Category Archives: Kitchen

Recipe Day

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I’ve been fine-tuning a gluten free sponge recipe this week to share with my brother’s wedding cake maker. I adapted a recipe one of my aunts in Canada shared with me, a Deluxe Pound Cake, as an option for our wedding cake. Yup, I made our wedding cakes. As most will already know, Ruairidh has a list of dietary no-nos, and he wanted to be able to eat some of his wedding cake too! I found a tasty, Ruairidh friendly Nigella fruit cake, made some alterations myself and, after a couple of trials, I knew it would be perfect and manageable. But I wanted to have a sponge option as well, and as Ruairidh could have the fruit cake, a ‘normal’ sponge would be fine. But what recipe would stand up to the size, waiting time, and icing involved? My aunt’s recipe was perfect! We had cake success, with the icing help of a friend. So this week, I decided to adapt the recipe to see if it would work as a gluten-free wedding cake. We just finished eating it today! It was great, actually even better than my initial wheat-full cake trials. And I honestly think you wouldn’t have noticed a difference. I’m not so keen on the strong rice taste and texture you get in a lot of GF cakes. But I’ve discovered that ground almonds make all the difference. If you eat gluten-free, I hope you can make use of this. If not, I’ve written up the wheat-full ingredients as well! Oh, and it’s optionally cow’s milk free too.       To make this a real recipe day, I’ll throw in a Banana Loaf recipe . I think this may have come from Canada as well. I typed it up for one of my brothers recently so it’s handy to share. I miss not having bananas in to get over-ripe for banana loaf! I don’t actually eat raw banana, there’s just something about them I struggle to swallow. My mum says I used to eat loads and loads when I was wee, maybe I sickened myself with them! And Ruairidh never thinks of buying them, so our fruit bowl remains banana free. Until I remember, and then our fruit bowl has spotted and black bananas waiting to be magically transformed into scrumptious loaf! The best way to use up old bananas I say, and old bananas are best. Enjoy!

GF/DF Fruit Cake PDF

Banana Loaf PDF

 

Basil Green and Sky Blue

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I love days in which the weather completely turns, from horrible to lovely that is. I don’t appreciate it turning the other way around as much! Yesterday began a lot like today, wet and drich and grey and cloudy. But then the wind blew, the clouds parted and the sun shone through. For the afternoon at least. It cheers you up to see the sun here in the islands, especially when we so want to shake winter away. Come on summer, you can make it through! I was just starting to put together dinner when I was distracted by the lovliness of the basil in the kitchen window, I just had to go for the camera. Dinner would wait! The light was glowing through the veins on the leaves, leaves so green and fragrant. I kept snapping trying various angles and settings. I’m trying to get better with Ruairidh’s camera (a big fancy one with knobs and settings to keep me happy with developing photo-taking!), and as I’m still pretty awful most of the time, I take lots to practice and to get a nice photo. But then all of a sudden, it wouldn’t take a photo. It wouldn’t click. I looked at the screen, to see ‘No more memory’. Eeek, I had filled up the memory card. Not just with the basil! I hadn’t uploaded photos since February. Last week I realised I had to set some time aside to take photos of my laptop because I was running out of space on there too. There were photos from nearly two years still there. Most had been put onto flickr, up to this summer. But I hadn’t been able to put them onto disk, and delete them from the laptop, what with senior honours, a wedding, moving, and all that jazz! But I can now stoke it off my list. I love being able to do that. And now I have a whole new lot of photos to edit and put onto flickr. Yippee! Yes, I am looking forward to it, strangley enough. I have a new toy to play with you see. I got Photoshop Elements for my Birthday, and I’m just starting to get the hang of it. And I want to see if I managed to get any decent photos of the horses we met on the beach a couple of weeks ago. So, keep an eye out to see some of our recent adventures. And our not so recent- I have only processed the first half of our honeymoon holiday so far.

So, I was forced to get back to making the dinner. Just as well it was yummy! We had a pizza night. We get ‘Glutamel’ gluten free ready-made pizza bases from the Co-op for Ruairidh. And when, like yesterday, we don’t have any wheat-full bases for myself, I have to say I am happy to eat them too. They are really yummy actually, and they don’t break like some others. I haven’t got around to trying some home-made bases yet, maybe sometime.

I had thought when I started to write this, that today was going to continue its misery of drizzle and cloud. But *hoooray!* the cloud is lifting with the wind. I might get that load of washing outside after all. Oh, how housewifey that sounds! It’s not the highlight of my day, honest. It juts makes laundry a lot easier!  Have you had any highlights so far this weekend?

