Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Making Ice-Cream!

I suddenly got a hankerin' for some home-made ice cream a couple of days ago... that's what happens when you watch a load of cooking programmes on tv!!

So I set about digging out my ice-cream machine. Now this is by no means a top of the range machine, in fact I think this machine isn't even in 'the range'! But it does the job (for those interested it is one of these Ice Cream Maker) and it was eventually dug out! In fact, after raking around in the barns assuming that I had yet to unpack it; worring that I had thrown, given or sold it away thinking I'd never need it again; I found it in the kitchen already unpacked in the back of a cupboard - it must be an omen, I've only ever used it once before but somehow I knew....

Anyway, a trip to the supermarket later and I had the ingredients I needed. I didn't have the instructions for the machine.... but who needs those!? I had remembered that the middle bit needed to be frozen over night before you could use it. Yes, I have tried to make ice-cream in it without any cold before... hangs head.

I decided to go for a more Italian recipe (I think) it is definately a more creamy recipe and doesn't involve eggs and that's what I call Italian, so I will continue to do so.

The Recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 pints of whole milk
1 cup skimmed milk powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
6oz caster sugar

Put everything into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time.

As soon as the mixture begins to boil remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

Once the mixture is completely cool pour into your ice-cream maker for the specified length of time. With my machine I have to finish the freezing process in the freezer. This entailed me pouring my mixture into a freezeable container and placing in the fridge. Every hour I went in and stirred up the mixture woth a whisk, just to break up the ice crystals. I did this about 3 times before letting it freeze completely.

If you don't have a machine then you will need to do all the freezing in the freezer, just make sure you give it a stir every hour or so as it freezes, just to keep it smooth!

This ice-cream was great and I am very pleased, I think I will use it as a base for other flavours (as well as on its own!).

With my last recipe post I made Red Velvet Cup Cakes and someone asked me if I could send in a photo of how red the sponge itself was. Well there was one left and I managed to snap a photo before it was snaffled.....

The red makes the cake seem a very rich chocolate brown colour in the photo, it is more red in real life, but this photo isn't bad and should give a good idea of the colouring!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Blighted by Potato Blight

We discovered that two of our potato types - Kestrel and Charlotte had what looked suspiciously like blight beginning to form, with one plant already succumbed. This caused us issue as we hadn't intended to dig up all these potatoes in one go - storage and/or eating issues! But never fear Farm Guy's Dad is here. He is a potato king and said we should can just pull up the plants, collect the potatoes that come up with the stalks and leave the rest in the ground, just dig them as we need them! Hurrah!

So out to the garden I went and began pulling. The Charlotte potatoes were very obliging and left all but four of their potatoes nicely hidden below the surface. However, the Kestrel were having none of it and choose to bring up several potatoes each time. I could have buried them again but they were in a bad way so inside they came. The plants will be burned to stop the disease spreading and the potato patch will be rotated (as was the plan anyway) to try and get rid of it.

It seems that Kestrel is not the potato type for us up here. Not only was it the first to suffer with the blight, probably passing it on to the Charlotte who were next door. But it is also suffering from Potato Scab and the munchings of at least two different beasties! It is however a very pretty potato! I shall probably go out later and dig up the rest, no point leaving them down there for a bugs supper!! We will just have to eat a lot of Kestrel potatoes in the near future as with their spoiled skins they won't store well.

The ones that came up today amounted to just over 3 kg(6.6lbs) - I'll let you know what that reaches once the others have been exhumed!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Vegetable Produced Update

Apologies for not being around as much as I usually am!

I thought I would give a run down of what we have produced so far in the vegetable and fruit stakes. This is by no means the full story, there are still plenty potatoes, beans and carrots (among others) still 'plumping' in the garden so I will update as the need arises.

This is what we have so far....

