The Garden Haul Comes In.

Interrupting the recipes for a quick update on the garden foods.

Well, we’re not quite there yet. Beans are not yet ripe, neither are tomatoes. Still got plenty of greens to harvest, as well as around 4/5 of the potatoes. The carrots and beets and turnips could do with another growth spurt too. But both in preparation for moving and because things ripen at different speeds, a load of stuff has already been coming in.

The raspberry bushes. Not actually “ours”. Wild-seeded.

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Raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant jam prep.

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This year’s attempt at restocking the jam supplies. Got blackberry jam to make soon, then elderberry jam and apple sauce. Hopefully plum jams, but we don’t grow our own so that depends on overstock from neighbours.

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Just a little peek into the top of our bag of frozen blackberries. Pretty much every time I’ve gone out, I’ve been picking early blackberries and freezing them. The picture doesn’t show it well, but the bag has around 1.5-2L of blackberries in it. They will need rinsing from frozen, defrosting gently, adding to however many fresh ones I can gather as September advances, then stewing down for more jams!

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The very last batch of rhubarb. Probably going to be a tart, or maybe a sweet sauce for topping a flan. Now’s time to move the plant roots into pots, to move down to our new place, ready to plant out next Spring.

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Around 1/10 of the potatoes, because we ate half of this batch before I took a photo. Digging them up 1/5 at a time, starting with the shallow ones, to prevent parasites and rot from getting them first. They’re possibly the starchiest potatoes I have ever had. 😀

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And finally some of the greens we are growing. No pesticides, so a bit nibbled, but fine to eat.

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Here are some fresh greens, early beans and herbs being prepped for a stew.

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In short, the garden is serving us well this year.

Sadly my pea plants were not as robust as the beans, though, and produced only a handful of pods before succumbing to the sun during my week of absence. There’s always next year, though!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

“Egg Cake” AKA Baked Omelet.

Jon’s expert analyses of these was “they are egg cakes” and that they were good with beans or salad, but he preferred them hot to cold. They’re a little based off spanish tortilla, only more layers and a bit slower and lazier for the cooking process.

No pictures because I kind of forgot them.

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 150g potatoes
  • 100g broccoli
  • 100g bacon
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 crushed or minced garlic clove
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1tsp salt – this may be a bit low for people who aren’t on restricted sodium!
  • dash of worcestershire sauce

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • small pot for boiling
  • pop-base cake tin, either greased, lined or nonstick, ours is about 4″ deep and 20″ across

Recipe:

  1. Wash and chop the potatoes and broccoli with a pinch of salt. Boil until fork-tender, but not too solid. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  3. Whisk the eggs with the milk and seasonings.
  4. Finely dice the bacon, bell pepper and onion. Sprinkle across the base of the tin.
  5. Add a layer of now-cool potatoes and broccoli.
  6. Give the eggs a final stir and pour over the vegetables.
  7. Bake in the oven until a skewer comes out clean and it no longer jiggles.
  8. Cool completely before reheating or serving cold.

The first beauty of this is that you can mix and match the fillers. As a rule of thumb: nonsweet fruits and scallions go in raw, starches are to be used sparsely and precooked, brassicas are to be precooked, cured meats and beef go in raw, seasoned and finely chopped, white meats and uncured pork need precooking.

The second beauty is that your total time used is around 5 minutes of chopping things, 5 whisking and 5 layering. The rest is all largely unsupervised.

A quality, high-protein, portable food you can make quickly and adjusted to your needs. I think it’s pretty awesome, anyway.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

WWW. Beef Noodles and Cranachan.

The cooking lately has been very Jon-directed, largely because I felt I messed up a bit last week and wanted him to have whatever he wanted. So the big ones have been a beef noodles and salad meal and my first attempt at cranachan!

Black Pepper Beef Noodles and Salt and Vinegar Salad Recipes

Recipe 1: Beef Noodles.

