Happy Happy Holidays!
We love school holidays in our house.
It’s even better when the weather is good, because after a wet winter with 4 bundles of energy bombing around in the house & climbing the walls, we were getting a wee bit fractious temperament wise.
For the first winter in a long time we couldn’t go sledging with our Kids or have snowball fights due to zero snowflakes falling. I have to say board games have been our saviour (although the 3hours of trying to teach our Kids how to play Monopoly was maybe not too good on the old blood pressure!).
So the Easter holidays. A time to kick back, relax & catch up on the little jobs around the house.
The toilet seat that broke in January has finally been fixed by ‘Ome….& then broke again on Easter Sunday due to the amount of traffic using it.
Windows have been cleaned so they’re like, erm, glass.
Courgette & borage plants have been planted out….& then promptly scoffed by slugs! Grrrrr…
The lawn has FINALLY had its first cut of the year. The grass was that long it had lost the will to be in a vertical position.
Cycle rides & walks have been enjoyed by all.
A new (well, second-hand) garden set has been purchased & painted after the last set ended up more leg-less than Oliver Reed (Bless him).
School books have been read.
A project on India is underway.
The schools’ pet snails seemed to have settled into our mad house & are being fed & watered everyday (thanks Dj for asking your teacher if we could have them over the hols!).
The ‘How Much Chocolate Can Small Children Eat In One Day’ experiment was carried out on Easter Sunday. I think CurlyE won that one. Dj was the first to fall & announce ‘I feel a bit sick….do I have to eat all this egg?’. MissT & Lil’MrM drew a very well battled second place.
It won’t be long until we’re back into the same old routine of school & homework & packed lunches & work & stress.
But then if we didn’t have that I don’t think we’d ever fully appreciate the times when our Kids are wired, bringing home P.E kits to be washed & emptying their school bags of all the crap they’ve accumulated over the school terms because
‘IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!’
I was winding an old friend up a couple weeks ago who happens to be a Vegan, he also bears an uncanny resemblance to Jack Sparrow, especially when he gets the full costume on…come on, stop swooning ladies!
Anyway to make it up to him I promised I would put a post on the Blog that featured a Vegan recipe. So Steve… ahem, sorry, Captain Jack ‘A-Hoy mi seafarin’ shipmate. Shiver mi timbres an get ya cooking pot at the ready!”
Ok it might not be Salmagundi (every pirates favourite) but it is Vegan and it’s packed full of protein which sometimes can be lacking in a Vegan diet
‘Ome Made Houmous (Hummus to our friends over the pond…) with Pitta Bread & Turkish Salad
Houmous is dead easy to make and so much better than shop bought. My recipe makes a lot! It’s easy to halve or quarter the recipe though. Or you could freeze the extra. It will keep in the fridge for up to ten days providing its in a sealed container.
For the Houmous you will need:
500g dried chick peas soaked overnight (you can use canned)
1 jar Tahini (300g)
About 10 cloves of garlic (or more or less depending on your taste) chopped
Zest & juice of of two lemons
About 200ml olive oil or sunflower will work fine too
Plenty of slat and freshly ground black pepper
Drain and rinse your chickpeas. Place in a deep saucepan and cover well with water. bring to the boil and boil for ten minutes. Remove any scum that floats on the surface.
After your chickpeas have boiled for ten minutes, turn down to a simmer and cook for another 45 minutes or until tender.
Once cooked, drain and let the water evaporate from them while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Once your chickpeas have cooled a little mix all the ingredients, except the paprika, in a large bowl and put through a blender or food processor or if your a true pirate you can use a masher or the back of a fork, it will just end up a little more course. If the mixture is a little dry and thick you can add a little more oil or some cooled down boiled water.
Once your Houmous is ready put into a serving bowl and sprinkle with a little paprika.
For the Pitta Breads you will need:
350g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons oil (olive or sunflower)
250 ml warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix the sugar yeast and water together in a jug. After 10 – 15 minutes it should have a nice foamy head.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour your water/yeast in. mix together to form a soft dough. take out the bowl and give a knead for a good 5 minutes using a little more flour if the dough is still sticky.
