Bits and Bobs

September Again

So it’s September again and a year has passed since I started this blog.

What a strange and overwhelming year it has been!

But the rhythm of the year and the turning seasons continues, unfettered by the pandemic, brexit and the global economy.

And for that I am glad. Nature has been a balm and a sanctuary in these strange days to so very many of us. Lockdown was a breathing space for the natural world with all types of pollution reduced. For me the most noticeable was the huge drop in noise pollution. Even though I live in a small village surrounded by woods and farmland, a main road runs through too the nearest city and so mornings and evenings are always busy.

The quietude was beautiful, birdsong and the wind in the trees was the dominant sound, heaven!

I realised a long time ago that I’m an introvert, Susan Cain’s book ‘Quiet’ was a fascinating read, but I didn’t dig into the subject any deeper, until lockdown.

I got so much done during my time away from work, I definitely made good use of it, and spent a large amount of time reading, along with lots of jobs which had been neglected.

Some of what I read was about introversion which lead me to taking a Myers Briggs based personality test I found out I’m a INFJ.

This was a revelation. I finally, at the age of 46, have insight and understanding of myself that had been sorely lacking.

Another test I did was for sensitivity, on which I scored really highly putting me in the HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) group.

The sensitivity relates to things such as light, smell, pain, hunger, the emotions and moods of others, caffeine, alcohol, temperature and sounds among other things.

This is definitely why I massively enjoyed some aspects of lockdown!

Although the fear and concern with regards to the virus was definitely not enjoyable (and is still present), and the massive loss of life is too high a price for the peace.

But it did show that we can live another way and have a greater understanding and appreciation of our world.

Today schools in the UK reopened and the traffic on my way too and from work, sadly seemed to be back to pre-virus levels.

I know people need to get on with their lives and the economy needs for us to work and spend, but I really hope we don’t lose to much of the positive things we have gained from this unprecedented situation.

This rather chubby Hedgehog was not very good at hide-and-seek!

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Bits and Bobs

Dog Days

It’s hot, relentlessly hot. We are in the midst of the Dog Days, that time of heat and storms and madness which runs from July 22nd to August 22nd. Named by the Roman’s for the dog star Sirius.

As I write this I’m waiting for the thunderstorm which has been forecast for several days, but has yet to arrive. The heat is oppressive and has coincided with my return to work from furlough. Its wonderful to be back at it, but the heat in the glasshouses is phenomenal!

Spacing cyclamen

The garden is still looking good and I’ve made some Comfrey tea to use as a foliar feed. It’s just the leaves steeped in water for a couple of weeks and then drained, diluted and transferred to a spray bottle. Easy and free!

There are several recipes for making it online, it can also be made stronger for a liquid feed. The only downside is the smell, it reeks!

Comfrey

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pudding · quick and easy · recipes · snacks

Egg Custard Tart

You will need a sweetened batch of the Pastry, click on the menu button above for the recipe.

Because the Egg Custard is so rich you will only need 2 tbsp of Splenda to sweeten it, you can also add a pinch of nutmeg.

4 large eggs

9 tbsp Splenda

600ml double cream

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp arrowroot powder

nutmeg to decorate

Blind bake the pastry case on gas 4/350f/180c for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to gas 3/325f/170c

In a large saucepan, whisk together the eggs and splenda, then add the cream and vanilla extract.

Place over a moderate heat, keep whisking with a hand whisk and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the arrowroot power and whisk until it is dissolved and the mixture has thickened.

Pour the custard into the pie case and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Sprinkle with a little nutmeg and then leave to cool.

Once cool, cover and refrigerate. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days, can also be frozen.

Serve chilled, as a pudding or as a afternoon snack with coffee.

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dinner · lunch · quick and easy · recipes

Chicken and Bacon Salad with Cajun Mayonnaise

This is an individual portion, increase ingredients as necessary.

4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

4 slices of roast chicken

Butter for frying

2 handfuls of rocket leaves

6 cherry tomatoes

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1/4 tsp Schwarts Cajun seasoning

In a dish, mix together the seasoning and the mayonnaise.

Place the rocket on a plate and sprinkle on the tomatoes and celery.

Next fry the bacon, crispy is best for this. Once it is done remove from the pan and keep warm whilst you fry the chicken slices. Use the bacon grease for this as it adds more flavour.

