Potato, Potato, Potato…. Oh and a Cabbage

I spent all my time today making Guinness cakes and Peppermint Shortbread that I didn’t actually consider what I would have for supper. Upon checking the fridge and freezer, I realized there were slim pickings, and as hubby was away in the car to training I wasn’t able to go out and pick something up from the shops. I resorted to a lone Quorn Escalope that was squashed in the back of the freezer looking quite pathetic. Waste not, want not I suppose [ face scrunches up]. Luckily for hubby he gets his meal at the club tonight. Although I would love to have seen his face if I presented him with a meat-free escalope. Must be the evil wife in me! Hahaha [I can even do the evil laugh].

We also had potatoes and cabbage, so given that it was St Patricks day and I was on a bit of an Irish high from all the baking,  I decided to combine the two and make yummy Colcannon. This is such an easy,comforting and creamy side dish.

Ingredients

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Yummy Organic Veg

 

3 x Potatoes peeled and cut into quarters, 1/4 small January King Cabbage ( or any cabbage you have or you could use Kale) chopped . You can add more or less Cabbage as per your own preference.  About 2 tablespoons butter, about 80 grams of cream cheese or you could use milk instead and some salt and pepper. I tend to estimate the quantities of butter and cream cheese or milk.

Boil the potatoes and cabbage in separate pans until soft. Drain, and in the pan with the potatoes, add the butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper then mash together.  Taste and if required add more seasonings or cream cheese. Then add the cabbage to the potatoes and mix well. Then Serve and enjoy, preferably not along with a scabby Quorn Escalope!

Stocking the Pantry- Beetroots

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Now beetroot has been one of the vegetables that I’ve never really known what to do with. This could be because they look kinda odd with there purpley [ is that even a word??] skin and are very very messy. Have you ever tried to clean your hands after cutting beetroot? Or clean chopping boards and counter tops? My kitchen looks like a crime scene on NCIS. I wouldn’t mind this if Mark Harmon was going to pop round and investigate, but sadly I don’t think this will happen.

What I usually do with Beetroot is cut them into wedges, cover with oil and roast to create yummy Beetroot wedges.  Brilliant alternative to chips or potatoes. My hubbie however suggested that I try pickling Beetroot instead. He thought that this would help use up some of the beets , so less wastage and they could be kept and stored for longer.

Interesting tidbits……Whilst researching Beetroot recipes I found out that beetroots are highly nutritious ,a good source of folic acid,  high in antioxidants ( including Betaine which has anti-inflammatory properties), vitamins and minerals. Apparently beets were used in the past for liver disorders to stimulate the livers detoxification processes. I found this really interesting given my health issues, that require daily folic acid tablets and auto immuno suppressant medication to prevent my immune system attacking my liver.*

I wonder if eating more beetroot would really help my health issues……??? I would be interested to hear other peoples opinion or experiences on this. Although not sure these benefits still apply to eating pickled beetroots. I would probably need to eat them raw or drink beetroot juice….. beleugh!  The butter, chocolate, whole milk and cheese addiction also may cancel out any health benefits.

Researching pickled beetroot recipes on the Internet, many of them seemed to call for cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves, sugar and a cornucopia of other ingredients however I decided to use my mother in laws recipe which basically used beetroots, salt, vinegar and water. Simples!

Hubby brought in a net ( yes, a net, he said he wasn’t sure how many I would need!) of beetroots, and by brought in I meant he came in the door and dumped them on the kitchen floor. The beetroots were all still covered with mud, which meant my floor was all covered in mud too. Given the smallness of my kitchen, I have often tripped over veg littering my floor and sometimes feel I’m on an obstacle assault course, between avoiding the veg and the wellies!

I gently washed the beetroot, about 6 of them of varying sizes ( some the size of a tennis ball, some much bigger, but not quite as big as a football, well a soccer ball as opposed to an American football!).

I then brought a pan of salted water to a simmer, and placed the beetroots in the pan. I simmered on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours and then tested with a knife to ensure the beets were soft. Although I have received conflicting information about using a knife to do this so I’m sure some of you are screaming “Noooo ….what did you do that for?”

I then drained the water and placed beets in a sieve and ran them under a cold tap, then left them aside to cool further.

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Whilst the beetroot was simmering, I placed some jars in the oven at 150° for about 20 minutes to sterilise and placed the lids in a basin of boiling water.

Once the beetroot cooled, and using rubber gloves so I didn’t get covered with beetroot juice ( I had learned my lesson the hard way! ) and also using a plastic chopping board, I gently rubbed the skin of the beetroot to remove skins and then sliced the beets into about 1/4 inch slices. These were then added to jars, which I filled about 3/4 full. I didn’t take any photos of this as that would have meant removing my beetroot covered gloves and knowing my luck my wee Samsung camera would have got all covered with beetroot juice! As well as covering myself with it too!

I used a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water and mixed. I started off with 2 cups of vinegar to 2 cups of water, however this will vary depending on how much you are making. You can also use all vinegar, but this may make it very vinegary but its personal preference. It is also easy to make up more of the mix if you run out. I then poured the vinegar/water mixture into the jars, covering the beetroot.

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I got 7 jars, of assorted sizes ( as you can see in the photo) but I also had some cooked beets left over that hubbie ate when he came in for work only because I had no sterilised jars left.

This was so easy to make, so please don’t be put off by the time it takes to simmer or by the possible mess. Use rubber gloves and a smooth plastic chopping board ( ones with groves or uneven surface  or wooden ones will absorb the juice and stain) as these can be easily cleaned, place newspapers under your chopping board to catch any juice or mess. I have heard that washing your hands in lemon juice can also help, but if you use gloves you won’t need to do this.

