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Saturday, 30 January 2010

New Cooker!

Woo hoo! My new cooker (stove) arrived today, I can't use it yet because I don't want it to get covered in plaster dust when the kitchen wall comes down, so it's sitting in the dining room looking shiny and new. It seems smaller than the old one, but DH has been out with the measuring tape and the oven is actually bigger. I expect technology has moved on somewhat in 25 years! Work should start on the kitchen in a couple of weeks, I'll keep you posted.


Friday, 29 January 2010


We buy half a dozen free range eggs each week from a woman who keeps hens and works in my DH's office. They seemed to have built up a bit and I had three boxes sitting on top of the fridge. I had also bought the Tesco magazine 'Light and Easy' which featured a recipe for Spanish Onion, Pepper, Pea and Potato Tortilla, not that I need a recipe for this, but it certainly prompted me to make it.

Spanish Onion, Pepper, Pea and Potato Tortilla

Serves 4
Cals 280
Fat 15.3g
Sat 3.2g

25g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
Low calorie cooking spray (I used a teaspoon of oil)
Three onions, peeled and finely sliced
200g bottled roasted red peppers,drained and roughly chopped
200g frozen peas, thawed ( I didn't thaw them, they thawed out in the cooking)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Five eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Parboil the potatoes in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for five to six minutes. Drain thoroughly.
2. Spray a 20 - 23cm non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, peas and drained potatoes, and fry gently over a medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until the vegetables have softened, but not coloured, turning and stirring often. Add the garlic and stir to mix well.
3. Preheat the grill to medium hot.
4. Ina bowl, beat the eggs lightly and season well. Pour this mixture into a frying pan,shaking the pan so that the eff and vegetables are evenly spread. Cook gently for eight to ten minutes or until the tortilla is set at the bottom.
5. Place the frying pan under the grill and cook for five to six minutes or until the top is set and golden. Remove from the grill and allow to cool for five to six minutes. Carefully transfer to a board and cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served it with a salad of mixed leaves and a sort of Waldorf salad with apples, pecan nuts and a mustard mayonaise dressing.

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Monday, 25 January 2010

The Hairy Bikers and the Condensed Milk Cake

For those visiting from other countries, I should really explain that the Hairy Bikers are a couple men from the north of England who drive round the country (and other countries) on their motorbikes making and eating fabulous food. They are so genuine in their enthusiasm and like good down-to-earth food. Their latest series 'Hairy Bikers - Mums know best' takes you into the homes of everyday Mums who make lovely meals. It is one of the highlights of my viewing week (I know, how sad is that lol!).

Anyway, one of the recipes that caught my eye was this Sticky Date Cake which is basically a boiled fruit cake but it is made using a tin of condensed milk. Preparation is minimal but it takes a good 2 and a half hours to bake in a low oven.
This is the baked cake still in it's tin.
That is the unappetising goo that is the boiled mixture before you bake it (I didn't want to put that as the first photo in case you were put off!

and here are a couple of slices of the delicious cake, so where is the recipe, I hear you ask? Click on this link Sticky Date Cake and you too can make a Hairy Biker special.

When I described this cake to friends on the crafting forum I visit. Angelnorth recognised it immediately and, as I have actually visited her in real life, she reminded me that she had served me a piece of this cake on my visit and it comes from a book called "Food from the Place Below".

It seems that the original link to this recipe has been removed, so I have linked to another copy of it which has been posted on the BBC Good Food website as "Sticky Date Cake".  I have checked it against the original recipe in the Mum's Know Best cookbook and it is the same.

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Sunday, 24 January 2010

Vintage Soup!

I know it doesn't look like an 'old' cookbook, but VINTAGE means 20 years old or older so many of my cookbooks are indeed vintage.
As you can see this one was first published in 1978, I didn't buy it then, I think I must have waited until 1980 or 81 lol! This was my wholefood phase, a lot of it is still with me, wholemeal pasta and brown rice, but we really embraced it around that time.

