Crispy Spicy Tofu with Ramen Style Soup

Please excuse the lack of pretty pictures as I was not planning to do this recipe for a post but it was so good that I have to share. The picture below does not do this dish justice at all. I had no attempted anything like this before so searched for inspiration this morning. In fact, I had never even pressed tofu until today.

Around about 10am I pressed the tofu and set it aside. I found my inspiration and mixed my marinade with what I had in the house.

Tofu:

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

3 Tbsp sugar

3 Tbsp sriracha

1 Tbsp Yoshida’s The Original Gourmet Sauce (vegan teriyaki sauce would probably be a good substitute if needed)

1 tsp lemon juice

Juice of 1 large clementine

1 tsp garlic purée

1/2 tsp ground ginger

I sliced my block of pressed tofu pretty thinly long ways and then cut the length in half. And returned it to the bowl of my press, poured over the marinade and used the lid to hold down the tofu in the marinade. I left it to soak n the marinade until 5pm so about 7 hours.

When it is time to coat and bake save the marinade to go in the broth of the soup.

In another bowl mix cornstarch, salt, pepper, and chilli powder. I think (having not measured)I used about a 1/2 cup cornstarch to about a tsp each of the seasoning. Put each slice of tofu in the cornstarch mix and cover lightly. Place on a silicone mat on a baking sheet. Oven on about 200C/400F for 7 minutes. Turn over each slice and bake another 5 minutes.

Now for the Ramen style noodle soup. Let’s start with the ingredients.

Soup:

2 leeks- sliced thinly

1 onion -sliced very thinly

1 courgette – sliced thinly

10 mushrooms – sliced thinly

1 pak choi – sliced about a cm wide

1 can sweet corn and the liquid from the can

The leftover marinade

2 vegetable stock cubes

1 tsp chilli

1 tsp garlic purée

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white miso paste

6 nests wholewheat noodles

First I put in the marinade. Then the leek and onion and started it off cooking in a large stock pot. I mixed the onions, leeks and marinade very well and let it cook while chopping and adding veg to the pot. Pour in about 2 L of water, stock cubes and all the seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add in the wholewheat noodles. Keep it boiling for about 7 more minutes or when your noodles are too your liking.

Serve the noodle soup in a bowl with the tofu on top. Actually I soaked the crispy tofu right into the broth of the soup and it was glorious! Spicy as all get out. Enjoy and let me now if you liked it.

Ashridge Walk

With the Covid lockdown we are generally not traveling far but luckily we have several forests and parks around to choose from for walks.  This time we chose to head over to the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire.  It is a National Trust property with public footpaths winding all over it.  We parked at a small carpark off the side of the main road and used a combination of the Forester’s Path and the Family Cycle Route. We were not sensible in the sense that we thought to have a map but we did stick to the formal paths as best we could and used our phones to confirm our location when needed.  Within  National Trust property this can work but I do NOT recommend this for anything else.

My husband and I are disagreeing on the name of the big main road that runs through the centre of the estate but honestly it isn’t that hard to find and there are directions to Ashridge on their website.  We came in through Aldbury, up Tom’s Hill, and turned left onto the main road…the carpark was about 1/4 mile down on the right.  It was not the main carpark.  This one is on the Chiltern Way in addition to part of the Icknield Way and the Forester’s Walk of Ashridge.

From the carpark find the Ashridge sign and just walk straight down that path for about 1 km.  It is a very wide path as it is part of the family cycle route for the estate. This route is marked with the red sign below and these are the markers we followed for the majority of the walk.  The Forester’s Walk followed this path for a while but must have turned off as we no longer saw the purple markers until near the end. You will see lots of old trees with gnarled roots and arching trunks along this fern lined path.  I found this walk mentally restorative.

 

At the end of this path we came to a junction with an option of left or right.  There is a barn with a couple windows in front of you at this point and when you turn left you will see a lovely weeping willow tree in front of a house that was being restored at the time of our walk.

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From this point we were just on the cycle path and we followed it up a bit of a hill and down until we reached the next junction.  I had made an audio recording of all the directions but of course something went wrong with it and it didn’t play so this is now from memory.  At the junction there were no cycle route signs so we guessed and turned left.  We walked along the road (in the grass with logs separating us from the road) for about 300m.  At this point we spied a church through the trees on the right.  In front of us we saw a wooden gate and found the cycle path again. So you are looking for a wooden gate on the left of a bend in the road.

