Try These At Your Peril!

snowdropwebMy long deceased ancestor, Aggie Smeeton may possess some remarkable talents, not least the ability to speak from beyond the grave, but her knowledge of herbal lore and attempts at self medication beg the question that the cure is often worse than the affliction!

Here’s what she has to say about irregular menstruation and teenage acne!

… that ‘ole book I ‘ad from that Joe Dancer, it didn’t just ‘ave charms and such in it. Theer were cures fer nigh on owt you could think on.  Good ‘uns too.  Tek them snow flowers, fer instance.  They be more’n the pretty maids o’ February … they be moon flowers and is powerful stuff fer treating the wayward courses o’ women.

‘course you ‘ad to know what you were adoing … mek it too strong and you’d a turn up yer toes in an eyes blink and ‘owl the ‘ouse down doin’ it!

‘an another thing, yer dinna want to bring ‘em in the ‘ouse if you could ‘elp it and certainly not afore the fust chicks hatched else you’d be ill-wished the year on.

Then there were lilac, which we ‘ad a growing in our garden both purple and white.  It be blossom thar knows so you don’t ‘ev to pick it, ‘cept at dawn when it be warm and then you ‘ad to know the right words,  but Joe, he done it and used to mek a tonic out on it which he’d selled fer tuppence a bottle.  ‘e said it would cure face palsy, but I never saw much evidence on it.  Aunt Maud took a slug or two once when she were bound up thinking it might clear ‘er out and it did that right enough!  ‘ardly out o’ the privy fer two days!

It were good fer skin though and we dabbed a bit on our Georgie’s spots when he were growing into a man, but that only happened the once, said it made ‘im look a right Mary Jane!  Got rid of ‘is spots fer a bit though!

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Eggzactly Why You Should Eat Eggs!

eggcupThere are all kinds of scientific reasons for why we should eat eggs, but as I’m not a scientist I can’t comment on the accuracy or otherwise of their claims so will not be regurgitating the pompous sounding rhetoric you may come across on other sites!

My reasons for the passionate consumption of eggs which I and my family consume on a daily basis are as follows:

1.  The very act of walking across dew drenched grass to the hen house to collect a breakfast egg knocks prozac and its ilk into a cocked hat any day!  This is food you have produced yourself by buying and caring for the hens that lay the eggs.  This simple joy touches the soul and makes the spirit soar!

Of course not everyone is in a position to keep their own hens, but there can’t be many people too far away from a good farm shop.  Getting out into the country, breathing the air and connecting with the natural world is well within the range of most people and you will feel all the better for it. hens

2.  Cooking with fresh, farm eggs has a huge impact on the end results!  I well remember during my W.I. days entering a Victoria sponge contest.  Simply by using free range eggs, my sponge was a much deeper yellow than the others something the judge commented on.  She also commented on the number of air holes in the sponge, but I’ve got better since then.

3.  Eggs they say are very high in protein and full of minerals etc, etc.  That’s as maybe, but one thing I do know is an egg breakfast without much in the way of bread and similarly for lunch is a great way of losing weight.  This very simple diet keeps hunger at bay and allows you to eat a normal evening dinner and anything you like at the weekends.

A few years back I some how managed to put on a stone in weight, but using eggs I lost it within four weeks and have never put it back.

4.  So what about cholesterol?  Well what about it?  They say now that eggs do not significantly contribute to cholesterol levels, but I could have told them that without expensive trials!  My father is now 84 years and has eaten at least one egg a day for most of his life.  I and my family are cheerfully following in his footsteps!  Apart from minor coughs and colds we’re all as fit as fiddles.

5.  They taste good!  When it comes down to it, food is all about taste and eggs not only taste delicious in their original state, but subtly alter and enhance the flavour of other ingredients which also makes them one of the most versatile foods known to man!

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How To Make Scotch Eggs The Quick And Easy Way!

scotch eggs

You can’t get more savory than this!
A couple of these for lunch will keep
you going all day.

I’ve no idea why scotch eggs are so called, presumably they originate north of the border, but their origins have no bearing on their taste and usefulness as a super protein packed meal.

