I’m in Bake Off!

Actually, I’m not. But one of the happier things of cohabiting with your parents is my Dad’s flights of household fancy. In recent weeks this has been a K Mix food mixer (note: this isn’t a funded post!). This is the same one as seen in Bake Off, because by owning this our cooking will become as good as theirs…. logic 😉 

Actually, we do cook quite a lot including baking, making bread and pasta, so it’s not that extravagant. And I’m going to keep repeating that.

So the item most prized in the world arrived yesterday in a great fanfare. And today I decided to actually use it. I’m making the most of my final day before school starts and the relative comfort that the knee braces are giving me to potter about the kitchen.


Not biscuits,  but hot cross buns. Without the cross. Seriously, no one likes the cross.


Let’s get this baby going!

We used the recipe from Baking Mad which has a nice baking mode to cook along to in clear steps.


In went all the stuff (yes, that’s a technical term) and off went the kneading attachment for 5 mins. I did another 5 mins by hand as I like stretching out the dough.


TinyPants was fascinated watching the magic happen… or at least I think that’s what that face means.

After an hour of trying not to look, the yeast had done it’s thing. Time to make buns!


And into the oven they went!

So, there you have it. The first use of the much coveted mixing machine.


And the bake is good.

There’s Something About Sunday… It’s the Yorkshire puddings.

There really is something about Sunday that makes it realistically essential to my sanity. This stems from a mixture of time to sort out my life & food.

I got up late this morning after LSH let me lay in until 9.30 (bliss!) as I’d been up half the night coughing like a plague victim. I needed sleep. I needed my body to just get on and heal itself.

So at 9.30 I dragged myself downstairs to drink the final cup of coffee from the machine and commence on the standard Sunday morning homework marathon (them doing it, me marking it!). I find this quite relaxing now as they know Sunday is homework day – there’s no arguments, just get on with it. And now beanpole likes her teacher, she’s throwing herself into her tasks!

LSH took the girls over to his mum & dads at around 11, leaving me at home due to the evil germs that I really don’t want to share around. So, I carried on with various prep & marking bits until 2 then put away some laundry until they got home.

Our afternoon was spent with TinyPants drawing, making dens and playing strange computer games whilst Beanpole and I made a start on her take home task (like homework, but long term) which she’s chosen to do on dinosaurs (huge surprise)… The task is to chose a time and place in history that you would like to travel back to & make a scrapbook about what went on there. She’s throwing herself into this one!



The best bit about Sundays is that we have time to cook. Traditionally, it’s a roast, and today we’ve got roast chicken with all the bits. Especially Yorkshire puddings.

These are my domain & today’s are sage & onions yorkshires.


They start off looking a bit weird, but then I sit in front of the oven threatening to maim anyone who dares to open the oven as they start to rise….


Wow, my oven needs cleaning… Well that’s on the list!

After this stage, it’s basically witchcraft to get them to this stage….


Cue one big family dinner, bath time all round and ready for another week at school 🙂


Zey. Like Za Soop!

So this evening my dearest mother announces she has bought Sainsburys best pre packaged chicken breasts ready seasoned with unidentifiable green stuff and fatty bacon.

You may have detected that I’m not keen on packaged bung it in the oven foods. So I did what any sane person would do when presented with the prospect of processed dinner delights……. I made soup.


An onion chopped and fried in butter
3 dinky slightly old carrots (it’s nearly shopping day) chopped up and stuffed in with the onion.
Then 500ml of water with 1 chicken and 1 veg stock cube
About 4 chopped parsnips (about because they were frozen… Could’ve been 5)
Some coriander ground and leaf and a bit of medium curry powder.

Boil. Well, simmer for however long the others decide to leave their dinner to shrivel into an overlooked abomination. (Currently standing at 40 mins)


When it’s finished boiling, then stick it in a blender and smooooooothe it out.



Slow cooking my life

So it turns out that cooking actual food requires preparation, care and someone willing to prevent the food from burning.  I lack all but the first of these, and frankly my preparation is a bit haphazard.

But with a family of four adults and two kids, food must and will be cooked.

This weekend witnessed what shall now be known as the Great Family Grocery Budget Debate. This went aling the lines of me & LSH being totally frustrated that despite the weekly shop having arrived two days earlier, we lacked the full ingredients for modt meals. Mum responded that we had to remain in budget, and I rather tactlessly duggested that she stopped buying a load of pre-packaged crap. (Actually, she took that remarkably well).

The decision was made that we would make a weeks menu and a list if any other groceries that we need for next week and create an online order product by product on our chosen supermarket.  It became a game and Sunday morning was spent playing Supermarket Wars. I can smugly say that I won. By a margin of £20. And swapped in tiny packets of packaged fresh veg for big 1kg bags of frozen. Bulk buying FTW!

