Tag Archives: recipes

The Wedding – getting ready.

P1020096As we are in the last two days before the wedding the activity levels increase. Yesterday I got the rest of the Order of Service printed and Alex stapled them. Then I fell asleep!

Today I’ve got some bits and pieces to do but am under strict instruction to do very little so I can be sure of being there on Saturday. I do not want to miss my son’s wedding and I am trusting that I will be fine on the day.

Ronan has made a lovely gluten free treacle tart and instead of Eton Mess he’s going to make a lemon meringue thing, I just made the lemon curd in the most cheatish way I’ve ever seen.

200g of caster sugar (gran’ll do)

250 mls lemon juice

100g of unsalted butter (I used the butter I made a couple of days ago)

3 eggs. whip the eggs up.

Put it all in a pyrex or other microwave safe bowl. Give a whipping with a fork.

Put it in the microwave and then nuke it for a minute at a time, stirring it with the fork after every minute or so.

It took about 5 to 6 minutes (can’t quite remember) to get it to thicken nicely. Leave it to cool

I’ve never made curd this way before but it has worked reasonably welll and is certainly quicker than the proper way. The proper way produces a much better consistancy though – but the quick version tastes fine.

I’ll pour this into a flan case and then crumble meringues into whipped cream and slap that over the top.

P1020099Ronan’s Gluten Free treacle tart

grease and line a 9″ tin.

roll out shop bought gluten free shortcrust pastry and line the tin.

Into a heavy base saucepan put  8 tablespoons of golden syrup

2 oz of unsalted butter (used my home made)

heat this over a low hob until the butter is melted.

let it cool a little and then add in 2 beaten eggs

4 0z of gluten free breadcrumbs and 4 tablespoons of buttermilk (you can use cream but we have buttermilk from making the butter)

Pour the mixture into the pastry case and cook on Gas Mark 4/350 F for about 20 minutes.

Alex has just arrived with an armful of cheese, which stinks! However, he has left behind the Stinking Bishop which was offered as a substitute for something else (a hard cheese, so why they subbed Stinking Bishop I don’t know.) He’s decided not to have the SB at the reception as it will stink out the entire place!

Things are getting a little stressful for the bride and groom but Iona is all calmness as she completes the wedding cake; only occasionally bursting out “Don’t touch me I’ve made A HUNDRED scones!”

As I’ve only made about 18 I can’t really compete can I? LOL!

Wedding preparation: making butter.

It is the week leading up to Alex and Anna’s wedding.  The Reception, which they are having in our Church Hall will be a bring and share feast. So the cooking is under way. Iona has the cake to made and there are scones and tea loaf for freezing before the day.

I have just made a batch of butter. It’s pretty easy to make.

I had two big tubs of double cream (it was on offer – the best time to buy it for making butter)

If, like me, you are lucky enough to have a Kenwood with the K beater – you’re made.

P1020078Pour the cream into the bowl and start beating it. The cream will thicken and get stiff. Watch at that moment because the transition from thick cream to butter happens rather suddenly.

You will find the butter and buttermilk have separated.  Pour off the buttermilk into a jug.

You need very cold water. Pour some in with the butter and beat very slowly. More buttermilk will form which you can pour off. I usually manage to do a couple of these before I need to take the butter out and wash it the final few times. I put the butter in a bowl and rinse it a few times under the tap until the water runs off nearly clear. Press the butter to leach out the final water.

Rinsing and washing is important to prevent the butter going rancid.

Then I rolled the butter out and using Iona’s embossing sheet (she uses forP1020079 cakes) embossed the butter with swirls. Then cut them into pieces. I’ve carefully stacked the pieces between sheets of silicon paper and now they are chilling.

You can freeze butter. Home made butter doesn’t last as long as shop butter because the only ingredient is the butter. But the more I learn about food production the more I would rather make my own.

The butter milk was handed straight to Iona who is making batches of scones with it.


So people can have a little pat of butter to go with their scones.

I did not add salt. If you are going to freeze butter it can overly enhance the salt. Anyway, it’s so creamy and fresh, who needs salt?

cooking for Christmas recipes: cranberry sauce

Cranberries are in season for a very short time indeed (What was God thinking?). So grab ‘em while you can get them.

