Archive for the ‘Recipes & Preserving’ Category

Wow what a crazy but highly enjoyable day yesterday! Starting at around 5am I woke up, had some decaf and headed straight to the allotment as last time I was there I saw at the last moment (when I was rushing home) that the Italian vine tomato had a decent amount of very red ripe fruits (and that was a good 4-5 days ago!), these plants never let me down (if planted in the ground) and so I didn’t want to lose these beautiful tom’s!

A good few hours there resulted also, in a decent batch of Elderberry heads which I got on the way there (Which were used tonight to make Elderberry elixir), a very nice large harvest (photo further below) and a bit of weeding, watering, compost bin management etc.

After arriving home, all harvested goods including the Elderberries needed urgent washing etc. to be placed in the fridge immediately, thereafter I found an older courgette that was about to go bad and so, decided to make Courgette (Zucchini) Cake! Part of the harvest was a decent batch of Purple French Beans and a few Runner Beans as well, these are intended for pickling so were processed and placed overnight into a brine solution so that tomorrow they will be placed into their final jar along with the Spiced Pickling Vinegar (Which I also made tonight!!)

I decided that I need to get a move-on with the elderberry harvests (some are in the fridge and some in the freezer), my other-half and I sat for a good 40 min’s removing the berries from their stalks and placing in a jar to make the Elderberry Winter Ailment Elixir, I have a very good recipe for this and have proven this to be a very good flu / winter cold remedy which was quite effective last Winter with the whole family!

Organic Vegetable Harvest

Organic Permaculture Allotment Harvest (UK) 2018

In the above photo, I have added lines to divide the veg’s into three rows, from top left:

  1. French Purple and Runner beans, Aztec Broccoli and Hokkaido Pumpkin
  2. Sorrel, Maris Piper Potatoes, Giant Goosefoot, Bush Legend Tomatoes, Dwarf Bush Courgettes (Zucchinis) – these were harvested quite small as I am trying to get at least one more harvest before season end,
  3. Elderberry (foraged), Italian Vine tomatoes (great for sauces), Salad Burnet, Tangerine and Millefleur cherry tomatoes and finally Tomatillos with the Snail Tree-cookie below which represents my favourite of the 12 permaculture principles: ‘Use Small and Slow Solutions’

It is definitely Elderberry season right now (at least in and around London) so get foraging as you will definitely will not have much time after the next week or so if you are lucky! Remember, throw them straight into the freezer in a bag, you can take time out later to do something with them in a recipe when you are more collected and have the time to do so! In the meantime, check out this delicious Elderberry Syrup Recipe which I made last year which also has immune system benefits as a buildup to the Winter months, the Elderberry Elixir is more suited to last well into next years winter because it is made with alcohol and preserves better .. enjoy!

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It is now preserving season and approaching the end of the growing season where many crops and foraged foods can be preserved for the upcoming Winter months, here is a quick and simple recipe if you need to make pickling vinegar on an ASAP basis:

Make your own Spiced Pickling vinegar in 30 minutes

Home Made Spiced Pickling Vinegar

You Will Need:

  • A good glass Jar or Bottle, usually you should use a non-metallic lid as vinegar is corrosive,
  • Cider or Malt Vinegar (Cider being the healthier option),
  • 1 Tsp Peppercorns,
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds,
  • Small Cinnamon Stick piece (2-3cm long),
  • 2 Cloves,
  • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds,
  • Small Pot / Pan for boiling and simmering.

Method:

  • Measure the vinegar by pouring it into your storage jar / bottle to fill it up, once filled place it in the pot with the spices and bring to the boiling point,
  • Once boiling point is reached, bring the heat down and simmer as slightly as possible for 30 minutes – let it sit to cool down,
  • Pour the liquid through a sieve or similar filter into your storage jar or bottle, your vinegar is now ready to be used when you want to pickle any vegetables from your garden

For other preserves including Jams, Jellies, Chutneys, Compote, Soups, Pickling etc, Click Here

I made this Elixir for the first time last year in preparation for winter colds and flu etc. mainly knowing that the Elderberry Syrup I made only has a shelf life in the fridge of about 3 months brought me to look for a longer lasting remedy, the Elixir is suggested to last for a year (due to alcohol being the preservative instead of Sugar).

All that I can say from not only my own experience albeit for only one Winter season, is that I also have spoken with Qualified Herbalists who have used and recommend this exact recipeit did work very well for my own family during last winter.

