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As you know I had to find a new home for my chickens which meant I had to find a new source for my eggs. I tried the farmers market but I wasn’t keen as the man who sells the eggs also sells battery eggs. I didn’t actually realise this until I looked closely at the eggs and saw the number 3 stamp which means caged hens. The eggs were just advertised under ‘fresh farm eggs’ so i can imagine some people would buy them thinking they were from happy hens… this is a farmers market after all!
Anyway now life is good again. I’ve found a lady who is supplying me with fresh eggs from her little hen family. The hens are free to roam and are well looked after so its good for everyone.
So why am I telling you this? Its all to do with my yorkshire puddings! I’ve always had success with yorkshire puds that are well risen but for the short period when I was having to buy my eggs from the supermarket (I was buying large organic ones and looking for the longest sell by dates) they were just average. I didn’t think much of it as I don’t really measure my ingredients so the recipe is never quite the same.
Maybe its a silly idea but I wonder if eggs from happy hens are slightly different? Could the fact that caged hens may be stressed make any difference? I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this but I have to say i’m happy that I’m getting good puds again and I’m eating eggs from happy birds.
I just wish I could get them to stay in a nice round shape lol!
Hi everyone, I hope you all had a good bank holiday? We are still doing the renovations so I spent most of the holiday at home. I fancied something yummy for my tea…. a nice scone with a good cup of tea! The only trouble is I’ve run out of jam. I made quite a lot but I always end up giving it away to friends and family and of course I use jam in gravies etc so it is used up quite quickly.
I remembered I had some blackberries from the end of last season still taking up space in my freezer so out they came. I also had some wild apple puree that I had picked whilst out in the forest and was saving for pies. I took that out as well as I worried the blackberries wouldn’t have enough pectin in to set (I never use jam sugar, far too expensive!)
So in the jam pan goes the frozen blackberries and wild apple puree. I added a little water but only enough to cover the bottom of the pan. I let the pan come up to simmer and left it for ten minutes. Once the fruit looked nice and soft I pummelled it with a masher to get all the lovely juice and flavours out.
Then its onto my favourite part… sieving. I have a mouli that I picked up quite cheaply and its fantastic for jams, tomato sauces etc.
At this stage I’m left with a pan of puree to which I add the sugar. I usually put in 850g sugar to every 1kg of puree. I know some people do equal sugar to fruit but I like that little bit of tang and by reducing the amount of sugar you really get the flavours of the fruits coming through.
I let the fruit puree and sugar warm up slowly to give the sugar chance to fully melt into the fruit puree and then its up with the heat until I get a good rolling boil going. I tend to give blackberry jam around ten mins before doing the set test. For this I have an old tea plate in the freezer and I drop a couple of drops of the boiling jam onto the plate. As soon as its cool enough I get my finger and push it through the now cool jam. If the jam ‘wrinkles’ then its ready to be put into jars, if not it gets another couple of minutes before I try the test again. I’ve taken a picture here but I’m not sure whether you can actually see the wrinkling.
Now all the time i’ve been making the jam i’ve had my recycled and freshly washed jars sunbathing in the oven so they are sterilised. I now take them out and give them a few minutes to cool down then its time to fill them up with lovely fruity jam. Fill the jars almost to the top to limit the amount of air that stays in the jar.
Once the jars are filled up I put the lids on and turn the jars upside down for a few minutes. Once I turn them back the right way up I find that the original seal works again and the ‘popper’ bit in the middle of the lid is sucked back down.
Of course I didn’t seal all the jars… I had to have my cream scone and jam! And even if I say so myself, it was delicious!
Sunday roast dinner was a gorgeous piece of pork from the farmers market. I think the best gravy in the world is made with the juices of the pork so its always one of my favourite roast dinners.
Anyway I bought a piece larger than I needed so I could stretch the meat over two days and on Monday I made a really nice sweet and sour pork. I enjoy doing a traditional meat and veg dinner and an international meal the day after – it gives my tastebuds a workout!
