Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Thing After Another!!

Came to the computer yesterday after Beloved had used it. Found the format was not as it should be. The page seemed to have been 'stretched' vertically, and everything that should have be square is now the shape of a postcard turned 180deg.. When asked, B said a 'box' had come up on the screen and he had to right-click, go to 'properties' and then follow instructions. Something to do with pixels. He forgot what it had said, he forgot what he had to do, and what he had fone.. He couldn't bring the 'box' back to show me, and now I'm stuck with the mess he's left me in. Wouldn't have been so bad if it had stayed with 'his' side of the comp, but it has effected my sides (I have 2) as well. I've tried to sort it out but to no avail. Steve is my only hope (but he is busy at the moment), so if any reader has any suggestions how to bring things back to how they were? PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

At least I'm still able to write my blog although there is a four inch wide margin at the side of the 'blog box' (and at the side of my emails and everything else, also the blue scroll bar at the bottom of some pages has also disappeard. Am hoping this blog will publish in the normal way.

Have at least one gluten-free recipe today that I hope you will enjoy Woozy (and Lisa who I believe also seeks these recipes) - this for a fruit cake which would double-up nicely as a Christmas Cake if needed. Will hunt our more recipes and hope to now give several a week as I know several readers are gluten intolerant, and for that matter a lot of g.f. baking can be done with products we may normally have anyway (cornflour, cornmeal....) we don't always need flour to make a cake, so nother recipe is given that I believe to be 'gluten-free' (although it didn't say it was), because no flour has been used .

I've noticed that gluten-free baking powder is normally suggested in a recipe of this type. Didn't realise this was different to the b.powder normally sold, but am sure those who have to be careful what they eat will be quite familiar with what they can and can't use, so can alter ingredients if at all necessary.

Myself have three of the Dorothy Hartley books T.Mills, and these are a very good read, my favourite also being 'Food in England'. Whenever I read them always feel that today we are a nation of slobs when I learn how our ancestors used to work hard from dawn to dusk without any of the 'helping hands' appliances that we now all have.
Winter particularly was a very lean time. Hardly any 'fresh' food available (and of course no shops as we know them today to buy food from. Only what we were able to smoke, dry, and preserve in any way, plus a few roots (mainly parsnips as they grew well even in frosted ground), and other roots or tubers that could be stored. Only one cow was usually kept (animal food was scarce) and possibly that was 'drying up' until a new calf would be born. Chickens didn't lay in the winter, Think it was the pig that would keep people going. Either salted or smoked over the house fire, slices could be cut to be cooked with veg to make some sort of broth. Add a few dried fruits and nuts and maybe a chunk of bread and that was about it until the first new growth the following year. And we think times are hard!
Your enthusiasm with cooking economical meals really came across in your comment. It was a delight to read and am sure everyone else thought so too.

To Alison and all the others who have given this a mention. Don't know what is happening to blogger re not accepting comments. Does this happen with other blogs or only mine? But at least some at least have now come through or I wouldn't have known about the problem. Let us hope there is no more difficulty. Sometimes blogger does take several hours 'off; on certain days' to 'update' their site, and maybe these have sometimes coincided with the above. Normally there is a message on the 'home-page' saying when, and because their times are about 12 hours behind ours (their office being on the west coast of the US), normally they are in bed sleeping whilst I write my blog, so have not yet begun work. Think also they don't work at weekends. Whether that is any help I don't know. But it could be a reason.

Was VERY interested to learn you use a Remoska as your 'oven' Campfire. Have often toyed with the idea of getting one myself, but they are one of the more expensive appliances, so am wondering if it will save me enough money to make it worth it (considering my age). However - due to the continual rise in fuel prices (said to rise up to 30% more over the next five years) the Remoska would probably be a 'wise buy' to those younger than me. Certainly would make a very good wedding gift.

It would be very helpful to all if any other reader who has a Remoska could tell us its major benefits, how much it costs per hour to run (as against a conventional oven cooking the same thing) and what disadvantages it may have (things it can't cook for instance). Lakeland sell this product, along with various accessories and a cookbook. Am now very tempted.

Forgive me. Today my intention was to give more 'trade secrets' and this I did begin to do. Lots of them. Then suddenly realised it all sounded so familiar and looked at the date on the mag. 8th Oct!! Had picked up the wrong copy. Could I find the recent one? No! Think I had taken it either into the living room or kitchen to read and mark ' worth commenting on". As I haven't yet read it, think it is better to do this today and give the 'tricks of the trade' tomorrow, than spend time hunting now and have little time left to write about anything else. I've deleted what was written today as must have repeated what was written early Ocotober.
Which reminds me - tomorrow there may not be a blog as the plan is to visit our daughter and then go on to Barton Grange, this means leaving very early as if we don't get to BG by 10.00 their two mobility scooters will have been taken by others. Will probably write up 'trade secrets' on Word later today and can then cut and paste it onto the blog either early tomorrow or very late tonight, so at least you have something 'useful' to read.

First recipe today is the gluten free fruit cake. Undecorated, it will keep for up to a month when tightly wrapped in foil and kept in an air-tight container. If able to be 'fed' with booze, it should keep for a week or two longer.
The cake will also freeze - if you wish to do this, leave the cake in the tin until completely cold then wrap in greaseproof paper then 2 thick layers of foil (or 3 thin layers), place in an airtight container and freeze. Defrost for 3 - 4 hours before decorating.
Although the recipe originally specified set amounts of raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed peel, I've added these weights together to make it easier (as most of us buy bags of already mixed fruit with peel anyway).

