Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Apple lemon mincemeat update

Hurray!  I was right, the raisins did absorb the juice from the apples, and now it's a lovely moist mincemeat with a refreshing lemony, cinnamon flavour which I love raw.   I'll have to get baking some mince pies soon, just for your sakes, of course, not because I'll enjoy them, oh no, not me.

Here's what it looks like now.  I wish you could smell it, too:)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mushroom, pepper and broccoli stir fry

I made this quick, tasty stir fry for lunch - the recipe is over on  

I hope you'll enjoy trying it:)

Size Matters!

It's true what "they" say - size does matter!

It especially matters when it comes to yummy, tasty, fresh young vegetables - which is why I was so cross when I found these hanging on the runner bean plants!

Just over 14" long - maybe that would be good if I was entering a competition for the longest runner bean, but seriously not good for eating:(

It's my own fault - the rain kept me indoors for a couple of days, and the beans loved the extra moisture and kept on growing.

I simply took the beans out of the pods and ate those, the pods would have been too stringy for my taste.  Must try harder to harvest every day, rain or shine!!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Make a lightbulb from a plastic soda bottle!

I happened across this video clip and felt I had to share it - no more dark, gloomy sheds or outhouses during daylight hours - the sun will provide an average of 50watts light per bottle - take a look, be amazed!

when I make my new garden shed, I shall incorporate these if it's possible:)

Friday, 23 September 2011

Free Fireworks Display in Blackpool

I love fireworks.  I used to go around collecting up old rockets when I was a child, and people simply bought fireworks and let them off in their gardens, or around a large, communal bonfire.  

My mother would make Yorkshire Parkin, a delicious,  moist ginger cake, and toffee apples for Plot Night, which is what we, in Yorkshire, called November 5th.  Sometimes we got "plot toffee" too, very dark and rich, made with molasses, or black treacle.  I'll try and remember to post the recipes in November.

I remember wandering along one evening, collecting up used fireworks in one hand, and holding on to my toffee apple with the other.  I absent mindedly took a bite out of my toffee apple only to be horrified at the taste in my mouth - I'd forgotten that I'd swapped the hands I was using to hold my goodies, and taken a bite out of a spent rocket - yuck!  The point is, is didn't put me off fireworks:)

So, if you enjoy fireworks displays set to music, you might like to visit Blackpool on Friday nights, when the international fireworks competitions are taking place at 8.30.  The Illuminations are also currently on.  The event is free - and rain doesn't stop play.

See you there!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Birthday card

I was flicking through a magazine the other day, I think it was one of those advertising efforts that appear from time to time through the letter box, when I came across a full page advertisement.  I can't remember what the advert was for, so it clearly wasn't an effective one in my case, but ... the page was largely filled with words describing various types of drink, in shades of yellows and oranges.

Very striking, I thought, and cut it out.

Don't you find that men can be very difficult to make birthday cards for?  I do, so this week I took it to the local craft and chat with a view to making a birthday card for my partner from it.  I also took plain white card, some brown ribbon, and some toning yellow card.

This is what I  made:

I made a simple tri-fold card from the white card.  A strip of brown ribbon down the left hand side neatens that edge.  I cut a strip of yellow card to run alongside it, and wrote "Have a Drink on Me!" vertically in black ink (the printer is kaput, or I would have printed it!)  I chose the yellow card to highlight the name of one of his favourite drinks:)

I mounted the trimmed advertisement onto brown, then onto a dull, autumnal orange card to complement the shades in the advertisement, and matted the completed topper on to the main section of the card.

Here's a better shot of the ad and the colour scheme:

I stuck a simple velum greeting inside, and it's surprisingly effective.

And there's enough of the ad left for three more cards:)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Christmas is coming ... time to make the mincemeat!

This is a copy of my blog for Apple Lemon Mincemeat at  which I thought you might enjoy:)

It will soon be time to start baking for Christmas - indeed the local supermarkets have just stocked the shelves with the first of this year's mince pies - so I thought that making the mincemeat to fill the mince pies should perhaps be my first priority.

I shall make my usual batch later, but wanted to be slightly adventurous first, so dredged up my Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management and came across her Lemon Apple Mincemeat, and thought I'd give that a whirl.

The original recipe requires 2 large lemons, 6 large apples, half a pound each of suet and sugar and 1lb of currants, 2 oz candied lemon peel, 1oz citron, plus mixed spice to taste.

I've metricated that to 250g sugar and suet, and 500g raisins, plus 75g candied lemon peel.  Here's what I used:

 As you can see, I've made use of apples which are damaged in some way, and therefore won't store over winter, I've used one large and 2 medium sized lemons, I had some root ginger in the fridge, so decided to use some of that for flavouring, and I've used raisins, not currants.  My suet is vegan, naturally, not the beef suet she would have used.

First, I zested the lemons and grated the ginger.

I put the zest and ginger into a microwaveable bowl with 1 table spoon of water and cooked on high for 3 minutes until soft.  Whilst it was cooking I peeled and cored the apples.

 This is the cooked zest and ginger mix.

