Todays kitchen ramblings – Monday

In my kitchen there is a small bucket, blue in colour, for those that like to know the colour of things. It’s not the colour that matters though, it’s the size. It is small in size and I currently use it for all the windfalls from our large apple tree that is laden with two types of apple. I care not what variety goes into this bucket, just that I collect all the windfalls ready for use in my kitchen.

For me the kitchen is the heart of a home and the front line to activities in any home. For we are what we eat and if we know what we eat then we know who we are.

Since COVID arrived, and like most peoples, my plans and life has been changed in a way that 12 months ago I would not have thought possible. I have decided to focus on everything that my body consumes, this might be a means of control or just my way of saving the planet with every meal.

Because the preparation for that consumption happened in the kitchen I feel the need to focus my new blog on this area, and the heart of the home, the kitchen.

I have always been interested in the making of meals, the cooking from whole foods and the growing of plants in an organic and holistic way. Buying organic is not always possible, mainly because it is far more expensive, but local food is possible as good for our environment and growing your own is better. Well the growing of my own has been a bit hit and miss this year because until April , when the world of normal ended for most of us, I hadn’t thought about growing my own food in any quantity and the buying of plants and seeds was at times a little difficult.

Today, because of the storms over the weekend, I filled my little bucket with windfalls and brought it into the house. I normally collect the apples and place them in the bucket but I needed to bring the bucket to the tree for the amount that had fallen.

I filled the bucket with water and left to soak. a little later I drained and cut the apples in half, discarding any rotten ones, the reminder were put into a pan, covered with fresh water and left on a very low heat to just warm for about 30 mins. These haven’t come to the boil and with the lid on they are now resting to draw the flavours out. this will become Apple Jelly in a few days time.

The start of windfall jelly

Last Friday, I received my veg box from our local greengrocer (I haven’t got any of my own left). I started a week ago to order a box of seasonal veg from my greengrocer and I have not been disappointed.

Veg and salad boxes

So today I made potato and leek soup. This is a hearty soup and is very simple to make. I made a lot so there was plenty to put in the freezer for another time. I melted about 4oz of butter in a large pan, put two large leeks, washed and chopped into the pan with about 2lbs of washed and chopped (not peeled) potatoes. I put a lid on and left on a very low heat for about 30mins so that the flavours developed. I then added a pint and half of milk, salt pepper and a handful of dry herbs (only grown mint at moment). I turned up the heat covered with lid and simmered until potatoes were soft. When cooled a little I put them into the blender then divided into portions for two people. One lot for tonight’s meal the other two chilled then frozen.

Homemade mayonnaise is so easy to make and you know what goes into it. you need a blender or powered whisk. I use 2 whole eggs, large tablespoon of cider vinegar, small tablespoon of liquid mustard, the same of salt (I use rock salt) just over half a pint of oil, mixture of olive and sunflower. I blend the eggs, salt, vinegar and mustard together then very very VERY slowly add the oil. My blender had a lid gadget for this. If it goes wrong, and doesn’t end up thick (it’ll be because you added the oil to quickly), don’t worry. Just decant into a jug and put another egg into the blender then slowly add the failed mixture slower than before. Store in a clean jar with a lid in the fridge this will last at least a week but is sure to be eaten before then. Try different oils and mustards for a bit of variety.

To finish my pre breakfast cookery, I decised to make some more sourdough. Sourdough is something I had hardly tasted before COVID and certanily never made. I heard it was good for the immune system and so thought back in the dark days of late March 2020, I would give it a go. Sourdough is slow. you need a started, which is you ‘yeast’ or raising agent. This I will go into on another blog but today I will share how I make sourdough.

I weighed out 1 KG of flour, into a large bowl. The flour in half white bread flower, and the rest is a mix of normal Whole-meal (I ordered 16kg online during the flour shortage of 2020) and granary bread makers flour. I make a hole in the middle ready for my mix. I then put 600ml of warm water into a jug, to this I add 2 large dessert spoons of dark brown sugar and the same of salt (rock salt) I stir until dissolved, or nearly so. I take my starter and spoon two dessert spoons into a clean jar (blog to follow) to that I add the same amount of white bread flour and a little water and leave to grow at room temperature. I then top up the remaining started with some of my sugar/salt warm liquid and stir to get it more movable. Then I pour this into the jug, making sure no starter is wasted, then pour into the ‘hole’ in my flour. Stir into it is ‘safe’ to handle. Knead this on your clean worksurface or kneading board. do not add any more flour or liquid. Kneading is about stretching the gluten, not pushing the dough with your fists. I normally knead for about to songs on the radio, singing helps. I then return to the bowl cover with clean tea towels (another blog) and leave somewhere warm. Today that is my workroom, behind me as I type, this will be taken back to the kitchen later if it has risen, if not, I will sort it tomorrow. Sourdough can rise quickly or take a day or two. You can’t speed it up and the longer it takes the nicer the flavours.

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