20 February 2016

In My Kitchen



I love to cook, good food is really important to me.  If you are anything like me you spend a large amount of your life in the kitchen preparing good nourishing food to eat, so this is what has been going on in my kitchen this month.  If you would like to join in you would be most welcome.

I have fallen in love with a new ingredient this month, I bought it in error.  I use paprika quite a lot at this time of year in stews and sauces but the smoked version is just wonderful and so much better.  It brings a very different flavour with it, as you would expect, one with such depth but not over powering.  If you haven't tried it before I can really recommend it.


I get most of my veg delivered to my door from a local farm share I buy into.  Once year I get a kohlrabi bulb, an unusual looking vegetable that looks like a wrinkled turnip or a rather solid cabbage, which is what it is.  It tastes like a cabbage but has the texture of most root vegetables.  I love trying out new ingredients but it does take me a while to find the best combination of flavours, it is hard to form that kind of relationship with a vegetable that we only eat once year.  I have been unable to buy it anywhere else so I guess it will remain as a once a year pot luck meal!


I was really lucky to get a lovely new kitchen appliance for Christmas.  I have wanted a new blender for a while my last one, a wedding present, packed up a few years ago a stick blender sufficed for soup making but nothing else.  I was given the money from several family members so I had a good pot, I didn't have the time for any research prior to Christmas so in a quiet moment in January I found what I wanted.  I have been getting to grips with it this month, having not had one for a while I have forgotten what I can use it for, this one has many different settings the most used one so far has been smoothies.  Every night I throw a handful of oats and a glass of water to soak, in the morning they are whizzed to make oat 'milk' for Alice's breakfast.  I have attempted a few smoothies with mixed success, the best combination so far has been banana and blackcurrant with oat milk and a dash of yogurt.  If you make smoothies I would love to hear what you put in yours, especially vegetable based recipes.


I have had some nurturing to do this month, one of my sourdough starters was looking and smelling a little neglected.  I buy my flour direct from a local mill, my last order didn't include any rye flour so when I went to make a loaf back in December I was a bit surprised to find I had nearly run out.  I decided to use the little bit I had left to keep my starter going, feeding it every week until I needed to order some more flour.  The mill is not somewhere I go past very often and I didn't want to make a special trip for one bag even though I buy 6kg at a time!  Despite my occasional feeding, the starter wasn't looking too healthy when I finally had the flour to make some more bread with it.  I threw half of it in the compost bin and fed it with one tbsp of flour and one of water for a few days and then made a loaf with it.  As with all new starters the first few loaves were a bit strange but it is now back to normal and making delicious rye sourdough loaves again.  I have not been baking with sourdough starters for very long but I have loved how in a short space of time I have gained the confidence to know what to do by the look, smell and feel what I am doing.   That doesn't mean that I make completely successful loaves every time, but you can always make breadcrumbs from the failures so nothing goes to waste.


We have been cooking for our feathered friends this month.  The end of January and February are always the coldest months of the Winter here, it often snows and food is hard for the birds to find.  We feed them all year round with scraps from the kitchen but at this time of year we make them food.  Using lard as a basis we make two different types, one for the seed eaters which is full of seeds and breadcrumbs, the other for the insect eaters with meat scraps (if we have any), oats, cheese and sultanas.  I melt the lard, mix in the ingredients, leave them to cool in bowls, before scooping them out and leaving them for the birds to enjoy.  If you have the book All Year Round there are recipes on page 207-8.

Whilst the birds might enjoy that recipe it doesn't sound the least bit appealing to me but we have been enjoying stews this month especially if they include dumplings.  I always throw whatever vegetables I have to hand in my stews, leeks, carrots, swede, potatoes, sweet potatoes are favourites here.  The flavourings are always the same, my favourite combination is a pinch of cayenne and a tbsp of smoked paprika added with 2tbsp of flour and stirred into the vegetables thoroughly before adding the liquid, stock with a dash of soy sauce.  The dumplings are added after cooking the vegetables on their own for about ten minutes.

Cheese and Herb Dumplings

This makes eight dumplings you can increase or reduce the quantities to make more or less, they don't reheat well.

100g Wholemeal Self Raising Flour*
25g Butter
50g Grated Cheddar Cheese
3tbsp Chopped Parsley
50 - 75ml Milk

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine crumbs
Stir in the cheese and parsley.
Add just enough milk to make a firm dough.
Divide into eight and shape into balls.
Add to the dish, cover tightly and cook for 20-25 minutes on a low heat ensuring the dumplings don't catch on the bottom.

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* If like me you don't buy self raising flour, just use the same weight of ordinary flour with 1 level tsp of baking powder.

