ramtops: (Default)

I made the Christmas cake yesterday morning, after boiling the fruit up with sugar and butter and brandy on Saturday. It, thankfully, seems fine. However …

A chicken went in the oven to roast on a bed of vegetables. Roast potatoes went on top in another dish, as did a coconut and citrus cake (see later post).

Spuds were doing beautifully, but the cake caught, so I took it out. Chicken appeared to be done ((juices running clear) but bed of veg was not. Investigated.

1. Had put oven on wrong setting – top heat/grill, this is why cake burned

2. Had put chicken in upside down.

3. Discovered all this when everything else was done.

Then the kitchen ring blew …

Pete reset the ring, then we took the spuds out, set oven to correct incantation (bloody Neff – far too complicated),  and returned the chicken to its roasting place. And we opened a bottle of wine.

Then, when it was cooked (and dinner was only forty minutes late), I bunged the cake back in the oven for twenty minutes, and it’s fine if we cut the burnt bits off.

I did make some scones for supper, and they were OK too, but it was a trying day.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

ramtops: (Default)

Neither Pete nor I are especially fond of bananas in their raw form, but I bought some for the GrandToad’s visit a few days ago. He didn’t really want them either, so there were five bananas going brown in the fruit bowl. Not a problem – banana cake!

I use a basic recipe refined over the years:

200g plain flour
100g baking marg
some brown bananas, peeled (quantity is not that relevant, really 2-3 should do it)
60g sugar – anything will do; caster, granulated, brown
1.5 tsp baking powder
a slosh of vanilla extract
2 eggs

Put the lot in a food processor and blitz. Pour into a 2lb loaf tin, bake at 180C for 40 minutes, then 160C for 30. I always use a parchment loaf liner, as it makes it easier to turn out.

This is a remarkably tolerant recipe, and can take other things. Add some walnuts, or sultanas, or a splash of bourbon whisky if you’re feeding it to grownups. One of the nicest thing to add is chocolate chips – I use Bouchard, which I buy from Amazon. And last night, choc chips were deemed to be what we fancied.

So I got the tub out of the baking cupboard, and tipped some into the food processor. Except some turned out to be almost all of the 50% or so left in the tub, as they had presumably melted together into a large ball during the hot summer. Those that didn’t go into the food processor went on the floor.

I shrieked, and Pete came hurtling downstairs. He swept up the floor, while I rescued as many bits of chocolate as I could from the Magimix bowl, which was quite a few, but not really enough for the batter (which was looking severely over chocolated). Still, what could we do? I baked the cakes (I almost always make two at a time, because they freeze beautifully), and we ate a piece while it was still warm. And it was really rather nice.

And as the oven was on, we had sausages and cauliflower cheese, so as not to waste the heat.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

ramtops: (hat)

Pete called up to me that there was a “flood in the dining room”. This seemed … odd, but I went down to have a look. And indeed, there was. The hose coupling wossname on the pipe from the outside tap to the water butt we use for fish water had come apart, leaving the tap on full, and the hose pointing at the patio doors. Which were open.

It’s *amazing* how much water a tap can produce in half an hour, and of course as it was coming through a hose it sprayed everywhere. The mat by the patio doors is utterly sodden, and is currently draped over the aforementioned water butt. The cheap but large Ikea rug under the dining table is also sodden, and is now draped over the back yard wall – I doubt it will recover, to be honest.

We moved all the furniture into the living room end, and I mopped and mopped the floor, then dried it with a towel. We also dried off bookcases, wine racks and other sundry wet items of furniture.

Thank heavens the weather is warm and sunny, and forecast to stay that way for a while. Pete was wet through, but he changed his clothes rather than be draped over something outside.

We’re now going to go out for a sandwich, as I don’t want to keep walking on the wettish floor through to the kitchen.

[edited to add]
As a friend points out, if we’d been out the patio doors would have been closed. So it’s a shame we were in, really.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (Default)

I made brownies last week, for a gathering of friends. I always use this Nigella Lawson recipe, which makes a huge heap – I find a huge heap of brownies generally to be the right amount, as people rarely refuse, and they keep well.

I cooked them in the oven, and baked a couple of banana and coconut cakes as well, so as not to waste the electricity. However, like a fool, I forgot to set the timer for the brownies, and so took them out of the oven just a little bit too early. Once I’d scored them into squares, I discovered that the ones round the edges were fine, but the very middle was still far too raw. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – I dumped them in the big Remoska, still on their baking parchment, and gave them about 12 minutes. And they were absolutely fine, which is something I shall remember for the future.

This weekend I plan to make a batches of shepherd’s pie filling, meatballs, and coriander chicken. That’s the plan, anyway.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

ramtops: (Default)


We were invited to a picnic on Sunday afternoon, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I decided to make some brownies, and some focaccia, and we took fruit, cheese, cold meat, beer, as well. The weather was not delightful, but a pleasant time was had.

But oh dear – I came close to disaster with the brownies … I used this Nigella recipe, from her Domestic Goddess book, one of the few which lives in the kitchen, rather than on the dining room bookshelves.