This was the only bit of path that was less well maintained.  On the whole this walk is pushchair and wheelchair friendly however a few hundred metres along here is more rutted with large puddles crossing the path.  It is not impossible and you may find the raised walk path to the right doable to avoid the puddles but if not just be prepared for big puddles.

This path continues right up to the main road again with a checkered house, Thunderdell House, and when crossing the road you will see cottages called Thunderdell Cottages.  After crossing the road at the cottages turn right.  The path leads toward the main entrance to the estate.  There is a sign announcing the estate and a footpath to the left.  Turn left and follow this path down to a four way junction and go straight over.

 

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In this area we came across many little camps, shelters built by kids using fallen branches and other natural items.  This place is definitely a haven for outdoorsy children and children at heart.

After going straight over the junction we followed the path to another junction.  This one included a very old tree called Bob’s Oak.  At this junction we turned right and followed the Forester’s Walk straight into the main carpark to the monument.

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For the route back to the car we just followed the Forester’s Walk.  Remember the markers for these are purple signs on the top of tall stumps.  They are worth reading as they have a bit of history about the estate on them.  To start back we retraced our route back to Bob’s Oak.  From this point we stayed on the Forester’s Walk by walking past Bob’s Oak with it on our left.  Keep going to the next junction and turn right. You can see in the picture below, the marker is on the tall stump behind my husband who was adamant that the way back to the car was not that way despite the fact our carpark was on the path and I had photographic evidence.  Luckily he realised his error before we wondered out of sight of the junction.

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We are now on the home stretch.  This path will lead back to the carpark.    There should be a marker by Deer Hay Meadow which is on your left. There is one junction which you crossed over. Eventually you will be able to see the road and carpark ahead of you.  Just before the road my husband spotted a crater on our left that he believes might have been a bomb crater from WW2 but with other people investigating it we didn’t get close enough to know.  Might be worth a look for you and then you can report back about it.

This walk was 4 miles in total and took us 1hour and 38 minutes to walk it.  The path was mostly flat and family friendly.  I would recommend an off-road pushchair but if you had to try with a pram you would make it.  The cocoon of trees and ferns was like a big hug.  It is funny how just getting into the greenness of nature can make it feel like you are breathing for the first time in years.  I would definitely give Ashridge a thumbs up for walking routes.  Make sure you check out there website and look at the walks detailed there…I know I will.

 

 

Veggie Quesadilla (vg)

I guess technically a quesadilla should have cheese but we are whole foods plant based. So for my hubby and I it was no cheese or cheese like substance. If you aren’t doing the WFPB thing and want some cheese it is up to you. The omnis and the vegetarian chose cheddar cheese in the center of there quesadilla.

I started by microwaving three sweet potatoes and slicing up the veggies. You can choose what you like but I chose onion, red pepper, mushrooms, sweet corn, and a bit of spinach. I thought about adding in my artichoke hearts as well but decided I had enough…considering I had leftovers I think I was right. I used some vegetable stock in a hot pan to start off the onions. Once those were starting to soften up nicely I added in the rest of the vegetables. While the vegetables were cooking I added in 1tsp smoked paprika, red chilli flakes, black pepper and 1 tsp liquid seasoning. Cooked until soft and set aside.

I also made my own “refried” beans. I did not look up instructions or even typical ingredients so I am not sure this was the best method but it was my method.

2 tins pinto beans

1/2 – 1 cup vegetable stock

1/2 packet of taco seasoning

I drained the beans (though perhaps keeping that liquid would have been sensible looking back) and rinsed. Poured the beans into a blender with some stock. I would recommend the 1/2 cup even though I used much less at the time. It seemed a bit thin to me at the time but while heating it thickened up fast so more stock at the blending point would probably work better. While heating I added the 1/2 packet of the seasoning and added stock as needed to keep the texture creamier like the store bought version. It really was that easy. Just stirred constantly until the beans were hot.