We’ve also looked at our eating habits.

Cue Bean chilli.

This consists of 5 cans of various beans, chopped tomatoes, spices, onions and a couple of fresh peppers. Stuck gun ho into the slow cooker and left to get on with it while we headed out for a few hours of skating. Enjoyed by most with a helping of rice. TinyPants declared it to be poison. I declared her to be eating it if she wanted pudding.

Tonight’s sliw cooker noms is named ‘WTF do I do with 5 sausages and some left over gammon??!’. Again, I’m working on the basis that LSH has been in London all day and not due back til 8. Meanwhile I have 20 mins in between arriving home and heading out to a Brownie thing with the girls.

Solution? Shove random stuff into a slow cooker on high and hope for the best.


What have we here? Sausages, torn up gammon, tin of chopped tomatoes, bit of added water, carrots, onions, potatoes, paprika, coriander, 2 garlic cloves, a bit of beef gravy.

2.5 hours and it smells quite edible.

So there you have it. Slow cooking – perfect for those on a budget and who have the culinary ability and inclination of…. err…. someone with Dominoes on speed dial 😉

Slooooow Beef Stew

This stuff is stick to your ribs good, and with the first reports of snow appearing over Engkand today, a nice warming dinner was in order.

Stuff you need (makes enough for 6)

3 small onions (30p)
2 carrots
1 small swede (stew  pack £1)
Braising steak (£3.60)
Bottle of beer (£2)
Oxo cube (20p)
Garlic granules (10p)
3 bay leaves
Corriander leaf (about 10p for a few shakes each)
Gravy granules (5p)

Baking potato – £1.50 for 6

Total per person £1.55

Get stuff cooked:

Chop up the onions and leave them in a small amount of vegetable oil in the slow cooker on high to sweat.


Chop up the beef into cubes just under a inch. In a frying pan, braise the beef in a mixture of water and the oxo cube until all sides are browned. Now pour about 1/4 of the beer in the pan. Don’t worry that it fizzes and looks a bit weird.


Pour the dodgy looking beef and its juice in with the onions. Then in the same frying pan put in the carrots which have been roughly chopped to over 1cm thick and add the rest of the beer. This will soak off any beef that has stuck to the pan as well as making your kitchen smell lovely.


After boiling for a couple of minutes, add this to the beef and onions.

Now chop up the swede and add this along with a generous (ready bloody loads) of the dried garlic and a good shake of coriander, paprika and oregano.  Finally,  put in three bay leaves.


Once the lid is on, turn your slow cooker down to medium and cook for a good 5-6 hours (or 10-11 hours on low) until it looks like this:


30 mins before serving, add a shake of gravy granules to thicken the sauce.

Serve with jacket potatoes and green veg.


Taste tested this evening. Yum 🙂

I make my left overs taste gooooood – chicken curry of no particular type.

I made roast chicken on Tuesday. And after we ate, we stuck the rest in the fridge for sandwiches… Except no one has had a chicken sandwich, so what to do with a chicken carcass and six hungry people?


The simple answer is curry. The long answer is this recipe which has been adapted from a variety of different places from friends who make a simple curry powder and jam sauce to a master chef takes you seven hours butter chicken thing (mine is NOT that complicated). What it is not, is out of a jar.

Firstly, I use spices. This curry needs to be mild enough for the kids, but flavorsome enough to keep LSH interested in eating my food. Not too sweet for my Dad, but not sour or too weird looking for my mum. Oh, and I have to be able to cook it with TintPants “helping”. And not make too much mess.

For this you’ll need:

Chicken – cooked. Some. (Depends what’s left on the carcass!)
2 chicken stock cubes
2 onions
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Garlic powder (or chopped, whatever)
Garam Marsala powder (about 2tsp)
Medium curry powder (about 2 tsp)
Some fresh coriander (it’s yummy)
Randomly chopped up veg (I had courgette, cauliflower and aubergine in the fridge)

Rice to go with it, or equally some naan bread works well too. Or both…


Roughly chop the onions, and fry them gently in a big pan or wok in a good slosh of oil. Chuck in the garlic and spices and fry the lot until the onions are soft. Then put in the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cubes. Refill the can with water and stick this in too.

Once they’re all in the pan get the sauce simmering, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer on low while you write a blog post about the nice smells coming from your kitchen.


Give the sauce a taste and then chuck it into a blender (this bit is important!). Once blended, you’ll end up with a thick creamy sauce which has no need of flour to thicken it, which makes my gluten free friends happy.


