Toffee Apple Yoghurt

Toffee Apple Yoghurt

What glorious weather we’re having.   It has been pretty sparkly all week, incentivising the plants to put some genuine effort into growing.  Which is kind of them as our garden was starting to look a little like a wilderness, and is now looking like a wilderness with purpose.  As one of my nieces once said,

‘I love your garden, it always looks so wild’

Which is now exactly how I like to think of it.  A wild garden specifically groomed to be that way for all the wee beasties that need ‘wildflower’ plants, to flourish.  In abundance.

Meanwhile, I am having to do a shift in thought around food as we slowly move from more comfort based carbohydrate stuff, to rainbow food.  I know, there’s me showing my hipness and complete ability to be down with the cookery buffs…

Rainbow food, for any of those of you who may not have heard the phrase before (to be honest, I’m very late to the zeitgeist party) is about all the colours you have on your plate.  And apparently, if you manage a rainbow, you’ve got it covered.  Yep, that’s it.  Not really rocket science is it?

So today, I am going to extol the virtues of adding your own fruit compote to natural yoghurt.  Which actually has nothing to do with rainbow food, although in my defence I am, as I write this, baking some rice in the oven which has red, yellow, and orange pepper in it, along with sultanas, green beans, chicken and pork.  But I digress…

There are two wonderful things about adding your own flavour to plain yoghurt. Firstly, you can decide exactly what combination is for you and secondly you can monitor the amount of sugar that you are eating.

Now as you know, we gave up sugar for the whole of lent, for non religious, timeframe reasons.  And although we now have no restrictions per se, the knowledge we’ve gained of unnecessary sugars in food, has changed the way we eat.  Not dramatically, it has to be said, but enough to raise our levels of consciousness when it comes to sugar.

Which is why by sharing my knowledge you, too, can polish your halo if you make your own fruit yoghurt.

I peeled and cored a few wrinkly skinned apples and a ‘just on the turn’ pear, (I am also attempting to throw away as little food as possible) popped them in a pan, sprinkled some soft brown sugar over them, added a dash of water and left them to simmer until mushy.

It is here that I would like to point out that the type of sugar you use really will affect the taste.  Soft brown, for me, is perfect as it isn’t too dark but does add that slight toffee-ness.  Obviously, the darker the sugar the more molasses-like the taste.

Let it cool, and whizz up with the trusty steed.

Either stir or whizz into the yoghurt.  We use Grandpa Yoghurt, which is a local-ish natural bio yoghurt that the wee one’s Grandpa introduced us to.  You can use anything you fancy, but I recommend the more natural the better, as most ‘low fat’ products have something added to compensate, and nine times out of ten, it’s sugar.

Obviously yoghurt is wonderful with any type of fruit addition, and it’s actually a lovely way to experiment with food without too much effort.

I mean you could, if you were feeling truly rebellious, just eat the compote and yoghurt separately.  Now there’s a thing…

Advertisements

Fruit Head

Fruit Head

Recently I have been hanging around with a lovely group of people, making fruit heads.  Then pottering down the road to pop them in the trees for the wee beasties that hang out there, to eat.

Interesting, I hear you say, but why are you telling us about the mundanity of your day to day life?

Well, the reason I have divulged this little ditty is simple.  There are sometimes much more enjoyable things to do with fruit and vegetables than merely eat them.

Enjoy.

Sugar

sugar

Did you know that Lent is an old pagan word for Spring?  Me neither.  I learnt that little gem of information from the radio this morning.  And it is today, the first day of Lent that I have decided to give up sugar.

The thing is, I have given up cakes and biscuits before and managed, with very little anxiety, to get through to Easter Sunday, but giving up sugar, I have found, is a lot more than that.

Having read up about the effects of giving up sugar, it has been recommended that I cut out everything for 4 – 6 weeks.  That means I can’t eat any bananas, cake, grapes, melon, tomato ketchup, cake, biscuits, prawn crisps, cake, Thai food (unless I cook it without the brown sugar), cake, Chinese take away (we don’t really eat Chinese take away, so that won’t really affect me), anything with dried fruit in it, cake… and the list goes on and on.

On the plus side…

*pauses to think*

… Oh, why not check it out for yourselves.  Someone suggested I start with www.iquitsugar.com which is what I did, and took it from there.

So goodbye stuff with sugar in.  I’m sure I will miss you more than I should.

Meanwhile, I will continue to use it for the gratification of others, and keep you informed of how I’m getting on.

Reflections

glass bauble

Someone described the Winter Solstice to me the other day as the longest night, which I find extremely endearing.  Not only because it seems to sum up perfectly the blanket of darkness that has gradually been swallowing us up over the last few months, but it also puts the darkness into a finite concept, which can often be lost amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas life.

Indeed, it is with great relief that we have shimmied into a natural pace of Christmas which is much slower than my imagined perception.  And whilst we’re on the theme of the Winter Solstice, I always thought that the sun stayed in the same position for three days from this point on, before the nights start to become lighter. That is, until I found this little nugget,

http://www.timeanddate.com/sun

the science of which, astonishes me.  There’s probably a scientific reason for how Father Christmas and his reindeer can fly, but there are some things that I enjoy being ignorant about.

