Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Winter is Coming

Traveling again this week...

My first thought was to stay at home 
and catch-up with the housework, gardening, etc...
But the Met office forecast for the week managed to reverse my earlier decision.

The weather was predicted to be bleak -
freezing cold northerly wind followed by sleet and snow.
Unusual for this time of year? 
Not really, when you're up north.
Just for the record, we had a one-day-only-special freaky blizzard 
at around the same time last year too... 
so it's nothing new

Coincidentally, it is also the start of the new season of Game of Thrones
Winter is definitely coming!

Enough 'bout the weather...
let's look at some cheerful (and not so cheerful)
faces of the farmyard animals I found across the border.
They always warm the cockles of my heart!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Chicken Katsu Burger

The house is unquestionably and decidedly quieter now
that Elsa has gone back to uni.
She has been our little chatterbox as long as memory serves.
She would fill the house with so much wonderful noises, 
it's unbelievable coming from such a small person.

Here's another thing that she loves - chicken cutlets of all kind 
I decided to make this as a treat before we send her back 
to her normal ration of student food.
I bet she's missing her momma's food already!

Chicken Katsu Burger

For the chicken:

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, flatten each thigh
between two sheets of cling film 
1/2 cup plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Dip the chicken thighs in flour, then egg, then panko crumbs, 
 making sure to shake off any excess in between. 

 To cook the chicken, add the oil to a large frying pan, heat on medium to 170'C. 
Test the heat of the oil by frying few breadcrumbs - they should go golden brown.
Cook the chicken for 3 minutes on either side. 
Remove and dry on kitchen paper.

To make the Katsu sauce:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5cm piece ginger, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp Madras curry paste 
1 tbsp plain flour  
500ml chicken stock 
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
a dash of Worcestershire sauce  
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
Heat oil in a saucepan over a medium heat,
Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes until fragrant. 
Add the curry paste and a little water. 
Then stir in flour and cook for one to two minutes. 
Gradually whisk in the stock, add the seasonings and honey and simmer, 
whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes. 
Stir in the rice vinegar.
If the sauce is too thick, you may add water to thin it down.
Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

I served my Katsu Chicken Burger simply sans veggies as a certain someone in the family
has a distinct dislike over the green stuff.
I wonder who that might be.... x

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Garden Updates

Making the best of the good weather we're having at the moment.
Rumour has it, it's not going to last...
But I'm keeping all my fingers (and toes) crossed (it does make gardening a little bit harder), 
and maybe, just maybe
the wind might blow the other way and we may have good weather
'til winter
That's me hoping anyways...

To date, I managed to finish quite a bit of work in the garden -
I mowed the lawn
placed potted-up tulips and dahlias out in the sun
created new borders around the bamboo plants
deadheaded winter flowers and picked off dried/damaged leaves
turfed up the area around the wells after removing a fair amount of stones around it

That's me done for the day.
Tomorrow, if the weather continues to be good
I might be out with my pressure washer... who knows what I'll be up to!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Orange Chiffon Cake

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
Poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.

I know exactly how the poor robin felt!
We had that crazy weather over the week and it was not fun.
Saturday was especially crazy when we had a spot of sun followed by a blizzard of sleet and snow;  
it was relentless - it just went on and on throughout the day.
Just to add to the whole drama, I came down with a nasty chest cold.
That will probably set my gardening schedule back a few days...

On a more cheerful note...
our ducks are now producing eggs on a regular basis
We can expect a daily collection of 2 eggs - that's 1 egg each from our 2 female ducks!
Not bad for someone who has absolutely no experience in rearing ducks!
On average, the eggs are of medium to large sizes
except on one occasion - we had a marble-sized sphere of an egg
I'd like to think that was a practice egg thingy lol

And, guess what...
duck eggs really make great cake

Orange Chiffon Cake
recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

6 duck eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
zest from 3 oranges
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange extract
2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar


Preheat oven to 160C. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and 1 cup sugar. 
In another bowl, mix together egg yolks, oil, orange juice and orange extract
Make a well in center of flour mixture and add the egg yolks mixture and whisk batter until smooth

With an electric mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. 
Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; 
continue to beat until stiff peaks form. 
Using a flexible spatula, gently fold half of egg-white mixture into batter. 
Fold in remaining egg-white mixture just until combined.
Pour batter into a 10-inch footed angel food cake pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. 
Remove from oven; invert, still in pan, onto a baking sheet. 
Let cool completely. 
 Run a sharp knife around edges to release cake.