Put back in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth or cling film. Leave for an hour to rise.
Put your oven on the hottest setting it will go on
Once ready knock back the dough and knead again until smooth. Divide the dough into eight balls and then roll each out into an oval about 1/4” thick. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to prove for 10 minutes.
Cook the pittas in the pre-heated oven for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes each side. When ready wrap the Pittas in a clean tea towel to keep warm.
To make the Turkish Salad
Finely shred 1/2 a white cabbage. Grate one or two carrots. Slice one medium sized onion.
Mix the cabbage, carrot and onion in a bowl. Sprinkle approximately two teaspoons of salt and the same of sugar over the salad and mix again.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon or a tablespoon of bottled over the salad and a couple dashes of white wine vinegar. Give the salad a good grind of black pepper and a pinch of ground cumin., mix again and the salad is ready to serve. It will keep for a good five days in the fridge.
To serve split your warmed Pitta breads and spread liberally with the houmous. Pack in as much salad as you can. You know have a Vegetarian/Vegan equivalent of a Kebab! You can of course sprinkle some Chilli Sauce (in our case, ‘Ome Made) over and it does benefit from some yoghurt and mint (but then that wouldn’t be vegan).
So there you have it. ‘Ome Mades first ever Vegan recipe.
“Aaaaar enjoy mi scurvey kerr!”
We have a new addition to the household!
Born on the 27th February 2014 we would like to introduce you to …. Bob!
Bob is a sourdough bread starter, or will be providing I can keep him alive for long enough!
I’ve made bread starters before but I’ve never kept them after they’ve made their first batch of bread. Bob however I intend to feed and nurture and see how long I can keep him going.
I have to say I’m not feeling confident. You see it’s all a bit scientific. Flour to water ratios, temperature, how much flour to feed, blah blah blah. I can’t be doing with all that so I’ll be truthful and say… I’m winging it!
For those of you who fancy having a go at ‘winging it’ too you will need some flour. I used some strong white flour and a little malted grain. I used the malted grain because it has whole grain in it which, if I understand right, has more of the natural yeasts present which are needed to get your bread going. The malted grain also contained rye which again is supposed to make a good starter.
I put the flour in a tall kilner jar and then added water to make a paste the consistency of single flour. I then put the lid on and left it.
A couple of hours later he looked like this…
This is not good…
If I was a puritan I should probably have ditched the mixture and started again. However I’m ‘winging it’ so I chucked in a bit more flour, gave it a mix and left it.
On day 2 it looked better but still had water separating so I added more flour again. It did smell nice, a bit like beer, which is good… I think?
On day 3 he’s looking like this…
Now to me that is looking quite healthy…
I guess only time will tell, watch this space…
Good luck to Mike Kilner who has moved into a new shop after leaving the Farm Shop At Rivelin Valley, which is where most of the meat featured on our blog came from.
We’ve been without him for a few weeks and it’s good to have him back. Best of all he’s only down the road from us!
Mike has taken over the butchers at the top of Twentywell Lane in Bradway, Sheffield. It will soon be renamed Bradway Quality Meats. Mike can be contacted on 0114 2361842 if anyone has any enquiries.
Mike’s Daughter Tara is also working at the shop and will be doing hot roast sandwiches daily.
We came away with a shoulder of lamb today. The lamb is going to be cooked ‘bakers oven’ style but with a twist… ours is going to be curried!
The recipe and more images will follow on a blog soon…
Happy New Year!
Yup, I know it’s now February & the start of the new year seems the longest time ago…& that seems how long it was since I last did a blog….oh, actually, it has been that long.
So much time & so little to do, no wait, strike that & reverse it.
Time has been galloping on. I feel like we’ve already done a whole school year. Two & a half hours spent in a day helping our kids do their homework, & that’s not counting the times we’re breaking off from our stuff to help them with the things they should be able to do themselves.
