Friday, 14 December 2012

Aunt Bessie's - great timesaver or the cheat's way?

Aunt Bessie's recently sent me a whole host of things to try and I've gradually been working my way through them. Truth be told, I've got one or two things left to try, as they generously sent me so many different things.

These days, Aunt Bessie's have a massive range of frozen products. We have had quick toad in the holes with boat shaped Yorkshires filled with sausages I cooked separately, Yorkshires on their own with more sausages (the children like them *cough*), apple pie, stuffing balls, even casseroles.

Now, it got me thinking - what is your opinion on using frozen products like this? Are they a fantastic timesaver or are they just cheats which makes people lazy about cooking? I'm torn, I will admit. I use frozen veg all the time, particularly peas and sweetcorn. When I was trying everything, I particularly liked the Yorkshires because my own efforts to make them from scratch are hit and miss - and yes, I know all the rules, it just sometimes doesn't work. In addition, they took a few minutes whereas cooking my own take nearly half an hour. That means if you were doing a roast and space in your oven is at a premium - as it is in our house - you could pop them in whilst you were carving your joint. Stuffing balls, however, felt like a huge cheat - mixing up stuffing mix and rolling them into balls takes seconds and is hardly complicated or lengthy. In addition, when we tried them, husband and I felt they were a bit gloopy although the children loved them.

Then we tried the apple pie. Now, pastry is not my strong suit so I wouldn't think twice about buying shop bought pastry so as not to have to do the rubbing in, kneading, resting, rolling out, and so forth. I can live with that. If you wanted a weeknight pudding, the apple pie is great. But gravy? Hmm, not sure. Especially as I've just made my own gravy for Christmas Day and stuck it in the very same freezer. I guess it's not a massive step away from gravy granules.

Sadly, the one thing they didn't send me was some of their famous roasties. This was a shame because I can't get my head around the fact that frozen roast potatoes could make a better roastie than home made ones from fresh potatoes. It might just save on the peeling, I guess.

Another product I really liked was the homestyle casserole. Cheat, yes, but a massive timesaver. They are a bag of beef or chicken with chopped vegetables and seasonings - saving on all that chopping and prep is bound to be bonus. To cook them, you place the contents in a dish with some water and put in the oven. I cooked mine in a slow cooker and it took me literally seconds to get the dish on and cooking. It tasted nice but the downsides were that a) the pack only serves 2 so not as good for families and b) even then, the portions were a little light and I had to add some frozen veg near the end to bulk it out.

I think in the end, I came to this decision - a cheat's a cheat, but it's not always a bad thing. Most of Aunt Bessie's products are normally eaten alongside other things you've cooked yourself. It's there to make your life a bit easier and save you a bit of time. One man's meat is another man's poison - I bet there is someone reading this thinking, "I can't make roasties to save my life but I'm not sure about using frozen Yorkshires". If it saves you stress, especially when you are doing a roast (or Christmas dinner, keeping it topical), then surely, that has to be a good thing, yes?

Feel free to tell me your opinions.

(Aunt Bessie's sent me a range of their frozen products to try, for which our stomachs are truly grateful.)
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