Monday, 7 November 2011

back in control...for a short time, anyway

So the last time I 'blogged' was 19th October. Hmm. For someone who really would like to get paid to do something like this, that's not very good really. Must try harder.

In my defence, half term intervened, and the husband was away for 10 days. Now, a week into the second half of term I'm just about feeling back on track. Kitchen activity during half term was very much reduced to what was in the freezer, and seeing as it was mostly stuff I've already wittered on about, there wasn't much of any interest to blog about. Besides, I was a bit of a wreck, getting up early to work before the kids got up, so I doubt I would have made much sense. I made a cherry and almond loaf cake (Domestic Goddess - made it before - it's yum) to take with me when I took the kids to stay with a friend in London for the second weekend in half term and managed to come home with half of it - because her hubbie doesn't eat cake. I won't pass comment, except to say that his loss was my (weight) gain. The holidays are always fatal, because I can only walk the dog at the pace of the children, so even if I'm really good about what I eat, I still end up feeling lardy by the end of the first week. This half term, with the husband away, I wasn't even being really good about what I ate. Still, a week back to good, brisk walking has improved the situation somewhat.

So, it's fair to assume that as I'm feeling up to writing something again, there must be interesting things going on. Well, there is lots of yeast in the kitchen at the moment. The sourdough bread is going from strength to strength, and I've had another batch of Herman cake on the go. I've just baked it and had to cut it up and freeze it for the kids' lunches so that I don't eat it all. I did suggest to the husband that as it had 2 apples in, I could eat half (of the cake) and get one of my 5 a day, but he was not supportive. Still on the yeast theme, the cider has moved out of the kitchen, and is looking less like it's about to explode, but the husband has added yet another source of yeast - in the form of a ginger beer plant. It's a project he is doing with the kids and it lurks in one of the cupboards, to be taken out each morning for lots of complicated negotiating about who is adding the ginger and who is adding the sugar, when the 'plant' gets fed. It's already erupted once, and I am definitely stepping back from this one, but I will be interested to see what the end result tastes like. I love ginger beer.

It's definitely autumnal now, and I've been feeling a bit bored with the day to day meals so I was online looking for some inspiration and some new things to cook. The inspiration for this evening came from Good Food website - oven baked leek and bacon risotto. I don't know if I'm allowed to repeat the recipe here, but as I've acknowledged my source, and have nothing but good things to say about it, here goes:

6 rashers of back bacon, roughly chopped; 2 leeks, halved lengthways and finely sliced; 250 g risotto rice, 700ml hot chicken or veg stock, 175g frozen peas; 3 tbsps soft cheese (philly was good but other people who left comments on the website had used sour cream, boursin etc) zest of a lemon.You need a big frying pan with an oven proof lid.

Heat the oven to 200/180 fan. Heat some oil in the pan and fry the bacon for 2 mins, then add the leeks and fry 4-5 mins till soft. Add the rice, cook for a minute, then pour in the stock. I brought it to the boil at this point although I don't think it said that in the recipe (I copied it shorthand on to a card ready to go in my index card box - call me a saddo - I don't care) then cover and bung in the oven for 20 mins. You're supposed to stir it halfway through but I forgot. When the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed, add peas, cover and put back in the oven for 2 mins, then stir throught he lemon zest and soft cheese and serve. How easy is that - and there was enough time to make up the cake and get it in the oven while the risotto was cooking (probably why I forgot to stir it...). It was delicious when the kids had it - and it was still pretty good a couple of hours later having been covered with foil, lid back on and in the turned off oven waiting for the husband. Blue didn't much like it but then he's funny with that sort of thing and he doesn't like rice that much anyway. He still ate most of it so it can't be that bad. Pink loved it. The card is going into the recipe box.

Finally, I have bitten the bullet and decided that I must have used Nigella's Christmas Cake recipe last year, and I really must get on with it for this year if we're going to have one. I managed to cobble together enough dried fruit although in slightly different proportions to those in the recipe. I guess there isn't much difference between currants, raisins and sultanas anyway, and you can never have too many glace cherries in my book, so I am sure it will all be delicious. I managed to ignore that fact that rum is not the same as either sherry or brandy, so I guess we'll be having a slightly more carribean flavoured cake, but hey - as long as there's marzipan, who cares? The fruit is now sitting in state for a few days and hopefully I'll get round to baking it sometime this week. Watch this space.

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