Monday, 29 August 2016

Munich, 1000pc jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger

Munich, detail

Earlier this month we spent a week of holidays in Cornwall. We often stay in the same cottage, and on arrival this time I was delighted to discover a few Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles in the shelving unit.
Always a fab way to relax, especially on a rainy day, if you want to have a break from the online socialising or reading books.
I am a self-confessed Ravensburger addict, and was delighted to receive a new puzzle for reviewing - Munich 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

The quality of Ravensburger puzzles is renowned.
The attention to detail is amazing. The cityscape of Munich is wonderfully detailed. You see Munich's Marienplatz, showing the Frauenkirche and Neue Rathaus (Town Hall).

Building work on the Frauenkirche or Cathedral Church of our Lady started in 1468. The church towers are widely visible because of the local height limits, according to Wikipedia. The Frauenkirche was constructed from red brick, and is said to having had capacity to house 20,000 standing people. The cathedral was severely damaged during the WWII due to the aerial raids by the Allied forces. Its restoration was completed in 1994.

The Town Hall was built between 1867-1908 by Georg von Hauberrisser in a Gothic Revival style. It has 400 rooms, and is famous for its "glockenspiel" with 32 near life-size figures. The 100m long main facade towards the Marienplatz is richly decorated with the figures from the Wittelsbach dynasty in Bavaria. The central monument in the centre of the facade is an equestrian statue of Prince Regent Luitpold.

The Town Hall has proved to be a challenging part of the jigsaw puzzle, as most pieces are very much alike in colour and detail.
The sky was another challenge. Though not uniformly blue, it had hues of pink and yellow, which helped to sort the pieces.

This excellent puzzle will make a splendid gift for any puzzle lover. Personally I'd be happy to receive puzzles as gifts for any occasion.
I just love the feeling of satisfaction once the puzzle is completed.

Disclosure: I received the puzzle for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Dairy-free pear multiseed muffins

Just yesterday I baked two trays of choc chip cookies. Today they were all gone. I decided I'd bake some muffins for my guys, with a grated pear and chopped dried mango added for flavour and lots of seeds for texture. I buy a breakfast mix at Holland & Barrett which contains pumpkin & sunflower seeds and pine nuts. My guys are happy to munch them lightly toasted with a tiny bit of salt, or added to bakes. They certainly add more texture and interest to plain muffins.

Pear Multiseed Muffins (makes 14 muffins)
1 pear, grated
1tsp lemon juice
120g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
50g cornflour
1/2tsp cinnamon
150ml coconut milk
2tbsp coconut oil
1 bag of sweet & sour mango, finely chopped
multiseed mix for topping (pumpkin and sunflower seeds + pine nuts)

Grate a pear, don't peel it, as the skin cooks perfectly well, and adds an extra fibre to the muffins. Add a bit of lemon juice and caster sugar and mix well. Beat in 2 medium eggs, add the flour, cornflour and baking powder, as well as cinnamon, coconut milk and chopped dried mango. Mix well.
Spoon the cake batter into 14paper muffin cases inserted into muffin trays. Place the trays into the oven preheated to 180C. Cook for 18-20 minutes. Check with a wooden toothpick if they're ready.
They are lovely warm, with a cup of tea. They'll keep well in an airtight container for a couple of days.

I used a small pack of Acti-Snack Sweet & Sour Mango in this recipe which is an exotic dried mango with tender green mango slices. These delicious sweet snacks are gluten free, additive free, fat free and are a good source of vitamin C & fibre.

Adding this simple and easy recipe to #KitchenClearout linky run by lovely Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews. as I used a bag of breakfast seeds which needed to be finished.

Friday, 26 August 2016

A lunchbox for my fussy eater

There are some very creative Mums who put their heart and soul into preparing imaginative themed lunchboxes for their children. I'm not one of them. I love looking at Eats Amazing Instagram feed, she is truly creative.
My problem is my guys won't eat food they don't want, even if it's cut into fancy shapes and decorated with pirate flags, battle droids' templates and charming little doodas. When it comes to food and lunchboxes in particular, my guys are a real pain.
It's ironic that with a foodie Mum, both of my sons are very fussy eaters.
I have tried cutting sandwiches in fancy shapes. Eddie would look with great interest, comment on how cool they look, and then would push the plate back to me.
In our case, the plain look works better.
The summer is fast approaching its end, and soon we'll have to start the hectic mornings again. I always feel like a senior officer in the barracks, waking everyone up and barking orders "Wake up! Time to get ready for school! Breakfast! blah-blah"
I try to add different foods to my sons' lunchboxes, I truly do. But they are definitely not an Instagrammable material, as they are more or less the same.
Eddie eats school lunches most days, but when they serve the roast on Wednesdays, he asks for a lunchbox.
What does he usually have? He has an apple for a mid-morning snack. Any other fruit is looked upon as an alien food.
Let's have a peek inside his lunchbox:
A Dairylea lunchable with crackers, ham and cheese, a few carrot sticks, a Yolly (a raspberry or strawberry yogurt on a stick), a Babybel cheese (red or blue), a drink and a Yo Bear Snack (preferably green or purple). He sometimes asks for a plain butter sandwich: just a slice of buttered bread and nothing else. It has to be cut into triangles, and none of them teddy bear or Hello Kitty shapes.

