Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

My Photo
Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Returning To A Topic I Try To Avoid...

We are probably seeing something that is new to the present population of the World but it's a natural progression of how the Earth and nature will pan out.

I can appreciate that where possible the Human Race does make an impact on our planet and so we should try and manage our resources more carefully as once they are used up, that's it!

But long before the Human Race appeared, the Earth was hotter than it is now and various cycles had to happen to help create the environment that we know now.

All through this planet's history species have died out and become extinct or had to adapt naturally or by choice to try and survive. The Human Race is no different.

We can prolong our time here but turning off a few lights and doing a few other power related energy saving things will make little if any difference in the end.

Much of the carbon problem is caused by nature itself, I heard a very interesting programme on the BBC about how trees and the first Forrest's had an effect on the environment, I have heard others and you realise this is nothing new in what is happening.

And some recent articles(In respected magazines)show that in the great scheme of things events will take place that we can have no chance of reversing, at best we can delay what the future holds. And what scientists suggest will happen, I have thought and said for decades without any training in scientific matters as many Sci-Fi authors have in books and films over the years.

Ten Ways The World Will End

Sun's Protective 'Bubble' Is Shrinking

Moving The Earth: A Planetary Survival Guide

Saturday, October 25, 2008

As The Economy Takes A Downturn...

I don't suppose it does any harm to take a look at your budget and try to reduce your expenditure. Many newspapers come up with articles suggesting how this can be done and often they are impractical. Some of the tips in the following article seem that way to me but there are some worth considering, it's not so bad if you can adapt the tips to suit your own individual or family situation.

One I have been considering for some time even if I just do it once to say "That I Can!" and yet I don't want to go to the expense of buying a machine to do it and then have it sit there unused, is to make my own bread.

In general it seems easy to do but time consuming but the recipe in the article below(Tip 11)I think I could just possibly get away with it...and with my interest in cooking and food in general, I may just give it a try. When I am unsure. I have to do some shopping later today so who knows maybe I'll do it this weekend. I have some flour so all I need is some yeast. It would also appear that I do not require a tin to put the dough but I suppose I could consider purchasing one.

If any of you decide to follow any of the tips...good luck!

20 ways to save your money and health

Why stop there, you may wish to consider making your own soups, it's easy and again I am thinking of having a go myself...there are many sites on the net where you can find such a variety of recipes. But you may like to look at the three simple one's mentioned in the link below.

Soup is so cheap and tasty and easily found in the local supermarket it would be understandable just to pick a few cans off the shelves but there may be some pride if you can say "I made that!" And you know what is in the bowl. You also can control the salt and sugar content. And add various ingredients that may not be in the soups offered in the shops thus putting your own personality on the meal.

Soup up your immune system

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stating The Obvious...

Is it such a bad thing?

If it costs the consumer a lot of money and they being parted from it with ease because the public is gullible...perhaps...but if it helps the consumer make the right choice and improve their health, then I'm all for it. In general this seems a reasonably good plan to follow, you could carry a list of foods and their ratings around with you to check agaianst but it's so easy I doubt you need to do that.

It's a fair bet if you are having a varied diet and you have no medical reasons why you are unable to eat certain foods that we all know that eating fruit, vegetables, lean meat and fish you will get all the nutrients and minerals that your body needs to keep as healthy as possible.

Unfortunately, even if do all the right things, things still go wrong so then you can only say that you tried, that you ate such a diet because you enjoyed the experiences. That possibly it stopped other conditions arising or getting worse.

So a story has broken in the British press which I have read in at least two national newspapers The Sun and The Daily Mail. There is a new system being adopted by some supermarkets in the USA(more are likely to take it up I suspect as it gains more publicity)

It's said that it allows the consumer to not have to consider looking at the ingredients and information panels on the packaging of food when you are buying it and cut through a lot of the un-necessary stuff that by law the manufacturer has to put on the product.

It works on a points principle so if it says 100 that means it's very good for you and if it's not so good the number may be 10.

Even then all it's really saying is do not eat this often. Even good food if you never varied what you eat would probably not be advisable.

The newspaper articles give examples of the foods already categorised but the actual website of the company behind the research shows all the foods that have been given a rating and make it clear that more are to follow.

