Tag Archives: Recipes

Saturday Morning Market…Day Lily, Water Chestnuts, Bamboo and Lotus Seeds…

I love Saturdays as the small traders come with their produce from their little bit of land this is where I find the unusual fruits or vegetables which are not raised commercially but just local grown like they have been for centuries…I am also pleased to see how many of the stalls now are ditching the plastic and using banana leaves to wrap foods like the lovely flower pods pictured..as the preparations are in swing for the annual fair and big market it means that the smaller market on the left-hand side is no longer there they have taken residence along one of side soi’s(streets),,,

Saturday Morning Market 7th March

Lively and bustling the markets here sell everything from meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, curry pastes, rice, clothing, garden pots and knives you name it it is sold here…

Do you ever have a hankering for certain food and then it is right in front of you sometimes in the most unexpected places? Strange world… When your thoughts take you unexpectedly to what you were looking for.

Usually available in speciality groceries or supermarkets, freshwater chestnuts should be washed thoroughly and peeled with a sharp knife, especially if to be eaten raw. At this point, adding a few drops of lime juice keeps them from turning brown when steamed or sautéed.

The water chestnut is however not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes, underwater, and in the mud. I have always connected water chestnuts to Chinese cookery however here in Thailand they are more often used in desserts using coconut milk and often dyed a pretty pink…

Water chestnuts are an excellent source of nutrients and antioxidants, making them a good addition to a healthful diet.

Some evidence suggests that consuming water chestnuts could help reduce free radicals in the body and lower blood pressure, among other benefits.

Water chestnuts are quite versatile —  use them in many types of cooking or eat them raw.

Once peeled, they’ll only remain fresh in water that’s changed daily for two to three days.

Chinese Chicken with Water Chestnuts.

Water chestnuts

Ingredients

  • ½ lb of chicken breasts or pork finely sliced.
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of cornflour or arrowroot
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2/3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 tbsp of spring onions
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated or julienned
  • 2 cups of water chestnuts peeled and sliced ( tinned are fine) and can be found in most Asian sections of supermarkets.
  • 1 cup of bamboo sliced (optional) or bean sprouts.

N.B.…I have started using arrowroot instead of cornflour it is tasteless and gives a glossy sauce and where corn flour has a slight taste and cloudy appearance arrowroot is glossy and clear. It is a great thickener and can easily replace cornflour.

Arrowroot powder is fast gaining in popularity in the western world as people are looking for substitutes and alternatives to cornstarch either because they have corn allergies/sensitivities or they want to avoid anything GMO and laden with pesticides.

Let’s Cook!

Mix the sherry, soy sauce and arrowroot together, and set to one side.

Heat the oil in a pan and add chicken /pork and stir fry for 2 minutes add garlic, spring onions, ginger and bamboo and stir fry for a further 3 minutes or until meat is cooked.

Add water chestnuts and stir fry I minute then add the arrowroot mix and stir fry for another minute or two until the juice thickens slightly add beans sprouts if using.

I always add my bean sprouts if used at the very end as I like mine crisp and just cooked.

Serve immediately with steamed rice or noodles…

 

Enjoy!

I love snake beans and eat them regularly I particularly love the red variety…Thais eat many types of flower buds and this red-coloured spinach is lovely in a stir fry,,,

The cream-coloured flower buds are called Daylily ดอกไม้จีน usually used in soups and very popular with Thais and often used in herbal medicine and healing but also used in stir-fries we stir-fried ours with the Ceylon Spinach and it was very nice. The Ceylon spinach had a sort of beetroot taste. It is also used in natural medicine here and is believed to have many healing properties…

Lotus Seeds are a popular snack here...our first introduction was when we visited local wetlands here and the man who was steering the boat picked some for us to try…They are a pretty regular sight on the street markets here…

 

The picture shows Aston holding one… to eat you just hook the seeds out with your fingers and munch away…Sometimes you will find the seeds sold in bags for convenience…The seeds are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Manganese.

This is what I love here there are so many lovely little snacks which are healthy natural nibbles.

Bamboo…(Mai Pai)…is grown everywhere here and is one of the most versatile plants I know…We have all seen those pictures of a cute Panda eating bamboo, haven’t we…?…

There are nearly forty different species of bamboo growing in Thailand and with its wide variety of use, this plant could be considered the most important Thai plant. With bamboo being so common that we can see it everywhere, we take it for granted and tend to forget how much we rely on it daily, not only in the villages but in the cities as well.