Whilst searching beetroot recipes I also came across chocolate cake using beetroot…. I think this is a recipe will be put on the list of things i want… NO need to bake!

Does anyone else have good recipes that use beetroot?? Or other recipes for pickling and preserving veg or making chutneys? We have access to lots of organic veg such as carrots, onions, cabbage, parsnips, leeks, kale, Kohlrabi, Celeriac, Turnips so would be good to know what else I could do with them. Please comment on this post or email me at weebluemixer@gmail.com

P.s Hubby has warned me that eating too many beets could result in purple coloured pee! Lovely. We best not eat the 7 jars too quickly then!

 

 *References: Information on the supposed health properties of Beetroot http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-beetroot, http://www.theautoimmunewellnessproject.com/, https://www.allnaturalsupplements.co.uk/health-benefits-of-beetroot/4/

Carrot Cake and Friends

 

During rugby season, from August through to April (or this year it feels like it will take an actual year due to sooooooo many matches being re-scheduled!!) my hubbie is busy on Saturdays playing rugger. Due to this we can’t go for long weekends away. My hubbie is pretty dedicated to his team and to rugby (so much so that we had to schedule our wedding outwith the rugby season!!!). Anyway as you can probably tell I’m a bit of a rugby widow during this period as well as being a taxi service to pick up my sometimes intoxicated hubbie from the club.  However, this Saturdays match was cancelled and hubbie arranged, literally at the last minute a weekend visit to our good friends in Tain in the Scottish Highlands. This was serendipitous as I had been speaking to another blogger about enjoying visiting the Highlands and Islands just a few days before…….. spooky.

Given that we were leaving about 4:30pm on Friday and I was told Thursday Evening (I also had a 2 hour hair appointment scheduled) I didn’t have a huge amount of time to bake a “thank you for having us Prezzie”.  So, I turned to an old, simple classic that I could make in my sleep,  Carrot Cake. Its a favourite of my hubbies (he asked for a double carrot cake as his birthday cake) and I also had all the ingredients, apart from the cream cheese, available so no need to have to do a shop before baking.

The original recipe came from the Women’s Institute, in a book called “The Womans Institute Vintage Teatime” by Jessica Simmons, however I made some simple alterations to suit. Can’t beat a vintage recipe!

So very early on the Friday morning ( well not really it was probably about 8am) I gathered the ingredients:

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180 grams softened butter, 110 grams brown sugar, 2 eggs, 250 grams Self Raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 25 grams mixed peel or you could use marmalade or even apricot jam should work, Zest of one orange, 230 grams of grated carrots ( more than 3 shown in the photo were needed in fact it was about 6 of small-medium sized carrots), juice of one orange that equates to 5 tablespoons or you can use milk instead, 60 grams raisins. Ignore the vanilla in the photo I was going to use it then didn’t, well not until the frosting.

Now as far as possible I use local produce or Scottish, so I used locally milled flour, local organic eggs, Scottish Milk and butter and also organic carrots from the farm hubby works on, but you can use whatever you prefer.

Preheat the oven to 180°c/ 350°F and grease an 8 inch round cake tin. Cream the butter and brown sugar together, then whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the sugar/butter mixture.

In a separate bowl sieve the flour and the cinnamon together then add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix.  Then add the peel, orange zest and raisins and mix well.

At this point I take the bowl off my stand mixture and fold in the grated carrots by hand, which is hard work for a weakling like me! Definitely works the guns!

At this point add either the orange juice or milk ( which ever you prefer) about 5 tablespoons so that the mixture is slightly wetter and more of a dropping consistency. Looks a bit like coleslaw, but believe me it tastes delicious- feel free to lick the bowl at this point to convince yourself it is not coleslaw!

Then pour mixture into your tin and bake for about 40 minutes. It may take 5 or so minutes longer, but it ready as long as a cake tester or knife comes out clean.

 

After taking the cake out the oven, I left it until it was cool enough to remove from the tin and then placed on a wire rack to continue to cool. I then went away for my hair appointment and to pick up some cream cheese and flowers.

3 1/2 hours later………………..back home with my new hair do perfectly straightened and all grey hairs and brown roots now blonde.

I start on the frosting for which I use a basic cream cheese recipe………..

170 grams of margarine. I have found that I simply cannot get a hold of using butter for frosting. Every time I use butter and try to cream it with the cheese, it never creams properly and leaves bits of butter in the mixture. I think that my kitchen is so cold at this time of the year ( the heating is on, but the kitchen is an extension that in winter retains the cold) that whilst leaving the butter out will soften it, it doesn’t soften it enough to make a smooth frosting. As a result , I always use margarine for my own sanity, but please use what you prefer.

Then cream the margarine with about 180 grams of cream cheese until smooth. I start off adding 110 grams of icing sugar, but then add about 5 tablespoons more of icing sugar and beat to get the right consistency. I know I know, I should just work out the total amount of grams and weigh out the correct amount of icing sugar from the start, but hey I have a system and I’ve already been traumatised by the butter incident!

Also at the same time as adding the icing sugar, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. The mixture should not be runny, more like whipped cream. You want to be able to spread it on the cake, without it running all over the sides!

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You can add more decoration in the form of fondant carrots, but I don’t normally bother.

The cake went down very well after a lovely walk and after watching Scotland beat Italy in the Six Nations!