Eddie likes Jelly Pots and Hartley's Fruit in Jelly pots (which we discovered earlier this year), and I buy them often enough. He usually eats one in the afternoon as an after-school snack, but I wonder if we could try introducing them to his lunchbox.

Hartley's Jelly Pots have started a new campaign, Hartley's Your Lunchbox. This campaign aims to inspire parents and children as a motivation tool to get more creative with their children's lunchboxes.

It also encourages families to collect special edition green lids from across No Added Sugar Pots (115g). Once you collect 12, you are invited to claim a free Hartley's lunchbox and stickers to decorate it. The sticker alphabet will help you personalise the lunchbox with a child's name, or any message they would like to display on it.

If your child loves jelly, Jelly Pots are the perfect size for children's lunchboxes. The range of flavours is wide, so you can always find those you like the best.

What do you put into your kids' lunchboxes?

This post is an entry for BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Hartley's Jelly.

Disclosure: We received a lunchbox, stickers and two pots of jelly to take part in the challenge. All opinions are ours.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Carrot orange soup with umami paste

Buying vegetables in bulk might be a good budget decision, but on the other hand, going through "eleventy million" carrots is not very appealing. If you have a freezer, and can batch cook, fine. My freezer is on a small size and packed full as it is. One kilo of carrots at a time is bulky enough for me.
Rummaging through the fridge the other day, I noticed that the carrots were looking decidedly despondent.
Soup was the obvious solution.

Carrot orange soup
350g carrots, peeled and chopped
1tbsp olive oil
1 orange, zest and juice
80g red lentils
1 small potato
1tsp Swiss vegetable bouillon powder
1tbsp Clearspring Umami ginger paste

Peel and chop carrots, heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the carrots until softened, stirring occasionally. Put the carrots in a medium sized pan, add the zest and juice of one orange, dry lentils, peeled and cubed potato, a tsp of vegetable bouillon powder or any vegetable stock cube you prefer, as well as a tbsp of Umami ginger paste.
Cover with boiling water, cook simmering for 20+ minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Blitz with a hand blender to a smooth creamy consistency. Season if necessary. You might need to add more hot water to the soup as it's cooking.
Serve hot with a dollop of soured cream or Greek style yogurt.

In this recipe I used Clearspring Organic Japanese Umami paste with ginger which is traditionally fermented with soya sauce and koji.
It has no added sugar, it's high in protein, fat free and vegan.
Squeeze straight from the pouch into sauces, stews and stir fries.
Ingredients: soya sauce, cultured rice, ginger.
You can substitute this paste for a mix of grated fresh ginger and soy sauce.

Disclosure: I received a couple of pouches of Clearspring umami paste for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Stella Artois Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber, Horseradish Cream & Stella Artois Barley Crispbreads

homecured salmon

Homecured salmon always makes a great starter - it looks impressive and tastes delicious. I quite often cure a big slice of salmon with salt, sugar, selection of herbs and spices and usually vodka. And it's the first time I have tried a recipe for the salmon cured with a beer. Stella Artois as an ingredient in cooking adds a special flavour to the cured salmon.
Jimmy Doherty has recently partnered with AB InBev to open the Barley Beerstro, a unique dining experience that puts emphasis on beer and barley as ingredients in cooking. Jimmy has designed an inspired taster menu, using some of the most popular beers in the UK.
Each recipe uses barley as a base ingredient.
I was inspired to recreate his recipe for Stella Artois cured salmon. I don't often drink beer, but if I do, it's usually a Peroni, Birra Moretti or Stella.

Stella Artois Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber, Horseradish Cream & Stella Artois Barley Crispbreads will make a splendid starter for a festive meal (think Christmas or any other occasion when you are entertaining).
It is a delicious starter, made with the beautiful natural ingredient, barley, a key ingredient in beer, including Stella Artois.

