The latest freeze didn’t allow me to go to the allotment – not only was it too cold to do anything sensible there but also there was a distinct possibility that I might fall. Interesting how we say about youngsters that they fall over but us oldies ‘have a fall’. So I didn’t go. But I can’t just sit at home and do nothing. Instead of that I have searched the Internet and found a few nice biscuit recipes.
Also a recipe for a favourite from the past years – babovka. It is a Czech recipe that I was used to make very frequently when the boys lived at home. I’ll start again, I’m sure it will make a nice present.
I have also found a recipe for panettone, again never made it before but why not? I had to wait for my shopping delivery for a few vital ingredients and as soon as I got everything together I was ready to start.
Two days later I have a result. I’m sure a master baker would have a few words to say about the result but it smells divine and I have it from an expert on cake tasting – Frank – that it is delicious.
Beside all this I continue making blankets. To start with I made a number of baby shawls but everybody who had a new baby had one of these so I switched to large ones. It comes very handy nowadays, what with the weather on one hand and the cost of energy on the other.
I started making these at the start of the pandemic. There is a website of a wool company, they have a sale from time to time and when I see that I order a fair amount of random coloured balls of wool, that keeps me going during the winter months when it gets dark quite early. Right now I have just finished the latest one and will start another. But it is only eight days until we have the shortest day, from then on all will improve for me.
Storm Franklin has caused quite a lot of damage, yet again we were lucky. As far as I can see everything is standing, fences are fine. That is one advantage of hedges, the wind shakes them about but they remain standing.
The weather was another reason for some more baking. It was the turn of milk loaf and I’m delighted with the result. The recipe says to make just one plait but I thought it would make it easier to slice and also it would bake better if I made two.
I hope they taste as good as they look.
The storm Eunice certainly stopped all work on the allotment. Even without the heavy rain I wouldn’t have been able to get there, it was blowing a gale. I wanted to go and just check the state of the greenhouses but I’m afraid the weather didn’t let me. Today in the morning was the first time I walked there, I needed some of the rescued soil from the canabis farm. I was very pleasantly surprised that all my four greenhouses were completely unharmed, in fact nobody on the site suffered any damage. Just as well we had the broken post in the fence repaired, it could have collapsed altogether. I collected a sack of the compost and on my wheelbarrow got it home. No need to buy compost from a garden centre when I have this. I have four more of the sacks there so I will bring them home as I’ll need them.
The canabis factory clearance also gave me a lot of large pots and saucers, I’m using these for growing very early potatoes. I planted some Sharpes Express potatoes in some of the pots and in the rest I put sprouted supermarket potatoes that my friend gave me. I’ve done that in the past and it worked. Waste not want not……
The next job was another indoor one – some baking. I have been baking my own bread for years now and again today was a perfect day for it. In the end I have two loaves of nice seeded bread and two brioches.
Today is a bit special – I have finished all my digging, any empty piece of land is dug over, cleared of weeds and ready to be planted up.
It was the very last part of the allotment, my new orchard. The ground there will be used to grow courgettes, squashes and pumpkins. There is enough space between the trees, I had them there last year and it worked very well.
All that work didn’t really take too much time, it was just a question of turning the soil over and getting rid of some persistent weeds.
One more activity today, rather easier –bread making. This loaf is very easy, doesn’t need kneading or yeast, just a can of beer. Delicious!
It was another dull, dreary January day, not suitable for doing anything outside. In that case, let’s stay in the kitchen and do something useful – like making more jam. Last year I made some jars of spiced blackberry and apple jam and it was so popular that it went so fast I couldn’t believe it.
I was sorting out the frozen fruit in one of my small freezers and found a bag of blackberries. It was obvious what to do – make more of than yummy jam.
That worked very well, so next on the list was some baking. I always make the sourdough loaf and that has to be started the night before. It is such a tasty loaf that the extra effort is well worth it. While that was going on I started the dough for my brioche.
Well, I call it brioche but in fact it is a traditional challah recipe (second one in this article). The overall result of my activities is very good. I don’t braid the dough but make two round loaves – just as good and easier to keep in the bread bin. Happiness is ……
and all this is done.