But basically, the rules are try and eat fresh food that is as natural as it possible can be. It seems as good as any set of rules of how to choose what to eat.

The more I read about food, I find without being obsessed about it or staying healthy I am doing all the right things without thinking about it and I doubt that I can do any more.

The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is It Really Almost A Fortnight Since My Last Entry?

Yes, I guess that it is.

Oh much has happened in the world over that time. We have a world wide economic recession going on and many other stories that are serious and affecting many but you can find all that you need to know in your media and access to various sites on the Internet.

That's probably why my blog is not controversial and sticks to my interests and hobbies.

So what has been going on in the last 10-14 days since I last posted on here?

Very little...so don't expect some Earth shattering thoughts here...

I had another appointment with my Consultant and treatment is much as before(with another attempt to reduce my steroids still further)this has to be gradual and slow and though they play an important part in my care, the medical professionals prefer to get you off these very strong drugs as soon as possible but they have to weigh up the positives and negatives, the wrong decision could see you having to take them again.

Grumpy and moody I am not, it's not my nature but Prednisone is know to have the side effect of mood swings. With me it can(occasionally)cause me to lose my temper(and be "over the top" but it lasts seconds, I know I am doing it and it stops as quickly as it starts)As the treatment reduces this does become less of a problem. I have to be on the drugs for many months before this side effect shows itself.

I have noticed this past few weeks things have improved on this score. Don't think it happens all the time and often. You can go days or weeks before it happens and after such an incident, you can go as long again.

To be honest, after my trip to the hospital I was more concerned to get back to some normality and that means popping into the hospital's restaurant where I had my usual lunch of baked beans and chips(French Fries)half a bread bun and followed by a mug of tea.

Now, usually, I'd book a taxi and come straight home but with Mum's support we decided whilst there, very close to the hospital are two supermarkets. My fridge/freezer and cupboards are well stocked but a couple of years ago we purchased a mop that you can attach sponge heads to and you pop in a bottle of liquid cleaner. By squeezing a button on the handle it spurts out the liquid and you can clean the kitchen vinyl tiles and/or the porch area at the front of the house.

Unfortunately, the supermarket in my own town stopped stocking the mops, liquid refills and mop heads so making the mop obsolete. I got into my head that just possibly one of these supermarkets might have supplies in stock.

Lucky for me the one I chose to look inside had everything and that included the mop. So I bought double the amount of supplies that I usually do so that should keep us going. I did read in the local free sheet of my town that another customer of the supermarket in my town has found that he can no longer get replacement parts for a mop that he had purchased and his solution was to buy a new mop altogether and get rid of his original system. Makes you wonder how many others have been let down. It's not as if it's an unknown brand.

My attempts and continued interest in cooking continues and mostly it's successful but I did try what I hoped would be an interesting and new meal last Sunday and I followed a recipe that looked promising and was disappointed. It was a casserole type dish. Using a variety of vegetables. Chicken Breasts coated in flour and fried in Olive Oil and then placed in the oven where I added a chicken stock cube and stout ale(in particular Guinness)something I have never drunk in my life.

Unfortunately, the liquid measurements given were too much and all I did was swamp the meal so the vegetable were soggy and absorbed the Guinness so much that they tasted of beer and it dominated the meal altogether and did not taste very good at all.

Later on thanks to a very good friend(I was advised)where I had gone wrong and it would appear I had done most of the recipe correctly and it was the amount of liquid to blame as much as anything. So I may give it another try sometime but at least you learn from your mistakes along the way. So if I have posted the recipe on my blog, proceed with caution and reduce how much liquid you put into this recipe. You probably could get away with using less of both or drop one or the other. I also proved to myself that I can make a kind of home made batter so another skill learnt.

Of late, getting around has been more of a trouble again, thanks to painful knee joints and one in particular slipping and you can sometimes hear it clunk as you attempt to rise when getting out of a chair so it's quite loud. Also, it is making sleeping difficult as you cannot manage to get into a comfortable position in bed. The only answer being painkillers or remarkably getting out of bed. But when you want to sleep and are tired that is not the solution you want. My eyes are giving me some trouble which could again be part of the condition or the treatment I am on.

