This afternoon we had a go at assembling the 'Nanoblock' Koala which Emma bought in Japan. It was very small and fiddly and we both felt relieved when we finally finished it.
Out freezer needs defrosting so we are trying to empty it by avoiding buying frozen food, and eating what's already in there. Unfortunately some of the food has been there rather a long time. For 3 days this week, I found myself some fairly out of date things.
Tuesday: The first out of date food of the week actually came from the fridge. We recently bought some falafel but the pack had got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about. It was a week past its sell-by but it smelt ok. I cooked it anyway and it tasted fine.
Wednesday: We have had a bag of salmon steaks in the freezer for ages and they had started to look a bit 'freezer burnt'. I decided to make a salmon paella so I put the steaks in a pan of cold water and slowly brought them to a simmer. After leaving them to cool, I removed the skin and cut off the dry or discoloured bits. The texture wasn't great - it was a bit chewy compared to decent fresh salmon.
Thursday: When I took the pack of bean burgers out of the freezer, I thought it felt a bit light. I didn't bother checking the weight but I took 2 out and put them in the oven. After the recommended cooking time, I took them out and put them on a plate. They had gone all dry and crunchy and were really awful. They were only 3 months out of date. There were still 2 more in the pack so I tried to rescue them by pouring a couple of spoons of stock over them, wrapping them in foil and cooking them in the oven. They were a bit better but I still had to cut away some crunchy bits.
Friday: Got home from work fairly late. Couldn't be bothered cooking. Bought take-away instead.
We have often thought that baby roborovski hamsters look a bit like monkey nuts.
One of these things is not like the others...
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Last year I planted some 'Mignonette' alpine strawberries. We only got a handful of strawberries per week last year but this year we are getting many more. Most of the time we eat the fruit on its own, with melon, or with ice cream. This week I decided to keep the strawberries in the fridge until I had enough to cook something new.
250g puff pastry, rolled out.
2 cups of strawberries.
¼ cup of light brown sugar.
3 tablespoons of cornflour.
Mix the strawberries, sugar and cornflour together. Place in the middle of the pastry. Brush the edges with milk, and roll up, crimping the ends together. Brush the outside with milk then bake in the oven, gas mark 7, for 20 minutes.
The strudel was slightly over-cooked, thanks to me failing to start the kitchen timer properly, but otherwise it was good.
Earlier in the year I bought some Red Sunflower seeds from a shop called Premier Seeds Direct, off Ebay.
I planted some, along with some sunflower seeds picked from the hamster food. Both types of sunflower sprouted, but the red sunflowers grew the fastest and so far are the only ones to flower.
Both the above flowers were grown from the 'red' seeds. Some of the plants have multiple flowers, such as the one on the left where several smaller flowerheads are visible.
This weeks recipe came from the Mail on Sunday. When we first read it, it sounded unusual and interesting. Since we recently tried Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, we thought another strange vegetable cake was worth trying.
The cake came out quite moist and lightly spiced. We made a few slight changes, using allspice instead of ground cloves, and doubling the quantity of cinnamon. You couldn't tell it was tomato soup based unless you tasted carefully and tried to discern the flavour. If you didn't know, I don't think it would be obvious.
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We were trying to think of a new recipe for this week, probably involving sausages because we had some in the fridge. Emma came up with the idea of Bagel Dogs, based on Corn Dogs but with the sausage wrapped in bagel dough.
The dough was made following the same recipe as last time. After leaving the individual dough balls to rise, they were rolled out and a cooked sausage was placed on each, before being rolled up to completely enclose the sausage.
After boiling for 1 minute on each side, the 'dogs' were put on skewers and baked for 20 minutes - resting the skewers on the sides of a deep baking tray so the dogs were held above the tray while they cooked.
A cooked bagel dog on a stick.
We thought the Bagel Dogs were an original idea but according to Wikipedia, they have been around since 1943.
The pizza sauce was a home-made pesto using herbs from our garden: rocket, land cress, oregano, parsley and basil. I added finely ground pistachio nuts, mature cheddar, vegetable oil, salt and pepper.
Toppings included red onion, leek, courgette, capers, anchovies, chillies and cubes of tuna, along with the usual mozzarella and more grated cheese.
Some photos from this years festival - mainly the parade through Coventry City Centre.
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This was my attempt at recreating a Marks & Spencer dish which we ate a couple of months ago. I can't remember what the original tasted like but I was happy with the flavour of my version. A lot of our cooking is based around what we can buy reduced or on offer. The sweet potato and butternut squash came from a supermarket pack which was cheap since it was going out of date.
In a low oven (approx gas mark 4), roast the following for about 30 minutes:
- 250g sweet potato and butternut squash.
- 2 cloves of garlic (peeled but kept whole)
- ½ green chilli (chopped).
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
When everything has cooled down, add to a food processor, along with:
- 100g cooked white beans
- 2tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chopped parsley
- a pinch of salt
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 1tsp pumpkin seed oil
- 1tsp horseradish or ½ tsp wasabi paste.
Add a small amount of water if needed, to get everything to blend to a smooth paste.
We used some of the dip as a pizza sauce, and topped it with salmon, leek and cheese.