A-Z Foodies Challenge – F is for Flour

I really love making bread. There’s nothing like the smell of it cooking and the magic that turns a lump of goo into something light, bubbly and delicious. However, sometimes there just isn’t time to get on and make a loaf (minus bread making machine), or….is that not really the case?

After deciding to have a soup making session I thought the best plan would be to have it with hot, just out of the oven bread. But, I was a bit short of time. Enter those inventive people at Wright’s with one of their very clever bread mixes. All you do is add water and/or oil and follow their very simple instructions to make a fresh loaf or rolls.

On this occasion I chose Parmesan and Sun Dried Tomato Bread Mix and decided to be REALLY hands off by letting my food mixer, with dough hook attachment, do all the hard work instead of standing and doing all the stretching (of the dough!) and kneading, leaving me free to get on with everything else I was trying to do. Could it work? YES, it could! It was quick, easy, very unmessy and still gave the satisfaction of a great tasting bread. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t go back to traditional bread making, but for a quick and easy solution, this was ideal.

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Not sure what Frances and Linda are up to for their flour-y challenge, but will add the details as and when. If anyone else would like to have a link in this post with their recipe using flour, please get in touch.

 

P is for …. Produce (home made, grown and crafted!)

Many years ago, when Holly was young, I belonged to the local WI Producers Market. When Holly reached “proper” school age I had to leave and get a real job (boo!). Now, however, it feels like time to try something new, or rather to revisit something previously tried.

In the time since I last belonged to the market things have changed. The group is part of the Country Markets scheme and now goes under that title, rather than mentioning the WI. As you’ll see from the Country Markets website, there are around 300 Country Markets across England, Wales and the Channel Islands and their quest is to sell fresh, home grown veg, fruit, flowers and plants as well as baked goods and preserves. There’s also a great range of craft goods – which is the bit I was particularly interested in. I used to sell hand made cards at the market all those years ago and hope to do the same again now that I’ve re-joined (for the handsome joining fee of 5 whole pence!!).

As a testament to what a great group of people they are, many of the producers I knew when I was there nearly 10 years ago, are still there and still producing amazing goods.

Our market is open from 9am to 12pm every Friday in a local hall and the sight of the tables full of great produce before the masses invade and start buying is amazing. Have a look…

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It’s an absolute pleasure to be back amongst such lovely, friendly and creative people and hopefully long may it last.

Perhaps you could use the search button on the Country Markets website and find a group near you to visit or join…or pop along and see us in Honiton!

 

A-Z Foodie Challenge – E is for Egg

Something a bit different this month … we decided to buy a kit, just add an egg and see how different thIMG_2090e experiences of the three of us Foodie Challenge(d!) Feasters turned out to be.

We decided on a Green’s Dreamy Lemon Meringue Crunch kit which Frances had tried before, but Linda and I had never attempted. I think the choice of kit to use was probably my fault as I’d said I’d like to try to make a meringue for the egg challenge but had never made one before. I must have looked at a particularly complicated recipe which described the process as taking 2 days (yes, honestly) and decided I couldn’t possibly commit to that (dahhhhling). This seemed a quicker and easier way to tackle the challenge, just to see how I got on and whether I could find another, none 2 day taking, recipe some time in the future. To be honest, I’d only ever eaten lemon meringue once before too (I know, shockingly deprived!).

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It’s not that flat Frances!

So, Frances tackled the challenge first and said the results were very well received by the family who declared it to be delicious. She did also say she thinks she should have beaten the meringue for longer as it was a bit flat and frothy – but it looks great to me!

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Linda’s Mountainous Meringue

Linda went second and wasn’t too impressed with the lack of satisfaction she gained from the whole experience. Her meringue looks great and you can see what she thinks on her blog.

As for me, well, I’m blaming the equipment!! What should have been a really simple, quick and tasty task turned out to be a bit of a nightmare when my greaseproof paper decided to take my meringue captive and refuse to release my soggy biscuit base! I can only conclude that my measuring of the butter which was added to the crunchy base was wrong. I used old fashioned dial scales rather than electronic and think, given that this was my second baking balls-up of the week, it’s time I joined this century and got myself a new set of scales. Having said that, I did enjoy cooking the meringue, won’t be as scared to have a go at the real thing in the future, have bought another cake kit (red velvet cake) to stick in the store cupboard for “emergencies” and will be using a kit for next month’s flour bake too!

Greaseproof gripped soggy biscuit base!

Greaseproof gripped soggy biscuit base!

 

Quite interesting that we had 3 such different results from 3 identical kits.

 

UPDATE! September in the Garden

Trying not to be too groany and moany, but things are coming to an end in the garden. I did take some before photos…..

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…but after this took down the tomatoes and the runner beans yesterday. There were plenty of ripe tomatoes still to be picked so made up a really tasty sauce to turn into bolognese today. Unfortunately though the black tomatoes had, largely, failed to ripen and had a thick white mould on them and had to be binned. Not sure I’d bother with them again.

Our wonderful Cosmos has finally come to an end too. I had hoped to catch it at the right moment and have seeds for next year, but unfortunately things didn’t work out that way and I’ll be down the shops buying a packet next ye2014-10-01ar!

There’s not a lot going on in the greenhouse at the moment. The few winter pansies that did grow from seed are coming along reasonably (until you look at the ones I bought off the market last week!). The chilli and sweet peppers have flowered at last but whether they can stay warm enough to fruit I can only wait to see. I’d not rule out trying them again but ought to start far sooner I think.

The mint has almost finished and needs cutting back. It’s been joined by the pots of hollyhocks which will be going in the garden, if they’re not munched completely! They’ve been a bit chewed since leaving the greenhouse but, other than that, seem quite happy. I’d been blaming the slugs and snails, but perhaps they’ve had some help?!

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You  see what I mean about the market pansies?!

The lavender donated by Carole is doing nicely in its orange bucket and the crocus and tulip bulbs are sprouting already (at last, something early in our garden rather than late!). The gorgeous Countryfile free seeds have finished flowering. They were beautiful and hugely popular with the bees (as had been promised!). The blueberry and blackberry plants seem quite happy at the moment and have been joined by 2 bags of, hopefully, winter potatoes. These have been buried twice already and keep popping up, as they should, so more finger crossing there.

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The leeks should soon be ready for picking – hurray! We have a few carrots and cabbages left and the purple sprouting broccoli, cauli and sprouts are coming along nicely. Hopefully won’t be long before we’re picking the corn on the cob too – mmmmmmm!

I did manage to miss picking a few beans….. IMG_2118

….which is a bit painful! But the freezer is already groaning with those we haven’t managed to eat so I’m trying to be not too sad about it.

I pulled a few leaves from the top of the sunflowers so that I could see the multiheaded little sunflower, just because it seemed a shame not to! Mr. Grumpy Sunflower is looking a bit sad for himself, though the neighbours told me this morning he makes them chuckle every morning when they see him, which is good….I think.

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IMG_2104A quick nose at the flower side of the garden, which gets largely ignored apart from infrequent dead heading – or complete annihilation where the bush up by the bird feeder was concerned! Was very surprised when Kev did that without mentioning it first!

Finally a mention for our hosta, because it gets largely ignored and forgotten. It must be about 16 years old now, had been halved, repotted, moved house and still continues to leaf (?!) faithfully and has been absolutely magnificent this year. It seems very happy where it is (next to the kitchen drain!) in the new garden and has been more wonderful than ever this year. Thanks hosta!

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