Tuesday, 27 January 2009
My very good friend Margaret gave me this recipe, which she cooked for a bunch of us when we went to supper one night. It really is delicious.
Preparation time approximately 30 minutes
1 x 15ml/1 tablespoon vegetable oil
15g/ ½ oz butter
1 medium onion thinly sliced
1 green pepper de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 red pepper de-seeded and thinly sliced
4 skinless and boneless chicken breast fillets
410g/14oz can sliced peaches in syrup
1 x 15ml/1 tablespoon cornflour
1 x 15ml/1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 x 15ml/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 x 15ml/1 tablespoons soft brown sugar
2 x 15ml/2 tablespoons water/chicken stock
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper/paprika
1. Heat the oil and butter in a wide shallow pan and gently fry the onion, pepper and chicken for approximately 5 minutes.
2. Drain peaches, reserve the syrup mix the cornflour, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and water with syrup and add to the pan with chicken. Stirring all the time. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cover and simmer for 15 minutes minimum until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Stir in the peaches and simmer for a further 5 minutes . Sprinkle with cayenne pepper or paprika.
4. Serve with a crispy green salad and freshly cooked rice.
Monday, 26 January 2009
Anyway I was messing about I love crumbles, but had some cheap eating apples that I had bought reduced from my local veg shop for 50p a bag and so I thought I would play slightly. I fancied an apple crumble, but just wanted to try something different. So I went rootling through the cupboard and found some crystallized stem ginger that I had forgotten I had. I absolutely adore ginger anyway.
Fat for greasing dish
1 ½ lb apples eaters or cookers
4 oz sugar if cookers but 2 to 3 oz if eaters
grated rind of a lemon
5oz plain flour
3 oz butter or margarine
3oz caster sugar
1 to 2 oz crystallized ginger or ginger in syrup drained and chopped
Grease a 1 litre pint pie dish. Set oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F or Gas mark 4
Peel and core the apples. Place in a saucepan adding the sugar and lemon rind. Add about 2 fl oz water. Cover the pan and simmer until the apples are soft but not disintegrating. Spoon the mixture into the greased dish and set to one side. Add stem ginger or crystalised ginger making sure that it is well distributed within the apple mix.
Put flour in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter or margarine until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Add caster sugar and stir well. Sprinkle over apple mixture and press down lightly. Bake in oven until golden brown about 30 to 40 minutes.
Serves approximately 6
Serve with lashings of home made custard made with vanilla sugar
Pure comfort food absolutely scrummy
This is like a batter mix with a slight twist but it cooks with a sponge top and the mixture splits off and makes a lemon sauce underneath it is good honest cooking and is absolutely yummy.
Butter for greasing dish
3 eggs separated
3oz caster sugar
7 fl oz of milk
1 tablespoon self raising flour sifted
grated rind and juice of 2 large lemons
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Grease a deep 1 3/4 pint ovenproof dish. Set your oven to 180 degrees C Gas Mark 4.
In a mixing bowl beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until light and pale and creamy. Whisk the milk, flour, rind and lemon juice into the egg yolks. In a clean, grease-proof bowl whisk the egg whites with the salt, adding the icing sugar gradually. Continue to whisk until stiff but not dry. Fold into the lemon mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and stand the dish in a roasting tin. Add the hot water to come half way up the sides of the dish (a bain marie) and bake for one hour. Serves four approximately.
This is a firm favourite in the household and soon goes.
What happened to the good old paper bag. I remember my grandmother had a drawer where pieces of string, pretty bags, plain paper bags even good polythene bags that could be used again went and was stored until there was a need for a bag or some string. That drawer never disappointed and what’s more it’s a habit I have followed on. It comes under the heading waste not want not.
I think people would appreciate manufacturers taking more responsibility for the packaging by the reintroduction of the scheme where you used to return your bottles to the shop and get so much for each bottle returned. If manufacturers/producers they were really responsible about the imprint that they are leaving behind then they would recycle these bottles and use those that they can again which would feasibly save even more damage to this planet of ours and maybe secure its future for our children and our children’s children. Perhaps our supermarkets shopping venues could be encouraged to do more than they are doing at present. What do you think and how do you think we could achieve this. We all have a responsibility to try and clean up our acts a bit and to find greener methods of doing things.
What does annoy me to high heaven is that meetings are had to ostensibly get the manufacturers to clean up their acts and then they have five year deadlines in which to change things over. Why so long what’s wrong with more achievable targets like within a year rather than five years.
