Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Shortbread - and a failed attempt at lollibops

I had seen this over on Maggys blog and thought I would try it next time I was making shortbread.


  • 100g cornflour
  • 160g rice flour
  • 8 tablespoons caster sugar
  • bottom RHS attempt at lollibop
  • 175g vitalite, softened
Sieve flours, add sugar and rub in vitalite. Place on fridge for 1 hr then roll out and cut

So we made shortbread the other day, so I bravely tried it with a fruit bar I had bought with my order this month. 

after cooking - no difference
So I cut out my differing circles and tore said fruit bar into bits, places fruit bar over gaps and cooked....ho didnt work, the fruit bar did not melt, nothing said it would or should but I like to experiment. will need to try something else next time.

Whilst I had the shortbread  made and before I put in oven I thought I would sprinkle 3 of each with freeze dried strawberry powder,  freeze dried blackberry powder and dried lime powder , but to be honest cant same time they were cooked you could actually taste the stuff.

the cooked shortbread with its toppings

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A yummy yummy win

I was fortunate enough to win this delicious box of Seasonal Produce in association with Knorr and Foreman and Field.

the vegetables

fish, lamb and knorr products

Im not a fish eater unless its fresh tuna, which doesn't taste like fish,  but the other ingredients have been used.

On Sunday evening I decided to do something with the lamb. So I took some thinly sliced potatoes, placed them in a casserole dish along with the baby carrots and I cut the baby leeks in half lengthways and added them. I added 2 of the knorr herb infusion stock pot and half a pint of hot water, then sliced the piece of lamb into 10 slices and put on top of the vegetables.

Placed in the oven for 45mins and served.

the cooked lamb casserole
Oh boy from the minute you add hot water onto the stock pots they smell so delicious, the aroma that wafts through the house is sooooo amazing, and the flavour they add through the food is just indescribable. Now I am a salt fiend but I admit that I did not find salt necessarily it just brings out so much lovely flavour from the food.

The lamb and vegetables were out of this world, the meat was so tender and juicy and so so melt in the mouth, words can not begin to describe it. I have never eaten baby leaks before but again the flavour was awesome. Its time like this  wish I had more of a budget to buy nice meat as this was just beautiful.

I enjoyed what I made and decided that the knorr herb infusion pots were too good not to put in something else so as I had mince I decided to make lasagne.

Fried off 12oz mince, added 2 onions and 2 herb infusion pots, added some water, some chopped rocket (from my garden) and a couple of the baby leeks chopped lengthways. made a gluten free  cheese sauce and layered it into a tin with gluten free lasagne sheets, and cooked for 40 mins at 170 o C.  Again the flavours that came out were just amazing, I cant believe how much difference something so small can make, and wish I had found these herb pots years ago.

Allotment update end Aug

the dwarf beans

runner beans has a few flowers

rocket still doing great

something got the cauliflowers

kale doing ok

dug up some of the potatoes that went yellow

carrot tops doing alright

lettuces have been tasty
 Theres not really much to say, nothing is growing, nothing is developing fruit, though we have had 2 beans of the dwarf beans, and there are some flowers on the runner beans nothing is doing anything.

I do not think this is any reflection on my plants this seems to be common up and down the country from listening to people on TV and radio.

The rocket has produced plenty, and we have been using this as well as having some in the freezer.

I am disappointed that the allotment is doing so poorly but do not think there is much else we could have done. It has been fed, watered, and tended all to no avail.

At this time last year the sweetcorn was approx 5ft tall, this year is all of 12inches tall, and we used the same make of seeds as we did last year.

The tomato plants are producing a fair amount of fruit but they are all still green, and until we get some sun I doubt that will change.

sweetcorn not grown at all from last month

Monday, 29 August 2011

Fab Effex blog review

out of the box

I was one of the fortunate people to get a fab effex set sent out to review, and so got Fifi who is nearly 9, to try this out whilst she was here tonight. I have seen other reviews going up for this but have deliberately not read any as I did not want to be influenced by others opinions at this stage.

