Pocket full of random

Traded iPods with a co-worker today, an interesting experience. Alice Cooper, Backstreet Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, and Barry Manilow make for an odd mix. I think I’ve corrupted him with Vanessa Mae. Hubby got me Alice Cooper’s "Poison" on iTunes, one of my favourite songs.

Greek pulse warmers are proceeding slowly, managed a whole two rows at lunchtime today. Thoroughly distracted by reading (and finishing) the Yarn Harlot’s book, which now resides in my portable knitting bag. Those free lunch bags people hand out at the mall make great knitting bags. I also have a non-portable knitting bag for bigger projects that lives at home.

Steak and Ale pie is cooking, with Newcastle Brown Ale, leek, and mushroom. It smells better than the Guinness version. Am I the only one who thinks Guinness tastes like dry toast? Recipe will be uploaded some time.

The WordPress upgrade went according to plan, but I did have to create a new theme from scratch, despite following the upgrade instructions to the letter. The essential resource was the template tags page on the WordPress Codex. Note to self: try and stay less than one version behind the times in future. It really wasn’t that bad.


Imagine the scent of nutmeg and fresh baked scones to go with this picture:

Fresh baked scones.

Note the one deformed scone made from the leftovers that wouldn’t fit in the cutter right in the middle. That one tastes best of all. Here’s the recipe, go bake!

Saint Delia Online

Norma found her first. Delia Smith, patron saint of British cookery and promoter of cranberries, is online in all her recipe-providing goodness! Check out these recipes:

Those chocolate truffles were almost my undoing as a teen. Dad promised to get Mum out of the house so my sister and I could wrap the Christmas slippers he got her. Mum promised to get Dad out of the house so we could make truffles for Dad. Everything was going fine, dashing out of the kitchen, sliding on the hall rug to run into the lounge for the next videotaped instruction until Delia Smith said "transfer the mixture into a bowl, then cover it with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight."

Disaster! We had maybe an hour at this point, then Mum and Dad would be back for lunch. Delia was quite firm: refrigerate overnight. She was smiling and I wanted to hit her for ruining our plan. I sat on the sofa and nearly cried. Even on the replay she still said it. The solution, after some frantic worrying and arguing, was to shove the mix in the deepest part of the chest freezer, fully stocked for nuclear winter, and hope it would be enough. Forty minutes later the truffles came out soggy, partly congealed, but it worked. Dessert spoonfuls of truffle were rolled in cocoa powder, dropped in little paper cases and hidden in the fridge in a Ferrero Rocher box left over from last Christmas, out hands getting coated in chocolate. We pulled off the fastest kitchen cleanup in history and still managed to get Mum’s slippers hastily wrapped and hidden. When the parents returned we were found nonchantly reading or dusting our bedrooms and the truffles were a great sucess.

To answer Norma’s question, my favourite cookery books are two Farmhouse Kitchen books, titled "Farmhouse Kitchen 1" and "Farmhouse Kitchen 2". They are the recipes of a television show in the 1970s and 1980s broadcast on Yorkshire TV, most of them sent in by viewers. The recipes are traditional English cooking, the lemon curd and strawberry jam we made from these recipes was wonderful, especially on fresh baked bread. There’s also a beloved student cookbook published by Sainsbury’s supermarket chain that I took to university in 1993, full of cheap recipes for a non existent budget. Lots of fish recipes, since white fish was dirt cheap. It came in four inch by two inch blocks and cost sixty nine pence from Tesco (less than a dollar).

Curious Thankgiving fact of the day: We arrived in America in May 1998. This will be the fourth Thanksgiving where Hubby and I have volunteered to cook the turkey (once with Sehlat in Nashville TN, once with Emily last year, once with Julia and Bill the year before, and this year with Rox). The British are coming, and they’re bringing the turkey!

Recipe: Kedgeree

I had a recipe book on the counter while I was making kedgeree Monday night and what I made bore no resemblance to the book, the recipe’s been wildly modified. So this recipe is my version of kedgeree. It’s comfort food, feel-good food, Anglo-Indian food. You can read about the history of the dish at Great British Kitchen, and they have a more traditional kedgeree recipe in their cookbook. Well worth visiting.