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Pancakes

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*disclaimer : links may stimulate mouthwatering reactions; contains food imagery; if hungry, do not click*

Today turned into a pancake day. Yes, I know it was a bit late, but it was planned this way. Kind of! Pancake making had been suggested as an activity idea for us to do with the local youth club that we help run, and I had pencilled it in for tonight’s activity. It was my turn on the rota, cunningly devised by moi, as I have been wanting to try out our new electric pan/hotplate and pancake making were the perfect opportunity. Our household grew up wolfing down a multitude of pancakes that Mum made on her electric pan. Mairianne and I graduated from watching on the sidelines, to helping flip the pancakes, and, in the end, making them from scratch, all by our chuffed-selves! Of course, Mum has the best knack! As did her mother before her, and its Granny’s recipe we still use. Pancakes, otherwise defined as ‘dropped scones’, hold many happy childhood memories. We loved arriving for a visit at Granny and Grandpa’s in Callanish when Granny was making pancakes. She kept the little crunchy tidbits that fell on the pan all for us! The dog didn’t like missing out on his treat that day though! Mum used to make pancakes at our Primary school’s gala day- EPIC pancake making days that raised a lot of money. I think it was definitely in the top three favourite stalls at the gala. Pancakes make great Christmas presents, and a batch is always made when family come home for a visit, or somebody is going to visit them on the mainland. My brothers would never forgive a lack of pancakes and scones from visitors from home! What do we do with all these soft, brown, airy, slight-sweet, beautiful morsels? Apart from (grudgingly 😉 ) giving them away, basically, stuff our faces with them! They are best, of course, hot off the pan. With a good layer of golden syrup, or butter and strawberry jam *mouthwatering moment*. Another favourite is toasting tham from frozen, or frying them to go along with a fried breakfast. Who couldn’t appreciate toasted/fried pancakes, bacon and maple syrup? Cold, they are popularly topped with combinations of butter, jam, whipped cream, crowdie (cheese made from buttermilk) and cream. Or creme fraiche for the healthier eaters. We love to have pancakes along with soup, especially lentil or scotch broth. Such a versatile cake, or scone. The different denotations can cause some confusion. Our ‘pancakes’ are smaller, thicker and denser than you might expect. But yummy all the same!

Mum’s electric pan supplied a LOT of pancakes over the years. It sadly gave up the ghost a few years back, and as Mum had initially received it from her sister in Canada, a replacement was hard to come by. Impossible it seemed. We couldn’t find anything like it on the market over here, or online. It seemed the express, consistent pancake making era had come to an end. Our hope failed. But it semed we gave up too quickly! One of our wedding gifts was an electric pan/hotplate!!! (I’m not sure how to define it. I suppose the box would show a title, but it’s downstairs as I write this, so it will have to wait!) It advertised cooking things like prawns, but it was perfect for pancakes too. I think Mum gasped when we opened it! “Where did you get that?” she demanded of the gift-givers (thankfully folk well-known to us and of good humour!). As it turned out, it was to be found in a shop in Stornoway (yes, Stornoway- who would have thought of looking there?!!) at a bargain price. The next day, Mum was the proud owner of an electric table pan. Of course, she inaugurated hers months ago, but ours only made it out of the box today!

Making pancakes on the new machine at Youth Club tonight

I did do a quick trial run before youth club, to get acquainted with the new toy. It behaved beautifully, despite my messing up of the recipe (disaster always follows the hurried baker!). Well, not a complete disaster, they were edible, I just mixed up tsp (teaspoon) and tbsp (TABLEspoon) with the margarine and syrup. They were just a bit heavy. The mix was much better later on. They ‘kids’ did all the measuring etc, and did really well spooning the batter and turning the pancakes. I think (and hope) they enjoyed it, we leaders sure did anyway! Hot pancakes and syrup opened a new world for some anyway, and another will surprise them tomorrow at breakfast- I recommend pancakes, egg and bacon! Many of our family and friends will be aware that we have a fondness for baked goods at breakfast time, so this will come as no surprise. You know about the pancakes, but what do you think of fried duff? (Duff is our version of a ‘clootie dumpling’- another post entirely!) I would like some more practice with the electric pan, to try and figure out the best temperature etc, but I’m really chuffed with this kitchen toy wedding gift. May it prove as successful in our family over the years as yesterday’s Canadian Pancake Queen  proved to be until the end of its days. And I think Pancake Day will be a future favourite with our youth club!