When my not inconsiderable sized family was small, I used to make or buy scotch eggs as picnic food.  They travelled well, didn’t cause a huge amount of mess and the kids loved them!

Back then, I don’t remember there being a lot of variety, but things are very different now.  I recently attended a food fair and came across a stall selling nothing but scotch eggs!  The sausage meat used to encase the eggs was made to all kinds of recipes one or two of which didn’t contain any meat at all!

So before you ask, yes you can make vegetarian scotch eggs and even use fish as the main coating.  The cheats way of making scotch eggs is to buy ready made sausage meat, preferably from a good butcher rather than a super market which in the light of recent news releases, may contain products you weren’t expecting.

You can add your own flavourings in the form of herbs and spices by slowly combining in a blender with the sausage meat or adding to the coating mix.

All you need is a little imagination and if you’re looking for more quick and simple egg recipes you’ll find them here …

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Egg, Beetroot And Anchovy Open Sandwich

open sandwich

Another idea for an open sandwich. This one uses hard boiled eggs and smoked salmon which go very well together. There is no reason why you can’t add the beetroot either!

This is so easy to make you really don’t need a video from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to show you how it’s done, but as Hugh is one of my favourite cookery broadcasters I’ve included it anyway!

By the way, not everyone likes anchovies, if you are one of these, substitute with some parma ham, chorizo or just leave it off!  Alternatively you could make the version shown in the photo opposite which is especially good if you don’t like mayonnaise.

Talking of which, you can also spice up the mayonnaise with herbs, paprika or a dash of lemon juice.

Here’s what you need and what you do:

2 hard boiled eggs

3 beetroot, boiled

6 anchovy fillets

2 slices of bread, (crusty wholemeal works well)

2 tbsp mayonnaise

Peel the eggs and slice them into the mayonnaise, then fold together.  (Don’t chop or mash, you want the eggs to remain recognisable!)

Spread the egg mayonnaise onto the bread.

Slice the beetroot thinly onto the mayonnaise.

Top with anchovies.

When I make this I also butter the bread, thickly, (naughty be nice!)  I also use pickled beetroot from a jar which is more piquant, but have to say fresh cooked, home grown baby beets are best if available.

You can make it into quite a substantial meal by adding salad and dare I say it … chips!

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Easy Chicken And Egg Pie

easy chicken and egg pie

Use left over chicken or turkey and hard boil the eggs when you cook your breakfast to quickly make this chicken and egg pie.
Using ready made pastry will also speed up the process.

This is a great recipe for using up left over chicken or turkey.   It also works really well with ham.  It really doesn’t matter too much about quantities as you can always add other ingredients to make up.  I often add mushrooms or leeks.

The pastry quantities are also a bit arbitrary as it depends upon dish size so you may find you have pastry left over.  No problem!  Gather up the leftovers, roll out, add some jam or apple puree and you’ve a quick and easy pudding!

This recipe uses both short crust and puff pastry, but I’ve made it successfully using just short crust or just puff.  It’s really a matter of preference.  When I’m in a hurry I have no qualms about using ready made pastry, especially as it is often on offer!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz short crust pastry
  • 8 oz puff pastry
  • 8 – 12 oz of cooked chicken, (leftovers from a roast ideal).
  • 1 capsicum diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • 3 or 4 slices of lean bacon diced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs quartered
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of sherry

Method:

  • Blind bake the short crust pastry in 180 C oven for 20 minutes. (That’s weighing down the pastry with something like beans or rice on baking paper).
  • Heat butter and melt.
  • Whisk in flour till it is slightly golden.
  • Pour in milk, whisking it till it becomes thick.
  • Add in mustard and cheese.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes, add some water if it looks too thick.
  • Then add vegetables and chicken.
  • Spoon mixture to short crust pastry.
  • Scatter egg over filling.
  • Top with puff pastry, poking a few holes at the top.
  • Brush with beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.

To Serve:

Goes well with mash potato, chips, peas or salad.  It’s very filling so you will probably find you have plenty left over for another meal so well worth the time it takes to put this together.

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Eggs Is eggs Is Eggs Right?

fresh egg test

The egg in the foreground has sunk to the bottom of the jar and lies horizontal which shows that it is very fresh.
On the other hand, the one in the second jar has floated to the top and is in a vertical position. This egg would not fry or poach very well and may even be bad!

