Wednesday, 25 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week 2011 - Day 3

Hello again! Myself and the little one have had a floppity day today. I'm not sure what was up with him but all he wanted to do was either cuddle or sleep and my motivation levels weren't up to much either. It really feels like a Thursday. I managed to half-heartedly do enough to keep the place ticking over, as long as everyone has clean socks and pants we're ok, right?

In case anyone has missed it, I am blogging my week of cooking for National Vegetarian Week as a challenge to myself to make better use of the ingredients we buy and to try new things that usually scare me. Like pastry. I think that is coming tomorrow!

Ok so yesterday Mr J went bargain crazy at Waitrose leaving me with a lot of tomatoes to use up. I still have more that I will cook and freeze into pasta sauce, though I have yet to find a recipe. I chose this Delia recipe for Roasted and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto as a starting point. I have made the recipe before as it is written but for today it wouldn't cut it as it is only meant to serve two people and I need something that has at least 4 good servings to it. My eldest son eats the same as an adult and the two smaller kids have about half a portion each. If I were to scale up the recipe it would cost an absolute fortune and if it weren't for the discounted tomatoes (29p a pack reduced from £1.71) I doubt I would be making it at all. I didn't use sun-dried tomatoes as I'm not too keen on the texture of them.

I roasted the two packs of tomatoes (700g) halved with some garlic and basil and olive oil for around 40 minutes. I didn't skin them first because it would take forever and the skins stay whole and I could just remove them in one piece once the tomatoes were cooked. In a pan I added a chopped onion to some butter, once that was soft I added 350g of risotto rice and a chopped courgette and stirred it for 2-3 minutes before adding the tomatoes. I really should have processed them first but I thought I could just squidge them with a spoon and I couldn't! I made the risotto on the hob instead of in the oven like the recipe says as I wasn't sure of the amount of liquid to use with the extra rice. I used 300ml of white wine but it was a bit too overpowering and I think about 150ml would have been better, and I could have drank the rest! I had to buy the wine especially as I am the only drinker in the house and a bottle is too much for just me. I also ended up adding about 300ml of vegetable stock. I put in about half a teaspoon of sugar as the tomatoes were a bit on the sharp side. Towards the end I added in the leftover spinach from yesterday and some vegetarian parmesan-style cheese. I can never use up this stuff fast enough so have taken to finely grating the whole block on the day I buy it and using it straight from the freezer. I forget which brand it is but I know I got it from Sainsbury's.

So all in all not a bad meal. I don't think I would go out of my way to make it again but it was good way to use up the tomatoes. The family liked it and I think they are enjoying the things I have made so far and we aren't throwing much away at all.

The cake tin was empty again but first I needed some more eggs. Since the nice weather last month it has coaxed my neighbours out of their houses and into their gardens to chat and I discovered one of the houses has some chickens. I immediately struck up a deal with them to buy some eggs as it is something that has always bothered me since reading reports last year that some supermarkets were selling eggs branded free range that actually were not. The cheapest I can buy free range eggs locally is 89p for 6 and I pay £1 for 6 to my neighbour that he puts back in the pot for paying for the chicken's food. He has 4 and they produce an egg a day each. I think it's so cool you can tell which one is responsible for each egg. The small brown ones are around the size of a 'medium' egg but look at the whopping ones on the end! The box wouldn't even close properly they are that big.

It's good that I can buy something that has so little food miles and even my egg box gets used over and over, so great recycling too. It also gives the kids a little task to do taking the money and the box to get a refill. And the best thing of all is to know they have come from chickens that I know for sure get to spend their days happily strutting around a garden. Ok so the eggs have a little bit of poo on them but I can't have everything my own way!

Today's cake recipe comes from Tickety-boo who offered to send me her Lemon Poppyseed Loaf cake recipe in the comments section yesterday. I have her kind permission to post it here. I'm sure many of you read her blog already but if you don't she is well worth a visit. She does fabulous crochet and makes pretty complicated sounding glass things and knits fabulous socks. You will find her blog here.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf Cake

240g butter or spread suitable for baking
200g caster sugar
Grated zest and the juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
210g self raising flour
90g plain flour
2tbsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 170c/Gas 3 and grease and line a 23 x 13 x 7cm (2lb) loaf tin.

Cream together butter and sugar then add lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour for each to stop the mixture curdling. Mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice then poppy seeds.
Just before you pop it in the oven sprinkle a little caster sugar over the top (and a little bit of poppy seeds)
Bake for 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean. Let it cool before turning out.

I have bought some paper loaf tin liners and they are fantastic. I don't know where all the baking paper is hiding, I usually buy it from Lidl but they haven't had any in for months. I did ask but I don't think the lad on the checkout knew what I was on about. I've tried about 8 other different shops and none there either, it's very odd.

Tomorrow is the school dressing up day. In between all the cooking I had to also make a crown to go with the pea, well, two crowns as the little one wanted to be a 'boy princess'.

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