There was enough food here for four of us, however my son Alex is a vegetarian so I just did him a separate dish with the vegetables in but added diced quorn instead of the pork. Everything else was the same as we had.
Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice
Leftover pork joint
1 large onion
Ten button mushrooms
Couple of large tomatoes
Couple of peppers (I used red today as that’s what I had in)
For the sauce
8 oranges (10 for a pound at the market)
6 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp arrowroot (cornflour will do but won’t go as glossy)
2 inch piece of ginger chopped finelyFor the egg fried rice
2 mugs full basmati rice
2 tbsp soy sauce
Put the rice on to cook whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Chop up the pork joint, onion, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms and lightly fry in a little oil.
Juice the oranges and add the juice to a pan with the sugar, soy sauce, ginger and vinegar. Bring this to the boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the rice is just about cooked, heat a wok or heavy based pan with a little oil and add the eggs, stirring until the egg is almost cooked. Add the drained rice and the soy sauce and give it a good stir. Season and add a bit of chopped coriander for colour.
So now you have three pans. One with the heated and cooked meat and veg. One with the sweet and sour sauce and one with the egg fried rice.
You will notice from the picture that my sauce has bits in. This is because I used frozen grated ginger. Normally I add the ginger to the veg if its fresh, however I find frozen to go a bit watery so added it to the sauce instead. It doesn’t matter when its added to the end dish.
Combine the arrowroot with a little water to make a paste and then add to the sweet and sour sauce. Mix well and let it cook through for a minute or two to thicken and go glossy.
Egg fried rice cooked in a huge cast iron wok.
Serve the rice and vegetable/meat dish and then pour over the glossy sauce. Add a little coriander to garnish. My family loves this dish and its so easy as most of the ingredients are in my store cupboard. I love the colours in a sweet and sour dish. It always looks vibrant and cheery…. are these words usually used to describe a dish? I don’t know but its pretty good for a leftover / storecupboard supper!
For breakfast on a weekend we always have some sort of fried food. Sometimes a huge fry up, other times a nice sausage butty with freshly made breadcakes (cobs, rolls, whatever you call them in your part of the world) and tons of lovely onions stacked so high that they peep out and slide off onto your knee as soon as you take a bite.
Now I spent ages looking for the perfect sausage but I always feel let down. Either the meat content is too low or the sausages leave huge amounts of fat in the pan etc. However the main worry I have is what exactly goes into my weekend banger. I hear stories that they include everything from earholes to ar…… well you can see where I’m going with this.
So what better way to control what goes into your sausage than to make your own! Its not that difficult but its kind of tricky to do it on your own so I recommend finding a willing partner. I made these ones when everyone was out except the dogs and they don’t have steady enough paws for the job so the photo’s may not be that great.
For these particular bangers I used a recipe from http://forum.sausagemaking.org/ These guys really know their stuff and I’ve bought their casings and curing powders before and have been pleased.
Lincolnshire Style Sausage, 2 Kg mix
1.000g Pork Shoulder
500g Pork Belly
270g Water (Chilled)
180g Rusk / Breadcrumb
Here’s the recipe for the seasoning. This makes enough for two batches so use half and store the rest in an airtight container.
Lincolnshire Sausage Seasoning
5g White Pepper
5g Black Pepper
15g Dried sage
14g Corn flour
I used breadcrumbs from a loaf I’d made a couple of days before.
I use a mix of meats to get a good fat ratio. This time I used belly, shoulder and a little bit of tenderloin.
Cut the meat up in to manageable chunks. A good tip is to chill the meat for a few hours before as this helps it go through the mincer. My mincer is an attachment for the Kenwood Chef, I’ve found that these can be found quite cheaply on ebay.
I first grind the meat on the coarse setting.
And then on the fine setting. Its easier to do it this way than trying to stress the machine by doing it all in one go.
Between each step its best to put the meat back in the fridge so it keeps chilled. You do not want the meat getting warm as it would be a breeding place for bacteria!