First of all the beef noodles. We spied some reduced-price organic beef and Jon wanted to snap it up and make some black pepper steak, so that was what we did. 🙂

Ingredients:

[Makes 2-3 servings on its own, 5 servings with a side.]

-350g beef

-2 small onions

-4 cloves garlic

-200ml double cream

-2 servings rice noodles (soak or boil in advance)

-2tbsp butter

-black pepper to taste

-soy sauce to taste

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: Finely slice the onions and mince the garlic.

2: Using 1tbsp of butter, lightly fry them until the onions are translucent and the garlic has lost its sharpness.

3: Chop the beef into small, evenly sized pieces. Add to the pan with the remaining butter.

4: Once the beef and onions are brown, turn up the heat and add the cream.

5: Once it has simmered a while, add the pepper, soy sauce and noodles.

6: Stir until the cream has reduced a bit.

Black Pepper Beef Noodles Recipe

Recipe 2: Salt and Vinegar Salad.

A perfect accompaniment for any BBQ, but also for this beef and noodles in black pepper sauce! Spotted some salt and vinegar potatoes in /r/food and improvised a recipe.

Ingredients:

[Makes 2-3 servings on its own, 5 as a side.]

-20 small salad potatoes (fit in a tablespoon)

-2 medium bell peppers

-1/2 an onion or 1 small onion, red or white

-3 carrots

-3 tsp salt

-1 tsp vinegar

-1 tsp chives or mixed herbs

-1tbsp butter

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan

-mixing bowl and salad servers

-grater

Recipe:

1: Melt the butter in the pan.

2: Slice each potato in half and place in the butter at a low heat.

3: As the potatoes cook, grate the carrots into the bowl.

4: Finely dice the onion. Add to the bowl.

5: Roughly chop the pepper. Add to the bowl.

6: Be sure to turn the potatoes!

7: When the potatoes are brown, add the salt and cook a little longer, to reduce moisture.

8: When they are cooked through and dry, toss them in vinegar and herbs.

9: Add the potatoes to the salad and mix thoroughly.

Salt and Vinegar Salad Recipe

Recipe 3: Cranachan.

This was great fun. Proper Celt food from Scotland. Saw it on a food show and had to try it because it sounded like something Jon would love. He says my end result needs less cream or less whiskey in the cream. He gives my serving a 6.5/8 and his own quantities a 7/8.

As the raspberries aren’t ripe here yet, I made it using our first batch of rhubarb pudding/jam.

[Makes 4-6 servings.]

For the rhubarb:

-6 thick stems

-3/4 cup white sugar

-1/4 cup palm sugar

-2tbsp butter

For the cream:

-300ml double cream

-80ml whiskey

-2tsp honey

-oats?

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-small pot and spoon

-large pot and whisk

Recipe:

1: Peel and finely chop the rhubarb. Place in the small pot and heat thoroughly.

2: Once the rhubarb is soft, add the sugars and keep heating.

3: Once it has melted, add the butter, stir and set to one side.

4: In the large pot, whisk the cream until it’s stiff.

Make a gap. If it doesn't close, it's ready.

Make a gap. If it doesn’t close, it’s ready.

5: Add the whiskey and whisk again until a peak is formed.

6: Stir in the honey.

7: If desired, add oats.

8: Serve with the jam at the base and the cream on top.

My choice of quantities and presentation.

My choice of quantities and presentation.

Jon's ideal mix: 2 digestive biscuits, 4tbsp rhubarb, 1tbsp cream.

Jon’s ideal mix: 2 digestive biscuits, 4tbsp rhubarb, 1tbsp cream.

And those are our favourite meals from this week! What were yours? Found any cool recipes lately?

Stew of the Week and a Painting.

First of all, here’s on of my latest paintings.

"Interrupted at His Toilette."

“Interrupted at His Toilette.”

I’m quite pleased with the colours and textures there.

Next, the stew of the week. Lamb, potato and fresh herbs aplenty.

