Comfort food…

Oatcakes are comfort food for me. Warm and sustaining. My hubby went out to the oatcake shop and got us some cheese and bacon oatcakes for breakfast because I’m not feeling well (I’ve done a lateral flow test today and it’s negative so I think I’ve got a cold, sore throat, sniffles and aches). I added the dots of brown sauce to make a smiley face. A Stoke on Trent /Staffordshire delicacy, oatcakes are our pancake / tortilla /crepes. You can eat them savory or with things like jam and butter. Our oatcakes are big and floppy, not like Scottish oatcakes which are far smaller and drier.

Sweet apples, Wassail style.

I decided to stew four apples that were starting to soften. I wanted to use them up and also half a tub of clotted cream.

Ingredients :

Four medium sized eating apples

A couple of teaspoons of sucralose based sweetener (or sugar to taste).

A level teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

A single measure of whisky, or you could substitute a small amount of lemon or orange juice.

About three or four tablespoons of water to stop the apples burning onto the pan.

A tablespoonful of clotted cream or whipped cream.

I roughly cored and chopped the apples and left the skin on. I put them in a pan with a little boiling water to stop the apple flesh burning. I cooked the apples for about 15 to 20 minutes till they softened. Stirring and mashing them until they were a chunky pulp.

I added a couple of teaspoons of sucralose based sweetener to make the apples less sharp. Then I added a single measure of whisky and a level teaspoonful of cinnamon and cooked the mix for a couple minutes more. You could substitute fruit juice for the whisky and leave out the cinnamon if you don’t like it.

Serve hot in a bowl with the clotted cream or whipped cream dolloped on top.

This reminds me of the Wassails we usually go on in January. They are to celebrate the local apple trees and wish for a good crop of apples the following autumn.

Tasty beans?

I like baked beans but I’ve started eating sugar free ones and I wanted to spice them up a bit.

I heated a bit of oil in a saucepan then added a small amount of medium curry powder and turmeric powder and heated it gently.

I had chopped up a small onion into medium sized pieces. I microwaved it for a minute to soften it slightly, then added the heated onion to the pan and cooked it gently for a few more minutes to soften and brown the onion (sweated?).

Then I added the sugar free baked beans into the pan and increased the heat slightly. I simmered the mixture for a few minutes until it was thoroughly heated.

We had the beans with some vegetarian sausages and some reduced fat oven chips. Tasty! No photo of the meal as its already been eaten!

I don’t put salt in because it dissolves and gets absorbed into the food. I put it on if needed when I serve food. Its on the surface and you can taste it more.

Tea at the Rabbit Hole Tearoom.

A good memory from a few years ago. Having tea with friends at the Rabbit Hole Tearoom in Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent.

We had been looking for somewhere different to visit and we had a friend coming down from Yorkshire. I had to book in advance but it was worth it. My memory is of a themed Tearoom around the Alice in Wonderland stories, with the white rabbit, mad hatter, dormouse and Queen of Hearts. The tea was lovely, cakes, scones, sandwiches, fruit. A pot of tea each.

It was a family themed Tearoom and it was very full. No social distancing in those pre covid days. I wish I could go back in time. Remembering those days is getting harder. But seeing old photos like this help to reassure me that things might one day be better. One day. When we can I hope this Tearoom will still be open.

Guess what we had for tea.

Yes, another trifle. I used sugar free jelly, but I added blueberries. Of course there was fat in it, but I made strawberry blancmange with semiskimmed milk and a sweetener instead of sugar. I used half the amount of whipped cream than I usually do. So I guess it was reasonably healthy, especially compared with other festive treats, such as stollen, mince pies and Christmas pudding (which I sadly indulged in too!).

Port trifle

Trifle time, I always make trifle at this time of year. I used raspberry jelly, trifle sponges and fresh black cherries. I added a bit of port to the jelly liquid (reduced the amount of boiling water by the same amount). Then a layer of strawberry blancmange and whipped cream on top. Blancmange is like flavoured custard. I used to be able to get chocolate, raspberry, vanilla and strawberry blancmange powder made by a company called pierce and duff, but over the last couple of years I’ve only been able to get the strawberry one in a plastic packet. It seems a shame, but I’m obviously an old fashioned cook. Anyway I have just had a portion of this delicious dessert. X

Mini mince pie!

Mini mince pie with fifty pence piece to show the scale…. A nice nibble, but moreish. I didn’t want just one. I got these in the local supermarket because they didn’t have ant full size ones (about double or triple this). The crust overlaps the tinfoil cup shaped base, and the filling only comes half way up the inside. But it was a tasty morsel.

My treat, Irish coffee

Coffee with sweetener, cream and whisky.

I don’t take sugar, which makes it harder to float the cream on top of this drink. The whisky is only a single measure of a blended scotch. The coffee is a decaffeinated instant coffee. If I had some in I would eat a sweet mince pie with it. It makes me feel like Christmas is on the way. I remember when I was first allowed one of these on a family trip to an Indian restaurant.

I sometimes have it without alcohol, it’s not always what I want to drink, but this is a treat. I think as the weather has got colder I’ve started to have more comfort food. I must watch my weight.

Mince pies

December comes and I fall for delicious mince pies again. These are traditional Christmas treats that historically have been eaten around this time of year. Nowadays they are made with mincemeat which strangely has no meat, but instead is a gooey, sweet mix of dried fruits like sultanas and raisins, possibly some lemon juice and lemon zest. In this pie which was shop bought had bramley apple puree in it too. The filling is enclosed in a short crust pastry dusted with a little icing sugar.

Shop bought are nice enough, but home made are lovely. I tried a couple made by a friend at the weekend. She made them smaller- less calories, and sugar free mincemeat. Tasty and healthy.

I’m not sure what they were made of in the past. I suppose I should look it up. Probably they were ‘fast food’ in the past. Served hot I think? I would imagine they became popular in the Victorian era when Christmas celebrations ramped up with the use of Christmas trees and Christmas cards… I know I should check all of this…. But I’m too busy eating my mince pie!