Give us our daily bread

IMG_9389(please excuse my pitiful attempt at wit!)

I’ve had my bread machine for a couple of years now. My darling great aunt bought it for us because she felt going to the shops to buy bread was too much to expect of a busy young family (I love her logic).  This machine makes jam, bakes cake, prepares pizza dough, makes a pretty great loaf and irons your clothes. OK, it sadly doesn’t iron but if it did I’d be overjoyed!

I have a few fail safe recipes that I use regularly but I think my garlic bread is the best. I use it for pizza dough, bread sticks to accompany pasta or for bread rolls. It is totally yum!

So set your machine to the dough setting and add in this order

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water 
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan or cheddar cheese (I normally add more but this is a good guide)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic (go with how much you like)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil or 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Once your dough is ready put it on a floured surface and cut into rough slices, about an inch wide and as long as you want. Put them on an oven pan and leave to rise for 15 mins (you can skip this step if you want).

Bake in the oven for around 20 mins then while still hot brush with melted butter.

It makes around 15-20 but we ate most of them before I took any pictures. These bread sticks are in a serving bowl so thy look smaller than they were.

IMG_9474 IMG_9475 IMG_9477 IMG_9478My great aunt was right. Sometimes it’s too much to expect a young family to venture out in the snow to buy bread when we can make great garlic bread at home. Besides, it’s much more fun making it.

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A birthday at the beach

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In a stark contrast to the beautiful weather two weeks before, Graham’s birthday was a very grey wet day. But nonetheless, it was a lovely day filled with warmth and happiness. And even though it was the end of a hurricane, and so flipping windy, we took the kids to the beach nearby and, yeah, it was fun.

Graham loves Black Forest gateau and I followed this recipe for his birthday cake. It’s definitely a boozy number and probably not for kids to eat (oops, mine did!) I’ve never made a cake without flour before but it’s turned out well.

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Autumn Apple and Cinnamon cupcakes

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Baking with Beth brings beautiful fluffy cakes but baking with Arthur is, well, something else! When making these muffins with him he insisted on putting oak leafs into my Kenwood before we got started.  Then I added double the amount of salt (ooops!) and 4/3’s of a cup of apple sauce instead of 3/4’s of a cup thanks to his assistance. He also added all the measuring cups and a broken egg shell to the mixer.

So, these are the ones Beth and I made a few days before. The recipe for these muffins is really easy and taste great. Even the batch Arthur helped make tasted good……if just a little crunchy!

Apple and cinnamon muffins

You’ll need-
½ cup butter
½ cup caster sugar
2 medium eggs
¾ cup apple sauce (smooth or chunky- I like chunky best)
1 ¾ cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp Salt
½ cup sugar
2 x 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
Cream the butter and sugar together then add the eggs one at a time and mix until fluffy.
Add the apple sauce and one of the 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, then add the dry ingredients and mix.
Place in muffin tins and bake at 175c until golden, about 15 mins.
(When I bake I always whisper “good luck” before I shut the oven door. It improves my chances of a good bake I think)
Take out the oven and do a dance to celebrate you managed to bake something worth eating (optional).  Then dip each muffin into melted butter and then in the cinnamon and sugar mixed together.
If you like, I have made these muffins with whole wheat flour and they tasted good. It could be swapped for a healthier alternative to a toddler’s breakfast on the move.
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The best roast chicken

(in our opinion!)

Since the new year began both kids have been unwell.  Beth woke up with chicken pox on new year’s eve and since has been weak and not her normal self.  Graham and I waited it out, knowing inevitably Arthur would have soon too have the chicken pox too.   And after a week of being unsettled, sure enough spots started popping up all over Arthur.   Although, while Beth had a few, Arthur is covered.   He has them inside his ears, between his toes, under his armpits, and really, everywhere else.  Even his scalp is badly affected. So it’s been a weekend of sleepless nights, bicarbonate of soda baths, lotion applying, and baby cuddling.  And to add to it?  Beth has developed a chest infection!

So today I made a roast chicken in the hope of making some comforting bone broth soup and I thought I’d share my father’s roast chicken recipe.

(it was only after I start carving that I remembered to take a photo)

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Firstly, you will need –

A medium free range and/or organic chicken

A large onion,  two or three carrots (or parsnips),  two garlic bulbs, half a lemon, celery.

butter, salt & pepper, oil

Heat your oven to 200C and take your chicken out the fridge.

Then take a big ass onion and cut into rings, chop two stalks of celery, peel a bulb of garlic and chop carrots into chunks, and put it all into an oven dish big enough for your bird.

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Then take the butter and rub it all over the top of chicken with salt and pepper.  Drizzle some oil over the whole thing but don’t add too much. Chop the second bulb of garlic in half and put both halves inside the chicken with half a lemon. I prick the lemon a few times.

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Then put the chicken uncovered in the oven for 1hr or until the juices run clear. I like to baste the chicken a few times just to make sure but because you are cooking high the meat doesn’t get a chance to dry in the oven.  The meat is moist and falls off the bone when ready.

Once cooked put the meat into a ceramic pot and put on the lid.  Let the meat rest for at least 15 minuets while you either use the veg left in the pan to make gravy or just eat them as they are.  Roasted garlic is Arthur’s favorite.

And once you are finished eating? Boil the carcass and make this broth.

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Paper Play

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We make a lot of things out of paper in our house. Bus tickets become airplanes, gifts are decorated with origami flowers, scrap paper become a bed for a teddy or a farm for the animals. So it was only natural that we have some festive paper fun. The toymaker has a great resource of free printable paper crafts.

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I am developing a crazy obsession with Sweden. Why you ask? Well, I read an article about this British family that couldn’t afford a house in the UK and after years of struggling and working hard for little reward the family on a spur of the moment decided to buy a house out right in a small village in Sweden.  For what cash they had saved up over the years they bought a 5 bedroom farm house with tons of surrounding land.  They couldn’t speak any Swedish and hadn’t even been to the country before the day they moved in to their new house. It’s inspiring that they took this gamble. Their kids have opportunities they couldn’t afford in the UK and the family now own 17 sleigh dogs and run their own business. Their sink or swim attitude forced them to learn the language and start the life they wanted. And Sweden? Well it’s a pretty great place to live.

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So through this new found passion I found a recipe for traditional meat balls.  It’s fully of dairy and will stick to your ribs but it was so delicious and warming. I think the writer of this recipe is just a wee bit in love with Sweden too. I made double the amount of meatballs and froze them for another meal.  Really, we’ve had four meals out of this recipe.

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