Ingredients:

-8 lamb chops

-400g potato

-600g sweet potato

-600g cabbage

-2 large onions

-5-10 leaves sage

-20-50 leaves mint

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot

Recipe:

1: Roughly chop the potatoes, cabbage and onions.

2: Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover with water.

3: Boil until the meat and potatoes are tender.

Wonderful Wednesday Wok. Fruits of the Forest Pie!

Because he’s off for Friday and is only working the morning tomorrow, Jon decided to come home for lunch today. So we had the Wok and an at-home lunch on the same day. Always makes me happy when that happens. 🙂

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Recipe 1: Cottage pie.

Made entirely with cheap ingredients, as a bit of a challenge. Around £2 for the lot and it made 4 servings, so that’s pretty good. Jon gave it a 4/5 in terms of quality, but that’s not bad considering how little it cost and how filling it was!

Ingredients:

-800g/28.2oz potatoes

-300g/10.6oz mince

-100g/3.5oz bacon

-1 tin peeled plum tomatoes (400g/14.1oz)

-1 carton chopped tomato (400g/14.1oz)

-50g/1.7oz butter

-2tbsp herbs

-1tsp chilli

-1tsp pepper

-1tsp salt

-1/2tsp cinnamon

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Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-small pot

-potato masher or fork

-deep baking tray

Recipe:

1: Wash,  maybe peel, and slice the potatoes into small cubes.

2: Boil them.

3: Take the tomato, the bacon, 25g/0.9oz of butter, the chilli and the herbs. Mix together in the tray.

4: Put the bacon mix in the oven at 180-200C/355-390F for around 20min.

5: When the potatoes are soft, almost entirely drain them.

6: Mash the potatoes with the last of the butter, the salt, the pepper and the cinnamon.

7: Add the mince to the baking tray.

8: Spoon or pipe the potato evenly on top of the mince mix.

9: Bake at 160C/320F for around 1h.

There is no way to make this look more attractive. In many ways it's kind of worse than curry...

There is no way to make this look more attractive. In many ways it’s kind of worse than curry…

Recipe 2: Fruits of the Forest Pie.

Very, very easy and very cheap if you don’t use expensive jam or swap it for honey and a dash of fruit juice. As it stood, we had a jar of 100% fruit jam that I wanted to use. Also amazingly good. Jon gave it a 4.5/5.

Ingredients:

Makes 6 large slices or 8-12 smaller ones.

-200g/7oz plain flour

-150g/5.3oz butter

-100ml water

-3tbsp sugar/honey/concentrated grape/other sweetener

-200g/7oz mixed berries

-100g/3.5oz raisins/sultanas/currants

-2tbsp berry jam

-1 egg

Utensils:

-2 mixing bowls

-1 fork or cutter

-1 spoon

-1 rolling pin

-1 small, sharp knife

-1 brush

-1 baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the flour, sweetener and butter together until crumbs are formed.

2: Add the water little by little until the consistency of the dough is firm to the touch, elastic and not sticky. You won’t need all the water.

3: Place the dough in the fridge to cool.

4: Mix the berries, jam and raisins together in a bowl. Don’t worry about rehydrating the raisins, they will rehydrate themselves when cooking!

5: When the dough is cooled, take it out and break off 2/3 of it. Work the dough until it’s pliable again.

6: Roll it into a ball and roll it out until its as big as the pan, plus the height of the sides, plus about 1cm.

7: Grease the pan.

8: Carefully lower the dough into your pan. Press it into the corners.

9: Place in an oven at 160C/320F for 10-15min.

10: Whisk the egg.

11: Take the pie base and brush it all over with the beaten egg. Place back in the oven for 5min.

12: Fill the pie with the berry mix.

13: Take the other 1/3 of the dough and work it.

14: Roll it into a ball and roll it out so that the sections will go across the pie.

15: Using your sharp knife, slice the dough into a quadrilateral. Slice it into 6 or 12 strips.

16: Lay the strips over the top of the pie, weaving them.

