Saturday, 31 March 2012

Dandelion Salad

Dandelions are a delicious, nutritious and rarely used food source. They are chock full of base minerals that most people fail to get in their modern diets. So in my bid to try out dated foods, just as I did with livers, so to did I try dandelions. They where going mental growing in our garden and I thought I would find a use for them before composting them. Apparently dandelions are really great for your liver, who knew.

Firstly harvest them, cut the plant out by the root and discard any soiled leaves and all the yellow flowers. Early spring and late autumn are the best times for dandelions, in summer they get to bitter to enjoy. Once harvested, process the leaves by picking them away from the main stem and discarding any stems and strangely leaves.

The soak in some water for an hour then rise and shake the leaves to get rid of as much dirt as you can, you can be quite rough with them.

Dry the leaves and set in a bowl, to the bowl and a drizzle of lemon juice and equal parts good olive oil. mix into the leaves by hand.

Finally add some salt, pepper and some crushed up Thyme and mix in well. The taste in very strong, unusual and peppery, after the first few mouthfuls though you get used too it and its actually quite pleasant. I'd advise against selecting the larger leaves as they tend to get a bit bitter. I ate it with fried mushrooms and mash potatoes.

Belinda Stepford

Monday, 26 March 2012

Summer Sun

The sun has shaken of the wintery fog in Winchester, I've spent the past weekend sat on blanket in the garden, with my laptop and books, writing my essays. It was the least stressful way to do something stressful ever. 

Andy and Laura joined me, they sat doing history work and chatting about Arabic poetry. We did wonder into to town to buy sun cream and snacks when the day really got hot, we bought some Ice Slushes as well which was really refreshing. Honestly I think the weather sends me a little bit loopy, I was in a really chipper mood. 

My first year at uni is nearly over and that is truly, truly terrifying. It has gone so quickly and I've done so much I don't want it to be over yet, but its only a few more weeks and then boom done. On to summer, which should be filled with work and fuss and hopefully Paris. Then After that second year, the year that actually counts. eep.

Belinda Stepford

Sunday, 25 March 2012

News from the puppies

My parents received an email yesterday from "Maggie" or the baby we knew as Clementine, shes been renamed by the boy who owns her after Maggie from The Simpsons. How cute! Heres what "she" sent us:

Hiya Paula + Philip,  

Just thought I would let you know how I am getting on in my new home,  I have settled in realy well and have practicaly trained the family to be well behaved and do just about anything I ask.  I have a nice warm bed and a couple of nice blankets, lots of toys and of course food.  I have been to the vets, I didn't like that at all but hey you have to show willing now and again.

Thought I would send you a couple of photo's of myself in my favourite spot, (on the couch) and with my boy Joshua.  He loves me very much and I can get him todo most things for me, although for some reason he's not to keen when I've been the loo.  He keeps telling me that in a few days we will be able to go out for a walk, (whatever that is), anyway I hope my mum isnt missing me too much, give her my love.

Yours Maggie xxxxx

Doesn't she look great! Seriously happy with the home she's gone to, it does make me a little happy sad that she has gone to a new home but that the point of puppies isn't it. In other news Angel and Blossom are going for their first walk today, in the lovely sunshine as summer is raising its head from slumber. 

Belinda Stepford

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Liver Gets Better

Okay so I've already made one post about liver, I get it not totally won over yet are you? Still a bit icky when you think about it? Okay then let me give you a recipe that will change you mind. Pate, is great. I love it on toast with breakfast, I love it with cheese and crackers, over all its just a great food. It is low in fat and protein crazy. So the perfect food. It is also super easy to make and looks really great too.

What you'll need:

The other half of your pack of liver
Olive Oil
Herbs and Spices (mix it up as much as you like this version I added rose petals and paprika to this one)

Firstly chop and fry the livers in olive oil, until they are fully cooked, when you cut them there should be a slight pinkness too them, do not under cook them too much as it can make you sick. That being said over cooked liver tastes revolting and is only really fit for dogs, you can slightly over do pate liver but not too much. Then add them to the food processor.