Now we have the sweet potato mashable, veggies soft, and beans hot…it is time to assemble. To make the sides stick together well when folded I thickly spread beans on one side of the wholewheat tortilla and the sweet potato on the other (see picture) and added the veggies on top of the sweet potato. Folded the tortilla over to be closed a pressed a bit just to get everything settled. Onto a silicone mat on a baking sheet and into the oven (200C / 400F) for about 5-7 minutes or until the tortilla is crisp.

I served our quesadillas with some kitchen sink salad leftover from lunch. All that means is that at lunchtime, before going to the store for the weekly shop, I threw together a salad of all the salad vegetables we had left in the fridge. I found a fat free (no oils) salad dressing that I believe was pizza express chilli and garlic which nicely set off the salad.

I am in England where getting things like fat-free refried beans is near impossible so making my own was the only way to make this work for me. If you aren’t forgoing oil than the shop bought should be fine and if you are in the States I am sure your supermarket has an oil-free option. Without the stickiness of the beans and sweet potato I don’t think this would work but this was I was still able to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich so I find it successful.

 

Creamy Red Lentils

As things evolve in my home we are now up to three people that are plant-based and three that are not. This means my cooking strategies have also needed to evolve. As of Friday I am now making one very big plant-based meal and just providing a meat on the side for those that still want the meat. This does make the cooking easier and means that even the meat eaters are getting in much more veggies than before.

As I am truly terrible about following recipes, I have a tendency to make things up as I go and yesterday was no different than the usual. I didn’t really have any great idea for our protein source. Nothing jumped out as the right thing. When I think of Indian type foods the chickpeas come to mind. With Mexican inspired meals I tend to think of black or kidney beans. Our meal last night didn’t really have any theme though so I was at a bit of a loss. I knew I had lentils but didn’t know how to make them nice other than in dhal. Had to get creative.

The rest of the meal came as easy inspiration. I had homemade potato wedges in the freezer waiting to be cooked and a bag of frozen butternut squash. I also had tenderstem broccoli, onion, a mushrooms. It is a big family and everyone has BIG appetites.

I defrosted the potatoes and cut them into bite size chunks. Please note that frozen potatoes defrosted before cooking seem to turn a bit black so I don’t recommend the freezing and defrosting if you can avoid it. I mixed the potatoes and squash on a baking sheet (with silicone mat) and covered it with hummus, salt, pepper, and paprika. That ent into the oven at 200C for about 45 minutes or when the veg softness is to your liking.

The greens, onions, and mushrooms I knew would be sautéed mostly because there wouldn’t be room in my very small oven. The broccoli being tender-stem was simply cut in half. The mushrooms sliced and the onion is thin half moons. I used a bit of vegetable stock to help start off the cooking and added in 4 cloves of garlic through a press. The spices here were just the veg stock, salt, pepper and liquid seasoning. I had intended to finish it with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar but I completely forgot. I think this dish was in fact my favourite of the night.

I tell you all this to help you understand how I got to this lentil recipe. I needed something that would blend into this meal. As I was making everything up as I went the meal wasn’t terribly consistent in flavours but it all blended well in the end. The lentils could have taken more flavour so feel free to add a bit more of everything but the salt. This meal really already has enough salt in it.

Creamy Red Lentils

2 cups red lentil

2 cups soya milk

2 cups water

1 vegetable stock cube

1 teaspoon harissa

1tsp garlic purée

1/2 Tablespoon paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp hot chili

1 T tomato purée

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring to boil then cook on low heat until lentils are tender. Add a bit more water if needed.

I had added only a cup of water at the beginning but the lentils were not cooking and the water was absorbing fast. I estimate I added about another cup of water but do be prepared to use more in needed.

The harissa was the only thing adding oil to the meal so I allowed the exception to the whole foods no oil rules I am trying to follow. Honestly, until all of my old stuff is gone I am going to use it is a can.

I think if making this again I might add a bit more harissa and chilli to the lentils but if you are not a spicy fan than my recipe is just right for you. I really enjoyed this and my husband ate two full plates and a third helping of the lentils so they must be good. In fact even two out of three meat eaters happily ate the lentils as well as their chicken. So I think this one is a winner…enjoy!