It’ll go an orangey colour once blended. This is the colour from the onions and everything when blended. Give it a taste, make sure it’s slightly stronger than you’d like. This is because the rice makes it blander (is that even a word?). But anyway, this is the texture you’re looking for…


Next you need to strip the chicken carcass. This is foul (ba boom tss!). It’s just not pleasant having your hands buried in a cold, oily chicken. But for the taste, it’s well worth it. Fry the chicken bits in oil and a sprinkle of garam Marsala.


Then cut up the vegetables into big chunks (over 1 inch) and fry these along with the chicken for a few minutes. Why veg? Well, that chicken won’t feed six so it needs to be bulked out with something, and it’s quite a nice way to add in extra veg to a curry meal. This will definitely have a few of your five a day…


Stir in the sauce and use a little water to clean out the last bits in the blender and loosen the sauce, then cover and let it simmer until the veg softens (about 25 minutes? Long enough to cook some rice). While it’s simmering, you might want to stir it a few times just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.


Finally, eat. You’ve been sniffing this food for around an hour now and you’re probably hungry.


How The Internet Made Me Crunchy

Ok, I had to look this one up on google after I kept reading it in comments and blogs. What is crunchy? Am I crunchy? Do I want to be crunchy?

1. Crunchy means to have altered your lifestyle in order to be more environmentally conscious. It comes from the mocking term used for people who made their own granola. Those hippies who were a bit ‘crunchy’.

2. I think I am a little bit crunchy, yes. I think I’m best described in my hippiness as ‘could do better’.

3. Yes, then. I think I do want to be crunchy.

Actually, it’s the Internet, and specifically other people’s blogs that have let me be a bit crunchier this year. Take this week for instance – I’m working my way through the stuff we bought at the PYO farm. Today’s mission, cook some kohlrabi that was grown less than a few miles from our house..

Before this week, I didn’t have a clue what kohlrabi was, let alone how to cook it and frankly, my mum’s 1970s good housekeeping books were less than helpful. But the lovely Reluctant Hippy posted a link to her blog and low and behold, it sounded delicious.

So we chopped it up into cubes…


And I got TinyPants in on the action with her making sure all the oil and garlic was well and truly coating the stuff.


We used cheddar instead of parmesan as we’d run out, and served it with pork loins baked with coriander, roasted cubed potatoes and peas the whole family was bowled over by how good this tasted! Clean plates all round 🙂


I’m not likely to move into a yurt and milk goats any time soon (although that would be a great way to spend a summer), but I am looking closely at what we eat, and what we wear and am getting a little more vocal about my objections to fracking, but that’s a whole other post.

Some Days Blueberry Muffins Are An Acceptable Breakfast Food

Some idiot in sheer desperation to make my children sleep last night, promised them blueberry muffins for breakfast. We don’t have any blueberry muffins. And as LSH is working in Oxford all week, neither do we have a spare parent to run out at short notice to the shops.

What we did have was frozen blueberries (meant for LSH’s quick breakfast protein shakes to make them taste less like arse), flour, sugar and other baking stuff.


I’m not really one for weighing stuff out because I’m a lazy baker and learnt from an ‘about that much’ approach of my elderly relatives (and having seen how some of my mum’s carefully weighed recipes have turned out, I know that careful weighing a good cake does not make). I’ll give you some close approximations:

Makes about 18ish.

4 oz self raising flour
4 oz granulated sugar
2 oz butter (yes butter, not that nasty plastic margarine stuff)
2 eggs.
A bit of vanilla essence
Enough milk to make the batter pliable but still stiffish (think melted chocolate texture)
The blueberries you have left in the freezer (I guess about 300g?)

Melt the butter a bit in the microwave (for about 30 seconds) and stick this in a big bowl with the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Bash it with a wooden spoon until it’s ‘creamed’ which looks like a paste. Then slowly add in the flour and milk until you have a batter which forms soft peaks (I don’t know what that means either, but it does sound cheffy! Basically, when you take the spoon out, the shapes you leave should soften, but you can still see them).

Now stir in the blueberries so you get a purple swirly effect (this works the same for other berries like the raspberry ones I made this week).


Put some cake cases into a muffin tray (or two as this makes around 18), and spoon in the mixture until it reaches the top of the case. Stop eating the mixture. Seriously, you’ll not have enough to make a muffin at this rate. This bit is important if you want that muffin top look. The big domey effect is just the cake rising over the edge if the case, so make sure your cases have enough mixture.


Bake these in an oven set to 180C for about 25ish minutes, or until they are nicely browned and when you stick a wooden skewer in it comes out clean. Raw cakes are nasty.
It’s useful to pre-heat the oven so the cakes go into an nice hot oven. One day, I shall win the lottery and have an Aga to cook these in. Until then, I have an ancient fan oven that makes weird noises.


These require no frosting. Please don’t frost these. Ew ew ew!

Leave them as long as possible to cool and then stuff your face 🙂