Wonderful Wednesday Wok. Roast Dinner.

Yes, a roast dinner for a packed lunch. Yes, at the end of the month. A few of his more budget-limited co-workers were shocked.

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Ingredients:

-1 chicken

-600g potatoes

-4 onions

-4 large carrots

-400g peeled plum tomatoes

-400g carton chopped tomatoes

-200g green peas

-200g yellow peas

-200g rice flour

-butter as needed

-salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, chives, mint, mixed herbs

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl

-1 deep baking tray

-1 roasting tray

-1 cupcake tray

Recipe:

1: Place the chicken in the roasting tray. Ours was nice plain, but you may want to flavour it. If so, undo the tie and separate the skin of the neck down through the breast and put the seasonings there before retying.

2: Slice the potatoes up and surround the chicken with them.

3: Place in the oven at 150C for 2h.

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4: Chop up the carrots and onions. Place in the deep tray with the peas and mix in the tomato.

5: Add some extra water and salt, mixed herbs and paprika. Cover with foil.

6: Place in the oven alongside the meat for 1h, 30min.

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7: Take 100g of rice flour and 50g of butter.

8: Mix them alongside mint, chives, onion powder, smoked paprika and salt.

9: Spoon the mix into the cupcake tray and bake with chicken for 15min or grill at gasmark 5 for 10min.

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10: When the chicken is done, pour the fat into a mixing bowl.

11: Add about 200ml of boiling water.

12: Sift and stir in the rice flour until thick.

13: Add salt, pepper and a few herbs.

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The finished meal:

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And here it is as a packed lunch. A chicken breast, some potatoes and a piece of stuffing with gravy drizzled on top and the veg.

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Essential Kitchen Utensils and their Uses.

Everyone has an assortment of different utensils, gadgets, gizmos and tools in their kitchen. Some just have a single, generic frying pan, a single, generic pot and a few stirring and serving utensils. Some have an entire armoury of kitchen paraphernalia. Some have a number of items passed down generation upon generation. Some have everything right up to date. Some have a kitchen full of new and interesting gadgets. Some try and stick to what they can work with their own hands.

So, what’s my kitchen like, then? Well, like most people’s, it’s a bit-of-this and a bit-of-that. Pretty much everything I have is used regularly or becomes vital whenever I use it. I’m not a big one for gadgets and generally like to stick to the good old fashioned stuff.

So, here’s some of the things I have in my kitchen and what I use them for.

 

1: Electrical Goods.

-Microwave with actual settings. A step up from just a heat dial and a timer. For porridge, reheating drinks and reheating food, largely. Really good if you want to warm gelatine right through, reheat a coffee or help something defrost. Far superior to a microwave with five settings and a timer you can’t actually set to anything precise.

-Hand-held blender. Whenever I make soup, ice-cream or smoothies, this bad boy comes out. Perfect for everything, easy to clean and brilliantly quick to get ready for use.

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2: Slicing.

-Several sets of knives. You never own enough knifes. At the least, you should have a heavy chopping knife, a long, thin, sharp knife, a paring knife, a coring knife and a serrated knife. I’m still missing a very heavy Chinese cleaver, which I’ll have a look at getting soon. But by having all of these, you will always be able to slice up anything you need doing. And, trust me, having cut steak with a vegetable knife and carrots with a fish knife, there’s a difference. Also make sure to have a sharpener handy. Rule of thumb: the better the knives, the better the sharpener should be and the less frequently you should need to use it.

-Rolling grater. Seem to have died back in popularity since the 90s, but infinitely useful. Just put the grater you’re using into the hole, attach the handle, press the food you’re grating into the top and turn the handle until it’s all grated. So much less mess and less risk of cutting yourself than a normal grater.

-A vegetable peeler. I use mine largely for slicing hard vegetables like carrots and potatoes into thin slices. If you want to make a stir-fry, courgette noodles or home-made crisps, a hand-held vegetable peeler does a better job than most mechanical slices.

-Strong-handled multipurpose scissors. I can’t count the ways I use these, even in one day. They open thick or thin packets, crack chicken bones, slice bacon, cut up herbs and greens, remove twine… Anything you need to cut up quickly and neatly, they can do the job.

 

3: Pots and pans.

-Two pots, two frying pans. One big enough for 2-3 servings, the other for 4-5. Also helps when you need to fry or boil multiple things. It makes a massive difference, being able to make a dinner and a lunch in one pot, or a properly sized paella or tortilla.