1 lb cranberries

a cinnamon stick and a star anise

5 fl oz of liquid either; water, red wine; orange juice; blueberry juice or something you would really like to see used to make cranberry sauce.

six tablespoons of sugar

Put the cranberries, cinnamon, star anise and liquid into the pan and heat until the cranberries have softened. Don’t add the sugar at the beginning as apparently it toughens the berry skins. I have forgotten occasionally and not noticed too much faff, but it is a bit easier to squish the cranberries if the sugar isn’t there.

The other thing I have found is that this amount per batch works best. Doubling up for me at least has not worked so well.

Now then, this is the basic cranberry sauce. You could do half cranberries half stoned cherries. You can use brandy, AfterShock or that orange liqueur whose name has gone out of my head right now.

If like us you can’t use alcohol then experiment with fancy juices and different sugars. (not molasses, it doesn’t seem to go with cranberries).

This one is easy enough for the children to have a go.

cooking for Christmas Recipes: Lemon and Lime Marmalade

You will need a really large pan, or a cauldron like I use.

2 and a half pints of boiling water

6 limes

4 large lemons or 5 small ones

1 ruby grapefruit

3 lbs of sugar ( one pound of which could be Jam sugar)

Measure boiled water into a jug to 2 1/2 pints

Using a peeler or sharp knife strip the fruit of it’s skin and set aside.

Cut the fruit in half and squeeze out the juices. Add all the juice to the jug and you should end up with just over 3 pts of liquid. Throw the halves into the pan pips and all and pour over the water and juice. On the top dump in all the peelings. Heat this until the fruit has softened.

Spoon the fruit and skin out of the liquid giving the fruit halves a good squeeze on their way out. You can now throw away the fruit but keep the skin peelings. They will have softened in the cooking and you can attack them with gusto with a pair of scissors or a knife so they are cut into little shreds. Very therapeutic.

Return the shreds to the pan and add 3 lbs of sugar.

Bring it all to a rolling boil stirring it until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to setting point 220 F on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have one use a cold saucer and add a teaspoon of the marmalade when you think it should be setting – usually about 10 to 15 minutes of boiling. Let it cool and push it. If it wrinkles and feels gloopy you have a set.

Adding the pinkiness of the grapefruit makes the final colour really golden, which I rather like.

If you have boiled the stuff to within an inch of its life and it still refuses to set, add jelly or agar gel. I know this is cheating but the fact is, sometimes a batch simply will not set.

If Delia Smith ever becomes a saint, we will all have St. Delia to approach for setting jams and marmalades; but until then we must cheat. :)

Unless anyone knows a patron saint of preserves and their makers?


More apple recipes: apple sauce and apple upside down cake

Despite the glut of apples taking up a corner of my kitchen I was foggy enough to BUY some on Friday. So they need using. We had apple sauce with Sunday Dinner today. That’s really simple to make.

Peel, core and chop apples and put them in a smallish saucepan.

Add a little water and cook until soft. Mash them up and there’s the apple sauce. If the apples are tart add a little sugar. I added a dollop of apple jelly instead and stirred it in. Very nice.

Then I peeled and cored even more apples and sliced them. In a larger pan I melted a large dab of butter (about 3oz) with a little olive oil. I always add oil to stop the butter burning-and it does work. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of good cinnamon in and then add the apple slices and cook them until just about soft.

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Apples everywhere; recipes to take advantage.

I don’t know what it’s like around your neck o’the woods, but around here there has been an abundance of apples this year. As usual they haven’t all grown big, shiny and Euro approved looking, but there are lots that can be done with an apple glut.


You can use cookers like Bramley that haven’t quite made it or crab apples or any apple that’s tart and hasn’t bothered to grow big. (For bigger apples there are better uses I think).

You will need a preserving pan or cauldron for this.

Take all the apples and chop them in half or chunks leaving the core and pips in. the pips have pectin and that will help the jelly set later.

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Making Marmalade and Chicken soup the Fibro way. :)

Making marmalade the fibro way goes like this:

Walk into the kitchen and see the oranges you bought for making marmalade and realise you really need to find the energy to do this before they turn into penicillin.

So. First, take no drugs – you will be using the hob. Brain fog makes that risky enough without adding drugs to the situation.

Weigh out 3lbs of oranges and a grapefruit.

Put them into a cauldron or large preserving pan and pour in 5pts of water. Light the hob and check you really did light it and that you really did light the right ring.

Leave the oranges to simmer.

Forget all about them until your daughter or other person who happens to walk into the kitchen asks if you really want them to boil dry. Realise that you were making marmalade and return to kitchen. Add five more pints and remember to cover the pot with foil so it doesn’t boil dry. Simmer. Have all the children constantly remind you that you have the hob on.