Now just to put you in the picture Fifi has the attention span about as long as a gnat sits on a pile of  hots bricks if she is not interested in something so I was a little concerned that this would get as far as out of the box and scattered across the table and then left, but no she surprised shocked me she sat at it for 2 hrs, about 45 mins before tea and back to it afterwards, until they were all finished.

Right then- my first impression on removing stuff from box - there was approx 150 pieces of small sticky backed material, the small pieces were totally random, apart from a few hearts and triangles the rest looked just like off cuts from "here's something we made earlier", there was no real sense to them. They were  all pieces of fabric with sticky backs you simple peel and stick. The box says is aimed at ages 6+. You also had 2 sheets approx 3 inches square as well, for designing something yourself.

The 3 dolls were fairly sturdy and stand 5 inches tall, with painted on footwear, faces, hair and underwear and the idea is you dress them as you see fit with the bits and add hair and accessories to suit.

They came with a sheet of instructions on how to make bags, curly hair etc and these instructions even highlighted which pieces they recommended you used with each doll. But Fifi decided to mix and match and go her own way, and I just left her too it while I made the tea at the other end of the kitchen and kept firing random times table questions at her!!

It does warn you in the instructions not to use on carpets, material or anything else that cannot be wiped with a damp cloth and instructs to wash hands thoroughly afterwards. It left a gluey residue on the plastic table covering we have and I wondered what its original use had been if something designed for children is that child unfriendly.

the finished dolls looking fab with their accesories
My opinion - probably worth a sale value of £5, would make a nice birthday present for a party and Fifi says she would happily use another one. There were approx half of the little pieces left over that Fifi is going to take home and put in her craft box to use on other projects. Fifi tells me arts and crafts is her favourite thing to do right now and she doesn't get bored with it.

I asked Fifi for her opinions on this item, and in her own words. (I corrected the few spelling errors)

it was fun and enjoyable. It was enjoyable because I liked being imaginative. I didn't get bored as I had lots of fun. I quite enjoyed making the dolls up and only quite as it was hard peeling off the backing and it was hard making bags. You should get a box.

So its an 8 out of 10 from us I think, and her mummy now wants some as she reckons all the kids do these days is fight and if I managed to keep them separated and not fighting for 2 hrs then it was well worth it.

the bits left over

I was sent this product free to review and keep but the report is mine and Fifis honest thoughts on our findings

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Baking with daughter No 2

Now that our children are back at school, there wont be a s much time to cook with them before tea, and Bob will be too tired after tea so I thought I would bake today for them, and they can just do the decorating tomorrow night.

Daughter No2 came round for a visit this afternoon and she decided it was a long time since she had had some baking fun with her mum and decided to join in.

We made some apple pies with blackberry pastry

100g doves farm flour
35g Brown Rice Flour
35g Tapioca Flour
30g Soya Flour
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

the rolled out pastry
Sieve all above ingredients 3 times to mix effectively. Add 50g brown sugar and 2 tablespoon blackberry powder and then rub in 125 g of dairy free spread such as vitalite . Add approx 100ml water to make a dough.

Place in fridge for minimum of an hour. Roll out between 2 sheets of floured cling film and cut out required shapes.

Put into cake tin, add apple and add top to pies. Bake for approx 20mins until cooked and brown.

the cooked pies
The blackberry powder was not what I would class as powder, it was more like sugar, and I maybe should have ground it down a bit or added it to the fluids before I added the fluid to the pastry, and I did not feel I added enough to actually flavour the pastry the way I did it.

washes the dishes

Look what a nice mummy I am -  I even let her wash the dishes afterwards.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 27 August 2011

chick chick chick chick chicken....and a gammon joint too

OK following on from Kays posting over on her blog brinkofbedlam, she wanted somebody to try her recipe with coke instead of sprite, so as I had bought a chicken I thought why not give it a go.

