Posted in Journal

As 2020 Draws to a Close…

Images by OpenClipart-Vectors, Syaibatul Hamdi, from Pixabay

Well! New Years Eve 2020. What a year it has been. Here in Derbyshire we have today joined many other areas of England in Tier 4. 2021 is going to start with no hope of pre pandemic life returning. This year my family has had a birth, a death and a range of ill health (not Covid). I have taken the time to reflect on my own life and the community around me. Despite disagreeing with the handling of this new virus, I am acceptant of Covid related restrictions and lockdown as the new norm.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This week we have seen snow. Pottering indoors does not seem so traumatic. Slipping and sliding to the supermarket yesterday my back decided to seize up; stiff and delicate is the best way to describe my new year celebrations. I have my jar of 2020 events to burn at midnight, and my crisp clean 2021 diary at the ready.

I broke tradition on Christmas Day and had lamb curry, pilau rice, homemade flatbreads and pickles. There was less pots, less work and smiling tummies all round. The diced lamb was marinaded overnight in yoghurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander and cinnamon. It was then slow cooked with fried onion, vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes and fresh coriander. The flatbreads were a simple dough of plain all purpose flour (200g), cumin (1tsp), coriander (1tsp), cinnamon (1/2tsp) and water. The dough was cut into four and each flatbread rolled thinly, then fried in vegetable oil until both sides were brown.

I was going to break tradition again today, instead of takeaway in front of the television was going to cook roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Because of my poorly back that has been scrapped and tradition reinstated. All we need to do tonight is argue over pizza, kebab, Chinese or Indian.

Happy New Year! Stay Safe! Stay Well! Stay Hopeful!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Images by OpenClipart-Vectors, Syaibatul Hamdi, from Pixabay

Posted in Food, Recipes

Fluffy Homemade Marshmallows

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Christmas is essentially cancelled as the the south east of England wades into stricter tier 4 lockdown restrictions. All that is left to do is eat, drink and get through the festive period as best you can. Keeping sweet I decided to make homemade marshmallows today. Before you start a cooking thermometer and stand electric mixer are essential.


  • 4 Medium Egg Whites
  • 2pkts Powdered Gelatine
  • 700g White Castor Sugar
  • 11/2tbsp Liquid Glucose
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract


  1. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form soft peaks and set aside.
  2. Mix the gelatine with 200ml of cold water and the vanilla extract.
  3. In a large saucepan stir together the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 300ml of water. Heat over a medium-high heat until the sugar syrup reaches 130°C. Remove from the heat and carefully add the gelatine mix. Sugar syrup is really hot and this process can bubble up so be really wary. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Returning to the egg whites. With the whisk on low add the sugar syrup and gelatine mixture. Then slowly turn the speed of the mixer up to high speed. Whisk for 8-10 minutes until the marshmallows thicken.
  5. Meanwhile line a deep sided tin with clingfilm and then coat with a little sunflower oil. Add the marshmallows to the tray, flatten with a knife and leave to set for a minimum of 2 hours.
  6. Once set remove from the tray and cut into squares. Dip the squares in desiccated coconut and drizzle with melted chocolate.
Posted in Food, Recipes

Red Kickin Chicken

Feeding a family with all their various likes and dislikes is a juggling act. I once met a woman who cooked different meals for her kids so they were all happy.

“When I’ve cooked you get what you’re given: eat it or go hungry.”

I choose balance throughout the week: meals that cater for everybody. My daughter likes chicken, but the man in my life only likes it processed and fried in batter or breadcrumbs. I have been on a mission to tempt him with marinades and flavours. This variation got a moderate reception and my daughter mopped the plate clean, so it will definitely be on the menu again.


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 2tsp Paprika
  • 1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • 1tbsp Butter
  • 1tbsp Plain All Purpose Flour
  • 6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh (or breast)
  • 1 Pint Chicken Stock
  • 1tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • Double Cream
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Fresh Parsley


  1. Peel and slice the onion, deseed and slice the yellow bell pepper. Heat the sunflower oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion and pepper, season and fry until soft but not brown. Stir in the paprika and cayenne pepper.
  2. Add the flour to the pan, stir until it combines with the fat and evenly coats the onion and pepper. Allow the flour to cook for a minute or two before adding the chicken stock in batches, stirring constantly so it thickens evenly without lumps. Add a dash of white wine vinegar, to offset the bite of the spices.
  3. Halve the chicken thighs and add to the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes while the chicken cooks.
  4. Stir in a dash of cream. Season with salt and pepper and add a handful of chopped parsley. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a choice of cooked vegetables.

Images with thanks by: naobim, Steve Buissinne, Lola Gloger, Ajale, solucionindividual, Manfred Richter, congerdesign, tookapic, Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

Posted in Uncategorized

Sterilising Jars & Aromatic Apple Sauce

Image by Rebekka D from Pixabay

Every year my mum gets a generous supply of apples from a friends tree. This year perfect weather conditions ensured a bigger glut than usual. After many crumbles, pies and chutneys she has had too much of a good thing. Offering me the last box I graciously accepted.

Not wanting to see any rot and go to waste, this morning at 6am I sat peeling and chopping apples. I decided to make a large pot of apple sauce, which I could store in sterilised jars and use at my leisure.

Sterilising Glass Jars

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

Jams, chutneys and preserves are a fantastic way of storing large amounts of fruit and vegetables. An essential element is sterilising your jars, so bacteria can’t spoil your product. The easiest way to do this is wash your jars in warm soapy water. Rinse but don’t dry. Stand on a baking tray and place in a preheated oven at 160°C/Fan 140°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3. Heat for at least ten minutes to sterilise.

Easy Apple Sauce

I love a kitchen filled with the warm sweet aroma of simmering apples. Once peeled, cored and chopped I place them in a pan with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a tbsp lemon juice, a tsp cinnamon and a dash of boiling water. Simmer them until soft and the liquid has reduced, approximately 10-20 minutes depending on the amount of apples. You can mash or put through a sieve if you want smooth apple sauce, but I leave the apples in chunks and then I can always puree later if required. Leave to cool slightly before adding to the sterilised jars, just removed from the oven. Seal and leave to cool. Unopened homemade apple sauce will last for 12 months. Once opened use within a week.