Now its time to mix the ingredients. I put the minced meat, seasoning, breadcrumbs and water in my kenwood chef and give them a good mix. By now they are beginning to smell like sausages, yummy!
Now for the fun part. Load the sausagemeat into the kenwood and assemble the sausage making attachment. (remember to refrigerate the meat whilst preparing this stage) Once you start feeding the meat into the casings it takes a steady hand and you let the meat feed through whilst you guide the casings. Its trial and error and you sometimes get bits where the casings aren’t full enough or are full to bursting. You can usually remedy this by squeezing the sausages into shape at the end.
And here you go, my sausages! They aren’t professionally linked but what the heck they taste great! It really is much easier when there are two people. I can eat these bangers knowing that there’s nothing scarey in them. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
I only buy organic chicken which as you know can work out rather expensive, so I like to stretch it out a little bit further by using the final leftovers for stock. Homemade chicken stock is a real delight, not like those salty stock cubes you can buy in the shops.
I use homemade stock as the base for soups and sauces, flavouring gravies, its great added to chicken lasagne to bulk out and flavour the white sauce. Also if you’ve never tried Delia Smiths leftover dish from her Christmas book titled Turkey en Croute then I heartily recommend giving it a shot. I make it year round with leftover chicken and homemade stock… its heavenly!
I start the stock by looking in the vegetable drawer in my fridge and I chuck in anything I can find. Onions, carrots, celery, the leaves from the cauliflower, whatever happens to be hanging about. Don’t waste your time chopping the veg nicely, just cut it in half and whack it in the pan. As you can see, its not an exact recipe! I then throw in about a dozen peppercorns to season it.
I use all the parts of the leftover chicken, including the skin. Break it up and pop it in, its all good stuff!
This is what mine looks like when its cooking. My son says it looks vile (he is a veggie) but I like it!
Now as I don’t like to keep watch over the stove for hours I simply make the stock in my slow cooker. I make it up in a morning and put it on a low heat setting for about eight hours. The smell of the slowly cooking chicken wafts through the whole house and creates such a welcoming setting….. what could be a better aroma to greet you at the door on a chilly evening!
Once the bones have broken up and the veg looks all wilted and emptied of its goodness, turn the slow cooker off and let it cool. Sieve the ingredients and put the strained liquid into the fridge. Next morning you will find the stock has set into a jelly like state. Don’t be alarmed, this is perfectly normal. If you aren’t going to use the stock straight away, bag it up into portions and store in the freezer. I also freeze some in ice cube trays so I can easily pop a couple into a gravy or sauce to pep it up a bit.
You will notice a layer of fat has settled on top of the stock. Just spoon this off if you are watching your diet. (I spoon it off, warm it up and add flour and use to thicken gravy) Its the little things like using homemade stock that takes cooking into another league. You simply cannot get such intense flavours from cubes.
Please give this a go as its so worth it. You’ll never use stock cubes again. I try to respect the animals I eat and use as much as possible. It would be a crying shame to throw a perfectly good carcass into the bin….
Ok I’m posting another left over beef meal because the first one has been really popular – its one of the most searched recipes on my site!
So this dish is my take on a cottage pie but its a very ‘rich’ meal because of the dark chocolate and cream that I add. I use sweet potatoes as I love the sweetness but to keep costs down go half and half with white potatoes.
Leftover beef joint
Tin of tomatoes (I add this to help bulk it out a bit but it works fine without it)
Couple of squares of good dark chocolate
Two or three sweet potatoes and a couple of white potatoes
Few tablespoons of cream
Butter/milk for creaming potatoes
Steam the potatoes, remembering that sweet potatoes don’t take quite as long as white ones.
Fry the onions.
Whizz the beef around in the processor or chop it up with a knife. Don’t go overboard with the chopping as its nice to have chunks of meat in the dish. Add the beef and the tomatoes to the onions with a little stock or water. Heat it up but remember it doesn’t need to cook again. At this stage you could add other things such as a stock cube, bit of gravy mix etc. Add in the dark chocolate and let melt into the beef.
