It's been quiet here on the blogging front. Sausages is needing me a lot at the moment, I'm getting tired and slow moving, and I had to give the fabulous camera back to Bapar. Blogging seems pretty dull without photos! This week I have set myself up with the camera I had when I was a student. It's the same as Sausages', but he has 6mp and I have only 4! His life is more exciting than mine anyway! So I apologise if my photos are a little sad at the moment.
There has been some really hearty seasonal cooking recently, so I thought I'd share some of it with you!
This is Chicken Stew/Soup (this one lies on the cusp. If you mashed it it would definitely be soup, and if you chunked the components it would definitely be a stew, and would love to go with dumplings) in the style of my Gran. Again, it's a what-I-have-in-meets-slow cooker recipe, but well worth passing on. If you've met me, or read the blog recipes before, you'll know measurements and precise ingredients are not in my nature! This potful contains: three chicken thighs; a little marigold reduced salt bouillon powder; two sticks of celery and five carrots, chopped up fine in the food processor; about a cup of ubiquitous broth mix (barley, split peas, lentils etc. available very cheaply in any supermarket or wholefoods shop); and a good measure of boiling water from the kettle. Bear in mind that the broth mix will drink a lot of water. I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker first, then took out the bones and skin but left in the juices before adding all the other ingredients and cooking for half a day. Pulses don't really seem to soften well in the slow cooker, so I try to give them as long as possible. It made six hearty portions, wolfed down on a chilly lunchtime with hot crusty bread rolls and lashings of white pepper. The white pepper is important! It makes the dish!
The second slow cooker lovely I want to share with you is a sort of instant sauerkraut-inspired sausage and cabbage affair. This is a real autumnal meal. Into the pot went: a pack of six bratwurst sausages from Aldi, roughly quartered; half a white cabbage, sliced into around 1.5cm strips with a bread knife; one red onion; ground mixed peppercorns; a tablespoon of cider vinegar; and about a cup of cider (plenty left in the bottle to drink alongside!). We served it with mashed potato to soak up the delicious gravy, but we were not equal to the quantities, and so I would say this serves 5-6. There was plenty left over for another meal. Sausages especially loved this, and when I wasn't looking leaned over and liberated some of my sausage. He is the proverbial "good eater!"
I've also been making some fancy drinks this week. Sausages and I tried out a fabulous outdoor playgroup last week, and at snacktime they produced hot potatoes and a flask of mulled apple juice. Sausages loved the apple juice, so I made a big pan of it at home, and the three of us dealt with it pretty swiftly. I just chucked a carton of cheapy UHT apple juice in a pan with a sachet of mulling spice, long past it's B.B.E. and found lurking at the back of the larder. It reduced down a little, but the spices stopped it from being too sweet int he way apple juice can be come times.
I also had a go at making pumpkin spiced syrup, courtesy of the lovely home baked blog. I recently roasted and processed a delicious little pumpkin. Most of it went into an amazingly delicious risotto, but three spoons of puree were reserved for this little treat. I wasn't ready for the pumpkin spiced lattes to disappear from the cafes!
I ended up with one tall jar full of delicious, dark syrup, but I think I reduced it too far, so you should end up with more. Also it would have been cleverer to use several little jars instead, so that only the sterile seal on what you are using would be broken. I'm not too bothered though: I don't think it's going to last very long!
As I have emerged from the fug of pregnancy sickness I have been greeted by not only the change is season, and the culinary excitement it inspires, but also the push towards preparing for Christmas. Christmas this year is a "known unknown" for us: will we have a new bungalow resident? Will I be waddling around with a full-term-sized belly? It's a mystery for now, and Husband and I are focusing on every week as it comes, taking things very steady, and doing everything in our power (not much) to avoid having another early baby. This weekend in my fortune cookie I received the fortune "a happy event will take place shortly in your home." I'm taking this as a positive homebirth sign. I'm not superstitious, but even I can't ignore that one! However, it has occurred to me that it might well be Husband who actually cooks our first Christmas dinner in our own home. I have been doing as much preparation as possible, and the 4-bird roast, pigs in blankets, and baked red cabbage are all nestling in the freezer. Husband does the best roasties and veg anyway, it only remains for me to persuade him to cook sprouts the way I like them!
How is your festive prep coming along? I hope you are enjoying your slow cooking!