Was going to leave this till I got my spices that Kay had use from Healthy Supplies but as I had opened my chicken on the early hours of Thursday morning to enter the 24 hr photo comp at Photobox over on face book,the theme at 5am was "make them laugh" for that hr so as Kay's pic had made me laugh, I thought why not!! I put it in with the caption "we are all feeling foul by now" I dint win, some other non funny picture did but that's the way it goes.

I didn't want to leave it uncovered in the fridge until then so I thought I would rake my cupboard and use some of the flavourings I had.

oil and spiced ready to go sat on her throne

So I took my chicken, mixed some oil (dont use butter in this house as Kay did) with some mixed spices and stood said chicken on top of my half can of coke. The other half went in with a gammon joint I had also bought.

Now I did not put the chicken in the oven till gone 5pm, as we had been busy falling out over trying to make a video for the Appliances Online video review competition, hubby suddenly turned into Stephen Spielberg and wasn't happen with this film star in the making!!

So it was gone 7 before the tea was cooked, by which time I had a splitting headache, was knackered from joining in with the photo comp most hrs of the night, and really not in the right frame of mind to be taking a photo before we ate, so here is the cooked photo. As Kay said it was very awkward to get off the can, but I found if I cut the breasts of first I could then lift the chicken and use a knife to push the can out carefully.

Result -   the chicken was very moist, and very pleasant to eat, with no taste of coke available at all. Would certainly not hesitate in making it again.

The can is a very tight fit inside the chicken, and creates a seal so all the steam goes inside the chicken which creates the moist meat.

the contents of the can next morning

Out of curiosity I poured what was left in the can into a glass to see what we had in the can. Funnily enough it had gone clear with a settling of dark stuff on the bottom, I left it to cool to see whether it had any grease out of the chicken in the can but it didnt seem to.

before it went in the oven

The gammon joint was cooked up at the same time, have tried a slice of it, and it was beautifully sweet, very moist and a joy to eat. I did it in a casserole dish with a lid on so it didn't go to crispy.

next morning with a slice missing.

Plum Jam

Was visiting an elderly friend the other day and all her plums on her tree were ripe, so she said to me take some with you as they will just fall to the ground and rot, so I picked a few bags full.

Made plum crumble the other night, and eeh by gum they were sour!! despite the sugar I put in, but I just had some home made ice-cream with it and it was a very pleasant change. Now there is only so much plum crumble you can eat and I have approx 12lb of plums left, so decided to make jam.

Basic Recipe

4lb plums
4lb sugar
10oz water

prepared plums in the pan

Cut plums in half and remove stones. Put into a large pan with the water and boil for approx 20 mins. (suppose to check for pectin levels at this point but had no meths in the house so couldn't).
Remove pan from heat and slowly stir in warmed sugar ( had in oven on a tray at 60 oC), stirring it in slowly so that it dissolves before you place back on the heat.

simmering, ready for the sugar
keep checking the temperature
Bring to the boil, stir and simmer stirring occasionally until jam reaches 220 oC, mine took about 40 mins.

waxed discs placed on top
Leave  to cool for 5 mins and then put into prepared jars. Cover with wax discs, which curl up on themselves like the fortune telling fish you use to get in Christmas crackers,  and leave to cool overnight. Place cellophane covers on, label, store and enjoy.

labelled and ready to store

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Do children learn their times tables?

Last night the children we here for their usual weekly sleepover, and as ours up here and back at school ( or in Bobs case started school) then he was popped to bed at 6.30, had his bedtime story and as it was too early for Fifi and they share the same room here, then we toddled off downstairs to play games.

Decided we would play something different as we did not have Bob to consider and got out daughter No1's game of Yahtzee, its been gathering dust for a while now so it has. (see here if you not sure what Yahtzee is)

For those of you that have never played the quick synopsis is you throw 5 dice and have to achieve sets of each number and combinations of numbers on the dice. You then mark down the score on a score pad, add them up and the highest score wins.

