Angela’s Apples … another T.O.B Cook

Everybody, welcome Angela, the newest T.O.B. Cook. Angela is my dear friend from the North.

We were both Northern girls and adored our birthplace… but I married and moved to the Midlands to be with the Bear and she married and then moved away even further. She’s ended up in Georgia, USA.

Angela’s the one I think of when I try and do gluten-free food as she is coeliac (or celiac as they spell it in the USA) We keep in touch, most days, through email and Facebook and she follows what happens on here. She’d read the posts on Apple Butter and Apple Butter Cake and, after a jaunt out with her neighbours where she picked apples, decided to see what she could do….this is what she wrote to me this morning:

“I needed to make some bread so, I thought, as I was putting the oven on, I might as well make the apple cake. And as I was chopping apples, I thought, I might as well make the apple butter. OK, I’m not a novice in the kitchen, but I’m not an accomplished chef either…. maybe it was all a bit over-enthusiastic…

Oh, I started off by sterilising the jars and the lids – in the dishwasher!!! Only the Americans could come up with such an easy way? That gave me a couple of hours to get everything done….

So I mixed the gluten-free bread mix, put it in the laundry room to rise. That gave me 45 minutes….

I chopped all the apples, putting 4 ½ lbs in a pan with apple cider vinegar, which then got left whilst I…

… made the cake mix. I used “Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour” to which I added Xanthan Gum. I had no yoghurt so used low fat sour cream. I, for some reason, bought brown sugar instead of caster sugar.

I, for some reason, bought canola oil and can’t find out why.

(I’d already been shopping on Thursday, but then went back up again on Friday! But – I did see a good yard sale……)

Vanilla pods were replaced by ‘fake’  vanilla and I had no bicarb!!! Instead of “3 smallish apples and a box of stewed apple” I used 3 large apples – too many apples to be honest!

45 minutes was up, so the bread and the cake went in the oven.

Apples by this time had been left for over an hour… but were nicely mushy. I don’t have a Mouli and, to be honest, I do as little transferring and dirtying of dishes as possible.

(Hey, I’d already used two bowls for the bread, two bowls for the cake, chopping boards, pans, cake tins, bread tins…. the kitchen looked like a massacre… and by this point last night’s empty wine glass kept catching my eye….)

So, I used ‘Billy Blender’… I have to say I thought it would be really sharp – apples plus cider vinegar, but it tasted good – so no sugar was added.

It was 6.30, what about tea? So on top of all that I started making a salmon and prawn risotto.

Stir the apples, stir the risotto. Wine was required for the risotto……

Bread was taking an age, so turned the oven down for the bread and the cake. I think they were both in for an hour, maybe the cake was in for a bit longer.

Risotto was nice, if a little too much wine had been added!!!

Bread was normal – takes longer than it says on the packet, but gets there in the end.

Cake was absolutely gorgeous. Very moist – quite heavy. As I don’t eat cake or biscuits very often it was absolute bliss. I had been cooking since 4.30. By now it was 8 – 8.30 pm.

The spoon was leaving a trail. So…. jar filling….

What the hell happened?!?!?

3 jars? 3 jars is all I got.

Four bloody hours of cooking and I got 3 measly 8 oz jars!!!

I’d bought 12 Mason jars! Cost me 10 bucks!

4½ lb of apples and I got 3 measly jars. What went wrong?

I used 4½ lb  and I got 3  jars.  Lorraine got 10 jars – dunno what 14 cups translates as? You used 3lbs – how many jars did you get?

Maybe I cooked it for too long? Maybe I didn’t cook it for long enough – it’s more like jam/spread than ‘butter’.

It tastes OK – very, very rich taste though. But with vinegar – no need for sugar, which is good?

I won’t be making apple butter again, but will, most definitely, make the cake! And bread. And risotto…..”

I read all of this when I got to work in the morning and yes, I laughed.

Not in a mean way, you understand, but as I often laugh when I read her emails. I could just picture her glaring at the pans and staring at the wine bottle. I laughed at the thought of her looking at the canola oil and wondering why she bought it. I could just imagine her outrage at only ending up with 3 jars… “THREE measly jars”.

