What to do with so much produce?

Those people who know me well know that I cannot bear to waste any food that my garden produces. My cooking apple tree and damson trees are laden. So my husband is gathering a tub trug from each every few days and I am freezing it all.  Damsons are easy – I just wash them, drain, bag and freeze. Apples take a bit more effort. An old aunt showed me a simple and not too time consuming way to prepare the fruit:

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Peel and slice

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Put in water with a bit of salt to preserve colour and prevent browning

 

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Drain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spread out on to a cling film lined baking tray. pop in to freezer.

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Leave for about 2 hours until frozen

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Break the slices up as you pop them in to a freezer bag.

There you have it…sliced apple that with a quick rinse are ready for pies etc throughout the year until the next harvest 🙂

 

 

Spiced lentil / quinoa balls in a roasted butternut squash sauce

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Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 5.    Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper

Ingredients:

For the ‘meatballs’                                              For the sauce

1 cup quinoa                                                           Medium butternut squash

1 cup green / puy lentils                                     About 400 ml vegetable stock

1 tsp ginger                                                             4 spring onions (coarsely chopped)

1 tsp turmeric                                                         10 cherry tomatoes (chopped in half

2 tsp coconut oil                                                    About 100 ml coconut milk

1 egg                                                                          Spinach (large handful)

(Chick pea flour)                                                    Coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds                                                  1 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

Deseed and chop the butternut squash in to medium-sized chunks. Drizzle with coconut oil and pop in the oven for 30 mins to soften

Rinse the quinoa and lentils and put them in a pan with 3 cups of water and the cumin seeds. Bring to boil and cook until soft. Drain any excess water.

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Allow to cool. Add all the other ingredients (except chick pea flour) and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is loose add a desertspoon of chick pea flour and mix again. You may have to do this a couple of times. Take a generous desertspoon full of mixture and roll in to a ping-pong sized ball. Lay the balls on the prepared tray

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and cook in the oven for 10-15 mins.

When the butternut squash is roasted, put half in to a blender along with the vegetable stock – you want a thick sauce consistency so add the liquid a little a time until this is achieved.

Fry the spring onions until soft. Add the cayenne powder and stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute. Add the butternut squash sauce

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and once heated through add the spinach and allow to wilt.Stir in the coconut milk.

Place the ‘meatballs’ in to the sauce and simmer gently.20160916_180635Prior to serving pop the remaining butternut squash chunks in to the sauce.

I served this with naan bread. Enjoy.

If the egg was replaced with tofu, this would be a vegan dish.

Nature’s bounty

Someone said to me over the weekend, ‘You never get anything for nothing.’

To which I responded, ‘Blackberries!’in probably a very annoying manner!

But it’s true…if you know where to look at this time of year nature provides an amazing array of gorgeous fruits to harvest. Riding through the forest this weekend I passed elder trees with boughs hanging from the weight of berries – jam, chutney and wine. The hedgerows were bursting with blackberries – perfect on their own or sublime when combined with apples. Old twisted and gnarled damson trees seem to survive on some otherwise inhospitable land – perfect for crumbles, chutneys, damson cheese / jelly / jam and of course drowned in gin and sugar and left for the next 3 months to create a warming and festive liqueur.

An afternoon stroll along a country path can reveal: sloe, bilberries, plums,  and hops.

I love this time of year – so much, for nothing. 🙂   All the fruit gathered and sitting in various receptacles in cold rooms in the house is then followed by hours of baking, cooking, freezing and of course the delight of eating these autumnal flavours throughout the following year.

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Damsons and cooking apples from the garden

 

Most peculiar

It’s been a funny old week – definitely not the amusing type.

I am now in to my second week of cycle 1 of chemotherapy and have experienced some odd and some deeply unpleasant (won’t go in to that!) effects. Changing tastes:

Firstly I have absolutely no appetite –  a novel and curious feeling for a devout foodie.

Secondly – for a few days when I did feel the urge to eat it was for foods I never normally eat. I longed for shop bought fish, chips and mushy peas – the combination tasted like nectar! Another night I sent my poor husband to the shops to buy a tin of Baked Beans (reminiscent of a pregnancy midnight raid!) and wanted only beans on toast with cheese on top. This, unlike the fish ‘n chips, was a total  disappointment – unsure whether my tastes are changing or just that I have not eaten processed foods for so long.

I have gone off tea and coffee and am enjoying powdered skimmed milk as a hot drink!

I am seeking much stronger flavours  – no subtlety to my palate at the moment.

Somethings I eat have no flavour yet I can smell them. Flavour is the combination of taste -what your taste buds pick up (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and  potentially umami) and the smell of the food. The roof of my mouth seems to be completely inert at the moment (the same feeling when you have burnt it).  The roof of the mouth is the palate – and presumably where the terms palatable  / having a pleasing palate come from. I can only assume this change is what is affecting my dietary choices and experiences.

