Kitchen Things – French Toast.

After some twelve years of marriage my husband still enjoys the many wild combinations I throw his way from the kitchen. I am a super believer in trying new combinations and one I tried the other day was excellent.

I had some left over pulled pork I made in the slow cooker. I always tend to cook more than I need only because leftovers, not only rock, they save me having to cook the following night and require me to pull my imagination into overdrive to think up something new.

I love french toast because it is not just for breakfast with butter and syrup.

I threw some sticky BBQ sauce into the pulled pork. Heated it up and made french toast and BBQ’ed pulled pork for dinner(with broccoli as veg but then any veg would have worked for me because the mains were just that good). Think Beans on Toast with a twist (ok more like tornado than twist).

It didn’t take much more than 15 maybe 20 minutes from the fridge to serving (making the toast, heating up the pork and steaming the fresh broccoli (which I put on first)) and it was delicious.

French toast is something I make to use up eggs and/or bread that is past its prime. I use it to make sandwiches when a plain sandwich just seems a bit boring. It is great with sloppy joes.

If you want a savory breakfast treat make some french toast, top with mushrooms, peppers or just about any omelet ingredient, put some cheese on top and pop it under the grill. Job done!

Oh and definitely try making a grilled cheese with French toast. As my granddaughter would say. It’s gummy (good).

Lets Talk Wine

Another sort of kitchen adventure started about seven maybe eight years ago. The bounty of free foods or edible items here in Britain is amazing. I love the idea of getting something for little or nothing (and on the premise I am not taking advantage of others to do it).

My throw into wine making was the seemingly unlimited amount of elderberries I would see but was not sure about what I could use them for until I was reading more about nature’s bounty in various books. Elderberry wine came up again and again. I had never made wine and so started an unending adventure.

Wines I have made over the past seven to eight years include – Elderberry, Rosehip, Apple, Pear, Carrot, Parsnip, Ribena, Rose Syrup (as in Turkish Delights), Potato, Green Tomato, Elderflower, Lemon Balm, Tea and Raisin, Rhubarb, Apricot, Dried Apricot, Port. Plus a few others which I can’t remember.

The initial costs might be a little bit of an investment but most of the items except for things like yeast, nutrient, pectin enzyme, sugar etc, will be one offs. Demijohns cost a few pounds used and are cleanable. If you are thinking about trying it, keep an eye out at the local boot-sale, jumble sale, flea market for people selling assortments of equipment for wine making.

It is a creation that requires patience to some degree, only in reference to having to wait once it is racked off into the demijohns. Wines need time to make their alcohol, age and settle. I have over the years lost my taste for the effects of alcohol so I have all the patience needed.

The best book and my very first (widely recommended by any well-seasoned wine maker) is First Steps in Winemaking by C. J. J. Berry. Can’t rant enough about it. I learned so much from reading it and the recipes are straight forward. It is still my first go to book although I do have an assortment of them now.

The first wine I recommend trying is elderberry. Other than being a little messy cleaning the berries, it is one of the simpler recipes to work with. Starting simple is better than jumping in at the deep end.

I could ramble on and on about wine making. In the future I will share some of my experiences making it and sharing it as well as some ideas, tips, tricks.

Kitchen Shenanigans

I get up to some frightful things in the kitchen. The kitchen is a creative outlet for me (one of many) and I spend a fair amount of time in one (I also work in the catering field) on a day to day basis. But my kitchen at home is by far my favorite kitchen to spend time in. It is a place where I can try outrageously strange or optimally normal experiments with food, canning and preserving (from pickling to dehydrating), baking, bath and beauty products, mixing herbal teas and more.

I have more than a few experiments to share but a recent experiment turned out better than hoped for. I had and still have a regular amount of veg rolling in from the garden and I try to do a bit of preserving before giving away the surplus. Normal stuff like Chutneys, Bread and Butter pickles, Green Tomato Salsa Verde, spiced pears as well as pear wine, green tomato wine vinegar and more.

_20170912_152814I purchased an inexpensive dehydrator a couple years ago and it has turned out to be a favorite kitchen gadgets (although I may have to invest in another inexpensive model to replace this one soon, it is sounding more and more rebellious in its assigned tasks).

My most recent shenanigan is pictured here. They are bread and butter pickles made from cucumber and zucchini (courgette) dehydrated into chips (crisps). Bread and butter pickles are sweet and tangy and these dried ones are no different except perhaps they are a little more crunchy to start. Soon after you have crunched on them they become chewy delights to the taste buds.

The best part of making them is once you have made the pickles and they are ready to can you leave them overnight in the pickling solution, drain them well and place them directly on the drying racks. They take a good twelve to sixteen hours to thoroughly dry in the dehydrator but are a worthy snack for the time invested.

I do plan to try drying some store bought sandwich dill slices to see how they taste but for now, I have a few more batches to make before my garden runs completely dry with the end of season.


Story of My Garden Horseradish

I had an allotment where we lived in the Southwest of England. On the allotment I inherited a lovely horseradish. I had to leave my horseradish when I gave up my plot there because it was going to be several years before I would have a place to transplant it.

It was our first growing season last year at the new house and I have been slowly working in my more permanent plants/trees. It came with a pear tree and we have added an apple in the front and a cherry in the back. Late in that first season (last year), I began to price up horseradish roots and they are not cheap when you buy them from a nursery. I just wanted one.

I hummed and hawed and kept thinking I will keep looking until I can find an affordable one. Ten pounds may not seem like much but for a single or even a couple of basic weed roots that is pretty pricey in my book. My patience paid off and I saw a basket full of them at the supermarket -Morrison’s to be exact. Two pounds each. I almost danced out of the store with my prize and the rest of my shopping. I had my root and I had it cheap.

I got it home and immediately skewed it and put it in a pint glass to root.
It took several weeks but roots and shoots finally appeared. I planted it when it had some good foliage.

DSC_0096   Second year on and my lovely little snappy flavored weed is doing lovely.

Everyone knows the root of horseradish is what you grow it for but I also like the leaves. They are refreshingly peppery in a horseradish way but much milder they also have an earthy bitterness which is not everyone’s cup of tea but I love earthy flavors. They add a great tang to salad. lovely mixed in mixed steamed greens and I have even dried them and added them ground fine to my own seasonings for soups.




Gardening and Cooking – Passions

Now that our world is beginning to settle and we are starting our second summer in our new home I am feeling safe in sharing a couple honest and real passions. I guess I am really giving fair warning just in case vegetable gardening or cooking in not your cup of tea.

I tend not to do many things inside the box.  Anything that works in the garden or the kitchen is fair game for this girl. New, old, weird, norma,l I am not fussy, I’ll try it.

My garden is my Sanctuary (where I can Zen watching all my green babies grow). If you have never heard of someone who can spend time watching plants grow, you have now. I think it is genetic with me – my father was an irrigation specialist and I used to love to go out with him as a kid to fields and orchards when he worked. I love the smell of freshly plowed fields – heaven.

Cooking is my Laboratory – a place where I can experiment and do I ever experiment.  I talk it, I read it (especially historical books on foods and cooking) and do it. I prefer the freedom of cooking at home but also work as a cook in a pub. Forbid you want to discuss cooking with me because I get excitable when on this subject. Yay! Lets talk.