Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Hi friends, sorry for the delay - had to head off for a few days with DH to see his Mum.
Today I was out with a friend - she'd asked me to give her a lift to a clinic today, to save her husband having to take more time off work. No problem at all. Then she phoned me this morning, and suggested meeting for lunch before we headed off the other 10 miles!
We have a fantastic wee lunch eaterie place called Nicaea - paninis and toasted sandwiches, as well as a few other things.
Today, I was there in time to ask for the all day breakfast - bacon, black pudding, sausage, egg, tomato, mushroom, baked beans, served with a half panini and a wee pot of tea or coffee. I very rarely take this. I don't like sausage (especially not square sausage). I won't touch black pudding. I try not to eat bacon. I don't tolerate beans too well. But, just on a very odd occasion - put all those dislikes together, and I'll really enjoy the plate!
Today was one of those days - but I was so disappointed. I'd said not to give me any black pudding - but there were 3 slices of it on my plate. There was only a really small serving of beans. Only 1/2 tomato. No mushroom. And I never got my 1/2 panini and butter.
My friend took the soup - lentil and vegetable - which looked delicious. And she got a nie buttery roll with it.
But it set me thinking - cos to go there and have a panini or whatever, you get a "garnish" of half the plate covered with salad and coleslaw.
And I was thinking, as I ate my -ish "breakfast" - I used to make loads of different kinds of salads, especially for special occasions.
And the salad that's been in my mind all afternoon was what I used to call Crunchy Salad.
Again, I'm sorry, but I can't give you quantities or measurements, or any of the nutritional breakdown.
All the ingredients are diced to about the size of a pea, or a single small niblet of sweetcorn.
Onion - white or red or shallot or spring
Peppers - sweet/bell peppers, all the colours you want!
When I first made this, I called it a 7-Veg Salad. But over the years, other things got added in, like -
anything with a crunch!
Salad dressing for this was always basic.
2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice, and always some coarse grain mustard. Plus whatever else you like in your salad dressing.
Or just use whatever you like that you buy.
Make sure you keep it in the fridge.
Give it a try - the colours are as fresh as the flavour!
It will keep for several days.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I'm really enjoying the feedback and comments I've been receiving about this "series" of blogs.
I've had some suggestions for cooking the same things but in a different way, and I've received a few recipe suggestions too.
Thanks friends - keep it coming!
I wasn't intending to blog tonight, but a couple of comments have made me stop and think.
1. Duck for a stir fry.
I love the idea, though I don't often see it within my budget.
I think I'd flash fry it first, to get the dripping from the skin. Remove the duck from the pan, and use the dripping for stir-frying the veg. Slice the duck, if needed, once it's out the pan and cooled a bit.
2. I tend to microwave the veg when it's straight from the freezer. I also like to steam my vegetables - but not from frozen. I think the freezing tends to change the consistency slightly once they're defrosted - well some of them, anyway. Rather like frozen fruit. You know how strawberries and raspberries go really mushy when you defrost them? I think broccoli and cauliflower, and some of the others, are similar, though not as extreme. So frozen goes either in the microwave or it goes right into the pan.
Or peas and corn niblets - just in a bowl covered with boiling water and left for up to 5 minutes!
Fresh cauliflower - I have to steam it! I have never yet managed to cook fresh cauli properly in the m'wave! Whereas I can cook fresh broccoli (ordinary, tender stem or purple sprouting) as easily in the m'wave as the steamer.
Btw - steaming - is in a pan on the stove with 1, 2 or sometimes even 3 steamers on top. It's a wee set of pan plus 2 steamers I got in Asda for £9.99 that I use. Then I got a second one for older son going to university, but he didn't want it. So I use both!
I did buy a small electric steamer for younger son - but he didn't want it, originally, for lack of space. I don't know where it is - there's a thought! But I don't have worktop space either, and I work pretty well the way I'm used to.
3. Different meals.
I've been cooking that way since we had children!
It annoys me when folk tell me "that's wrong" - it suited me, and sometimes it still suits me to cook 2 different meals. And I didn't have to put up with arguments and tantrums at meal times.
Some evenings I'd be cooking 4 "different" dinners. But - and it's a very big "but" - I don't know how I would have coped if all the meals were entirely different from each other. I always had 2 or 3 items in common across the 4 meals.
