Refugee Ration Challenge Week

Well it has arrived! For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking the Concern Worldwide Ration Challenge this year to raise money and support refugees all over the world living in terrible conditions. For one week I will eat only what refugees have to eat in order to experience it and better understand how it is for refugees all over the world, as well as to raise money and awareness.

Here is my meal plan and all my rations including my rewards. I have weighed out my rice into 7 portions to help make sure I don’t run out. Similarly I have divided up my flour and lentils based on the meals I have planned.

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The Cost of Living

Well as most of you are aware by now it’s getting harder and harder to just live as costs are rising all over the place. As someone who is in a privileged position I am lucky that I can still afford my mortgage and bills (just about) and that I am not on the breadline.

However, like many people I am doing my best to cut costs as best I can and try to reduce expenditure where I can, so I thought I would share a few tips and tricks with you all.

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Bread vs Art

In exploring what else I could make with my sourdough starter, I stumbled across this beautiful example of Foccacia art – combining my love of creative arty things with my love of bread!

Naturally I had to try it out! (This pic below is not mine but an example of what I mean that I found on google).

So I decided to try making my own! Continue reading

Sourdough Pancakes

One of the suggestions in my sourdough group on facebook was things to do with leftover sourdough starter (or discard). This is because sometimes when you have bulk fed your starter to make bread you have extra leftover. I’ve tried brownies (they were nice but a little weird), and then discovered these pancakes.

Good lord were they yummy! Continue reading

FOOD!

Ok so thanks to my amazing sourdough experiments I have put on 3kgs (might also be all the wine and cake and sweeties…) and my wonderful neighbour also got me a subscription to Olive magazine for my birthday, which is packed with amazing recipes that I just needed to try immediately!

None of this is going to help my waistline, but oh my god I do love trying new things in the kitchen, AND some of these are slow-cooker recipes which is encouraging me to use mine a bit more and also helping me manage my transition back to work as I can slow-cook dinners while working from home – all kinds of win!

Here are a few things I have tried out:

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Easy sponge cake recipe

I have always admired those people who can knock up a cake without needing a recipe.
I’ve always known it’s something to do with ratios, but can never remember what the ratios are and how to apply them, so I always end up looking up a recipe anyway.

However, my mum taught me a really simple method which I think I probably could remember, so I thought I would write it down and share it. This is for a plain vanilla sponge cake.

I have read in the past an interesting article about the science of cake, which explained that beating the sugar and butter together first coats the individual granules of sugar with fat, and traps tiny air bubbles in with the granules, meaning that when combined with the other ingredients they retain these little bubbles, making a lighter and fluffier sponge cake. This is also why caster sugar is usually recommended for cakes instead of granulated sugar as it is smaller and finer, and therefore can trap more air. So if you can, always use caster sugar in your cakes, and always beat the butter and sugar together really well before adding the other ingredients.

Here it is:

Take 3 eggs and weigh them.
Measure out the same weight of butter and sugar and self-raising flour. Take the butter (at room temp, or softened) and sugar and beat them together until light and fluffy.
Gradually add in the eggs and flour bit by bit, mixing as you go. You might also want to add in a half-teaspoon of baking powder to help it rise.
Add a half teaspoon (or whole teaspoon depending on your taste) of vanilla essence.
And then split between 2 lined or greased cake pans, and bake at 180 for approx 15-20 mins (check on it and when a skewer comes out clean, they are done.

And voila! Lovely easy sponge cake!

Adventures in Bread-making

Here is a different kind of diary – one woman’s journey of learning to make bread.

Attempt 1: The wholemeal rolls. 

This was a recipe we were given by our nursery, and we used half wholemeal half white flour, but they still came out pretty brown overall. We added sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and poppy seeds. The kid had lots of fun making this, especially all the kneading and squishing and squashing.

Not looking too good after the first proove.

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No-knead bread recipe

After a few botched attempts I was sent this no-knead bread video from a friend, which has worked really well for us. However I find it annoying to have to re-watch it every time I want to bake bread and need to know the amounts, so am copying it out here, along with my own notes and a few variations for those of you who fancy giving it a go.

Original version – You’ll need:

  • 3 cups (approx 350g) plain/all-purpose or bread flour (you can also mix in half and half wholemeal flour or 1 cup wholemeal to 2 cups white flour – whatever combo you fancy). 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried yeast (she says it doesn’t matter what kind of yeast, can be regular yeast, instant or fast-action dried yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I think it needs more than this so I go for a very generous 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1.5 cups (approx 175ml) of very hot (but not boiling) water (she suggested around 50 degrees, which I think is roughly half cold water half boiling water, or alternatively very hot water straight from the tap, though it depends on how hot your tap gets!
  • Optional: I like to add seeds to my bread, so I add a large tablespoon of mixed sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, but other seeds would work too. You can try a little more or less until you work out how many seeds you like in your bread.
  • Cling film and Baking paper
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large pot (Dutch oven) with a lid that can go in the oven (ideally a le creuset or cast iron pot) – make sure the lid doesn’t have a handle that will melt.

Here is the short version of the steps, with more detail given below (it might help to watch the video once to see how it is done, but I find it super annoying to have to keep watching it every time I make bread….) Continue reading