as 4 pints of fresh semi-skimmed), plus bottles of orange and lemon squash, not to mention tap water (I drink mainly tap water these days). Also 18 eggs, so any adverse weather doesn't worry me. 

Not sure when I'll be blogging again this week due to the several 'callers' and equipment expected, also have laid out my paints and canvas boards ready to start painting again, and once I make a start nothing, absolutely NOTHING is allowed to interrupt me.  So once the day's callers have been and gone, I will start painting, thermos of coffee at my side.  Blogs will have to wait. 

But who knows - the muse may not strike and I will be left twiddling my fingers.  So maybe there will be a blog or two sooner than expected.  
However - Steve, who has just discovered an email I sent to him re a photo I wanted him to put on this blog (just to show you what I looked like a long time ago), has written to email me a copy to see if it is picture I meant.  It is, and so hope he will publish it as a 'fill-in' between my blogs.  Suppose you could call it a 'selfie' of B and me', 'selfies being the fashion these days I believe. So why not?  Just ignore the fact that there is over 60 years between that and any taken now.  Still feel much as I did then.  Doesn't time fly?

Hope you all manage to keep warm as the weather turns colder.  I'll be blogging again, not sure what day, but promise I will do so when I find time (I go to bed early when it is cold).  TTFN.



 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Thoughts

Wasn't intending to blog today, but after reading comments (they arrive with my normal email) on foods that are now not sold in supermarkets, am inspired to send in my own thoughts.

Doubt very much Granny G that I ever have eaten rabbit.  Many people kept rabbits in wartime, not as pets, but to supplement the diet (meat being very scarce).  B's parents used to keep rabbits, bit white ones I believe, so he had learned to enjoy eating this meat. 
I've noticed several chefs now including rabbit (and goat) in their recipes, so perhaps both will soon become a popular meat (and by doing so become more expensive). 

Do remember, as Ray mentioned, that frozen rabbit from China used to be on sale in the supermarkets, this seemed to be sold in chunks, so I would buy some and cook it in a casserole for my Beloved, still not eating any myself.  Since then he had occasionally mentioned he'd like to eat rabbit again.  I did ask the butcher if he had any, but he had only whole wild (and skinned) rabbit that he'd shot himself), and I really didn't fancy having to bother with chopping up the carcase and dealing with all those bones.

Alison mentioned grapes being bought only when ill.  My memories are of grapes that at that time (in the 60s, they all contained seeds/pips which put me off as the grapes either had to be cut in half and the seeds first removed, or eaten whole and the pips spat out.  Now most grapes it seems are seedless.  I always like the green ones and keep them in the fridge as they are lovely when chilled.

Used to make my own brawn from half a pig's head (a whole head cost 25p), but first would get the butcher to chop up the head for me prior to cooking it.  The cooked meat would always be in chunks, set in its own jelly, so the mousse you mentioned Alison would be 'speciality of the chef', and am sure would be nicer than brawn as we know it.

You have a long list of food memories Jane, but I remember each and every one.  'Quick-cook' dried peas can still be bought, these are more tender than the larger marrowfat used for making mushy peas, and I've found both type will grow into pea-shoots when a dried pea from the packet is planted into moist soil.  A few dried peas from the pack are never missed, but do grow into a lot of shoots, these can be picked as an addition to a salad (as happens today in the better restaurants), or left to grow on to flower and produce peas that can be eaten.

Yogurt too is a fairly new addition to the shopping basket, also muesli.  My B always insisted that a trifle had to have glace cherries, flaked almonds, and strips of angelica studding the cream on top, or it wasn't a proper trifle.  One year I planted an angelica and was able to candy the stem - this lasted me for ages.  So worth doing.

A lot of the food flavourings were called 'essence' in those days.  Today some are much improved and called 'extract', so always go for the latter.  More expensive, but we can use less.    At one time I used to have banana essence and rum essence, now I tend to stick with vanilla (from Madagascar) and Almond extracts, also vanilla paste.

Was it tapioca pudding we used to call 'frog spawn'?  Am sure there was another grain cooked in the same way that looked similar but can't remember its name (begins with a 'C'?).  On the tip of my tongue.  Anyone know what I mean?
When a child used to eat Corn Flakes as a breakfast cereal, also (I think) Rice Crispies, and another that I didn't like so much called 'Puffed Wheat'.  It was always porridge in the colder weather.

As to making meringues with fluffy centres.  Your suggestion of cornflour/vinegar (as when making meringues for Pavlova) is probably the best way to achieve this.  Or just cook the meringues for slightly less time, and if small, turning off the oven after the first half hour and let them finish cooking in the residual heat (do not open the oven door).  Test one, and if not firm enough, continue cooking at low heat for 15 minutes, then keep testing until as wished. 
Meringues will continue to dry out if placed in an airing cupboard or anywhere warm enough, as all they have to do is dry out rather than cook.  Making with Italian meringue (adding boiling sugar syrup to the beaten whites rather than just sugar) gives a firmer, more marshmallow texture to the centre.

Other foods that were unheard of in the 60's (at least by me) and now regularly bought (not necessarily by me) are 'quark', fromage frais, crème fraiche, pesto, salsas, curry sauces specified by name (jalfrezi, rogan josh, dopiaza, etc....).  Wild rice, udon noodles, quinoa.... the list goes on.
When it comes to fruit and veg, possibly aubergines, courgettes (all we had was marrow then), chilli peppers, sugar-snap peas/mangetout, mangoes, passion fruit......

We can buy almost anything now, but is that a good thing?  Myself feel we are spoilt for choice and it is with some relief I return to cook books that give just traditional English recipes.  Few ingredients that we should all be familiar with, still available (sadly more expensive), easy to make and the end result should have wonderful flavour.   What more do we want? 

Having asked that question, it would be good to know your thoughts.  Do you prefer traditional food, if so why (ease of making, flavour etc), or prefer to try dishes from all over the world?  Perhaps best of both worlds is the answer.
At the moment, prefer to make a meal for myself that does not need a recipe book to tell me what to do.  Perhaps familiarity gives me comfort at the moment, or maybe I'm just too lazy to be bothered.  Yet making something for someone else, I WOULD be bothered.  Just got to get used to it being only me, and am finding that hard at the moment.   Home is like a meal that is missing a vital ingredient, and it doesn't 'taste' right.

Big flakes of snow suddenly falling from the sky.  Let us hope they continue and begin to settle.  Hope to blog again tomorrow, if not, it will be soon.  Hearing from you and able to reply certainly lifts my spirits, so will try and blog more often, so watch this space....TTFN.