Gravey and Rice

Monday, July 31, 2006


Tacos are such a lovely and simple meal. Putting everything together can be time consuming, but it's so easy and you get a delicious meal. Tacos seem to be becoming more popular here in Britain, and it was the first "American" meal I introduced to my husband that he really became enamored with.

Tacos were pretty much a mainstay growing up, right along with meatloaf, I can remember having them pretty regularly. But , they were always pretty plain. My mom would dry cook the tortillas in the frying pan. The meat and taco sauce would be cooked in the microwave, and we'd grate some cheddar cheese, and chop some lettuce and tomatoes to go with it. Occasionally we'd have salsa. That was it. Still good, though.

Anyway, around here the sauce and meat is cooked on the stove, the tortillas are fried in oil, and along with the lettuce, cheese and tomato- we always have salsa and sour cream. I've added refried beans and Mexican Rice as great side dishes, but they always end up getting spooned into the tortillas with everything else!
My son and husband can easily devour 5, while Livvy usually chooses 1 or 2 hard tacos. They are definetly a favorite!

Saturday, July 29, 2006


They came! I ordered two books last week from Amazon and, finally, they came! These are books that have been recommended by other food blogs and I think they are fantastic. I couldnt get enough of Baking Illustrated last night and can't wait to try the bananna bread recipe, and was really excited to see a good Irish Soad bread recipe (I love Irish Soda Bread!) Plus there is tons of great information and tips. I feel like I'm cheating, as they go into so much detail, telling you exactly what they tried and what worked the best- of course I could still try different things, but might as well just use their recipe! lol

Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking looks like it has loads of great recipes, and great information as well. I can't wait to get rid of the kids and bury my head in it for awhile. And, of course- I can't wait to get started baking!

My first recipe books devoted soley to baking! I'm so excited!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Raspberry Buckle

I don't like raspberries, but the horde is ok with them. So, when I learned that the local garden centre had PYO raspberries ripe and ready it struck me as the perfect way to entertain the kids for a while. I figured I could try my hand at a raspberry pie. Unfortunatley I've had trouble finding shortening here, so a pie crust would be hard to make. I stumbled across a Raspberry Buckle recipe from Martha Stewart
and decided it would be a good alternative.

First to collect the raspberries. I admit I may have been a bit picky, telling the kids to pick only the plumpest, only the reddest raspberries. No mushy ones, none with any green on them. Which meant after half an hour they had only filled up half their punnets. Oops. Time to relax the rules a bit. Soon, we had two full punnets at £3.96 a kg. Time to go!

After we got home, Olivia pulled the stalks out for me, discarding any "yucky" ones as she went. This is a lovely and simple recipe. I made it after I came home from work last night. First things first, to let the butter come to room temp. I ate a tuna sandwhich while I waited. Then to cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and beat. Then in another bowl I stirred together flour, baking powder and salt, then mixed it all together. The recipe says to use an oval or square dish, I of course only have round ones. I buttered my dish, poured the batter in, and then spread the raspberries on top. Then into the oven for the required 45-50 minutes. Now, using a round dish meant that the batter was more concentrated. After 45 minutes I checked it and it was brown, but not quite done. I covered it and gave it another 10-15 minutes.

I'm not sure I liked how it came out, certainly not like the one in the picture! It was nice and puffy on the edges, with a lovely golden brown color. But the center had fallen in, and was a dark brown. Well, looks arent everything, right? Besides it was my first time- so I gave myself a break. My husband seemed to like it. (I don't think he really likes anything I bake...) I tried it and it really enjoyed the cake part, but I hated the raspberries, alot. Hmm.

This morning the horde descended and I whipped up some cream, with a bit of powdered sugar to sweeten it and served up raspberry buckle for breakfast. They ate every bite and asked for more, right after telling me how much they loved it. Since I hated it, it was nice to hear that it actually is pretty good. But, I think next time I'm going to use strawberries instead. You just can't beat strawberries.

I think it's difficult to work with an ingredient that you don't like, as obviously it's hard to tell how you've done. But, I will use raspberries again as this time they've had a good reception. Perhaps I can make a half strawberry/ half raspberry buckle...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Looking Forward To:

Chili Fiesta 5&6 August Chichester I don't branch out in my cooking very often, probably as I've never really been exposed to different tastes or textures. So, I'm looking forward to learning alot about chilis and what to do with them and how to grow them in my garden!