Can you see the fabulous tomato stains on the edge of the book, always a good sign. The inside of the book looks like it is vintage, the paper is starting to brown with age :o The star ratings are something I started around about this time, as it was when DH and I bought our first flat and had our first kitchen that wasn't shared. I rate all my recipes so I can see which ones I have made and what I thought of them.

Anyway, to the recipe: Carrot and Tomato Soup

4oz (125g) carrots
8oz (225g) ripe tomatoes plus two more for garnish, here is where I deviate, you know I always deviate from the recipe, tomatoes are rubbish just now in Scotland, so use two tins of plum tomatoes.
1 oz (25g) butter or 4 tbsp of oil (I used about a tsp)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
3/4 pint (425ml) stock
bouquet garni (no fresh herbs so I didn't bother)
4 tablespoons (60ml) sherry (only for special occasions)

For Serving: 2 tbsp (30ml) chopped parsley and two tomatoes mentioned above.

I don't even really measure anything, just throw some onions, garlic, carrots into a little oil, whoosh it about, fill up my pressure cooker with stock and once it's cooked, pulverise it with the stick blender, Voila!

Here is what Gail Duff says you should do:

Thinly slice the carrots, Scald, skin and chop the tomatoes. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Stir in the carrots, onion and garlic. Cover them and let them sweat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover again and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring it to the boil. Add the bouquet garni, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni, cool the soup slightly and work it in a blender or rub it through the fine blade of a mouli. Return it to the saucepan, stir in the sherry and reheat. Serve in individual bowls with 2 tomato slices and some chopped parsley floating on top.

(those who are eagle eyed may also notice that I have coriander floating on my soup as I didn't have any parsley)

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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Address to a haggis

A Burns Supper

The annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Celebrated on, or about, the Bard's birthday, January 25th, Burns Suppers range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards and louts. Most Burns Suppers fall in the middle of this range, and adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honoured form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

Address to a Haggis

fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was help to mend a mill
In time o'need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!

source Robert Burns Country

I didn't go to a formal Burns Supper, but we had haggis, neeps (swede known as turnip in Scotland) and champit tatties (mashed potatoes) for our supper tonight.

One or two questions have been asked so I am adding a little to this post.
1. Yes that is a bottle of malt whisky behind the haggis, we didn't have it with the meal but had some after with our coffee.
2. You can find out about what goes into a haggis HERE although personally, I think it is better not to know because it tastes nothing like any of the ingredients, it is peppery and delicious.

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Sunday, 17 January 2010

The NEW Farmersgirl Kitchen ...coming soon!

My blog is called Farmersgirl Kitchen, and this is where I make the food that I show on this blog.

We need to do some work on the internal walls of our kitchen. There has been some water coming in from the outside wall (on the right) if you look closely you can see the marks. We have had this fixed outside, but all the plaster has to come off that wall and our joiner is going to line it with insulated plasterboard. We are also getting the wall behind the current units strapped and plasterboarded so we can have wall units, the existing wall just wouldn't support them. my cooker (stove) is 25 years old and the kitchen units are about 23 years old, we decided that it was time to have a change.

I have a strange kitchen set up, being an old farmhouse kitchen there would have been no water plumbed into the building, so our sink is actually in the 'back kitchen' or scullery, a brick built extension (in the 1950's) down three steps. I thought I would never get used to it, but you do get used to it and it would be such a major operation to bring a sink into the kitchen that we have never quite got round to it. So, the fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher and sink are all in this 'back kitchen' down three steps and the area we are renewing is the cooking, kettle type area.

I thought that as we were making this change, I wanted to make it different and I wanted to have more worktop space. Difficult challenge as there are many doors, windows and an inglenook fireplace with our oil stove to content with, I bought some magazines, as you do! And one of them had a breakfast bar that came out from the units at an angle, I was sold.

I found the kitchen shopping a bit of a challenge, the units I liked, didn't always do the things I wanted them to, but today, finally, I found some units I liked that did pretty much what I wanted AND I got to have solid oak worktops which is the bit that excites me most!

The illustration below is pretty much what it will be like, except the breakfast bar will have support at the end, not hanging in mid-air like it is - scary! And, those are not the handles that I am getting, the ones we will have are hammered steel and really cool (and expensive) but lovely.

