One of my favorite things to do is to make a day of home cooking. And there is nothing more joyful and rewarding for me, than using food grown in the garden in my cookery for my loved ones. It’s something I really love putting the energy into creating recipes I love.
Well today is a rainy day I’m looking around for something to make using things from the garden. I see the wild mint is doing really well in the wet weather and there are new sprigs everywhere, so just because it’s fresh I’m going to bottle some mint sauce, that can be stored in pantry to be used on roast lamb next time.Also today I’m making a marmalade and sultana cake, dinner of coque a Vin, and a crusty white loaf of bread. It’s a birthday dinner, so I’m putting extra effort in.
For the mint sauce,
Firstly I cut a large bunch of fresh mint from the garden.
I chop mint and add to a saucepan containing water and heat the water I then add the sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves. Add vinegar and place saucepan on the heat to simmer the sauce for about twenty minutes.
You may need to play with the vinegar, sugar and water ratios, till you get a mint sauce that has the right balance of sour and sweet for your tastes.
After simmering, and when you have the flavors balanced as you like them, simply bottle the sauce in a clean sterilized bottle or jar, and keep at room temperature in pantry . It should last month’s like this, essentially the mint has been pickled and will keep for quite some time.
The mint sauce turned out fine, but I’m going to be cooking all day today.
I thought I’d make a delicious caserole for dinner and some crusty bread to go with it.
Crusty White Loaf.
Making bread for me really has been difficult because I think my continuing mistake is that I haven’t kneaded it enough, my last batch failed, so I wanted to give it another go.
I’m trying this bread just one more time,
I’m making a basic crusty white loaf.
One packet of bread flour, and 4 grms of yeast, add water. How come I can’t get this right? Every time I’ve made bread it simply hasn’t turned out, and I’m thinking what I’m doing wrong is that I’m simply not kneading it long enough by hand, so, today, I’m going to use the cordless drill.
Ok this time I have a trick up my sleave that may give me an advantage. I’m basically using the portable drill with rechargeable battery pack, instead of the mix master. I have simply connected the dough hook from my mixmixer to the drill bit end. And whala, I have an energy efficient bread machine. You see the mix master uses too much solar power through the inverter, and really needs a generator on, and the drill is battery run and holds the dough hook perfectly.
After some time I do get my partner to give me a hand as my arm is getting sore and I’m determined to knead this dough properly no matter how long it takes.
After kneading for ages, and proving 40 min then place in bread pan and leave to rise once more before baking for 30 mins. I sprinkle with chia seeds.
Well it’s the best loaf of bread I’ve made so far, and it worked simply because I spent a lot longer working the dough. I’m pleased with how the bread turned out and can’t wait to try it with a sour dough starter next time. It’s a perfect crusty loaf to serve with the ‘coque a Vin’ in preparing or, ‘cock in wine’, a French dish of chicken, spring onions, bacon, mushroom, and red vine.
The coque a Vin was a recipe I found in a book.
The spring onions or escalots were from our garden and the chicken was a meat chicken that I aquired in return for labor killing and butchering my friends organic poultry on a small hobby farm not far away. And the bacon is from a pig off my father’s farm that we went shares in. We killed, plucked and butchered the chicken ourselves, well I did most as its something I was brought up doing all my life, I grew up on a cattle farm, and we always killed several chickens at once, as a family. However the pig was butchered by a local butcher, who provides a home service , on my father’s property.
Birthday celebration cake.
One more recipe for today, and in this cake I’m using local oranges, goats milk and fresh hens eggs from a neighbours hens. I’m making a marmalade first, then using that in the sultana almond marmalade cake. Once the cake is cooked and cooled I make an icing using orange juice and saffron stamens for added colour and luxury, I top it with pistashios and for an extra touch I’ve also used basil flowers from my herb garden for a decoration. And even though this cake took most of the day, it’s a treat for my birthday that lived up to the hype.
So whether it’s from your own garden, or from the neighbors, it’s great to use your own produce or locally aquired resources, to make inspired dishes for your friends and family. It makes everything seem much more valuable, precious and appreciated.
I love cooking special recipes and it’s all the more enjoyable when you can say you grew some of the produce yourself.