Kedgeree a lá Hawke

  • Enough fish for two people, smoked if you can get it.
  • two eggs or four egg whites
  • one box of mushrooms
  • two bell peppers
  • two large carrots
  • one onion
  • one cup of rice
  • curry seasoning

Put a teaspoon of curry powder into a saucepan with the rice, and boil. This is your timer for the rest of the meal. Start cooking madly now. Put the carrots on to boil.

If you have smoked fish, poach it in milk until it can be easily flaked. Put the fish aside and dispose of the milk. Do not let your cats drink the milk, it’ll only come back up. If you have unsmoked fish, fry it in Cajun seasoning (or whatever you prefer, Herbes de Provence would probably work) until it’s cooked and flaky.

Fry the mushroom, onion, and pepper together.

Put the fish and vegetables together in a really big pan, and keep them warm.

Scramble and cook the eggs, break into small chunks and add to the fish mixture.

Drain the carrots and add to the big pan. Drain the rice, but do not rinse. Add rice to everything else. Stir well and serve.

This makes a large amount of food, at least enough for four in my opinion. Serve with good bread.

Recipe: English Scones

Since I’m baking tonight, here’s my recipe for English scones. The recipe was adapted from several Farmhouse Kitchen recipes, refined over several batches. This version works well. Cream tea anyone?

Recipe moved here

Update 20th August:

I’d suggest a teaspoon of spice, or a teaspoon and a half, since just half a teaspoon really doesn’t show up. Also you may need to bake for 25 minutes if you keep opening the oven door to check on them. If you keep the door shut, 20 minutes should be fine. And if anyone can explain why the cream of tartar is necessary, or what it does, I’d be grateful, I have no idea but it seems to be necessary with whole wheat flour. You could probably substitute dates or cherries for the raisins if you preferred.

Blogger Idol week 4 – Oops!

(OK, I skipped weeks two and three, but I’m back on track now.)

The Oops! school of cookery

Anyone can be a jolly good cook. The recipe is simple: one bushel of ability to bluff, and a good supply of cheese sandwiches.

Blogger Idol week four.

Every potential culinary disaster is an opportunity for creative thinking. So what if the cake sank in the middle and resembles a moon crater? Fill the crater with cream and fresh fruit and say that’s how you intended to make it. It worked for my grandmother, though the less said about her banana and mandarin jelly concoctions the better.

If you happen to put a pizza in the oven knowing you have to take it out at twenty past the hour, forgetting which hour will probably result in a black charred wheel that may once have resembled dinner. That’s when the cheese sandwiches come in. “Anyway, cheese sandwiches are much healthier than pizza,” you say, and follow it with a trip to the local fast food place for a dessert.

When the unthinkable happens, and you watch your date’s carefully prepared dinner slide gracefully off the plate, hover in mid-air for a terrible moment, and smash into inedibility on the floor, you have your cheese sandwich. You also have the opportunity to prove your love by giving up your own dinner (still on the plate), and the chance to marry that date and spend (so far) nearly nine years of wedded bliss with him.

A few tips to minimise your cheese sandwich consumption:

  • Use Fahrenheit, or use Celsius. Never use both in the same recipe.
  • Set the timer, and clip it to your clothes to make sure you hear it.
  • Always have a back up plan.
  • Keep plenty of quick-to-prepare food around.
  • Never tell anyone what you’re making.
  • Turn the oven on before you put the food in.
  • Almost anything can go into a soup or stew.

Recipe: English scones

Speaking of baking scones, this is my English scone recipe. It does work, I’m baking it on Wednesday for Christmas dinner at a friend’s house.

Makes about 15 scones and one runty little test scone

  • 1 pound of flour (I used half wheat flour and half wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar (not necessary if you use white flour)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 generous teaspoon of nutmeg, or 2 teaspoons
  • 6 oz baking raisins, or chopped dried cherries, or chopped dates
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz sugar
  • up to 300 ml of milk

Sift flour into a bowl, add salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cream of tartar and mix. Rub butter into flour until mix looks like bread crumbs. Add sugar and mix again.

Stir in the raisins/cherries/dates, make sure they are evenly distributed. Mix in milk slowly with a fork until you have a springy, slightly sticky, dough. You won’t need all of the milk.

On a floured surface, roll out to 1/2 inch thick, cut into 2in rounds and put on a greased baking tray. Brush tops with the leftover milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 450F for 20 minutes, they should be golden brown on top. Eat with butter and strawberry jam or honey at around 3pm, with a mug of hot tea with milk.