CurlyE: ‘Mummyyyyy, I can’t read this word!’
Me: ‘Sound out the letters then add it all together’
Me: ‘The letters aren’t out in the garden they are on the page…LOOK AT THE PAGE!!!’
Then there’s the extra wasted time spent throwing a laptop out of the window when the internet connection goes or the MyMaths (GRRRRRRRR!!!!) website overloads…OR the internet connection is fine & dandy (yes I know, a very rare occurrence but it does happen once a year) & we spend forever with one of our kids giving helpful advice on how to work stuff out, they get it all right, & it doesn’t save it….& we have the rest of our kids waiting to do their maths stuff…..
I remember coming home with a 5 a-day or 6 or 7 etc a-day maths book to work through. You got 5 (or however many) sums to work through each day. You filled in your book, the teacher marked it & Bob’s your uncle. The only thing you had to worry about was spilling a cup of tea on it or the dog eating it. I did try to encourage our elderly, cantankerous, Wire Haired Fox Terrier to eat my homework but he was more happy jumping up trees for squirrels.
Then we get the Dress-Up days. I have to admit I do love these. The kids have to go to school dressed up as something related to the Topic they’ve been doing that term….
Pirate day: MissT went as a pirate complete with parrot.
Mini-Beast day: Dj went as a Hover-Fly (Syrphus ribesit would be so pleased at it’s magnificent self made out of Weetabix boxes). Unfortunately the piccies have disappeared into cyber space! Shame, we were all particularly proud of that one.
Castle Day mk1: MissT went as the ‘Piss-Artiste’ (that’s a court jester to you & I).
Castle day mk2: Dj went as a knight (he looked a little like something out of Monty Python & yes, we again have Weetabix to thank) complete with 8ft lance (which was quickly put “somewhere safe” by a teacher).
Funny-Bones day: CurlyE had a fab skeleton mask (It’s a blooming good job we like Weetabix!)
The next is a history day & MissT wants to go as something from Tudor times…. ‘Tis a pity they didn’t have Weetabix way back then because she could go as a box of them just to give my brain a rest.
I left school an age ago….yet I still have to participate in the thing I hated most.
HOMEWORK!… x4 NOW!
(& our Kids are sick of the site of Weetabix!)
We love a good burger in our house.
We don’t have them very often so when we do it’s a real treat.
Our children have never been to a McDonalds, Burger King or any other junk food purveyor.
I can imagine that when they do (although I’d like to think they never will…) it will be a real eye opener for them. I can just see them going back to the counter with the sad little burger in hand… “What’s this? You call this a burger?”
I don’t know why more people don’t make their own? You can buy a kilo of mince meat for a lot less than it costs for a kilo of burgers. All you need to do is add a bit of seasoning, mix and form into a rough Pattie and throw on a grill, BBQ or frying pan.
However you can let your imagination run wild and flavour your meat with a vast array of ingredients.
And then you have your toppings, now this is where the fun starts!
You have to have cheese of some sort. I love a slice of Monterey Jack on a beef burger, but a medium cheddar is just as nice. If you want to ‘Posh’ it up I would go with some crumbly Stilton. One of my favourite burgers is a Mediterranean influenced lamb burger topped with a piece of grilled Halloumi and some ‘Ome made Tzatziki.
I like a nice mustardy mayonnaise on my beef burgers along with a little salad leaf, slice of tomato and I’m sorry but gherkins are good too. I also think a beef burger needs a good squirt of tomato ketchup.
Lately we have been making veal burgers. I know that some people are a little put off by veal but the place that we get it from uses the male animals from the place that they get their milk supplies from. If the animals are not sold for meat then they would be slaughtered at birth anyway. So personally I haven’t got a problem with eating veal that’s a by-product of the dairy industry, and from some where that has high standards for animal welfare.
Mince veal has quite a delicate flavour and it makes a really nice burger that compliments other ‘add ons’.
Heres a recipe you might want to try but feel free to add your own ‘add ons’ as everyone has different tastes. The burgers could be made with any sort of meat though.