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Bamboo is one of the most iconic plants, with some species growing over thirty metres in height, while other species have culms(The stalk or stem of grain and grasses including the bamboo, jointed and usually hollow). that can hold more weight than steel! That is why you can see bamboo stems used in construction work all over the country. Thai workers rely on its strength to build houses, apartment buildings, hotels, shopping malls and more.

Bamboo shoots are also very nice to eat…Bamboo shoots (no mai) are used as the main ingredient in a variety of traditional Thai dishes, they can be cooked, pickled, and eaten raw. Bamboo shoots have a high amount of vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.

See the little shoot peeking its head above the ground this is what we look for and when peeled they look like the second image…Always available year-round on the markets, it is a very healthy vegetable which is a staple of the Thai diet…Lovely in a red curry…

Bamboo is also the fastest-growing plant in the world, the record holder is a bamboo that was measured to grow 121 cm in 24 hours! …It really is an all-around wonder plant…

Although many of the plants look like a tree it actually belongs to the group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the true grass family Poaceae. Who would have thunk…xxx

That’s all for this week’s Saturday Market…

Thank you for reading this post I hope you have enjoyed this post and  have a fabulous weekend xx

CarolCooks2…It’s Halloween!…Sweet Potatoes and a Mexican Michelada…

The witching hour is soon to be upon us… I expect all you lovely Halloweenies are prepared and ready…

Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows‘ Day (also known as All Saints’ or Hallowmas) on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows‘ Eve (the evening before All Hallows‘ Day).

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Halloween symbols are not made up or random… Black cats, spiders, and bats are all Halloween symbols because of their spooky history and ties to Wiccans. All three were thought to be the familiars of witches in the middle ages, and are often associated with bad luck.

Bats are also connected to Halloween by the ancient Samhain ritual of building a bonfire, which drove away insects and attracted bats.

Halloween is also the most important day for devil worshippers…However, for most people, Halloween is a fun time of dressing up, creating elaborate costumes and decorations, visiting haunted houses, taking kids trick-or-treating, and of course eating candy. It has become a heavily commercialized holiday second only to Christmas in terms of the number of people who celebrate and participate in it.

But many fundamentalist Christians, believe that there is a dark and sinister side to the Oct. 31 festivities when the boundaries between the living and the dead are blurred.

Did you know?

Candy Corn was originally known as chicken feed as corn was and is still also fed to chooks… They even used to have a picture of a rooster on the original box.

Halloween Food…Chilli con Carne and jacket potatoes are good for a chilly evening and easy to do but if you fancy a change I have some lovely recipes for  Sweet Potatoes.

I like something a little different… This recipe is a nice treat… A recipe that was given to me by a friend who used goat’s cheese… I use feta or ricotta if I can’t get goats cheese…

Baked Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato with goat’s cheese, honey, and roasted grapes.

Ingredients:

• 4 sweet potatoes
• 2 cups of red seedless grapes
• 1 tsp of coconut or olive oil
• ¼ tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
• 4 ounces of goats cheese, feta/ricotta
• Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
• 2 tbsp of honey plus additional to drizzle if required

For 4 potatoes take 2 cups of small seedless grapes and put on a baking tray drizzle with oil and a season with salt and pepper then roast them at 350F for about 20 mins or until the skins just start to burst… Do check them as ovens vary and they can tend to burn…

Remove from the oven and leave to cool then take your cooled sweet potato and gently remove the flesh… the skins are not as hardy as a normal potato are they? So my advice is to leave some of the potato attached to the skin or you may struggle to fill them.

In a bowl mash the potato with 3 oz of the goat’s cheese, honey, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste then put the potato back in the skins and crumble some more goats cheese on top …To serve: add the grapes and drizzle more honey if desired…

Enjoy!

Other sweet potato fillings:

How about a baked sweet potato filled with cooked black beans, corn, sweet peppers topped with sour cream with some lime rind stirred through or sprinkled on the top and some chopped coriander.

Or the Thai way our sweet potatoes here are a bright purple we do get the orange but many are purple a really beautiful colour… Baked and topped with Thai Peanut sauce they are heavenly…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh dry roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic very finely chopped or minced
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. brown sugar (to taste)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce (for vegetarians: substitute 2 1/2 to 3 tbsp. regular soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. tamarind paste (or 2 tbsp. lime juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or 1/2 tsp Thai red chilli paste more or less to taste)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk

Let’s Cook!