I will give you step by step updates, it's going to take a couple of weeks for the units to arrive and our joiner says he will be available in 2-3 weeks, but as long as it is done before DS1 gets married in May, I will be happy!

Oh and, by the way, I have taken 4 carrier bags of cookery books out of the book shelves, which is why there are some spaces! The bookshelves were created for me by our joiner and sized to my biggest book - he is a real craftsman, but I do like to challenge him!


Saturday, 16 January 2010

Skinny Chocolate and Cranberry Muffins

I got my copy of BBC Good Food Magazine today and was looking through and found this recipe. So instead of having dessert we had muffins with our coffee and they were delicious, not too sweet and a great texture.

Skinny Chocolate & Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12

250g/9oz self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
85g/3oz light muscovado sugar
85g/3oz dried cranberries
25g/1oz dark chocolate, chopped
125g tub low fat yogurt
125ml/4fl oz skimmed milk
3tbsp sunflower oil
1 egg lightly beaten

1. Heat oven to 180C/160C Fan/gas 4. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and cranberries. Microwave the chocolate on Medium for 1-1 1/2 mins, stir then set aside.
2. Mix the yogurt and milk, with the oil and egg. Make well in the centre of the dry mix and gently stir in the liquid. Drizzle half the chocolate over the mix, gently fold in until swirled, then repeat with the remaining chocolate. Take care not to over-mix. Spoon the mix into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 mins until risen and firm to the touch.

Oh and I melted a little extra chocolate and drizzled it back and forth across the muffins for a little choccy finish!

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Monday, 11 January 2010

Marinated Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms

I love sirloin steak and it was on special offer this week at the supermarket. It was the thin cut sirloin, so needed a little more care. I looked on the web for a marinade, yes I do have shelves full of cookery books and folders full of recipes, but searching is much easier online!

I found 'Carol's Completely Fabulous Steak Marinade' as the basis of recipe for which I had all the appropriate ingredients, well almost!

2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (I had some dried up limes left over from Christmas)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce ( oh dear only about a teaspoon left, never mind bung it in)
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic ( couple of cloves of garlic crushed)
2 tblsp olive oil

Put the whole steaks in a plastic bag, seal and leave in the fridge for 8 - 24 hours.
When ready to cook, take the meat out of the frdige, drain the marinade (I kept it, more later) and let meat come to room temperature. Preheat your gril to high, put the steak in/on the grill and cook to your own taste. As the steak I used was think it only took a few minutes.

I served my steak, cut into strips with baked potatoes and mushrooms sauted in butter and finished with the marinade, make sure you cook it out for a good 5 minutes as it has had raw meat in it.
I have to say, given the minimum effort involved, it tasted delicious.

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Saturday, 9 January 2010

Spicy Parsnip and Apple Soup

The snow is still on the ground and it has been as cold as -17C here recently, so soup is definitely the order of the day! This is a bit of a makey-up recipe with bits from different books to fit the ingredients to hand.

Spicy Parsnip and Apple Soup

800g parsnips, peeled and choppped
2 onions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eating apples, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
300ml semi-skimmed milk
600ml beef, chicken or vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions until soft, add the garlic and spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the parsnips and apples stirring well to cover them with the spices. Add the stock and cook until the parsnips are soft. When slightly cooled, use a hand blender or liquidiser to liquidise the soup. Add the milk and reheat. Serve with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and lots of crusty bread.

I have to say that the photograph does not do the soup justice, it looks a bit odd and grey on there lol!

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Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Frozen Herbs!

I know a lot of people have much more snow than we have, but I thought these post of herbs with snowy tops looked great, and sort of food related, so I thought I would share them with you.

I got an award!

Many thanks to Chele at Chocolate Teapot for giving me this award. It's the first one I've had for Farmersgirl Kitchen, so is extra special.

