Sunday, 8 December 2013

Monday :(

Oh why are Monday's such hard work? My darling husband has gone back to work and my children are always really moody on a Monday morning. I have loads of washing to do, a carrot cake to make, some shopping to order, the usual housework, writing of Christmas cards (yawn), filling of forms, juggling of the bills and all that jazz, all while my children are in a great big grump.
Its frustrating for the little princess, I understand that. Being 3 years old at Christmas must be an absolute nightmare, what with all the build up. It's a bit like Christmas, but it's not quite. We have a cupboard full of chocolate but the she can't eat any. All of the candy canes that were of the tree went within 2 days, and I have hidden the chocolates for the tree. I might put them on it on Christmas eve!

The World Has Gone Mad

We have had another crazy, busy weekend with the family, but it was lovely, actually. The mexican was nearly a disaster but I saved the day... my Churros were a disaster, so I did cinnamon toast instead! With a vat of melted mars bars, cream and maple syrup. Delish. Then I thought I'd try those taco shells, well they were awful. Just not strong enough, so I made a huge bed of Mexican rice and layered the mince on top, and made seafood fajitas with the shrimps that were destined for some of the tacos.The Gaucamole was a delight too. ...
Sunday was spent doing more Christmassy things and drinking mulled wine!

Still working on getting an 'online recipe book' up and running soon. It is just so chaotic at the mo, what with birthdays and Christmas.

I'm a bit sad today as yet again there is a story in the news about poverty. Some weeks we have to count every penny, cash in the copper tin, scrimp on things.Sometimes we have to go without fuel in the car, or put the tumble drier on less. We are struggling, but we've never gone hungry. I can't believe that can happen in this country. In any country. I do donate to food banks when I can, but this time of year.. how sad it is that people can't afford to eat. That is just a basic necessity. Wish I could do something else.....

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Well how busy are we! All of this wonderful food to plan and shop for, all of these occasions (a few birthdays, oh, and Christmas). I have been so busy! Made the best soup ever too, all of my children absolutely loved it. Carrot, Beetroot and coriander. The colour was absolutely beautiful. It was so delicious and so easy to make. Just a few carrots, fresh beetroot, handful of coriander cooked in stock until tender, the lumps separated from the stock and whizzed up in the blender, then mixed back in the stock with a bit more coriander. I will have to figure out the photo posting thing on here so I can show you the amazing colour! If only there was a tasting app too eh?!

I will be doing the usual Turkey for The Main Event but found a very good priced frozen goose in Aldi, and I will be cooking that too, along with the usual ham, beef etc that I usually make for meals around Yule/Christmas. Loads of lovely meals and plenty to snack on! List writing is taking over my life, though. I have so many lists going on right now, and lists of lists. Menu's, gift lists, remember this and that lists, remember to write this list etc.....

This coming weekend I am hosting a Mexican Fiesta night! I have the pinata already (which has a festive twist) but it looks like the company I ordered from have messed up the sombrero order :( So no funny hats, but plenty of yummy food. The usual fajitas etc but also some lovely seafood tacos and salads. Mostly from memory, I haven't made a mexican meal properly for years! I will post the recipes after the event.

Tonight we will be working on my website again, trying to get something up and running with purely my recipes and photos on, since I have so many! Hopefully the little ones will go to sleep quite early as I would really love to eat my dinner first, it is smelling gorgeous and is one of my all time fav's of Dauphinoise and Slow Cooked Lamb (cooked in red wine, stock, whole garlic cloves and tarragon for the last 7 hours... yummmm)

More later!!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


We have had such a mad few days thanks to life in general. The food situation may have suffered slightly, having indulged in a couple of takeaways, though the children really have been spoiled. It all started with another shocking mess up by the worst supermarket on earth. In my desperation on Friday morning, because my fav supermarket messed up my online shop, I bought a large pork shoulder for our weekly Sunday feast. Well, I went to cook this pork on Sunday, and, having bought it on the 22nd soon realized due to disgusting colour and stench that this pork actually went past its use by on the 15th! I managed to buy it a whole week after the use by. Oh, my oh my. By the time I had calmed down and realised I did actually have the receipt it was too late, it had been thrown away ready for bin collection on Monday morning.
Luckily, I had some fabulous and fresh Venison steak which was a bargain in the best supermarket, so we had an amazing casserole with very creamy mash. 
Among all the others, I have made a couple of soups (leek and potato) and yesterday, a Lamb stew, using minimal and cheap lamb cuts., and adapting a very old recipe. My children all absolutely adored it. 

I have Yule/Christmas feasts to plan and our Mexican night next week coming up, we are also very busy setting up a more formal website for the recipes and step by step guides to the shopping/cooking aspects of happily and healthily feeding so many people. If it is formal meals, themed nights, parties, or just everyday casual yummy stuff, I will post everything I know and I can about how to get the best food shopped for, cooked and eaten, for as cheap as poss. Very much looking forward to having my veg box delivered tomorrow too (hmmm... they said Wednesday, now I am told about 3am Thursday!) but I don't know what will be in it so loads of improvisation with gorgeous fresh, local vegetables to come!

IN THE MEANTIME: A very simple recipe for one of my favourite potato dishes:

Easy Daupinoise!

I find that so many people are scared of making this dish, but I find it so easy and totally delicious. It is quick to prepare even if the cooking time is a little longer than a portion of chips. Wonderful as an accompaniment to most meat steaks, chicken or good quality sausages.