Of course, I had to pick the fruit first. Thanks to my fruit cage the birds don’t get a chance to steal my currants or gooseberries. The redcurrants are really plentiful this year – it must be something to do with all the horse manure that I put round them last autumn.
The raspberries are not covered but somehow the birds leave them alone – perhaps they don’t see the fruit so well, as it is hidden amongst the leaves.
Anyway, I had enough of the redcurrants to make some jam, did that the other day, but the highlight of today was making jelly. I boiled the fruit, stalks and all, last night, let it drip overnight and just measured it and added the suger today and finished it. When I was boiling the fruit I added a bunch of mint to it as the jelly is meant to be served with cheese or cold meat.
While all this was going on I had one bowl with my sourdough bread rising – having started last night; I’ve got to plan making my bread as it takes some time but it is worth it!
The other bowl had the dough for a brioche (challah) – that is much quicker so in the end I had one loaf and two round loaves of brioche in the kitchen, right next to the jam and jelly.
A perfect partnership!
I like the Guardian on Saturday – it’s the only day we actually buy the paper and that usually keeps me going for a number of days. The magazine is very often a source of new recipes and it was just like that this weekend. I must admit that when I look at the recipes in the magazine I first look at the list of ingredients because at times they’re so exotic that I just can’t be bothered. This time I was completely won over and had to try it. It shows how ‘normal’ it was – I had everything to hand so no sooner said than done…
Yotam Ottolengi is one of my favourites as his recipes are the ones I like best and they seem to be manageable by ordinary cooks.
This is the second batch – the first one I made yesterday and we managed to eat it – first part last night with a few glasses of wine and today for breakfast with coffee. Very continental, it also reminds me of my home where my Grandma was used to bake something very similar – vánočka.
…but work continues.
I not only love gardening and handicrafts but also cooking and baking. Today it was the turn of pie making.
I decided on cheese and onion pie, easy to make and very tasty. I have got my own version, which means I make the pastry and the filling is not exactly as a recipe would specify. I make it up as I go but the nearest one to it is called a traditional cheese and onion pie.
This done, there was another thing to make. A very different treat this time, a kind of cheese balls very good to serve with wine or just on their own. This is a brazillian recipe given to me by our friend Lucia. I remember making it in her house and freezing them. A huge advantage because later it is so easy just to take them out of the freezer, put on a baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes in a moderate oven.
I cannot find a link to any recipe online but instead of that I add the one I use. It is very easy and all the ingredients are available.
CHEESE BALLS (PÃO DE QUEIJO in Portuguese)
150 m of oil (vegetable or sunflower)
½ kg of sweet manioc flour (casava flour in any market)
300 ml of milk
1 teaspoon of salt
½ kg of grated white cheese (such as Wensleydale or Caerphilly)
Heat the milk, oil and salt until boiling. Heat the flour. Mix in the egg and then, finally, the cheese.
I wanted to try this new recipe, a no-kneed bread – I’m in favour of that and when Gini Johnson mentioned it on Facebook, I knew I had to do it.
The name is a bit of a mouthfull – No Kneed Bread with Buckwheet, Rye, Seeds and Nuts but as it shows on my photo it is very close to the picture in the recipe. It takes a while to make but it is well worth the wait! Delicious just with butter, it has got so much good things inside it doesn’t need anything else.
I started making my own bread ages ago, using a mix you can get in any shop. The results were good, I was pleased with it and it certainly tasted better than the shop-made loaf.
The next step was to make my bread from scratch, proper strong bread flour and yeast. Again. good result and also an added bonus – a therapy! When you’re cross about something there is nothing better (other than digging like a fury on the allotment) than kneading the dough.
Ok, done that. Then I discovered sourdough – here I thought that I met my match. It just seemed too complicated, but after some time I gave it a go and was converted. Of course, I’ve got to plan my baking because it is a slower process but the result is well worth it.
I wanted to get the best bread flour possible, stone-ground and organic but living in the Midlands we don’t have many mills nearby. Never mind, we found one, in Wiltshire and decided to have a day out, combined with flour buying. Fortunately for me Shipton mill does mail orders so now I’m happy and get on with the baking.
There is one more development – rye bread.
The mill has a very good website with recipes and I’m using their recipe for sourdough rye loaf – fantastic! Works every time, just follow the recipe to the letter and the result is one very tasty loaf.