All very odd and quite fascinating … as long as it settles down!

 

Ginger cookies   – gluten free 

So…when is it a biscuit or a cookie?  These do not have the crack / snap of a biscuit but instead have the delicious chewy and slightly bendy quality that I think a  cookie should have (apologies to all biscuit and cookie aficionados). If left in the oven longer I am sure they would have been more like a ginger thin. The stem ginger chunks give a lovely warmth.

Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4      Makes  18 cookies  Lightly grease/ line a large baking tray

Ingredients:

350 g self-raising gluten-free flour        150 g dark muscavado sugar

100 g butter                                                    1 large egg

4 desert spoon golden syrup                     2 tsp ground ginger

5 pieces of stem ginger coarsely chopped

Method:

Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and melt on a low heat. Remove from the heat and mix in all the other ingredients.  Spoon the mixture on to the prepared tray – allow for spreading. Bake for 10-15 mins. Leave to cool before removing from tray.

 

 

 

One Lovely Blog Award

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A huge thank you to the lovely Dolly of koolkosherkitchen, an extremely supportive and helpful blogger-friend with an amazing blog, who has nominated me fo One Lovely Blog Award.

Here are the rules:

 

  • Post to accept the nomination.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • List 7 things about yourself.
  • Link to the blogs you nominate.
  • Notify the recipients of their award.
  • Post the rules!

Seven things about me:

  1. I have a wonderful husband, family and friends who support me through the ups and downs of life and whom I feel thoroughly blessed to know.
  2. I am and always have been an animal lover – taking  in waifs and strays all my life. Presently I have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 horse, hens, ducks and quail. All keep me busy and keep me out of mischief!
  3. I love music – having a truly eclectic taste. One minute I may be listening to AC/DC and the next listening to Faure’s Requiem.
  4. Books, books and more books – I love reading. Shelves are bending as I add to my collection. I have a few favourites that I read every couple of years – To Kill a Mockingbird, A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music (am a Vikram Seth fan) and Shipping News.
  5. Poetry – have always loved it – ever since my daddy bought me my first book of verse when I was six years old. I love words – I love to learn new words – language is such a delight to explore and use, yet we tend to stick to a core vocabulary.
  6. Nature – flora and fauna – love it all and the magical sights and treasures this planet has to offer.
  7. Lastly, if I can only share 7 things – I love cooking and exploring flavours and playing around with ingredients. Cooking gives me a real freedom of expression.

Now the difficult part – nominating 7 and only seven other blogs. I apologise if I have not included you but I have so many fantastic blogs to choose from 🙂

  1. Lathiya from Cookwithsmileblog https://cookwithsmileblog.wordpress.com 
  2. Jack from Pepsfreefromkitchen https://pepsfreefromkitchen.wordpress.com
  3. Daal from Happiness Between Tails https://happinessbetweentails.wordpress.com
  4. Amanda from A Thousand Crumbs https://athousandcrumbs.com
  5. Jane from Cakes, bakes and simple suppers  https://cakesbakesandsimplesuppers.wordpress.com
  6. Aleks from Healthy food and travel blog https://aleksdajcz.wordpress.com
  7. Rachel from How to provide https://howtoprovide.com

Thank you, Jo x

The Black Cat, Blue Sea Blogger Award

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Thank you very much to What Katie Did Next who has nominated me for the wonderful Black Cat, Blue Sea Award.

“This award is for bloggers who strive to write for everybody, and no matter how many viewers they get, make an impact on a reader. This award is an expression of gratitude to the nominee.”

A wonderful gesture from Katie whose blog is both insightful and a fascinating read 🙂

Anyone nominated has to answer three questions, set by the person who nominated them, and then nominate their own recipients whilst also setting them their own three questions to answer.

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The questions set for me to answer are:

1. If you could swap lives with someone for a week, who would it be and why?

It doesn’t say the person has to be living – I would have loved to swap places with Charles Darwin, as he spent time on the Galapagos Islands. Why – because his finds on the island supported his theory that species of living things have changed over time leading to his publishing of The Origin of Species and his theory of evolution by natural selection. Life changing.

2.What is your favourite book, movie and CD?

Favourite book – very difficult to narrow it to one book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (just beats A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth)

Favourite movie – Old: Breakfast at Tiffany’s   Recent: Pretty Woman

CD – this is so difficult… Pink Floyd – Dark side of the moon.

3.Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

If I’d been asked this 2 months ago my answer would have been very different but having been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and drug therapy…I just want to be here.

I would like to nominate the following people:

Sara Ms.Health-Esteem

Laura Feast Wisely

Fran Nelipot Cottage

Sumith Keralas.live

Dolly Koolkosherkitchen

Grace wingingitbygrace

Deborah and Charlotte Desires of the Foodaholics

My questions for you are:

1.If you were an animal what would you be and why?

2. What is your favourite book?

3. Who is your hero / heroine?