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As a side-note, I love the layout of my pots and pans. Kind of abstract and artsy. Also saves space. A lot of space. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

-One huge cooking pot. Our bad-boy can hold up to 12 portions of any given dish. The use is typically for perma-stews. We have two around this size, but one is sufficient.

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-A wok. Woks are brilliant. The shape of them transfers the heat and interacts quite differently with the food than a normal pan would. It makes them perfect for dry-frying things, steaming things and stir-fries.

 

4: Baking trays.

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-One deep one (not depicted) for meatloaves, breads, jelly, etc.

-One cupcake one, for quiches, mini-tarts and pies. You can also use it to set chocolate in.

-One flatter tray, for normal-sized tarts, flat cakes and flat breads.

-A couple of entirely flat trays for cookies, bread, baked potatoes and other things where you want to minimize difficulty in removing and risk of sticking.

-A very deep tray, for roast dinners and vegetable bakes.

-Something with a grill attachment on it. For grilling and cooking things you REALLY don’t want to stick.

 

5: Assorted cooking utensils.

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Try and have a copy of everything in metal. So I have my wooden spoons, but also metal spoons; a plastic potato-masher, but also a metal one.

-Stirring spoon/s.

-Serving spoon/s.

-Ladle/s.

-Potato masher.

-Tongs.

-Spatula/s.

 

6: For eating.

-An endless supply of cutlery. Trust me, forks and teaspoons do a disappearing act when you least expect it.

-A pint glass and a 250ml glass for every person in the household.

-At least two dishes per head in every size. This is to guarantee that you’ll have one if one breaks, or is mislaid, or if you have a guest. There’s two of us, so we have four giant plates, four big plates, about six small plates, two small bowls, four large bowls, two rimmed bowls, two sushi bowls and two terrines. (Not all depicted.) As you can see, we could do with a few more of some of them, but we rarely have guests who we wouldn’t just serve a giant plate of food to (we rarely have guests that would want anything more [or we rarely have guests, full stop]).

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-A nice dinner service. For parties and guests who want that sort of service. Doesn’t need to be expensive, just nice.

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7: Random kitchen paraphernalia.

Things you never imagined you would need, but that take the strain off so many jobs that they’re worth having.

-At least two sizes of funnel. This saves you so much time with bottling and jarring things.

-Measuring spoons. They’re not used too often, but when following a recipe or dosage they’re very useful.

-Assorted chopping boards. I have one in wood, one in plastic and one in glass. This is to minimize damage to each. Heavy cleavers are best used on plastic or wood, bread is best sliced on wood, glass is more hygienic and easy to clean…

-Many assorted tupperware boxes and water bottles. Two in every size you use would be optimal.

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-A pestle and mortar. Better than buying grinders for every spice you need to grind.

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-Scales. We have one small and one large, but having one that goes up to 2kg should be all you need. Also, digital scales can be better, but I prefer the old ones that don’t need any electrics to run them.

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-Save all decent glass jars for pickling, brining and canning. That way, whenever you want to make a jam you don’t have to buy/find/borrow one.

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-Keep a small jar or pot for every type of fat you cook with and every type of thing you cook that produces fat. This way you can save the various fats and use them for frying, flavour and gravy-making.

Lamb fat, lard, olive oil, tallow, chicken fat. Cutesy animal faces optional.

Lamb fat, lard, olive oil, tallow, chicken fat. Cutesy animal faces optional.

 

Of course, I’m missing some of the things I consider essential and am trying to get my hands on some. You can do without them, if you must. In fact, one deep pan, a plate each, a teaspoon, dinner spoon, fork and knife each, a chopping board, a small knife and a wooden spoon could do you if you try hard enough. But having all of these makes life easier and they’re not particularly expensive.

And I also own random things I rarely put to good use or plain don’t need, such as my slow-cooker, salad mixers and pint-sized coffee mugs.

 

What other essentials would you add to the list? What ones would you take away? What kitchen gadgets did you buy on a whim are now sitting in your cupboards? Or perhaps you’re a proud owner of a banana slicer or have a travel mug that actually works? Please share in the comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

Recipe Corner. Easy Peasy Pickled Ginger.

First recipe of the day. I have some corned beef heart to get back to before I can consider it a success. ๐Ÿ™‚

This recipe is entirely vegan, all raw and can be made fully Paleo by swapping the sugar out for raw cane, honey, grape extract or a suitable pre-formed yeast.

I started making this when I realized I had chopped too much ginger for the stir-fry I did last week. So, I popped it in one of my handy jars (always save jars and keep them around!) and sat about wondering what to do with it. At first I considered a curry-paste, but my jarring skills aren’t quite advanced enough to pull that off, despite the fact both the plum jams I made over a month ago are still solid, mouldless and unfermenting. Then I pondered another jam, but had to remind myself I’m not quite THAT fond of ginger. Finally, I decided to make sweet and spicy pickled ginger.

