What to do with left over egg whites?

Last week I finally made some gooseberry ice cream. The recipe I use calls for egg yolks, but not the whites. Unfortunately I miscalculated the quantities I was making so when all the ice cream was packed away in the freezer, I had eight egg whites to use up.

whisked egg white

Lemon meringue pie? Making a pastry case is too much effort.

Lots of egg white omelettes? Nice, but no good if you want to use them all up at once.

Angel food cake or some other whipped cake? Apparently the egg whites need to be at room temperature for a good result and mine were chilled.

Coconut haystacks? Just the thing, quick, easy and I happen to have bought a large amount of desiccated coconut recently.

This recipe is from a children’s cook book we were given a few years ago. I don’t feel too guilty about repeating it as it is a pretty generic, basic recipe. It does lend itself to baking with children because the whisking and mixing are pretty straightforward.

Coconut Macaroons

The basic ingredients are egg white, caster sugar and desiccated coconut.

I will give you the quantities for one egg white and you can multiply it up depending upon how many you need to use up.

1 egg white, 35g caster sugar, 70g desiccated coconut. This should make about seven.

Whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. Whisk the caster sugar in a third at a time. Your mixture should now be quite shiny. Gently fold in the coconut using a metal spoon and a figure of eight motion trying to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

Mould the mixture into heaps using an egg cup, removing them with a tea spoon. They should hold their shape well when cooked so you can fit quite a few on a baking tray at a time. We bake ours on a good quality non-stick tray but you could line a regular tray with some parchment. In either case a very light coating of oil will reduce the risk of them sticking.

Bake them for 15 minutes at 140C or gas mark 3. They should be golden brown on top when done. Lift them off using a spatula or palette knife and place them on a cooling rack.

coconut haystacks or macaroons

When they are cool, melt some chocolate by breaking it up and placing it in a bowl resting on top of a pan of boiling water. Either dip the macaroons into the melted chocolate so that half is covered or drizzle them with lines of melted chocolate.  Leave to cool again on a piece of greaseproof paper.

coconut haystacks macaroons chocolate

Enjoy as a gluten free treat with your coffee.

 

Cunchy, nutty, oaty, wheat free treats

Lent has never really meant much to me. I’ve never been one for ‘giving up’ but a few years ago I decided to give up wheat. The experience was an interesting one, interesting enough for me to repeat it last year and again this year. Although I can give up bread, biscuits and cake, it’s nice to have a little treat now and again. I have been playing around with this recipe for a while now. The original version is from ‘Yoga Mind and Body’ by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre who also publish a yoga cookbook. It started life containing wholewheat flour and peanuts but they have gone now. If you are looking for a wheat free, egg free, dairy free recipe these flapjack style  biscuits are perfect.

flapjack mixture

Ingredients

250g oats

100g ground almonds

100g chopped nuts  – any you like, I have used pecan, brazil, hazel in various ratios

100g brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

150ml vegetable oil

50ml milk,soya etc is fine if you want dairy free or water is fine.

Method

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C and lightly grease a swiss roll tin. Mix all the dry ingredients well. Add the oil and stir. Add the milk or water a little at a time, checking as you add it to see how well the mixture is sticking. It should be able to hold together reasonably well (see picture above). Press it into the tin, squashing it flat with the back of a spoon. Bake until it is golden brown, probably for 15 to 20 minutes. When the flapjacks come out of the oven they will still be soft. Mark them into appropriately sized pieces with a round bladed knife. Remove from the tin when they have cooled and hardened. Enjoy!

Note

You can play around with the proportions and types of spices that you use. Personally, I like quite a lot of ginger and not too much cinnamon.

flapjack in tin baked flapjack cut flapjack

Mud lovin’ puddin’

The husband has developed a taste for ‘mud running’. Today he did his second event, the Newcastle Stampede, which is organised by the British Heart Foundation. This is the state of his kit.
IMG_8444Since it was a cold, wet, grey day to be running and I needed to put the oven on for dinner anyway, I decided that he should have one of his favourite puddings. Baked rice pudding, like Mama used to make.

Baked Rice Pudding  ::  Serves 2-3 generously

2 oz or 50g pudding rice

1 oz or 25g sugar

half a pint or 225ml of milk

half a pint or 225ml of evaporated milk ‘Carnation’

butter to grease the dish

ground nutmeg sprinkled on top

Grease a shallow, lidded, oven-proof dish with the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Put the lid on and place in the oven at 160C, 325F or gas mark 3 for 2-3 hours. It is done when the top has formed a golden skin and the inside is creamy.