Moving on to today. It's horrible out there with the likelihood of rain but there is a strong wind possibly increasing to gale force and whipping the leaves off the trees as we head for Autumn/fall. It seemed strong enough battling against it already and we did get blown about a fair bit. You can see the town's retail centre from the Dr's surgery so we're talking a few hundred yards and we like to try a little exercise but we took the option of phoning for a taxi(which I reckon when we actually were driven from the surgery to town took no more than 30 seconds)and cost £2.50(US $4.01902/Eur 3.13763)That may seem extravagant but it makes all the difference when mobility is impaired. I have been known to have a bag full of shopping, be at the bottom of the street where I live and order a taxi home rather than struggle.

For all that the gardener arrived and tidied everything up this afternoon(that sounds terribly grand)it's not but I can no longer do this task that I used to enjoy. Perhaps this is the last time for this year. It cannot be for much longer as this weekend we really start to head towards Winter and the cold dark nights as we put the clocks back.

Earlier, I accompanied Mum to her appointment at the Dr's for her regular check up and she is a little unsteady on her feet so there's me supporting myself on my walking cane but then both of us supporting each other. The good thing was that her blood pressure was correct this time.

Whilst waiting for the prescription to be made up at the pharmacy, I managed to get a little shopping in(bread, my computer magazine)and to save some time I managed to buy for lunch a baked bean and sausage melt and from the fish shop a portion of "proper" chips. I say proper in that when we cook chips at home as good as they are we tend to use oven chips and there is still something about the taste traditionally prepared chips.

We found one taxi waiting so we could avoid phoning for one or having to wait and managed to get home safely.

Upon getting home we found that the refuse collection had been completed(Both recycled and normal household collection)

After warming the chips and melt in the oven followed by a mug of coffee we felt that everything had gone well and smoothly. It's great when it all comes together. Even the mail arrived after getting home.

And now I am trying to take the rest of the day easy...

How the simple things of life can mean so much and how happy I am to be pleased by so little.

I'm away to plan my evening meal in my mind...

Again, simple and easy I think. Unusually, though we tend to eat fish on Tuesdays and Fridays...tonight it will be fish...cod, I think, and for the first time for me I am thinking of making a parsley sauce for the fish, mashed potato and I have some spinach to use up. The other night I added some cheese sauce to broccoli and cauliflower florets(the fish was haddock)

It's not that I am always looking for complicated dishes to cook but variety as much as anything.

Update:I did a very simple meal as promised but though cod is usually a nice fish...and this same food manufacturer does a lovely haddock fillet, the cod was a disappointment and I will not be buying it again. It was cooked as per the directions and the dates were fine but the fish was not.

I have some interesting stories I have found across the Internet(food and science based in the past fortnight)that I think are worth posting links to so watch out for them soon. I hope that you'll agree.

Some of my friends have already been pointed in their direction. They are interesting but if you think about what they are saying it's common sense and in many cases stating the obvious. Only because research has been carried out just maybe they will carry some weight.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lyrics Or Music?

I am not sure I can give you any answers.

But when you listen to music...what is most important to you? The music, the lyrics or both?

I ask because recently the famous song writer Don Black was paid a tribute for his length of involvement in the business and for writing so many well known songs over many decades. And deservedly so.

And when you hear any of them, they are so familiar.

It turns out however from the information I heard or read somewhere, that he writes the lyrics and the music is composed by whoever he has collaborated with. That doesn't take anything away from his skills of fitting words to a melody. And it may be that he can write music but prefers to write the words.

Now obviously lyrics have to be special and music and lyrics should compliment each other.

But without the melody, the words are to some extent when on their own a poem. So should it not be the case that the composer should be given as much recognition as the wordsmith? Possibly more?

Of course if the composer writes both the music and lyrics that gets around the problem.

If a song is played as an instrumental are you able to listen to it without the words running through your mind? What must it be like to be able to write a piece of music and arrange all the parts and how they come together, sometimes it's fun to try and listen to what is going on behind the vocals. What must it be like to be able to pick up a musical instrument and start to play.

I can at least appreciate the art and craft of the lyricist and composer and happily though my voice is no longer what it was, I have been blessed with a good ear and can tell when something is being sung pitch perfect.

Don Black

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Those Bulbs Again...