Wrong!  All eggs may look the same apart that is for a little variation in colour, but there is a huge difference in taste and how they perform when cooked.  A really fresh egg is a totally different product from that which is three weeks down the line so here’s how you tell how old your eggs are.

It’s all to do with the air cavity which is in the widest part of the egg.  A newly laid egg will have a very tiny pocket, but this gradually gets bigger as the days pass and it fills with air.  There is also moisture evaporation which causes some drying out and will be reflected in how you see the white.

It’s really very simple to test how fresh your egg is so you don’t need to suffer the selective information pasted on the side of shop bought egg boxes!

Just get a glass of cold water and drop your egg in, (carefully!) and observe!

Very freshsinks and remains horizontal

Tilts up slightlyegg is up to a week old

Floats in a vertical positionegg is stale

Now you might think, so what! Eggs are useable up to two or even three weeks at a stretch so why worry about freshness as long as you know they are not really stale or rotten.

My advice is to take the taste test and find out for yourself!  A really fresh egg is a delight to fry or poach as it has a nice compact, double ringed white with the yellow part placed firmly on the top.

The older the egg, the more the white spreads out until it looks like a very thin pancake and at this stage it is very difficult to poach.

poached egg, salmon and bagel

Poached egg with a semi-firm yolk served with smoked salmon and bagel. The white is nicely compact which shows the egg is very fresh!

Talking of poaching, it’s just about lunch time so here’s what I’m having, a well poached egg and smoked salmon on a bagel.  Notice how compact the white part is, that’s because I collected the egg this morning!

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Kathy’s Pickled Beetroot Eggs

beetroot pickled eggs

Eggs pickled with beetroot, delightfully tinged with pink!

I must confess it had never occurred to me to pickle eggs with beetroot,  but having got over the somewhat startling appearance I have to admit they add a certain something to a salad even if it is only a talking point!
My Canadian cousin, Kathy, gave me this recipe and the only thing difficult about it is the waiting period which is a minimum of 48 hours.  If you can leave them a little longer the colour may become more intense and penetrate deeper into the egg white.

Ingredients:

Baby beetroots

12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

Chopped onion

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

A couple of bay leaves

Cloves if liked

1 cup cider vinegar

Method:

Cook the beetroot in boiling water until soft.

Drain, but save some of the water.

Place beetroot, onion and eggs in a large glass jar or similar container

Bring the sugar, water, vinegar, bay leaves, cloves and reserved beetroot juice to a boil.

Pour over beetroot and eggs and allow to cool.

Cover tightly and keep in the fridge for at least 48 hours before serving.

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Posh Pancakes, How To Make ‘Em, How To Toss ‘Em!

blackberriesandtam2I know pancakes are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, but in my opinion they make a fantastic desert whatever the season.  You can do all sorts of things with them as long as you can get them off the ceiling which shouldn’t come to that if you follow the advice of one who has been there, got the tee-shirt and learnt the lesson!
This is one of my favourite recipes which I tried to fob off at a recent dinner party as Crepes la mûre.
“What’s that then,” said one of our plain speaking guests.  “Posh pancakes?”  The title didn’t do it for him, but the pancakes were delicious so here’s what you do.
First off you need to make the batter.  This will make about 8 pancakes including a small taster which I share with the dog.

Batter
4oz (100g) plain flour.
Half a Pint (250ml) of milk.
1  Egg
Pinch of Salt
(Sue’s tip: When I used to make pancakes for the kids I used extra flour to make them thicker.  This was a good filler and stopped them raiding the pantry when my back was turned!)
Pancakes are traditionally served with sugar, lemon or oranges which in my view is still the best way to eat them, but hey, we’re doing posh pancakes here so here’s …

The Posh Bit!
Gently stew half a pound or so of  blackberries in a little honey and water, (or better still brandy!)  By the way, it doesn’t have to be blackberries, you can use almost any fruit. Our freezer is always stuffed with them as I’m an inveterate blackberry picker and have the scratched and pricked arms to prove it!  Keep fruit warm until all pancakes have been cooked.