Now, I know I’m a ridiculously huge fan of preserving/jarring/canning/jamming things, but, firstly, preserving foods is an awesome skill to have and, secondly, naturally fermented, pickled and salted foods are excellent for you, as they take care of the little guys in your gut and make sure their population meets the right quotas for perfect health. They can also release certain nutrients from foods so as to make them more biologically available and preserve other nutrients so you can enjoy the health benefits of a specific fresh, raw plant all year round. So the more fermented stuff you eat, the better, really. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients:

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-200g ginger

-4tbsp salt

-4tbsp sugar

-1tsp chilli powder

-75ml lemon juice

-200-300ml vinegar

-warm water

Utensils:

-a jar with a pop-tab on the top (the ones that say “press here” or “freshness guarantee”)

-kettle

-knife and chopping board
Recipe:

1: Peel half the ginger. Chop very finely.

2: Slice the rest of the ginger into pieces of varying size.

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3: Put the ginger in the jar.

4: Add the salt. Put on the lid and shake the jar until the salt is spread over the ginger.

5: Add the sugar. Put on the lid and shake the jar until the sugar is spread too.

6: Add the lemon juice and chilli. Put on the lid and shake again.

7: Leave to rest for a few.

8: Add the vinegar.

9: Boil the kettle.

10: Add the boiling water and, quickly, before the boiling water canย  mix with the vinegar, screw the lid on tightly. Within five to ten minutes the tab on the top should have been sucked back down. This means the jar is sealed.

Just sealed.

Just sealed.

11: Leave the jar somewhere you can keep an eye on it. Whenever you see it, take it and shake it, so that the salt and sugar sediments are loosened and mixed with the liquid. Eventually, they will fully dissolve.

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12: Leave the ginger to pickle for a few months. Remember not to open until at least 3 months in!

Later today I’ll either write a post on corning of heart or on what my kitchen is equipped with and why. ๐Ÿ™‚

TTFN and happy hunting.

Recipe Corner: Baked Fish and Stir-Fry.

Courtesy of Yes peas!, the free recipe book you can order from peas.org.

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I modified it a little to match what I had at home.

For those who wish to know, the original recipe was “Thai Pea Stir Fry with Steamed Fish”, on page 17.

Original ingredients (adjusted for two):

Group 1: 1 sea bass, 1 fresh lime, sea salt, black pepper.

Group 2: vegetable oil, 1/2 head pak choi, 25g baby sweetcorn, 1 small carrot cut into fine strips, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 de-seeded red chilli, 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp lemon grass, 25g shiitake mushrooms.

Group 3: 75g peas, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 tbsp sesame oil, 1/4 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 tbsp chopped coriander.

My ingredients (for two):

Group 1: 4 bream, 2tbsp lemon juice, sea salt.

Group 2: butter, 300g broccoli, 2 large carrots, 2 onions, 2 garlic cloves, 1tbsp fresh ginger, spicy paprika, pepper, sea salt, 5 spice, mixed herbs.

Group 3: 200g peas, 200g beansprouts, 1tbsp Lea & Perrin’s, 1tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp tahina.

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-baking tray

-tin foil

-large wok or frying pan

Recipe:

1: Take the foods from group 1. Prepare the fish by scaling and gutting it. Wash thoroughly.

2: Make three slices on either side of each fish.

3: Season the fish with the lemon/lime, sea salt and pepper.

4: Place on the tray. Cover in foil.

5: Place in a pre-heated oven and cook at 10-15min at 180C.

6: Take the foods from group 2. Slice the garlic and ginger as finely as possible.

7: Melt the butter in your wok. Cook the garlic and ginger until soft. Add the spices.

8: Finely slice the vegetables from group 2 and add them. Fry at a high heat for 10-15min, continually stirring.

9: Take the foods from group 3. Add them to the wok and continue to cook for 5min.

10: Serve.

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Funny story: I made the assumption the bream were gutted. You know, seeing as the came ready-scaled and with the fins trimmed back and all. Somehow I missed the fact that they were not. We cleaned them out post-baking and managed to get most of the gut-taste out of the inner-rib meat. There was none in the backs or tails. So if you make this mistake with bream, they’re safe to eat (not so sure about chubb or other fish with poisonous livers, though!), but be sure to scrape them out well, to avoid a mouthful of bitter fish. Better yet, fillet them before serving and cut away from the ribs, so as to avoid any of the flavour reaching the plate.

