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All posts for the month October, 2014

Food for skin and senses

Published October 18, 2014 by Storm

Despite planning ahead and making sure I had all the ingredients I didn’t quite get around to trying a new recipe this week. So, instead of writing about someone else’s recipe here’s a really simple one of mine, though not one to eat!

Cocoa Butter Bath Melts

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The ones on the left are very rose, the ones on the right are rose and sandalwood. I also plan to make some with sandalwood and patchouli, some with lemon and eucalyptus, and some Christmassy spiced orange ones. To be honest I’ll probably just keep experimenting with scents as the mood takes me.

For the rose bath melts, I made 18 of these

  • 240g cacao butter (that’s the easiest size tub to source locally)
  • 100ml sweet almond oil
  • 45 drops rose essential oil at 5% dilution (adjust if yours is a different strength)
  • 18 teaspoons (1 per bath melt) dried rose petals

For the rose and sandalwood bath melts, I made 12

  • 240g cacao butter
  • 100ml sweet almond oil
  • 30 drops rose essential oil at 5% dilution
  • 5-10 drops sandalwood essential oil at 5% dilution
  • 1 pinch rose petals per bath melt

Technique

Put the cacao butter and almond oil in a double boiler and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the cocoa butter is all melted and the oils are evenly mixed.

Add your choice of essential oils and stir well.

Pour into your choice of moulds or cases; I’ve used 1/2 to 2/3 filled cupcake cases but you  could use petit fours cases or silicone moulds.

Add any flowers or herbs you are using. For them to be mixed through the bath melts add straight away; if you want them to be a finishing touch on the top wait an hour or so, until the melts are starting to set.

Great for gifting or for self indulgence!

De-lurking the lentils

Published October 10, 2014 by Storm

There’s been a bag of red lentils languishing at the back of my cupboard for months, ever since my disastrous attempt at Baked Rice. I’ve used countless (well two or three) bags of puy lentils over the course of the year but those red lentils were in danger of becoming long term lurkers. This week I decided that they needed to leave the cupboard and find their way into the pot.

The World Vegetarian Cookbook offered an option to use all my leftover lentils and the Herbed Lentil Stew I chose to make only required me to buy one ingredient, fresh spinach, everything else was already in my kitchen. This was really easy to make and, while cooking took around an hour and a half, preparation took next to know time; it would have taken longer if I’d needed to chop the coriander and crush the garlic but I was cheating a little and using them in ready prepared form. I skipped using the potatoes, the instructions regarding them were vague to say the least and once I got to the mention of them it sounded like I should have cooked them along with the lentils ahead of adding them to the spinach and onion mix. The recipe was also a little muddled on what it’s ingredients should be; the ingredients list stated cayenne pepper, which I used, but the method stated black pepper and made no mention of cayenne. 

Despite not being as well written as it could have been the stew itself turned out reasonably well. It was certainly filling and was tasty enough, though it wasn’t as good reheated as it was cooked fresh. Not something I’ll be in a rush to cook again but not something I’d rule out either.

3 out of 5 for ease of cooking and clarity of instructions (if it wasn’t so easy it would be scoring less).

3 out of 5 for tastiness.

My idea of a lazy day

Published October 5, 2014 by Storm

Normally if I have a day at home on my own there seem to be a never ending procession of chores that I need to catch up with, sometimes though I get a day when all I need to do is whatever I want to do; yesterday was one of the latter. I’ve been wanting to make more use of the mint from the garden so I started the day by finding a recipe for apple and mint jelly, simmering the fruit with a bunch of mint and leaving it to strain for several hours while I did other things.

Next on the to do list was setting the bread maker to work. I only needed to bake for me this week so I decided to indulge myself with Carrot and Fennel Bread from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking. First grate your carrots! Then decide on a couple of tweaks to the recipe; I don’t have skimmed milk powder (or even almond milk powder at the moment) and I’ve not been keen on the texture of other loaves I’ve used sunflower oil in, so I replaced the oil with goats’ butter and ignored the powdered milk altogether. Then it was a case of letting the machine do it’s thing. Four hours later this loaf was the deliciously scented and rather tasty result:

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Coffee was my next priority and, as the kitten was sleeping, I decided to spend an hour knitting while I indulged in my caffeine habit. I’ve a couple of projects on the needles to choose from but I’d rather like to have the current scarf project finished to give as a birthday present later this month, though realistically it might end up as a Christmas present. I’m enjoying the slightly crazy yarn I’m working with even though I’m experiencing a touch of mid-point tedium with the project itself. I suspect it’s the type of yarn you either love or hate, I’m fairly confident the intended recipient will love it. 

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From the sofa back to the kitchen to make bath melts. I came up with the basic recipe for these several months ago, and have enjoyed some myself and gifted others. As I was finishing my coffee prior to making yesterday’s batch I received a hint from the last person I made some for that they might like some for Christmas, I think this is a recipe I should be writing up!

After making the bath melts and putting them aside to set I stopped for a late lunch before doing the dishes. It’s amazing how much easier washing up is when you’re doing it to create the space to do something fun rather than just because it needs to be done! A bit more knitting and some play time with the cats had to be fitted in, then it was time to make the jelly.  Chopping the mint that was going to be mixed in at the end took quite some time but eventually I was happy that I had enough and that it was fine enough. Jars went into the oven and jelly making proper began. This was a slightly experimental jelly in that I was using my sugar thermometer to tell me when it was at setting point; normally I test for set using the chilled plate technique but, since it was a relatively small batch and I would have time in the week to reboil it if needs be, I thought it a worthwhile experiment. Initially it did seem quite liquid in but today it looks like it has set properly, obviously the true test will come when we sample it. I have to say, I think it looks rather pretty in the jars, hopefully it will taste as good as it looks.

026

First shell your pecans

Published October 3, 2014 by Storm

This week was one of those weeks where I was trying as much as possible to cook from the larder and freezer and avoid shopping, it was also a week when the Railway Modeller needed packed lunches every day. Given the choice between flapjack and cake, cake was requested so my challenge was to find a cake recipe I hadn’t used before that I had all the ingredients for. The only one I could find which answered the challenge and which I could eat, I wasn’t going to miss out on cake if I was baking, was the Coffee and Pecan Nut Cake in the recipe booklet which came with my breadmaker. 

The only catch was that the pecans, left over from last Christmas, were still in their shells. It took about an hour but I eventually had my three ounces of pecans, it’s just as well the recipe wanted them chopped though as they were nowhere near whole. Using a loaf tin liner to line the breadmaker, no more messing about and making a mess with greaseproof paper, and the food processor to do the mixing all other aspects of baking were a doddle.

I found the pecans a little oily but do like their flavour, maybe pre-shelled ones would be better. In this cake’s favour ground coffee brewed in the percolator gave a much nicer flavour than instant coffee as used in the American Coffee Bread I wrote about in this-bread-is-a-cake. The Railway Modeller said he found the cake slightly dry, I think the texture of the Coffee Bread would probably be more to his taste. Neither of us disliked it but I don’t think either of us would say this was the best cake I’d ever baked. I have ideas though; Turkish Coffee and Hazelnut Cake might be the first recipe of my own devising I try in the breadmaker.

Coffee and pecan cake gets 5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of making (most people wouldn’t be idiotic enough to start with pecans in the shell).

It gets 4 out of 5 for flavour but it was let down by the texture.

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