Sunday, 1 April 2012

Combining into one blog for now at least

I'm not blogging much currently as life is very full so having more than one blog seems a bit pointless therefore until farther notice all posts will be on my main blog.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Time flies

I don't seem to be blogging much recently but life has been very full.

We have finished moving plots on the allotment and are trying to get fully caught up with the growing season. The garlic and shallots did pretty well given we moved them halfway through the spring and I now have bundles of garlic drying in the back of the house. The fruit bushes seem happier and the baby trees even have baby fruit though one of them has lost them all in the June drop. The established tree is a bit of a every other year cropper apparently but has a few here and there.

We put in some new flower planters at the front of the house instead of a wall or fence as it's a very small area but can you see something wrong with them?

The tomatoes and huge squash that seem to be growing on one of them were never planted. That's what comes from using the compost from the allotment !

volunteer squash, just what sort is it???

A closer look at the squash. I'm try to decide if I should dig it up and transplant it to the allotment or just leave it and find out what sort it is ! We have tomatoes and potatoes cropping up in various unwanted places on the allotment which surprises me as they are both tender here and we had the coldest December on record !

In more cooking related news I finally bottled up the apple 'beer' which turns out to be more like apple wine but very nice and I made 2 gallons of elderflower cordial.

 2 gallons of cordial in random mixed bottles.
Not sure how long this will last us but it was really easy to make so will definitely be doing it again next year probably in bigger quantities.

Monday, 7 March 2011

quick menu post

For the first time in ages I have a menu planned on a Monday so I thought I'd shock everyone and post it.!

This weeks gluten free menu swap is hosted by Celiac Family who chose celery. I don't have any recipes based specifically on it but there will be some in the leek and potato soup and I might possibly do braised celery later in the week as a side dish because Noddles wants to try it cooked.

Monday - Leek and Potato soup with cheese scones
(there are both leeks and potatoes left on the new allotment which are still edible so I think there may be a lot of recipes including them the next few weeks!)

Tuesday - Shrove Tuesday so there can only be one dish - PANCAKES !!

Wednesday - spare ribs and rice

Thursday - Pasta and sauce

Friday - Beef stew

Saturday - Treestump's third birthday so birthday picnic/tea and of course cake !

Sunday - Roast pork and all the trimmings.

Baking - cheese scones, birthday cake or cakes  might do decorated cupcakes. some sort of bread.

One thing I do need to do is sort out something automatic that I like for breakfast, I'm trying to get out to the allotment when I drop Noodles to school but need to have eaten before I go out and having re-tried bread using Xanth gum last week it definitely does me no good and makes it much harder to get going in the mornings so I either need to make bread or something similar so I always have some available or find something else I will happily grab and run as I have to be in the mood for cereal, that said I might try making my own granola as that is one I do generally like but is SO expensive to get the couple of types that are gluten free here.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Allotment News

I have decided to start posting allotment updates here rather than on a dedicated blog. I have failed to keep up the allotment one over the last year and now we have decided to move plots so the name isn't even right. Plus most of what we grow will end up on a plate so it seems sensible.

Anyway to explain the move a bit more, I like our original plot but it's been very hard work getting the compacted heavy clay into working order and much of our time has been spent trying to get a fence/hedge in and chasing Treestump around the site as our plot isn't secure. Last year it took us so long to prep and dig beds as the spring was so wet that by the time we got the potatoes in we were behind on everything else and most of it barely grew. Also with no hedge to mask us as most plots have and being right on the carpark we have been very much in full public view. We have not got as far as we would have liked due to a big learning curve, my physicality problems over the last few years and it just being a lot of work with little time and we didn't like feeling we were letting the side down particularity as it is the allotment sits 100th anniversary this year !

So move forward to this year and a plot just over the carpark comes free. It has been gardened by someone we know who is a professional gardener and I know has a similar outlook on many things to us and has put a huge amount of effort into getting i up and running properly. It is a lot of work to move all our stuff including the shed and greenhouse but once done we will have a plot that is fully up and running, all the beds are sorted and have been dug and had organic matter added and so on so it's a matter of keeping them weeded and planted rather than trying to get them going in the first place. Plus it has compete hedges so no more running off small person and far less on public view even though we are still basically in the same area. It even has an established apple tree !

Course there as some problems, it can be quite wet certainly it is at this time of the year but that can be worked round and some areas are worse than others and it's a standard problem in may parts of the site so would probably be something we had to deal with whatever plot we had.

So I spent a while getting wet today getting measurements but now have a plan of the plot and can start working out where the shed, greenhouse, soon to be rebuilt polytunnel and various baby trees are going to be moved to. Then all being well we will see how much we can move one day this week as we are pencilling in a full day of such things as half term will be over.

I have a few things started off in the greenhouse and some more in the house so hopefully by the time we get moved we should be into the growing season proper and can get a whole bunch of things into the ground directly as well.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Better than Awesome!

I love my square cases

I didn't realise I haven't posted here at all this year ! Sorry I've been busy and Treestump has discovered the cbeebies website and thinks my computer should be for him to play games on! While they are educational I don't think someone under 3 should spend all day on the computer so am trying to limit the time he is on the computer and indeed the time I spend on it as it's all about setting examples isn't it!

Anyway one thing I decided recently was to cut gums form my diet as I have been struggling rather and am fairly sure it is connected to me eating more premade breads and so on which are loaded with Xanth gum. As it happens Shauna (Gluten free girl and the chef) has also decided to do the same which is great news as I was reluctant to try some of the baking recipes in her book purely due to the gum. Now her and Danny are converting all their recipes to be gum free and sharing that process on their blog !

