Boiled Baby’s Head

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From time to time Husband will come back from the local Co op with a packet of short dated meat saying “I thought we might have such and such this week”. The packet will then sit there getting closer to the use by date until one of us finds the time, energy and enthusiasm to do something with it.

It is not, I must point out, always me. My Husband can cook,( in fact our relationship can be dated back to a lasagna in august 2002) but claims that he is limited in the kitchen. He says that his Mum made sure that both he and his brother had the very basics, the stuff that you need to survive on your own, because she knew she was not going to be around for long, but that she passed away before teaching him the other stuff, that its useful to know but you don’t really need, such as putting a sunday roast on the table.

I have complained here before about the unadventurous nature of my family’s palate, but here is the strange thing. Husband is not afraid to experiment in the kitchen… I have no way of telling whether he’s always been this way or whether 7 years of watching me being not afraid to mess things up in the kitchen, has led to him from time to time picking up one of my recipe books, but yes occasionally he will get an idea in his head and will follow it to see whether it works.

So then, at the end of last week Husband came home with a packet of meat and said “I thought we could have a snake and pygmy”. The meat sat there until monday when it fell to me to get a bit worried about the closeness of the use by date, so whilst making dinner I browned off the meat, fried some onions and bunged the mixture with the remains of an old bottle of port into the slow cooker. To tone down the sweetness of the port and because we had no Worcestershire sauce I bunged in some fish sauce and a load of soy sauce.

Next day I was in the process of heating it up and about to break it to Husband that today was the day he learned how to make short crust pastry when he turns round to me and says “no, I was thinking of doing it as a pudding not a pie. I want to do it like my Mum did, in a bain marie in the oven” At which point we decided to have something else for tea as I pointed out we wouldn’t be eating until long after 9pm as it would take so long to cook.

On Wednesday night however, having earlier put in a plea for iron rich food I find that Husband and Spider have together been making suet pastry and there was a Steak and Kidney pudding in the oven in a bain marie and a recipe book covered with floury handprints (after an hour we took it out and started steaming it on the stove as the oven method wasn’t working) – and you know what, it was stunning !

You should never be afraid of trying something new. You should never be afraid of failure. You are never too old to try…and if someone makes an effort for you because they want to make you smile, you should tell them how much you appreciate it.

Next week we celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary…it’s amazing where some pasta and a tomato based sauce can take you.n

Boiled Baby’s Head is a colloquial term, possibly from the west midlands for Steak and Kidney Pudding.

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Do something good

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Things I have learned today:

  • I am not anemic
  • I have very thin/small veins
  • You can get blood out of a lawyer* it just may take longer than usual due to aforementioned veins

In case you haven’t already guessed, I gave blood today. And yes, I know it has nothing to do with cooking generally or cake specifically but I thought it was important enough to mention, especially if any of you reading this decides to do the same.

It was admittedly my first time and I promise you my decision to give blood had nothing to do with the fact it was held at Reading Fire Station !

I am however feeling a little wiped out and am lying on the sofa waiting for my husband to deliver an iron rich meal. My work colleague Portia has recommend for next time to eat iron rich food the night before and after the event to help counter any possible feelings of tiredness.

Details of donor sessions can be found at www.blood.co.uk

*that’s my joke of the day and I’ve been telling it to everyone – because if I don’t they’re bound to tell it to me anyway !

Gingerbread

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Yesterday was spent experimenting and recipe testing. At least that is what I was doing, Spider was enjoying making biscuits and playing with “dough”.

I have a copy of Gingerbread:Joanne Farrow from the library at the moment. It’s a book I’ve had before, by accident as when I’m choosing books Spider has a habit of grabbing things from the shelves and insisting that they are included in out borrowed items – Anyway I digress – I am still trying to plan christmas, food to buy and make, presents to make etc – I am not getting very far admittedly.

Anyway since this particular family is not very interested in the traditional christmas cake I thought I’d try out a few things before christmas and see what works…last weeks chocolate gingercake worked quite well, so that’s the route I’m thinking about at the moment…although since I want Spider to help with the cake I suspect we will be doing a christmas log.

