15 February 2011

Chicken breasts and Shin of Beef

We’ve not long come back from doing the main food shopping for the week and I find myself unaccountably pleased at our purchases made from the local butcher.

Not the shin I bought - but shin nonetheless
Apart from the fact that he couldn’t supply us with a rabbit (although he did recommend a place that could – we’ll pop in there on Friday), we picked up another five chicken breasts for £5, together with 600g of Shin of Beef for a beef stew tomorrow, which cost us the princely sum of £2.something (neither of us can quite remember how many pence the “something” represents), but either way, it’s a fabulous price for some “real” beef.  I say “real” beef, because somehow beef bought from a supermarket just doesn’t feel “real”.  You have no idea how old it is, nor do you know which bit of the cow you’ve got.  I also wonder, sometimes, whether it’s been previously frozen and they’re just not saying.

It’s silly, I know, but I got all nervous about going to the butcher.  Just in case the prices turn out to be horrendously more expensive than the supermarket, or I get asked questions that I’ve no answer to and so wind up looking like a fool.  Lord knows, I should be used to looking like a fool – it happens that often, but it never sits comfortably with me.  However, all was well and we had a nice little chat with him while he was serving us – all about ~shrug~ cutting the grass.

I think all that is why I feel so happy about it.  I’ve always wanted to find a local butcher that I could go to and feel comfortable about asking questions, plus I could have a little chat with, just like two human beings.  I remember my Nanna would shop like that – and it’s so much nicer than the impersonal drifting around your local supermarket.  Mind you, having said that, we’re such a regular feature at our supermarket that the Security staff (who keep the keys for the disabled buggies) are chatting, we’ve established our favourite checkout lady who recognises us every week, I exchange a few words with some of the shelf-fillers, plus some of the other shoppers are just as regular as we are – and have started saying hello back to me when I acknowledge them.  It all helps to make you feel at home in a place, I find.

Not perfect : but getting there!
Anyway, beside all that, last week was momentous on two counts.  Firstly, I made a Toad in the Hole – and you all know what troubles I’ve had over Yorkshire Pudding.  Well, it wasn’t perfect, but it was by far the best Toad that I’ve ever made.  The ends of the sausages got a bit frizzled, but with the @FoodieFellow (the Guerilla Griller) tip to reduce the temperature, the next one could well be that perfect toad.

Looks nice - but what could it be?
The other momentous occasion was that I devised my own recipe from scratch – without using someone else’s recipe as a base and adapting it to my own requirements.  I won’t say too much about it here, as it’ll spoil the blog post about it.  Everyone enjoyed the meal, although there were things that could have been improved upon and which I’ll take into account the next time.  Just the sheer fact that there’s likely to be a next time, is quite a significant improvement in my cooking.

I see that time is marching on towards lunchtime, so it’s time to go and make some Ramen noodles – which are my current passion.  I love that I can use up veggies and that they take seconds to cook (or warm up, in some instances), yet I get a lovely bowl of warming soup piled high with yummy noodles.  I even had to buy some chopsticks so that I could do it properly.  Yes, I do get it all down my front, but isn’t that part of the fun of eating noodles?



  1. Hey, thanks for the namecheck - and that Toad looks great. Couldn't agree more about using your local butcher (and greengrocer and fishmonger etc) over the supermarket where possible. The quality is usually better, and the prices often surprisingly keener. Use 'em, or lose 'em, as the saying goes...

  2. You're welcome, regarding the namecheck! :) Yes, I was just thinking that now I've got a butcher sorted, I must venture forth and find a greengrocer. Reckon I'll have to ask for recommendations on Twitter! :)

  3. Well, l is gonna put my five penny worth in......(Did you know it was 40yrs ago, to-day that decimalisation came in). I Digress....!
    Yes, l've stated a couple of times now that, when it comes to food, the best friend in the world, must be your butcher. And, not only know the joints of meat, but, one that can cook too.
    Meat in Supermarkets, not even worth a mention. The only meat l will buy, is diced meat, beef, pork, turkey etc. when reduced in price, ideal for curry's.
    And, a good butcher will hang meat, (Beef) for at least three weeks.....!
    Oh! just to mention fish, last Sunday, l was in Morrisons, and a lady wanted some salmon, she asked the butcher/fishman, behind the counter, how much a certain piece was, "Goodness" she said, "Thats Dear".....I could'nt resist it.......So l told her it was'nt salmon....But, COD, blushing at the price it was being sold at.......We all had a laugh, and l was bared.....Again....! lol :)
    It's got to point now, every time l go to Morrisons, they all run and hide...Nuff Said.
    Oh! lovely.....Great write up Jenny...Well Done.....! :0)

  4. Well, I've got to admit, I didn't ask the fellow whether he did his own cooking or not! LOL The beef has definitely been hung, though, as it is far too deep a colour and appears "dry" (in a good way). I can remember when I bought the Rib at Christmas that they did say how long they hang the beef for, but it's escaped my memory now. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to cooking with it. :)


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