Then add about quarter up of Amaretto to the pan you cooked the livers in and warm it through while rubbing any bits of meat left stuck to the pan to break them off. Then add half of that to the food processor as well.

Grind and add your spices, I used a mixture of dried rose petals and  a half teaspoon of paprika, the flavours should not be over ridding to the flavour of the pate but complimentary. Then blitz the ingredients in the food processor until they are the consistency you like, I like smooth pate so I blast them on high for at least five minutes, making sure to scrap around the edge occasionally to knock back any pieces above the blade line.

Once thats done add the pate to ramekins or a bowl and press down with a teaspoon until there are no air pockets in the pate, you can bang the container down as well to encourage any air out of the pate itself. You don't want air in the pate as you want to keep it fresh. Then place in the fridge and allow to cool.

Once semi-cool add a lump of butter the left over Amaretto in the pan and heat until totally liquid. Then pour over the pate until the butter is a level seal completely covering the pate, this will help prevent any bacteria growth, it should keep for about three weeks in the fridge. Use within three days once the butter seal has been broken. Place in the Fridge and leave overnight so the butter can solidify.

Best served on hot toast or on crackers with the butter picked off. This recipe is crazy cheap and great for you. There is no excuse not to try it at least once. Go out there and try some lovely liver.

Belinda Stepford

Friday, 16 March 2012

Loving Liver

Liver is not a fashionable food, most people will never eat it, you heard the word Liver and think gross. Why? It is incredibly cheap, it is chock full of iron and frankly is actually rather tasty. It has a very gameish taste and a almost mushroom like texture so it does take a bit of getting used to. I suggest you try it though, if you eat pate they you've already tried it before. Time to stop being squeamish and get out there. I usually just made pate but decided to be a bit more adventurous and followed This Recipe making some slight adjustments as I went.

1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon pepper
half a pack of chicken livers
Balsamic Vinegar

Firstly I chopped up the livers into smallish chunks and put them into a pacn. Livers feel gross raw, there is no denying it, they feel slippery and slimy. Once you have come to terms with that you are golden, so power through. Once you've chopped them all, pour boiled water over them and boil for ten minutes.

Then add the flour and all the spices and herbs, I also added some Chives from the garden and some Lemon Thyme for added texture. Mix it all up well, I actually suggest adding more flavourings as that didn't really come across, remember liver is quite an earthy flavour not dissimilar to mushroom, next time I make this I will defiantly up the flavour content but its personal preference. 

Drain the now cooked livers, and toss them in the flour and spices mix. making sure to coat every peice thoroughly. 

Add a little olive oil to a pan and fry the livers , on a medium heat, for five minutes until the flour gone slightly crispy. Then empty the livers onto a plate and set aside.

Melt a lump of butter in the pan you fried the livers in and add half a cup of balsamic vinegar. Boil it and keep the pan moving so it doesn't burn. 

Then throw the livers back in the pan so they are totally coated and cook for another minute. 

They are actually very tasty, I ate them tossed in a lettuce salad, really rich. Go out and buy yourself some liver, livers are great.

Belinda Stepford

Monday, 12 March 2012

All things must end

I do apologise for the serious lack of postage lately. I've been snowed under with essays, who knew university would be such work. I've got a happy/sad update about the pack for you. Rosie and Clem have gone to their new homes. They are going to be loved and kept as wonderful little pets but it is still sad to see them go. Lily has been a bit skittish since they have gone, looking for them which is so sad to see. At least we're keeping the other two. Not that Fatherbean is happy about that, he isn't impressed we've doubled the number of dogs and that puppies are as much work as babies.  We'll win him over though. 

Eight weeks go so quickly, its not long until april 5th and I'm home for the summer. No longer shall I be a fresher, my god that is scary thoughts.

Belinda Stepford