Archive for March, 2010

It really is just like “The Waltons” on Waltons’ mountain at our house at the moment. We have two German WWOOFs staying with us, to help with the lambing and general farming activities (you can read more on Lee’s blog at G & S Organics.

Feeding times are big burly occasions, and keeping everybody well fed is almost a full-time occupation.

These super fast tomato breads are great to fill them all up at breakfast, and go so well with a home-produced cooked breakfast of bacon, sausage, and eggs. Scrambled eggs are an equally good accompaniment, and would produce a fine supper dish with some steamed greens.

Tomato Breads

To make these combine:

  • 1 dessert spoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 organic egg, beaten
  • 200g organic self-raising flour
  • A little milk

Beat all the ingredients together to make a thick paste, adding the milk slowly until you get to the right consistency. In a hot frying pan (here I use a little of the saved pork fat), fry big dollops of the paste.

This mixture make 4 to 5 breakfast sized breads. Fry them for a few minutes on each side, making sure they are coloured on the outside and cooked all the way through. They can be stored in the fridge to be used the next day if you have any left over, but they are best eaten hot and served straight away.

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Perserved chillies

With chillies it is either a feast or a famine. When growing your own they all seem to grow at once and you have loads, then the season is over and you have none.

To overcome this, preserving them is the only way. Many people dry them but I prefer to keep them in vinegar.

Very simply chop the chillies, seeds as well, discard the tops into the compost bin, and fill small jars. Then top up with hot (boiled and starting to cool) vinegar. I like to use a good organic white balsamic, then I can use the chilli vinegar in dressing later.

Lid and store the jars in a cool and dark place, like the pantry or cupboard in the garage.

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Parsnip Cake

It is always a rush in the morning, getting the kids ready for school and sorting out the days work.

This recipe is great if the morning is just too rushed and there’s nothing left in the cupboard to make a decent breakfast, and it also goes well in packed lunches or picnics.

The cake  has no taste of parsnip, just a sweet and moist texture. So if there are some in the family who don’t like the vegetable, just keep it to yourself. 

Alternatively, you could use carrots, beetroot, or a mixture of the three if you prefer.

Oaty Parsnip Cake

  • 200g butter, warmed (you can substitute with half vegetable oil, half fat)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup, warmed
  • 1 tbsp molasses, warmed
  • 100g runny honey, warmed
  • 175g rolled oats
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g peeled and grated raw parsnips
  • 100g chopped dates or apricots
  • 1 tsp ginger (optional)
  • ½tsp mixed spice

Put the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix everything together really well.

Pour into a large loaf tin and bake in a moderate oven (gas mark 4) for 25 to 30  minutes.

This cake needs a day to mature, but stores well in an air-tight container, or frozen.

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This time of year allows me to unleash one of my favourite pastimes – “collecting” (or hoarding as Lee likes to call it).  Mostly  jars, storage bottles, and the like.

With the lighter nights and a little sunshine you can really get to thinking about all the preserving you can be up to in just a few weeks.

Most things can be preserved in some way or other. Jamming, pickling, and bottling are great ways to keep fruit and vegetables for later use. I love to stock the shelves with varying different bottles of colourful preserves. Excellent for presents, but also lovely for that sense of nesting that I get about springtime.

Keep all sorts of jars, big and small, because the small ones look the best as gifts, and the large one are most useful at home. Don’t forget to keep small bottles for liquid to make cordials, like elderflower, later in the season. At this point I can confess the need to keep small pieces of fabric or wrapping paper too, to cover the tops of the jars once filled and lidded. The elastic bands from the post man also come in useful here. Now I feel I may have divulged too much!

Rhubarb is well on the way in the kitchen garden and I hope very much for a glut, to bottle some of the sweet young shoots to eat in the dark mid-winter, to remind me of the early spring.

This Banana chutney recipe is unusual, but lovely with strong cheese and cold meats. My friend Diana gave me the original recipe and this is a store cupboard version. This recipe makes lots, which stores well. Refrigerate once open.

 Banana Chutney

  • 700g peeled and chopped bananas. The over-ripe ones are perfect for this
  • 250g chopped plums, or peeled and chopped apples. Again soft or older fruit will do very well
  • 250g finely chopped oranges including peel, but no pips
  • 500g sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • 500ml organic wine vinegar

With all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan, bring to the boil and simmer covered for at least an hour, until the orange peel is soft and the liquid is golden and syrupy.

Pour into warm sterilized jars, and cover.

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