Safari Walk

As we missed out the last bit of our Woburn walk last week we decided to finish it off this week. As the whole walk was meant to be 8 miles and we walked 7 miles last week we didn’t expect this walk to be terribly long. We did get slightly lost last week and did about an extra mile in total (I think) so in theory this walk should have been about 2 miles… 3 tops. It was FIVE miles and no we did not get lost!

We started from the same car park in Woburn which is across the street from the Church. From the car park, we turned right. Very shortly down the road, next to the cottage, is a gate and then a right turn onto a public footpath. One of the great things about Woburn Abbey Estates is that they mark their paths with a yellow marker. We followed the footpath down to a little estate road with beautiful cottages on the right. Down the little road and we reached the stables.

We walked to the left of the stables and through to the yellow marker that pointed us across the fields. There were so many majestic stags and it was amazing how close we could be to them.

The paths cross the field pretty much just go parallel to the road and leads down the other end of the estate road. Just before the exit there is another footpath across the road that leads across more fields toward the safari park. Just keep following those yellow posts up the hill and to a road. You will see the fencing for the park in front of you while heading up that hill.

At the top of the hill is a road and you need to head right with the park fence on your left. Keep the fence on the left and you will come to a cattle grid. Maybe 50 metres after the cattle grid is another yellow marker where you need to turn left. Go down the hill and you will find yourself at the entrance to the safari park.

It is a bit difficult to see the next part of this walk. Cross the road and go between the building down a road perpendicular to the entrance road. There is a telephone box on your right and green mesh on fencing on the left. Look for the gate and walk down the path with fencing on both sides. You are walking through some of the park. Watch out for the elephants as they are on both sides of the path.

The path is clear with fences on both sides. Keep going and keep an eye out for more animals. We also say a rhino and wallabies, or so I am told as I had to take off my glasses do to the rain… was starting to look like a swim rather than a walk. There is a gate ahead but just go through it and follow that path. There is beautiful greenery surrounding you along this path but there was also an excess of rain and as a glasses wearer I was blind. This path goes all the way to the exit from the estate onto the road between Husband Crawley and Woburn.

The road between villages was busy and the views were non-spectacular. The estate wall was on the left and a road on the right. There were no views along here. In fact the sight lines were boring enough that my husband found a pattern of long side and short side bricks in that wall. We did at least get lucky that when there were puddles in the road next to us there were no cars. This was a bit of a long road as well but it lands right in Woburn.

At the end of the road you are in Woburn and just need to turn left to walk down through the centre of the village. It is a lovely village so I do recommend slowing down and enjoying yourself. At the next big junction you should be seeing the church down the left road so you can make your way back to your car.

The walk was great, if a bit wet. The weather could have been better but the scenery was so good. I kept taking pictures until the rain was heavy enough that I didn’t want to hurt my phone. Sorry if I am a bit low on pictures. Do enjoy the walk and get lots of your own pictures.

Homemade Pizza (vegan)

There can be no better way to cater for all your family’s dietary choices than pizza. Why is that? Because everyone can have their own made just the way they like it. Only the choice of toppings divide the omnis from the vegans. Of course you could make individual pizzas using a store bought dough/ crust and jarred sauce but you could also make your own. We made our own and it was so good!

Pizza crust: makes 2 crusts so I tripled it

1 cup sourdough discard

2 cups flour

1/2 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 TBsp active yeast

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tablespoons sugar

I just put it all in a mixer with a dough hook bad go these days. With a bit of extra flour if the dough stays too sticky. If you don’t have a stand mixer than plan B is mixing it by hand. This gets messy but is kind of fun. Just keep mixing it up with your hands until it forms into a ball nicely. Add a bit of flour if it is too sticky but know it will never be not sticky at all.

Oil a bigger bowl and put the dough in it to rise for about 1.5 hours with a towel over it and in a warm place. It should about double. While that rising let’s make the sauce.

Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the sauce.

Pizza sauce: (makes enough sauce for more than 6 pizzas)

2 cans (400ml each) of chopped tomatoes

2 Tbsp tomato puree

2-3 cloves of garlic – use a garlic press

1 tsp liquid seasoning

3 Tbsp mixed herbs

1 tsp black pepper

The first thing I did was put the chopped tomato into a blender to get it smooth. I have made it with the tomatoes unblinded but the kids like the tomato hidden. Add everything to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling well for several minutes, give it a stir and turn down to low. Keep it covered and let it cook down for about an hour stirring regularly (maybe every 5-10 minutes). About 30 minutes into the slow cooking tip the lid so the steam can escape. Keep it cooking until it has thickened up a bit. I find the colour goes to a deeper red when it is ready.