Stella Artois Cured Salmon with Pickled Cucumber, Horseradish Cream & Stella Artois Barley Crispbreads (recipe courtesy of Jimmy Doherty)

Prep notes: For easy on the night preparation of this dish both the pickled cucumber and crispbreads can be made up to one-week in advance, and stored well in airtight containers. The Stella Artois cured salmon is able to be cured up to 3-4 days in advance.
Tip: The salmon can be left for a further 24 hours for a more intense flavour.

For the Salmon
400g side of salmon fillet
100g sea salt flakes
100g caster sugar
1/2tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 bunch of dill, finely chopped
100ml Stella Artois

For the Stella Artois Barley Crispbreads
200g barley flour
200g spelt flour
1/2tsp fine sea salt
7g dried fast action yeast
350ml Stella Artois
40g barley flakes
40g pumpkin seeds
20g linseeds
Rapeseed oil

homemade pickles

For the Pickled Cucumber
1x500ml clip top preserving jar
1 whole cucumber, peeled and deseeded
1tsp salt
80g caster sugar
100ml white wine vinegar
10g dill, finely chopped

For the Horseradish Cream
200ml creme fraiche
1tbsp creamed horseradish
salt and pepper

For the Salmon
1. Lay the salmon in a deep sided baking tin lined with a double layer of cling film.
2. Add the salt, sugar, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and dill to a small bowl; mix well.
3. Press the cure mix evenly all over both sides of the salmon. Drizzle Stella Artois over it.
4. Wrap the salmon in cling film, and use extra cling film if necessary to enclose the salmon and cure completely. Place another tray on top and weigh down with some heavy tines.
Place in the fridge overnight.
5. To serve, unwrap the cling film and scrape off all the cure mix. Rinse in cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Slice the salmon thinly and place on a serving plate accompanied by the crispbread, cucumber pickle and horseradish cream.

I used two heavy ceramic baking dishes for preparing the fish, one smaller size went on top. The salmon I cooked was over 500g, so I have adjusted the amount of salt, sugar and spices accordingly.

I didn't bake my own crispbreads as I couldn't find barley flakes and barley flour. I might find them locally, if I visit all delis and health food shops in town, but it's being summer holidays, I had no chance. Shopping with my younger son is not a walk in the garden as it is, he starts asking "Are you nearly finished?" as soon as I put the first item of my shopping list in the basket.

But - in case you fancy trying the full Monty, here is the recipe for Stella Artois Barley Crispbreads.

For the Stella Artois Barley Crispbreads
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.  <--- I presume, that's after the dough has risen, as you wouldn't keep it on empty for over an hour.
2. Add the barley, spelt flours, salt and yeast to a medium bowl.
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the Stella Artois. Mix well until it comes together into a dough.
4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a piece of cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
5. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly flour dusted work surface. Add the barley flakes, pumpkin and flax seeds. Knead well to fully incorporate all the seeds.
6. Divide the dough into quarters, place one ball of dough on a baking sheet between two sheets of lightly oiled baking parchment. Cover the dough you're not working with in a piece of cling film to prevent it from drying out.
7. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until very thin. Use a fork to make dot marks all over the crispbread, drizzle with a little rapeseed oil. Cover once more with a sheet of baking parchment. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Break into shards to serve.
9. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

For the Pickled Cucumber
1. Cut the cucumber into 2cm slices on an angle and place in a bowl.
2.Sprinkle over the salt. Leave for 10 minutes to let the cucumber absorb the salt.
3. Rinse the cucumber in cold water; gently squeeze out any excess water.
4. Add the cucumber to a bowl.
5. Heat the sugar and vinegar together in a small saucepan, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring over the cucumber. Stir in the dill. Store in the fridge in a sealed preserving jar.

I sliced the cucumber thinly rather than into 2cm pieces.

For the Horseradish Cream
1. Mix the creme fraiche and the horseradish, season with a little salt and pepper and serve.

Serve with a cold chalice of Stella Artois.

This is an excellent recipe. I have discovered that the beer works very well in preparing cured salmon. The pickled cucumbers and horseradish cream were a lovely touch too.
If you don't want to make your own crispbreads, Peter's Yard makes outstanding sourdough crispbreads.
I tend to make little size blini to serve as a base for the salmon topping with soured cream and dill.

And while it might not be a budget recipe as such, it is much more economic to make your own cured salmon, as any fancy smoked salmon piece of this size would cost an arm and a leg.