I suppose I should have told her than when I did my second batch of Apple Butter I did, in fact, use at least ten or twelve pounds of apples….

Still, she has cake that she can eat while she plans going out to get more apples!

Let her eat cake, I say…..

Lolly, updated.

Lolly has been at it again…

October 2010

Autumn is here as is the apple crop. We have all been trying to do as much as we can with the huge haul of apples and the lovely Lolly is no exception.

We both love cake baking and Laura and I have been working on delicious cakes using apples. One thing we found on our searches was that apple butter or stewed apples can reduce the need for fat in a cake and anything that can make cake almost a health food is good for us!

  Lolly had emailed me one morning and we were talking about the potential for cake ” I was having a look at your blog and came across the recipe for the Apple Cake that you made with Apple Butter, and some chopped up apple pieces. I have 3 smallish apples left from my bounty, as well as a small Tupperware box of stewed apple and I wondered if you thought it would work if I made it like this….

Peel and core my 3 remaining apples, mix with juice of ½ lemon.

Put 250ml greek yogurt in a bowl and add 200g golden caster sugar, 60 ml veg oil, 2 eggs and the seeds from one of your wonderful vanilla pods and gently mix

In another bowl put 300g plain flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp bicarb, and then instead of the apple butter, two heaped dessert spoonfuls of stewed apple and a tsp of cinnamon.

Mix through and add dry ingredients and chopped apple.

 Do you think that this would work, or do you think I should also add a little bit of butter for a bit of fat?”

Look at that! I think you could say that it worked!

Lolly says “  Well I made it! I think that I put too much of something in, perhaps flour as the cake is a little dense. However, that hasn’t stopped it from being devoured by everyone at work so it must taste alright!!! I also made a small heart shaped one for Giles…!”

I think that is how it should be for a cake that is best eaten with tea or coffee – somehow, light and fluffycakes belong more with afternoon dainty teas. This is the sort of cake that is perfect for a mid morning break, say. Nothing too sticky… nothing too airy, just a perfect slice to have with a hot drink.

Well done, Lolly… and I bet Giles loved his heart shaped cake!

(You can see the rest of Lolly’s cooking adventures here)

A new T.O.B cook – Lorraine!

One of the really, really great things that come from blogging is the fact that you make friends with people you wouldn’t have have met if it hadn’t been for the blog. When those friends start cooking things they have seen on the blog it makes me really happy.

Those who did cook sent me pictures to show me what they had done and I was so pleased I posted the pictures here – anything to encourage people to cook. Now what we do is make that into a page for the person who’s cooking… they become a T.O.B. Cook. Look in the drop down category box for T.O.B Cooks and you’ll see what the others have done so far.

And here’s the latest T.O.B. Cook –  it’s your turn to meet Lorraine! 

Actually, I may well have met Lorraine in reality at some point… she is the best friend of the Bear’s cousin. Thing is,  they both happen to live in Quebec so  we would have had to gone over there, but, you know, we may well have met up.

As it happened, I “met” Lorraine because she read the blog and we became friends on Facebook. Lorraine started to read the blog and we started to talk about cooking. Then we became real friends.

The first thing Lorraine cooked was the Lemon Drizzle Cake that my aunt taught me. She managed to work out what I meant when I talked about caster sugar (in Canada they call it super-fine)  and took it with her when she visited the Bear’s cousin.

We message each other a lot now and one day when we were talking  about the huge amounts of basil we had and what we could do with it, I mentioned  that I had made Sweet Basil Biscuits but that I was intrigued been reading  what Katie from Cozy, delicious did with her basil. She made Basil and Watermelon Martinis – Lorraine needed no further encouragement. 

Lorraine used the sweet yellow watermelon they can get in Quebec

And made the most delicious Basil  and  Sweet Yellow Watermelon Martinis for herself and Sonny, her husband. Cheers!

(And because I couldn’t get lovely watermelons, I made Basil vodka with tomato essence cocktails)

Lorraine’s next challenge was No Knead Bread as she’s never done much yeast cookery. She said she’s never had any success with it…

Well, that looks like a success to me!

Lorraine made lovely Roasted Red Peppers 

And with the No Knead Bread and some lovely Stilton, made the perfect lunch!

