Archive | September, 2013

No food waste? I don’t believe you!

19 Sep

There is so much talk in the media at the moment about food waste, that I am now going to add my opinion to the many already aired out there. I have always been concerned about food waste, and, like most people I am sure, I do my best to minimise it. I first aired my views publicly some months ago when a new food waste bin system was due to start in the Windsor and Maidenhead borough. This seemed to me to be a fantastic idea; I already compost raw waste such as vegetable peelings, and at the time we also had a rabbit who was very keen on any fruit and vegetable waste. Sadly, Parsley is no longer with us. One day she just disappeared, so we assume she either set up home elsewhere or was taken by a fox.

Anyway, I digress. There was a letter in the Maidenhead Advertiser from some whinging, negative local resident who wanted to blame all food waste on the supermarkets for giving us so many offers and opportunities to buy extra food. He also could not cope with the 2, extremely small extra bins that this system would impose on residents. So I put my oar in and sent a letter in reply to his the following week, speculating in particular what he does with his fish skin and meat bones. Maybe he is a vegan with a compost heap, but not everyone is!

I have spoken to local friends who say that they cannot find a use for the food bin, as apparently they never have any waste! I keep forgetting to ask them what they do with their chicken bones for instance! (mental note to bring this up at the next social engagement!) As for my mother, she finds it too much effort to put waste in the food bin rather than the dustbin, and we almost came to blows over this discussion.

Quite apart from bones and skin, I do have other waste. And who has not found a piece of dubious-looking cheese lurking at the back of the fridge? Who has not discovered a squished chilli in the salad drawer? And as for bags of rocket and watercress – very difficult to use them up before they have turned to mush! I have been watching Jamie Oliver recently, and applaud his enthusiasm and great tips on cheap cuts of meat, and how to make the most of a roast. And yes I do all those things with left-over bread, and more! I make croutons, breadcrumbs, bread and butter pudding etc. But what would Jamie say if confronted by a bread bin containing a collection of mouldy ends of bread? Yes they could possibly go to the birds, but would feeding the birds make a good end to his programme? I do make most of my own bread, so the cost of letting bread go mouldy is pretty low.

I shall end this piece by telling you quite honestly what I found in my fridge when I tidied it out today in preparation for the weekly shop tomorrow: lots of jars of home-made jam (they are all fine if kept in the fridge); left-over squash and lentil bake, left-over macaroni cheese, left-over meat loaf (Jamie Oliver recipe), small piece of slow-roast pork (from a catering do last Saturday) – these will all comprise tonight’s dinner; small amount of mince and most of a pack of chipolatas, which both need using up (I made these into a mince mixture which will become lasagne for Jess’ dinner on Saturday); croissants and pains au chocolat (all fine for Paul’s breakfasts); frankfurters and bacon, all in date; the remaining quarter of a plum and apple crumble pie from Sunday’s dinner (fine to finish up soon); lots of cheese, and some really whiffy bits of blue cheese had to go in the food bin; lots of vegetables and salad (I had to throw away some salad leaves) – I made some soup for lunch with the vegetables which really needed using up. There were also some squashed items such as celery, which had to go. Shamefully, there was also a pack of blackcurrants which I had failed to use.

This sounds quite good really as food waste goes. However, in the shed fridge there were 3 bowls of salad left-over from Saturday’s catering do. Usually when I cater, the people are keen to take the left-overs home, but these people did not want to, and when there are big bowls of salad left, it really is difficult not to have waste.

Am I the only one who ends up with this kind of waste? I don’t think so. I wonder what I’d really see if I examined other peoples’ fridges and bins….

 

 

 

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What’s that bear doing in my wardrobe?

19 Sep

What's that bear doing in my wardrobe?

I have heard many parents complain about the state of their teenagers rooms, and how maybe they are afraid to set foot inside them. What will they find therein? Dirty cups with mould growing on them? Take-away cartons? Clothes strewn all over the floor?

In our household we are pretty free and easy about entering other peoples’ rooms; I always knock before going into Jess’ room and I always collect and return her washing – she has her own wash bag which hangs on the door. Also, I am very strict about food and drink in the bedroom. Take-aways are pretty unheard of anyway, and if she eats or drinks in her room, she usually leaves the dirty stuff on the window sill or brings it straight down. In fact, over-all she is pretty tidy and is always rearranging her room. Because she takes pride in her space, we have allowed her to paint the walls in her own choice of colours; recently she added some drawing and graphics to one wall.

The problem is my sentimentality. There are certain books from child-hood which I don’t allow her to give away or discard. ‘Oh no, you can’t get rid of Burglar Bill, Peepo, the complete set of Beatrix Potter books’….. etc etc So when she gets fed up with them, I have had to find space for them on our own book shelves.