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until the sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.

Taste.... adding more fish sauce (or soy sauce) if not salty enough, or more red curry or cayenne if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you’d prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar.

This sauce tends to thicken as it sits–just add a little water or coconut milk to thin it out, as needed. Otherwise, it stores well if kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Add to your baked sweet potato and top with chopped red onion, green onions and coriander and some crispy fried garlic…yummy if you love Thai flavours.

Enjoy!

Lillie and Logan ready for HalloweenNow, who doesn’t love cute little fur babies…These two belong to Tori and she has shared an adorable image of them all dressed up in their Halloween outfits…Lillie and Logan, you look so cute…Thank you Tori xxx

All Hallows night is tonight( Thursday) but whether you are celebrating tonight or at the weekend have fun!

All your decorations are probably up by now and costumes made or hired…Just maybe some last-minute bits and pieces to do…

Just in case you haven’t decided on a Halloween special drink then this one may be the one for you…It is an awesome tipple… a Spicy Mexican Michelada which is similar to a Bloody Mary ( my fave) but made with beer and clam juice…

michelada-beauty-shot-with-beer-bottle-and-lime-500x411

Doesn’t that look drinkable I am not a beer drinker but I may give this one a go …

 

I hope you have enjoyed these Fang-Tastic Pumpkin posts…

I am off to check out the Micheladas…Laters xxx

 

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Oops…nearly came off my broomstick…Hic xxx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead xx

CarolCooks2…Food Reviews…Ramen Noodles…Should you be eating them?

 

Welcome to Friday Food Reviews where I will be covering a different food or product each week and looking at… what are they?  where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, are they safe to eat, how to store them, how to use them, cook them, anything connected to that food. or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three…

This post is reposting an updated version of a post I wrote a few years ago…

This week it’s…Ramen Noodles…

Instant, quick-cook Ramen Noodles seem to line every store’s shelves in their hundreds. A packet for one or multi-packs, they ALSO come in pots and packages for ease of use BUT exactly what are you eating or giving your children to eat???

You just know that I am going to tell you…Don’t you???

Ramen noodles are particularly unhealthy because they contain a food additive called Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a preservative that is a petroleum industry byproduct. They’re also incredibly high in sodium, calories and saturated fat.

The containers packaging these noodles aren’t helping much either. The dreaded chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) is widely used in the styrofoam cups in which we often buy our ramen noodle lunches. Among other things, BPA may be a carcinogen. It is also considered a hormone disruptor, negatively affecting natural hormones in our bodies such as estrogen.

Between the preservatives and the packaging, instant noodles are a minefield of potential health problems. The more you eat, the worse it is. It’s just not worth the risk.

Yet Again, Proof That We Should Avoid Processed Foods

Most ramen noodles are fried in palm oil but there are now noodles on the market which are air-dried…healthier???…there are noodles which contain aloe vera, moringa, and purple noodles but they still contain wheat…noodles need gluten…

Now are these air-dried noodles with healthy additives better and healthier…there is still that little packet of flavouring to go into the noodles and that changes the profile once again…This video breaks it all down…well worth a watch…it asks “Is there Such a Thing as Healthier Instant Noodles?

What do you think now you have watched the video?

Let’s break down what is actually in that packet of noodles…

 Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), 

Is a synthetic antioxidant that is added to foods to prevent or delay oxidation. Oxidation causes food to lose flavour quality, and colour and can even cause foods to become toxic. In addition, oxidation causes vitamins to break down, causing food to lose some of its nutritional value.

TBHQ, which stands for tertiary butylhydroquinone, is commonly used in foods such as crackers, microwave popcorn, butter and chicken nuggets.

Used to extend the shelf life of oily and fatty foods. In processed foods, it’s sprayed on the food or on its packaging to prevent discolouration and changes to flavour and odour. Other products, such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes and lacquers, contain TBHQ to maintain stability.

I am already feeling quite sick and so pleased that I have never had any of this pass my lips… I can’t say that for other family members…

Much of the hype surrounding TBHQ dwells on its relationship to butane, a component of lighter fluid.TBHQ is composed in part of a grouping of four carbon atoms, called a “butyl.” Many harmless substances, such as butter, also contain butyl. The word butyl is even derived from the Latin word for butter, “butyrum.”