Mine was probably in the oven for a little bit too long. Such are the perils of taking the children out to a swimming party after you have turned the oven on.

IMG_8443No complaints were heard from The Husband though. Even I enjoyed it with a good splash of double cream on top and I detest tinned rice pudding. This is the real deal and it could hardly be easier to make. If your oven is going on anyway, for something like a slow cooked casserole this is the ideal dessert to pop in at the same time. Two dishes for the price of heating the oven.

No time to blog…

But maybe enough time to share a few photos…Keith's cakeA birthday cake for my brother. I had a lot of fun doing this (and a lot of late nights).

bunnyMy first complete bunny. Only another 5 to go….

It’s been a busy week and now the holidays are here (and I can see the sun – yay). Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures of fluffy new lambs next time I’m here. Have a lovely Easter.

Sunday projects.

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IMG_6650A bit of stash busting, thanks to Janette at The Green Dragonfly for the free pattern and tutuorial. I hope I can get them all done for Easter.

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IMG_6663Baking a special birthday cake for my brother. He will be 30 on Monday and thinks he is old (ha ha). I’ve had a lot of fun trying out a new chocolate orange cake recipe (find it here) and even more fun finding the images I want to put on the cake. I will have to share these at a later date so as not to spoil the surprise. Suffice to say it’s been a trip down memory lane.

IMG_6653Finally, this was the scene here a few hours ago. The children, still in their pyjamas, decorated some Easter thank you cards. I’ve been very bad at getting them to do this lately so I feel a bit better knowing I’ve ticked that job off the list.

Hope you are having a good Sunday, despite the horrible weather.

 

Birthday time again

The last of our three Christmas-time birthdays was today. My little Babykins isn’t really a baby any more, he was two today. Last year we rushed off to the in-laws on his birthday and I didn’t seem to have any time for reflection. This year, spending the day in our own home has given me time to remember the events around his (home)birth. I wrote his birth story quite a while ago and I’m so glad I did. It seems really precious now, to have those memories documented. I wish I’d written my other two birth stories down as quickly.IMG_4086Today was lovely. A two year old is so different to a three year old. I expect that next year he will be up at the crack of dawn, desperate to open gifts. Today wasn’t like that, it was relatively slow and gentle to start with. We waited until his Grandma and Great Aunt arrived from Penrith to open gifts. He has been so cute this year – really taking an interest in each present, wanting to play with it before opening the next one, much to the frustration of his older sister.IMG_1275He is now the proud  owner of a mega-blocks crane and construction site, lots of lovely new books and clothes and a big cement mixer wagon. The rest of the family joined us for tea and birthday cake later in the afternoon.IMG_5866There has been a bit of a pig theme going on lately, all due to his recent obsession with the film ‘Babe’. He was supposed to get his special pig shirt for his birthday but my Mum couldn’t resist giving him it on Christmas day. Here he is raising his glass of ‘special wine’ (sparkling grape juice – he’d drink the real thing given half a chance).IMG_1217Mum was so desperate to give him a birthday present today that she was up at the crack of dawn sewing him another shirt – one with tractors on. The boys have quite a collection of these shirts now and we love them all.

After tea the party really got started. New iPods, disco balls and flashing headwear were brought out and The Middle Miss gave us a ‘show dance’ (we’re big Strictly Come Dancing fans in this house) and Son Number One did his best ‘Gangnam Style’ routine. I wish my camera was better at capturing it but the light conditions weren’t the best.IMG_1339The festivities are almost over for the year. Just the New Year celebrations to go and then we’ll be back to ‘normality’. I’m not sure that I am looking forward to that.

Happy Christmas

IMG_5698Happy Christmas everyone. I hope you are still enjoying the festive season.ChtiIMG_5813Christmas takes a lot of organising. I think I spent most of the weekend at my table wrapping. I am eternally grateful to my brother for taking my eldest two children out on Saturday and to my Mum for entertaining them for a big part of Sunday.

IMG_5819It’s not all hard work though. The Husband and I were able to enjoy a proper breakfast on Sunday as I wrapped gifts while still wearing my PJ’s.

