Posts Tagged ‘food’


Adventures in pickling

August 7, 2010

It’s only August but it’s starting to feel distinctly Autumnal outside already. I’m definitely hoping for some more of the glorious sunshine we were treated to a month ago, but for the last two weeks it’s been dreary and dull.

The thoughts of Autumn had me thinking of preserving some of the veg from the garden. While I’ve grown beetroot before — in pots up on the balcony at my old flat — this is our first year with a garden, so I never had the luxury of “too many” veggies to worry about before. We’ve had a couple of meals from the beetroot already (we made the warm mackerel & beetroot salad again that I wrote about last year since it was so nice) and so I decided to have a go at pickling the rest.

I have no idea how to expect them to turn out, and I seem to have used a jar which is a little too large for the quantities I used, but seeing as it was all judged rather than measured, I think it’s not too bad a job! Here’s what I did:

I sterilised the jar in the oven at 140°C for 15 minutes and boiled the rubber ring. I cooked the beetroots by boiling them for 20 minutes — didn’t want them to be too soft. At the same time I brought some white wine vinegar to the boil with a few whole cloves, a couple of bay leaves, a cinnamon stick and a few peppercorns mixed in. When that had boiled I added a little sugar and mixed it in until it had dissolved. Then I skinned the beets while they were still hot, chopped them and put them into the hot jar, and strained the vinegar liquid over the top. I guess that now it’s just a case of waiting. I’m not sure how long to wait – a few weeks? Hopefully it will be okay that the jar isn’t completely full, as my understanding is that the produce keeps better with less air in the jar. I doubt it will be a problem though; I don’t envisage them lasting all that long. They smell far too yummy!


Courgette, Tomato and Paprika Cake

August 3, 2010

I mentioned that the veggies in our garden were starting to crop well. None more so than the courgette! I’ve never grown courgettes before and I must say, I’m not disappointed. From the one tiny seed I planted back in April, we have a huge plant that’s taking over a large corner of the garden and producing so many (huge!) courgettes than we have quite a glut. The tomatoes are also starting to ripen, so we were glad to find this recipe for Courgette, Tomato and Paprika Cake.

It’s admittedly not very cakey — quite mushy in fact — but made with our own home-grown courgettes and tomatoes — and served with home-grown french beans and (unfortunately not home-grown) new potatoes — it makes a delicious and filling dinner and it’s very rewarding to think we’re a step closer to self-sufficiency. A few food miles saved along the way.


How does your garden grow?

September 15, 2009

Warm mackerel & beetroot salad

Of all the edibles I’ve grown this year in the little space that is my balcony, one of the most surprising successes has been beetroot. I would never have considered growing beets if it hadn’t been for the free seeds I received from the BBC’s Dig In promotion but they were easy to grow and have produced a few great meals, even though the pot I planted up was tiny. The leaves are super in salads, too, or substituted for spinach in cooking, so scarcely any of the plant goes to waste.

Pictured is our effort at this Warm mackerel & beetroot salad, which was so good that the last few ‘roots will go towards a repeat performance in a few days. Thank you, BBC Dig In, I’ll be planting lots more next year!


Low Fat Tea Bread

July 26, 2009

Low fat tea bread

I don’t bake often — don’t worry, this isn’t about to turn into a food blog — but for some reason I’ve had a craving for tea bread for a while. As a little ‘un I was given a slice by a friend and liked it so much I asked for the recipe. It turned out to have been from a Blue Peter episode and I scribbled it down on a piece of paper which I kept for years, pulling it out every once in a while when something quick and easy was the order of the day. And then it got forgotten. Until now.

Of course now it’s many years later and I completely failed to find the recipe, despite going through every cook book in the house looking for any loose scraps of paper. So I came up with an approximation, based partly on memory and partly on surfing around the web looking for anything similar. It cooked up just great — although my (electric, fan-assisted) oven tends to burn everything waved even slightly near it, so it’s turned out possibly a little on the crusty side on top this time.

So here’s my recipe. It’s quick and easy, it’s lovely warm, you can butter it if the fancy takes you, and with no butter or oil in the mix it’s a completely fat-free treat. Do let me know if you make it, or if you have any modifications to the recipe!


Low Fat Tea Bread


2 cups of mixed dried fruit
1 cup of hot tea
1 cup of soft brown sugar
2 cups of self-raising flour (or plain flour + 2 tsps baking powder)
1 egg

Soak the dried fruit in the hot tea (I’m sure the Blue Peter recipe used to suggest leaving it over night — but I left it for just half an hour and it was fine).

Add the sugar and stand for a few minutes.

Fold in the flour.

Whisk the egg and fold it in.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin.

Bake at 180°C / gas mark 4 for 1.5 hours.