1.2Kg veal mince (or beef or lamb), Waitrose often have a deal on veal mince, hence the amount which would cost £10
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
A really good grind of black pepper
A couple teaspoons of mustard. Dijon or wholegrain works best
And that’s it, although you could add other things if you fancy. Get your hands in the bowl and give it a really good ‘squish’ to thoroughly mix the ingredients into the meat.
I then line a tray with greaseproof paper, form the meat into burgers, place on the tray and chill which lets the burgers firm up a little. If you’re finding you have more meat on your hands than tray a tip is to shape the burgers using slightly wet hands. You may notice on the photos that we made some little meat balls from the same mixture, these were used in the Kids’ pack-up for their school lunch (I never got pack-up as good as theirs!), they would be equally as good in a tomato sauce with some pasta for a quick lunch or supper.
And that’s it your burgers are ready to go and be cooked using your preferred method.
So we had these little beauties topped with Chorizo, Monterey Jack cheese, an ‘Ome made tomato and habenero chilli salsa and some rocket and baby spinach leaves all sandwiched in a mini Ciabatta bun with a squirt of American style mustard spread on for good measure.
The salsa is really easy too if you want to have a go. Just dice some tomatoes, onions and chillies (which can be left out if you don’t want the heat). Add enough sugar to lightly coat the mixture, a little splash of vinegar and a good squirt or squeeze of lime juice. It now needs a good pinch of salt (I personally like a nice salty salsa)and a good grind of pepper. Again a salsa can easily be customized to your own liking.
We had these with some nice chunky baked chips and a little more salad leaf on the side.
Be prepared for juice dribbling down chins and arms, but then that’s all part of the enjoyment!
And don’t forget to tell you’re kids how much nicer and healthier Home-made burgers are compared to the high street, mass produced crap of fast food vendors!
Who doesn’t like bacon? I’ve even heard of vegetarians succumb to the smell of bacon frying on a Saturday morning from the local greasy spoon.
One day I was thinking ‘well how hard can it be to make my own bacon’. So I got a piece of belly pork from the butchers, took the bones out and fat off then rubbed it with liberal amounts of salt and other seasonings, put it in a plastic container in the fridge and left it there for a week, pouring off the moisture and rubbing a little more salt into the meat every other day or so.
After a week I rinsed the piece of meat thoroughly under cold water, patted it dry and then sliced it as thinly as possible. The meat certainly had the texture of bacon. The colour though was slightly off putting and even after it was cooked it was a slightly pinkish-grey colour. However it tasted fantastic!
Of course in commercial curing they use a curing salt which contains, amongst other things, saltpeter or potassium nitrate although this compound has more recently been replaced with sodium nitrate (E252) and it’s this that gives the bacon the characteristic pink colour.
You can get curing salt quite easily, it’s available on line. I however thought ‘I’ll ask my butcher for some’. Sure enough, as I was buying a big hunk of belly pork from him, he was happy to oblige. I think any decent butcher would do the same, they may charge you for it but it would be better than buying a big batch and they will even tell you how much to use for the piece of meat you’re curing.
And that’s all you need, a piece of meat to cure and some curing salt.
I tend to use belly pork for my own bacon. Simply because it’s reasonably cheap and it’s great when used in cooking sauces such as Bolognaise (Pancetta is made using the same cut of pork)
I take the bones out of the piece of meat (these go in the freezer until we have enough for some nice sticky ribs), and then I rub my curing mixture into the meat. I stick a freezer bag over my hand. You really don’t want curing salt on your hands!
I enhance my curing mixture with some spices and sugar. I’ll use some muscavado sugar for sweetness, a little allspice, a tiny pinch of chili powder and a little smoked paprika. You can use whatever you fancy though or just leave it plain.
And that’s it. Place in a non metallic container, cover and stick in the fridge. It should be ready after a couple days but I’ve left it up to a week before. It’s best to drain the excess water that comes out of the meat, however sometimes I’ve forgotten and it’s still turned out fine.
