Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Getting Back in the Swing...or not.

Saturday seemed to be all about getting set up for the evening, Sunday was time to get back into a routine.  Unfortunately with it below 20C outside one is not keen to go and frolic outside.  I decided to make cabbage rolls as I had bought some ground meat at Ramstore.  I had to improvise the recipe as my large can of tomatoes turned out to be tomato paste.  I had forgotten about this little peculiarity of the supermarket shelve, aisles of cans of tomato paste, some as big as beer barrels (well, small beer barrels) but no canned tomatoes.  I have not been able to find anyone who can explain where all the paste goes.  It is not overly used in the cooking, at least in restaurants, but there must be an explanation.  When canned tomatoes appear as they occasionally do, there is an expat. scramble, text messages everywhere, and in a couple of hours they are gone.

Anyway, back to the cabbage rolls, they were horrid.  Sandra had a couple on Sunday and wasn't very complimentary.  We tried them again on Monday, cooked a bit longer as she thought them tough, and they were very strongly meaty, to the extent that all the other stuffing ingredients were tasteless.  I had made a lot as I planned to freeze them.  Instead I dispatched them in shifts down the toilet (no waste disposal unit here, and only a small bin!).  

My conclusion is that the meat was horse.  I have had a similar meat before that I used in Spaghetti sauce (now there is a use for tomato paste!) and it was alright but a bit "different".  I am going to carry a list of useful words when I go shopping, and "horse" is going to be at the top.

Today I had to buy flour.  Yesterday I made bread to the exact same recipe that I used in November.  It didn't rise properly and had all the texture of a crumbly brick.  I have just finished feeding that down the "waste disposal unit" as well.

So I went to get flour and was completely baffled by what to buy.  I knew the one with pictures of bread on the bag was probably bread flour, but what about the picture of a lady tossing pancakes (I have never seen pancakes here)?  I chose one with a picture of a bowl and a whisk because that seemed more "cake" friendly and I needed cake flour for banana bread.  
I also bought bread flour to have another go at a loaf.
When I got home I used my iPad translation App. to try a couple of words on the bag of flour.  The first was "scones" which didn't mean much.  It is not exactly as if the Kazakh nomad are know for their scones with jam and clotted cream.  The second word I translated meant "self raising" which was rather more informative.

Unfortunately, that is not what I wanted , but needs must.  I made two batches of banana bread, a loaf made with self raising flour and brown sugar, and muffins made with bread flour and added sultanas and pine nuts lightly toasted (Sandra had finished all the walnuts and I was not going out again in that cold!).  The results were fine.  We have enough banana bread for about four weeks.  Sandra takes a slice or a muffin to work each day.
I also made a loaf of bread, but took the dough out of the bread maker and raised it in a warn oven as I think the bread-making machine may have a faulty rising-stage heater, which is my latest untested theory explaining my "bread brick".  It baked reasonably well back in the machine, and tastes better than bought bread.

It is Valentines Day so we planned on dinner at home.  I had made a very simple leek and potato soup this morning whilst I bade Sandra's breakfast.  Equal parts, about 175g, potato and leek  (yes, I found a leek, hence the soup) in chicken stock, salt and pepper and a couple or so of tea spoonfuls of dried milk powder, simmered till tender and blitzed till very smooth. When seasoned with salt and white pepper it was quite good.

Rahat market had Brussel sprouts, small and carefully bagged, enough for three portions for about $5!  I bought a nice looking piece of beef which should  have been fillet, for about $10 and some potatoes.  I made a mushroom and red wine sauce using my Californian sourced dried mushrooms (special occasion).  The sprouts were tasty,mashed potatoes buttery, sauce good and meat so tough one could hardly chew it!  That's how the cookie crumbles... nothing is predictable.  We left the beef, I will think how to recycle it later and find a more tenderising way to cook it.  The problem is that it probably has probably not been all.  It was tasteless too, very tasteless in fact, which is why we suspect this.  

No photos!  No points!

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