Mash the potatoes together. I find it easier to mash sweet potatoes with a potato ricer otherwise they can seem a bit stringy. Add the milk, butter and the cream.
Pop the mash onto the beef and cook in the oven for approx 30 mins.
You really don’t need to put in the chocolate and cream but it makes the dish so rich that it doesn’t seem like a leftovers meal at all!
I served it with Carrots batons finished off in the oven to concentrate the flavour and sprouts steamed until just cooked and then tossed into a hot cast iron pan with a bit of butter, it gives them more of a crunchy edge.
Sorry if the pictures are a bit messy, but its a week day meal for the family… I bet Gordon Ramsay would wipe the dish before showing it!
The solution… make your own! Its incredibly moneysaving as the ingredients don’t cost a lot, but the main benefit is that you know whats going into it and you can sneak extra vegetables on the children’s portion and they don’t seem to care!
Pizza bread dough
450g Strong white flour
1 small tsp dried yeast
20ml Olive oil
Pinch of salt and sugar
170ml water (vegetable water is great as it gives a fluffy base)
1 tin of tomatoes blitzed smooth with a blender
1 squirt of tomato sauce
Pinch of mixed herbs
Pinch of sugar (I usually add a couple of tsp of homemade tomato ketchup for the sweetness)
I use whatever is in the fridge. Today it was Ham, Mushrooms, Onions and peppers but try using sweetcorn, bacon etc.
Mozzarella cheese if possible but cheddar also works for me.
I make up the dough and leave it for an hour or two to rise. I whizz the tin of tomatoes to get out any lumps, then add the other ingredients and simmer until it reduces down to a thick-ish paste.
Roll out the dough to fit the pan size. I use three 10 inch pans for this amount of dough.
Smear a teeny bit of olive oil onto the base and then spoon on the tomato sauce, spreading with a knife.
Top with any toppings you enjoy. I usually chuck in a few extra bits of veg for the children…. well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them
Finish off with a good sprinkling of mozzarella or cheddar and a pinch of mixed herbs.
I have noticed that by using a cast iron pizza dish in the oven and potato water as my liquid I can get a crunchy outer with a lovely soft inner base. Much nicer than the soggy efforts I’ve had from the pizza store!
The night before last we had a lovely piece of organic beef for tea. I cooked it raised on a rack of veggies to let the lovely juices run out. I drained off the juices and added some fat back to the pan and squashed down the veggies. I then made a delicious gravy by adding a bit of flour to thicken it and then slowly added some water from my steamed vegetables. I then strained it to get rid of the veggies that had supported the beef. I ended up with a gorgeous thick gravy and didn’t need to add anything but a little seasoning to it. Perfect!
The remaining steamed vegetable water was refrigerated overnight to go in yesterdays ‘breadcakes’ That just leaves me with the remaining beef from the joint…. so I made a spaghetti!
As its a leftover dish, the ingredients change every time but here’s what I used in last nights meal:
Leftover beef joint
One onion plus a couple of garlic cloves.
Tin of tomatoes.
One carrot, grated finely.
Mushrooms/celery from my dehydrated stock as I had no fresh.
Heat a solid bottomed pan (I always use cast iron pans) and gently fry the onions until they go a golden colour. I make no apologies about my big onions in the picture… we love them! Add the garlic at this point so it doesn’t burn.
Cut the beef joint into small pieces. I find it easier to whizz it round a bit in the Magimix. I leave some pieces of meat a bit on the large size, I just think it adds to the dish.
Add the meat and tomatoes to the onions and garlic mix.
Next, pop in mushrooms, celery and carrots. I had no fresh mushrooms or celery in so used the ones I had already dehydrated. I often prefer the dehydrated ones as the flavour is so concentrated.
Season and add any extras you may think it needs for flavour. I added some mixed herbs, basil, half a kallo cube, a little honey and a square of chocolate. Add a little water if it looks dry. I left it simmering for about an hour because hubby was late in from work. It wont spoil, just add a little more water if needed.