Feeds 4

6 medium sized floury Potatoes (Maris Piper work wonderfully)
400 ml Double Cream
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
Fresh Thyme, leaves picked
good pinch coarse sea salt

Butter for greasing

Use the butter to (generously) grease a shallow casserole dish, I find glass ones work best. Preheat oven to 150 degrees or 140 for fan ovens. Finely slice the potatoes either by hand or with a food processor, they need to be about 3-4 mm thick. Put them in a mixing bowl and with your hands toss them around with the cream, garlic, thyme and salt, making sure to coat each potato slice. Layer them in the casserole, stacking up layers as you go. Try to make the top look a bit 'pretty' but don't worry too much about the lower layers, as long as they are even.Pour any left over cream over the potatoes and cook them in the oven for approx 90 mins or until tender. Check them frequently for the first 20 mins, if the cream starts splitting, your oven is too hot so turn it down a bit.
 For true indulgence dot some small chunks of broken up Brie or other lovely cheese on top for the last 10 mins of cooking. Wow!

C xxx

Saturday, 23 November 2013

What can YOU do with a Gherkin?

Loads. They are also another essential staple in my kitchen! More later :) C xxx

Weekend = FOOD!!

So I did manage to do my food shopping in the end today though it was a mad dash around Sainsburys due to loads of other annoying life things that were going on. I was absolutely delighted to find that they stock Venison. Steaks, and diced, and even sausages! Plenty of gorgeous, warming and succulent casseroles this week. I did order a veg box online, it was so much cheaper than I thought it would be., And is being delivered on Wednesday. I can't wait! My daughter Bea wants to try liver, so liver and bacon my way will be on the menu at some point this week.
Tomorrow is Sunday, my fav day of the week, I will spend most of it in the kitchen with Planet Rock on the radio, while cooking up a glorious feast or 3 for the family. Actually, some of it will be started tonight. I have a lovely pork shoulder for The Main Event tomorrow, a roast is simply my most fav thing to cook, but I couldn't resist a little joint of Beef brisket while shopping today, so I shall stick that in the slow cooker tonight so its ready for tomorrow. I put the brisket in with onions, garlic, a couple of tablespoons of molasses, a good seasoning of old bay and some salt. Cover it with plenty of beef stock and a splash of red wine vinegar. I'll put it on at about 10pm on low and after 10-12 hours the beef will be a dark brown/burgandy colour and will just fall apart. Beautiful.
Its nice to just have a bit of this for a snack during the day, my children are always hungry (?) and a chunk of this usually keeps them quiet for at least half an hour!  Sunday night is special sarnie night for me and my man though, we rarely want a big dinner after The Main Event (massive Sunday lunch) so I usually knock up an interesting sandwich. The brisket is lovely if its almost 'pulled', mixed up with plenty of mayo and a bit of american mustard, and then used to overfill a crusty roll with plenty of rocket leaves and finely chopped fresh tomato and cucumber. Yummmmmm.....

Old Bay seasoning is an essential ingredient in my kitchen, I get it from Amazon as have never seen it in the shops anywhere though I believe it is popular thing in the states. I use it in everything from soups, casseroles and even potato salad. I may have to make a potato salad to go with our sarnie tomorrow night!

Claire's Potato Salad recipe:

This is plenty to feed 6-8 as a side dish!

5 Hard boiled free range eggs
1 kg salad/waxy potatoes
good quality mayo, use a jar, it will help the salad last longer
Old Bay seasoning or celery salt (to taste)
2 sticks celery (finely chopped)

Halve the potatoes and boil them until tender, drain and leave to cool (slightly open windows work wonders)
Peel and finely chop the eggs, literally put all the ingredients together and serve! This will happily survive a couple of days in the fridge (covered, I don't understand how People survive when they put cooked food in the fridge uncovered!) Obviously it wont ever make it to the fridge because it is gorgeous! Its great as an accompaniment  or as part of a buffet.

If i'm having family over for lunch I don't always cook a big plateful, i'll do a bit of a buffet/variety. This potato salad works great with cold meats, sticky sausages, chicken satay, deviled eggs, and even my famous meatballs. I'll post some buffet menus soon.

I have a well stocked kitchen, not always of easy to cook stuff, but I can usually create a yummy dish or 3 by just having some basics. Seasoning and stock are always essential. Herbs and spices. Oils and vinegars. Potatoes, Chicken (chicken is so versatile), flours, eggs, sausages, celery. Garlic and the glorious thing that are onions. I use so many onions. Mushrooms. In fact how many meals can you think up just by having a few of these? They are all long lasting and relatively cheap considering how little you use and how long they last. Add some cream and you could make Dauphinoise Potatoes or mushroom Stroganoff. With just the basics you could make soups, meatballs, bread. With a little bit of savvy and some basic skills, no one need ever go hungry, and food need never go to waste.

Good food is wonderful. It is so good for the body, but is also so fabulously amazing for the soul. Its like an aromatherapy oil for me, food, feeding people, the smells, occasions, just excuses for being happy, relaxing, contentment satisfaction.

Onions + Thyme. Oh my, feeling an urge to make a french onion soup now... another thing for the menu this week (and so cheap!)

Tonight though, is Saturday night, I will be cooking all day tomorrow and tonight is mine (and my husbands) so a night off is called for, except for putting the brisket on. I think its a chow mein night and i'm gonna pay for someone else to cook it and bring it to us :)

C xxx

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Had a nightmare trying to amend my sainsbury delivery online last night, thanks to verified by visa throwing a fit! Dave is off to work this morning so I had no choice but to go to Add a at 04.30 for essentials ..... £94 later I'm back! Still need to go and do a food shop tomorrow though! Can't say I'm impressed.