Disclosure: I received a supermarket voucher to cover the cost of the ingredients to try and test the recipe.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Protect yourself from the silent killer - FireAngel 7 Year Life Poisonous Gas Alarm giveaway (c/d 10 September 2016)

Keeping your family safe from carbon monoxide is of paramount importance. Did you know that each year in the UK around 50 people die from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, and 4000 people go to A&E  with 200 hospitalised (source: Gas Safety Trust) due to the effects of the gas. That means, one person dies every week, four are treated in hospital every day, and sadly it is children who are most vulnerable.

A great number of GP practices do not even own the equipment to test for Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
CorgiHomePlan feel very passionate about it, they believe that every GP needs access to the necessary equipment to detect the fatal gas at the crucial early stages.
So, they've launched a petition to make Carbon Monoxide Near-Patient Testing Devices mandatory in every GP surgery across the UK, and they need your help.
The challenge is easy - all you are asked to do is sigh the petition here, and maybe even share this campaign with your friends to help recruit as many signatures as possible.
Please note it is a two part process - first sign the petition, then verify your support via the email sent to your Inbox.
They really need your help, it's still a long way to go till they reach 10,000 (mine was no.960).

If you want to know more facts and stats on the silent killer, visit Carbon Monoxide Alarms page.

People behind the campaign have kindly offered a giveaway prize my blog readers. One lucky winner will receive a FireAngel 7 Year Life Poisonous Gas Alarm, Model Co-9X.


Signing the petition is not a condition of entry into the giveaway, but CorgiHomePlan who provided the prize will surely appreciate your support. And it will take just a minute of your time.

The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.
To be in with a chance of winning, please ebter via the Rafflecopter form.
If you are leaving a comment as Anon, make sure there is your name or username so that I can get in touch with you. If you have a Twitter name, that's the easiest way to contact you if you win.
The winner will be selected by Rafflecopter. I will contact the winner regarding their address details after the closing date. If they do not reply within 28 days, the prize will be allocated to another person.
The giveaway will close on 10 September 2016 (midnight).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Fruit scones (#ReadCookEat - The Monogram Murders)

afternoon tea

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah was one of the most anticipated novels of 2014.
For the first time since Christie's demise, the guardians of her legacy approved of a new novel featuring Hercule Poirot.
I am a big fan of Poirot and Agatha Christie in general, but I was rather hesitant to read the new novel.
Having a quick browse in Sainsbury's before our trip to Cornwall, I picked The Monogram Murders to take with me on our holiday.
A new book, coffee and something sweet as a treat, that's a perfect holiday arrangement.

holiday reads

The set up was pretty clever - three corpses are discovered in different rooms of the London hotel. Each of them has a monogrammed cufflink placed inside their mouth.
Poirot has got a new sidekick, who is so squeamish, you'd think he's in the wrong profession. He's also not particularly intelligent.
As a holiday read, it was quite enjoyable, though the plot is totally convoluted. I'm not sure I even understood all the whys, not that I care.
There wasn't much food-wise going on, apart from delicious scones served in the hotel. And coffee, lots of it.

"Oh yes, I'm often there for the afternoon tea. Lazzari, the manager - he's a darling. They're famous for their scones, you know - the best in London. I'm sorry..." She broke off. "I don't mean to babble about scones if three people have really been murdered. That's terrible. I don't see what it has to do with me, though".

For the classic scone recipe I consulted BBCGoodFood site (<----for the recipe follow the link).
I have reduced the amount of milk to 150ml and added a handful of jumbo raisins and cranberries.
I don't know whether these scones could compete with the winning ones from The Monogram Murders, but they were pretty good.
We love Rodda's clotted cream, it is so luxurious. And strawberry prosecco jam which I made just last week is also a perfect flavour to go with the scones and cream.
Ideally they should be served with a cup of refreshing tea, but as we're talking about a coffee addict Poirot, we had an afternoon coffee instead.

afternoon tea

Did you read The Monogram Murders? What did you think of it?

afternoon coffee

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Turkey steaks in sweet wine and mushroom sauce - #TurkeyTractorChallenge

cooking with wine

Cooking challenges are always great fun. If you follow my blog, or even dip in from time to time, you might have noticed my love of blogger challenges. Recently British Turkey and Red Tractor have teamed up and invited bloggers to create a recipe, using British turkey and a range of Red Tractor approved ingredients.
The winner will receive £250 of supermarket vouchers and will have their award presented to them at the British Turkey Awards at the Sheraton Park lane hotel in September.
The current theme of the challenge is "Best of British". The competition closes on 26th of August, so if you fancy taking part, you'd better hurry (T&Cs can be found on British Turkey site).