The report may be flawed and newspapers can cherry pick(maybe we all do)to make our point and support our beliefs. After all it's been said for years that you can skew statistics so they'll say what you wish them to.

But once again questions are being asked about the suitability of the new energy saving light bulbs that are being forced upon us to save the environment as the traditional light bulbs are being phased out.

Taking your choice away.

Once again questions are raised about how you dispose of them(they contain mercury)the same problems are coming to light(no pun intended)regarding the effects on the health of the population having to use them from the point of view of the effect on eyesight and possible causes of headaches and migraine and now the possibility in some case of skin cancer. Though who would sit as close as an inch to a light bulb for hours is questionable.

But most studies that scientists carry out on any subject always look at all eventualities even the most extreme and unlikely scenarios that probably would not happen. Just as when you buy a product say like a packet of salted peanuts it will probably state(in case the company is sued)"May contain nuts!"

It's understandable if you are buying a food product not normally connected to nuts and they warn that the production process or factory may have had nuts in the area of the building that may contaminate some food unconnected with nuts and therefore put someone with a dislike or allergy against nuts becoming seriously ill but not when they are the very product you would avoid and there are in big letters across the packet saying "Nuts!" and pictures of what's inside(which may help those who have difficulty reading)because they are unable to or are in another country and cannot read or write in that language.

I wonder if any statistics or information exists about whether all or how many countries across the world are adopting or plan to switch to the new low energy light bulbs in the coming years?

As I said earlier I had 4 of the new light bulbs sent to me by our supplier of gas(and in the article above)someone comments that they received 8 bulbs from the same company(wonder why we only received 4)and the one's we received were of the lowest wattage possible when if as we are told they are a much dimmer softer light we really could do with them being of a higher wattage to try and give us the equivalent of the traditional light bulb and 40 and 60 watt in the new light bulbs may be far too low.

I probably should try out the bulbs(How can I judge if I have not tried them myself)but do you know that so far I have had no inclination to and that maybe shows a blinkered attitude.

Perhaps I'll try one over the weekend. And see what the fuss is about. I have been chosen and I forgot to add this by the local authority at random(they say)to fulfill a Government directive that I answer an energy survey regarding how energy efficient my home is.

Considering it's a local authority house and that they installed over the last 10 years or so double glazing, cavity wall insulation, heating system and so...that should be known already. Why ask me and one set of questions is stupid in that it asks if any of these ideas were installed within the last 18 months...no it was done earlier than that and if you say no it makes it look as though the improvements have not been done as there is no space to add extra information but if you say yes that is wrong too.

Also they ask in the survey do you have any energy saving light bulbs installed. What will they do/say if I say no...as if I find I hate them I will avoid installing any for as long as possible. I am tired of these silly surveys.

I am not saying that climate change is not happening or sticking my head in the sand trying to ignore that the Earth may be going through changes. But it always has gone through cycles. What happened in the past has resulted in the diversity of plant and life forms that exist on the Earth as we know it and has equally resulted in the extinction of various lifeforms over the millions of years the Earth has existed.

And whilst it's understandable we want to preserve our species as long as we can, it is not our right to believe that Humans will inhabit the Earth forever. And from what scientists know of the universe one day the Earth will be destroyed whatever "We" do. At best we can extend how long we exist on the Earth. And it's also likely other life forms will dominate the planet as probably was the case before Humans were part of the scene.

The energy-saving light bulbs that could leave you red-faced

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Almost An Expensive Day...

Posted by Picasa

The best laid plans rarely work out that way...

I awoke to a dull, grey, wet, cold day and so my planned day of tasks started later than planned. But I went over to the Dr's surgery and put my prescription in for my drugs which I hope will be ready for collection in a couple of days time. The queue for the flu jab was very small...not sure it could really be called a queue.

I was in the surgery at 10.50am and already finished by 11am.

I called in at the local shopping centre and on the off chance called in the charity shop and found another book in the series by the well known TV cookery star Delia Smith in great condition and again with a big saving(it was cheaper than the book I purchased a week ago)so in the series of three I now have book one and three. Lets hope book two surfaces. But I am especially pleased with another book that gives recipes for different dishes using the humble potato and I can see me really going to town with this particular book. Plenty of recipe ideas now but probably not enough time to cook everything :-)

I went for my shopping at the supermarket and then home(the best bit)I was out a little too long.