DH likes meat, vegetables and preferably potatoes, but he'll take rice and, at a pinch, pasta. Also tuna, eggs, cheese.
DS older was meat, potatoes, carrots or tomatoes, and he'd take a bit of broccoli because I'd cooked it. And he loved eggs, and he enjoyed tuna and sardines.
DS younger was chicken but not too much red meat, broccoli, some carrot because it was cooked, pasta, cheese. Egg whites, but no yolk. Some tuna.
Me - yes, I did consider myself occasionally - I like bits and pieces from each of those, so I could always get my dinner quite the thing.
So - although I had 4 different meals to make, there were things in common between various of us. I had fairly peaceful mealtimes. And my boys grew up able to eat some of what they didn't particularly enjoy when we were out for a meal, or visiting.
And they are still the same - though their tastes have changed dramatically, so each can eat more other stuff!
Which made it great fun last Christmas, when they were both home together. Older son made lunch one day. And younger son made dinner that same day. I only had to pitch in to help when I was asked or when I was needed!
Sorry - that went a bit off subject!
But I don't think folk should worry about everyone having to have the same thing.
At the very simplest, make a variety of veg and put it in serving dishes on the table. More especially if you are trying to have the family all sit down together for meals.
DH and I both lived through the "eat it or get it for your next meal" syndrome - which was understandable (in hindsight) given the restrictions in food and in family budgets post WW2.
But that doesn't have to happen now. And I think it's probably better to feed folk (mainly) what they like and avoid wastage.
OK - I'll get off my high horse, and my soap box, now.
I'll be on the look-out for some duck, now it's been mentioned!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Last night, I made different meals for DH and for me.
There was a tray of fresh pasta stuff that he'd brought in, and was at it's use-by. So he got that with cauliflower, celery and courgette. And I made him a tomato and onion sauce: a tsp olive oil in the pan, heated. Add 1 roughly chopped onion (any kind) and leave to cook gently. Add some seasonings (like coarse grain mustard, and garlic) while the onion is cooking. Once the onion is softened, but not too coloured, I added about 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes, some water (drained off the microwaved courgette plus some) and a good scoosh of tomato puree. After it was well cooked through, I thickened it a bit with some cornflour (?cornstarch?).
DH enjoyed his dinner!
I made myself a sort of stir fry: onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, mushroom
I started with a drop of Rapeseed oil in the small pan, and added dried oarsley and other seasoning, and roughly sliced mushrooms.
Once that was cooked a bit, I decanted the mushrooms, reheated the pan and added the roughly chopped onion. After a few minutes I added seasonings (including coarse grain mustard). While that was cooking, I microwaved some broccoli florets. Then I chopped them and some cauliflower florets (I made enough for both of us when I cooked for DH) and tossed them into the pan with the onion - and added the mushrooms and a big handful of frozen peas. I reheated some sliced cooked chicken breast in the wee pan with what was left of the mushroom cooking liquid.
And I have to say - I enjoyed my dinner too!
I'll maybe have a chance to get to Costco on Friday. I've already written my shopping list, and I've included chicken breasts and a half salmon. I can get those cooked and frozen, or frozen raw, in usable quantities.
And I've almost run out of fresh veg - can you believe it!!!! I've got no leeks, a couple of really old onions (heading to where I don't necessarily want to peel them), 1 bell pepper, 1 courgette, half a dozen mushrooms, no carrots, no cucumber. So my shopping list started with veg and fruit! And I've even started a small side list of "NOTs" - I don't need mustard, or paprika!
Mince (ground beef) cooked with onion, mushroom and tinned chopped tomato; boiled potato and carrot, steamed courgette (zucchini), microwaved frozen broccoli, left overs of last night's cauliflower, and some fresh (sell-by) asparagus.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
It's late - nearly 1.00am.
But I was watching a TV programme - part 1 of a series I haven't actually seen! It's called "Misbehaving Mums-to-be".
There were 3 pregnant women featured - 1smoking, 1 drinking alcohol, and 1 obese and eating badly.
The last of the 3 - her favourite meal just now is pies, chips and gravy.
Chips - read "French Fries".
