Saturday, 21 November 2009

Quick and easy supper for a Saturday

I wanted something quick for tonight, and ended up with an easy, tasty supper - and frugal into the bargain. Put on a pot of water for pasta of your choice - I used farfalle; meanwhile, drain the oil from some sun-dried tomatoes into a frying pan over a medium to high heat (I got my tomatoes at a rock bottom reduced price last night, using 2 x 150g tubs, in oil and herbs); when hot, slice in some leeks (I went to the vegetable basket for onions, but found a couple of leeks that needed using up soon), and when starting to soften, add in the tomatoes. Cook pasta when the water boils. Drain pasta, give it a good shake and return to the hot pan; mix through the tomatoes and leeks, and add in a good two handfuls of crumbled blue cheese - I used Stilton as that's what I had. Reheat for a minute or two and serve.
So, for under about 4.00 that fed us all(4 adults), washed down with a bottle of gooseberry wine. What started out as a plainish supper of pasta with tomato and onion sauce turned into something really good that I will do again.
It may well turn out differently according to what's in the larder and fridge, but that's half the fun of cooking for me.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Letting go

The older I get, the easier I find it is to say no, and to let things go that I can't or won't find time for. I've done that with a few projects lately, the latest casualty being the Nanowrimo. I really enjoyed it last year, but am definitely not enjoying it this time round, so it's gone. The world will carry on (and possibly be a better without my literary offerings.
I'd rather spend my time on things I'm really enjoying and that mean something to me. I've also learned not to take on too much - better to do a few things well and on time, than struggle with a lot of things and spread myself more thinly. Admittedly it's not always easy to say no, but there are ways of letting down people gently and politely; I'm sure they'd much rather I said no at the outset than have to endure disappointment later on.
Once the final decision to let something or somebody go, it's amazing the weight that seems to be lifted from your shoulders. Maybe I should do it more often!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Making medlar cheese

Not many medlars are grown these days, which is a shame; it's an easy tree to grow, doesn't get too big, is interesting in its growth habits , has lovely foliage in the late autumn and produces the above strange little fruits. Funny little brown things with a star-shaped flat surface opposite the stem end; the French name for them is "cul de chien", which translates as dog's bottom!
The curious thing about medlars is that they are not edible until bletted - this means left to go very soft and squidgy, changing from yellowish green in their unripe state to a mid to dark brown. They can be left on the tree, when the first frost will blett them, or picked and brought into a warm kitchen and left in a warm airy place until ready.
For making the medlar cheese, the first thing you need to do is extricate teh flesh; when they are so soft, a gentle squeeze will break the skin, and you can squeeze out the flesh into a dish; there are five big seeds in there too, so just get all the insides into the dish to begin with. I then put the resulting pulp through a sieve, directly into the weighing pan of the scales. When that's done, the skins are put through a colander, along with the pulp from the sieving; this gets the pulp off that is sticking to the insides of the skins and around the pips - surprising how much more you get. Be warned, it's a very messy operation! The end products should be a heap of smooth raw pulp and a heap of dryish skins etc for the compost heap or chickens:

Weigh the pulp, and put into a heavy based saucepan; add in the same weight in white sugar, stir well, and cook over a lowish heat until dissolved:

Move the pan to a higher heat, and leave to bubble away until really, really thick - you should be able to draw the wooden spoon over the base of the pan and divide the contents, as in cooking chutney. It will plop and guggle like a volcano, and make a mess of the stove top, but it needs a long steady cook to reach the end stage, where you should have a thickened slightly grainy mass that refuses to drip from the spoon. Lightly oil your moulds - I used muffin tins, and I hope to be able to turn them out successfully, and these should give a good shape.

That's them cooling now; I'll leave them until tomorrow, covered, in the kitchen and turn them out and store them for Christmas. Some may be given as presents, tied with cellophane and a ribbon. I'm sure it would be a welcome gift, as I suspect few people have tasted it.
Any other folks grow this? If not, are you tempted?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Nanowrimo 2009

I thoroughly enjoyed taking part (successfully!) in this last year, so have decided to have another go this year.However, having only started this afternoon, I've a lot of catching up to do if I'm to complete the 50,000 words by 30th November - I will, though, I will.........
It's about knitting, a remote lighthosue and three women. So far.........
I've whooshed out 2,578 words this afternoon in just over an hour, so fairly sure I can make it.
Wish me luck!
Anyone else having a go?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

October Giveaway - the finished hat!

This is what Karen chose for her prize, the colours chosen by her lad, as it's for him:

Can you e-mail me Karen, and let me have your details to send it on please? Thanks.

This is a nice one, quick and easy, not fancy, economical. Smooth, rather than chunky, as the apples puree themselves mostly.

4lbs apples - windfalls, cookers, etc; peel, core, chop small
3/4 lbs red onions - chop small
1/2lb sultanas
3/4 lb dark brown sugar
1 1/2 pints cider vinegar
2 tsp ground ginger
2tsp ground cinnamon

Put it all in a pan and cook it down slowly until thick enough to draw the spoon through. Pot up when hot, or when cold.Label and store, will be ready for Christmas.

Eve's pudding

This is a lovely late autumn/early winter pudding, served warm with home made custard. Easy and fairly economical, make several at once - saves on fuel for cooking, and the cooked pudding freezes well.

Serves about 4:

4 large cooking apples
4oz self-raising flour
4 oz butter
4oz sugar + sugar for apples
2 eggs, beaten
milk to mix if required

Peel and core the apples and cut into chunks; put in a pan over a lowish heat with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a splash of water.Put the lid on and cook until just tender, but still retaining the shape. If you over cook, and it goes more puree-like it doesn't matter, it will still taste as good!
meanwhile, lightly butter a baking dish; cream butter and sugar together until well mixed and fluffy, and add the eggs slowly. Beat in flour; add a little milk if required, to a soft dropping consistency.
Put the cooked apple into the dish, and spread the sponge mixture on the top.
Bake in a hottish oven for 35 minutes or so until well-risen and golden brown.
This is also good with pears, but I'm not sure what that would be called!

Just imagine..................

...if you had this view to wake up to every morning! Absolutely stunning - I can't stop looking at the picture lol. I'm so, so tempted I am :)

From here:

Anyone want to share?

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Teh weather here in Dorset has been truly seasonal the last couple of days - lashing rain, high winds (for here), chilly, miserable; but it is November after all, and we're on the cusp of early winter. I have no argument with the weather - ever. I never moan about it, as I feel that's a waste of time and effort - there's nothing to be done about it, so I just get on with it. However, I am the greatest respecter of weather and the forces of nature. When the weather is like it has been the last couple of days, I stay put. Only if it was urgent would I venture out; no point in putting life and limb (mine and others) at risk. Like a lot of things these days, some folks seem to think it's their 'right" to be able to go out and about as and when they want to; they'll travel miles in terrible weather just to go to the cinema or go shopping, or whatever.
We did forego our grocery shopping on Friday evening because of the wind and rain. We are equipped to last quite a while ehre foodwise, so one evening certainly wasn't going to hurt. When we got up on Saturday, weather had improved enough to go out, but we were still wary of fallen branches, flooding on the low road, etc. The local brook was very flooded,away out over the fields; seagulls were having a great time!The whole key to coping with the weather is to take notice of what is going on and act accordingly. Stupidity, impatience and a "Must have it now/go there now attitude" can and does cost lives. Why risk it? Teh furthest I venture is to the top of the garden to tend the beasties - that's enough for me.
The weather is bright this morning, but still cloudy; unsure what will follow later, but the picture above was taken this morning looking over towards Bulbarrow Hill. That was nice to get up to!