On a day like this, the exploration of the new Co-operative Store will have to wait.

I managed to get my odds and sods to make my pantry store of essentials more complete and some items that I may hang onto for Christmas such as a jar of Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest and Brandy. I replaced some items that are now out of date and were not totally used after opening such as tomato puree(this time I purchased a tube rather than a jar)and I also found a tube of garlic puree, some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, various oils for frying and the usual things like soup, baked beans, bread and milk. Fruit, vegetables and salad stuff. Fresh fish.
When there is only one of you or at best two the worst thing is having to try and use some items up within the time they allow once it is opened. Yesterday, I had to throw out almost a full jar of Tomato puree and today a jar of shredded Beetroot.

A simple meal tonight...Salmon fillets, mashed potato and peas.

So why a photo of my mobile phone at the start of my blog entry?

Everything was packed for me at the check out by the person who usually goes out of her way to help and is very pleasant. Unfortunately, when putting the bags into my shopping trolley she moved my jacket a bit to quickly and out the pocket went my mobile phone crashing to the floor. Not a floor with carpet but a hard floor. Luckily, it fell flat and the back hit the floor. I checked it out and found no cracks or dents in the case(I don't believe there is any)maybe I should have another look to be sure.

It's still working as I managed to order my taxi so I think we've got off lightly but I wasn't very happy. I'm not one for causing bother or making un-necessary claims against companies or people but if it had stopped working(and I hope it doesn't suddenly happen later on)I wonder where I would've stood regarding getting it fixed/compensation?

Well, I'll make certain next time the pocket is zipped up or I have it on my person.

Up on returning home the dreaded gas bill was waiting for me and with the recent horror stories about utility prices going up in the economic climate(I was ready for an expensive bill)it's not cheap and still expensive. We've not had the central heating on as much as usual but being ready for a bill of £200+ for the quarter, I was amazed to find it came in at around £86. More than a pleasant surprise but I suspect the really expensive bill will be the electric bill, as you need electric power to drive the pump that moves the water around the system to the radiators and of course the electric keeps the computer, TV, lights, cooker etc...running.

But if that arrives too and the telephone bill which it will...we'll be left alone until 2009.

Much as I hate the new energy saving light bulbs we are being forced to use and the traditional one's are being phased out, I purchased some today on the buy one, get one free offer. They are the best energy saving rated type and were only £1 each(US$1.75274/Euro1.28620)with the free one's thrown in that made them only 50p each(US$0.875971/Euro 0.642965)

The free pack of four, sent as a gesture of good will by British Gas were the equivelant of 60Watt and 40Watt bulbs. I managed to get a couple which offer the equivalent of 100Watt(again the free one's from British Gas were not that bright)I also found some that resemble a candle and fit my bedside lamp. Unfortunetely I use 60watt and these are 40watt but at 50p(and only buying two)if they are no good or too dull I won't feel cheated.

And I still plan to buy a stockpile of the older traditional types before they are phased out. Climate change or no climate change.

And as for me? I'm about to try and have a rest as it's been a long day...My eyes are starting to close.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nothing Much To Report...

Posted by Picasa

But that has to be good...right?

I have an appointment with my consultant next week and to hear how I am.

I had an extra blood test last week and so far as I have heard nothing since I hope(assume)that the results are the same as before or improved to their previous reading(the reason I was told to have the extra test in the first place)unless I am told otherwise next week.

I have another to be taken next Tuesday and that probably is more important with the hospital appointment happening two days later.

I hope that my weight is still being maintained or slightly down.

I am a funny old shape due to the steroids and the effects of the drugs I am on.

I was never an Adonis with a six pack but physically not unpleasant to look at. I never had a beer belly or suffered from middle age spread but since becoming ill ten years ago(yes, it's that long)I have stretch and other marks, a wobbly tummy and even if I manage to lose the weight that saggy look will remain. It's probably all helped cause the dreaded hernia. I would not go out of my way to show myself off.

My eyes are not as good as they were and that too has probably been caused by the drugs I am on but it's weighing up whether it's better to still be here or somewhere else. And for now(I may change my mind)I can still stay positive and say at least I am still around. You are a long time dead.

