Amanda's Table

Motte and Bailey Cake………

The first cookery project of the year undertaken by Harry a few weeks ago. It was a history project about castles. The homework “make a model of a castle, no bigger than a shoe box, but can be presented however you want.” Harry built his castle out of cake! It is a motte and bailey………………

Soup Harvest!

Today’s harvest made into a warming bowl of soup for lunch with a few staples from the fridge and cupboard.  We call it “red soup with pasta”.

It’s Santa!

Down on the plot……

It’s been a bright, mild day today in North Yorkshire perfect for an hour down the plot!  Some of the ground has been weeded and covered to stop further weeds and the garlic has been planted.  It does children good to get out and about at this time of year.  My youngest Toby has worked his socks off and thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors. He’s sorted out and planted the garlic and helped to prepare the ground for the Winter to reduce the number of weeds.  Well done Toby!

Beans on Toast!


A little ditty from my nine year old – “beans, beans the magical fruit the more you eat the more you toot!” by Toby Haggath-Smith (he insisted he took the credit!)

Next year we are going to have a garden full of borlotti beans growing.  We grew them for the first time this year and we’ll definitely be growing them again.  This year one wigwam was enough to complete our experiment and fill a few large jars with the dried beans.  We started the seeds off in the greenhouse early spring and once the weather was warm enough planted them out.  They were a little slow to start but once they got going were very prolific.  Easy to grow, easy to maintain, easy to pick and pod, perfect for storage and one of your five a day!

Borlotti bean overview – type of kidney bean widely used in Italy in salads and stews.  Must be soaked in cold water overnight before cooking.

Red soup with pasta!

Red soup with pasta I hear you cry, what is that?  Minestrone to you and I.  We used to call it red soup with pasta when the boys were toddlers.  It was the only way one of them would eat it!

I’ve just made it for lunch today with the majority of the vegetables used coming from the garden. Leeks, potatoes, courgette, red kale, garlic, fresh thyme, peas and broad beans – the peas and beans had been previously harvested and frozen.  Additional extras which weren’t from the garden included the onion, celery and carrot plus stock leftover from boiling a ham, tinned tomatoes, pasta and water.  We don’t have a recipe for this particular soup, we just make it up as we go along.  My husband first invented it and we use whatever vegetables we have to hand and usually throw in a tin of cannellini beans to.  We didn’t today as the soup was overflowing with fresh veg.  If you do use them, add them near the end as they only need to warm through.

The vegetables are added in several stages as there is nothing worse than soggy courgette or over cooked cabbage.  We also like the vegetables to have a little bit of a bite!  Here is a rough idea how we make our soup………..

Ingredients – one onion, one celery stalk, two leeks, one elephant garlic clove, one large carrot, one large potato, large thyme sprig, one courgette, handful of peas, handful of broad beans, handful of kale, 400g tin of tomatoes, handful or two of pasta, water, stock and seasoning.

Finely chop the celery, onion, leek, garlic and carrot and saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the potato, stock, large thyme sprig and tinned tomatoes.  Stir thoroughly, add extra water if necessary, cover and bring to the boil.  Simmer for approx 10 minutes before adding the pasta.  We used a handful of spaghetti that has been snapped into bite sized pieces.  However, any pasta will do.  After a further 10 minutes add the peas, beans and courgette and cook until slightly tender before adding the kale which has been shredded.  Taste and season if necessary.  As I had used ham stock no additional salt was needed.  You can also add tomato puree when adding the tomatoes and fresh stock doesn’t have to be used.  Stock cubes work just as well.  You just need enough liquid for approximately six bowls.  Next time I make it I will try and remember to measure everything!

I wonder how many of our five-a-day we’ve just eaten!

Apple Crisps!

I have two apple trees in the garden laden with apples.  We hate waste so try to use as many as we possible can.  We also give them away to anyone who wants them.  This year we decided to experiment with the apples and try out new ideas instead of defaulting to the humble apple crumble and the traditional English apple pie.  I’ve made apple chutney which should be ready by Christmas and in my research discovered recipes for apple crisps.  Great I thought that should be easy.  Ha! it wasn’t.  The first batch burnt as I had the oven too high.  The second batch would still be cooking now if I hadn’t given up after two hours waiting for them to dry out and the third, thank goodness, was a success – even though I almost forgot about them!  Only some of the apples turned crispy, the others were deliciously chewy and tasty.  I also think the variety of apple determines the crispness or lack of!  An incredibly healthy snack either way as long as you don’t forget about them!  Keeping an eye on them and turning them frequently is a must!  For a little twist, sprinkle the apples with cinnamon before they go in the oven.

Chewy Apple Crisps
Preheat the oven to 140C fan assist.  While the oven is heating up line several baking sheets with greaseproof paper.  Core the apples and finely slice or spiralise them.  They need to be a few millimetres thick and do not need to be peeled.  Once sliced, place the apples onto the lined baking sheets and put in the oven.  The crisps will take 30 to 40 minutes.  Turn the apples several times whilst they are baking and keep your eye on them.  They are ready when a light golden colour.  Store in an airtight container.

Everyone’s a winner!

The village held another very successful mini horticultural show all in the aid of charity. Our entries did quite well. My apple chutney won first prize and so did the boys for their decorated buns! My jam was placed second and so were our cooking apples, marrow and my chocolate loaf cake. Unfortunately our runner beans weren’t placed!  Not to worry though, as once all entries have been judged they are auctioned off and all funds go towards the village and local charities. Another job well done by the Tollerton Horticultural Mini Show committee.

The apple season is upon us and we have two trees full of what we think are cooking apples!  We have lived here for over 16 years so you would think we would know by now!  We usually make apple pies, cakes, crumbles and sauces but this year we would like to try out a few different ideas.  I have started off with an easy apple chutney and hope to try drying apples in the oven to make crisps for our boys.  My husband once tried to make cider but it turned into a nasty vinegar, so we may try to make an proper apple vinegar instead.  We are on the look out for ideas and recipes, so if you have any please let us know.

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