One of the things they have found is that you can convert gluten recipes by weight much better than by volume which maybe why I have had an easier time converting our old favourites than many Americans I know because our recipes are all based on weight.

Anyway one of the recipes they posted recently was for wholegrain muffins. It's a great recipe and I have since made multiple versions both whole grain and using Dove Farm mix. I've even made savoury versions and they are all good !

Apple muffins
First off we tried apple muffins, just Dove Farm flour instead of mixing our own and big chunks of apple. They were really good and the boys demolished then in short order. Then we tried pear and dried peach they were to quote Noodles,  "Better than awesome!!" No photos of those they went to fast!!

Cheese and sundried tomato spread with butter

Then I decided to try savoury and did some wholemeal cheese and sundried tomato ones using gram flour (which I love with cheese) and buckwheat as my main flours. These were also pretty good though less of a hit with the smaller people but they just love their fruit ones too much I think !

Stilton and red onion

I'm sure we've tried more but today's were stilton and red onion. I sweated off the onion and then added some honey and a small knob of butter and cooked them down till very soft. Really good !

So go on pop over and get the basic recipe then try your own versions!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Apple cake

We have a new favourite for a quick, easy and tasty tea time treat

This is based on a recipe from the Be-Ro Baking book which is a legendary British baking book in its 40th edition, however theirs is a different fruit and used butterscotch not syrup plus obviously not gluten free.

I've made this twice in the last few days. The first time the apple disappeared into the cake and while it tasted great it didn't look very interesting. This second one I put apple purée behind the apple slices and that helped stop the cake enveloping the apples slices.

The recipe is very simple really. It is made like a Tart Tatin ie put the apple in the bottom of the pan and add the cake on top then turn out to serve upside down. In this case the cake is a basic Victoria sponge mix.

The syrup used can be a simple sugar syrup you make yourself with sugar and water or a bought one. We used some I made a few days ago which was a failed attempted at "compost jelly" from the River Cottage Preserves book. It is a jelly made from apple peelings and orange skins, tastes great but I didn't let it boil long enough and it failed to set so we are using it as a syrup instead.

Apple Cake

Apples - enough to cover the bottom of the tin once sliced - I used 4 smallish ones
Apple puree or apple sauce, a small bowl or jar full. This is optional but helps the slices stay visible
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Syrup
8oz Sugar
8oz Soft marg or butter
4 medium eggs
8oz of flour (Dove Farm GF Plain flour)
2 tsp baking powder

Peel core and slice apples, lay in a pretty pattern over the bottom of a cake tin. Pour over syrup and cover with purée if using. Sprinkle on cinnamon.

Mix flour and baking powder together.
In a bowl cream sugar and marg or butter until pale and fluffy.
Add one egg at a time with a little flour each time, mixing well before adding the next egg.
Add the rest of the flour.
scoop mix over the apples gently spreading it out to completely cover it.

Cook at 180c for 30 mins or till set and slightly browning.

Allow to cool slightly then turn out on a plate. Eat warm with cream or even better with dark chocolate sauce and cream !!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Book review - Gluten-free girl and the chef

I've been rather tardy about posting this one but that is partly because I love it so much I've been wanting to try out more recipes before I post about them but other things keep getting in the way.

When I got a email asking me if I would review this book I jumped at the chance, it was already on my wish list to buy and I have followed Shauna's blog for years back before her and Daniel married and had their wonderful little girl so I knew I'd love the style of writing. Actually I love it even more than I expected. I'm the sort of person who reads cookery books like novels and this one has so much to read! The recipes sound amazing and make you want try them out there and then but there is much more in the book than just recipes. This book is part recipe book, part biography about how Shauna and Daniel live their lives, it is mostly written in Shauna's 'voice' but with occasional additions from Daniel which works really well.

The extra stuff includes lots of tip bits about why you do certain things in recipes, information about ingredients and what it's like being a chef as well as a huge amount of enthusiasm and love of life anyone who reads the blog will know well.

One of the tips I can really relate to is that it is much easier to get a recipe to work if you sort out all the ingredients first, weigh them out and so on, that way you aren't trying to prep the next ingredient while the first stages overcook !  Something I may possibly have done more times than I like to remember. I am determined to get my kitchen better organised so I get ready before I start actually cooking !

So what about the recipes? Well I've tried several recipes from the blog in the past and they have all worked out well so while I haven't tried as many as I'd like as yet I am pretty confident they will be good when I do get to them.

One I did try is Apple and rosemary muffins. I've been doing a lot with apples recently as I have a couple of generous friends with apple trees.

Can I eat them yet?

As you can see I was trying out my new square silicon  muffin cases which I just couldn't pass up when I saw them in Aldi,  I now have 3 dozen silicon muffin or cupcake holders, though one dozen are a little floppy to use on their own.

They were very yummy and one of the reasons I chose them to try was the teff flour. I thought the flour added a lovely depth to them and the rosemary was really good in them too. Next time I will cook them just a little more as they were still a bit to gummy in the middle but that was very much me being impatient not the recipe !

I like that not all their recipes that need flour use a mix with sorghum in, while I totally understand why it is so common in american recipes it isn't a flour we can get a reliably safe version over here at all easily.

We also tried the garlic flans which had Tom considering what changes he might make to take some to the next camping event so I think that counts as a success !

I keep meaning to try the pickled apples too as I love pickled anything! The blue cheese cheesecake with fig crust is on the list, then there is the gluten-free crackers! There are many more including more complicated main course dishes that I plan to try later as well.

You never know I might get the Kindle version too so I can keep the printed one nice and clean ! You can find both versions on Amazon (the link here is for the UK but it's easy to fine on the American one too)

Thanks Shauna and Daniel for an inspiring and uplifting book and may you have many happy years together with your lovely little girl!