Today is one of those days where I am having difficulty waking up...It's 4pm in the afternoon and I have yet to eat anything...but may have a bowl of soup in the next few minutes and an earlier evening meal...but later.

Something simple, I think...possibly a mixed grill(maybe the traditional English Breakfast)but at night...that's mushrooms, egg, fried cabbage, potato, tomato, fried bread, sausages(and anything else I can find)

Tomorrow...I will attempt to do some of the weekly tasks that require taking care of.

I have discovered that the annual Flu Vaccinations are taking place at the local Dr's Surgery again, it seems to come around earlier every year. As a person with kidney problems I fall into a category where I am advised as to being vulnerable so am entitled to a free flu jab. It's a walk in clinic so as it become busier and there is a possibility of a shortage of vaccinations available most years, I'll get my annual shot.

I'll get my weekly shop in(there's not too much to buy)with the cupboards and fridge/freezer being reasonably full...It will be what I call odds and sods. Perhaps soup, baked beans, condiments, spices etc...to try and build up my utility store in the pantry of ingredients that need to be added to meals as they cook.

We have the main shopping area and then in various parts of the town little areas where maybe a handful of what you might call local shops are for people living close by to get those things that you run out of. And the local Co-operative has just spent something like £170,000 on a face lift and revamped it's interior. I have been in that store perhaps five times in 50 years. I might just make the effort and pop in and see what I can find for a change. Instead of the usual big supermarket I usually shop. But as I live near the main shopping centre is that surprising? I may, time will tell. I have been known to change my mind.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Town Progress Report...

The local free sheet for my town has a number of stories regarding where we are going and a local councillor is asking which of the remaining tasks left unfulfilled by the dissolving of the Borough Council(which is only 6 months away)should be given priority?

Going by the local free sheet it leads with that sculpture again that is known as the "Aycliffe Head" and again had pictures of how it is coming on and with children from local schools being brought o look at it and it is said that doubters are being won onside and that it is being well received...it has not won me over as yet and at a time where our council(who commissioned it)is being wound down, I still see it as a waste of public money.

In a smaller column someone who is involved in the retail area of the town has written a report as to when/if/who may be taking over the vacated supermarket retail unit and again the original retailer is still being linked to it but what we could do with is another food retailer and to perhaps counteract expensive foods being sold in the new supermarket I think the townsfolk would've welcomed another food outlet of a nationwide chain or a store that sells good quality food at discounted prices especially as we have the downturn in the economy and families are struggling with an ever decreasing disposable income.

I was thinking that an alternative idea for the retail unit could be a larger frozen foods retailer offering a larger choice of product even though this would mean competition for our one frozen foods retailer on the town. That retailer should've put in for it and transferred. Our current freezer shop is pretty small for a town this size. I had a flyer come through the door today and the freezer shop featured offered high quality food and also well known brands at prices much less than I am paying at present which would be welcomed by families and to be honest single people on a limited budget.

And if you do not own your own fridge/freezer and want to make a decision on what you buy/eat at the time you shop, you can treat such a shop as your own personal fridge/freezer without owning one.

Instead, we have the likelihood of a store selling household goods and do it yourself goods which are already available in at least two stores and both of these stores are in so close to this empty retail unit, they'll just be diluting the money available. If they are not careful, a retailer may arrive and the other two may disappear.

They seem to suggest this will happen soon in the New Year as they also suggest that our library will be relocated to it's new temporary home.

At present there is a survey being carried out to determine where all the drains, pipes and electrical systems are that carry all the essential services around the retail area and that is said to take up to 4 weeks to complete.

And a while back I mentioned that one block of what was shops and offices is to be demolished to make way for a more up to date set of shops and to be closed in so it's like a shopping mall and retailers already in that block have been told that they have to move out or find new premises(which will be difficult as all spare retail units have now been taken)

The last one to secure a spare unit moves soon...but when Mum was talking to someone who works there, she was told that this block that is coming down is not due for demolition for five years! So if that is true the revamp of our town is not exactly being rushed. And I haven't seen that in any press release.

Good to see them thinking so far ahead(I am being cynical of course)

It will be interesting to see if this is the final stage of the town's re-invention of itself as it would mean that most of the work will have been carried out, if this is the first then everything else would be held up.