30 comments:

  1. Like you, good, wholesome, healthy food is important to me, so yes, I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen. But I do try to do a lot of batch cooking, so there are always meals in the freezer which I can grab and warm up when time is a little short. We love smoothies here, and have a stash of local fruit and kale from the summer garden in the freezer. Usually we toss in peaches, raspberries, blueberries, kale, avocado, banana, hemp seeds, a dash of apple cider vinegar and coconut water. I do also add a small bit of honey :)

    Wishing you happy times in your kitchen :)

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    1. I love the sound of your smoothies, thank you for sharing!

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  2. Oh I'm with you on the wonder of smoked paprika- it's great in just about anything savoury :)

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    1. It's great isn't it, must make sure I don't over use it tho!

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  3. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I remember having dumplings in stews when I was a child, but my children aren't so keen; I think it would be a good idea to try them again and I like the sound of yours very much! xx

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    1. I remember them being stodgy and lacking any flavour these are neither ;)

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  4. I love cooking too.
    I am amazed that you only get kohlrabi once a year with your veggie box. You can use it instead of cabbage in a coleslaw.
    Use it in your vegetarian dishes like a curry together with sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
    Sauteed in a little butter and stock as a side dish or served with a white parley sauce.
    Just got to add. Your photos are absolutely beautiful. xxx...x

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    1. Thank you! I spoke too soon had it again this week ;)

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  5. Lovely, delicious, nourishing things going on in your kitchen this month. How fantastic that you make your own sourdough starter - homemade bread is always the best. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Homemade bread is the best, I haven't bought bread in eleven years!

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  6. Oh, this bread looks amazing! I really miss a good rye bread! I am completely hopeless in the kitchen, so any kind of baking recipes scary me :) But I'll save it for my friend - she is an amazing cook!

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    1. I am sorry to hear you think that you are completely hopeless in the kitchen. I don't believe anyone is really that bad, it is like everything you need a little practice!

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  7. I've had a go at growing kohl rabi a few times but they've never been very successful, therefore I've never tried them. They're such weird looking vegetables. Your bread looks lovely. I do make my own but have never tried a sourdough recipe.

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    1. I am a complete convert to sourdough I don't think I would ever make any other kind of bread now. I have never tried growing kohlrabi but would have thought it was a hardy vegetable so should do quite well round here.

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  8. I love the Spanish smoked paprika-the hot one! I can't tell you how happy I am that your writing appeared in my mail again. You have a lovely, calming effect on my life.:)

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  9. Like hearing about your sourdough. A friend gave us a bit of starter about a month ago and it has been sitting in our fridge ever since. This week my husband pulled it out and attempted a loaf, following a recipe exactly. The bread was a flop. I decided to give it a go and just went with what seemed right and the bread turned out fine. For me, just winging it is half the fun of baking and cooking. I'm not one for following recipes.

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    1. Sourdoughs take a while to get going too I find. I don't follow a recipe for my wheat starter but the rye one I do although now I have gotten a feel for that I might do it my own way!

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  10. I love dumplings. Absolutely adore them. And you've reminded me about my poor, neglected sourdough starter. Will try to revive it tomorrow.

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  11. Oh I haven't had dumplings for years - I had forgotten all about them - good hearty food. I dread to think how long I have spent cooking over the years, mostly I do it because I have to, but it is good when someone appreciates your efforts. I have tried growing kohl rabi unsuccessfully I might add. My favourite vegetable is the Romanesco cauliflower that tastes like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower but you don't see them in the shops that often.

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    1. I love romanesco it's lovely isn't it. I have managed to grow them successfully too!

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  12. I love that you think of the birds. We have had an overall mild winter this year but last year the deer at nearly all of my bushes in front of my home. My gram used to make homemade dumplings, they remind me of her :)

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    1. Dumplings were a big part of the food I ate as a child, although they were a little stodgy!

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  13. i am a terrible cook...but I love good, wholesome, healthy food. I have so much to learn from you!!!

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    1. Why thank you, that is a kind compliment!

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  14. I'm a recent convert to smoked paprika, too. And I'm a big fan of dumplings, though the other two here don't eat them. Strange people.

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    1. They are not something you can sneak and hide are they!

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  15. Being able to make most of my food from scratch is close to the top of my list of favorite things about being a stay-at-home mom. Just today, I ventured into homemade vegan yogurt (we'll see how it all turns out tomorrow!). There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowledge and control over what you put in your (and your family's) body. I don't think I could ever go back to a minly store bought diet.

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  16. I think Booths stock Kohl rabi when it's in season (mid - late summer).

    I grew some last year over in West Cumbria, incredibly easy and very tasty until I left the bulbs too late and they went woody. Would growing unusual veggies fit into the curriculum?

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