This cake is make using a home-made gluten free flour mix, so am hoping that readers may have the ingredients to hand for this. This is how it is made:.
gluten-free flour mix:
300g fine polenta (cornmeal) or chestnut flour
500g brown rice flour
200g cornflour
combine these three ingredients together.

Not sure why xanthan gum is included in the following recipe. Maybe a reader can tell us why, or even if it is necessary? Stocked by Orcado. (see or
Gluten-free Rich Fruit Cake:
19 oz (550g) mixed dried fruit and candied peel
5 fl oz (150ml) whisky
zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 oz (150g) of gluten-free flour mix (recipe above)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground allspice
5 oz (150g) butter (pref unsalted), softened
5 oz (150g) dark brown sugar
3 eggs
2 oz (50g) ground almonds
2 tblsp milk (pref semi-skimmed)
4 oz (100g) red glace cherries, washed and sliced
1 tblsp black treacle
1 tblsp runny honey
Put the mixed fruit/peel in a saucepan with the whisky, lemon zest and juice. Heat gently until simmering, then remove from heat, cover and leave overnight for the fruit to absorb the liquid.
Next day, sift the flour mix with the baking powder, xanthan gum and the spices. Using another bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs alternately with the flour mix, then fold in the ground almonds, the milk, the soaked fruit with any liquid that is remaining, and the cherries. Finally fold in the treacle and honey and stir until well combined.
Spoon mixture into a greased and double-lined 7" (18cm) cake tin. The base and sides both need lining with a double sheet of baking parchment, with a good 'collar' of parchment above the rim to give extra protection from heat.
Bake at 150C, 300F, gas 2 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
Suggested decoration is to brush the top of the cake with a little warmed apricot jam and arrange glace fruits and nuts over. Just around the edge or cover the top completely if you wish. Brush the fruit and nuts with another glaze of jam and leave to set before serving.

This next recipe could possibly be also gluten-free as it uses no flour, but as not given as 'gluten-free' it is up to the reader to make the decision.. Chestnut puree and ground almonds being the main ingredients and can see no other 'dangerous' ones, this recipe should then be suitable for most people on a diet (although possibly not diabetics!).
These little cakes keep for up to 4 days, but as they are very suitable for serving as 'festive fare' they can still be made now and frozen for up to six - 8 weeks (just about ready for Christmas).
Chocolate and Chestnut Cupcakes: makes 18
1 x 435g can chestnut puree
6 eggs
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
7 oz (200g) ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
7 oz (200g) dark chocolate
knob butter
14 fl oz (400ml) double cream
grated chocolate
icing sugar and cocoa
Take two muffin trays and line with 18 paper cases (leave the centre ones empty so they cooked evenly round the sides).
Put the chestnut puree into a bowl and break up/mash with a fork. In another bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and frothy then fold half this into the chestnut mixture to slacken it, then fold in the ground almonds and baking powder. Gently fold in the remaining egg mixture then spoon into the muffin cases.
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 - 30 minutes or until firm, then cool on a wire rack (they can be frozen at this point. Store in a rigid container and use within 8 weeks). Decorate after removing from the freezer where they will then sit happily in the fridge for up to 4 days if not wishing to serve immediately.
Make the topping by slowly melting the chocolate, butter and cream together, then after blending evenly, pour into a small bowl and leave to cool. Beat to thicken the mixture (like beating whipped cream), then swirl or pipe onto the top of each muffin and sprinkle grated chocolate on top. If you wish to serve later, keep chilled in the fridge for up to four days. When ready to serve sprinkle the tops with either icing sugar or cocoa (or half with one half with the other.

That's it for today. As mentioned before, not sure whether I'll be writing my blog 'proper' tomorrow or not. Much depends upon what happens today. Our daughter is still not well, and in some ways getting worse, so she takes priority. She still has to have more tests before her illness is finally diagnosed. It could be one of four things, all with very similar symptoms.

Still we are having good weather, and almost have the feeling that this year we will be having another mild winter. But then - as so often happens in the UK - the weather can take a turn for the worse and this time next month we may be knee deep in snow. As long as we have food in the larder, and somewhere to cook it, warmth in on form or another, then we have no real need to complain. Or do I always seem to be living on Cloud Nine?
Problem with me is I actually ENJOY being forced to 'survive'. An easy life is very boring. But then have never had the terrible experience of living through a major earthquake, tsunami or flood. THAT'S real surviving!
How fortunate we are in the UK. It is such a gentle and beautiful country, and any natural 'disasters' (such as floods) are usually confined to small areas. We are so unused to having to cope with what nature throws so often at others, that even an inch of snow over most of our land can bring the nation to a halt. Other countries, used to snow, cope admirably. We are just surprised it has happened to us and seem to be able to do nothing but sit tight hoping it will go away as quickly as possible.
Remembering the severe winters in my youth - and how we managed to cope perfectly well then (before and after war-time), it makes me laugh when I see what a wimpish nation we have now become. What has happened to our great British spirit that we once were famous for?

Am rambling again..... why do I keep doing that? Forgive me, accept my apologies and hope this hasn't deterred you from coming back for another read tomorrow (or the following day depending on circs.). Hope to meet up with you then.