I am a bit of a bottle junkie and I like to try and find pretty jars and bottles which I can sterilize and re-use for my home made preserves and liqueurs. When I first started out I wrote to a couple of companies asking why jo public could not buy jar closures from for particular jars but I was greeted with some comment about many companies were precious about their trade marks and names and that this sort of thing was not within their remit. I am not going to be competing with them for goodness sake– I just want to recycle a few jars. So I say why not encourage recyling rather than dumping. If we could get particular closures for different jars and then if they did a recycling scheme the rest could be sent back to them. For the amount of money they invest into new ideas for packaging etc. why not put some into dealing with what they have already produced. It would cost them far less in the long run. The simplest ideas are the best.
Better get off the soap-box – for today at least.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Thank you to to the lovely Nita of The Kentish Lass at http://thekentishlass.blogspot.com/ who has nominated me for a blogger award I am so chuffed.
The rules for winning this award are lovely because I get to promote some of my favourite folk. I would love to just include everyone on my blog role but that's not allowed.Blogs who receive this award are 'exceedingly charming' say its authors. This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.
The blogs I nominate are:
Leanne at Somerset Seasons http://somerset.seasons.blogspot.com/ for her encouragement and all her behind the scenes support she has given me.
Mrs L at Unbought Delicacies httop://unboughtdelicacies.blogspot.com/
Jenny at Codlins and Cream http://codlinsandcream.blogspot.com/
The Homeley Year http://thehomeleyyear.blog.co.uk/
Cinnamon Cottage http:www.cinnamoncottage.blogspot.com
Dear Dogs and Cats,
The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest
The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me up doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by
some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is
not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your
paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through
the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years
-- canine or feline attendance is not required.
The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's bum.
I cannot stress this enough!
To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our
TO ALL PET OWNERS WHO VISIT AND LIKE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT MY PETS PLEASE NOTE:
1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don’t want their hair on your clothes - stay off the furniture. (that’s why they call it “fur”niture)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.
REMEMBER IN MANY WAYS, DOGS AND CATS ARE BETTER THAN KIDS BECAUSE THEY:-
1. Eat less.
2. Don’t ask for money all the time.
3. They are easier to train.
4. They normally come when called.
5. Never ask to drive the car.
6. Don’t hang out with drug-using friends.
7. Don’t smoke or drink.
8. Don’t have to buy the latest fashions.
9. Don’t want to wear your clothes.
10. Don’t need a “gazillion” dollars for college.
AND FINALLY BUT NOT LEAST:-
11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their babies.
I have grown up with the mantra of three things being very important basics in our lives. And they are the three basic rules for survival through good and difficult times and should not be compromised at any cost. These have come down from my grandparents then to my father and then to myself. Basically it is keep a roof over your head for shelter, food in your stomach, and third warmth. Anything else is a bonus.
Currently the credit crunch is hitting every household and every person in the country quite harshly, it’s nice to be able to make economies, not waste anything and get something for virtually nothing. We are all having to make adjustments and any opportunity to save means we have the wherewithal to buy something else that we may otherwise have to go without.
My way of dealing with this is to make things rather than to buy them already made. I do job lots of things and squirrel them away in the freezer or I bottle fruits in syrups make my own ketchups, chutneys, pickles etc. There is always something to eat.
But you are saying - I work full time, I really do not have the time to do this. So do I. I am nobody special but I do have a love and passion for good cooking and I make the time to do things that add or enhance my family’s welfare and comfort. Things that often take very little time but add to a dish by giving plenty of additional flavour and complementing the meal they are served with. With cooking plenty of practice makes perfect and during that practice time you find your own way around a recipe which suits you and your family. i.e. you may replace a similar ingredient to one you don't like to one you do like. Also trying new things to add to your repertoire of recipes that you cook for the family or finding a better recipe or a better way of doing things in your own kitchen is a good thing. Locating recipes that are nourishing and do your family a lot of good without breaking the bank balance.
During the week I collect together all scraps of bread that have not been used up (this is whether it is commercially bought loaf or whether you make your own bread) and which would under normal circumstances be thrown away. I put all the pieces of bread into a tray and then when I am cooking a meal I put the tray in the oven until the bread has gone hard and golden brown. I then let this cool, at which point I put the dried bread a batch at a time into my food processor and break the bread down into the required size of crumb. I then store the crumb in glass storage jars until required to use.
If the bread is cooked until golden during the drying process these home made crumbs can be used to cover various foods such as fish, and chicken. You use exactly the same as you would commercially bought crumb. Why buy it when you can make it quite simply.