When the dough is risen split it in two and form into balls. Put it on a floured parchment and press it into a crust shape. Press from the inside out so the outer crust is thicker by a bit than the center. Put the crust in the oven (200C/ 400F) for about 5 minutes to get started. Take it out and put on your toppings of choice. Back in the oven for about 5 more minutes or until cheese is golden/ melted. Pull it out and cut on a cutting board. Let it cool a few minutes so you don’t scald yourself.

Enjoy!

Curry Two Ways

I think I have mentioned that though on the whole my family is an omnivorous group we do have one vegetarian who is aiming at paganism.  I know that many families find this a hard situation.  I like for us to sit down and have our meals together whenever possible so this means the food needs to be ready at the same time… this is not always possible but it is the goal. Sometimes this means that I am making two meals at the same time like I did on Sunday.  Other times this means that Katie cooks her protein and I provide the vegetables and grains.

No one really wants to cook two separate meals if they can help it.  Often I do vegetarian or vegan meals so as to keep everything simple but I have no intention of denying one person in order to provide for the other. It was Father’s Day and my husband had requested curry.  The great thing about curry is that you can use just about anything in it.  I had an abundance of white fish (mostly Hake I believe) so decided to make it a fish curry.  This is how I made two meals simultaneously, one with fish and one with chickpeas.  I made this up as I went and had my husband write down everything I did as I am horrible at following recipes.

Curry recipe: serves 6

2 Onions – diced

2 Bell peppers – diced

5 Carrots – diced to about the size of a sweetcorn kernel

2 Vegetable stock cubes

800 ml Water

3 Tbsp Curry powder (I used a madras curry powder)

1 can (400ml) Coconut milk

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

2 tsp Garam masala

For vegan version: 200 g tinned chickpeas

For Fish version:  1 kg white fish (diced chucks)

1 package of prawns (peeled)

 

Step 1:

Sauté the onions until starting to soften

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Step 2:

Add the peppers, carrots, veg stock cubes,  and 300 ml water.  Cook until the carrot  starts to soften to your taste.

Step 3:

Add the curry powder, coconut milk,  tomato puree and the rest of the water.  Let cook another 5 minutes or so.  It should now be a nice curried vegetable soup.

Step 4a:

Ladle out about 2 scoops of the “soup”(per person having the veggie option) into a second saucepan.   Add chickpeas. Allow to cook together until the chickpeas are warm through.  Add 1/2 tsp garam masala.

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Step 4b:

To the remaining vegetable soup add the fish and prawns.  Cook until the fish is cooked through.  Add 1.5 tsp (reduce as needed if you have more than one veggie serving going out) of garam masala.

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Serve with rice or naan if you like.  If you want to add some greens I would suggest spinach.  If you have finicky eaters like I do the best way to get that spinach in is to stick the fresh spinach in a freezer bag and freeze it the day before.  Just before the end of cooking the curry get out the spinach bag.  Beat the frozen spinach until it is frozen confetti in the bag.  Add the frozen spinach confetti to the curry and it will cook pretty much instantly in the boiling sauce.  I do the same thing with most soups and stews as well.

I hope you enjoy this curry as much as we did.  This was truly my favourite curry I have had yet.

I plan to provide two way meals once every week in the future.  If you enjoyed this one please follow me so you don’t miss future recipes.

 

 

 

Woburn walk

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We found an 8 mile walk around Woburn Abbey on Northamptonshire Walks which is rather funny considering that Woburn Abbey is well inside of Bedfordshire. They have some lovely pictures and the details of the correct walk… in the end it was not quite the walk we did. This walk was written up five years ago and things did change just a bit. It was around about his step 13 when things went awry. The way markers are not as easily found anymore, a stile is no longer there, and there is a new bit of young woodland planted in the last year or two.  We did still manage a 7 mile walk though which is the most I have done since the lockdown started.

