This weekend has been the first in my attempt to make as much of what we eat as I can and eschew mass produced foodstuffs from supermarkets in preference for more naturally made products from independent stores.
In some ways, what I plan to do could be seen as a retrograde step. Women have had a long wait for manufacturers to provide appliances and products which save them time and allow them to work for money as well as for their families. I am not sure that what I plan to do would be possible if I worked nine to five but I will attempt, over time, to produce a plan for shopping, cooking, working and leisure. Let’s see if it’s possible.
I have discovered a brilliant organic shop selling, as well as the usual cereals, pulses and dried goods, fresh local vegetables and organic chilled produce. I am still searching for fromage frais and yoghurt. The local market provided a wonderful array of cheeses but not necessarily organic and I am still investigating the local butcher’s shops.
Saturday saw Mavis and I cooking two large batches of cheese straws. These, I hope, will replace some of the snacks she takes to school. They were really delicious if incredibly rich and I think if I were to do them again I would use slightly less cheese. Here’s my recipe, as yet untested with the altered quantities: Cheese Straws
100g butter, organic, very hard, frozen would be good.
100g mature cheddar cheese straight from the fridge – use the best, the flavour really comes through
100g plain white flour, organic
Scant quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or less if you’re a coward), ideally organic but I haven’t found any yet – haven’t looked, actually.
Freshly ground black pepper, ditto
1 egg yolk, free range of course, local, if possible.
Grate the cheeses and butter into the food processor using the grater blade, then tip them into a separate bowl and attach the chopping blade. Put the flour into the processor bowl and return the cheese and butter. Add the seasoning and the egg yolk and whizz the whole lot until it forms a very soft dough.
You could do all this by hand if you don’t have a food processor
Roll out the dough to about half a centimetre thick and cut into straws or use biscuit cutters to make stars, hearts etc.
Put the cheese straws/shapes on a baking sheet lined with silicone paper and bake in a pretty hot oven 220C. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes until they are golden brown.
Cool on a rack for a short while before eating. They are best a bit warm but quite nice cold and you can always reheat them for guests. Anyway, I made what seemed like loads of these lovely things but they were disappearing into mouths as quickly as they were cooling. That’s the first challenge I have discovered.; to get the food you produce to last until you need it. On the plus side, Mavis and I had fun together and spent more time with each other than we usually do. We also created something good and useful and Mavis learned more about cooking and telling the time.
Today I made flapjacks, with added nuts and raisins. They will be topped with high quality chocolate and are to replace the Special K chewy bars Mavis usually takes to school, no doubt the calories will be higher but perhaps they will be more satisfying and so I have made smaller bars. Mavis had spent the night at a friend’s house because I was at the ?60s and 70s disco? mentioned in the previous entry, so she couldn’t help this time. I suspect the novelty would have worn off any way. If the flapjacks are nice I will put the recipe in these pages. We’ve run out of chocolate so we must all wait to taste them.
Next, I attempted to make grissini. I found a delicious looking recipe containing fresh rosemary and oregano and attempted to make the dough in the bread maker. It didn’t work even though it was a bread machine recipe. I ended up with a partly cooked, crumbly mush. This is my second bread machine failure and I’m not sure how many experiments I can afford with the new, much more expensive, stone ground, organic flour but I shall persevere. I wonder how much this will cost. Will it end up cheaper or dearer? This is something else to be monitored.
As I look round my kitchen I begin to wonder how far I should go in this ‘make it all yourself’ experiment. Should I make orange squash? How about condensing my own milk? Should we buy a soda siphon to make carbonated drinks? How about creamed coconut, how on earth could I make that? This clearly needs thinking through so after stocking up on basics I shall sit down and try to define what I am trying to do.