Turn hob off and leave to cool.

Take drugs.

Following day.

The oranges and grapefruit should be nice and soft. Don’t peel them- that would hurt like…Anyway cut them into quaters and feed through a processor blade to slice thinly. You will find that this isn’t completely “professional” looking so take some of the really big bits of skin and slice with a knife. This is easy and not too painful.

Add all the stuff back into the water and pour in just less than 3lbs of pectin sugar.

Don’t take drugs. Put the hob on and let this boil. You really must not walk away, because you just KNOW you will forget and hot sugar is jolly dangerous. So stay there.  Stir it a few times.  After about 10 minutes possibly a little longer test the skin for wrinkles or do the cool saucer test where you put a teaspoon of the marmalade on a plate and see if it wrinkles and sticks when gently pushed. Boil longer if needed and test again. To manage pain at this point pace. Research shows that pacing does actually help.

When ready leave to cool. Take drugs.

Next day get jars for sterilisation. Light oven to sterilise jars for 8minutes at gas mark 8. Check oven some time later and wonder where the jars are. Realise you never actually put them in the oven. REMAIN CALM.  Place jars in oven. Do other stuff around the place where you have written in large letters “JARS IN OVEN” and then remove them.

Spoon marmalade into jars that you have placed next to pan with plenty of kitchen roll around to take the mess you make thanks to the fact your hands don’t co-ordinate in normal marmalade making fashion.

Lid jars and go sit down with a cuppa.


Day before: prepare chicken with a bit of lemon juice and a brush of butter. Ask son to place it in the oven before he goes off to do his work. Set gas mark 7 and take drugs. Go off to do other things. Have a child say, “What’s for tea?” at a very providential moment and suddenly remember you left the chicken in the oven.

Take it out and find that thankfully it isn’t burned or even overcooked! Thank God for 7 year old boys.

Get daughter to help you prepare tea because Tramadol has left you so stoned and hardly touched the pain, that you can’t do it properly.

Place stripped chicken carcass in pot.

Next day.  Add water to carcass and leave simmering on hob. This is difficult to get wrong as it smells of chicken soup so as you move around the house it reminds you it’s on. It also makes a high pitched sound which I am sure only fibro’s hear. Very annoying but very useful in brain fog.

Turn off the hob. Leave to cool.

Take drugs. You will be standing up for a while and will need it.

Use slotted spoon and remove all the carcass from the pot leaving behind the stock. Strip off the meat and throw out the bones. Using a sharp knife just chop a bit at the meat so that it’s smaller. Leave to one side.

Take either two small or one large red onion and peel and chop it. (Aren’t you glad you took those drugs now?)

In a pan heat some oil and a sprinkle of fennel seeds. Add the onion and a teaspoon of ready chopped garlic. (Pressing a garlic clove under a flat knife isn’t for us any longer is it my fellow fibros?) Add some water to sweat the onions and season. Add about four handfuls of red lentils and then more water. Simmer for a while and stir. Add it all into the stock pot. Simmer and stir until the lentils are softened.

Now, if you happen to be having a good day you can peel and chop a couple of big spuds and boil them and add them to thicken the soup. But if, you aren’t – you just can’t. It’s thinner soup but I don’t care.

Get hand held whizzer thing- what are they called? Can’t remember. Anyway, it blitzes the soup to s lovely smoothness. Add some milk or cream if you like. I added a bit of almond milk. Very nice.

Now add the chopped meat and stir. It’s done.

I put a loaf on this morning in the bread machine so there’s bread and soup.

Oh dear, just remembered it’s Friday and I’m supposed to be Catholic.

Ah well. Enjoy.

Christmas cooking; mincemeat

Deb has some great recipes on her site. And finally we have got to grips with some proper Christmas cooking this year. Late-but better than never I guess.


You will need a pretty large mixing bowl for this. I also recommend having a number of smallish children with scissors on hand.

In the bowl put

1 lb of cranberries-a mixture of fresh and dried is good.

8oz or three big cooking apples peeled and diced.

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Tomato and Apricot chutney.

Spinning 3D Jack-o-Lantern It’s that time of year again. Getting ready for Halloween and All Saints, starting the Christmas prep and I suppose if I got organised (LOL) I would even get something sorted for 5th November.