Once your meat is ready you need to rinse it and then dry it. I take the rind off the meat and roast it in one piece for the ultimate crackling! The Kids go mad for it! The meat can then be sliced, diced or left in big pieces to roast (if your doing this leave the rind on). We normally slice some and dice some and freeze it in small batches.
Believe me, your own home-cured bacon will taste amazing and will be a fraction of the cost of shop bought.
Of course the best way to enjoy it is to have a couple slices of cooked, crispy homemade bacon and a squirt of tomato ketchup sandwiched between two slices of home made bread and a nice cup of tea… Perfect!
Soup… We absolutely love it in our house. Not the tinned variety of course. It has to be ‘Ome-made! And it’s so easy to make. You take your favourite ingredients sweat them off in some butter add some stock, cook for a bit and then blitz. Not leek and potato soup though, that can’t be blitzed. That’s completely breaking the rules, that has to be… ‘lumpy’.
If you make your own stock it’s even better. Even if it’s chucking the bones from the leftover roast chicken in a pot and boiling for an hour, you will be left with a nice base for a soup. Of course if your one of those non-meat eating types you can make a stock from those manky left over carrots at the back of the fridge any veg trimmings and some onion. If you roast the veg for 20 minutes or so you’ll get more flavour and a deeper colour to your stock too.
So heres a recipe for a soup I made the other day along with a recipe for some cumin, ginger and garlic croutons. If you don’t have the croutons with this soup I suggest putting the spices used to flavour them in the soup. Although this recipe has chillies and spices in it it is no way spicy. If you prefer it spicier just up the amount of red chili in the recipe.
Sweet Potato & Red Chili Soup
1 medium onion roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
200g (a large baker) potato cubed
700g sweet potatoes (4 small or 3 medium)cubed
1 large carrot diced
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (or extra black if you haven’t)
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon mild curry massala (or curry powder)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 litre of stock
2 medium sized red chillies deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
Ground black pepper and salt to taste
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes.
Add both types of potato and carrot to the pan along with the white pepper, salt, curry massala, allspice and thyme. Gently sweat all the veg off for a further 10 minutes stirring so the spices don’t stick and burn.
Add your stock which should just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately forty minutes or until all the veg is cooked through and soft. Take off the heat and carefully blitz with a hand blender, blender or food processor.
Put back on the heat and add the remaining ingredients. The soup will be ready after 20 minutes.
Cumin Ginger & Garlic Croutons
8 slices white bread
2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and black pepper
Cut the bread into cubes and put in a shallow roasting/baking tin.
Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the garlic, cumin and ginger. Give the croutons a good toss and then sprinkle a little more olive oil on them and toss them again.
Put in an oven preheated to 165°C on fan setting (185°C for conventional)the croutons will take 30 – 40 minutes but you need to regularly check on them and give them a shake or turn every 10 minutes or so.
Once the croutons are cooked they can be used straight away. Once the croutons are completely cool they can be put in a sealed container where they should be good for up to five days.
Happy soup making!
Well, the weather has turned chilly, there seems to be a pot of ‘Ome Made mulled wine permanently on the stove top & our Kids behaviour has gone mental which can only mean one thing. We’re on the last leg of the countdown to the second biggest celebration of the year. Yes the big day where we hear ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus sang at full belt by our Kids at 6.30am….
We finally came up with ideas on what to make for presents, so we’ve made……..now that would be telling! The Christmas cakes are done & mulling in lashings of brandy. The Christmas pudding (YEY! we don’t have to buy one this year!) is improving, snug in layers of greaseproof paper & tin foil. The mince-meat is jarred & ready to be used for umptious mince pies & because the Kids have been good, the Christmas faeries came & sprinkled their seasonal faerie dust & decorated our home.
We even came to an agreement on what to have for our festive dinner. Ok, so we were stood in the farm shop for around 1 hour umming & aahing whilst Mick the butcher fed us freshly cooked sausages, shouted ideas at us & served quite a few other customers. I bet Mick can’t wait for the day that we walk into his shop & know exactly what we want!