IMG_1172As you can see, I found a fruit cake to decorate. It’s been wrapped up in a tin for a while (not sure why we didn’t eat it)  but it seems ok. On the 23rd The Husband and I had a busy night in the kitchen. Between us we made florentines, cranberry sauce, sweet pastry, special jellies and a batch of royal icing. Actually, I made the florentines, The Husband made the rest (and our supper). In my defence, florentines are very labour intensive and I did also manage to put a layer of almond paste on the cake.IMG_1167The next day, while I was out doing some last minute shopping with The Middle Miss, The Husband baked mince pies with Babykins and covered the cake in icing. I love a good snow scene. It’s completely in the spirit of Christmas – over the top in every way. We had so much icing left over he decided it would be a good idea to dab some on the mince pies.IMG_1171The jellies were made in our relatively new but very well used, tree shaped, silicon mould. I bought some lime jelly a week or two ago with this in mind… IMG_1173It worked well as a gluten-free pudding on Christmas day as well as treat for the children. Using the silicon mould worked really well. They all popped out easily without being dipped in hot water.

Father Christmas was good to us this year.

IMG_1175Our living room is still trashed from the present opening. I really should be sorting out all the piles of paper, plastic and cardboard ready for recyling. Instead it’s still stuffed into the biggest gift bag I had, cluttering up the corner of the room.
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My Mum’s house is probably tidy now but on the evening of Christmas day there was a big box full of waste paper in her living room too. As you can see, my children had a great time diving in it. They kept shutting themselves in the box so we teased them that we would parcel them up and ship them off to visit their Great Aunt in Canada. You can’t beat playing in a big box at Christmas.IMG_1261
I hope you had fun this Christmas.

Christmas Traditions

All families have their own favourite Christmas traditions. Here are a few of ours (NB: if you are a family member you are hereby banned from reading any further or one of your Christmas surprises may be spoiled)…

Receiving cards that the children have made at school.

IMG_1149Bottling up eggnog. Do you like our special, patriotic 2012 Christmas tree?

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Wrapping ‘tree presents’. After Christmas dinner the fairies leave little gifts around the Christmas tree. They all come with a riddle-like clue attached and you have to try and guess what your gift is before you open it.

IMG_1152Making decorations for the top of the Christmas cake. I’ve been very lax with icing Christmas cakes in the last few years but tomorrow will see the creation of a full-on, traditional ‘snow-scene’.

IMG_1154Cranberries popping their skins in the process of becoming sauce

IMG_1156Baking florentine biscuits. It’s been a few years since I did this and my word, it is a faff. I think I have perfected the technique tonight after a lot of trial and error. Now I just have to dip them in chocolate and work out how to package them.

IMG_1163As I write this it is officially Christmas Eve. In about seven hours my children will wake up on the third most exciting day of their year (after Dec 25th and their birthdays). We have got a really busy day planned tomorrow and it will no doubt be a long one. However I think it will be a lot of fun. We’re going to the Panto, a trip that could well become another Christmas Eve tradition along with putting out a snack for Father Christmas.

I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and to all hard-working parents, may the god of deep sleep be with your children tomorrow night!

Winter blues and the return of the Mojo

The start of December was mostly about being ill. First it was me. I think I had tonsillitis, an experience I am happy never to repeat. Then both the older children had what added up to a week off school between them, one with a vomiting bug and the other with the same symptoms as me. To finish it off, I got the vomiting bug, spent 32 hours in a darkened room and then passed it on to The Husband, who, as usual was barely been ill and refused to take any time off work. In this house, it’s the woman who gets the ‘man flu’.

All this illness definitely left me feeling grumpy and fed up. I could quite happily have given motherhood a miss for a few weeks. I was not feeling the joy at all. It’s horrible when you feel like that. I usually have a kind of certainty in the back of my mind that it won’t last forever. I know that it’s usually just the circumstances but still, it can make you worry. When motherhood is your day job and you feel like quitting, home is probably not the happiest place to be.

Fortunately, In the last week or two I seem to have got my mojo back. This also coincided with a pretty drastic haircut.IMG_5744I feel like a new woman. It’s had such an effect on me I’ve even been wearing lipstick!

I’ve got loads of stuff I want to post, mainly because I feel like this is a little family archive now. So, here it is. December’s fun and games in photos…

Generally I like this time of year. I’m happy to see the decorations go up…IMG_5614

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IMG_1040Turning on the lights is always a special moment. So far our cheap lights from Woolworths haven’t let us down. They must be 10 years old.

IMG_1048Every year there are a few new decorations on the tree. These were made by Son Number One and The Middle Miss. The robin and snowman were from kits and the glittery bauble was from school.