Lesson learned.

Wonderful Wednesday Wok. Stir-fry, Meatloaf, Oats.

I finally seem to be getting somewhere with that painting. It’s redone and currently being framed so I can take it to the gallery. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to sell it.

The chicken run and coop are also almost entirely dusted and scrubbed. Next the fungicide and the wood-sealer and then it’ll be ready to set up.

 

Now, onto the WWW. This week I decided to make him several of his favourites. He enjoyed the meatloaf, despite the fact we were using hellmince in it, so he got some of that for his meat. He likes beansprouts and peppers, so I made him a spicy vegetable stir-fry to go with it. Some potatoes for extra starch. And, as he likes oats a lot too, I made him some oat-based biscuits, pretty much flapjacks. True love is making someone delicious food they love which you can’t share because it would make you ill and being happy they’ve got delicious food they love. :p

 

So, three recipes again.

Recipe 1: Meatloaf.

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This recipe will work with even mince from less appreciated cuts, that’s fairly flavourless or that has minced offal mixed in for a micronutrient boost.

Ingredients:

-500-800g of fatty mince

-6 eggs

-2 peppers

-1 large onion

-4 tbsp flour (any kind)

-paprika, salt, pepper, herbs, onion powder and chilli to taste

Utensils:

-baking tray

-fork

Recipe:

1: Put the mince in the tray. Don’t bother to grease it, it should do this itself. Take a fork. Smash the raw mince until it’s more of a paste than a mince.

2: Finely dice the pepper and onion. Mix them into the mince.

3: Add the eggs one by one and stir them in until the mass is even and thick.

4: Add the spices and stir them in.

5: Slowly sift the flour in, pausing to stir so no lumps are formed.

6: If the mix is still stiff to stir, add another egg, melted butter or water.

7: Pre-heat the oven at 200C.

8: Place the meatloaf in the oven (perhaps with a few small potatoes to bake around the side) for 15min.

9: Turn the heat down to 180C and cook the meatloaf for a further 40min.

10: Leave to rest for a few before slicing and serving.

 

Recipe 2: Spicy Stir-Fry.

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When I first mentioned that I was making a stir-fry for the Wednesday Wok, Jon was disappointed. He commented that a “vegetable stir-fry doesn’t sound like it has much meat in it”. He warmed up to the idea when I mentioned the meat was going in separately. He also likes beansprouts a lot, so I got them for him and wanted to use them yesterday.

Ingredients:

-1 medium-size carrot

-1 pepper

-1 small onion

-150-200g beansprouts

-10g butter

-1tsp chinese 5 spice

-2tsp mixed herbs

-paprika, chilli, salt, pepper and thyme to taste

Utensils:

-1 large wok or frying pan

-spatula

-cutting board and knife

-vegetable peeler

Recipe:

1: The only proper way to stir-fry carrots is to slice them finely. If you don’t have a fancy-named tool like a spiralizer or a saladshooter, then you can just use your standard hand-held potato peeler. Slice the carrot as though you were peeling it to the core. If the bits are too long, you can always shorten them by chopping them next.

2: Slice the pepper and onion into long thin strips.

3: Heat the butter in the wok/pan and add the stronger spices.

4: Add the sliced vegetables and cook on a high heat (Gas Mark 6) for 5min.

5: Lower the heat a little (Gas Mark 4 or 5) and add the beansprouts, 5 spice and herbs.

6: Cook for a further five minutes before removing the wok/pan off the heat.

 

Recipe 3: Chocolate Oaty Bites.

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Jon likes oats. A lot. So I asked him what he’d want in a sort of flapjack. The answer was: honey, chocolate, maybe seeds and eggs if I could. Sadly, the heat at which I was working the mix meant no eggs, but the rest went in just fine.

Ingredients:

-300g porridge oats

-1 cup warm water

-4 tbsp honey

-40g dark chocolate

-75g mixed seeds

Utensils:

-mixing pot

-spoon

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the oats with the warm water until a sort of chunky porridge has been made.

2: Stir-in the honey.

3: Crush the chocolate into small pieces.

4: Stir-in the chocolate and seeds.

5: Grease the baking-tray.

6: Either spread the mix out on the tray to be cut up later for square flapjacks, place it into round cupcake trays for round snacks or serve it onto the tray in tablespoonfuls to make small biscuit-like pieces.

7: Bake at 150C for 30-40min.

8: Leave to cool before eating.

 

And that’s what Jon got for lunch today. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Wonderful Wednesday Wok. PROTEIN.