17: Squish the strips onto the side of the pie and add egg to ensure they stick.

18: Glaze with more egg.

19: Bake at 160C/320F for 50min.

You can save the remaining egg for scrambled eggs or an omelet.

A more photogenic dish.

A more photogenic dish.

Mmm, pie!

Mmm, pie!

 

And that’s what Jon had for lunch today. He was very pleased. 😀

Wonderful Wednesday Wok. On Smoked Paprika and Veg Pots.

First of all, I know I haven’t been putting up my daily paintings lately, even though this week’s plan is nothing BUT painting (all in all I think I owe you four). But you’ll see what I’m doing later. It’s a secret.

Also, I DO owe a book review (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”), which I forgot due to the paintings, so I’ll do that tomorrow.

 

For now: WWW! 🙂

This week was a bit simpler, but for the sake of extolling the virtues of simplicity. [Disclaimer: Not wholly true. Also because of painting.]

I made roast chicken, a fresh vegetable mix and, although I’ll be making some rice pudding later on in the week, for today I gave him a cookie and his usual morning bananas, squash and coffee.

 

Now, please give me a few minutes to praise three marvelous, yet underrated spices.

1: Smoked Paprika.

Paprika, using the Western European definition*, is a powder made from ground dried peppers. Sweet paprika is made from bell peppers. Spicy paprika is either made from chili peppers or from a combination or bell peppers and chili peppers. Paprika is usually red, but you could make paprika from green peppers if you wished to. [*In some Eastern European languages, like Polish, “papryka” is a bell pepper, so that’s why I mention it!]

Many people are familiar with the taste of normal paprika, as it’s commonly used in a variety of traditional European, American, African and Middle-Eastern cuisine and used globally in some form or another. In fact, it’s been incorporated into the traditional cuisines of most countries, even in recipes where it didn’t initially exist. It adds a sweet, slightly piquant flavour to most food. Sweet paprika is often used when a bit of spice is desired, but without the heat or burn of fully chilies. Spicy paprika is used where heat is called for, and it carries the flavour more evenly through a broth, gravy, stew or paste than fresh or dried chilies can. Both also offer the advantage of keeping longer than even dried chilies.

However, smoked paprika adds another dimension entirely. It is usually made out of bell peppers and, on top of the sweetness and slight spiciness, there is a smokey, barbequey flavour. It’s hard to describe beyond that, but it’s marvelous (if I haven’t said so already).

Smoked paprika is best used on:

-all red and white meats

-fried protein dishes

-making sausages, pates, meatloaves or burgers (meat and veggie)

-grilled dishes

-anything involving cheese

2: Powdered Onion and Onion Salt.

Dried onion that has been powdered and maybe mixed with salt.

This is also brilliant. Basically, depending on how much you put in it will add the flavour of French onion soup or the je-ne-sais-quoi of junk Chinese food (besides the MSG). That is pretty much all you need to know.

Powdered onion is best used on:

-savory dishes where you would ordinarily use onion

-anything baked or roasted

-combining with breadcrumbs and savory batter

-most fried things

-anything sort-of-Asian

3: Ground Cloves.

It seems everyone but bakers and ham-makers underestimates the power of the mighty clove. It has an acrid taste, like concentrated real ales with a touch of earthy or nuttiness. Something to be used in very small quantities, usually to impart flavour before being discarded. Cloves are the other thing you find in an Indian dish (alongside cardamoms and bay leaves) that you bite into and have to spit out, confused that this strange piece of wood was intentionally put into your meal. But cloves are brilliant. They can intensify spicy or savoury flavours, contrast with sweet ones and take the edge off salty ones.

Ground cloves are to be used very sparingly. But they are preferable over whole cloves in two aspects:

1, Whole cloves stay whole in your food, and that’s just gross.

2, Ground cloves don’t take as long for their flavour to impart. Being a powder, it just dissolves into the fluid or paste you’re making.

