Thursday, 18 August 2011

What a lovely afternoon...

Despite a rather inauspicious start when the poles on the camper van awning which was supposed to be drying out in the garden after our camping trip, actually buckled under the weight of the rain that lashed down over lunch, I have had a lovely afternoon.


The pink one went off to a jungle party resolutely not dressed as any kind of animal, but in fact as 'supergirl', and the blue one sat on the sofa with a friend, both clutching their 'wands', watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and occasionally hexing each other, so I had the chance to potter about in the kitchen. First off - braised mince - this is a great thing that I found in a Good Food magazine. It's a Paul Merrett recipe - here's a link to it on the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/braisedmince_91963 and basically it's a way of preparing a kilo of mince which you can then split into 3 and turn in to other more interesting stuff. The benefit of braising the mince first is that it definitely makes the chili/spag bol/cottage pie (or whatever it is you're making) much richer. I couldn't find the relevant recipe on the Good Food website which then also has the follow on recipes for Chili, spag bol & cottage pie, but it's in the September 09 Good Food magazine.

Anyway, I am trying to get ahead, because I realised that the kids are back at school in just over 2 weeks, and I like to feel prepared for these things. So the other day I made double helpings of Nigella's African chicken and put half the uncooked drumsticks in the freezer, and yesterday I made more of her Turkey meatballs than a sane woman really ought to have done (both recipes in Kitchen - still the current fave). To add to that I now have the basis of 3 more meals in the freezer, so I am feeling oh so smug.

While the mince was bubbling I made some bread dough and while that was proving, made some pastry (thanks Hugh!) for a quiche to have for lunch tomorrow when some friends are coming. I was wondering what I would put in the quiche given that I am trying not to spend any money and I haven't got any bacon in, but I think it will be spinach and chard as the garden is full of the stuff. I am still trying to use up the many eggs that the chickens produced while we were on holiday and which the chicken sitter didn't use - she was about to get married so I am not sure baking was that high on her agenda - so there has been much egg recently. It's going to be egg for supper too - probably Nigella's snappily (I am joking) titled crustless pizza which is a really fab way of producing something out of nothing. She makes it more like a pizza, making and baking the batter first and then putting topping on it at the end of cooking but I prefer to chuck it all in with the batter and cook it. So this evening, it will mainly have courgette in it, because along with spinach and chard, that's what there is in the garden. And the potatoes. Although I am not looking forward to digging them up given the amount of rain we've had this afternoon. Still, needs must, especially as we need some for supper...

Even though I am trying not to spend any money, I am tempted to see if the local co-op has a lime because I've found a really lovely sounding recipe in Sarah Raven's garden Cook Book for a shredded carrot and poppy seed salad which I think would go nicely with the Nigella egg thing, and also some runny honey because I want to try Hugh FW's carrot cake from River Cottage Everyday, and which involves drizzling warmer honey over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven. I found 10 Euros in the depths of my purse so may be if I change that for real money it can count as holiday spending...

Having had some nice cooking time, I have also managed to clean up the kitchen quite substantially. I am still intending to tackle the 'how-to-amuse-the-children-when-it's-raining-and-I-can't-bear-to-let-them-watch-any-more-TV' drawer but frankly it's scary in there. I know I need to give it a clean out because the husband tried to put something in there last night and ended up failing miserably to re-close it.

And so here I am. I was going to sweep the kitchen floor but I got sidetracked, but I just remembered that's what I was going to do next, so off I go, tra la la, quite the housewife...

p.s. Made Sarah Raven's courgette and apple chutney the other evening to make an in road into the courgettes left over from while we were away, and also in an attempt to get to some of our apples before the wasps eat them all - very good; also HFW's caraway shortbread in River Cottage Everyday. very scrummy.

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