Category Archives: Recipe

Warning: Post Includes Vegetables.

The one good thing about having surgery? You have a perfectly good excuse to do nothing for a few days! Okay, it wasn’t major surgery and it didn’t hurt too much, but having a kind neighbour bring feijoa crumble and spending the rest of the time watching MirandaThe Daily Show and Doctor Who was rather nice. Even better, by the end of it, the rest had done me a world of good. Even if I think I did drive the nurses nuts initially because I took so long to wake up from the anesthesia!

I’ve been up to things!

Highlander Plaid

Highlander Plaid

This is a very bad, late at night, unblocked shot, but this is the next of my plaid socks in Lime & Violet Shuanmi Sock that I bought a long time ago because… well, the colourway is “The Dread Pirate Violet.” Purple and a Princess Bride reference? It had to be stashed. I’ve dubbed this the Highlander Plaid, though, because it reminds me of purple tartan. It’s super easy, but I love the 3D look to the stitch pattern.

Last night I got back into quilting. I’m still working with my Firefly quilt, but I changed the design, because… okay, let’s be honest. I’m new to quilting and the bear claw blocks were doing my head in. This seems to be going rather better.

All you need is triangles

All you need is triangles

All that lying in bed made me crave quilting!

It’s been nice to get back to some proper cooking too. I came up with this quick and easy pasta.

Watercress & Chorizo Pasta

Watercress & Chorizo Pasta

For one, just chop up approx. half a chorizo sausage (the smaller the better), and fry up in a little olive oil. Add cooked pasta and stir in a couple of handfuls of fresh, roughly chopped watercress (not cress… watercress) and one chopped spring onion and cook just until wilted. Add a little more olive oil if too dry and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. All done. And it’s incredibly delicious. I can’t use watercress enough.

But I have discovered an odd problem in my fridge. It keeps filling up with vegetables. The other day I opened my fridge and the celery tried to attack me. Today I got very geeky and excited at the supermarket to discover two of my favourite vegetables are available again. I’m actually growing both, but they’re just seedlings at this stage.

The cool vegetables in the crisper

The cool vegetables in the crisper

Oh, and incidentally, if you want to do some reading, I can recommend As You Wish: The Loathly Lady. There’s a rather neat story about an old rescue dog and a 50 year old elf with a coffee addiction in it. 😉

 

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Ever have one of those days?

You know those days? When you’re a rainy day person and you wake up to raindrops on roses, but by the time you’ve boiled the kettle, the sun is out? When you really want the day off, but you have deadlines and you can’t take the day off, even though it’s Sunday? When the things you like doing don’t seem to be going right? When someone wopped up the price on the jelly mould you were looking at on eBay? When you know it’s just a mood, but it still feels a bit lousy?

Yes, that.

Still…

When you're having a bad day, the look on your pup's face can make you laugh.

When you’re having a bad day, the look on your pup’s face can make you laugh.

This was actually the Scot last night. He looked so deadly serious. But also very handsome in his new collar!

When you're having a bad day, jelly cupcakes help!

When you’re having a bad day, jelly cupcakes help!

These are dead easy. The recipe makes about four cupcakes. Just mix 1 1/4 cup gluten free self raising flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1/3 cup sunflower oil and an 85g packet of your chosen jelly crystals. Mix well, pour into cupcake wrappers and place in a 180 degree oven. Once they’re done, whip up a little margarine with icing sugar, a splash of orange water and orange zest. “Edible ball bearings” optional. But so pretty.

When having a bad day, think of what MacGyver would do.

When having a bad day, think of what MacGyver would do.

And now it’s dinner time. Don’t you love my local spice merchant? We’re having chicken.

A Wibbley-Wobbley Intervention

I possibly do need an intervention, but I don’t care. I was horrifying a few people with images from my new and growing stack of vintage jelly booklets.

Menu sorted

Menu sorted

I’m still not quite sure why they were horrified. To my eyes, these are amazing.

Jelly to delight and horrify!

Jelly to delight and horrify!

Then, I do have a soft spot for kitsch! Rest assured, I wasn’t really intending to make these as directed. But Mum was telling me about some of my grandmother’s salads back from the 50s and 60s. She used aspic and would create wonderful layers of ham, tomato, beetroot and peas. Mum remembered them with great fondness… and the hours my grandmother took to make the jellies. At the end, she’d sigh: “all those hours, and you lot gobble them up in minutes.” Poor grandma.

My grandmother was a great cook. I did once wrinkle my nose at her baked bean pizza experiment, but as I grew up, I understood what she was about. She really was into kitchen experiments! Generally, they turned out amazing. I have so many happy memories of hanging out in her kitchen with my aunts running about carrying plates and bowls of food to the table. They’d try to run me out, too, but I remained staunch, holding onto my stool at the kitchen bench! Turns out, I was right to stay.

So, as everyone cried “No!!!!!!!!,” my gander rose. (Is that a real phrase?) I knew grandma wasn’t silly and if she was able to make this work, so could I. I did a little searching online and in my books and cobbled together a tomato jelly recipe. The key, I think, is not to let the jelly aspect overwhelm the ingredients. Balance, basically. And that’s at the heart of all good cooking.

My tomato jelly

My tomato jelly

I didn’t fill my mould, but I just wanted to get the top impression, which works for this little patê-esque concoction. Truly, it’s fantastic! Full, rich tomato flavour. I served it with beetroot crackers, which added a lovely, earthy flavour that complements it nicely. The little circles of cucumber roll out to surprise you, too! Basically, this works and tastes rather like a regular spread, only in an amazing jelly form. I just know it’d be fantastic with fresh ham, but I have to go to the store for that. Basically, it’s Sunday and I don’t want to venture out.

The lowdown is quite simple. Fill a smallish bowl with fresh tomatoes. Chop them up just a bit – quarter large tomatoes, half the small ones. Throw in a bunch of basil and a bunch of tarragon. Add some crushed garlic, salt, pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Cover and marinate overnight.

In the morning, blend the mixture with about 1/4-1/2 cup of your chosen stock and add to a saucepan to gently heat (don’t boil). While you’re doing that, soften about three leaves of gelatin (this will vary depending on your mixture and the size of your mould – this is for about 2-3 cups of mixture) and add to the saucepan, stirring until dissolved.

Place in your mould (always good to lightly spray it with oil – I use coconut, which has been a dream), along with thin slices of mini-cucumbers (quarks) and refridgerate until set.

Enjoy! Just don’t tell people it’s jelly. For some reason, many can’t get around the idea of vegetables and jelly (although, tomato is a fruit… so, technically, this is still fruit jelly!).