I used a generic "dessert wine" ingredient in the list, as it could also be cooked with a marsala, sweet sherry, or any other dessert wine.
It is easy to make, and the sauce adds a rich note to the healthy low-calorie turkey steaks.
Fennel has been known in this country since the days of the Romans, its flavour and aroma complement many meat dishes. Mushrooms are another of my favourite ingredients.

Turkey steaks in sweet wine and mushroom sauce
turkey steaks (about 400g+)
3tbsp olive oil + more for sauce
2 heaped tbsp flour
salt, black pepper
200g button mushrooms, sliced
2tbsp butter
120ml chicken stock
120ml sweet dessert wine
1tsp cornflour
1 fennel, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1tsp lemon juice
dried thyme and basil

In a wide bowl mix together flour with salt and pepper. Dip the turkey steaks in the bowl and shake off the excess flour.
In a large skillet, cook the turkey steaks in olive oil for about 7 minutes or so on each side until the steaks are cooked through. Remove the steaks, place on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Slice the mushrooms, cook with more oil + butter in the same skillet where you cooked turkey. Add the chicken stock (about 1 flat teaspoon of chicken stock powder diluted in 120ml hot water), and the dessert wine. Cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring until the liquid has reduced.
Dissolve 1tsp of cornflour in cold water, stir well and add to the sauce. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice in the sauce as well.
In the meantime slice the fennel and red onion and cook with oil in a frying pan, stirring frequently. Add some dried herbs.
Serve the turkey steaks with the fennel and onion side dish. Serve the mushroom sauce over the steaks.
It would also go well with mashed potatoes, but as it is summer, I opted for a lighter vegetable side dish.
A green salad is another alternative.

cooking with wine

Disclosure: I was invited to take part in the cooking challenge with a future refund for the ingredients, that is if I manage to find my receipt, me being so disorganised.

cooking with wine

Monday, 15 August 2016

Strawberry Prosecco Jam

Late summer and autumn for me means making preserves. I mostly use just plain granulated sugar, as many berries have a high pectin content as it is and don't need any extra pectin.
I was recently asked to try a delightful recipe for Strawberry Prosecco Jam, which uses a jam sugar.
This summer preserve is delicious, sweet and refined, perfect with scones and clotted cream.
I used a big punnet of strawberries (750g), and adjusted the quantities of sugar and prosecco accordingly, which was enough for two big Kilner jars.

summer preserves

Strawberry Prosecco Jam (recipe courtesy of Tate & Lyle)
Prep 5 mins
Cooking 15-20 minutes
Makes 5 x 450g jars

150ml prosecco
1kg Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar
1kg strawberries

Put the prosecco, jam sugar and strawberries into a large heavy-based saucepan, placed over a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Increase the heat and boil steadily for 10 minutes, taking care to keep an eye on the jam to ensure it doesn't boil too rapidly.
Meanwhile, sterilize 4 x450g jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing well, then placing them in a low oven at 150C/Fan 130c/gas mark 2 for 10 minutes.
Test the jam for setting point. To check, remove the saucepan from the heat, spoon a little jam onto a cold plate and leave for 2 minutes - it should wrinkle softly when your finger is pushed over the surface. If this point has not been reached, return the saucepan to the heat and continue to boil for another 2 minutes. Test as before until setting point is reached (you may need to test several times, though be patient, as this testing is crucial to achieve the correct consistency).
Pour the hot jam into the warm sterilised jars. leave to cool, then seal and label.

Check out his and other tasty recipes, using Tate & Lyle's products at Taste and Smile (link removed as comes as broken).

summer preserves

Cook's tip: Chill a stack of small plates in the fridge, so that you have a few lined up for checking the setting point.

strawberry jam

Disclosure: I received a pack of jam sugar to try and test the recipe.

coffee break

Carrot cookies (#ReadCookEat - The Icecutter's Daughter)

The Icecutter's Daughter by Tracie Peterson is set in 1896 in a small Minnesota town. Merrill Krause is the only female in a big houseful of men. After her mother's death she dedicates her life to her father and brothers. She is strong and robust and works as hard as any man, assisting her father with his ice-cutting business. She is not looking for romance, that is until a handsome Swede Rurik Jorgensen arrives to their town to help his ailing uncle to run a carpentry business.
Merrill is an excellent cook. With her German cooking heritage, she treats her family to a whole variety of delicious meals, be it cinnamon rolls, meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, green beans and spaetzle, and bierocks.
"She hurried to pull out a tray of golden brown bierocks. The aroma of fresh bread dough, cabbage and meat filled the air".
I looked up the quark-tasche, and this is something I'm going to try baking one day. "What is that?" "Oh, it's a delicious cheese pastry, Our mother used to make it for special occasions, and it's one of my favourites"
Merrill's famous apple strudel makes appearance more than once.
It's not only the German recipes which pop up through the book, there is also a mention of kladdkaka, Swedish sticky chocolate cake, which also sounds tempting.