The rules of this award are to copy the award image into a post and then list ten things that make you happy. In no particular order (as they say on Strictly Come Dancing):

1. Hugs
2. Chatting to friends irl or online
3. Sitting outside on a warm day with a good book and a glass of wine
4. Having a back massage
5. My husband - he is so good to me.
6. Seeing people enjoy the food I cook
7. Coffee
8. Bendicks Bittermints (dark chocolate, strong mint)
9. Making crafty things
10. Wearing nice clothes

Now to pass this on to 10 bloggers who brighten my day, trying to avoid those that Chele has already chosen.
1. Wendy at The Omniverous Bear
2. Katie at Katiecakes
3. Deanna at Tastenc
4. Suzie at Suzie the Foodie
5. Miriam at The Winter Guest
6. Helen at Feedingfamily of five for fifty
7. Amy at Vintage Cookbooks
8. Sarah Jayne at Weekend Carnivore
9. Charlene at No love sincerer
10. Mary Moh at Keep Learning, keep smiling

Put a link to their blogs
Notify the award receivers.
Award recipients should link back to the sender's blog.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

Carbonnade of Beef

We've had way too much turkey and ham, so I thought it would be nice to have some real BEEF! As we are beef farmers there is a certain obligation to consume some of this delicious meat. As DH got far too many bottles of beer at Christmas, I blagged one off him, not difficult as he loves this beef cooked in beer almost more than drinking the beer!

Carbonnade of Beef from Judith Wills Top 200 Low Fat Recipes (you see it's good for you too!)
Serves 4, 325 calories per portion, 11.5 fat per portion

cooking oil spray
500g lean braising steak, trimmed and cut into 6 x 5 cm mini steaks (I just cut it into 1 inch cubes)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml stout or other dark beer
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

1. Spray a large, shallow non-stick frying pan with a little cooking oil, heat until hot and brown the meat on allsides, then trnsfer it to a casserole dish.
2. Add the olive oil to the pan and saute the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and sugar to the pan, stir well, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes or until the onions start to caramelise.
3. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the stout, stock cube and tomoato puree, stir well and bring to a simmer.
4. Transfer the onion mixture to the casserole dish and mix with the beef. Add the bay leaf and plenty of seasoning, cover and cook in a preheated oven, 170C/335F/Gas 3.5 for 2 hours.
t5. Check the seasoning, remove the bay leaf and serve garnished with the parsley.

Serving suggestion: Boiled potatoes, dark green cabbage and carrots are delicious with the beef.

You will notice that I put carrots IN my stew, I also used only 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of brown sugar, still tasted delicious. The gravy in this stew is just so rich and delicious, that I find mash is the best for soaking it up!

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Bubble & Squeak

Last night supper was definitely a mish mash of left overs. We had some turkey and ham pie left over from New Year's Eve, some onion bahjis from lunch on NYE. I also had some mashed potoato and mashed turnip (swede) left over from the haggis meal we had on New Year's Day so I decided to make it into Bubble & Squeak with the half cabbage I had lurking in the fridge.
It is usually made with left over cabbage, but I made this fresh and then mixed it into the potato/turnip mix. Some butter in the pan on a medium heat and then just bung it all in and press it down. The tricky bit is turning it using a plate, I think it would be wise to lightly oil the plate before inverting the b&s onto it as it does tend to stick. However even if you have to lever it back into the pan like I did, you just squish it down again, it can take quite a lot of abuse!

If you have one of those pans that go in the oven you could do it that way too. I'm getting to the end of the left overs now and have a Carbonnade of Beef in the oven. I can smell the beer as it cooks slowly - mmmmm!

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Saturday, 2 January 2010

All cooked out!

After all the cooking and eating of the holiday season, I'm feeling a bit cooked out. I am definitely ready for some light and simple food, but the snow and cold weather continues and there is still a need for some comfort food.

I can't remember the last time I made sausage rolls, I had flashbacks to making them with my mum with very pink sausagemeat. I was inspired by the sausage rolls that Delia featured in her Happy Christmas book. I didn't make my own pastry and the sausage meat came courtesy of my SIL who got it from an excellent butcher. It is pork and apple sausagemeat and I added some fresh sage I had left over from the turkey stuffing. Anyway they were delicious and I shouldn't leave it so long the next time.