Firstly I must apologise for my lack of blogging of late, this is down to the fact that I’ve been playing Florence Nightingale to my partner John, who recently had a shoulder op. He’s currently in a sling and can’t drive or use his right arm much so is having a long overdue rest from work and enjoying some tlc from moi! I’ve taken some time off work to help him recuperate and am (if I’m perfectly honest) having a great time playing Matron. It’s lovely having time to ‘do’ things, I even went wild on Saturday and defrosted the fridge/freezer! For those of you who know me you will fully appreciate how much I usually hate tasks like this. In fact I don’t just hate cleaning if I’m honest I positively loathe it, I’m just really, really, really bad at it! I can spend hours in one room ‘cleaning’ but nothing much seems to happen other than piles of things I should really have found homes for appear dotted around the room. I really, really must try harder……..(or get a cleaner).
Cleaning done I decided to bake some cookies from a recipe I’ve been meaning to try from my friend Jo’s blog, http://twoowls.typepad.co.uk/ for ages. Jo’s blog is always full of lovely creative things from beautiful bunting to mouth-watering brownies, I knew before I started that this recipe wouldn’t disappoint. Jo’s made this recipe for many years and first discovered it in an old ‘Good Housekeeping’ book which resides on her Mum’s kitchen shelf. It’s simple, delicious and for those who don’t like peanut butter or raisins (quite frankly I think you’re mad) you could easily substitute them for chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, cherries etc. So let’s get stuck in!
150g (5oz) plain flour
125g (4oz) butter
150g (5oz) sugar
125g (4oz) crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
175g (6oz) raisins
pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 190oC, gas mark 5. Put all of the ingredients except for the raisins, into a large mixing bowl and mix together with an electric mixer until well combined.
Stir in the raisins with a spoon
To form cookies, scoop a tsp full of the mixture and roll it into a ball, flatten it slightly and then place onto a greased baking tray (do not place too close together as some spreading will occur).
Bake for approx 12-15mins or until golden.
Cool on a wire rack, then make a brew and sample, yum!
After the success of the cookies I decided to experiment a little by making my own piccalilli, I personally do not like piccalilli so a strange choice you may think but, my partner John, well and truly LOVES the stuff, so much so we can quite easily go through a jar a week. After a little browsing on google I found a recipe called ‘Gran’s Piccalilli’ possibly swayed by the cosy, homely feel of the title I set about on my pickling mission! I had to tweak the recipe slightly as I couldn’t find pickling onions and I also reduced the cooking time of the veg as a little bit of crunch is preferable (apparently!)
200g (7oz) salt
3L (5 pints) water
1kg (2 lb) cucumber, peeled and diced
1kg (2 lb) pickling onions, halved (I used chopped shallots as I couldn’t find pickling onions)
1kg (2 lb) cauliflower, broken into small florets
250g (9 oz) caster sugar
3 teaspoons mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1.4L (2 3/8 pints) distilled cider vinegar
4 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
And here’s how we do it, the directions listed below include the reduced cooking time (the original recipe says 20mins simmering where I reduced it to 7 as there were quite a few reviews saying it was too mushy).
The ingredients made about 12 large jars so I had plenty to dish out to my piccalilli loving friends and family. It’s a very easy recipe to make and can quite easily be adapted, I spotted one person had commented saying they’d used courgettes instead of cucumber and had added sultanas too, this I think I’d have to clear with my chief tester John. It got great feedback from everyone so I’ll most definitely be making it again, the question is, where on earth can I find pickling onions!