Well how silly of me not to realise that a bright child who is now in Primary 5(ages 8-9 yrs) does not know her times tables!! You have thrown say 4 dice with a 2 on, so you mark down 8 on your sheet (2*4). Well she could not do it like that in her head, she started at 2 and added on the next 2 etc. I was amazed, and said to her do you not know your tables and she said no she does not. She had 3 6's and did not know the answer, so I suggested she did 6 3's instead but no she could not see that they were the same sum. I remember my son struggling with this concept in Primary 1, ok it was adding up with him, and it took him till the end of P1 to grasp that, though his wee friend grasped it straight away, but any 2 numbers reversed equal the same answer at this level.

When it came to adding up at the end, no I did not expect her to add up 7 or 8 double figure numbers in her head,  but even getting her to add 10 onto 18 she had to start at 18 and add the 10 by going 19, 20 etc. Again would have thought she had been taught how to add 10 or 100 or 1000 onto an existing number.

Guess we are going to need to play this game an awful lot more.

Here is a picture Bob drew for me....its Bob the builder (at the bottom) flying a kite (at the top). He even managed to write his name properly, even and the right way round ( I covered his name up so it can't be read). Its now up in the art gallery,,,,well ok its blue tacked to the bedroom,wall with a load of other pics....but it's our art gallery and we are proud of it.

and lastly Fifi amused herself building a pyramid (with extra bits I'm told) out of duplo, she says she has been trying to build one out of Lego at school but always runs out of time and they have to break up their models before they put them away, would have thought this was a bit demoralising for them. We don't have Lego in the house, use to when our own children were little, and maybe will need to see about getting some for her.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

3 different ice-creams

I wanted to try something different with my ice-cream maker so after making some rice milk using my milk maker I decided to see what else I had in the cupboard and fridge. I came up with some melon and some blackberries, so the following two recipes are the result.

I had also made some soya milk today to turn into yoghurt, and therefore had a okara left over and so I thought I may as well try it in some ice-cream to see if you can notice it, but no there was  no trace of it at all.

Dairy free Blackberry Ice cream

7oz rice milk
7 oz soya yoghurt
5oz sugar
5oz blackberries
3oz okara

I puréed the blackberries and then put all the ingredients into the ice cream maker and turn it on. It took about 25 mins to make. Think it may have been more sensible to have used the blackberry powder, and will need to get some of these next time I put in an order, as I felt the 5oz blackberries could have done with being 7oz to produce a stronger flavoured product.

The resulting ice-cream was more sorbet like than others I have made, but was very tasty and refreshing. The guinea pigs at work enjoyed this but agreed it was sorbet like rather than ice-creamy, but rice milk is a watery milk rather than a creamy milk, and this came across in the finished results.

next up was

Dairy free Melon ice-cream

7oz rice-milk
7oz alpro soya cream
5oz sugar
5oz galia melon
3oz okara

I puréed the melon and then put all the ingredients into the ice-cream maker, and again took approx 25 mins to make.

This again made a sorbet type ice-cream that was again a very refreshingly tangy desert that was very fruity, and the girls at work preferred this one to the blackberry.

Lastly this one was a made due to a comment made by oh, who said he wondered what horlicks ice-cream tastes like as he loves horlicks. So as in typical womanly fashion I made him some whilst he was out fishing. I can not make this dairy free as horlicks contains dairy, so I thought I might as well make this with full cream milk and double cream and go the whole hog.

Horlicks ice-cream.

7oz full fat milk
7oz double cream
5oz sugar
4 tablespoons horlicks.