These are ideal for coating fish, home made scotch eggs, home made croquettes of varying description, chicken breasts and making home made chicken dippers etc, fish cakes, potato cakes. You then continue cooking your item as you would if you were using commercially bought crumb until the food colour is uniform golden in colour (not burnt)
I am thinking here of specifically not having to buy bread specifically i.e. fresh loaf to make this very simple tasty sauce that goes well with poultry of any sort including pheasant, guinea fowl, chicken and Turkey. As a child I was not keen on this sauce, however it is something as I have got older I have acquired a taste for. It is little things like this that pad out a meal and make it tasty
I crumb the dried bread down to its finest setting/ you can also use fresh crumb. I then into a small saucepan put a peeled onion studded with about three or four cloves; some dried cloves, black pepper, white fine pepper and some nutmeg and fill the pan half full with milk and a dot of butter. I then let this simmer until the onion is cooled at which point I remove the onion, cloves and pepper and then stir in the finely crumbed bread until the sauce becomes nice and thick i.e. the consistency you feel you require.
Any excess crumbed bread can be stored in a jar in the pantry because it has been dried it will not go off. It soon gets used up.
Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way:
Refresh the bread - I pop the bread in a clean tea towel which I sprinkle with water then wrap round the bread and put on microwave for a minute or so/and or oven for about 5 minutes. You need to use this straight away as otherwise bread goes rock hard.
Fried bread - pads a fry up out a little bit, but only use in moderation.
With soup/stews/casseroles to soak up the gravy together with dumplings
Home Made Croutons – dried in cubes and then coated in a herb and oil dressing just before serving. For use in salads and/or soups. They can be coated in poppy seeds and sesame seeds. If coating the crouton in sesame seeds I toast the sesame seeds before hand, and then sprinkle on with the oil and dry in the oven for a few minutes before use. This releases the full flavour of the sesame seed.
Bruschetta cut stale French Stick at an angle and then rub a garlic clover over the bread then dribble with olive oil and fresh chopped herbs or dried herbs and warm under the grill.
Stale Ciabatta I use with warm cooked Camembert to dip into the lovely melted cheese together with celery sticks. You need a Camembert in a wooden box. You need to peel the wrapping back off the cheese, put the lid on and then pop into the oven for at least 20 minutes. Serve with celery sticks and slices of Ciabatta which should be crisp and crunchy. Delish
Cinnamon Toast mix a teaspoon of cinnamon to two of sugar and sprinkle on hot buttery toast – warm under grill before serving.
There are other ideas and recipes which I shall cover in another article, but if in the interim you have any ideas please feel free to post. Sharing things is how we grow.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Monday, 12 January 2009
1lb caster sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
Put the sugar into a preserving jar and push in the sticks of cinnamon into the jar, seal tightly.
Leave for about a month then check for strength. For concentrated flavour mix caster sugar and cinnamon allowing one teaspoon of the ground spice to 2 ozs of sugar. Stir together evenly then store in a screw topped jar. Use the sugar wherein you would use dried fruit and gingerbreads and to make that autumn warmer cinnamon toast (just a sprinkling) onto hot buttered toast.
Yes you can do it with lavender flowers as well and rosemary and lemon and orange rinds - however with lemon I put granulated or caster sugar on baking parchment on a swiss roll tray and sprinkle the sugar out all over the parchment. I then get a couple of lemons/limes/oranges and drizzle the juice all over the sugar and then put in a low oven to dry out gently making sure it doesn't go brown - would perhaps be easier to do this in my dehydrator now I come to think of it. When it is dry you have to break it all up to store it into a jar but it has the most delicious flavour.
The recipe says "Delicious used in any milk or creamy pudding. Carrots are particularly good when glazed in lavender sugar and butter just before serving. It also adds flavour to old fashioned cakes and puddings made from carrots. Try sprinking it on cakes and biscuits after cooking.
1lb caster sugar
Variations on a theme:-
Rosemary Sugar: Use 2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary instead of lavender and use to flavour custards, syllabubs fruit creams and any delicately flavoured ice cream such as gooseberry or tea.
Elderflower Sugar: Use 1 or 2 dried heads of elder blossom instead of lavender. It is excellent used to sweeten any gooseberry dish as elderflower has a natural affinity with gooseberry.
Sweet Bay Sugar. Use 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves instead of lavender. This sugar is delicious in custards and milk puddings.
Lemon Balm Sugar. Use 2 or 3 sprigs of lemon balm. Bruise leaves and make as for Lavender Sugar. This is good used in fruit jellies custards and fruit pies.
Sweet Geranium Sugar. Substitute 2 or 3 sweet geranium leaves for lavender. Bruise leaves and proceed as before. Use in creamy puddings and fruit pies.
1 fresh vanilla pod
1llb caster sugar
Put Vanilla pod in an airtight jar and fill up with caster sugar. cover tightly shake and leave for 7 days. Shake again and leave for 2-3 weeks if possible before you start to use it.