Moreover, tonights longest night coincides with the new moon, which, for those of us who have a sneaking suspicion that everything impacts on everything else, is very auspicious indeed.

But back to the Christmas kerfuffle.  A moment for reflection there.  What a fabulous word kerfuffle is.

Anyway, we have almost bought everything needed for our shindig extraordinaire. If I’m absolutely honest, we definitely don’t need half the things we have acquired to have a wonderful time, and, on reflection, the furore of trying to sort everything out is an indulgence we are able to partake of, but in no way necessary.   How lucky we are to be able to indulge.

Meanwhile, we are settling down to watching the classic Christmas movies, eating after eights in the middle of the day and acknowledging, but not necessarily eating, the copious amounts of fruit languishing in a plethora of bowls. Ooooo….

*tingles inside*

I love Christmas

 

 

Roasted Figs with Goats Cheese part 1

figs and cheese #2

Following on from my first fresh fig experience of the season, I decided to foray further into the fig world and have a go at roasting them.  As a strong supporter of buying local, I popped in to the market we have in the city, to pick up, amongst other things, a handful of figs.

Now this is the thing, every time I go to the market for fruit I forget the golden rule of market fruit.   Which is: all soft fruits bought from the market are to be consumed within a day, otherwise they begin the sorry state of decline so often found in fruit bowls across the country.  I have often been caught out by this market fruit propensity, having got used to buying fruit from a supermarket where they scare each piece into a state of suspended frozen shock, until it’s time to release them into the public domain.

However, I forget all of this and buy myself some gorgeous soft and hard fruits.

Ladened with figs and many other delicious items, I unload and arrange artistically, all the fruit in a bowl keeping the figs separately and, indeed, the plums. To be fair, I think I may have been egging the pudding slightly there.  There isn’t much to putting fruit in a bowl.

Moving on.

This is where I make two fatal mistakes.  Firstly, the figs lounged on a plate for over 24 hours on our kitchen table, and secondly, I balanced a bunch of bananas precariously on the edge of said plate.

‘And what,’ you may ask, ‘is the consequence of said action?’

My beloved figs have gone past the point of no return.  Overnight.  When my back was turned.

So now, having bought the goat’s cheese, I now have to buy more figs.  Could I be caught in an self perpetuating cycle of figs?  Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, apparently what you do is this:

Using a knife, carefully trim any tough portion of the stems from each fig.  Rub each fig all over with extra-virgin olive oil, then slice down through the stem about 2cm.  Make a second cut perpendicular to the first cut, so that you have an X-shaped cut in the top of each fig. (I love the word perpendicular).
Gently pry the edges apart and stuff each fig with about 1 teaspoon of the goat cheese. Place the figs upright on a baking sheet and bake until the figs are plump but have not burst, at gas mark 6 for about 10 minutes.
Drizzle the honey onto the serving plate and place the roasted figs on top of the honey.  Sprinkle with a pinch of the chopped rosemary; drizzle more honey on top if desired.  Serve immediately.*

I shall be endeavouring to rustle up this little number later on today.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

 

*Courtesy of http://www.grouprecipes.com

Blueberry Muffins

photo 2 (1)

I’ve always thought muffins for breakfast was way too American for my liking.  Not that I have anything against American breakfasts at all, but breakfast selection does depend on how you’ve been brought up, and cake for breakfast was just never seen as a good thing in our household.  In fact, it was seriously frowned upon.  However, I have been trying to broaden my culinary horizons for some years now, and decided that today was the day that we would push the boat out and have fresh muffins for breakfast.

I’ve often wondered exactly what the difference between a fairy cake (or cupcake as they are now so often referred to) and a muffin is, as they do taste pretty similar. And for those of you who may also ponder such things, here is my brief synopsis. Muffins are more batter tasting and made with as little mixing as possible, so the dry ingredients are swirled around nonchalantly together, then the wet ingredients are whisked together.  When combined it is recommended that you use a wooden spoon and stir together just enough that the ingredients know each other but aren’t overly familiar.  The blueberries, or whatever takes your fancy, are then added, once again with as little mixing as possible.  The mixture is then plopped into cases and shoved in the oven. No tender smoothing over, no concern about the way it’s plopped into the case. Nothing. Treat ’em mean.  Muffins also never have a topping on them.

Whereas fairy cakes are made by fairies.

So, this morning I had my whole domestic goddess head on and prepared the muffin mixture, distributed in cases accordingly, and popped the tray into the oven for 20 minutes whilst I went to get changed.  Although it is Sunday I had places to be this morning, so timing was crucial.  Having dressed etc, I came down to find the muffins perfectly cooked.  Smugly I presented them to the family who made absolutely the right facial expressions and cooed appropriately.

What I had forgotten of course, is that when you put fruit in cakes, the fruit gets hot. And stays hot for quite a while.

Ah well, they were still delicious, and I’ll know for next time that although warm muffins is a wonderful idea for breakfast I must remember the basic rules of culinary physics.