bunn: (Wild Garden)
Today it poured with rain, but the last week has had wonderful autumn sunshine. I always seem to forget to take photos of the garden in autumn, but on Saturday I remembered:   View from under the apple tree (I must trim the top of that hedge...)


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bunn: (Skagos)
We spent Easter in Essos, the sister continent of Westeros from the universe of Ice and Fire.  Here we are setting off (perspective is deceptive! the first ship was by far the biggest really! )

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I meant to write up what we did, but unfortunately I was, and am, a bit under the weather (I severely disapprove of a bug that not only makes me impossibly sleepy but also makes my asthma unusually severe and wheezy, honestly, I feel like I've abruptly aged about 30 years and put on three stone) so I'm just going to link to LoA's writeup so I can find it later.   In fact, I am so wheezy and achy I haven't even photographed my other drawings of the campaign, although partly due to the wheezing, sleeping, aching etc, those I managed were a bit crap anyway, to be honest.  I quite like this one though: it's us all setting off in our cog, the Lady Anduin, with a cargo of whippets, tin, mead, amber, stockfish, candlesticks, silver grumpkins and furs:

The Lady Anduin. )

As has become traditional, [livejournal.com profile] chainmailmaiden made a sumptuous mass  of awesome foods.  A few of them stayed on the plates long enough to be photographed.  I had to photograph the Baked Alaska super-fast though, before it escaped.   Fortunately, Pp had got me a new (to me) ancient (because all my lenses are from the last century) manual-focus lens for my birthday,  which is well-adapted to the swift photography of escaping food.

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bunn: (dog knotwork)
Expensive coffee beans bought online, or from a Special Coffee shop, seem to be sort of dry, sometimes almost a bit dusty-looking, sometimes even a little shrivelled.  But supermarket coffee beans are fat, round and near-black and rather beautifully shiny.  Do they wax or oil them to improve their appearance or storage abilities?  Are fat coffee beans cheaper than little wizened ones?

Why are wheat and oats and barley eaten only when ground or squashed, when other seeds are eaten whole?  Is ground seed less allergenic than whole seed, or is it that 'nut' is shorthand for 'a kind of seed that contains some particular allergenic Thing'?
bunn: (Berries)
Watching Doctor Who yesterday, I learned that Santa considers the tangerine to be his signature gift.

When I was a child, I'm pretty sure that Father Christmas (not Santa) brought a satsuma, not a tangerine.   I love satsumas.  I buy bags and bags of them when they are in season, and eat them until I start feeling really quite orange.  It's surprising, but sort of charming too,  that in an era when you can buy all sorts of fruit out of season all year round, the Season of the Satsuma is so short.

What I think of as a satsuma is Citrus Unshiu and although that Wikipedia entry doesn't mention it, I'm sure I've read an article saying that this particular fruit is disproportionately popular here in Britain, where we like the sweetness and the ease of peeling, and have less stern and demanding tastebuds than other nations who apparently are more likely to prefer more subtle and less sugary citruses. So, we give them at Christmas: hence the 'Christmas orange' name.

What I think of (and I *think* generally what greengrocers and supermarkets sell as tangerines, is Citrus Tangerina - a pleasant enough fruit, but not quite so easy to peel, and the skin has a different texture and flavour (I like the skins too!)

[Poll #1993464][Poll #1993464]

Incidentally, I just learned from that Wiki article that a mature satsuma tree is hardy down to -9C.  -9!  It NEVER goes to -9 here.  I wonder how much frost protection they need before they get big....? 
bunn: (Cream Tea)
We cleared out our Stygian porch today.Read more... )

Also, I made ginger, cinnamon and oat cookies. I substituted a lot of things in the recipe I used, and I like the results, so this is my version:
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bunn: (No whining)
I stumbled across one of these '18 mug cake' type articles, and thought: Mmmmm.  Cake.  But then I looked at the recipes, and some of them were a bit yuk, or demanded ingredients not easily available in this country etc etc, so I looked for others that might be easier to make.  These are what I ended up with.   I used to have a lot of mug cakes when I was a student whose primary cooking tool was a microwave - but I've forgotten most of the recipes I used to use now.

Lemon mug cake.  This would make more sense if it had a whole lemon in it, or half a lemon.    What gives with these recipes that use odd little quantities of a whole fruit, do people really make lots of mug cakes and serve them to people?  Not sure microwaves are designed for cooking groups of mugs, if you are cooking for volume, why not just make cupcakes in a tray designed for the job?

Raspberry mug cake with coconut flour - I fancy this enough that I may actually buy some coconut flour, although I suspect it of being an overpriced novelty -you never know until you try, right?

Editing to add...

I just made this cake!
 3tbsp of banana (ie, more or less one mashed banana), a whole egg, a tbsp and a half of coconut flour -  turns out that is actually way more than will fit into a normal sized mug, and I note that the photos actually show the cake in a large ramekin rather than a mug.  

I could just have got the mix into a normal mug, but it would have spilled everywhere as it rose.  I used a super-sized mug, which was about half-full when I put it into the microwave, and about full when I took it out.  However the cake did not cook through in 2 minutes, and I think I should have given it another 20 seconds.