I’m so glad Lorraine started joining in and even more glad she has become my friend.

Lorraine will, no doubt, tell you more about her cooking and will have more pictures to post in the future but until then, look at at what she’s done so far and welcome her as the latest T.O.B. Cook!

And this is what she says…

What can I say, just love the blog. After many years of cooking for just two of us, it became a routine, chops one day, always pasta on Friday, steak on Saturday, etc. If entertaining, I would plan for weeks and weeks but some things were always bought like Bread. Had never had any success and gave up. I began reading the blog religously and realized I was not alone so I gave bread a try once again. First time – did not quite work out but from Wendall’s help and encouragement I did it and continue to do so on a weekly basis. Have even managed to have a local shop import some Allinsons flour so I can try the other breads.

Am looking forward to trying many more of the receipes, especially Dahl and chicken receipes and will try to remember to take pictures to ecourage others. It is never too late to try new things. Thanks Wendy and The Bear – keep blogging.

Lorraine’s Update – 21 September, 2010 – EASY APPLE BUTTER!

This morning when I opened my computer I found a message from Lorraine. She had made the apple butter and what’s interesting is that she had a far easier way of doing it than the method I used! As a Canadian, Lorraine has more experience than me with apple butter so perhaps we should go with her on this.

Lorraine peeled, sliced and cored her apples (whereas I just quarter them and cook them, skin, pips and all)

She says “I ended up with 14 cups of apples before the stirring and added, cinnamon, ground gloves and 5 1/5 cups sugar. That’s it. My receipe did say I could use 2 cups of sweet apple cider to replace two cups of the sugar but I did not have cider.”

Simple, eh?

She blended them in a food processor

Returned to the pan and cooked again for about 2 hours until the natural apple sugars caramelised and went brown

Filled her jars

Boiled them in a water bath to sterilise everything

And ended up with 10 jars holding 250 ml each. Good work, Lorraine!

Now that, my friends, is a faster way of doing it than I have been doing it… and bearing in mind the immense apple glut we have, well, I think I will have to try her method!

I shall ask her to write down what she added to the apples and then I shall add it to her post!

T.O.B. Cooks Update

When I started this blog one of the aims was to show my friends both real and virtual what it was that I was cooking. I don’t suppose I had any idea of how it was going to develop, but develop it did.

One of the most lovely things about this blog is that you, my friends, also got involved in cooking and trying recipes. Then, those  who were friends on Facebook showed the others photographs of the food they had made and I decided to post them on here so everyone could see. Everything was evolving and changing.

We call this the T.O.B Cooks section and there’s even a page telling everyone all about it.

For those of you who don’t know what this is all about, what we do is if you make something, you send me your pictures  and I make a post for you… we add to it with every cooking escapade.

You can, like Lesley, Lolly, Nikki, Laura, and Debs send me a description of your cooking experiences to date and that goes at the start of your post… and fascinating reading they all are, too! Follow those links and see what fun we all had….

It doesn’t matter if I  haven’t  met you – once you cook and send me pictures, you are in the blog!

This week Lesley tried the Pastryless Pie that I had cooked earlier.. and look at what a fabulous job she made of it

So come on. Join in with us.

Take pictures of the cooking you’ve done from recipes on here then tell us about it – we’ll sort out how you get the pictures to me and anything you want to say on the blog post itself.

If you don’t want to do that, well at least say hello to us all in the comments section.. come and make friends – we’re all having a lovely time here!

Nikki

.. another T.O.B cook!  My aim is to get as many people baking as possible and Nikki decided that she would try the No Knead Bread

So she bought her ingredients and then … well, then she just waited for an opportune moment. Eventually….

Nikki RJ Loaf 1      Loaf number 1

And she tried again                  Nikki R-J Bread loaf 2

Much better.. and much appreciated by her daughter…Nikki RJ bread

Anyway.. this is what Nikki says about the whole experience…

“First thing you should know about me is that I am THE worlds greatest procrastinator. I can put things off for months – even if I have fantastic intentions, I can avoid it until there is no way out of it. It’s not even that I don’t like cooking, I do, but I like instant gratification. I’m blaming it on my generation!!