Cooking the little blighters
Take it from me, this is the hard bit!  Having scraped fragments of charred batter from stove tops, kitchen floors and the occasional ceiling on innumerable occasions, I am now something of an expert at pancake cooking!  So here goes:
You need a really good frying pan such as a caste iron skillet.  (Note to pancake racers: Don’t expect your five year old using one of these to win the Year 1 tossing race as I did.  The poor little mite could barely keep it off the ground never mind flip it!)  I digress.   Heat the frying pan and get it really hot.
Rub it all over with the greasy wrapper from a block of lard, butter or oil.  (Not margarine!  If you knew what that stuff really was you would be mortified!)  If you prefer just melt a small piece of fat or oil in the middle of the pan, but not too much!).
When it is really hot, pour in a couple of tablespoons of batter.  (I have batter in a jug, makes it easier to pour).
Tilt the pan to spread the batter.  You’ll know if you’ve got it right as the batter will start to curl at the edges and lift slightly. It should only take a minute or so to get the pancake brown so don’t leave too long otherwise it will burn.

Are You A Tosser?
Most people are not in which case you’ll need to flip the pancake over by using something like a fish slice.
If you can toss though, the job is done quickly and neatly with no tearing although I have to confess to spending considerable time picking dog hairs out of a few casualties that landed on the floor.  Still, make these far enough in advance and your guests won’t know a thing about it!

Making ‘em Posh
Now you’ve cooked all the batter you can make full use of your artistic talents by spooning the blackberry mix onto the pancake, rolling, drizzling with a little honey, treacle or maple syrup and piping pretty little spirals of whipped cream along the top.
Alternatively, the bog standard lemon and sugar ones are just as good!
pancake3

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Hannah’s Leek Souffle

leeksouffleOne of the best things about writing a recipe book is once people start reading it, they are eager to share their own favourites.   This one came from my friend Hannah who sings in our local community choir. She also keeps hens and ducks so like me, has a ready supply of eggs.

I used to make souffles years ago when we kept goats and were awash with milk as well as eggs.   It took me a while to achieve success, but the trick is to beat plenty of air into them and serve straight from the oven before they have a chance to collapse!

Ingredients:

  • 40g butter
  • 2 leeks
  • 25g flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 pint milk
  • 75g cheese, (Gruyere, Cheddar also works well)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C
  • Butter a large soufflé dish
  • Thinly slice leeks
  • Fry in the butter over a gentle heat until soft
  • Add flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously
  • Gradually whisk in the milk and keep stirring until you have a nice thick sauce
  • Separate eggs and add yolks to leek mixture
  • Add cheese and seasoning
  • Whisk whites until stiff and fold into mixture
  • Pour into prepared dish and cook for 30 – 40 minutes until golden and puffy.

To Serve:

Green salad with tomatoes and fresh, crusty bread.  You have to serve the soufflé immediately as it soon sinks so straight from the oven to the table!

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How To Boil An Egg … Egg Recipes For Breakfast, Dinner And Tea!

 kindlethumb2If you’ve got an egg, you’ve got a meal – true enough, but you do need to know how to cook it which is what you will learn in How To Boil An Egg.

We start with a blueprint recipe for boiling and poaching which all the following recipes are based upon. All are quick to prepare, easily adapted to feed a singleton or a horde of thousands and in most cases can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea or as a starter before a more formal meal.

Quite simply, the recipes are the delicious favourites cooked regularly by myself or recommended by family and friends.

You will also be pleased to know that eggs, unlike a lot of things we enjoy, won’t have a negative impact on your health. They are one of the most nourishing and versatile foods known to man and recent scientific trials have given them a massive thumbs up as an all round natural food source, rich in minerals and high in protein so thanks chickens, you already knew that!

Even better, an egg based meal will keep hunger pangs at bay far longer than many other foods so if you are watching your weight, eggs are a must have in your dietary plan and so easy to incorporate with these easy to prepare and delicious to eat recipes.

How To Boil An Egg … Egg Recipes For Breakfast, Dinner And Tea is available on Amazon in Kindle format.  Get it Here or …

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY!

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