I could definitely taste the banana and coconut as well as the raspberry, and the texture was noticeably fibrous, although not unpleasant.   I was a little surprised that the cake was not particularly sweet, despite all that banana, honey and sweet vanilla.

Apple cinnamon mug cake Nice idea, dubious about the requirement for apple sauce, why not just chop apple and use that?

Salted caramel mug cake.   Wins points for common sense for not telling you to use unsalted butter and then add salt like some of the silly recipes, but on the other hand you have to have to make some salted caramel sauce, and I'm fairly sure that could be done more easily in a mug.

 I'm not sure about this Lime Coconut cake : it looks tasty, but it just seems like however many of them you made, you'd end up with either an awkward quantity of coconut milk, or an awkward half-lime.

I guess this is really what a pinterest is supposed to be for but it seems to make more sense to just pile everything in a jumbled heap here. 
bunn: (Berries)
Decided to give this hazelnut syrup recipe a try. It would have made sense to do this in the autumn when I could have picked the hazelnuts, but I didn't get around to it then so I bought a bag of them instead. I adapted the recipe to use:
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bunn: (dog knotwork)
It's annoying when you make something once and it was really nice, and then you make it again and didn't quite work so well, due to not remembering quite what you did and all the recipes being in cups, which I find confusing. So I've made this three times now, and I think this is now about right.  I've edited my original post, because the first time I didn't get the quantities right and I liquidised the ingredients in the wrong order.

Pumpkin seeds are much cheaper than pine nuts, and seem to be OK for people with nut allergies too.

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Foraging

Aug. 21st, 2013 10:50 pm
bunn: (Berries)
I saw a random tweet from @NFUCountryside, asking about foraging, and which wild foods people collected.  I think this is worth more than a tweet, so here is a post.
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bunn: (Cream Tea)
It turns out that Coop tinned chickpeas are tinned only with water, whereas the chickpeas sold by the local Nisa garage*  which advertise themselves boldly as 'France's favorite vegetables'  are tinned with slightly salty water.  This makes all the difference to the eventual hummus.      The chickpeas tinned in plain water *definitely* need added salt, and the lack of salt in the mix somehow causes the garlic to become unbridled and gallop all over the place shouting 'I AM GARLIC! HEAR ME ROAR!'   The ones tinned in salty water don't need any more salt (or to my taste they don't, anyway).

Hummus is very tasty with tahini made straight from sesame seeds rather than pre-made.   I suspect the reason most recipes say 'tahini' rather than 'sesame seeds' is that when you toast the little sods in a little oil they develop a passionate desire to stick to everything, rivalled only by polystyrene beanbag beans.   Which is fine if you don't mind licking sesame seeds off your pans (and I don't) but would probably really annoy some people.



*what a treasure trove that place is, the kind of small shop where you can buy road salt, lemons, dog toys, chickpeas, beer, bacon AND deeny boppers. 

Hummus

Apr. 7th, 2013 07:24 pm
bunn: (Cream Tea)
I made some hummus on Saturday.  It is OK, but not... quite right.
50g sesame seeds, toasted (I think maybe I didn't toast them enough.  Maybe try adding pre-made tahini next time)
400g tin of  chickpeas (drained)
20ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic
juice of a lemon
about 100ml water
SHOULD have added: a pinch of salt.

and then I chopped the sesame seeds in the blender, mixed in the olive oil, added the rest and blended till it was smoothish.   The texture is maybe a little gritty - could have added more water & blended for longer.    To start with, the flavours were way off - the raw garlic and lemon juice was far too much.  Today, the flavours have blended a bit so the whole thing tastes more pleasingly hummus-y, but still is lacking something.  Maybe salt?   Or maybe try dried chickpeas instead of tinned?

I still haven't made any beer fudge, but this is definitely on my to-do list.  I originally came across the idea when I misread the words 'beer fridge' but the misreading sounded so delicious! 
bunn: (Cream Tea)
Philmophlegm requested cupcakes. I took this as an opportunity to cakesperiment.

Beetroot cakes (with recipe), with, and without chocolate, lemon and spicecakes )
-----------------------------------

Custard flavour cupcakes )

All the cakes, iced.  )

Rather tragically, while I was busy making cakes, Philmophlegm was coming down with what looks like a rather nasty little gastric bug, and hasn't been able to eat any of them!

Sconehenge

Oct. 16th, 2012 09:20 pm
bunn: (Cream Tea)
DSC09616
I had intended the surrounding Scones to be fully upright under the cross-pieces, but couldn't work out a way to balance them.
bunn: (Berries)
I used to buy those little plastic pots of olives from time to time as a treat.  Then I worked out that actually, those are ridiculously expensive.  Much cheaper to buy a huge (recyclable) glass jar that contains about 6 times as many olives.   But, which jar?  

