One Left ?

Tomorrow, hopefully I get my first pay it forward item in the post to Mrs L…not having many more takers and having rather too many things on the go (my garden is a building site and I want to hold a 50th birthday barbeque in it in August for Husband), my second pay it forward, since noone has yet commented is donation of some spare needles and wool to a charity in sheffield that is trying to assist alcoholics byknitting therapy…

My third and final pay it forward may be the fact I have offered to knit Coraline’s star jumper for the Welsh Goddess (5ft 11 of vavavooom !), so if anyone else was wanting something handmade and for free then they have until just before she emails me back to put their bid in….waiting for your comment…I do make very good cakes and the knitting is ok check out Being Frank

These are not the biscuits you are looking for…

Apologies, have been watching rather a lot of Star Wars recently. Spider’s cousin is mad about it and he came back from visiting her obsessing about something he hadn’t seen before…

I am on a quest at the moment. A quest to find the Anzac biscuits of my childhood because following the recipe which I finally remembered to ask Mum for does not create the biscuit I remember…I suspect that she doesn’t follow the recipe as printed, but I’m not sure what she does that is different.

Ingredients

2 cups oats

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 tbs golden syrup

2 tablespoons boiling water

1 tsb bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

Method

Mix oats, sugar, flour and melted butter, then the syrup and lastly soda dissolved in water. Drop by the spoonful on a cold greased oven sheet and bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes

I suspect that Mum melts the butter and the syrup together before adding, which I was actually tempted to do when I made my batch earlier today, certainly I think the mixture needs to be sticker so that the biscuits spread the way the ones in my memory are…Will see later when they have cooled whether they are as chewy in the middle and as good with a glass of milk.

Anzac Day

Today is Anzac day. I had hoped to post up a recipe for the best biscuit ever to mark the occasion, but the keeper of our version of the recipe is my Mum and I forgot to get it off her yesterday, so when its a more sociable time in the morning I will give her a ring…today is the perfect day for cooking with children as its wet and miserable up here in the middle of england…more later !

Didn’t get around to calling Mum, or any cooking, decided to “hang spring cleaning” as it were, we went out and had fun, and appear to have joined the national trust as a “joint birthday present to ourselves”…planning to make the most out of it now for the next 12 months

Paying it Forward – Part II

Made a start this evening on something for the lovely Mrs Lacer, the first and so far only person to comment on the Paying it Forward thread…I have something else lined up that I am just dying to make for someone…although I may end up doing it for Wingnut as a replacement birthday present as I unfortunately, er passed it on. payed it forward with the present I had made for her…oops ! She should have come to visit us, somethings just don’t keep, and don’t freeze well either !

Delia’s Egg, Chorizo and Pepper Gratin for the ill prepared.

I am not sure if this recipe means that I am well prepared or ill prepared. This was the final recipe from chapter 1 (other than the eggs benedict) and can be found here.

When I decided to make it I did not have fresh peppers, onions, tomatoes, Gruyere cheese or even gratin dishes however I did have most of the ingredients in the freezer plus a fairly elderly garlic clove.

So last night’s dinner was sort of an homage to Delia’s “How to Cook” and her “How to Cheat” as I used frozen onions and peppers which I defrosted first and then strained off a lot of the water. The tomatoes came from a jar labelled “sun dried tomatoes in oil with chili” and I added half a tin of chopped tomatoes towards the end of the frying bit of the cooking as I was a little concerned that it would be too small a dish for 2 people.

Once I’d completed the frying stage I divided the mixture into 2 and spread each part across the glass lid of a casserole dish which I was using as stand in gratin dishes, placed ready sliced emmental over the top and baked in the oven for 15 minutes before serving with some half baked French bread I found lurking in a cupboard.

Admittedly it’s probably not as good as the original as only the eggs were fresh, but I think it has potential as a “supper dish”, especially if I can do it from store cupboard standbys – mine was a little over cooked I think as at the last minute Husband nipped out to the shop in order to comply with the final instructions in the recipe “serve with a robust red”.