P1000880I bought “culinary” pumpkins this year to make the lanterns with. I thought maybe there would be enough flesh to make something with once I’d hollowed them out-but there really wasn’t. I do however have a pile of seeds. I’ve washed a few and am leaving them to dry overnight and then I’m going to try roasting them and see how it goes. Apparently they are a lovely snack and very good for you. I am a skeptic on all things pumpkin-but I’ll let you know.

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Pennywise Life. Distributismish

5312I said I would post some recipes on how we are trying to save money this year. So here are some of our scrimping schemes and a couple of recipes.

I don’t suppose many of my penny pinching ideas are all that new to most of you. We are trying to cut back on the extraordinaryly high electricity and gass bill. I am back to not putting the central heating on and keeping the children in one room as much as possible. If other families are coming over I put it on. But we wear more jumpers and Josh gets the coal fire lit early so we get some good heat downstairs.

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Christmas cake recipe

food-n-things-004I have found that if I soak the fruit for about a week I don’t need to feed the cake.

For a 9″ round or 8″ square tin take

3 lbs of dried fruit: go for a mix a bit like this: 13oz raisons, 10 oz sultanas 6oz dried cranberries, 4 oz dried blueberries, 6 oz glace cherries, 6 oz of chopped dates, 3 oz of mixed peel (if you like it). Mix it all around in the bowl and throw in a mans handful of ground almonds.

Add a generous teaspoon of Christmas/Allspice and a teaspoon of mixed spice. Stir it in.

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Recipes: Chutneys, apple jelly, cranberry sauce….

I am coming to the conclusion that you can make chutney out just about anything. It’s a great way to avoid throwing things away and it makes great Christmas gifts.

Apple and Courgette (Zuccini) chutney

I had a huge chunk of a huge courgette left so I chopped it into cubes. I reckon I had aboout 1lb of the stuff (and that was just half a courgette. It was huge)


80z onion chopped and crush about three cloves of garlic. Put it in the pan and sweat down with a little water.

Add the Courgette (about 1lb) and I peeled and chopped about 1lb 8oz of apples too. (bramleys) Then add 1lb of raisans or sultanas.

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Pickle Day

The children were quite excited at the prospect of making chutney today and went around shouting “It’s pickle day!” And why not?

We have been given a huge bag of Bramleys by a neighbour. He does this on a regular basis as he has Bramley and Crab apple trees in his garden. We take the apples and make chutney, apple jelly, pies and mincemeat and he gets produce back.

The children put on their aprons and we gathered what we would need. First I dug out the old cauldron and set it on the hob.

Then you will need:

1 lb on onions, peeled and chopped. I use a mixture of red and white. Do whatever you like best. When you have chopped them put them in the cauldron and add a little water. Cook them through until softening.

4 1/2 lbs of apples- peel them and chop them. Get the children to add these to the onions and stir. They did the adding and stirring (hob off) while I did the peeling and chopping.

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My New Slow Cooker Has Arrived!

I loved my slow cooker and then a couple of weeks ago it died. Crying 

Well I just need a slow cooker, so I asked Al if I could have one for my birthday. Well, I’m sorry folk but my birthday isn’t for another couple of weeks and I REALLY need a slow cooker. So I ordered one and it arrived today.

I use it a lot in the Autumn and winter for a number of things. It makes a lot of chutney and mince meat for the Christmas jars.

It is my Wednesday Saver. We have homeschool group on a Wednesday morning and then everyone comes back here for lunch and then I teach Sign Language after that. By the time that day is over I am shattered and certainly wouldn’t be up to cooking dinner for everyone. By having the slow cooker set up in the morning before we go out there is a lovely meal ready for everyone and as Wednesday night is Scout night the older ones can grab a plateful before they have to leave the house.

I use the slow cooker for big family gatherings and borrow a couple of others so a large gathering can have a hot meal.

I don’t know who invented the thing but GOD BLESS HIM!

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Burn’s Night Supper

robtburns.jpgDespite yesterday being a ‘non-day’ we managed to do a bit about Robert Burns and had a good luck at the poem Ode To A Haggis. Iona and I put a small display up on the wall which included Scott tartans.

We checked out the proper way to do a Burn’s Supper-and promptly ignored nearly all of it.Sr Kath arrived and we welcomed our guest without whiskey. She can proudly claim that the bard is buried in her home town of Dumfries.Thanks to the way the last couple of days had one, we had completely forgotten to  make the trifle! However Iona got Alex to give her his special flapjack recipe and she set about making that instead.