So rib of beef (I think….) is what we came to an agreement on. Piglets in blankets, Carpaccio, Christmas sausage & cranberry roll & Christmas glazed ham will all be gracing the table as well over the festive season. I’ve left the decision on vegetables to ‘Ome. No doubt there’ll be parsnips at some point…..I HATE PARSNIPS! & that is why ‘Ome will have got them & unfortunately our Kids love them so i’m outnumbered on this vegetable.
The fridge will be full of a variety of cheeses too. MissT loves Wenslydale & cranberry. Dj adores Camembert. CurlyE goes mad for any blue cheese (FREAK!) & Lil’mrM will try a bit of everything & decide which he likes best & then probably demand that we use it for ‘Macerwoni cheese!’.
I just hope we don’t end up with the yearly ‘Crackers-Cock-Up’. When ‘Ome is checking if there’s anything else I can think of we need I always say ‘don’t forget crackers’. Unfortunately, neither of us clarifies what we mean by crackers. So for the last few years we have nearly ended up pulling a Jacobs at the table or eating our cheeses with a BANG!
Wishing you all a
Merry Christmas & a Peaceful New Year
Bean Caught Stealing! (For all the Janes Addiction fans!)
A while ago, well it seems a long time ago, way back when the weather was dry & hot, hot, HOT! & all us Brits were saying ‘Well, we mustn’t complain!’ (BUT WE DID!) We gave one of our neighbors some chicken & duck eggs. In return a few days later he gave me some French & runner bean seedlings to grow.
Now, I’ve never grown beans, apart from a very small trial run of broad beans a couple of years ago. I’d somehow got it into my head they were like peas & to get enough of a crop to feed 6 peeps you need to plant a whole football field full!
How wrong was I?
My generous neighbour gave me 8 plants, which I as usual broke the rules with when planting them out.
You see, there’s this thing of ‘Distance’ & ‘Depth’. The distance which each seedling should be planted from each other & the depth in the soil it should be & all the finnickity stuff like Ph of soil etc…etc…(I just feel like I’m back at school doing trig & chemistry!) I just ignored it all (again school springs to mind).
‘Proper’ veg growers have now started tutting at me & now clicked away from Our Blog in absolute disgust!
I hadn’t prepared the soil (apart from turning it over & pulling out a few weeds) apart from apologising to the worm I accidently chopped in half & I basically took these little babies & planted them about 4inches (if that!) apart.
The result of not really trying? Well, to be truthful when our neighbor was on about the fact that they’d got so many beans they didn’t know what to do with them & then asked how ours were going, I kind of smiled & said ‘yeah, they’re great, the beans are fab!’. To be honest we’d had about 6 beans in total & I felt guilty about the fact that I’d obviously not done his plants justice!
But, starting a couple of weeks ago with the rain being more of a frequent visitor we’ve had beans galore! So I’ve figured that not doing the home-work just delays them a bit….Phew!
Picking them is a nightmare! Just when you think you’ve got them all you move your head a couple of inches & find a load more. They are either very well disguised or I need glasses. Also, a funny thing I discovered is if you don’t realise you’ve been leaning into the bowl of beans you’ve picked, when you get into the house & put the bowl down & you then look down at the front of your jumper you discover 20 beans clinging to you for dear life!
So crisp, fresh beans, what to do with them? The best way I’ve found to cook them is pick them fresh & young, (when they’re about 3inch long & if you find a bit of a huge beastie hiding in the foliage just chop it up a bit) stick them in a pan with a knob of butter, a clove of chopped garlic, salt, pepper & a splash of water. Put the lid on & leave over a medium-ish heat for around 10-15mins giving it a shake every now & then. You can also add some chopped courgette & ripped-up old sorrel leaves.
Then serve when just softened but still got a bit of crunch. Yum!
Be prepared for an evening of sly smiles & duvet wafting. Well worth it though!