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Archive for the ‘in my kitchen’ Category

This post was supposed to be a very imformative and visually brilliant (ahhh shiny cutlery!) post called: The Quest for Untarnished Spoons. Alas, to date my mission has failed. But I’m going to post it anyway.

My quest started many sun-ups ago on the day of Christ’s Mass when i was given a great gift from an enchanting Good Witch; my grandma gave me her old stainless steel cutlery set.

I traversed the land (scoured google) for the solution to the curse of Tarnish upon my pretty spoons and fish forks. And thus my journey began…

Get together your cutlery and take pictures because theyre so pretty.

Line a tin with foil and put your utensils in it.

Pour boiling water to cover the cutlery, then sprinkle on a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda. Make a cup of tea.

Have a cuppa, or wait for 20-30 mins.

Wash them in hot soapy water, dry with a clean tea towel…and cry because they are still tarnished.

Literally hundreds of people online swear by this method. I read several first-hand accounts of this WORKING. Since this disaster i have tried:

  • scrubbing with a paste of bicard and a little water
  • rubbing hard with a dry cloth and vinegar
  • using toothpaste
  • soaking in vinegar and then scrubbing/rubbing
  • shouting at them profusely
  • and, of course, pleading.

None of them has worked.

I like them tarnished anyway…?

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my recipe for mature cheddar cheese biscuits with a bite; great as canapes with wine and cocktails, or as a treat instead of bread with soups.

grown-up cheese biscuits:
(mine made 4 baking sheets of little bitesize biscuits)

8oz plain flour
5oz stork (hard cooking margerine) or cold butter/cookeen/lard
tsp cayenne pepper
tsp paprika
heaped tbsp dried mixed herbs (and/or any fresh you have in the garden)
good pinch of salt
8oz mature cheddar, grated
an egg

this recipe is basically an enriched version of the shortcrust pastry i use for quiches, pies and tarts all the time. that’s 8oz flour, 5oz stork and 1 egg. but whatever recipe you use, the real trick of good pastry is cold hands ūüėČ

combine dry ingredients in a bowl. use the herbs and spices you like best which compliment cheddar cheese, or use parmesan! add chilli or curry powder if you want them to lift a boring soup, or leave all spices and cayenne pepper out if youre making them for kids. or use english mustard! i’m getting excited just thinking about the variations. back to the recipe:
combine dry ingredients and add the cold stork/butter. use a knife to chop the fat into the flour, to speed up the next part: rub in the fat, just like pastry, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
add the grated cheese and gently mix it with your hands so all the cheese is coated with the dry mixture. add the egg (and a little water if it needs it) and mix with your hand until it forms a ball.
if your kitchen is warm, put it in plastic and into the fridge for 20 mins or so. if you can see your breath in your kitchen like i can, there’s really no need! roll it out on a floured surface until it’s the thickness of corrugated cardboard. that’s the cardboard that makes wine boxes, incase you were wondering!
use gayly coloured, amusingly shaped cookie cutters to make fun little biscuits, or be reserved and make them round (boring!). place them on lightly oiled trays (they shouldn’t spread, so pack the trays but don’t let the biscuits touch) and bake them in a 180 deg. celcius oven (gas mark…6?) for ABOUT 10 mins. they are cooked when they don’t squish when you poke them, and they are a nice golden colour. they are overcooked when the edges go dark brown.
note: if you wanted to do this in a food processor (recommended if youre making large batches for a party) i would first grate the cheese in it and set aside. then put butter and dry ingredients in and blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs. stop the motor and add cheese and the egg (i’ve had so many shell-related accidents by not stopping the motor in this way!) and blitz again JUST until it forms a ball. take out and carry on as usual.