The clues are out there amongst my blog as to where I am based but I do try to keep some of my anonymity and be fair when criticising but I have been looking at one of my links that tracks what my area's local MP is up to and the latest information says that so far he has always voted with his party/the Government when a vote is required and in the last few weeks any reference to his work for the area has gone quiet, no sign of his face in the local free sheet or any stories regarding his involvement in the progress of the town's retail plans. Until the last recess he was featured heavily so it will be interesting to see if the publicity machine swings into action or it now remains pretty quiet. No doubt the opposite could be shown to be true.

With the Global Economic climate and other major problems perhaps local issues will take a back seat again, also because local council machinery is being wound down as we come under the new unitary council rules and regulations...and for now the seat probably seems safe...until we head for another election.

I have one little bit of news that has come to light...things may seem quite static regarding the redevelopment of the retail area but once again Tesco's the new retailer in town seems to be trying to move things along. Within a couple of years they added a second floor to their property and increased their lines, now they are asking to add a multi storey car park and increase how many cars can use the land available and as it is based very close to a residential area and there were objections to the original plans of having a supermarket here in the first place, I suspect this will also result in some heated arguments for and against this proposal.

I am happy that I do not live close enough to have to look at the building even though I am very close indeed. I have to admit that I would not be happy. At least in the original retail plans of the town centre such amenities were self contained and less likely to have an affect on those living nearby. And having seen the property increase in height and also a large wind turbine next to it, this multi storey car park is just another thing that is likely to be given the go ahead.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sausage Casserole...

Posted by Picasa

Maybe the unused food could have been frozen and used for another meal (but I do not have theroom in the freezer to store it)but once the ingredients were added to the dish, I decided that there was more than enough in the casserole so my plan to add baked beans and have a less root vegetable based casserole was changed. I had some turnip and carrot to use up and that took up the extra space...to add the beans would just mean more un-necessary waste.

So my sausage casserole contained...
Turnip, carrot, new potatoes, sliced mushrooms, onion and green pepper.
And naturally, pork sausages cut into pieces(having been browned first)
And a kind of stock mixed into water and added to the ingredients. Then cooked in the oven for an hour.

It looked and tasted better after it was cooked. I was amazed how the ingredients merged with the liquid stock that was added and how what seemed like a small amount of stock seemed to double in size. There was nothing left, everything was eaten. I will do it again and switch ingredients around. Unfortunately, my Mum decided that she does not like turnip and carrot and too much vegetable in general and would've preferred a bowl of a fairly plain soup.

She is usually a reasonably good eater and enjoys most things that are served up for a meal and claims not to be a fussy eater. But recently a couple of times she has admitted not to liking some of the new dishes I have tried.

Well, you cannot make someone like what they do not and I suppose it's unfair to make someone eat what they do not care for. A casserole is a bit like a thick vegetable soup. And she has since said that the actual meal was good and she wasn't being critical.

At least I am finding more than ever how easy it is to cook and I can manage a variety of meals. Occasionally, I guess I will have to do different meals for each of us so I can still have some of the new meals I have in my repertoire.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh The Excitement...

I decided to invest in a roasting tray and for the first time in my life try roasting some vegetables.

I was tempted by watching a popular TV cook one evening who was showing how to prepare Lemon Chicken. I misunderstood what I saw and went onto to look around the Internet and found some links that explained things further and I decided that I needed a roasting tray of some kind.

Unfortunately, having prepared the ingredients I discovered that my tray had slight crack in the glass. This only left me a very small casserole dish to put the ingredients into and was not sure the meal would work. Thankfully, it did. The result was delicious and I will be doing it or something similar again.

This is an adaptation of the meal as I did it.

I cut into large chunks some celery, onion, and some pre-cooked new potatoes. I added some garlic cloves. Separately, I cooked some turnip and carrots(there was no room for these to be included in the small casserole dish)and roasted some parsnips. Everything was drizzled in olive oil. And I sprinkled some mixed herbs on the vegetables being roasted. I roasted my vegetables for approx 1 hour at a reasonably high temperature. Half an hour with loose foil over the top, the last half without. You need to alter the amount you cook to suit how many will be eating the meal.

