a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Recipe testing - Abel&Cole cookbook - Red Cabbage Braised in Balsamic Vinegar

Normally I have so little red cabbage that it all goes into pickles, which I love.
This year though, I have a surplus. Left too long in pickling vinegar it will go soft and there's only so much of it I want to eat raw in salads, so I'm hunting about for recipes. Most seem to call for very slow cooking in the oven, taking an hour or so, therefore I thought I'd start with this top-of-the-stove recipe.

It's very simple - shred the cabbage, pop in a pan with sugar, balsamic vinegar, water and olive oil, and let it simmer away for an hour. There was the usual problem with Abel and Cole recipes of measuring. The recipe calls for '1 whole red cabbage' but how does that compare to my two rather small cabbages? Sometime weights and measures can be helpful. I think I may have added too much vinegar and sugar for the amount of cabbage I used but it was nice though rather like a warm, soft version of pickled cabbage.

 So, although we enjoyed it - and ate up the leftovers with salad for lunch - next time, I'll look for something a little more 'different'.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Making 'real' wine

 My parents have been asking me for a while if I wanted any of the grapes from their greenhouse and I haven't got round to picking them. Normally they turn their surplus into wine - only a couple of gallons and sometimes a bit dodgy in taste - but this year they decided it was too much effort. So I thought I'd better volunteer.

When I checked them out though, I found a lot to be frosted or mouldy, or both.

 I normally make 'wine' from hedgerow ingredients - elderflowers or berries, blackberries, rose hips - so I didn't have quite the right equipment for this.

 There weren't enough grapes to warrant treading them in a big barrel ....

and the 'grape press' had to be invented on the fly...

'Real' grapes don't require sugar or yeast adding but the recipe I found advised that for home grown grapes I should add some.
BUT....I don't have a hydrometer, so can't check the sugar levels and have just added a few tablespoons as a guess. I don't have any wine-making yeast, so have used some intended for bread.

It's now all sitting in a demijohn, for which I don't have a proper air-lock, but hopefully will start to bubble soon and maybe, despite all the making-do with equipment, I'll get a bottle or two of wine.

Lunch from the Lottie - winter salads

 Still managing to put together lunchtime salads from my allotment offerings. There's a rather wintry feel to them now with lots of cabbage and home-made pickles but I still have some tomatoes ripening in the kitchen and apples, beetroot and big blue radishes in store. One day when I find time though, I'm going to get back to soup making for lunch.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Spot the difference

I've taken a long while over knitting this cardigan - because of the patterning and colour changes I've not been picking it up so much while watching TV. It is at last starting to get somewhere - front and back are finished (on the right) and one sleeve (left of pic). As so often when trying to use up my leftovers, I've run into problems over the amount of wool I have left - so mush so that I've had to really cut back the amount of darker green used in the sleeves. Hopefully, as the colours changed with each pattern repeat, this isn't too noticeable.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Cooking radishes.....

I've been growing some unusual radishes at the allotment this year - BLUE ones that grow quite large and crop from autumn to winter.

So far we've only eaten them as salad radishes or sliced in sandwiches where they pack a horse-radish-like punch. But now we've lifted the larger ones and although I expect them to store well, much like parsnips or carrots, I decided it was time to find ways to use them.

Here's one all nicely cleaned up, looking purple rather than blue. You can see from the fork and small knife, that it's about 6 inches long and maybe 2 in diameter.

Anyway, I quickly searched the web for recipe ideas and was surprised how quickly I found some. A lot were talking about using them much the same way as turnips or parsnips but this was the easiest - chop into chunks, toss in olive oil, roast for about 20 minutes. So I threw some in with the dinner-time chicken drumsticks and potatoes.... and they tasted much like roasted turnips!
So far I'm inclined to think they're just a bit of a novelty but they certainly look different with their strange coloured skin.

Monday, 11 November 2013

While the dinner cooks.....

 I'm making full use of the cooker while it's roasting the dinner by popping apples and blackberries for breakfast toppings in the oven as well
and spreading sliced apples on the grill in the top oven

 - there in less heat they'll dry out without cooking