I have these whizzy electronic scales, where you can push a button to switch between oz, ml, g, fl oz, etc. I weighed out the butter, and thought “that looks an awful lot”, then weighed out as much chocolate as I had, which was nowhere near 325g, but no matter – I could and did bung some cocoa powder in with the flour. I put butter and chocolate in a pan, then into a *bigger* pan, started it melting, and returned to the weighing of ingredients. And realised that the scales were on ml instead of g! Nothing to be done but soldier on – when the mix was melted, I just weighed out 750g of it, and decanted the rest into a jug. It’s currently in the fridge, and moar! brownies! will be made later this week.

So no great hassle, really, but it could have gone horribly wrong if I hadn’t noticed. But they were delicious – I sprinkled some flakes almonds on the top before they were cooked, just because really, and dusted them with icing sugar before they went to the party.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

ramtops: (Default)

New Year's Eve venison

When I ordered the goose from Fields, I added a venison loin to the order for New Year’s Eve; traditionally, I cook dinner for three close friends on 31/12, and have done so for many years. The fact that we’ve moved 220 miles away seems to make no difference :)

The butcher phoned a couple of weeks before Christmas to say their supplier had delivered no venison loins (perhaps they have a very odd breed of deer up here :), and would a haunch be OK. As I’d never cooked either, it seemed a plan, so he set aside a 2Kg one for me. I asked how much it would cost, and felt a bit faint when he told me but, you know, festive season and all that.

By Friday morning, we realised we had *8* people for dinner, so during the morning Pete and I between us cooked up a huge batch of dauphinoise potatoes with leeks to accompany the venison and sugar snap peas. I had a bag of cranberries in the fridge, and a punnet of plums, so I did a plum streusel (using this recipe, but without the pine nuts) and a cranberry and chocolate roulade. The former went very well; the latter …

My oven is ancient and not very good. I baked the roulade for the recommended time, and it clearly wasn’t cooked, so I gave it another five minutes. When I came to get it out of the tin, it was a bit sticky, but I slathered it with the cream and cranberries and then – disaster. It wouldn’t roll up, and was really more like a chocolate mooooose than a sponge. Too late to do anything about it, so we manoeuvred it on to as plate (getting covered in chocolate to boot), dusted it with icing sugar to hide the damage, and hoped for the best. And despite its rather collapsed appearance, it was *gorgeous*, and every scrap was consumed.

On to the venison. I was a bit worried, because it cost £38! (yes, really), and I didn’t want to wreck it. In the end, I went for Hugh Fearnley-Eatsitall’s method – seasoned it, put some fresh thyme and bay leaves on it and wrapped it in 12 thin rashers of bacon. 30 minutes at gas 7, then 50 at gas 4 (it weighed 2.156kgs, boned), and it was cooked *to perfection*, lovely and pink. It went down very well.

Eight people round our dining table was a bit of a squeeze, and there was a rather varied assortment of chairs, but we managed, and a fine night was had by all. I think between us Pete and I did eight lots of washing up between last night’s dinner and this morning’s cooked breakfast for four – roll on the kitchen makeover in Feb, and a DISHWASHER.

Sadly there is both venison and plum cake left, so Pete and I will have to eat it tonight. Such hardship.

And I wish you all a very happy new year!

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

ramtops: (Default)

A few weeks ago, Morrisons had some lamb shanks reduced – £2.10 a pair. Believe it or not, I’ve never actually cooked lamb shanks before, but I bought a couple of packs and stowed them away in the freezer. Decided to cook them on Sunday, so on Saturday I bunged a load of flageolet beans in the slow cooker, left them for a few hours, and turned them off, then drained them on Sunday morning.

I didn’t get to the rest of the cooking, as I was feeling distinctly unwell, and could barely eat, never mind cook.

lamb shanks in the slow cookerSo on Monday evening, I browned the lamb shanks and put them in the slow cooker pot, on top of a bed of flageolets, fried off a courgette and two large carrots, diced. Added them to the pot, and browned a dozen shallots, and added them. Then into the frying pan went a good teaspoon of grain mustard and a dessertspoon or so of brown flour – stirred those together and added about a glass of red wine, stirring as I went. Whisked that up to get rid of lumps, added some of the shallot water (I always soak them in boiling water before I peel them – it makes it easier, and you get nice shallot-y water too!). Then some random herbs from the garden – bay, rosemary, sage, thyme, juice of an orange, and a sloosh of tomato puree. I meant to add some redcurrant jelly, but forgot.

All of that was brought to the boil, lobbed in the slow cooker, and I switched it on low and went and sat down. And when I came out an hour later, there was no heat at all. Eek. Switched it up to high, left it an hour, and it was hot, but not as hot as it should be. Turned it to low when I went to bed, and when I got up in the morning – DEAD. Stone bloody cold, lamb uncooked. And when I tested the beans, they were uncooked too.

With some four letter words, I decanted the lot into my faithful old cast iron casserole, and set it over a low heat. We only bought that slow cooker 22 months ago, so I’m not pleased, but it was from an eBay seller who is no longer registered. So I nipped over to Argos and bought another – bigger! better! cheaper! The old one was 4.5l, and the new 6.2; the extra volume will be useful.

