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 РI 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 ūüôā

 

 

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. ūüôā ¬† 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  Рno 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 Рand 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!

 

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 Рtaking  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 ūüôā

  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

Irony

…a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.

I believe I eat healthily. I have a number of friends who frequently message me, after seeing something I have posted on my Instagram account @jfb50, asking me, ‘What on earth is that?’ or ‘So what does that do?’¬† I even have one particular checkout assistant at my local supermarket who quizzes me on everything that passes along the belt – ‘How are you going to cook that?’ and one day popped up in the spice aisle when I was looking for sumac and followed me around the supermarket asking me all about the food I was buying!

I eat a balanced diet and thoroughly enjoy what I eat. I ‘listen’ to my body and respond to any dietary preferences. Talking of preferences – I avoid taking tablets of any kind if I can – unless prescribed.

So…with this in mind, this week, I ‘willingly’ signed the consent forms for a 6×3 week treatment cycle of chemotherapy. The impact of these toxins: the destruction of the flora in my large intestine that I have nurtured with my daily kefir and frequent meals of beans and pulses; the stripping of calcium from my body and all manner of other unpleasantness that I don’t really want to think about! But of course, the pay off is, I hope, the destruction of anything lurking in my system that shouldn’t be there.

I know that the food I eat will heal me and my positive attitude will see me through ūüôā

Any tips gratefully received ūüôā

Banana cake -gluten free

The perfect way to use up the last, lonely bananas sitting in the fruit bowl looking brown and not remotely appetising.

Prepare an 18cm square tin or 2lb / 900 g loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 150c / Gas 2

Ingredients:

170 g gluten-free self-raising flour       140 g butter

100 g light muscovado sugar         4 eggs (3 if not using gf flour)

1 large /2 small ripe bananas – 5/6 slices for the top and the rest mashed (I leave mine quite chunky) or 1 large mashed and 2 split in half for the top of the cake if making a square cake.

Method:

Put all the ingredients (except banana) in to a bowl and mix well until smooth. Add the mashed banana and ensure all mixed in. Put the mixture in the prepared tin and place the sliced banana on the surface of the mixture.

Place in the oven and cook on the low heat for about 45 minutes – until the mixture is firming up. Then increase the heat to 180 C / gas mark 4 and cook until a skewer comes out clean – about 1/2 hour.

Turn on to a rack and allow to cool – or eat as a delicious pudding whilst still hot from the oven!

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Changing tastes

I have been informed that when I start chemotherapy food just won’t taste the same. Now for a food lover, I find this prospect quite unnerving. Talking to other people who have undergone the same therapy, I have been warned that sometimes taste preferences change from day to day, or the desire for sweets goes – not a problem for me..phew, or I will have a bitter or metallic taste in my mouth, or I will no longer enjoy red meat – again…phew -don’t eat it any way.

This all got me thinking about how my taste buds have changed over the years and foods I once enjoyed I now know longer eat or vice versa. I distinctly remember when I started to enjoy ‘grown up foods’ – in my early 20s. Until that age I couldn’t bear foods such as parmesan or blue cheese or very oddly – kedgeree!. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I could eat and enjoy olives – I frequently tried as they always looked so delicious. As I have got older my once ‘sweet tooth’ has gone and I will choose savoury over sweet every time.

I understand the medical reason – I was born with approximately 10,000 taste buds that are replaced every two weeks or so but over time they aren’t replaced and the numbers start to decrease and so flavours that were once too intense are now more palatable. I ‘get’ this but still find it fascinating.

What foods did you dislike as a child and now enjoy?

Vegetarian chilli

This is my go to speedy chilli dish. One pot does the cooking so limited washing up – always a bonus. Have played around with my spice mix and this is a moderate chilli- the addition of the cayena guindillas do give it an additional punch so can be omitted. Chewing on a hidden gem does give your tongue a bit of a zap!

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Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut oil       1 white onion Рchopped

1 pepper – deseeded and chopped

250 g of vegetarian mince

1 large can of kidney beans – washed and drained

1 large can of chopped tomatoes      1 can of water

5 guindillas chopped (optional)

Spices: 2 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of raw cacao powder

Method:

Saute the onions and pepper until softened.

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Add the vegetarian mince and stir until heated through.

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Add the tinned tomatoes and kidney beans.

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Stir through and fill the tomato can with water and add to the mix.

Add the spice blend, stir thoroughly, cover and allow to heat through thoroughly.

 

 

 

Is 3 the magic number?

The other day I fancied a super speedy breakfast – in truth I couldn’t be bothered to put much effort in! So, 3 minutes later I was chomping on a piece of gluten-free toast slathered (such an onomatopoeic word) in crunchy peanut butter and topped with slices of banana.Delicious.IMG_20160812_100340My caption within my IG post stated, ‘Two’s company but in this case three is definitely not a crowd.’ This got me thinking… I often eat a combination of 3 flavours without thinking about it.

This morning I had a kefir, coconut and maca smoothie. Yesterday’s lunch for my hubby – quail eggs and bacon on gf toast. The day before…avocado, scrambled eggs and oatcakes.¬† Don’t worry I’m not going to list all my meals over the last month. But, when I look back over my IG account over 50% (always like a statistic) of my meals are a 3 flavour combination.

I started to think about old childhood favourites …fish, chips and mushy peas, beans on toast with grated cheese on top…ooh…choux pastry, cream (i.e. profiteroles) and chocolate sauce.

I have just looked up from typing at my cookbook selection and there on the shelves is Three Good Things by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Not sure whether I feel a challenge coming on…would I have to count spices and seasoning as one of my three?

Another winning combination – smoked salmon, lemon juice and bread. Must stop||

It does make me wonder though how much we complicate things – do we need to combine so many flavours in one dish or do we actually savour simple, more?

Love to know your thoughts and your favourite combinations of 3.