Totally Tomato Show 9&10 September Chichester This will be great as I've just started growing my own tomatoes. They're doing great and I'm having a lot of fun with it. It will be fun to get some growing tips and usage ideas!

Apple Affair 4&5 October Chichester While I don't really like apples right out of the bowl, I think they are fabulous to cook with and I love to try my hand at different apple recipes. Hopefully I'll get some great new ideas and tips at this show!

More Info for these shows

Also coming up is the Salisbury Food and Drink Fair on August 28 and 29th. Which looks like fun and a chance to pick up some things I can't usually get in my local Tesco or Sainsburys.

And the Souths preeminent food show the Emsworth Food Festival. 8-10th Spetember Emsworth. I'll be sending off for tickets to various demonstrations they'll be having soon. These includes local restauranteurs showing off their c
uisine and plenty of wine tasting that I'll probably pass on. We went last year and had a great time trying different types of food and seeing all the different ways to prepare dishes. This year I'll have more of an interest since I've started this blog and have decided to really branch out in my cooking. I can't wait! Good thing Chichester is right up the road from Emsworth so, I wont have to miss that tomato show!

There are other great food happenings the rest of the year, but most are well away from my area. You can check them out here, though- if you're interested!

What shows are you headed to this summer/autumn? What are some good shows I should keep an eye out for? (Here and in the states)

Monday, July 17, 2006

buttermilk vs. sour milk

Which is better? Does it matter? My BH&G cook book suggests sour milk as a buttermilk substitute. (1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup, left to sit for 5 minutes.) It is quick and seems to work fine. And as I don't know that my local grocery store would even carry buttermilk; it's a welcome substitution.

But, is it really the same? Is there something about buttermilk that would make things even better than just sour milk? Any ideas or comments about this? I really want to know if I'm doing my baking a disservice by using sour milk.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The leftover heebie-jeebies...

I've always had them- the leftover heebie jeebies. If it's been cooked before, and partaken of, then I don't want nuthin' to do with it. (Except Thanksgiving Turkey, of course.) So, I am therefore presented with a bit of a conundrum. What do I do with the leftover mashed potatoes? That last remaining hunk of meatloaf? The 2 helpings of pasta I wasn't in the mood for? I can't with a clear concsience just throw everything out, yet I know full well that once it gets stuffed into some tupperware and shoved to thje back of the fridge, that particular food item will never see the light of day again.

Growing up my father used to just grab everything out of the fridge and I swear, just mix it together. He could do anything with leftovers, and in my eye, not all of it appetizing (sorry, dad!) Which I think has contributed to my phobia, now.

My logistics problem with leftovers is that with a family of 4 solid eaters to feed, there isn't enough leftovers to go around. And usually not enough for 4 separate meals, either. I don't touch most things anyway. The kids and husband can't warm their lunches up, and I don't think cold congealy meat loaf will hit the spot quite the same as it did the previous night when it was hot and had a spoonful of mashed potatoes next to it.

So, I suppose when I clean out the fridge, I will continue to pull out moldy mashed potatoes, pasta that appears to be growing legs, and bits of chicken that have gone slightly blue and make you wish you had lost your sense of smell in a freak accident years before. But, at least when I throw all of it out I won't feel so guilty, because by that point it is no longer perfectly good food and the starving children in Africa would have no part of it.

There is always more we can do to help the hungry, please click here
to do something small.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Don't forget the flour....

I feel like I'm learning so much since I more or less threw myself into baking. Last night I learned that when greasing my cake pans, I really shouldn't forget the flour. As my cakes came out wet on the bottom, and pretty much came out of the pans in clumps. Oops. I think adding flour to the pan would have at least kept the bottom of the cake dryer and in one piece.

However, I did not let it get me down. I cut up the chocolate cake (same recipe as below) in bite size pieces, arranged them on a plate and drizzled them with ganache (chocolate icing). They taste lovely, and I'm reminded alot of brownies.

I think perhaps I've found a perfect brownie recipe. Lovely and moist, choclately inside, but not "fudgey", with a lovely crispy exterior. Next time I think I'll use the recipe in a 13 x9" pan, and instead of the ganache, just sprinkle powdered sugar on the top. Brownies. Yum.

Had I not made the mistake with the flour, I never would have realized what great brownies this recipe will make!