 

We started off at a rather big carpark across from the church.  We got an early start but even when we got back at around 11:30am the carpark still had space.  As Woburn is a busy village we were worried about the parking but all was well. Out of the car park we turned left toward the village centre and then left onto the main road away from the village.  We followed the path along the road until after the first good view of the Abbey and at a little gate house.  There is a gate to a path that has fencing on both sides.  Not the prettiest of paths but it gets you into the estate. Once in the estate there were clear way markers to follow.  At this point you are in the deer park so there is poo but it is a beautiful place.

 

We carried on along the way marked path and onto a little estate road.  It is up hill at this point but the path is good and the deer are wonderful. At the top of the road you can see a Tudor house (which is spectacular) and you will come to a junction…ignore the road and make your way to the footpath tat goes into the wooded area.  Out behind the house you reach the outer wall of the estate.  Go through the gate and follow the paths to the left keeping the wall on your left and in sight. There was a sheep farm on our right at one point along the way.

It was shortly after the sheep farm that we had some trouble with the directions.  The way markers disappeared and we never found any stiles.  we doubled back and tried again but no help really.  There was a junction with three paths off.  One went left to a new woodland planted recently, middle went up a hill, and the path to the right we didn’t try.  The first two both could lead to the field that was referred to I think but we were not sure of the left most path ad we missed the turn into the field from the middle path.  Continuing on the middle path we did eventually get to a fence line, turning right and watching the fence we found a gate onto the road.

At this point we were a bit worried and didn’t really know where to go.  If we had not gotten lost the path would likely have been evident as we did find the other end of it where the official walk joined the same road.  Just at the road before pushing on I did check maps and found we were just outside of Eversholt and the road name appeared to be Wit’s End. I shit you not….we got lost, started to get worried and found ourselves literally entering Wit’s End.

We walked down the rather empty country road for less than a kilometre before we discovered the correct path coming out at a farmhouse.  At that point we were feeling much better about things.  My husband had also cycled this area last weekend so recognised where he was which was also very helpful.  We went back to following the directions from Northamptonshire Walks.

I should have taken pictures of Eversholt.  It is a beautiful village with wonderful homes, cricket field and village hall.  We walked along the road (now on a footpath) up for quite a ways until we came to a left turn across from a beautiful Tudor cottage in white.  The new road did not have a path but it wasn’t too terribly busy either.  This road leads directly back into the estate with the safari park on the right eventually.

We were pretty tired at this point as my husband is having some hip trouble lately and I haven’t walked more than 3 miles at a time since early March.  We walked back up to the estate.  There is a cattle grid but the pedestrian gate is on the left.  This is where we diverted from the set walk.

The official walk turns right and goes around the safari park before heading up to the village and back to the carpark.  We just followed the road straight through the estate and back to the carpark across from the church.  I think it probably saved us a couple of miles.  Our previous diversion had added around a mile so that is how the maths had us finish on 7 miles.  The estate is truly beautiful though and on that last bit to the car we saw stags with HUGE antlers. Sorry, my pictures are not great as I couldn’t get close nor does my phone zoom enough. They are majestic creatures!

 

We exited the estate through the pedestrian gate next to the other cattle grid and walked back up to the church and back to the car.  The walk was 7.07 miles in about 2.5 hours.  The weather was beautiful and the scenery was well worth the tiredness I feel now.  The walk was longer but not a strenuous walk. There were a few hills that we were so happy to get to the top of but easy to moderate level on the whole.  There were several kissing gates along the way and uneven ground so not disabled or pushchair friendly but very nice for a trail/ road running combination if you are so inclined.

I will leave you with a few more pictures and wish you a wonderful day.  Walk on my friends!

Chicken Sourdough Casserole

I started this by roasting two chickens. Don’t worry….this recipe only uses half a chicken. I roasted two chickens because the meal planned for the next day is chicken with salad and I want to have extra for two more meals. My plan for next week is a chicken noodle soup and a chicken stir-fry. So for the almost £8 I spent on chicken, I have four meals for our family of six and even with veggies/ rice/ noodles to complete the meals each should cost more than about £5 a meal. That is a deal.