FLAPJACKs8oz soft brown sugar8oz butter

2tbsp of golden syrup or clear honey

12oz Scottish jumbo oats

4 or 5 pieces of stem ginger in syrup-chopped.

Grease an 8″ X 12″ tin or something of a similar size. Chop the ginger and DON’T eat any-it’s a discipline thing.

Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and heat gently until the mixture melts- stir it a little to bring it together. Remove it from the heat and pour in the oats and add ginger. Stir it all together and then pour it into the prepared tin and flatten it out.

It goes in the oven at Gas mark 2/3 (about 150C) for 35/40mins.

Get it out and let it cool a little before cutting and then wait for it to be cold before separating the pieces.

This is a great recipe and not too sweet. Alex has added coconut and/or chocolate at times and Iona has used it as a topping for apple crumble- really lovely.

7762-mmmm-haggis-0_full.jpgHaggis, Neeps and tatties

I boiled the haggis-3 of them to feed 9 of us although the last 3 count as one slightly greedy person.

Peel a pile of spuds and chop them-add them to very lightly salted water and boil.

Chop and peel one and a half turnips and boil.

When the neeps and tatties are cooked, drain and mash them with a bit of butter.

Remove Haggis one at a time from boiling water and place on a plate before a husband (if no husband is available improvise). The husband takes the traditional ceremonial dirk-okay so he takes the kitchen knife- and plunges it into the beastie. At this point someone is supposed to be reciting the Ode to a Haggis, but no one was. Earlier that day Alex had recited the poem in the voice of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets-but the less said about that the better.

Make gravy and serve.

The children love this meal -and it’s easy baby food.

After the ‘supper’ we went and sat around the fire with a cuppa and Sr Kath and a good time was had by all. We didn’t end the evening with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ but Sr Kath was treated to Ronan reading her a story (one of his ORT books) and had the wonders of LazyTown extolled to her.

It was a good night.

Homeschool Group & busy Wednesdays

bc_slowcooker_300.jpgWednesday’s are such busy days that I don’t think we would get to eat at a reasonable time in the evening if it wasn’t for my trusty slow cooker. I am sure some great poet somewhere will have written an ‘Ode to the Slow Cooker’ but it isn’t me.

In the morning between the usual jobs and getting the children ready to go out, Iona packs the homeschool group bag with rug and toys for Heleyna and I get the slow cooker under way. Today I made Chicken Tikka Masala. Doesn’t that make me sound good? Ahem…confession time -

RECIPE for the fastest Chicken Tikka Masala in the West.

One packet of baby new potatos tipped into the cooker.

One onion peeled and chopped and flung in too.

Chop up some carrots and beans and in they go.

Fling in enough chicken pieces to feed a family of 8 plus extra in case anyone turns up who needs feeding. (This can happen here so I always like to be able to have enough food available to feed unexpected guests-It is not wasted. If there is any left Alistair takes it to work for lunch the next day and if there is any left after that Josh eats it for lunch the next day too).

One tin of cheap chopped tomatoes poured in and then a jar of Masala sauce poured in.

Add a bit of hot water to the nearly empty jar-swirl it a bit and pour it over. Mix it in a bit. Put on the lid set the cooker to low and rush off to homeschool group.

Just as a matter of interest this meal costs £11.13 to make and gives 5 adult size meals two small ones, baby food and enough for 1 or 2 more adult meals; so average cost is around £1.23 to £1.39 per head.

That might be boring info-but it is the sort of thing some of us single-income homeschooling mums have to think about.

Homeschool Group

It was science week today. Sally had organised activities around materials. The children moved in small groups around the tables to complete various activities such as using materials to build a tower with enough strength to hold an apple on the top. Another group picked out materials such as wood, metal, textiles etc and put a design for a boat down on paper. My table had worksheets to differentiate between different materials such as wood, plastic, glass, textile and so on.

We finished and cleared up so the hall was ready for the ladies who have a group after us.

Sign Language

Ruth and Nicki came back here with their children for Sign Language. I told them the story of the Fisherman and His Wife and they began to sign along with me. Then we practiced our signed carols.

‘Silent Night’ does look very elegant in Sign Language I think.

After the lesson the children went off to play and after Nicki had left Ruth and I planned next week’s book session for homeschool group which will be on Beatrix Potter. We were surprised at how little material is available online for us to use-but we have cobbled together some ideas ready for next week.

Iona and Alex have gone ice skating wit