As for the cuddly toys! Now, some are fairly vile, but most of her toys are adorable and have sentimental value. There is little ted (the first bear I ever bought her), Jess the cat (a first Christmas present when she was 2 weeks old) and Monty the giant cat cushion, which I had specially made for her 4th birthday. Most of these have found a home in her old toy box or in the bottom of the wardrobe. This is just a small selection you understand!

Sometimes I walk into our bedroom or maybe open the wardrobe (we all have these ghastly canvas wardrobes on a wooden frame which are not very capacious) to find a huge bear or even Monty the giant cat staring out at me! And I have to add that I did ask Jess if she wanted to give Monty away, but no, she did not. So after a spell of a few months at grandma and grandad’s house, he was brought back in the car one day. Okay, so his paws keep falling off and it is my job to sew them back on…..

Then there are the old school books which appear on my wardrobe shelves, piled on top of my socks and jumpers. Jess is convinced that I’d be disappointed if she threw them away!

One day big ted and Paddington appeared in my wardrobe, and did I have the heart to send them away? No I did not, but I still wonder how it is that my daughter’s room is less cluttered than the master bedroom……

Fortunately we found a good home for the doll’s house and Arabesque the rocking horse is happily living in grandma and grandad’s garage!

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Ice cream cone cakes from BBC Good Food August 2013 issue

8 Sep

Ice cream cone cakes from BBC Good Food August 2013 issue

Well the resounding analysis of these cakes is: don’t bother to make them! For a start I have renamed them ‘tumbling cakes’ as it is impossible to carry a plate of them from one room to another without them falling over and the icing going splat! You really need a special cake stand to put them on. In fact one of the cakes in the picture shows the resultant squashed icing.

I think that really this recipe is a good show piece, but actually it is not worth it. I prefer cakes that taste good. These were dry and had too much icing in order to create the ice cream cone effect. One alternative would be to pipe soft ice-cream on them and eat them straight away, or maybe use fresh cream. Even Jess found them too sweet. I personally thought that the cones tasted horrible, and Paul found them too sweet as well.

On a positive note, they could be good for a children’s tea party if you have a cake stand to prevent them from falling over, and if the children have reasonably good appetites.

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Frozen Raspberry and white choc cheesecake from BBC Good Food September 2013issue

8 Sep

Cover Recipes - Frozen Raspberry and white choc cheesecake from BBC Good Food September 2013issue

I have to confess that so far I am the only one in the family to have sampled this pudding, but as there is so much of it I am thinking of serving it up to some guests for Sunday lunch. That is the beauty of a frozen pudding.

This was wonderful and well worth making. It did take quite a lot of effort but was basically not fiddly and difficult to make. Anything which involves sieving soft fruit takes a while to make, but it is worth doing, particularly as Paul is not a great fan of raspberry or other seeds in ice-cream. The result was a smooth, sophisticated pudding which was not too rich but, despite the white chocolate, not too sweet either. I like to serve things up in a wholesome way, with no fuss, foams or drizzles, but for those who like to make their puddings into a complicated affair with drizzles and coulis, this pudding would lend itself to the show-case, restaurant style presentation.

I’d definitely make it again, but for now there is enough left for about 12 more portions!

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Summer Punch from Waitrose Magazine July 2013 issue

3 Sep

Summer Punch from Waitrose Magazine July 2013 issue

I made this punch as part of the party drink for my mother’s birthday party. Apart from the fact that I should have made some ice cubes for it, and it was not really cold enough, the punch was popular and went down well with all guests who were drinking alcohol. Paul did comment that the gin required for the recipe was at a vastly inflated price, and I am not normally a gin drinker, so I could well be saving the remains for a repeat performance next year. In fact the gin to me was quite refreshing and enjoyable, and the flavour was also toned down by the ginger beer and lemonade.

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Strawberry and Poppy Seed Cake (without the poppy seeds) from BBC Good Food June 2013 issue

3 Sep

Strawberry and Poppy Seed Cake (without the poppy seeds) from BBC Good Food June 2013 issue

I made this cake for my mother’s birthday on a glorious summer’s day. I missed out the poppy seeds as I was afraid of objections from children and did not want to spoil their enjoyment of this cake. I’d definitely make it with the poppy seeds otherwise, as they are good for texture as well as flavour.

A sponge cake with fruit in is always popular, and this one was no exception. It worked well as a birthday cake and with all the layers looked very festive. It was moist and was good for something which works as a pudding or a cake.

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Masala Chicken with Indian Salsa from Sainsburys Magazine July 2013 issue

3 Sep

Masala Chicken with Indian Salsa from Sainsburys Magazine July 2013 issue

This dish was absolutely divine! In fact writing this review somewhat belatedly makes me want to cook it again soon. It was proof that Indian food can be light, not too greasy and cloying. I usually cook with chicken thighs rather than breasts, but this worked well with breasts, as the marinade made the meat so moist. The accompanying salsa was very fresh. and modern.