I whisked the horlicks into the milk, and then poured all the ingredients into the ice-cream maker and switched it on. It took just less than 20mins to make.
top left melon ice-cream, blackberry ice-cream and  horlicks

This one I did not sample as I dont do dairy ice-cream as it tastes like milk and I don't like milk, But the girls at work said this was to die for and would put in orders for it if I was taking any!! OH agreed with the girls and ate his way through a large bowlful, but felt it could do with more horlicks in to make it more malty.

I have to laugh at the girls at work who all want their own ice-cream maker as they cant believe how tasty something that is so simple to make can be, and some of them may be putting one on their Christmas list, either that or they will just have to bring me in some ingredients into work.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Competition Winner

congrats go to @xeminoz who picked

Chilla Vanilla ice cream body wash
Blue Juice Wave soap in a sponge
Gardeners pot pourri botanical soap
Free soaps I would choose
Energise aromatherapy soap
Honey & bran botanical soap

as her prize.

she has been notified.

Bobs first day at school

Bob and Fifi before School
Well Bob was 5 back in April, so the time has come for him to start at school. I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown. He can manage to write his name already and knows most of his numbers and can count to 10.
The first 2 weeks are mornings only, he has been use to 5 days a week at nursery, health permitting ( he managed 65% last year), but may find going back afternoons a challenge. He needs to come home for lunch as school cannot take responsibility for him in the dining room.

on his own outside the house

L to R Bob, I, A, and Fifi
a bit unsure in the classroom.

His class has 2 teachers, 1 of which has a peanut allergy child who knows about anaphylaxis and how to use an epi-pen so he should be fine if anything goes wrong.

When Fifi started school policy was we were allowed in with them, so daughter and I had gone with her and stayed for half an hour, but this year parents were not being encouraged, but some would not go in without mum so they allowed parents to seat the children and leave so I had not driven over to the school so missed out on seeing him go in, but will drive them to school Tuesday morning and put him in.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Black and White - The Gallery

This is us four children, circa 1968, having a day out in London, not quite sure where this is Hyde Park possibly but some of you may know better.
At the front is my young brother, learning how to cross roads at 5 yr old, look at the concentration on the face.
Im on the RHS with the ribbon growing out of the top of my head, sister to the left and big brother right behind me. None of the adults on the picture are with us, they were just random strangers who got in the way.

We did various attractions including Battersea Park fun park with its modern scary rides, parks and historical buildings but in those days you didn't snap snap snap like you do now.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Baking with Bob - coconut buns

Had promised the kids they could make ice-cream to take home with them on Monday, so whilst I was making tea I decided to throw some cakes into the cake maker to go with their ice-cream.

So I decided on some coconut cakes.


3oz plain flour
1.5.oz brown rice flour
1.5 oz tapioca flour
2oz coconut
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon egg replacer

6 tablespooons sunflower oil
5oz brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoon water

1. Sieve flours and xanthan gum into a bowl.
2. mix egg replacer in 1 tablespoon water
3. put the oil, sugar, vanilla extract, coconut and water in a separate bowl
4. pour dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir.

 Place mixture into cake maker and cook for appox 6 mins.

serve with  strawberry ice-cream made with coconut milk (batch B)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Fun with seeds and chocolate

This is an expansion of my mush recipe .

We decided to have some fun this morning, and decided to do something other than bake for a change, so this is an easy one to try.

We made up two different batches, sesame seeds are no use to people with nut allergies so we had to leave this out out of Bobs portion and we made Bobs with orange flavoured carob chocolate, and to make sure there was no mix up what so ever we made Fifis' with white  chocolate baking chocolate, totally non Bob safe, so kept them separated so no cross contamination was possible.Fifi is also not overly keen on carob, but it is an acquired taste.

Bob breaks the carob

melted and adding yummy bits

wow see how clever we

the finished result
breaking the chocolate

poppy and sesame seeds in

adding the mush

slicing before we popped in fridge

very yummy it was too.
and just because I am a nice gran;

I let Fifi wash the dishes afterwards!!