Winter Ailment Elixir

Elderberry Elixir for Winter Ailment Remedy

You Will Need:

  • Enough Elderberries to fill your chosen Jar / Bottle,
  • Rum or Brandy (one third of the jar),
  • Port (also a third of the jar),
  • Raw Honey from someone local (the final third of the jar),
  • 12x Cloves,
  • 10-15x Peppercorns,
  • Large Cinnamon Stick,

Method:

  • Remove the berries from all stalks as much as possible and place them in your jar (preferably to almost fill the jar up to the curve in the neck), add in the spices,
  • Pour your Rum or Brandy so it fills around one-third of the jar whilst the berries are still inside, fill the second third with Port and follow the last third of the jar with the Raw Honey – stir very gently with a wooden spoon or glass rod,
  • Seal the Jar and give it a lovingly gentle shake everyday at least once, do this for one month to around 6 weeks after which, you will strain all of the liquid into a muslin cloth or bag so you can squeeze as much out as you can, re-bottle it and label with the date.

Use / Dosage:

  • This is a remedy so you use it mostly when you get sick, once the symptoms are obvious then take a half to full teaspoon three to four times a day until you are better, dilute for kids and even better, just add it into something that they are already consuming if possible such as a berry juice or smoothie.

 

Crazy day (yesterday), 4am wake up, check outside (rain / wetness status) and prepare seed trays for final crops that are able to be sowed in July, go to work and finish an our later than normal … come home, eat and get busy in the kitchen!
So last night I made the Banana Loaf and followed it up with a few jars of home made Chutney, it’s been a good while since I made a Chutney and I only did it as I had more than a Kilogram of foraged red plums that were harvested before ripening, they are a bit too tart to enjoy as they are and I was running out of my last couple home made chutneys from previous years …

Banana Banana Bread1.jpg

For now, here is the Banana Loaf recipe, I might only share the Chutney recipe at a later date as it was also an experiment and I will need to age the Chutney for at least one month before I can do a taste test.

If you have never made a cake before, this is a great beginner recipe with only 5 ingredients!

Banana Loaf:

3x medium or 2x large very ripe bananas,

250g self raising flour,

120g Sugar,

2x Eggs,

125g Butter, cut into small pieces at room temp

1x Greased Cake Loaf Tin (I usually use a small amount of Olive Oil for the greasing)

Method:

Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork or back of a spoon, now add the butter together with the sugar in a mixing bowl and mix.

Add one egg followed by 1-2 Tbsp of the flour, mix then add in the other egg and mix well.

Add in the mashed banana, mix again, followed by sieving in the remaining flour – mix again.

Fill your Loaf tin or smaller Cake tin,level it a bit and bake at 180 Degrees C. For 40 minutes.
After 40 min’s, place a sheet of Aluminium foil over the top, bring down to 150 Degrees C. And bake for a further 20 – 30 min’s.

Remove and check with a metal skewer or cutlery knife, stick it in and pull out fast, if a sticky substance shows then it is still a bit wet internally, cook for a further 7-10 min’s and check again, once your tool of choice comes out clean, then switch off and place somewhere to cool down for 10 mins before removing from the tin to cool down further.

The original recipe calls for a crazy 175g of Sugar! I have substantially reduced the amount of sugar needed and the result is a pleasant sweet loaf cake …

A week or o ago I made a Rhubarb and Custard Cake which was delish’, I hope to share this recipe with you soon as well, otherwise click on ”Recipes and Preserving” at the top of the page.

Here in the UK we have a brand of non-animal meat substitute called Quorn, they do a Vegan range other than their normal vegetarian meat substitute products. It is made from Mycoprotein which according to my research is made from a fungi called ‘fusarium venenatum’, once the fermentation process has finished, it can either be Vegan by seasoning and mixing with Potato Protein or just Vegetarian by mixing with free range egg. Quorn is used as the meat substitute in this recipe, however please note, I am not a Vegan and, as I couldn’t get hold of the Vegan Minced ”Beef” from my regular shop, I used the egg based one – there are also other brands of Meat Free alternatives out there, the market is growing …

 

 

I have started using Non-Meat alternatives mainly because of the fact that most farm animals in the UK and Europe have been fed with GMO feed for many years despite the general opposition to GMO ”technology”, the other alternative if you can afford it is to buy only Organic Meat products.

I use Bolognese sauce not only as a nice family dinner but also ensure to bulk it up a lot so that I can freeze perhaps 2 or maybe 3 takeaway containers full of the lef-tovers for future last-minute quick dinners or for work lunch (In a food flask).

Another option if you don’t have a lot left over, is to chop up the pasta and mix it into the remaining sauce, you can throw this into a container in the fridge and can use it as a toasted sandwich filling the next day!