Where has all the money gone?

Tesco it would seem to judge from their reported profits…

Money is much on my mind today. I am off at lunchtime to talk to the bank manager or one of his/her “minions”, I have been summoned for the annual review of the overdraft limit – usually this appears to be an attempt to persuade me to take out products and other such stuff, who knows what’s going to happen in these restricted times !

Tomorrow’s budget is also making me a little nervous. Whitehall departments are due to be slashed and required to make efficiencies. As an employee of an Agency I have learned over the years that when your sponsoring body has its budget cut then the chances are they pass the cut on to all the Agencies associated with the departments work.

In the 8 or so years I have worked for my current employers I have seen the “roll” fall from 20,000 employees to, I can’t remember whether it is 14,000 or 11,000. Its only about 2 years ago if that since we were last required to make efficiencies of some 25% across the board – and you can tinker around with the stationery supplies as much as you like, but it’s a universal truth that when an organisation needs to make “efficiencies” its in the staff “roll” that you can have most effect…so just remember tomorrow when the chancellor starts talking about “efficiencies” in Whitehall departments he mostly means job cuts.

Public sector pay and pensions? Most public sector workers put up with pay that does not in anyway compare with private sector equivalents because the pension provisions are respectable and relatively stable. The rank and file of us do not have large pensions, it’s done on a % of your final salary depending on the number of years you stay with the organisation – there may be some at the top who do get what the government describe as “large public sector pensions”, but its not them that tend to suffer with the cut backs, they just move on to another high profile job…

I think tonight I feel the need to bake…either that or a G&T…perhaps both!

An Omelette and a glass of wine (Chapter 2)

No, I haven’t suddenly gone all Elizabeth David on you, I have simply reached chapter 2 of Delia, and can’t at the moment face writing about chapter 1, besides am waiting for chapter 3 of Delia before I tackle the Eggs Benedict in chapter 1.


Anyway I have for most of this week been making omelettes. I started with the Spanish omelette or tortilla as that was closest to my usual omelette cooking (the infamous “hope omelette” made out of the leftovers in the fridge – as in “I hope this tastes ok”). The other reason for making this first is that we have some potatoes starting to chit!


This is probably not something I would do often as you have to keep coming back to it. I prefer cooking that is either over and done in 10 minutes or something you can leave in the oven and ignore – with this you have to slowly sweat the thinly sliced onions and potatoes for 20 minutes or so before mixing with the eggs and cooking slowly again for another 25 minutes, and then leave it to stand for 5 minutes – it was surprisingly nice for such simple ingredients – although next time I will sweat the onion mixture for longer.


Second night and it was back to the start of the chapter for a standard omelette – after reading and ignoring several pages about how to choose the perfect omelette pan (we have one, its non stick, it works, end of discussion). I have never made this sort of omelette before,(mine are more like pancake calzone), but they are surprisingly quick, surprisingly simple – not sure why people make such a fuss about them.  After making the standard recipe you can then add what you like to them – Delia has half a page of alternatives, which I am not going to do at this point, otherwise my family will be in revolt – I just made a plain one for me and a cheese one for Husband. There’s not a lot else to say about them except that yes Delia is spot on here with her method.


Tonight was a cheese souffle omelette for Husband and a mushroom frittata for me – the mushroom frittata wasn’t brilliantly successful as I halved the quantities (original serves 4) and I just used big field mushrooms rather than a mixture oh and red leicester rather than gruyere as that’s what we had in. The souffle omelette ? Was that a hit ? Question ? “how is it ?”, Husband’s answer (note, always ask people how the food it whilst they have something in their mouths, then all they can do is smile and nod) “It’s on-erful…”…when he’d recovered he did say that it “ticks every box for me”

So after Chapter 2 I would say there are 2 recipes that may become regulars, the souffle and a Tortilla…possibly won’t do the french omelette too often, its ok, but omelettes in this house are often a way of using up left overs so will stick with the “hope omelette”.