Although TBHQ might be safe in small doses, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. And since it’s used to preserve processed foods that are naturally oily or fatty, avoiding these foods would certainly be a healthy choice. When considering your health, do a bit of research before deciding that the popular account is the correct one.

I myself am very sceptical as so many foods which have been deemed to be safe for us have proved not to be and those who can are now in many cases wildly back-peddling on their previous claims.

I don’t wish to give anything like this the benefit of the doubt I would err on the side of caution and avoid it like the plague…

Are there healthy Ramen Noodles?

There are so many noodles of different shapes and sizes and indeed much healthier for us…

Restaurant Ramen Noodles.

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly advertised healthy broth because some varieties contain 10 to 15 grams of fat, which is equivalent to the calories in two to three pats of butter.” And the nutritional hits don’t stop there: A single restaurant serving of ramen can contain half of your recommended sodium limit for the day — What can a ramen Noodle lover do?

Simples…Make your own! This is a fun tongue cheek video with a message…

https://youtu.be/cUlITTAML-k

This guy is actually quite funny and his recipes good… If you really haven’t the time then these are some healthy Ramen Noodles…Google is a good source if you put in Healthy Ramen Noodles and then do a little research to double-check. If you are going to tell me that you are ultra-busy at work and instant noodles are quick and easy then my response is what price do you put on your health?

the message is if you eat ramen occasionally Enjoy!.. If you are eating them daily or your kids are then choose wisely as there are  proven health risks,,,

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week and as always I look forward to your comments x

Pancake Day…1st March 2022…Aka Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.

 

Who doesn’t like a nice thin, lacy pancake with sugar and lemon? Pancakes are eaten almost all over the world in one form or another so although plain and simple is my favourite I don’t mind some of the other versions on occasion.

I am also quite good at tossing them much to the surprise of the kids although not sure how I would fare in some of the pancake races which are held throughout the Uk and tossing them while running…lol….that would be a sight to behold…

The first recorded pancake race was way back in 1445 in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England. Since 1950 Olney has competed against women of Liberal, Kansas, the USA in an international race.

Tradition declares that the race was run first in the year 1445, pancakes at the time being a popular dish, receiving royal favour. It was run on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, and the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, pranks and pastimes. It is not known where the original start line was but the finish line was at the Church door. The winner has to bang on the door with her frying pan…

Did you know????

The largest pancake was created in Rochdale, Manchester, the UK in 1994, by the Co-Operative Union, Ltd. Measuring 15.01 m (49 ft 3 in) in diameter and 2.5 cm (1 in) thick, the pancake weighed 3 tonnes (6,614 lb) and took more than just a frying pan to flip over!

In total, Brits use an unbelievable 52 million eggs on Pancake Day. That’s 22 million more than any other day.

The most flips anyone has ever done with a pancake is 349 flips in two minutes. That’s ‘flipping’ good’!

We all have our preferences for pancake toppings but the weirdest pancake toppings have to be ketchup and mustard, please…Nooooo! peanut butter and ice cream, coco pops and cream…I just love maple syrup on mine or lemon..simples is best!

The Guinness World Record for the most pancakes served in eight hours is 34,818.

William Shakespeare was also a pancake lover! It is reflected in many of his plays. When Shakespeare was alive Shrove Tuesday is much as it is today – that is people ate plenty of pancakes!.  Dinner was a midday meal instead of evening, and the pancakes would follow their main meal. The Tudors enjoyed heavily spiced foods and regularly included ale or beer as ingredients instead of water. They ate very rich foods, and their pancakes could have been enriched with rose-water, sherry, eggs, ale or butter – or a mixture of them all

In France and the United States, Pancake day is called Mardi Gras which means ‘Fat’ or ‘Grease Tuesday’.

My Simple Pancake batter recipe.

 

  • 100 gm flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 ml of milk
  • Oil/ butter for frying
  • Lemon wedges to serve
  • Sugar to serve

Let’s Cook!

Put your flour, eggs, milk, pinch salt in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Using an omelette or crepe pan add a knob of butter and when melted add some of your mix to the pan and roll about to cover the bottom…I like my pancake thin so don’t use too much mix others like theirs thicker but personal choice.

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Cook until nicely golden and flip over and cook the other side …keep warm in the oven while you are cooking all your pancakes.