Previously, instead of following the instructions with the chicken breast fillets that say cook on a baking tray for half an hour, I squeezed fresh lemon over them after placing them in a small casserole dish and actually cooked them for an hour. The collected juice added moisture whilst cooking and they came out cooked but moist and plumper than usual and not as dry. I prefer my chicken cold and it is easier to slice so I allowed it to cool down and left in the fridge overnight.

After cooking the meal I decided to add some gravy. It was very tasty.

The original recipe for lemon chicken concentrates on using a whole chicken with vegetables roasted together and also eating the lemon too.

The second recipe for the roasting of vegetables which I used did not include the chicken. It is a very easy one to follow and I doubt anyone could fail.

As for the cracked roasting tray the local supermarket exchanged it so that's now sorted.

And today I found a big casserole dish in another shop which at the supermarket would have cost around £7(US $12.40/Euros 8.85)being sold at half price £3.50(US $6.20/Euros 4.42)so I am happy that I held off from buying it. This casserole dish was half the price of the roasting tray.

I also was in a local branch of a charity shop in town and found two hardback books by another popular and respected TV cook who has been cooking for decades and purchased both for £5(US $8.85/Euros 6.32)and saved approx £27($47.84 US/Euros 34.17)so all in all quite a good week for bargains.

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

One-tray roasted vegetables recipe

As far as I can see, you can follow a recipe in every detail or there are basic rules and you decide what to do and really if you like the result it's all that matters.

I'm thinking of christening my new casserole dish with a sausage casserole tonight but there are so many ideas.

You could make one from onions, peppers, mushrooms and add some kind of stock or mix.

But then you can make it very vegetable based and put in the usual suspects like celery, turnip, potato, leek, onions etc...

Or you could add different types of beans, garlic, herbs,wine, tinned tomatoes.

Every time it can be different.

Decisions, decisions...well, it will give me something to think about. It's good wholesome food and so easy to prepare and cook.

I've just watched a programme on TV where a famous TV cook(there are so many)is trying to get a town in the North of England to do some basic cooking instead of depending on low quality food and/or takeaways.

It's frightening how many(though the TV programme will look for such people to get a reaction from the audience)how many know so little basic cookery.

One person did not know that water bubbles when it boils in a pan and she asked if "that was supposed to happen!"

Another male, a pensioner(84)admitted that he has never ever chopped or peeled a vegetable in his life, though the difference in that statement is not that he did not know how to cook(just that perhaps he has never had to)and I did not hear whether he is a widower, has family or is sharing his home with a partner.

Jamie's Ministry Of Food

I have rarely watched any of Jamie Oliver's programmes and often found some of what he does as publicity for books etc...but have taken a bit more of an interest in this series probably because of my return to cooking and starting from scratch. On the same site you can find many more TV cooks offering recipes so you'll have quite a lot to look over.

In posting this entry and promising to put some links up for sites offering recipes I have found so many good websites there are too many to choose from. So I'll slip some in from time to time over the coming months.

Considering the amount of articles in newspapers and magazines, programmes on TV and radio, buy a recipe book, go to the library...I'm not sure that there is any excuse.

No one has taught me but I would not starve...I've seen meals cooked by my Mum, it's a bit of common sense and many prepared dishes have instructions printed on the packet and/or the cover. And if you are unsure once you've learnt how to cook a prepared meal all you do is transfer what you know to the food you buy frozen or fresh and copy what you you've done previously.

Recently, I've had help I have to say from friends online who are willing to share their skills and ideas and that also has helped but this is because I am getting more adventurous but having said that many of the dishes I make need little time to prepare and are so basic but offer so much variety.

I have to make up for the many years I have stuck to a good diet but eaten very similar meals.

How will my sausage casserole turn out? I'll let you know ;-)

And Finally...here's a recipe that is quick and easy...

One mug of flour, one mug of milk and one egg.

Empty them into a bowl and whisk until all the lumps disappear and you have a basic batter mixture that you can then use in a variety of recipes or...put a little oil in the centre of a frying pan, heat until the pan is hot enough, ladle some of the mixture into the frying pan and move the mixture around so the pan is covered and cook.

Use a spatula and turn the mixture over.

Cook that side as well and slide onto a plate and you have a basic pancake just waiting for you to add whatever filling or topping you wish to add.