Saturday, 26 January 2013

Blog update...US conversion tool now available

Hello again! If you are reading my blog from the US, you might find the new tool for conversions to US measurements useful that my husband made (he's a clever chap).  I have now included this on the right side of the blog, just below "Inside the Happy Larder".  Simply enter the amount/number as given in the recipe and choose the unit to convert to. Hope this helps!

Back again tomorrow with another recipe...

Kirsten @ The Happy Larder

Happy Saturday!

Thanks to the lovely Rhonda at Down to Earth I have had new visitors to my blog.  It's great that you have come by to have a look at The Happy Larder and  I hope you like what you see.  I am looking forward to your comments and if you have any questions, I will try and reply to you as soon as I can.

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower/Wales
Now the weekend is here, the snow has completely disappeared and has been replaced by lots and lots of rain (not that I am going to complain after reading about the droughts followed by flooding in Australia).
It just means that apart from walking the dog, I'll try and avoid going outside and will instead sort out the house (there's always something to be done, isn't there?), write some emails that are long overdue and do some baking.  After all, I need a steady supply of recipes to share with you, don't I? :-) 
And if during all this it just looks too grey outside, this photo reminds me of what Wales looks like in the sunshine. 

Happy Saturday - have a great start to your weekend!

Friday, 25 January 2013

The simple stuff

I woke up early this morning, made a big mug of tea and just sat here, cuddling Keith the dog.  It was quiet and peaceful and it made me think about how lucky I am.  A little over a year ago we made a few choices about the direction we wanted our lives to go in and that meant me quitting my job, us moving to Wales and my husband being the sole breadwinner.  We were lucky that we had that option available to us and we are grateful every day.  We can now enjoy a simpler and happier life.

Moving on swiftly to my favourite thing: food - what could be a more simple and yet delicious than fresh bread with butter?  And if you have never made your own bread, maybe this next recipe is something fun to try: pretzels!

In Germany (where I am originally from) these are sold pretty much anywhere and are known as "Laugenbrezel", referring to the fact that the pretzels are dipped in lye (yep - much the same as drain cleaning lye but luckily of food grade).  Now, I don't know about you but I am not too confident using lye in the kitchen, so I've been looking for an alternative and have finally found one: my old friend bicarbonate of soda.

Similar to bagels, pretzels are briefly poached in hot water prior to baking and in this case, the water contains bicarb.  It gives the finished article a lovely brown shine and whilst the pretzels come out a bit softer than the lye variety, they are absolutely delicious, especially served slightly warm with butter.  You could make smaller ones for a picnic, filled with ham & cheese, salami, just cheese & lettuce or anything else you might fancy.   It's the first time I made these and - although my pretzel-forming skills need fine-tuning - this was definitely not the last time.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Of snow and spice...and all things nice

Snow gentleman
I met this gentleman on the right during this morning's dog walk- he did make me smile, looking all official with his tie.  Someone obviously had a lot of fun there...I really enjoy walking in the snow when it's for pleasure and Keith the dog was also very happy that it hadn't melted - he loves chasing snowballs.

Where's my snowball?
With it still being so wintery here, I feel another soup recipe is in order - and this is one comes with a twist.  It brings the humble potato to life with a hint of curry and coconut milk.  You can even use leftover mash for this recipe to make it an extra speedy lunch.  The addition of crunchy vegetables gives the dish extra texture and the spice is lovely and warming on a winter's day...although this can be enjoyed at any time of the year.   It could also easily be adapted by adding thin strips of cooked chicken or cooked king prawns at the end of cooking if you don't want it to be vegetarian.

Potato soup...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Just enough chilli, just enough sauce

I don't know about you but recipes that ask me to use a quarter of a teaspoon of something that I am unlikely to need again in the next year really drive me mad.  I end up with jars of stuff in the fridge that only get moved when I need to make room for the milk and then I think "oh yeah - should be using that up soon" - only I never do.