Taggiasca olives.  These black were billed as 'classic Italian olives in sunflower oil and olive oil with oregano' which sounds lovely, but actually they are quite foul.  They have huge stones, and their thin flesh is sort of flabby in texture, with a nasty aftertaste.  Strong suspicion that these are the dregs of the Italian crop dressed up posh for the British market. 

Picholine Olives  - green French olives, stone in.  These are pleasingly crunchy, with little stones and lots of flesh with a nice smooth rich flavour and not much aftertaste. 

Crespo pitted green olives in brine - what I think of as as a standard olive.  Bit of a crunch to it, nice and salty, handy they are pitted so you can chop them. 

Crespo pitted black olives in brine - I thought I didn't like black olives as much as green ones, but actually these are really nice, they have a nice rounded fruitiness to them. 

Waitrose Spanish pitted green queen olives - These are very large and have a good crunch to them - nice olives to add to a salad, but I felt they didn't have quite as much flavour as the Picholine French olives. 

Greek Kalamata black olives (in brine and wine vinegar).   These are very different.  No crunch at all, an almost meaty combination of rich flavour and squishy texture, and a strong aftertaste.  Similar in some ways to the Taggiasca olives I didn't like, but with more interest to them.   I'm not sure I'd like to eat a *lot* of these, but one or two among other olives makes a fascinating contrast.   I suspect they'd be good as a flavouring too.

Large green olives stuffed with garlic  - these may be my favorite so far.  The olive has a crunch, the garlic has a different crunch, the flavours work together really nicely.  From a small delicatessen in Tavistock, so no further info on origin, and they were relatively expensive so don't really fit the 'buy a big jar' model. 

Cracked green Spanish olives - large, salty, stone-in.  Not much crunch, though they definitely have more solidity to them than the Kalamata olives, for example.  Quite a strong olive flavour.  You wouldn't want to eat piles of them, but one or two are very pleasant.  Not sure what the point of the cracking is, they just look slightly bruised.  Also from the small delicatessen in Tavistock. 
bunn: (Trust me)
Today I made a cinnamon and ginger cake with lemon icing.
4oz sugar
4oz butter
2 eggs
good old shake of cinnamon and ginger.
8oz self raising flour
some hot water that had sat in a mug with a couple of cloves for a while, to mix
That doesn't look like enough cinnamon & ginger, stick in an extra teaspoon of each for luck.
Stir it all together until it makes a sort of thick batter, splat into 2 cake tins.
190 degrees C until a knife comes out clean from the middle.

Zest a lemon & add lemon juice & icing sugar to some butter, stir like a demon till it looks about right, use to sandwich the cooled cakes & decorate the top.

Didn't rise as much as I'd expected but was very delicious and moist.
bunn: (Default)
A duck egg in a fried egg and black pudding bap is an egg too far.  I had to take a shower afterwards to get the yolk off.

Tommy Shortlegs still has a limp.  To vet tomorrow.  Still no enquiries for him!  We have asked Corgi Rescue if they might know of a suitable home, since he is more or less corgiform.  Apparently they have 140 people waiting for corgis, and no corgis! 

Terry Pratchett's 'Nation' is sadder than I expected.  Not sure why I didn't expect this, given that the 'entire people being wiped out' aspect is trailered on the back of the book. 

Channing Tatum has ridiculously small eyes and a quite absurd amount of forehead.

Despite this I am having fun illustrating the Eagle Big Bang story I volunteered for, as it is well written and has huge amounts of landscape in it.  Plus, the next picture doesn't feature CT and his tiny eyes at all, but Cottia!  With a knife!   Need to find someone to draw as Cottia. 

Mollydog is *almost* 100% again, and has become loud and importunate.  I shall start her on her painkillers again tomorrow as I think the arthritis is getting to her. 

Rosemary Sutcliff's Simon is very much a local book (for local people?)    Very definitely grounded in Torrington, right down to the individual fields and the river.  Less sad than I had expected, given the whole Civil War setting, though the internal angst of best friends on opposite sides is quite well handled, the ending is perhaps a bit too happy to feel real. 
bunn: (Christmas)
On Saturday...
Shopping  )
chocolate marquise )

On Sunday...
Things were more relaxed than they might have been due to all the huge amount of pre-emptive chopping that had occurred. 
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Food food food food )
Doctor Who!  )

On Monday
Attempting to rest the greyhound )
Brief Boxingday gardening interlude )
watched some fillums )
bunn: (Default)
Today I have made 4 and a half jars of apple chutney.  I still have a lot of apples and some vinegar, onions and sultanas left so I may make some more yet.  My attempt to Eat All the Apples has failed : even eating 4 or 5 apples a day the lawn is covered in them.

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This weekend, my mother finally made it home after her broken hip. She's still walking on crutches and the leg is painful - not because of the hip, but because of the original problem that probably caused her to fall over in the first place. She has had pretty good care, I think, which is cheering. Note: if you want to break your hip, August is a good time to do it, because the busy time for hip-breaking is the winter. We still have her dogs, as she is not up to walking them yet. I don't know if they will both go back to her or not, but I'm leaving that decision to her. It's a bit of a pain having four dogs, but worse things happen at sea and all that.

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