Serve with a good squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar.

That is my way, plain and simple but it is your opportunity to use your favourite toppings…

What do you top your pancakes with??? Please tell me in the comments…

Pancakes are made all over the world and vary somewhat… if you missed my post on how they are made here in Thailand then I have added the link for you to enjoy these were made down in one of the local homes here and they kindly let us take the photos…It is a family affair both young and old play their part…I found it fascinating…

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/traditional-handmade-thai-pancakes-khao-gle-at/

Pancakes drying

Or these lovely oat pancakes

Maple Walnut Banana Pancakes…

banana maple syrup pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3/4 of a cup of rolled oats
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup
  • Chopped banana, blueberries, walnuts and maple syrup to serve.

Put the banana, oats, eggs, baking soda and maple syrup in the blender and blitz until smooth and well combined.

Heat your pan and add some mix cook for about 2 mins each side I did find they cooked quite quickly so watch you don’t burn them…

Serve with sliced banana, blueberries or fruit of your choice, walnuts and maple syrup…They were actually very yummy…

I didn’t have gluten-free oats so mine were not gluten-free but still healthy and I had no maple syrup extract so substituted maple syrup, the walnuts I caramelised and I didn’t have blueberries…and I cooked mine in grass-fed butter… I will make them again and next time will add blueberries as they will add that touch of tartness…

However, if you eat Gluten-free use Gluten-free rolled oats and cook in a non-stick pan

If you love pancakes I hope you have found some here to tickle your tastebuds …Enjoy!

Christmas…Traditions, Treats and a touch of Trivia…Part 3.

Christmas stockings gingerbread houses

Welcome to week 3 of Christmas Traditions, Treats and of course some Trivia. 

Traditions…

There are many Christmas traditions practised around the world and I will be bringing you some of those and anyone who wishes to contribute with a guest post of their own on a special Thanksgiving dish or tradition would be very welcome to showcase them here  I know my friends across the pond and my relatives celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th November with turkey and lots of other goodies … So please share your thanksgiving recipes and I will link back to your post…

Christmas if you are like me then I am still thinking I have lots of time but the reality is we don’t as the time just flies past and then, after all, that panic, last-minute shopping and preparation it will be over!

We are then left wondering why all the panic, last-minute present buying, cleaning and cooking. Was it worth it?

All the queues for the sales start Boxing Day and a lot of the presents we have lovingly bought and some of you will have scrimped and saved to buy are now being virtually given away….Why do we do it?

Along the way and through the years the true meaning of Christmas has been lost.

I remember getting a sock with a tangerine in the toe, little packets of sweeties, sugar mice a couple of little presents and being so excited. Tangerines were a real treat at Christmas. My dad would come home on Christmas Eve with the Turkey or Capon, Fruit and Chocolates… We would be so excited as we only had those goodies at Christmas and would be eagerly awaiting to be asked if we wanted one.

victorian-christmas

The dustman, milkman and coalman would get their Christmas tip and a mince-pie. Christmas was a special time and now it is so commercialised it has taken away the magic…

I would always get a Rupert the Bear Annual, new slippers and a dressing gown. But we were happy…what happened…commercialisation happened…are children as happy with what they get now….I don’t think so…certainly not in the western world….

Yes, you can get the latest iPhone etc and the young teenagers probably hanker after one but also just to have a cheap Nokia is ok too.

Christmas Jumper Corner…

Did any of you see the latest in Christmas Jumpers on FB this week…??

It takes Christmas jumpers to a whole new level…Apparently, it is quite easy to make your own from an old jumper… I don’t think I will be wearing one quite like that…Sorry, I didn’t want to copy the picture but it looks like there are plenty of DIY ones on Instagram for those who want to do a search?…

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But please send in Christmas jumper pics… Let’s have a bit of fun…They are ugly but cute at the same time…Christmas Kitch at it’s best…

♦♦♦♦♦♦

Gingerbread Houses…I have seen pictures of the most elaborate ones and marvel at the talent of some of the bakers …The intricate icing they do is just exquisite…

Me… I am not a baker…Maybe bread, Christmas pies and puddings… I just don’t have the patience anymore to spend hours… Icing cakes…although covid has changed that somewhat I do a little more cake baking than before…

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These little ones look pretty and I know Lily is after me to make one I think something like this will be my limit…Do you make a gingerbread house every year? If so please share …Any hints and tips will be gratefully received and credited to you…

Where did all of this start?