The lamb was delicious, and somehow I made space in the freezer for two of them, but we really are in a “one out one in” scenario at the moment, as it is full to the gunwhales with xmas fayre.

Leftover juice and veg went into the new slow cooker, together with some barley and more water, and I experimented making some soup with it. This one actually simmers things on high, which the old one never did, and the extra capacity is great for soup making. And for £15, who can complain? Actually, now I look, it’s gone down another pound since yesterday – grab yourself a bargain!

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.


Nov. 2nd, 2010 09:38 am
ramtops: (hat)

Pete went to Finland last Monday (that’s 25 October) with his sister, to bury his mother’s ashes and see lawyers and bankers about her estate. He left me with a non-working boiler (see previous post).

Some friends popped in first thing Monday to take a look, but it was beyond their abilities, so I called the people who had fixed (if they did indeed fix) the pressure gauge a few weeks previously. They arrived after Pete had been delivered to the railway station, prodded and poked, tutted a bit, and said I needed a new PCB. They scuttled off to fetch one from their supplier, fitted it and … there was at least power, but no ignition. They prodded and poked some more, but couldn’t fix it, so that was £154 for not much.

In desperation, I phoned British Gas. They do a range of repair services, and I opted for the fixed price at £99, parts and labour, with a further 12 months at £20 for any other repairs (apart from scale related ones, which paints a lovely picture to me). This was the right decision, as in the end we had a new ignition board, new wiring and pressure valve to replace the ones that had melted(!), and it required the services of two BG engineers and two visits to fix – we had a little coven of gas vans outside.

On the Monday night we had a problem with the web servers that I didn’t know how to fix, and Pete was not answering his phone, so I panicked quite a lot. Hat tip and huge thanks to ICUK, our ISP, who sorted it out for me, working late into the night. There were some other bits and bobs that needed Pete’s attention, but they all got sorted thanks to the all-you-can-eat internet from a Finnish telco and his trusty netbook. But by then I was so bloody stressed and exhausted that I took Thursday and Friday off in a virtual sort of way, and just answered e-mails.

On Friday night I drove across the Pennines to Manchester airport to collect him from a flight due to land at 22:20. Which actually landed at 23:00, and there was a huge queue at immigration, so he didn’t get through til 23:20. There is *nothing* at Manchester T3 except a Spar. I had nothing to read, no headphones, and had a fairly miserable wait WITHOUT TEA. So we decided to stop on the way back, but UK services are very poor in the middle of the night, so we just used the loos and carried on. Was very nice to have him home, I can tell you.

The Merc is very enjoyable for that sort of run, but the wind across the Pennings was ferocious that night, and it wallowed a bit.

We had a slumping day on Saturday, and on Sunday went to look at Magnet kitchens (nice, but too expensive for my tastes), then had a walk round Cottingham, and a £6.99 carvery in the West Bulls, which was better than you might think.

And now – life is back to what passes for normal. I hope.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (hat)

I hope that’s true, and that our run of bad luck with things mechanical/electrical is over.

  1. The web servers, requiring us to spend a frantic weekend and bursts of frenetic activity over the next few days while we built new ones
  2. Followed by the car which, as detailed here, shat itself spectacularly at its MOT, with repairs costing pretty much the same price as we paid for it, and meaning we bought a new* one (well, new to us, but 12 years old)
  3. Yesterday, the boiler overheated (are they supposed to do that?). We turned it off for safety’s sake, and to let it cool down, and now we can’t light the pilot, so it worketh not, and it’s bloody cold. I can cope without the central heating – there’s a gas fire in the living room, and we have plenty of blankets and so forth; but there’s NO HOT WATER, which is just horrible. And Pete is off to Finland this morning for five days, and I’m just miserable. And cold.

Could someone please make it stop?

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

ramtops: (scream cat)
as those of you who have visited Ramtops' Repose will know, we have a dutch airer device suspended in the kitchen, from which we hang kitchen paraphenalia such as colanders and spoons and so forth. It also supports a two tier wire hanging basket, which is our onion repository.

at least, it did - until last night when, as I was trying to remove a shallot from its upper tier, the bloody basket fell off and, pausing only to smite me on my head, deposited its oniony contents all over the worktop, and knocking over the bowl for Stuff destined for Modo, the compost heap, thus adding used tealeaves and so forth to the mess.

I gave an almighty shriek, probably bloodcurdling - from shock, more than anything - and [livejournal.com profile] perlmonger rushed downstairs to see what horrors a cat had perpetrated, because that's what normally causes shrieks in this household. Although now I come to think of it, I bet SomeCat had somehow caused it.

later on, we watched Ray, which was better than I thought it would be; in fact, it was very fine indeed. Recommended.

when it was over, I found myself with one particular song from it running through my head - You Don't Know Me. But it wasn't his version ... It took a while to identify it, but eventually I sussed that it was Meryl Streep, from Postcards From the Edge, another very fine film which I must watch again shortly.


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March 2016

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