Passing it on – Paying it forward

A couple of years ago I drove from Chester to Cannock and back again simply to ensure that my husbands 80 year old Auntie got to meet her great- niece and the Australian great niece her great-auntie.

On the journey back we got talking, and I was explaining that it was no big deal for me and that it was in keeping with my philosophy of life of “passing it on” and just generally “being nice” – because its great to be  nice to people, do things for people without expecting anything in return – why ? Because in the past I have been a happy recipient of such generosity from complete strangers.

L replied “oh yeah, pass it forward”.

I hadn’t known that there was a “movement” for this, and to be honest I prefer the FGM version of “practicing random acts of kindness”.

Anyway, having myself just been the happy recipient of a random act of kindness from Jane, whose surname and address I don’t know so I can’t thank her, it’s kind of timely to join in with the handmade “Paying it Forward” as described on Padmade and here on Beaky.

The idea is that the first 3 people to comment on this post receive something handmade (it will probably be something knitted unless you request food, as knitting is easier to post) from me, the condition of taking part is that you then do something similar – if you don’t have a blog then I guess you just pass 3 things on to random friends and the line then stops there, unless you explain to your friends what they are doing and they choose to do the same !

The Auntie I mentioned before died a year later, so I am pleased that I was able to play a small part in putting smiles on people’s faces and making something happen that otherwise probably would never have occurred.

Bring a roman to work day ?

Still here. Might do a proper post tonight on chapter one of Delia, may even be doing some proper cooking by the end of the week as its Anzac Day on the 25th April.

This morning started off with thunder and lightening and just as we left the house the heavens opened…as I left my parents to go to work Spider insisted that I took one of his playmobil romans to work to protect me.

As I type (checking the overnight emails and deciding what to do for the day) this little 7cm man with a trident is watching over me – I feel protected but by Spider not this piece of plastic.

Also discovered at work someone had left me 2 envelopes full of seeds for the garden, flowers and veges…wonder how you do an Abba themed cake as such a random act of kindness like that deserves something special in return !

I Cheated

 I have flicked a few pages ahead in Delia – to be honest I was getting a bit bored of boiling eggs – and I know I can boil an egg (I am after all the inventor of the egg sandwich diet)… what I can’t do successfully is fry an egg.

Not being able to fry an egg isn’t a big hardship in this house as apart from the occasional fried egg sandwich or a plate of egg and chips (best with champagne !) we don’t eat them – I could therefore I guess claim lack of practice for my ineptitude, but no, I am just useless at frying eggs.

 Anyway, for last night’s tea we had all the ingredients for corn beef hash, so I decided to try and beat the frying voodoo – second attempt I should add, as I’d made both this and the Chorizo hash at Christmas when I’d first thought of “doing Delia”.

 Well, to cut a long story short, last night was not to be the night the hex was removed. Things were going well at the onion frying stage, I missed out the potato cooking as we already had 300g of cold potatoes in the fridge (fully cooked though), deciding to be a tidy cook I was putting the top back down on our very cheap bottle of rapeseed oil, when pushing slightly too hard the flimsy plastic bottle collapsed, shot off the surface spilling oil all over the surface, all over the floor and all over me.

Top Tip – don’t wear dry clean only skirt when cooking, make an effort and iron something else so that it’s not your only spare piece of clean clothing…aprons can’t protect you from everything.

After cleaning up the mess, I finished the hash, followed Delia’s instructions to the letter and still managed to make a mess of the fried eggs!

Moral of this story: Don’t try to cheat, the gods will always find you out and punish you in one way or the other…the good news is that oil does wash out of fry clean skirts with the assistance of Johnson’s baby shampoo…now I just have to find a way of ironing the creases out of the skirt without burning the material…