In KilosIn Pounds
Red Duke Potatoes4.49 kg9.9 lbs
Charlotte Potatoes1.67 kg3.69 lbs
Peas0.29 kg0.64 lbs
Strawberries78 g2.75 ounces
Raspberries40 g1.41 ounces
Garlic0.7 kg1.54 lbs
Runner Beans1.48 kg3.27 lbs
Mushrooms0.31 kg0.68 lbs
Carrots1.46 kg3.2 lbs

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have been wanting to try out red velvet cupcakes (or Red Velvet anything!) for a while now and so, finding myself at a loose end, and with two hardworking tasters in the house working on the upstairs rooms, more on that later, I decided to give it a go....

  • 60g butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 10g cocoa
  • 10ml red food colouring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
Vanilla Butter Icing
  • 85g butter
  • 375g Icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Cream the butter, egg and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract and once mixed add to the creamed butter mixture. Mix well.
  4. Mix the flour and baking powder together.
  5. Add half the buttermilk and half the flour mix.
  6. Combine well before adding the remainder of the buttermilk and flour and mixing further.
  7. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and white wine vinegar (in that order), mix thoroughly for at least 5 mins.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the cases of your choice. I used cupcake cases and my mixture made 15 cakes.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until the cupcakes spring back slightly when touched.
  10. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
The Frosting
  1. Cream together the butter and the icing sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Slowly add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the consistency you wish. I ended up using 2 teaspoons.
  4. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cakes and get ready to munch!

Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes
See my recipe on Foodista!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Good Grief! Carrots!

I have never been able to grow carrots! Well, I can grow them but what I usually end up with is a whole lot of greenery and a little ping pong ball sized carrot attached to the end. So when we decided to 'bung a few carrots in' the end of the potato patch I was expecting much the same. So when we headed down just this last week and thought we should give pulling them up a go, and boy were we surprised!!! We pulled up about a quarter, maybe a third, of them and we got 1.123kg (2.5lbs)! Funkiest carrot goes to this guy!!

I spent the evening preparing them and the potatoes, peas and beans for the freezer. But what to do with all of the tops and tails? Most people put them on the compost heap, but we haven't yet set one up, so what to do with all this lot then?

Luckily for us we have the best clean up crew in the area!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Happy 2nd Anniversary

Two years married today!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Mushrooms and How They Dry

So the mushrooms are growing very well, much better than I had expected them to. But what to do with them? They are growing somewhat sporadically so no more than about two are ever ready at one time. I decided that they needed to be preserved and drying seemed to be the best way. I had read up on different methods and slicing and drying seemed like it was to be my best method. This method left you with 'mushroom flakes' which, if stored correctly will last for years.

So how do you do it?

It is in fact amazingly simple. Pick your mushrooms* and make sure they are free of mud. Try to make sure they don't get too wet while you are cleaning of the mud. I found that a soft paintbrush was a great way to brush the mud clear without damaging the mushroom and avoided using water at all.

Slice your mushrooms, the thinner you make them the quicker they will dry but also remember that the mushroom slice will shrink dramaically as it dries so you are left with very fragile chips.

Place your mushroom chips on a baking tray and place in an oven set on the lowest temperature, for me that is 100oC. Leave them in for an hour and then check if they still need some time then turn them over and continue drying.

All moisture needs to be removed from the chips or the mushrooms will not last. Once they are fully dry place them in an airtight container. When you are planning on using them remember that dried mushrooms are more potent than normal ones so use sparingly. You can also rehydrate them before use by letting them soak in water until reformed.

*I am using mushrooms grown from a kit, if you are planning on picking mushrooms from the wild then be sure you know exactly what you are picking as many mushrooms can be extremely dangerous.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

What Have We Gathered

Went a harvesting. The first to be dug out was the weaker of the two sets of garlic. They were pretty small but had started to flower and we didn't want that. I think this is due to the fact that they lost their leaves a couple of times and so had wasted too much time keep growing them instead of 'bulbifying'. But they will be hung, dried and plaited - size isn't everything! I will leave the other batch for another few days.

The first picking of the peas. Not a huge haul but if I keep preparing and treating then there will soon be a nice load!

Don't get excited but we have four raspberries on the raspberry bush!!!

And very tasty they were too!