For this meal, I got inspiration from Farmhouse on Boone. She has a recipe for sourdough skillet which is where I got the sourdough discard topping basics. Hers calls for a mature starter I think but mine is more of a Peter Pan starter….it just doesn’t want to grow up. Honestly, I lost focus on her recipe after reading to add several eggs, a bit of butter and some baking powder. Not sure if she said to add seasoning or not. She has some great recipes so well worth a look over there.

Chicken Sourdough Casserole. (Serves 6-8)

Filling:

1/2 a roast chicken

3 carrots

1 large leek

1 red pepper

1 cup frozen sweet corn

750g frozen mixed vegetables

1 vegetable stock cube

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tomato and chilli chutney

Sourdough topping:

500g sourdough starter discard

4 eggs

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons baking powder

Salt and pepper (I did 8 twists of each into mine)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Method:

I just put all the vegetables and seasoning into my big pot roast pan (similar in size to a shallow casserole pan or a very large skillet) with about 1/2 cup of water and let it cook until all the veg was soft. Softness is a personal preference but we don’t like crunch. While that cooked I added all the topping ingredients to my blender and blended it smooth. Once the veg was cooked I added the chopped up meat from half a chicken and mixed well. Poured over the topping and put it in the oven at about 200C / 400F. Baked it until starting to go golden and the topping was firm.

This is a VERY filling meal. Normally, this amount of food is wiped out in minutes by the 6 fully grown people in this house but this recipe was too much. I will have leftovers for tomorrow.

I also used some of this filling (minus the chicken) to make a small vegetable and cheese casserole for my youngest as she is trying to be vegetarian. I couldn’t get this to be vegan because I haven’t the expertise on how to make the egg substitution (silken tofu maybe?) so stuck with normal cheese but if I can manage to sort the substitutions I could just replace the cheese with nootch for the flavour.

This was an excellent and reasonably priced family dinner which I think will make it into a regular for the meal planning. I would think it would also work well for a freezer meal. Enjoy!

Clutch and card holder

I had an idea to make a change/phone purse. Now a sensible person would have found a pattern and I think I will next time.

Every time I knew I was making a mess of things an idea to fix it would pop into my mind. So again a sensible person would take a break and think things through…maybe look for patterns or watch a YouTube video. This is not what I did.

I cut it too small in one direction. I probably could have worked with it. In fact by the end of all this I think I realised the size was right in the first place. So I cut off the “extra” to make the sides even. Sigh!

The next thing was the wadding as I wanted a quilt like bag. I had seen a video on this a few weeks ago so “knew” what I was doing. What I forgot was that the video had the quilting onto just the wadding so the inside of the bag would be smooth. I had ironed the backing on by the time I remembered though so I pushed on. After all there is no harm in there being quilting on the inside.

The third problem. I forgot completely what to do next. I think back now and realise I should have folded wrong side and sewed the sides then attached the zipper. For some unknown reason I got it in my head to bind it. I know my mind has been chaotic today but binding? I don’t even really know how to make binding.

Did I learn anything from this experience? I hope so. I am going to adjust my plan and have another go. I have a much bigger set up already though the first thing I need to do is try and peel the backing off the sandwich cause I got ahead of myself and ironed them both at the same time.

After writing the first half of this I went back and tried again. This time with a square of 12×12” (this time I trimmed my calico to also be 12×12) I did a simple straight line pattern of a line down the centre and a big X on the open sandwich of the pretty fabric and the wadding. This allowed me the quilted look even though it was a single square.

I sandwiched the front, wadding and backing and folded it over to make an envelope with the backing to the outside. When I was happy with it I sewed the sides up. Turned it right side out to check it and was happy. Turned it back to wrong sides and attached my salvaged zipper. I had never done a zipper before and it was not as bad as I expected. I did have to hand sew it as I couldn’t find another way on my own. The zipper isn’t perfect but it is an admirable first try. I finished the rest of the open edge on the machine and had a bag. It has yet to get a handle as I don’t have the material I want for that yet but it is a decent soft clutch bag.

After finishing the bag I decided the smaller attempt could be made better. It is a bit big for a card protector and actually a perfect size for a phone the size of mine without the case. I took what looked like a bad potholder, folded it with right sides facing in, sewed up he sides inside of the funky binding I had done and have a little card pocket to go in my matching bag. It actually looks ok. A bit more practice and I could probably make a good one.

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