Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Gingerbread house

This is based on the gingerbread recipe from the Waitrose website with a few modifications, mainly in amounts to make a lot more gingerbread!


250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
8 tbsp golden syrup
650g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
6 tsp ground ginger
Icing sugar
Boiled sweets

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3. Line baking trays with baking parchment, or use a silicon baking sheet. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
  2. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl and stir the melted ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a stiff dough.
  3. On a clean, flat surface, sprinkle some flour.
  4. Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick, and cut the required shapes. You need two large rectangles to form the sides, and two equilateral triangles to form the front and back. The sides of the triangles need to be the same length as the short sides of the rectangles.
  5. If you want doors or windows in the house, now is the time to use a cookie cutter and cut the window shapes.
  6. To make "stained glass" windows, place the gingerbread on the baking sheet, then carefully smash up the boiled sweets into small pieces in a blender, and fill the window hole with broken up sweets.
  7. Bake the pieces in the over, individually if your oven isn't big enough, for 9 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Once they're cooked, allow them to cool completely on a flat surface.
  8. Next you need to make the icing glue to stick it together. Put two tablespoons of icing sugar in a cup, and very slowly, one teaspoon full at a time, add cold water and stir. You want a thick consistency, but smooth with no lumps.
  9. You might need a helper with this to hold bits! Using the icing, stick the side of one of the rectangles, and the two triangles to the board. You should be able to lean them against each other and they'll be relatively stable. Now, carefully put icing down both top sides of the triangles, and rest the first rectangle against them.
  10. You should now be able to place the second rectangle in place, gluing it's base to the board with the icing. Don't worry if it all falls over, it might take a few attempts to get right, and any breakages can be fixed with the icing glue!
  11. At this point you need to leave the whole thing to set for about an hour in the cool.
  12. Once it's set, using more icing glue, you can decorate it however you like using any variety of sweets.
  13. Last of all, give the whole thing a sprinkle of icing sugar over the top to look like fresh snow.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Green Tomato Chutney


500g (ish) green tomatoes - the last from our greenhouse
250g soft brown sugar
1 medium size apple
250ml malt vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 dried chilli, seeds removed
150g onion
The one very small green pepper that we managed to grow.


Carefully wash the tomatoes, removing any bits that look a bit duff.
Peel, core and chop the apple.
Chop the tomatoes and onion (and the very small green pepper)
Mix the tomatoes, apple and onion in a large pan. Add the sugar and vinegar and stir with a wooden spoon.
Add the chilli and ginger, and stir again.
Bring to the boil, then turn right down to minimum heat and leave to simmer for at least an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until it becomes a lot less runny and a lot more sticky and jam-like.
Pour into sterilized jars and allow to cool.

The whole house now smells of really fantastic vinegary chutney smells that remind me of Christmas!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Various Cakes

Variations on the basic sponge cake recipe used for the banana muffins. The one at the top is an apple cake, basically identical to the banana muffins, except with an apple instead of banana, and baked in a bread loaf tin.

The others are chocolate muffins, where half of the flour is replaced with cocoa powder.

Pumpkin Soup

This is a nice, hearty Autumnal soup. I decided to make it after we received a pumpkin in an organic mixed veggie box that we ordered. It's sort of based on a few recipes I found via google, but none of them really matched what ingredients were available.


A pumpkin
6 spring onions (or 1 onion - I only had spring onions at the time)
1 litre vegetable stock
A small amount of butter.


Chop the pumpkin into 1cm cubes. Finely chop the onion.
Melt the butter in the pan, and fry the onion until it goes opaque.
Mix in the pumpkin, then pour over the stock.
Boil until the pumpkin is soft - for me this took about 25 minutes.
Leave to cool, then blend with a blender.

At this point ours tasted delicious, but resembled baby food, so it may need watering down a bit before eating.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Blackberry and Apple Jelly

Following this recipe that I found via google:

I made some blackberry and apple jelly with blackberries that we picked last month, and some of Mum & Dad's large amount of cooking apples. The only variation being that for the first half I ran out of caster sugar and had to use some cinnamon caster sugar as well, so that'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

The other thing is that I think I used too much water in the initial simmering stage, so I ended up having to boil the whole lot for about 15 minutes, rather than 8.

Banana Muffins

This is a fab use-things-up recipe that is based on an old, basic sponge cake recipe that I vaguely remember from when I was young.


4Oz / 113g Butter
4Oz / 113g Self-raising flour
4Oz / 113g Sugar
2 medium eggs
2 small or 1 large over-ripe banana
1 handful of chopped walnuts (optional)


Partially melt the butter in the microwave, or leave it in a warm place until it's just mushy. Mix in the flour and sugar, then add the eggs and mix until you have a consistently gloopy mixture with no lumps. Now, break up or chop the banana into small 1cm-ish size pieces and stir into the mixture. At this stage, if you want, you can add a handful of chopped walnuts.

Spoon the mixture into muffin cases or tins, and bake in the oven at gas mark 6 / 200C for about 25 minutes - check they are cooked by putting a knife into the middle of one - if it comes out clean, they are ready.