So, Jon is adding more snacks into his day to try and boost the amount of protein and calories he’s eating. Damn Celtic body-types, with their tiny, easily-filled stomachs and high protein requirements. :p

So he’s adding in pea-protein about twice a day –sometimes three times! :O He’s also eating bits of pan-fried chicken, bananas and servings of oats as snacks. Also more butter in everything. So, for this week’s Wok, I made him roast beef, buttery mixed-veg chips and fried chicken nibbles and a pie for pudding.

 

Recipe 1: Spicy Roast Beef and starting the Chips.

Ingredients (1 serving):

-200g beef joint (if it has little fat then lard it with some fatty salt pork)

-smoked paprika

-onion powder

-garlic powder

Ingredients for the chips (3 servings):

-1 parsnip

-300g celeriac

-600g potatoes

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Slice the parsnip, celeriac and potatoes into chip-sized and -shaped pieces. Spread them over the bottom of the baking tray with a little butter.

2: Season the beef and place it on top.

3: Roast at 140-160C for two hours.

4: Rest the beef.

Recipe 2: Finish the Chips.

Ingredients:

-the oven-cooked chips

-butter or rendered talllow

-salt

-pepper

Utensils:

-frying pan

-spatula

Recipe:

1: Place the chips in the pan with the fat.

2: Brown evenly.

3: Season.

 

Recipe 3: Chicken Bits.

Ingredients:

-2-5 chicken thighs or breast fillets

-salt, pepper, smoked paprika

-herbs

Utensils:

-baking tray

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan

-spatula

Recipe:

1: Season the chicken with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

2: Bake in the oven at 160-180C until fairly dry and crisp outside.

3: Chop into small nibble-sized pieces (about as big as a peanut).

4: Fry in their own fat, more salt and herbs.

 

Serve the beef carved into thin slices, the chips dressed with sea-salt and maybe parsley and place a handful of chicken bits in a small tupper, toย  nibble on. Add a pie, cake or piece of fruit for extra calories.

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Recipe Corner. Gari and Cheese-and-Ham Pies.

First off, my total for this week is a pathetic 10/21. On the other hand, I am getting somewhere with my paintings and my tutoring, so I can get back to everything next week and put the effort into keeping it normal without derailing more important things than the plan.

Now, some baking I’ve been doing.

Recipe 1: Ham and Cheese Pies.

Ingredients:

-250g spelt flour

-100g rice flour

-150g butter

-50g cheddar

-2 rashers bacon

-1 onion

-onion powder

Utensils:

-chopping board

-mixing bowl and spoon

-greased/nonstick cupcake/baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the flours and butter with your fingers until all that’s left are thick crumbs. Add water, stirring until it reaches a consistency like honey. Add onion powder.

2: Pour/spoon 1/2 the mix across the base of your cupcake or baking tray.

3: Chop the bacon, onion and cheese into bits and share throughout the cupcake spaces or spread evenly over the mix in the tray.

4: Spoon the remaining half of the mix across the top of your cupcake or baking tray.ย Flatten down so the top mixture and bottom mixture meet.

5: Cook in an oven at 160C for 1h.

Taste-test on the bottom left. They're good.

Taste-test on the bottom left. They’re good.

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Recipe 2: Gari Not-Cornbread.

Because Jon has a corn allergy and I am trying to keep grain consumption minimized, I decided to try out some gari instead of cornflour. Gari is a popular West African food made of shredded cassava/tapioca root and makes an excellent flour for making denser, richer breads. It is made by soaking and fermenting mashed cassava root before drying it out and grinding it down. Yellow gari is actually fried in palm oil, so it’s not the best choice in hindsight, but I’ll make sure to get white gari next time.

Ingredients:

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Yes, my lard-saving jar has a sketch of a tiny pig on it. My chicken-fat one has a chicken on it, my tallow one has a cow on it, my lamb-fat one has a sheep on it and my olive-oil one has some olives on it. I’m cool like that.

-300g gari

-200g lard (mine was from roast gammon, so I didn’t use any more spices)

-4 eggs

-1tbsp dry yeast

-1tsp sugar

-water

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and spoon

-cup

-bread baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the sugar with 50ml of hot water. Add 100ml cold water. Stir in the yeast and leave to rest.

2: Mix the gari and the lard together.

3: Stir in the egg.

4: Add the yeast mix.

5: Stir and add water alternately until the mixture is workable but too thick to pour.

6: Spoon into a greased cake-baking tray.

7: For flatter trays, bake at 160C for 35min. For deeper ones, bake at 160C for 50-60min.

Serve with butter spread on top, because it wouldn’t be complete without butter.

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