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I haven’t really got into Christmas baking mode yet. We still don’t have a Christmas cake though I have made quite a few of my favourite, easy crushed pineapple cakes, which are similar. Unfortunately we have either eaten them or given them as gifts. The Husband baked some fun, Christmas tree cakes for the children to take to the school cake sale and I have finally baked some mince pies but that is it. I think the lack of baking coincided with my lack of mojo.IMG_5621

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That’s not to say that the oven hasn’t been on. On the contrary, at one point it seemed it was hardly off! The children and I got stuck into making salt dough ornaments…IMG_5678
IMG_5725Now, this all sounds very lovely and crafty but I assure you it was more out of desperation that our playdough had all dried up than anything else. Salt dough is quick, cheap and easy to make, really, honest. You can find the recipe I used here, though I also like the look of this one if you fancy something more akin to playdough. I had quite a lot of salt dough left over so I decided to take it to the Bumps and Babies group that I run and see if any of the mums wanted to made a handprint with their baby. All the babies in this group are experiencing their first Christmas and I had this idea in mind….IMG_5782I think it turned out quite well, though I am slightly concerned that the dough was a bit wet and might never be completely dried out. My second batch was much better. I think, like pastry, if you can use the minimum amount of liquid to bind the ingredients together you will get the best result. You really need to get your hands into the dough early on so that you can judge this. The good thing about salt dough is that you can’t really overwork it, unlike pastry.

I had some fun making some (slightly modified) jolly holly and turning it into a decoration for my hat. I didn’t stiffen it though so it looks considerably more droopy now. The berries are made from little bells and I can hear them jangling every step I take. I don’t think anyone else can.

IMG_5653My Christmas gift shopping is complete now. I have made a bit more of an effort to shop outside the big supermarket chains and online retailers. I haven’t managed it completely but it’s had it’s up side. I managed to get an afternoon out to visit our local Christmas market one day when I was feeling pretty blue. It was very cold but the time out cheered me up.IMG_5637Father Christmas will be bringing some gifts from this stall though I don’t think they are in this picture.IMG_5776I was also lucky enough to have a day out last weekend with my Mum at the Bowes Museum Christmas Market. It was a great trip. There was out of town parking with a free park and ride on specially decorated vintage buses. There were all sorts of craft and food stalls. I actually parted with most of my cash in the museum shop and in Barnard Castle itself. The stalls were lovely but I don’t tend to buy much at crafty places because I know so many people within the family who knit and sew. I was taken with a stall selling rows of hooks made from upcycled old cutlery and I nearly parted with £80 (way more than I would normally even consider) for a set of framed Thomas the Tank Engine postcards. The park and ride buses stopped in Barnard Castle on the way back and I was very pleased to get the opportunity to shop. We drive through this town every time we visit the in-laws and I always want to get out and explore but we never have time. There are some lovely shops, it’s well worth a visit, especially if you like antiques and vintage.

This week has been mostly about the end of term; school parties and nativity shows and even a performance on the electric guitar by Son Number One. Of course, the end of term means something else I always look forward to….My BIRTHDAY. I’ve had a lovely day today sharing my mince pies with my friends, unwrapping presents and eating a big, home-cooked (by my Mum) chinese style meal with my family. Poor Mum, she wasn’t feeling very well today but she still gave me a party. What a star. Here is my collection of presents.IMG_5814Didn’t I do well?

If you have been celebrating the solstice today I hope you have been having a happy time. Anyway, at least the world didn’t end.

Quick comforting treats for Cold Days

I had a phase of making these dropped scones a few weeks back. They are very quick, very yummy and a bit like the little scotch pancakes you can buy in supermarkets. The main downside is that you have to keep small children well away from the making stage because it gets HOT! I must confess that this is not my own recipe, it is lifted from the Be-Ro Book (every home should have one – if you follow the link, you will find our how to order one). However, it must be such an old and generic recipe that I don’t feel too guilty about reproducing it here. Dropped Scones

100g (4oz) Self Raising flour

pinch of salt

50g (2oz) caster sugar

1 egg

milk to mix, approximately 4 tablespoons

Optional extras: – few drops of lemon essence – handful of dried fruit

1.Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a basin, add the egg and gradually beat in the milk to make a thick batter

2. Add any of the optional extras if you fancy them and mix well

3. Bake a few at a time (not too many they don’t take long) by dropping spoonfuls of the mixture on a hot, well-greased, heavy based frying pan or a ‘girdle’ if you’ve got one (not the Playtex 18 hour kind your granny used to wear). The Be-Ro book says the pan should be heated “until a little water sprinkled on the surface skips about in balls, evaporating.”

4. Cook until the underside is golden and there are little holes forming on top (see above) – it should only take a minute or two and you should be able to lift it with a palette knife or spatula. You should also see it rise slightly as it cooks.

5. Turn over and cook the other side.

6. Let them cool slightly and then eat, with or without butter.

Enjoy!