Friday, 30 November 2012

# 301 Cinnamon biscuits

I made these for the first time last week and the reactions were mixed, the husband said they were OK, I thought they were good but not great and definitely need some tweaking, A. loved them although he said next time I should add some chocolate chips! If you try these please let me know what you think and what changes would you make or have made?

Cinnamon biscuits

500g white plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
100g golden caster sugar
100g golden syrup
260ml vegetable oil (slightly warm, I did this in the microwave)
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.

Make a well in the centre of the above mixture and pour the golden syrup, vegetable oil and the eggs and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Roll small balls of dough with your hands, place them on the baking tray and flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transfering them to a wire rack to cool completely.



Thursday, 29 November 2012

# 300 Photo Friday: Women

As it happens most Thursdays, when I don't forget, I post my chosen photo for this weekly photography challenge.

The theme for this week is Women and although my photo does not include any women it is women related so here it is. This photo was taken on a visit to Croome Landscape Park and I found this little display on the language of the fan very interesting. There's an interesting article about it here.

To see other people's entries or to join in, please click on the button at the bottom of the sidebar.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

# 299 Gingerbread with lemon curd topping

My weekend bake was a first on many levels, first time ever I made and ate gingerbread, used black treacle and lemon curd so I had no idea how this would turn out.

The recipe is from a little book I found at one of the local charity shops for only £1 and it's this one here. I've tried many of the recipes in this book and they were all great.


This gingerbread turned out very moist and fluffy and it was so moreish it disappeared very quickly. The only thing I'll try to change next time is to make it slightly less sweet maybe by adding lemon zest.


150g butter
175g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons black treacle
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons ground ginger
150ml milk
1 egg beaten
2 eating apples, peeled and chopped (the recipe called for dessert apples but I used eating apples)

Melt the butter, sugar and treacle in a pan over a low heat. Stir to combine well and once melted leave to cool.

In a bowl mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk, beaten egg and the buttery mixture then add the apples and mix everything together gently.

Pour into a tray (I used a brownie tray) lined with baking parchment and bake in a preheated oven to 170ºC Gas Mark 3 for 30-35 minutes or until the cake has risen and is cooked through.

Leave to cool in the tin before turning out. Once cool spread lemon curd on top.



Monday, 26 November 2012

# 298 Water, water everywhere

This is what parts of Berkeley looked like yesterday afternoon after a very wet Saturday.

I've uploaded a few more photos to my Flickr account here if you'd like to take a look. Meanwhile today has been dry and it will remain dry for the rest of the week as the rain is moving north.

Wishing you all a great, safe and dry start to the week.


Friday, 23 November 2012

# 297 Rain, rain go away

The sun is shining again today after 3 days of almost non-stop rain and very strong winds yesterday and apparently it's not over yet with a lot more rain expected to fall over the next few days.

This is what parts of Berkeley looked like this morning but still, it's not as bad as some other places where people have had their houses flooded, in some cases more than once this year.

The field aboved is usually used as a car park when there's events on the castle meadow but today it looked like a lake. The swans and other birds certainly seemed to be enjoying it.

This is the castle meadow just across the road from the field in the first photo. In the olden days this field was actually meant to be flooded if there was any threat of an attack to the castle.

One of the floodgates used then to flood the fields.

I don't think I've ever seen the water level this high.

This is the road at the bottom of the High Street, it's clear now but on Wednesday it turned into a river making it impossible for people to go through. During my walk lots of people stopped and got out of their cars to take photos of the flooded fields.

How has it been where you are?


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

# 296 Sun chasing

These days whenever there's a break in the clouds and the sun comes out I feel the urge to grab that opportunity, go out and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Such was the case one day last week and although I had a list of chores I needed to do I just had to go out, soak up the sun and enjoy the blue sky.

This walk usually takes me about 1 hour or so and as you can see from the photo below, half way into my walk the clouds started gathering and the sun was almost gone.


Friday, 16 November 2012

# 295 Cannelloni

Back in September when I asked my son what he wanted for his birthday lunch he said Cannelloni so that's what I made.

The dried cannelloni tubes I bought needed to be pre-cooked in boiling salted water but this was actually quicker than pre-cooking lasagne sheets because I managed to fit them all in the same pan to cook at the same time..

I allowed 3 tubes per person making it a total of 9 which fit perfectly in my oven dish. To fill the tubes I used some of the slow cooked beef from a previous post but you can also use cooked beef mince if you want, you'll find the recipe for the mince here.

On to the recipe.


Dried cannelloni tubes
Pre-cooked casserole beef (shredded with a fork or blitzed in a food processor) or beef mince
Bechamel sauce (recipe here)
A little single or double cream

Pre-cook the cannelloni tubes according to the instructions on the packet. While they cook, pour a little single or double cream on an ovenproof dish, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.

For Cannelloni I like to use a rectangular dish where the tubes fit nicely side by side but if you don't have one you can lay them in layers with a little bechamel sauce in between.