Well despite the quaint tradition of building festive gingerbread houses, gingerbread was once pretty serious business…….

Spices……. particularly ginger and cinnamon, have preservative properties, and it is thought that gingerbread was first professionally baked in Europe around the 11th century when exotic spices were brought back from the Middle East……..

It is said that Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, introduced gingerbread to France, where highly skilled gingerbread bakers were chosen to form professional gingerbread baker guilds that were highly regarded in the bakery profession.

In certain areas of Europe, only invited members of the gingerbread baker’s guild were permitted to bake and sell gingerbread commercially, with the restrictions only lifted by the Guild at Christmas and Easter – when any old cook or baker could give it a try.

Now, of course, cooks all over the world bake gingerbread at Christmas, some more ambitious than others……….

Did you know?

The largest gingerbread house ever created was made by a group of bakers in Texas, the US – they built a 2,520-square-foot gingerbread house to raise funds for a local hospital, containing over 7,200 eggs, 3,000 kg of flour, and an estimated 35.8 million calories…Wow, some baking… What a marathon.

This gingerbread house recipe won’t bake you a mansion but will show you how to create some pretty gingerbread houses….. So have fun and get making those houses. This recipe is a Paul Hollywood recipe of Great British Bake-off fame so I think it should be pretty good and one I will be trying…it does look pretty simple for a novice like me…

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/food/recipes/christmas/paul-hollywood-gingerbread-house

Did you know?

Every Christmas elf has a bell on the tip of their shoes…

Did you know?

How  Santa gets back up the chimney??? He touches the side of his nose with his finger, smiles and nods and in a trice, he is back in his sleigh…Magic 

♦♦♦♦♦♦

There comes a time in our lives when we are faced with the prospect of cooing our own Christmas Turkey …it can strike the fear of bejesus in your heart but never fear as long as you don’t follow the guidance of Mr Bean you will be fine…

I would say that a smaller turkey would suffice…

Now for the serious stuff…Where to Start…

First of all, relax and all will be well…

I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.

A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.

I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…

The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.

Some chefs also push the butter under the skin of the turkey…..

It really is a personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s a personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options…

Cooking Times:

Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.

Here is the link to a handy website if you need to calculate your cooking timehttp://www.csgnetwork.com/turkeycookingtimecalc.html

This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly

The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.

I used about 6 oz of butter.

Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe them out inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.

I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…

Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.

Calculate your cooking times and preheat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven and how hot it runs…

Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.

Set the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.

Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.

Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.

Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes at 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.

To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.

If you are using a meat thermometer, it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.

Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..

 

Enjoy!

After all that I think a “Pat on the back” and a cocktail is called for…Don’t you?

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend xx

Christmas…Treats, Traditions and Trivia! Part 2…

Christmas Traditions Treats and Trivia

Welcome to week 2 of Christmas traditions, Treats and of course some Trivia. 

You can also expect tried and tested recipes which were passed down from my mum, recipes I have been given by friends and family from all over the world and which are now our family favourites. Traditions there are many Christmas traditions practised around the world and I will be bringing you some of those and anyone who wishes to contribute with a guest post of their own on a special Thanksgiving dish or tradition then you would be very welcome to showcase them here as I know my friends across the pond and my relatives celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th November and have turkey and lots of other goodies … So please share and I will link back to your post…

Early images of Santa pictured him as a stern, commanding disciplinarian holding a birch rod. The jolly old Santa we know and love today was created by artist Haddon Sundblom for a Coca-Cola ad.

From 1920s to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering toys (and playing with them!), pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, visiting with the children who stayed up to greet him, and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines and on store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectables… I would love to have one as I have a small collection of Christmas memorabilia mostly crockery and tableware…

Pastry cook Tom Smith invented Christmas Crackers around 1846. He was inspired by the French habit of wrapping sugared almonds in twists of paper as gifts. Love messages called ” kiss mottos were in the original crackers which didn’t crack until a while later…Tom used to distribute his crackers to customers and friends through his successful wedding cake ornament and confectionery business he did, however, realise that he had to come up with a unique idea to make them more saleable. It is said that he got the idea of a pop from listening to logs crackling on the fire.

He had the idea of incorporating a friction activated chemical explosion into his product to produce the necessary ‘popping’ sound.