Top up with unflavoured sugar when necessary to replenish.
Recipe for Preserving Friends
Select those with round hearts.
Don't bruise with unfeeling words.
Add a heartful of the milk of human kindness and plenty of tact.
Warm with sympathy.
Don't overheat or it may ferment mischief.
Knead with the oil of unselfishness
but beware of jars.
Keep in a warm corner of the heart.
Years will improve the flavour of this preserve.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Anyway here's the recipe for Lemon Curd
Juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons
2 large eggs beaten
Place the butter and sugar into either the top of a double boiler or large glass bowl over a pan of boiling water Add to this the juice and the rind of the lemons; heat until the sugar has dissolved Add the eggs and stir well over the heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and its appearance is like custard Pour into prewarmed jars. Seal and label. Store in a cool larder or fridge.
We all get downers from time to time in our lives - usually when we get a little frazzled at having to cope with whatever is flung at us in our day to day lives and sometimes ends up too much to cope with. We end up rushing around looking after other people and their problems and nobody seems to be taking any particular notice of us. Okay, we then end up chucking the rattle out of the pram and feeling all sorry for ourselves. This is the inner ego rising to the surface. We all do it - it is just to what degree. This is a learned behaviour and mind set we get ourselves into which, if we aren't careful can tend to colour our take on life and have very negative tendencies and bring us down even lower. Behaviour patterns are repetitive and you can get stuck in that rut of Why me? Lets turn things on its head and say Why not me? Like the glass half full rather than empty interpretation. This way of thinking helps put a much more positive complexion on our everyday lives and situations and helps us cope more easily because we have a hope that everything is going to get better i.e. looking for the silver lining. It also helps our understanding of others; people only tend to really to relate to what happens to people if they have an understanding (from personal experience) of what that person is going through or experiencing. If they do not have that life experience they are offering left floundering as they do not know what to do for the best. Each of us has our own journey and road to travel pebbled with situations and experiences.
In the present financial climate of today nobody is safe from unexpected situations or things happening to them. Let us have a little compassion and if possible help for others in these situations and rejoice in the fact that there but for the grace of god go I.... it could all too easily be you.
Friday, 9 January 2009
A CARROTT AN EGG AND A CUP OF COFFEE
A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of
coffee the same way again.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how
things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and
wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one
problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and
placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she
placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed
ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the
carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them
in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to
her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'
'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did
and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter
smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked,
'What does it mean, mother?'
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same
boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong,
hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it
softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had
protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its
inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After
they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your
door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with
pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?
Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship
or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell
look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the
very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the
fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their
worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour
is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make
you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you
happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything;
they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The
brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in
life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone
around you is crying.
May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!!
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
The weather is cold - well it is this year. The coldest it has been since I was a small child. Brrgh... We need this cold, to break down the soil for nature to do its work and to kill off all the nasty bugs that cause too much damage and to restore some balance. However, we don't have winters like we used to. What we are experiencing today is but a shadow in many respects of what we used to endure then. In the Autumn the farmers setting up snow fences in vulnerable areas where the snow was likely to drift, sometimes miles of it. Cold winters where the ice used to be on the inside of the window and we used to draw patterns in the ice leaving a semi-melted train in the thrall of our finger tips;.Sparkling white snowdrifts and villages and hamlets being cut off for days segregated from civilisation but we got on with our lot. Early morning walks sometimes consisting of miles through deep snow for children to go to school and husbands to go to work. Houses where we did not have central heating and were lucky if we had one coal fire to huddle around to get dressed in the morning before being served up with a bowl of steaming porridge, or to get ready for bed in front with our jim jams warming on the fireguard before slipping into them.
A different slower way of life but full of rare qualities which is so sadly lacking in today's society, and yet we seem to work longer hours these days. Sometimes parents working several jobs to keep the wolf from the door - even more so now that the Credit Crunch has affected everyone.
The state of "family" isn't what it was. Families, friends and communities used to help themselves, and support each other but then the Mothers were often at home.Working all the same keeping house and home together, teaching good honest homespun values to their children and commanding respect. Seasonal events were looked forward to; no one who was on their own was turned away at Christmas and many's the time I went to my grandparents and we would have extra visitors for dinner and tea and to be in good company. We learned to mix, we learned to respect and we knew we were loved. We probably didn't have the toys and luxuries that today's children do but what we did have was much appreciated and we knew it was either hard earned or made but with love. We were never promised things, as to promise a child and then let it down causes emotional damage, but we were always met with the phrase "one day". That one phrase did not deny us and always encouraged hope but because it was not promised if we never attained it we were not disheartened.