We made part of the gingerbread street, because we wanted to play around with stained glass windows which are made by crushing up boiled sweets, placing in cut outs in the part cooked dough and then cooking for another 5 minutes. The recipe is meant to make 6-8 sets of houses but ours only made 3 as Spider wanted to make a gingerbread man and play with the cutters…

november 2009 012That was last night. It is currently 10am and there is none left, not even a crumb so I guess we can safely say that the basic golden gingerbread recipe from this book is a hit in this family (yes I know eating biscuits for breakfast shouldn’t be encouraged, but I don’t make a habit of it…) – as usually I played around with the recipe as I’m incapable of following something to the letter. This time though I simply replaced the caster sugar with brown sugar, as we have no caster sugar at the moment and lots and lots of different brown sugars – anyway, I think gingerbread tastes better with brown sugar, but that’s just a personal opinion.

Right off to the shops to buy ginger and golden syrup in bulk…I may be sometime

ps you are supposed to pipe chocolate around the doors and windows and add strips of chocolate but the temptation to consume was too strong and we didn’t get that far…

Necessity is…

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…the mother of invention – apparently.

There was no real necessity for me to use ginger ale in the stew – It’s just I hate to waste a thing if I can avoid it and I didn’t see any prospect of anyone else in the house drinking the ginger ale (left over from the birthday cake) in the next week or so (although at the time I had forgotten about the bottle of lime vodka in the freezer…).

But there I was with stewing steak desperately needing to be cooked before it went off. A bag of ready cut stewing veg bought cheap in Asda not used when originally planned and looking sorry for itself, plus the remains of the veg drawer… what I lacked though was leftover wine or beer or anything that might give me an interesting variation on a standard beef stew…so I poured the ginger ale into it and added a stock cube (some lemon, more ginger, garlic and a cinnamon stick), boiled it up and left it in the slow cooker overnight.

It was…interesting. OK it wasn’t bad, but there was a background sweetness which would have been unbearable after a few mouthfuls if it hadn’t been for Husband’s fabulous fluffy dumplings (recipe on back of Atora packet) and some last minute chunks of potato… Cheap and green – not as green as the meat and veg would have been if I’d left it any longer !

Yay !

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Yay ! I have contact lenses…I feel like me again…but more of that another time…

I love this time of the year. I think I mentioned last year that I like Halloween, but not for the trick and treat, for the food. And Bonfire night ! I love Bonfire night but not for the fireworks but for sausages and baked potatoes and toffee…planning on going to a party weekend of the 7th purely because they are offering a hog roast…but back to Halloween.

I did not this year make the Ghoul Graveyard cake as Halloween clashed with my Dad’s birthday party. So instead I borrowed an idea from Domesticali and made some ghostie lollipops for nearest and dearest and closest small people. We had a wonderful scary pumpkin carved by Husband and I have a fridge full of pumpkin carvings waiting to become soup…but they will have to wait as I also have a fridge full of leftovers due to overbuying for half term (Teenager came to stay for most of it).

My Dad is a very lucky boy as due to a diary clash he gets to celebrate both this weekend (31st) and again on the 7th. My brother couldn’t make the 31st as he had another party to go to, whereas we couldn’t make the 7th as we were hoping to go to a Mercedez day at Brooklands (shhshh, don’t tell Spider but Lewis Hamilton might be there).

Tried to make a cake that might keep the week and still be nice…and that always means gingerbread but as a concession to the fact most people eating it will be under 7 he has Nigella’s chocolate gingerbread, which is nice but not as nice as liberkuchen…but that is an obsession to talk about another day…as is my liking for gingerbread in general (the only Starbucks coffee I have been known to drink is their gingerbread latte…I love the autumn !).

So yes I can see and all is well in my little corner of the world… oh and a picture of a very very brown cake to follow when I can find the camera which has gone walk about again – SPIDER !!!