This is the worm's share of the apples.  I decided to add an extra apple to the mix as I'd had to cut out quite a lot, as you can see!  So I've ended up with about 6 large apples, as required.

The recipe states to mince the apples, but I don't possess a mincer, so grated them coarsely, then added the other ingredients and blitzed everything with my Bamix.  I used 75g of candied lemon peel as I don't have citron.  I stirred in 3 tsps each of ground coriander (lovely orangey flavour) and 3 tsps of ground cinnamon to go alongside the ginger.  I stirred in the juice of the 3 lemons.

I put the finished golden hued mixture into a couple of plastic storage containers with good seals, and popped them in the fridge.  Now the wait begins - the original says it should be ready in a week or ten days - how exciting:)  I just need to remember to stir it "occasionally".

The mixture looks a little wet, but I expect the raisins will absorb much of the juice from the apples and lemons.  Watch this space, and we'll see what happens to it!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

My camera's "un-birthday" present

I don't know how old my camera is.  It's not very exciting or spectacular.  It doesn't make me a cup of tea if I whistle, for instance. Nor does it do the housework.  But it reliably takes photographs which suit me - they serve as an aid to memory, and that's what they're for.

I made a simple quilted cotton slip cover for it to protect it when it was new, nothing special, just simple protection.  But it was a bit of a nuisance taking it out and replacing it.

Whilst we were away last week, we popped into a camera shop to try to find a card adapter to save me having to connect cables between camera and laptop - my shiny new laptop has a little adaptor slot, which seems like such a good idea.

The camera shop didn't have what I was looking for, but I did spot this:

it doesn't look much, does it?  It's a camera protector made of neoprene like fabric, called "Always on", because you attach it to your camera by means of a small screw which fits in where a tripod would go, and this holds it in place so that it's always on your camera.  So, although not prone to impulse buying in general, I instantly splashed out £4.99 for an un-birthday present for my camera.

When you're ready to take a photo, you unfasten the hook and loop fastener, and it simply hangs down from your camera, you take your photo, and fold it back around again when you've finished.  Simple - and very effective.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Today I harvested tomatoes and aubergines

Check out this plate of beautiful fruits!

There are eight, yes, eight varieties of tomato on that there plate, all from my greenhouse - yay:)

The aubergines are on the slim side, but never mind, they taste great.  I've harvested all of them today because with this chilly weather, I really don't think they're going to make any further progress in the greenhouse.  The ones I grew in the conservatory last year were larger, but they were in individual pots, rather than growbags, maybe that's the vital difference?

If you're growing fruit and veg this year, I hope you've done well, too.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Rani - a Vegetarian Indian restaurant in London

We're back home, having spent a week away. The weather was kind to us, we even enjoyed some sunshine.  And we ate well:)

We stumbled upon this vegetarian Indian Restaurant purely by chance - I'd searched for restaurants on-line before we left, but didn't see this one there for some reason.  However, the website is,  and I think the fact that we ate there twice in three days says much for it.  The address is 7 Long Lane, Finchley N3 2PR.

It was clean, and not cramped as so many restaurants can be.  The manager was incredibly helpful, going to the kitchen to check on the suitability of the dishes on the buffet that evening for me, once I'd explained that I was both vegan and wheat intolerant.

The buffet was organised into cold starters

of which there were four, Aloo Dhai Poori, Bjel Poori, cold sliced Idli, and some "Semolina sandwiches", plus some delicious mini poppudoms.

A huge array of chutneys was available, with useful recommendations as to which chutney would best suit a main dish.

then there were four hot starters, the usual Onion Bhajias, Fried Mogo, Potato Bhajias, and some tapioca patties.

then there were a couple of rice dishes, one plain plus a cashew and vegetable pilau, and four curry dishes.  There was a Paneer curry, though not for me, obviously, Chola (black beans, very gingery and warming), Aubergine and Potato, and a carrot and cabbage dish.

There were also slice dosa, and a Gujerati Dal soup.  Puris were available for those who could eat wheat.

I was brought a specially made bread made from millet and cornmeal, which was substantial and tasty.  I was also brought my own small plate of cold starters without dairy.  So well cared for.

As a matter of course the restaurant has codes on the title cards of the foods indicating the content of such things as wheat, nuts, dairy, onions etc, so they really care about their customers' health and well being, which is so good to see:)

I was even allowed into the kitchen to take photos - how many restaurants would permit that?

On our second visit, there was one different cold starter, deep fried aubergines replaced the tapioca patties on the hot starters, and a Banana Methi replaced the cabbage and carrot, and a delicious Lilotri Sak (aubergines and broad beans) was on offer.  When I expressed the fact that I was unable to eat bananas, the manager arranged for a portion of Chana to be delivered to me.  He also brought over to me a portion of Akhaa Murcha, a vegetable stuffed chilli - one of the most delicious foods I've ever eaten!

So, if you're around London and fancy a great meal, I can heartily recommend Rani.  Our meal cost around £22 as we were "early birds", eating before 9.30pm, so qualifying for the discount on the £15 a head buffet.  Wonderful.