Once the chicken is ready, place it and the bacon on top of the salad and then dollop on the mayonnaise.

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biscuits and cookies · quick and easy · snacks

Melting Butter Biscuits

Makes 12 small, melt in the mouth biscuits.

100g butter, room temperature and chopped

2 1/2 tbsp splenda

3 tbsp coconut flour

25g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to gas 4 / 350f / 180c

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the butter and then beat with an electric hand mixer until well combined.

With a spoon, divide the mix into 12 balls on the baking tray, flatten slightly.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the biscuits are golden.

Leave to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Perfect with tea or coffee.

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pudding · quick and easy · recipes · snacks

Strawberry Cheesecake Slices

You will need a batch of the sweetened Fathead dough, click on the menu button above for the recipe.

400g fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced into large pieces, pour the lemon juice over them and set aside

1 tbsp lemon juice

150g full fat cream cheese

100g marscapone

1 medium egg

2 tbsp Splenda

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to gas 3/ 325f / 170c

Line a 8in by 5in deep sided baking tray with greaseproof paper and then evenly spread out the dough.

In a large bowl, beat together all the remaining ingredients, except for the strawberries, with an electric hand mixer until they are well combined.

Pour the mix into the dough case and then add the strawberries evenly.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, the filling should be firm but with a slight wobble.

Leave to cool completely before refrigerating.

Cut into slices to serve. Keep covered in the fridge for up to 3 days, can also be frozen.

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Bits and Bobs

Experimenting

I’m going to be working on some more recipes using coconut flour.

I love using ground almonds but they are quite expensive and its easy to get through rather a lot quite quickly!

When converting from wheat flour to ground almonds you just do a straight swap, but because coconut flour is so absorbant you only need 3 tbsp for every 125g of wheat flour.

A little definitely goes a long way!

I will still use ground almonds in my recipes alongside the coconut flour, as I like the texture and it does give more volume to cakes.

These are some Melting Butter Biscuits, straight from the oven, I have also had a go at making some shortbread, I’ll post the recipes as soon as I have got them right. It always takes a couple of attempts to get them fine-tuned!

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dinner · lunch · quick and easy · recipes · snacks

Sweetheart Salad

600g sweetheart cabbage roughly chopped

1 handful of radishes, trimmed and chopped

3 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped

2 handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped

6 large tbsp full fat Mayonnaise

2/3 tsp dijon mustard

Ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.

In a large bowl, mix together the chopped ingredients.

In a separate dish mix together thoroughly the dijon mustard and mayonnaise. Then pour over the salad and stir in with a large spoon until everything is evenly covered.

Serve immediately with barbequed meats or veggie burgers, steak or roasted chicken breast.

Store covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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Bits and Bobs

July

Not the prettiest start to the month here. It’s been pouring rain and is now cloudy and a little humid with the threat of more rain to come.

But the forecast is good from Sunday onwards.

I’m still furloughed from my job, but I do have return date now which is great. As much as I have appreciated having this time to myself, and I think I have made the most of it, I’m really ready to get back to work.

Here are some pictures from the last month. The garden has, and is looking lovely and I have really enjoyed spending time in it, except for when I accidentally trod on a poor bee! That hurt for days.

I have also indulged in lots of walks in woodland and near rivers and lakes. Having the scooter has freed me to travel so much!

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drinks · quick and easy · recipes

Pink Lemonade

1 1/2 large lemons, sliced

1 medium orange, sliced

225g fresh raspberries

10 tbsp Splenda

350ml cold water

Chilled sparkling spring water or soda water for diluting to serve.

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir continuously.

Set aside to cool before straining the liquid and pressing the pulp through a metal sieve into a jug or bowl where it can be left to cool completely before being bottled.

Make sure the bottles are glass and have been sterilised, you can do this by pre-heating the oven to gas 3/160c, washing the bottles in hot soapy water and rinsing but not drying. Place them on a baking tray and heat in the oven for 10 minutes. The lids can be soaked in boiling water.

Store the bottled syrup in the fridge for up to a week, and dilute to taste with either sparkling spring water or soda water.

Goes particularly well with Gin!

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will need a little shake before use.
just needs a gentle tilt to mix it.