Allow to cool before trying to take them out of the tin as they tend to fall apart otherwise.


I have tried this with both muscovado sugar and caster sugar, with massively different results - both very nice, but the caster sugar makes a lighter, more sponge-cake cake, and the muscovado make a heavier more american muffin like cake.

You could also replace the banana with left-over chocolate, if such a thing existed. I have a theory it might work with other fruit like apple, but haven't tried it yet.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Lunchtime wraps

A very quick, easy and extremely tasty meal that I just had for my lunch!


1 flour tortilla (or corn, depends what you prefer)
1 large tomato
Some lettuce
Some mozzarella


Wash and slice the tomato and lettuce.

Slice some mozzarella - how much depends on how much you want!

Place the lettuce, tomato and mozzarella in a straight line, in the middle of the tortilla, going from about a third of the way up, to the top.

Take one side of the tortilla, fold it over the filling, and wrap it tight under the filling.

Roll the other side over the first side, making a tube of filling.

Fold the bottom third over the bottom of the tube, to prevent things falling out the end when you bite it.

Eat it from the top! :-)

Now for variations you can add pretty much whatever you want, but I just added salad cream, much to Kate's disgust.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

"Pasta Pesto Pepper Pesto Pasta Pepper..."

This was originally called "Pasta with Pesto and Pepper" but it's name got broken somewhere along the way, and now we always call it "Pasta Pesto Pepper Pesto Pasta Pepper" or a variation of that sort of thing.

It also has mushrooms in it, but they don't begin with "P"


2 peppers (red, green, yellow, orange - it doesn't matter, but a mixture is nice)
Some mushrooms - doesn't really matter what sort or how many, but we normally use chestnut mushrooms
Basil Pesto - we normally go for Waitrose own brand
Pasta - about 150g
2-3tsp olive oil


Wash & chop the peppers into pieces about 3cm square.

Throw away the seeds and middle bit as it makes the rest go very bitter if you cook them with it.

Wash the mushrooms. If they're big, you can chop them up at this stage too.

Put the peppers and mushrooms in a baking tray, pour the olive oil over the top, and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes.

When there's about 15 minutes left, cook the pasta (This normally takes between 10 and 15 minutes, but varies depending on type and brand)

When the pasta is ready, drain the water out, and mix in the roast veg. Cover with two or three dessert spoons of pesto (it depends how much you like pesto!) and stir well.

And that's it - really nice, relatively low fat.

You can throw in pretty much any vegetables as a variation.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Nice Rice

This can be used as the basis for so many nice meals. We've used it with fish, stir fry, roast veg..
It's also just really nice on it's own.


115g rice (We normally use the whole-grain type, but I guess any will work)
1 clove garlic
1 piece ginger root
500ml vegetable stock


Slice, grate or finely chop the garlic & ginger.
Put the rice in the pan, and pour in about two thirds of the stock.
Add the garlic & ginger, put the lid on the pan and bring to the boil.
Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, and leave it to cook for 20 minutes or so, checking every now and then that it hasn't run out of liquid. If it has, add some of the remaining stock.

After the 20 minutes, the rice should be fully cooked, and have soaked up all of the stock. This does depend on the type of rice that you've used - wild rice takes longer than Uncle bens, for example.

Zero Weightwatchers Point Omelette

Ok, a bit of a simple one to get us going - but good for anyone on WeightWatchers, and it's actually surprisingly tasty.


2 egg whites
6 small tomatoes
5 mushrooms
1 small onion


Whisk egg white until frothy.
Dice or slice the mushrooms, tomatoes and onion.
Dry-fry the veg, until nearly cooked.
Pour the egg white over the top
Cook until set, then turn it over and cook the other side.

Serve with salad.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Not sure it's worth doing this...

The blog seems a bit pointless between Twitter, Facebook and the new Various-Stuff site (which WILL be live soon)

Not sure if I'll bother posting here any more.

Don't know. Might do.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Ooooh.. Twitter ye not.

I'm now using Twitter.. Figured I should look to see what the fuss is about and it's kind of my job to be up to date with all this Web2.0 stuff..

Not entirely sure I "get" it - but according to Bog, just the fact that I'm thinking there is something to "get" means that I'm over thinking it.

So, I'm watching a bunch of people, sorry, "following", from the Chris Moyles show - which is quite interesting, and mostly just friends besides.

It's like a stream of, mostly random thoughts from random people - must be what it's like to be telepathic :-)


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

IE8 Release Candidate 1 out

Apparently. I'm not exactly excited about this, so far it looks like they took IE7, added some Chrome and a pinch of Firefox, and then made it slightly less likely to support standards.

I'm sure it'll be a critical update soon enough though, and then we'll all be forced to have it.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

MMIX - I wonder if Intel will sue next year?

Happy New Year to anyone who reads this (does anyone read this?)

It occurred to me t'other day that next year (2010) in Roman Numerals is MMX. MMX is a registered trademark to Intel. I wonder if they'll sue anyone who uses it?

In other news, brrrrrrr it's freeezing today, -8 this morning. Centigrade, obviously.