Yet the recipe I fancied recreating the most from the book is carrot cookies.
"I have some delicious cookies"
Granny shook her head. "Carrot cookies? Doesn't sound too appetizing to me. 'Course, I've never been overly fond of 'em. But if you're the one doing the baking, I'm glad to try"... Granny and Corabeth each picked one of the frosted cookies and sampled it. Merrill waited as the women considered the offering. Their smiles were her answer.
"You say these are made with carrots?" Granny asked.
"Carrots?" Corabeth looked at the partially eaten cookie. "I can't taste any carrot. I taste orange".
Merrill nodded. "Remember the oranges we got at church for Christmas? I saved them and used the juice and zest for frosting".
"They're wonderful", Granny said, reaching for another... Merrill, you have a real prize here..."

I have looked online for carrot cookies, and found an interesting recipe for carrot cake oatmeal cookies on Amy's Healthy Baking blog (follow the link to check out Amy's delicious recipe).
I have adapted it and changed some of the ingredients. As the coconut oil wouldn't have been available in Minnesota of 1896, I substituted it for margarine, as that was already available in America in the 2nd half of the 19C.

Carrot cookies
zest of 1 orange
70g carrots, grated
1 medium egg
40g dark demerara sugar
80g margarine
a pinch of salt
100g oats
170g whole wheat flour (+ more for dusting the working surface)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
100ml maple syrup

Peel and grate carrots in a big mixing bowl. Grate the orange zest and add to the carrots. Beat in the egg, add the sugar, margarine, a pinch of salt, oats and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and maple syrup and mix well. The cookie batter will be still a bit sticky, you will need to dust the working surface with flour quite well. Roll the cookie dough on the surface up to 2cm in height, cut out circles with a cookie cutter and place on the trays lined with foil (or parchement paper). Bake at 180C for about minutes.
The cookies will still be soft when you take them out of the oven.
I thought about icing them with the icing sugar and orange juice, but they were sweet enough.
They will keep well in a tin for a couple of days.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Photo diary: week 32, 366

It's been already over a week since we came back from Cornwall, and I miss it. Not the trip itself, which is always a pain, but the smell of the sea, the ever moving waves, the rocky landscapes, "our" cottage with a beautiful view. Sigh. Who knows if we'll go back to our favourite place again.

Sunday was a baking day. In fact I have been baking almost every day in the last week.
This is a banana loaf I baked.

On Monday we didn't go out to buy any fresh bread, so I baked my own braided bread. It was crusty and tasty.

homebaked bread

Rose at dusk in the garden

On Wednesday our friend Jen took my boys and me to the Burford garden centre by car. My guys love visiting it, we always have a drink and snack in the cafe, have a look around the centre and end up at the playground. Sasha is very happy on the swings, he doesn't mind that he is the oldest kid there.
I've seen these beautiful bright lemons in the shop, and just had to take a photo.

I don't know why but while we were in Cornwall, I haven't seen the Moon even once. Perhaps it was covered by the clouds, but almost every evening I would look up at the sky, trying to find it without any success. Eddie and I even walked out of the cottage down the lane at 10.30pm one evening, we looked in every direction, but the Moon was hiding. Yet here, at home, we see it pretty regularly. Last Thursday it was a perfect half shining in the dark.

Tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing well. I was worried that they might get dehydrated during our absence. My friend promised to come and water the tomatoes in the greenhouse a couple of times during that week, but I also did a system of watering, with big plastic bottle filled with water, with windows cut out on the side, and the cotton tights and shirts cut into strips going out from the bottles to the plants. It looks very amateur, but it seems to work.

Every Saturday Eddie and I pop into the local Poundland shop. I won a £10 voucher recently, so we went to spend it all on plastic tat toys and sweets. Since we lost a football in Cornwall, we got two this time.
Just in case, you know. The golden one is already flat today, not exactly what I would expect from a football.