And it occurred to me that one of my favourite meals, used to be chips. cheese and gravy! But I haven't had that in over a year - maybe more than 2 years!
I still sometimes have chips - but at home where I can control the cooking and what I have them with.
Tonight - I didn't even make anything with potato.
We had Tuna Pasta Bake.
I cooked the pasta in vegetable stock.
Drained a small can of tuna (what I'd call a 7 oz can).
Cut up some tomatoes, chopped some salad onions, diced some yellow bell pepper, microwaved some broccoli florets, then chopped them down.
Put some of the pasta in an ovenproof dish. Then scattered on the tomato, onion, pepper. Then the tuna and the broccoli. Then another layer of pasta.
Mixed some eggs with cream (I didn't have enough milk left, and the cream really needs used up) and seasonings.
Pour over the pasta and stuff and put in a medium oven.
I check it every 15 to 20 minutes. The egg round the outer edges cooks more quickly, so I like to move things around a bit and let the still-liquid egg get out to the edges.
Near the end of cooking - grate some cheese over the top. By the time it has melted nicely, the egg will have finished setting!
I know this isn't quite what the title says - but there's tomato, onion, garlic (only in my seasoning tonight, but usually through the dish), pepper, broccoli.
Which makes it quite vegetable-y as far as I'm concerned. Especially when it was just for 2 of us!
For more folk - a bigger oven dish, another tin of tuna, other vegetables - red and green peppers, courgette, mushroom, a small amount of celery, some peas, sweetcorn, whatever.
And maybe a wee bitty more pasta - or have garlic bread with it, and some green salad.
Please let me know if you try it, how it turns out.
And as always - let me know of any other ideas.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Tonight I made one of DH's favourites for him - my version of Ratatouille.
It's not something I'll eat, normally, as one veg I can't cope with is aubergine (eggplant).
But DH likes it so much, he started buying in cans of it! I hadn't been making it for him, as he "always" wants his veg separate on his plate, not in a mixture! OK - major breakdown in communication
I've never followed a recipe, as such, but my version includes:
can of chopped tomatoes - or passata and whatever fresh tomatoes are too soft to eat otherwise
Roughly dice onion and out into a pan with a tiny drop (maybe about 1 tsp) olive oil. Start cooking, and add some garlic (chopped, lazy, powder, whatever) and some yellow mustard seeds. Cook gently till the onion is beginning to soften.
Add in roughly chopped bell pepper. I usually use yellow or orange, just to add a different colour. Cook for about 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, and water if needed (I use water from swilling out the can). Bring back tot he boil. Add any seasonings, stock cubes, tabasco, whatever, and cook for a minute.
Add roughly chopped courgette, and cook for another 3 minutes.
Then add the roughly chopped aubergine.
Bring back to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally (cos it might be starting to stick on the bottom of the pan, depending what you've added). Cook for 5 - 10 minutes, till the aubergine is nicely soft.
I sometimes leave out the seed bits of the courgette and aubergine, just use the "outside" parts of the slices for chopping.
I don't honestly know if this makes any difference as I don't taste it! If I'm not too sure about the flavour, I'll get DH to taste it and add whatever else he thinks necessary, then give it another 5 mins or so simmering.
This makes quite a big panful!
Tonight, DH had a good dose of it with his dinner. Then he's away for a couple of days from tomorrow. The leftovers will go into the fridge tonight and will either be part of his dinner on Sunday, or will get more finely chopped and added into his lunchtime soup for next week.
This is a great "recipe" for using up left-overs, too.
So many different vegetables can just get tossed in.
EG, tonight, my fresh stuff was all tossed into a pan of left-over tomato sauce that I made for DH last night to have with some sort of German stuffed pasta. The sauce was based on canned chopped tomatoes with chopped onions, chopped leeks, seasonings, and a cube of frozen spinach.
There was a cup of 2 left over, so it was added to tonight's ratatouille, seeing it was so similar!
I don't usually like to make left overs that then leave me with more left overs - but DH is a bit different, especially when he's eating soup for lunch 5 days a week.
I just hope that habit continues (for his health) when he retires at the end of next month!
Please remember - these are just my own thoughts and what I make. It's not official to SP. And I enjoy both comments and suggestions.
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