Failing To Blog Again


Friday, 20 November 2015

Failing to blog again
Never wanted to
What I am to do
I can't help it

Apologies to Marlene.

I think I burnt my blogging self out in September and October when I came back from my break. I posted a lot and then felt guilty for not keeping up the pace. 

Why on earth I should be feeling guilty about not blogging I do not know. It is, after all, just a hobby, something I do fun. Who cares how often bloggers blog? I don't care how often my favourite bloggers blog so I've no reason to think my readers care how often I blog, and yet, there's a little voice saying 'you really should write a blog post'. It's an annoying little voice and I'm telling it now that I will blog when I'm good and ready. 

War On Waste


Monday, 9 November 2015

In my kitchen last week there was food that was past its best. There always is. It's inevitable. Unless you buy spanking fresh produce every day then some of what you eat will not be in tip top condition. Luckily we have fridges and freezers to help prolong the life of our food. There are also many foods which keep in good condition without the need for a fridge or freezer, such as dried beans and lentils, pasta, rice, tinned produce and anything preserved in lots of sugar, salt or vinegar.

I watched Hugh's War onWaste last week and like everyone else who watched it was angered by all those perfectly good rejected parsnips. I was also shocked to see people throwing away good food because it was a nanosecond past its use by date. Firstly because I couldn't understand why they'd bought more food than they could eat, and secondly because it was all almost certainly perfectly edible.

 Supermarkets love use by dates. They love it when you stand in front of your fridge throwing out all the old food to make room for all the new food you are going to buy because you are afraid you will die if you eat a yogurt that is two days past the date on its label. If you make your own yogurt it won't have a use by date on it and you can eat it for as long as it takes to go pink -several weeks. Or, you could use it up before then in muffins, scones, cakes or smoothies.

Four shrink wrapped baking potatoes from a supermarket will have a use by date of one week on them. A 20 kg sack of potatoes from a farm shop will have no date at all. I keep my sacks in the garage and they last well for two or three months if you are a big hungry family (I find the 10 kg sacks suit us better now there are four of us). Greengrocers also sell fruit and veg loose and date free but I concede that supermarkets are often cheaper and more convenient and I use them as much as anyone else.

The only use by dates I take notice of are the ones on meat and fish and even then I don't take much notice. I either cook it within a couple of days or sling it in the freezer and cook as soon as it's defrosted. It's pretty obvious when any food has gone off, that's what your sense of smell is for. Look and sniff.

Use by dates encourage waste and rob us of common sense.

 A bendy carrot was not thrown in the bin but grated and made into a sandwich for my husband with the last couple of spoonfuls of hummus and tapenade even though neither had been 'finished within two days of opening'. Husband survived.

On Tuesday I cooked too much rice -this time not on purpose, I cooked the recommended 300g for 4 persons and found it to be way too much. I didn't throw the rice away. I cooled it quickly by spreading it out in a shallow dish and refrigerated it as soon as it was cool. The next day I made tuna and rice salad and ate it for my lunch for the rest of the week. 

The onion leftover from the rice salad plus a couple of wrinkled peppers and some aging eggs, which incidentally I do not refrigerate, went into this sturdy Spanish style omelette. I ate the leftover piece for breakfast.

A softening sweet potato was made into a curried filling for pasties with chickpeas and frozen spinach (a marvellous ingredient by the way), a spoonful of curry paste and a chunk of creamed coconut. I grated up the end of a cucumber and stirred it with the last bit of yogurt to make raita.

And two spotty bananas were made into these little puff pastry parcels with some squares of chocolate and a spoonful caramel sauce from a jar. I bought the caramel especially for this because I really fancied trying this idea but I had all the other ingredients. My usual spotty banana rescue is muffins or banana cake.

I had a few bruised apples. I  cut away the bruised bits and cooked the rest in a little butter. Then I stirred the rest of the caramel sauce into them and spread them over the rest of the puff pastry which I had baked.

This morning my fridge contained these leftovers; four small chicken thighs from a casserole I made yesterday, a couple of spoonfuls of peas, the remaining liquid from the casserole and half a butternut squash. There was also the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes plus half a block of feta.

From these somewhat random ingredients I made the delicious dish below.
I tossed the diced squash with the tomato oil and roasted it. I heated up the chickeny juices and used them to rehydrate some couscous. I stir-fried the chicken and peas with a couple of sun-dried tomatoes and the roasted squash. Finally I sprinkled it with crumbled feta and served it with the couscous and some out of date rocket, which as you can see was in perfect condition. There is a spoonful of couscous left and quite a lot of feta - lunch for me tomorrow.

Making Winter


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Emma at Silverpebble has rekindled her Making Winter bloghop/hashtag affair. It's a brilliant way to combat the winter blues if you suffer from them or, if like me you positively revel in fallen leaves, dark evenings and gloom it's a great way to enhance the winter experience. 

My first contribution to Making Winter is this shawl. It came off the needles a few weeks ago and I finally got round to sewing in the ends and half-heartedly blocking it yesterday. It's not quite the 'quantum physics-like lace shawl' Emma may have been thinking of but it's perfect for wrapping around my shoulders first thing in the morning whilst waiting for the radiators to fire up.

The pattern is called Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West and was really, really easy. The details are here. The colour has not photographed well, it is a much warmer green than it appears here. I'd love to make it again in a multicoloured yarn.

My second contribution is a cake. Of course. I love to make gingerbread around Bonfire Night. Sticky and warm with spices it's perfect with a cup of tea on a late autumn afternoon. I made this one today but I'm not going to cut it until tomorrow when it will have developed its flavour a bit and become stickier.

The recipe can be found here . It's basically a halved version of this one made in a loaf tin. I thought it would be prudent to make a smaller cake seeing as I will probably eat most of it.

For more winter comforts hop over to the Making Winter blog hop here. See also this post.

Not Halloween


Saturday, 31 October 2015

No pumpkins, no dressing up, no sugar hangovers. My family seems to have finally grown out of halloween. Hoo-bloody-ray. 

But if you are up to your elbows in pumpkin guts these posts might help. All the ideas will work with any kind of pumpkin or winter squash, butternut squash for instance, and will probably be nicer than a tasteless, watery carving pumpkin.

This year, halloween for me is all about the Rugby World Cup final. I'm backing the All Blacks because I like the haka and Dan Carter plus they're going to win (sorry Aussies).

Quince ratafia
I made quince brandy as a change from my usual quince vodka. The old-fashioned term for a drink made by steeping fruit and sugar in spirits is a ratafia. I rather like that. I made this ratafia exactly the same way as this substituting brandy for vodka.

Coconut and cherry cake

And here is another version of the cheap and cheerful cake, a coconut and cherry one. I replaced the cocoa with flour and added about 100g/1 cup of desiccated coconut and 100g of chopped glacé cherries (about 14). Sweet, stodgy deliciousness.

October you have been glorious.

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