Sweet chilli sauce...
For yesterday's stir fry I wanted some sweet chilli sauce and decided to make my own. After a bit of searching I found an easy recipe that resulted in a lovely sauce - exactly as sweet & hot as I like it and no more than we needed. Perfect! The other advantage is that you know exactly what's in it - no glucose-fructose syrup, no additives, no other little horrors. 

I thought it would be really difficult to make this sauce and that it would taste nothing like commercial brands.  I am glad to say I was wrong on both counts and I will try and make more stuff like this from scratch.  I'll keep you posted on any progress.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The gift that keeps on giving

My husband is the king of roast dinners in our house and on Sunday he made us a gorgeous roast beef with all the trimmings including Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, different vegetables and gravy.  De-li-cious!  So delicious in fact that I forgot to take a picture of it for the blog before diving in.  I'm afraid you are going to have to wait until next time for photographic evidence :-)

I have, however, taken photos of the dinner I made last night using the leftovers:  bubble & squeak cakes with cold cuts.  I had promised to show a few recipes using leftover mash or potatoes in my post a couple of days ago.  You can make these marvelous little cakes whenever you have some leftover potatoes and vegetables and they go with pretty much anything.  If you like, you can add fresh herbs or spices to change the flavour according to what you want to serve with them but the idea is to keep it simple and to use up the bits and pieces you have in your fridge or larder. this!
From this...

Monday, 21 January 2013

Useful in the larder (Part II)

When I looked around the park on my dog walk this morning, I couldn't quite believe my eyes - daffodils in full January???
Daffs in January...

Anyway, I digress...
When I open my larder door I see lots of stuff - bags of flour, different types of sugar and an array of bottles and jars.  What I don't automatically see is cleaning materials and yet - as in Part I of "Useful in the larder" about bicarb - it is surprising that some of the items can be very handy around the house.  Take vinegar as an example: lovely in salad dressings or sprinkled on hot chips and great when making chutney, the right type of vinegar doubles up as a great household cleaner.  Here are a few tips using white vinegar:

  • Window cleaner - fill an empty spray bottle 2/3 with warm water, add 1/3 white vinegar for a cheap and eco-friendly way to clean those windows...optional: add a drop of essence of lemon oil for extra fragrance
  • Refresh dishcloths - place in enough water to cover & add approx. 60ml white distilled vinegar. Soak overnight & rinse.
  • Clean the fridge with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.
  • Clean the bathtub by wiping it with white distilled vinegar and then scouring with bicarb.
  • Get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors by wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop.
  • Remove stains from coffee or teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts bicarb and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean.
  • Remove corrosion deposits from cast aluminum with vinegar solution and rinse off afterwards 
So, as you can see there are lots of ways vinegar comes in handy.  I love that it is much more environmentally friendly to use and also much cheaper than buying a selection of household cleaners.  Why not give it a go?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Of snowballs and sausages

Keith eating snow
It's still bitterly cold here but Keith the dog is loving it.  Being a young dog, this is his first proper winter and watching him romp around and waiting for us to throw snowballs for him has been priceless.  It also means he gets to eat crunchy snow - lots of it.

Venison sausages
Luckily, we have been having food with more sustenance than snow, keeping us warm inside.  Spare a thought though for the homeless or the elderly who are not so lucky.  I read a lovely story about the Swansea City footballer Angel Rangel and his wife who drove around the city on Friday night, looking for homeless people to give food to that they had collected from a sandwich shop.  The shop owner was going to throw the leftovers away at the end of the day but instead donated these to Angel and his wife to distribute to needy people. They found a shelter for the homeless where the food was very welcome.  A heartwarming story not only about kindness but also about a better way of dealing with potential food waste.

As I said, we have been lucky to have food to keep us happy and warm and we are very grateful for it!
This yummy dish of venison sausages in red onion gravy is another easy recipe that can be prepared in advance and is ideal for a cold winter's day.  Keep any leftover mash to top a fish pie or make into fish cakes, bubble & squeak cakes etc.  Recipes for all of these will follow in the next few posts but for now, please click below to find the recipe for the sausage dish.  I hope you will like it!