Friday, 28 October 2011

Spiced Beetroot,and other things

My time in Somerset with the family.

As so often when I'm there for a few days, it becomes a "cookathon". Started off by making chocolate brownies~(without a recipe ,so had to remember it ) And Tess's scales only work in Grammes, not ounces,so there had to be some quick calculations. All was well, thank goodness,and they had almost all gone by the time I left for home yesterday morning. Then we did a tagine of chicken for supper, with chickpeas and loads of vegetables from her garden. The next day, having visited one of the TWO local butchers in the villlage, I did a steak and kidney casserole,with the help of Douglas,now aged 13,who was on prepping duty,narrowly avoiding his fingers while he dissected the lamb's kidneys. The whole thing  went
into the bottom of the Aga for around 4 hours ,cooking very slowly.A problem for me, as I cannot lift a heavy cast iron casserole dish to save my life, thank goodness for grandchildren.
Then Tess dug up all the beetroot left in the garden, and we started on making spiced beetroot....The village only had small bottles of vinegar, so the whole process was somewhat expensive! The malt vinegar was put to infuse with bruised root ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, mustard seeds instead of Allspice berries (none in the country!)and the beetroot were simmered  for around an hour and a half,as they were all sorts of sizes ,the smallest ones went in last .
Then we set about peeling them.What a mess, we were coverd in red juices. After cooling, we fiiled the jars ,and having strained the vinegar and added  some sugar to calm down the sharp taste. They really did look jewel like.  Hope they will taste good, but am leaving at least a month before trying any.
Will try for the photos now!  Drat it, I don't seem to be able to sort out the photos,and the computer keeps on freezing.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Next week's talk to 150 at the Bristol Area Stroke Foundation meeting

Getting my  head around what to make the night before so that they realise that I can actually cook!
Most likely Ishall do a huge onion tart, something from a French cookery book that will cut easily into pieces, a sort of savory cake;  and the maybe stun them by rolling up (one handed of course) a swiss roll.
I shall take mostof the equipment that I use daily except the magimix!
 Last week I found some sweetbreads in teh freezer that I bought at least 2 years ago in Norfolk when I was staying with some great friends. When thawed they needed blanching ,and some sinewy bits removed ,but I do remember my mum taking a long time to prepare them when we had them at home.maybe these had been cleaned more than in the past?
I first gently fried in them butter,then simmered them in stock with onions carrot celery and garlic, next thickened the whole thing with a little flour and then some  Philadelphia  cheese just to enrich the sauce. A small packet, costing £2.00 lasted me 2 meals .Very economical,and delicious  but I know that the thought of sweetbreads,being young animals "bits" is an anathema to some!  Sorry about that ......

Saturday, 15 October 2011

What I have been creating.

Would you believe CHOCOLATES? Saw a programme with Nigel Slater,and thought I can do I have .Picture coming up as soon as I can get it up on the blog.
I have just  had a friend staying from Cape Town,  we had a very simple supper of Avocadoes mashed with lemon juice ,chives and olive oil, with sliced fresh pears,and a little blue cheese crumbled ovethetop.
 A piece of Foccacia with that
Then grilled chicken breast,with a tagine of Butternut Squash,Red and yellow peppers,leeks,onions,
tomatoes,  some green olives,and a few prunes,with a little vegetable stock poured over,and simmered in the oven for about an hour. Also a salad, and then a really nice polenta and ground almond cake with cherry jam swirled into it before cooking.A tad dry (it said so in the recipe) so a good pouring of cream too.
Who says cooking is boring?  Not me. Apologies ,as I took the photo in night light, and found it really difficult to get rid of the shadow from my hand! As you can see, it's plain chocolate, adorned with various fruits and nuts, really dead easy.

Now I find I have masses of extra room here, as I deleted some writing, and I don't know how to get this bit to join up with the previous entry. There's a lot to learn still.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why can so few people let me know they read this?

It really is annoying, as I know that there are quite a few ! I have lots of positive and enthusiastic emails, but only 4  of you have cracked how to give me a response on the blog, and so it looks as if no one read it.
Maybe you must have a gmail account in order to reply?
Buliders have finished, their work and  laid a screed for the floor, telling me it will take 3 days to harden off, and so Sybil walked all over it during the night, and now  it looks like a battlefield!
Only 2 more weeks to go (weather permitting) and then it will be finished,so here's hoping. It's now raining....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Latest activities.

All over the weekend I was clearing things away, as I now have builders in, dismantling the Conservatory,and creating a new one. The house is filled with grey cement and mess. The cat keeps walking out ,into the road,and has to be brought home by helpful and kind neigbours.
However, over the weekend I had friends round for tea,(in the garden of course as it was stillso hot) and I made a carrot cake,which was quite sucessful.

6 fl oz of corn oil
150 gms caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Half a teaspoon of salt
125 gms chopped walnuts
250 gms of grated carrot
Grease and line a square tin,about 9" round
Oven 180 degrees

Mix the first three ingredients together,and then add the rest,and mix well, pour into the tin
Bake for 50 minutes or till firm to touch, then cool before icing .
Icing .50 gms butter 125 gms of icing sugar
100 gms of cream chees.zest of eiter an orange or a lemon
Beat  all these together, and pile on top of the cake. I always find the icing goes very runny, but it still tastes good! 
Forgot to note ..Sybil caught her first  garden mouse, played with it ,and lost interest..Then found another, but it escaped under some pots in the garden.