Ground cloves are best used on:

-pepper crusts for meat

-in curries and rich stews

-in jams and preserves

-baked goods

 

Now, that out of the way, you will now understand why the main recipes were so simple. When you use ingredients and spices artfully, the tastes do all the talking.

 

Recipe 1: Spiced Roast Chicken.

(for one)

Ingredients:

-1 chicken thigh

-1/8tsp pepper

-1/4tsp salt

-1/2tsp smoked paprika

-1/4tsp onion powder

-1/16tsp ground cloves

Utensils:

-baking tray

-knife for slicing

Recipe:

1: Coat your chicken, over and under the skin, in the spices.

2: Cook in an oven at 160C for 45min.

3: Slice and serve.

 

Recipe 2: Seasoned Vegetables.

(big pot)

Ingredients:

-150g courgette

-5 large carrots

-500g potato

-300g celeriac

-2tbsp onion powder

-2tbsp pepper

-1tbsp salt

-1tbsp smoked paprika

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot, stirring spoon

Recipe:

1: Slice the celeriac, potato and carrots and put on to boil for about 15min.

2: Slice the courgette. Add alongside the seasonings.

3: Simmer for 1.5h. Top up water as needed.

4: Serve with some form of flavoured fat stirred in (gammon lard, goat’s butter, salted coconut oil, etc).

 

And that’s what I served Jon today. What did he think of the seasoning? 4/5, but could have been a 4.5/5 if I’d put more of the stock in with the veg. Live and learn. 🙂

 

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The Wonderful Wednesday Wok (And Not-So-Wonderful Stomach Bug)

So, I prepared a proper packed lunch for Jon today, as I had planned. Sadly, neither of us had planned that he’d get one of the stomach bugs that are doing the rounds. He did. He managed the potato with butter and a bit of salad before he had to quit. Fortunately, he isn’t vomiting and keeping warm seems to help. Also fortunately, my robust immune system seems to have endured whatever he’s carrying, as I’m well enough to look after him (although we’re both hoping he’ll be better for tomorrow).

 

That in mind, here’s the lunch I packed for him.

Lamb Burgers.

I decided to see how far I could stretch a 470-500g pack of minced lamb by making it into burgers. Seeing as around 100g is the minimum for how much meat should be in a meat-meal without eggs or dairy*, I settled on making 5 lamb burgers.

*I then included eggs anyway, but I was committed to making five by then.

Ingredients:

-500g minced lamb/mutton

-300g boiled/mashed potato

-2 raw eggs, beaten

-1 onion

-mint

-chives

-garlic

-paprika

-salt

-pepper

Utensils:

-1 pot or mixing bowl

-1 fork

-1 baking tray

-a willingness to get your hands messy or a rice-ball-forming device

Recipe:

1: Mash the potato.

2: Mix the potato and lamb together.

3: Add the seasoning.

4: Carefully fold in the eggs.

5: Mix until the consistency is even.

6: Take 1/5 of the mix and shape. (Ball, burger, square, Hello Kitty, whatever you fancy.)

7: Make a small indent in the top of the burger. This is so it cooks evenly and doesn’t grow a bulge in the middle.

8: Place on a lightly greased tray. Repeat for all the other burgers.

The sheer size of the beasts. My hand as reference.

The sheer size of the beasts. My hand as reference.

9: Bake in the oven at 160C for 35-50min.

10: Serve with something green.

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As the lamb was £2.60 for 475g, this worked out as around 60-65p/burger, including spices.

The rest of his lunch included about 300g of baked potato with 20g of butter and a salad that was a small carrot, a pepper and lamb’s lettuce. I added a Nakd bar for his pudding, as we’d got up late and I didn’t have a chance to whip together something creative.

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Sadly, he only managed his break-time fruit, the potato, the Nakd bar and a few bites of salad before he felt to unwell to eat anything. Something tells me he’ll be staying home tomorrow. 😦 Any good-wishes, prayers and good-luck charms welcome.