Ingredients:

  • Pack of Vegan or Vegetarian ”Beef” (Usually 300g),
  • Spagetti or Fuscilli etc,
  • Peas,
  • 1 or half of an Aubergine (Egg plant / Brinjal),
  • 2-3 Tbsp Lentils (Any colour),
  • 3 Tbsp Bulgar Wheat (Optional, but helps to bulk it up),
  • Chopped Onion,
  • Tin of Organic Chopped Tomatoes,
  • Bottle of Organic Passata (Not entirely necessary but makes it nicer),
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree,
  • Salt, Pepper and Italian herbs such as Basil, Oregano and Rosemary
  • Nettle Seeds (Optional – these need to be foraged, they are already available Now due to the weird season we have had this year – June 2018)
  • Optional – if needed, you may find this recipe to be quite sharp / sour, if so you might need to sweeten it a little bit, I recommend using ketchup instead of sugar

Method:

  1. Throw in some Olive Oil into a decent sized Medium – Large pot, heat up and add in your Meat or Substitute, cook for a few minutes then take out and place in a temporary bowl,
  2. add a cup or slightly more of water into the same pot and cook the Lentils and Bulgar Wheat, you can sprinkle in the nettle seeds if using any, cook for 10 or so minutes, then scoop out into the same bowl as the Meat or Substitute – it does not matter if there is any water remaining,
  3. Add more Olive Oil and fry the Chopped Onion and Chopped Aubergine (Brinjal / Eggplant), cook until the Aubergine is lightly brown but mostly soft throughout – you can add in some salt here if you like, perhaps some spices like Paprica,
  4. Add in the Passata and tin of Chopped Tomatoes, as well as the tomato puree, you can throw in some stock too at this point (Beef stock for non-vegan and Vegetable stock for everyone else) – Creating liquid stock from store-bought product is quite easy, I will post soon on this subject,
  5. Once all is mixed in, throw in your herbs and add the bowl of ”Meat / Substitute” and Lentils / Wheat, mix all in and let simmer for 30 mins to an hour – in the meantime you can heat a pot of water to cook your chosen pasta in.
  6. For further bulking up, you can also throw in some Grated Carrot (Don’t use more than half a carrot), chopped celery, Courgette (Zucchini) etc! Try not to skip the Aubergine, they really do add a great taste to this recipe!
  7. Serve and Enjoy!
Bolog Finished.JPG

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

For all of my recipes including Vegan, Cakes, cough / cold medicines, jams & Jelly, Chutneys, Soups, Pies, Smoothies, Cider and Vinegar, Wine and CompotesClick Here.

This really is a very delicious soup and people who don’t like broccoli much will usually say it’s actually quite nice!!

nw (60).JPG

Organic Vegan Broccoli Soup

  • 3-4  Heads of Broccoli – chopped (or 1 per person being served),
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil,
  • Big pot of Boiling Water (enough to cover the Broccoli),
  • Salt ‘n Pepper to taste

Bring the pot of water to boiling point, throw in the Broccoli and let go to boil again, add in some salt (skip the salt if you are going to use the excess ”stock” as liquid plant feed). Once boiling, time 3.5 – 4 minutes then switch off. It’s best to let it cool down a bit before throwing the broccoli chunks into the blender, blend some with about half a cup of the remaining water and keep blending / adding water little by little – DON’T add too much in one go! Just keep going until you have a nice smooth consistency, once you are happy then throw in the olive oil and blend again with your salt and pepper. Serve with some nice Crusty Soup bread – I like to do a large batch and freeze a couple servings to take to work in the coming months…

With the price of Organic produce going lower and lower, there’s no excuse anymore in not having at least a part-healthy diet! Yes, a head of Organic broccoli is about a third smaller than non-organic, but it’s the nutrient content and health benefits we are looking at, not the size (bulk) – FACT: Chemically treated produce has less nutrient value and ARE subsequently, bad for your health!!!

For further Vegan recipes that also have non-vegan options, check out:

Mushroom Soup and Berry / Fruit Smoothies

This recipe is actually a non-vegan smoothie which I adapted after having vegan friends around whom I didn’t know yet were vegans!

bbs

Vegan Blackberry Smoothie

  • A cup full of Berries (Preferably from last year’s food foraging?),
  • A cup full of Fresh Apple Juice,
  • 1x Ripe Banana,
  • Not necessary but, honey to add in if you or your expected guest/s have a sweet tooth (usually about 1tsp to 1 tbsp depending how keen you are on your dentist!),
  • For Non-Vegan, add half to one cup natural yogurt,
  • Optional: Pre-soaked Nettle seeds and/or chia seed, you could even throw in some home made Elderflower Cordial!

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and serve – honestly, honey is not necessary as the apple juice and banana are more than enough for sweetener.

If you find yourself saying that this is not sweet enough, then you should look at gradually reducing your sugar intake. The way I reduced my sugar was to have half a teaspoon less in my tea / coffee and every few months reducing a bit more, I am now down to no sugar at all in tea and only one teaspoon in a coffee. I can now have a little as a teaspoon of honey in my morning porridge – compared to the early / mid nineties where I would have 2-3 Tablespoons in a cereal.