I always add something sweet such as honey or a little chocolate to a savoury dish. It really adds a depth of flavour to the dish. And the chocolate seems to add a real richness. Give it a try when you are next experimenting
I have to apologise for the blurry picture… its my hubbies fault. I took one photo and was just lining up the dish in my viewfinder again so I had a couple of pictures to choose from when the dish dissapeared from the screen… hubby had knicked it! He wouldn’t put it back as he said he was starving so I’m afraid we all have to make do with this picture. I’ll not shout him in next time until I’ve finished lol!
Breadcakes, cobs, barms – or whatever you call them in your part of the country. These little bread rolls are delightful and can be easily adapted to to any shape or size you want. I like to make them as nutritious as possible and I use vegetable water leftover from steaming as the liquid part of the ingredients. I have a little flour mill and do a half and half mix of freshly ground wheat flour and Lidl strong flour.
275g Strong white bread flour
275g Freshly milled wheat
340ml veggie water. Today I used the steam water left over from steaming potatoes, carrots and sprouts.
2 tsp milk powder. Another way to higher the breads nutritional value
2tsp honey. Nicer than using sugar and gives a lovely flavour in wholegrain breads
1 tsp Salt.
1 and half tsp fastbake yeast or fresh if you can get it
20ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Butter can be used instead but I’m going the healthy way in this recipe
Sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds I love adding seeds to bread as they give such a lovely crunchy texture – and they are great for you!
Now I usually make the dough in my breadmaker or the Kenwood Chef. They just help me out so I can get on with other things. I sometimes make the dough by hand but rarely now I have my energy saving gadgets.
I let the dough rise twice. The first time for and hour or so, then I cut it up into little balls and give them another hour in a warm place. I pop them in an oven that’s pre-heated to 230c to allow for temperature drop when the door is open. I chuck a glass of water in the bottom of the oven to make steam and hopefully keep the atmosphere moist enough to get a good rise in the oven. The dough will rise until the crust hardens so the longer you can delay that the better. Commercial ovens have a steam injection but the nearest we have at home is adding water to the oven cavity.
Once the bread is in the oven, lower the temperature down to 220c for the first ten minutes and then reduce to 200c for the remaining time. I find that the rolls are ready in about 12 to 15 minutes.
So with all the extra goodness from the seeds and whole-grains and the vitamins from the milk powder and veggie water, there’s no comparison with shop bought rolls. I do hope you give them a try, I’m sure you will love the taste of them.
They can be made in advance and frozen. When my son was younger I would make a batch at a time and freeze. Then take one roll out of the freezer on a night time to put in his lunch box. It would be lovely and soft in the morning. Fresh breadcakes every day.. yummy!
Following on from the ‘whats your least expensive meal’ Here’s the recipe.
Half a bag of dried pasta
One tin of chopped tomatoes
one quarter of a small block of cheese. I used ordinary coloured cheddar.
Approx a pint and a half of white sauce - Mix together butter and flour to make a roux. Slowly add your warmed milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Let it come to a simmer for a few minutes to cook the flour.
Make up the white sauce and pop a pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it for about ten minutes until still slightly firm inside (it will cook a bit more under the grill so don’t over cook it to start with)
When the pasta is cooked. Drain off the water and pop it back on the stove. Add the tomatoes to the pasta and heat gently for a couple of minutes.
By this time your white sauce should be simmering gently. Add most of the cheese to the sauce, reserving a little for the topping.
Pour the cheese sauce on top of the pasta/tomato mix and stir well. You can add ham or peppers, whatever you fancy at this point.
Pop the whole lot into a heatproof dish, add the remaining cheese as a topping. If you want it an extra crunchy topping, try adding a squashed up bag of plain crisps.
Put it under the grill until the cheese melts and bubbles up. You may want to serve it with a salad or some fresh bread but its rather filling on its own so I serve it heaped up into pasta bowls as a main meal.
I’ve put a picture of it under the last entry, its making me feel hungry now!