Tales of the Freezer


I don’t know about you guys but I do a fair bit of batch cooking to help with our busy life. Nothing worse than coming home after a sailing event than having to then start preparing a hearty meal or even a light snack if we’re quite late back (Weymouth is a long way!) so in the freezer I normally have lots of homemade soup, chilli, the inevitable spagbol, curries, casseroles you name it!

The freezer is running quite low so today I’m making chilli using both beef & turkey mince & then a turkey korma. I’m learning to cook all over again, what having to feed an athlete now! Protein this & protein that!!!!! It’s been a sharp learning curve since Christmas & good job we all like turkey, what with being turkey being bursting with protein….

We’ve gone even more brown & wholewheat than we were before, which no bad thing, just need to remember brown rice takes that little bit longer to cook. Well the brown rice hasn’t gone down as well as other things but there’s no alternative in the house so it’s tough!

And then there’s lentils… One step too far that one, you really can’t disguise them. Unlike broccoli –  ‘it’s just green herbs’! Although with a spagbol I did recently I hadn’t mashed up the broccoli quite enough & there were complaints, outrage ran high & I thought ah well, that’s fair enough – he’s missed the mushrooms so you can’t win them all.

I’ve taken batch cooking to new level this year, one must always strive (Yes I know – must get out more – it’s on my list) I’ve addressed portion size, especially with soup, to make up individual sized portions, given that at any one time we have soup, we’ll all have different flavours. I know, I can hear you rolling you’re eyes at this one. But the world goes round that bit smoother, sparks don’t fly out the chimney, so it’s ok really…..

My next objective to address is plastic or more precisely, plastic freezer packaging. I use good ole Sainsburys freezer boxes, which you can pop in the freezer no problem. But I don’t have an endless supply of these, so once frozen I’ll remove the food from the boxes, placing them in a freezer bag labelled with the what & the when. Which when empty will end up in the bin. Recyclable yes, but I’d rather use something over & over.  I’m a bit of filer at heart, my cupboards are precision filed, the rest of the house however, is very much a different story, I just need more cupboards. Dilemmas, dilemmas!Maybe I should wash out the bags & reuse them too. I’m sure you all have you own methods, so if you have the perfect solution, share the wealth!

Right back to the domestic, Sailors Mum grind stone.  I though I’d also make some jam….

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Bake me something with Apples


My story starts with apples & some very unexpected pears.

I have in my garden a somewhat misshapen apple tree, variety unknown. Possibly, maybe Pink Sparkle? The apples it produces are very special, they have pink & red speckled flesh & every year, as Autumn approaches I get excessively excited at the prospect of their harvest. I’m not alone in this, it’s a family thing now, when it’s time to harvest, sheds are clambered on, squirrels are dueled with to get every single last one of these beauties. And there’s a waiting list of people wanting them… Hmmm…

This year to add to the excited, the pear tree has put forth some joyous bounty, something so rare, it’s only ever happened once since we became custodians of this miniature orchard. There were 8 at last count. but curiously there seems to be a few missing. More curious still was finding the very top & stem of a pear outside my French doors one day last week. I’ve either got squirrels with a twisted sense of humour (which would not surprise me) or invaders of the more human variety, either way, pear scrumpers! How very dare they!

There’s been a steady stream of windfalls this week, although some are beyond help, given they’ve bounced off the shed, the wall, possibly the back of the Mini, maybe the back of the house & then unceremoniously smashed onto the path, not even the squirrels want them. The rest have used for cake.

The problem I had though was which recipe.

I have I would say, the best part of 50 cook books, this is not a confession by any means, one should never feel the need to confess to owning large numbers of books in my humble opinion, especially in areas of interest. I feel the same about shoes too but that’s a whole different story! Getting back to cook books, I know I had a recipe for apple cake, for an 8″ tin, with sultans & wholemeal flour but could I find it? Well no…

I looked through my favourite – go to books , you know , Mary, the WI, Julia Duff, a few recipes but not the one I was looking for.

I looked through the files of my own recipes … Nothing

I even looked at Delia…. Zilch

We needed Apple Cake so I settled for a Dorset Apple cake recipe, very nice I’m sure but not the one I knew I had. Got distracted, had to make tea, apples were tucked up for the night.

But in the morning, something very odd happened.

I’ve been extensively sorting out cupboards (which boardly speaking covers the entire house). I was looking through a load of paper work, all sorts of stuff, pirate maps, children’s painting, drawings, birthday cards, coloured in table clothes, you know the usual stuff & there right at the back was a recipe I’d written years ago, for Apple cake.in the back of a box I hadn’t looked at in years. It was the one I was looking for… Spooky…

It was a sign, well a recipe, so I made it!

Really need to read through new/old recipes before I make something, although some of my greatest mistakes have some of best discoveries, but perhaps not this time…

Windfall apples for some reason tend to be on the small side at the moment, & complete buggers to peel, de-seed & chop. Note to self, maybe wait for larger apples. No just make the cake, MAKE THE BLINKIN CAKE!!!!

 

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Gathering of ingredients
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Pink Sparkle flesh chopped
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All battered up & ready to pop in the oven
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A very tense & impatient 2 hours later…

And the we wait… for what seems like ages…

So whilst we wait a little natter. Something that has happened a fair bit over all the time I’ve been baking is people asking for my recipes.  I must admit it’s not something I normally do, although I am always surprised & deeply flattered.

There’s lots of reasons why I don’t.  And you can ask any baker who has spent time developing their recipes, sometimes for months, sometimes years, that it’s very precious to them, something they have worked hard to create, to improve upon time & time again, to ultimately to perfect. I feel a little bit like that. I’m extraordinarily proud of the recipes I’ve developed over the years, my lovely lemon drizzle, my delicious chocolate sponge, & particularly my gingerbread recipe. I do get laughed at because they’re top secret & believe me they are! Especially the gingerbread but there is an other reason.

What if I’ve not written it right, what if I do something I’ve not written down, what if it ALL GOES WRONG!!! Now that, that is quite a scary prospect for me.

So for the time being, unless I write a book, of course, it will all remain quite secret! Well the bit I can remember because that’s how secret some of my recipes are, even to me!!!

Anyway, on with the cake. It’s cooled enough to cut, well not quite but I’ve waited long enough! I do my usual ‘hmmm, not quite right, needs more this, less of that, not quite sure it’s perfect’ make notes, eat another slice (bakers privilege) to just be sure.

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Morish, & moist!
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Just one more slice

Make another tomorrow.

And just to clarify & again in no way is this a confession but 50 cook books was a little on the slim side of things… Roughly.. er.. 128…

My name is Nokomis, I am CocoaNoko & I AM addicted to books!