Not a complete disaster!!

Yesterday I blogged about my attempt at making a gluten free chocolate cake. It all went a bit wonky as my oven shelf tipped as I put the cakes in and I didn’t notice. This meant they were fat one end and thin and biscuit like at the other end. Undeterred, I took them out of the tins and sandwiched them together with chocolate spread.

Not a beautiful cake, but an edible one....

Not a beautiful cake, but an edible one….

Well, this cake doesn’t look pretty, that’s for sure! It is rather crumbly at the edges and completely uneven. However, it does actually taste quite acceptable. Me and DD3 each had a piece. But cake should be scrumptious and delicious, not just acceptable. It has a nice light texture, but is missing something. I think I will attempt it again but this time, instead of adding cocoa powder, I will melt some actual chocolate and mix that in. Hopefully that will solve the crumbling issue and make it taste richer. If that works I might go the whole hog and whip up some cream to add to the filling. I think I need to experiment a lot more!

I used the Dove Farm flour that I bought in Sainsbury’s the other day. The recipe for the chocolate cake was on the packet. The only thing I added was some Xanthan gum, since I had it and it is supposed to make gluten free cakes lighter.

It is going to be trial and error but hopefully I can find some decent recipes for the basics over time.

I had to go to a meeting in Chelmsford today. I knew there would be biscuits which I wouldn’t be able to eat so I bought a gluten free seed bar on the way in. I thought it might be fit for the birds, but actually it was lovely as well as healthy. I will buy one again! If you see these and want a healthy treat, give one a try!

Pauper’s Spanish Omelette

Last night’s Spanish omelettes were a big success. As ever, if I can produce something quick, tasty , cheap and delicious I am happy. I rarely spend long cooking, unless I am entertaining. However that is rare theses days as it can be an expensive business.

imageFor two people I chopped up half a green pepper and sautéed it gently with 6 chopped mushrooms. I also used 10 small potatoes from an tin from Aldi, sliced. These cost 15p and are incredibly useful – I am sure that must be cheaper than fresh. I will use the rest up in a casserole. I whizzed up 2 eggs for each of us in separate jugs with salt and pepper and a little milk then added half of the vegetables to each. I decided to make two separate omelettes rather than one big one as they cook more quickly but you could do it in a big frying pan if you are making this for more people. I cooked them gently in a small frying pan and when nearly set I added a handful I grated cheese to each and finished them off under a hot grill.

Today we had planned a drive out somewhere as the girls are all doing their own thing. However it is currently pouring, despite the forecast saying dry with sunny spells. Maybe it will have improved by the time we are ready to go!

Once again the dehumidifier is coming in handy, both drying the laundry and preventing our condensation problem resurfacing. Looks like it may be on all day today as I have washed all the bed linen!

What are you doing on this rainy Remembrance Sunday? I hate the idea of war, and lots of the young men who died in the First World War seemed to be little but cannon fodder. I will spare a thought for them today.

Simple grub: vegetable gratin

I still haven’t been shopping! We seem to have a glut of unused veg in the fridge so I put off the Aldi trip another day to use them up.

imageI also took the opportunity to use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix that came from Approved Foods. I don’t usually use packet sauces, but they were so cheap, and the parsley sauces I bought last time were pretty good, so I thought I would give them a try.

imageI used two sticks of celery, a large courgette, a yellow pepper, a head of broccoli and a handful of mushrooms, but you could throw in any veg that needs using up. I sautéed all the veg for about 5 minutes, chopped quite small. If you prefer your veg less crunchy you could parboil it. I made the sauce and mixed it all together, put it in a casserole dish and topped with grated cheese. I then baked it for 20 minutes so that the cheese was golden and bubbly. We had this witimageh baked potatoes and spinach, so most of our five a day in one hit. It went down a treat and the cheese sauce mix was pretty good.

I will do a shop tonight though: I can’t put it off forever !

Winter carrot salad

imageI should have done my food shop on Tuesday night but went to my parents for dinner instead. Last night Mr S is here for dinner so we made do with what was in the freezer – a lovely cheese and broccoli quiche that was reduced in Asda a few weeks ago served with chips and, as I had nothing in the way of more traditional salad ingredients, a yummy carrot salad.

I love this every bit as much , if not more, than a lettuce based salad. It is easy to make and nutritious too. My kids enjoyed this when they were little, and it is still a favourite.

To make it you will need:

500g (1lb) carrots, grated
1 tbsp chopped chives or spring onion tops
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to season

Place the carrots and chives in a salad bowl. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a jug and beat together. Pour over the carrots and stir. Season to taste.


Pumpkin cake

I finally got round to making a huge batch of pumpkin soup at the weekend. I added curry powder and it was delicious. So lots of frugal lunches packed away in the freezer  for Autumn.

imageI also used some of the pumpkin flesh to make pumpkin cake. If you like carrot cake you will certainly like this. I left out the orange peel because I didn’t have any and used standard icing rather than the cream cheese variety. It has made a lovely moist cake. If I make it again I will freeze it in slices for our lunch boxes, probably without the icing though.

The recipe is here.

I have thought of some more things that you can reuse rather than throw away or recycle:

Egg boxes – save for seed trays or kids crafts. If you know someone who keeps hens they may also find them useful
Carrier bags – try not to collect them in the first place, but if you do, they are good bin liners
Envelopes – stick a label over the address and reuse. Collect together and use for writing notes and shopping lists
Banana skins – I have heard that you can use these to polish leather shoes but have yet to try it!

This is an ongoing list so feel free to add your ideas.