Silver fulminate, a compound discovered by the English chemist Edward Charles Howard (1774 – 1816) in 1800 and further developed in 1802 by the Italian chemistry professor, Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli (1761 – 1818).

This eventually became the cracker snap of today and Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers were born.

I find it fascinating how many ideas evolve and develop…Don’t you?

HOWEVER, as Climate Change is now high on most people’s agendas last week I showed you how easy it is to make your own crackers and they are so much more personal… The bonus less packaging coming into your home…and that’s just from the crackers and the box …Here’s the link to how to make your own crackers in case you missed it last week.

Besides food waste, huge amounts of food packaging will also be discarded. This includes 300 million plastic cups and straws.

Consumer group Which has also found that packaging makes up approximately half of the total weight of chocolate sold at Christmas (Ferrero Rocher for example is 42% packaging, 58% product!).

In total, around 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food will also be discarded over the festive period.

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Did you know?

Fruitcake originated in ancient Egypt, where it was considered essential for the afterlife.

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Christmas Pudding …Have you made yours yet?? If not I have added the link for two Christmas pudding recipes one Gluten Free…

Christmas Pudding

Originally way back in ancient times, there was a sweet haggis called hackin made from oatmeal, dried fruit, suet and grated apple and then cooked like its savoury Scots relative the haggis by boiling it in a sheep’s stomach.

Often a Christmas pudding is wrongly thought to be an adaption of a spicy soup called potage…However, according to early records, potage and hackin were served side by side on Christmas menus.

Throughout the years this sweet hackin has evolved and it became more than just a tasty treat Small items such as coins (wealth) and buttons (bachelorhood) were put inside, and supposedly foretold what the New Year would bring. I remember my nan putting a silver sixpence in her pudding mix …Just the one and we all hoped we would get it but I am also sure there must have been many which were swallowed or caused a cracked tooth maybe that was why the tradition stopped.

Now they are just a beautiful rich steamed pudding with the fruit steeped in alcohol…rich and lovely…Christmas Pudding Recipes…

Who still puts out a plate with a mince pie and a carrot on Christmas Eve for Santa and his reindeer???

How’s this for weird Christmas food? 

I am used to seeing deep-fried bugs here so they don’t freak me out…South Africa is home to some of the world’s most unusual holiday food fare. Every December locals feast on a seasonal delicacy– the deep-fried caterpillars of Emperor Moths! They really are very pretty caterpillars… Deep-fried…Would you eat them ????

The hunt is on for the best Christmas Jumper…

box-christmas jumper -christmas-balls-714696 (1)

To be in with a chance of winning…Please send in your photos…

Christmas Cheer this week is in the guise of my homemade Irish Cream Recipe

Irish Cream:

Ingredients: Makes about 1 litre.

  • 1 2/3 cup(400 ml) Irish Whiskey
  • 1 cup double(heavy) cream
  • 1  14oz can sweetened condensed milk…
  • 3 tbsp Chocolate syrup or chocolate topping..
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.

Cooks Tips: Irish Cream or Baileys is now sold in many flavours which means you can be inventive…Below are a few ideas…You can also make a dairy-free version which is equally as good…

  1. Replace the coffee and chocolate syrup with Kahlua.
  2. Add orange extract and extra chocolate.
  3. For a dairy-free version use coconut milk to make sweetened condensed milk and then use coconut milk instead of cream.
  4. Use Drambuie instead of coffee and add some Cointreau and a spot more chocolate sauce.
  5. if you don’t have chocolate syrup, use 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder instead. I suggest whisking the cocoa powder with a tbsp of cream until smooth.
  6. Your alcohol…your choice how about Southern Comfort and Amaretto. Brandy… it was awesome! or Bourbon.

Let’s Brew!

Blend all ingredients(except) for the alcohol) together lightly as you don’t want to curdle your cream add your alcohol and then refrigerate.

Serve cold and or over Ice…or buy some pretty glass bottles add a bow and a message…Now, who wouldn’t love to receive that as a Christmas Gift?

How easy is that? plus …you can get about 4 batches from one bottle of  Irish Whiskey so by my reckoning that’s a real saving and lots of Irish Cream which we tested alongside Bailey’s and it was very close…yay……

Thank you for reading this week’s Christmas Traditions and Treats I do hope you have enjoyed it if so please let me know in comments I love to hear from you…xxx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx