Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Easter!

 I love Easter, with its promise of new life; buds emerging on the plants, lambs in the fields, longer days and usually ( but not it seems this year!) the advent of warmer weather.
It maybe cold and snowy outside, but in order to make it seem spring-like indoors I have made colourful
bunting and adorned some twigs with 'leaves' after seeing this idea on Pinterest .....
...and for our Easter breakfast I made a hot cross bun loaf.

Not, I know, the traditional Easter bun, but this is a loaf I have made for several years now.
The recipe is made with an initial sponge, as below, from flour, yeast,sugar and milk, which is left to froth before adding the rest of the ingredients ...
....which I think makes the finished loaf really light and it makes delicious toast!
And breaking with tradition again, I made some mini simnel cakelets from a River Cottage recipe. Mr digandweed is very partial to fruit cake and marzipan and so am I, but a traditional simnel cake does take quite a long time to make, so should you be feeling rushed and in a hurry, I offer these as a quick, easy alternative ( whilst still delivering the necessary marzipan hit !).
I topped them with glace icing and mini eggs, but you could of course decorate with more marzipan.
The recipe makes 12, but if you eat one before decorating and then put a little marzipan ball on the remaining ones, you can still have the symbolic 11 disciples !
Lastly, a beautiful addition to our Easter decorations arrived in the post yesterday.
A lovely handmade Easter card stitched by my talented sister (design needlefelted onto calico)
Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

a gift from mr fudge

mr fudge in his youth
Mr Fudge was a guest at our house over Christmas and he very kindly brought gifts for us.
He must have had his ear to the ground ( in more ways than one, for if you were to see him following an enticing smell on one of his walks, nose down, ears skimming the grass, you would know what I mean!) as the gift he brought for me was right up my street.

published by LOVE FOOD Parragon Books ltd
A book crammed full of recipes for cupcakes and muffins.
 At the weekend I made muesli muffins, a recipe from the 'healthy' section - .

140g/5oz plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
280g/10oz unsweetened muesli
115g/4oz soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
250ml/9fl.oz buttermilk
6tbsp. sunflower oil
- made in the usual way i.e. wet ingredients whisked together and mixed into the dry ingredients.
Bake at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for about 20 mins.
makes 12 according to the recipe or in my case 11, as I filled the paper cases quite full.

Nice warm for breakfast with yoghurt, fruit or a blob of jam.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

leeks .... and a favourite kitchen gadget

Here are the leeks, harvested a few days ago from the allotment.

....and this is the favourite kitchen gadget.

 Just an ordinary stick blender, but really useful for all sorts of culinary tasks such as blending soups and in this case rescuing a white sauce. My carefully made sauce had lumps in it, but a quick whizz with the blender resulted in silky smoothness. 

Here is the proof!
I turned the aforementioned leeks into a straightforward gratin with cheese and ham.
Here they are wrapped in their velvety blanket .....
 ...and whilst on the subject of kitchen utensils, a few weeks ago, I spent a cosy afternoon with singing-girl watching the Mary Berry story on i-player.
 I was rather taken with her display of vintage kitchenalia on the wall of her kitchen and thought how nice it would be to have a collection of my own, but the trouble is I am becoming more and more of a clutter phobic and have frequent 'clear-outs'. Maybe I should take to hoarding a bit more!
P.S. A few days ago, I added the 'join this site' thingy, so a big welcome and thank you to Streetcomber, Rhiannon and A Load of old Tat, who have recently started following.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

mod cons come to the allotments the form of a composting toilet. This is good news as it means that I no longer have to restrict my intake of coffee whilst weeding or interrupt my digging to make a mad dash a mile back up the road to the house!
 For the eco minded amongst you, this is how a composting toilet works.
 I cannot comment personally yet on its use, as we are still awaiting  the grand opening .
I will keep you informed.
Other good news:
One of our allotment neighbours informed us that there was a big heap of help-yourself wood chippings at the other end of the site, so mr digandweed and myself collected a barrow load to replenish the paths on our plot.
and yet more good news... definite signs of spring surround us.

 primroses trembling in the wind
  new buds on the blackcurrant bush
Potatoes chitting on the windowsill. These are Charlotte.
 Surely spring is on its way!


Friday, 1 March 2013

butternut squash muffins with a frosty top - Jamie Oliver


Sometimes, it's good to have a cake recipe, like this one, that takes a bit of time, that you can make in a leisurely way, mixing and stirring away to your heart's content; but other times a speedy recipe, that can be mixed up in minutes, is what you need .

This Jamie Oliver recipe is one of those. It is very quick, very easy, all whizzed together in the food processor and you don't even have to peel the squash. What more could you want!


The butternut squash that we grew on the allotment have stored well on a shelf in the garage. This was a good way to use the last of them.
I was a little dubious whether the muffins would be lumpy as the recipe says to leave the skin on the squash. This is not so. They have a very moist, almost fudge-like texture.

The recipe calls for soured cream for the topping, but the only thing in the fridge was 0%  fat yoghurt, so that is what I used and I found it worked well. I reduced the amount of lemon juice to compensate for the more acidic taste and runnier consistency of the yoghurt.

I shall be making these again!