Best made plans

Mavis was ill today: Tummy ache. I hope it wasn’t my flapjacks!

The bread machine coughed up a perfect French loaf which provided breakfast, with delicious organic butter and a cup of filter coffee in my magic cup.

I bought the cups, well mugs really, from Lakeland and they are brilliant for making a quick cup of real coffee. They are like a small cafetiere with a handle and no lip i.e. a mug with a plunger. I don’t think Lakeland stock them any more but I have asked them. They’re usually pretty good about re-stocking things if people ask for them. A good company. www.lakeland.co.uk

I raided the freezer for some meat for dinner instead of going to the butcher’s and spent the morning snuggled up with Mavis watching Herbie Fully Loaded.

Lunch was soup. I had some home made stock in the fridge and some left over mashed potatoes as well as a few leeks that needed using so it had to be leek and potato soup. I stirred in quarter of a pot of clotted cream at the end and it was completely delicious. Mavis wouldn’t try it though, even though she was hungry. How do you make kids try the good things? Mavis used to eat anything but I think I got into a bit of a routine with cooking and we had the same things all the time and suddenly, if she wasn’t used to it, she wouldn’t try it.

Good stock makes all the difference to a soup and if you want to get into the habit of making stock with the left over chicken or turkey carcass then you should also make sure you always have leeks, onions, carrots and celery on hand. You can use the best bits of these as vegetables and keep the ends and off cuts for the stock. Again, having the right equipment is a big help. I have a huge crock pot/slow cooker which I have recently rediscovered as being good for slow roasting meat and cooking casseroles but I have always used it to make stock. Just put in the carcass with a bit of judicious bashing and cracking, add an onion cut in half but still in its skin, a few outside stalks of celery and the green bits from the leeks and bung in the carrot ends or a couple of carrots. Top up with water, a few whole peppercorns, 3 or 4 bay leaves and switch on. Leave overnight, or even longer if you haven’t time to sort it out in the morning. Strain and store in freezer boxes. It freezes well and is really useful to make a quick soup or when a recipe demands the addition of stock.

I will have to start making beef stock I suppose if I am to avoid the use of commercially prepared products. I don’t really use beef stock cubes but I have always used Bisto for gravy. I’ll write a recipe for beef stock when I have one I’m happy with.

After lunch I made some delicious cheese crackers. Too delicious so two are now inside me. I couldn’t find a recipe I completely liked so adapted one from www.bellypleasers.com It’s American so the measurements are imperial (I’ve never thought about how ironic that is!)

NEW LIFESTYLE WHOLEMEAL CHEESE BISCUITS

8oz mature cheddar cheese, grated

4oz organic butter

1 cup stone ground organic wholemeal flour

1 tsp whole mustard seeds

a few good shakes of paprika

Mix together all the ingredients to form a dough (I used my trusty food processor to do the grating and the mixing.

Pull off ping pong ball sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls before flattening them onto a baking tray lined with silicone paper (I must talk about silicone paper later). Make sure you leave about 1cm all round each biscuit as they spread.

Bake at 425/220/7 until they are darkish golden brown round the edges. I’m not sure how long this will take as I completely forgot about mine while clearing up after lunch and suddenly remembered them just in time. I have a fan oven and I would say it took about 15 minutes but I can’t be sure.

I think these would be good without the added cheese and with some salt instead, as accompaniments to a cheese board. I’ll let you know.

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