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the butternut squah has got to be my favourite vegetable (go on, just argue that it’s a fruit!). it’s got such versatility in the way it can be cooked, but more importantly lends itself so perfectly to my favourite meals to cook – soups. here’s my first recipe shared through this blog, which will also be located on the ideas & tutorials page at the top.

sweet butternut soup:

(for 2 hearty bowlfuls)

half a butternut squah

a large carrot

a small white onion or handful of shallots

a sqeeze of tomato puree

half a tin of your choice of beans eg. borlotti, butter beans

various condiments and cupboard supplies!

first you need to peel and chop the vegetables. chopping them smaller means the soup takes less time to cook! put them in a heavy pan with a little oil and fry them on a low heat, moving them around a bit for a few minutes.

while they’re softening, open the tin of beans and rinse them thoroughly (or use dried beans that you have soaked in water beforehand).

pour some fresh water into the pan of vegetables, about quarter of a pint, and squeeze in some tomato puree. the reason i’m not using vegetable stock is that the butternut squah flavour is brave and will carry through the others i put in. cover the pan and simmer for 20 or so minutes until the vegetables and very soft. check a couple of times to make sure there’s still liquid – add a bit more water if it’s boiled away – and then mash it roughly.

that is your basic butternut soup, and now it’s time to customise it to your taste.

i like this soup to get sweet with earthy undertones, so i add a spoonful of honey, and then a splash of balsamic vinegar. a little salt but no pepper as i don’t want to spoil the squah flavours. and some dried herbs because i don’t have any fresh sage.

for something a little hotter, add a pinch each of chilli powder and ground ginger, or some tobasco.

for the beans, my favourite for this soup are butter beans, as they compliment the flavours so nicely. today i used borlotti beans, but i wasn’t impressed with their brownish awful colour in the tin. if you don’t like beans throw in some arborio risotto rice, and simmer until the rice has swelled and is soft.

served with my soup here are some little cheddar cheese biscuits, the recipe for which i will post for you tomorrow!

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A big Happy Birthday to my Dad on the 30th! Here is a photo of the present i made him quickly taken before posting it (he won’t read this until he opens the parcel, he’s away minus internet):

Yesterday i dragged C to town (also known as Christmas Market Hell); he hates crowds but managed very well to hold all the bags…and his tongue! Still no luck on the charity shop coat front, my aim of finding one before christmas is quickly dwindling. But i did get my Peppermint Bark ingredients:

But alas, now i have to go to work (on a sunday of all days!!!) so i’ll leave anyone who’s reading with the view from my kitchen window. Nb: the window is clean on the inside, so it’s not my fault it’s smudgy from the outside! Outside window washing is a man’s job, right?xxx

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Good old fashioned stitching in a tearoom. Much needed alone time!

Spent a wonderfully clear day buying vegetables at the farmers market, some very decent secateurs at the flea market, and hunted every charity shop in town for a winter coat and tartan skirts – came back empty handed on the clothes front, but teacakes more than makes up for it!

And a lazy sunday with a full english!

And cheeky kitten + boyHope you all had a good weekend too!

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On the last day of October me and my friend Phoebe went for a walk. We encountered the river Avon, got our boots muddy, stuffed our pockets full of apples, scrumped sloe berries, sidled past a large cow and jumped a few gates!

Then back to mine to use the berries we found. Sloes and rosehips, with plently of Gordon’s.

The rosehip gin is an experiment – never used rosehips before but why not when the hedgerows were bursting?!

I also loved how in the clear bottle, the rosehips and sugar look like one of those snow globes, the ones you shake up…feels Christmassy, maybe i should turn this photo into an unusual greetings card!

Hope November didn’t creep up on you all too fast. I always liked november. Wooly hat time. Much love! P.S. Did anyone notice that? ‘Plently of Gordon’s’? I wasn’t slurring my words. I didn’t drink the gin that wouldn’t fit in the bottle. Honest!

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WHO bread

I made SouleMama’s WHO bread yesterday (wheat honey and oats) and it is delicious!!!

I love the crinkly knobbly crust it made itself in the oven, and i just can’t stop eating ‘one more slice’ with some butter. There was virtually no kneading and although it took a long time to prove (cold october is upon us!), it was worth the wait. Thanks Amanda!

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