When the cannelloni tubes are cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside on a clean tea towel.

I find this is easier to do using the handle of a wooden spoon. Just pass it through the cannelloni tubes to easily remove them from the pan.

Now you can start filling the tubes. Hold each tube vertically inside the oven dish and spoon the beef into it.

By doing this inside the oven dish any meat that falls out of the tube will be in the sauce anyway and you won't have a mess all over your work surface.

Lay the filled cannelloni tubes side by side or in layers and spread the bechamel sauce on top.

Cook in a pre-heated oven until the topping is golden.

Serve with a green salad and enjoy.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

# 294 Photo Friday: At play

Another week, another Photo Friday challenge and this is my entry.

This photo was taken 2 or 3 years ago when A. took part in a cricket tournament at a nearby school. That's him in the photo watched closely by a girl from one of the other teams.

To see the other entries or to take part please scroll down the sidebar and click on the button that says Photo Friday.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

# 293 Slow cooked diced casserole beef

Before we bought our slow cooker I avoided cooking beef, it seemed to me that no matter how long I cooked it for the meat was never as tender or as flavoursome as I wanted it.

With the slow cooker however I have no such problem, the meat is always tender to the point where I can easily cut it or shred it with a fork and it's always full of flavour. Plus there's the added advantage that it cooks slowly away for several hours without the need for constant supervision so I can get on with other things.

When using the slow cooker I usually make extra portions which I keep in a container in the fridge ready to be used at short notice.

Slow cooked diced casserole beef

1,800 kg diced casserole beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
A few sprigs of fresh coriander
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes + 1 teaspoon cornflour
2 chicken stock cubes
Olive oil
A few slices of chorizo
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunky pieces
Pinch of nutmeg

Pour a little olive oil into a pan and add the chorizo slices, onion and garlic. Cook over a low to medium heat for a few minutes until the onion is soft.

Add the meat and cook until brown. Mix the cornflour with the chopped tomatoes and add to the meat with the remaining ingredients, add a little boiling water if necessary. Stirr, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on medium for 5-6 hours stirring every 2 hours or so. The meat is ready when you can easily cut through it with a fork.

Shred part of the meat to use in sandwiches with a little mayonnaise or to make a beef and mash pie. On my next post I'll show you what I made with some of this slow cooked beef.



Monday, 12 November 2012

# 292 Sunday walk

Yesterday was a lovely, bright day and so after lunch we put our wellies on and went for a walk. Some of you might've already guessed where we went and if you said deer park you'd be right.

In parts the ground was very wet which also made it very muddy and slippery.

Gate to the field that leads up to the entrance of the park.

The deer park is part of the Berkeley Estate and it's considered to be "one of the best examples of a mediaeval deer park in the country."

Park House or Folly built in 1753.

Apparently, in 1574 Queen Elizabeth I visited Berkeley and stayed at the castle for a few days in the absence of Lord Berkeley. It's said that she loved hunting and as at the time there were deer right next to the castle she went and killed 27 stags in one day. This left Lord Berkeley furious and so he decided to move the deer park to its present location.

Heading home

Hope you have a good start to the week.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

# 291 Photo Friday: Evening

This is my entry for this week's Photo Friday challenge. This photo was taken 2 years ago on a Summer evening in Portugal during our short holiday there.

To see the other entries or to take part please click on the button you find near the bottom of the side bar.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

# 290 Reopening for business

On Tuesday 30th October the small public library here in Berkeley closed its doors as a county council library to reopen them again yesterday under a new name and as a community project run by volunteers.

 For the past 6 days we've been scrapping and painting walls, labeling and cataloguing books and doing everything we can to make it look nice and welcoming. I'm doing my first 3-hour shift as a volunteer librarian on Friday but what I'm really excited about are the crafts sessions I'll be doing with the children.

How often do you visit your local library?

Do you have any tips or suggestions for fun activities for the children?


Thursday, 1 November 2012

# 289 Spicy cauliflower soup

The spiciness of this soup comes, of course, from the chorizo. Only a few slices of regular or hot chorizo really do make a difference in my opinion and lately no soup is made in this house without one or two slices of the stuff.

About the photos, I apologise for their bad quality but the lack of natural light meant I had to do a lot of acrobatics to take them. The soup is delicious though so I hope you try it and enjoy it.

Spicy cauliflower soup

6 slices of chorizo (regular or hot, without the skin)
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 medium turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
2 (very) small onions, chopped
2 medium courgettes, peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 chicken stock cubes
Drizzle of olive oil
Kettle full of boiling water

In a pan, over a very low heat, drizzle a little olive oil and add the slices of chorizo. Cook the chorizo for a couple of minutes before you start adding the vegetables. I like to add one type of vegetable at a time stirring well before adding the next one.

Add the 2 chicken stock cubes and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 30-40 minutes and then blend. Check the seasoning.

Just before serving break one or two cheese twists for crunchiness.

Enjoy :-)