I bought all of the ingredients needed for the No Knead Bread, even took a picture of the ingredients to prove I’d done something towards making the thing! If I’m honest I was put off with the amount of time I’d have to wait before I could try it.

So there I was, all ingredients bought (ok, this may be a couple of weeks after actually purchasing them), a spare couple of days or so without anything particularly pressing happening and no more excuses forthcoming… I had family leaving for the weekend and a child who was amusing herself, so I found myself in my night clothes in the kitchen getting the ingredients out to make the No Knead bread.

I made the mixture… but decided it looked a little too ‘runny’ before the yeast even started to work, so added more flour until it was at a consistency that I was comfortable with, wrapped up the bowl lovingly up in cling film and set it to once side for hours!!!

Next morning there I was again, in the same position, night clothes on in the kitchen having just made my daughter breakfast, I decided to tackle the bubbly, sloppy mixture. Having floured my board I started to almost pour out the mixture on to the board – it’s very sticky!! The gloop landed on the floured board and after a little shaping it looked vaguely like the pictures on the Omnivorous Bear’s website. My impatience got the better of me and I couldn’t bear to wait for the full 2 hours before I threw it in the oven. I think I managed an hour and a half.

I threw the mixture with quite a bit of force in to my casserole dish and heard the sizzle and watched the dough bubble a little as it hit the dish – that was rather satisfying! In to the oven it went for half an hour or so, I then checked on it, decided it was cooked enough and needed to brown up. Another 10 – 15 minutes later it was ready to come out. I liked the fact that it didn’t make my house smell of that over powering yeasty smell like other loaves do when they are cooking.

It was done, I dumped it (yes, I know my terminology is affectionate) on to the cooling rack and tried to wait until it was cool and the ‘crust’ had hardened up. I think we managed to wait for just over an hour and then we cut in to it. It was still warm and slightly soft but edible. My daughter munched her way through 2 slices with thick butter and I ate quite a bit myself. So all in all although the wait was endless the end product was a success – I even made it again so it can’t be bad!!

Since cooking the bread I’ve since passed the recipe on to friends, one of whom has an intolerance to the yeast or something (I didn’t really listen) in shop bought bread, she tried the No Knead Bread and has become a convert and she makes two loaves a week for her and her partner. She’s much more committed than I am!!

Thanks the Omnivorous Bear – I baked, my family liked it, I may even try other recipes – but only after a long period of umm’ing and ahhhhrrr’ing!”

16 Nov… Nikki saw the Salt and Pepper post and used the spice rub on steak
Nikki RJ salt and pepper
As she described it as “b*****y yummy” and that she was no longer reliant on the Chinese for that salt and pepper fix, I think you will gather from that that it was a successful recipe. In a BlackBerry mesage to me later she said she tought she was turning into a cook. Which is a good thing, Nikki. A very good thing.
 My only aim is to get as many people cooking for themselves. Looks like it is happening

Lesley

Lesley… in her own words….

So where to start……….I have a love hate relationship with food and the biggest hate of all is cooking it! I also hate vegetables except onions,tomatoes and raw peppers and like my food extremely spicy. I can’t eat on a morning, get the munchies after alcohol late at night and if I decide I like something I will eat it for every meal for weeks on end………..disturbed?………..just slightly!
I’ve been following Wendy’s blog since the beginning and have always resisted her coaxing to have a go pre-blog, but the no knead bread sounded lovely and worth a try. I do eat bread (which is a bonus) it could be made in one bowl (which was always a stipulation I’d given Wendy in the past) and it required so little effort that even I couldn’t complain! My biggest problem was that I had no ingredients and no bowl but a trip to the supermarket fixed that one and I had no excuses left. Wendy, bless her, gave me phone numbers to contact her on for hand holding and encouragement but I was brave and ventured into the kitchen alone! I made the mixture and was grateful that I’d followed other people’s experiences and knew that when Wendy said it was wet, she meant very wet! I think I’d have panicked at that stage otherwise and binned the lot! I did it just before I went to bed so left it in the kitchen until I got home from work the following day. In the morning I sneaked a look and I could see it had expanded so something was obviously working!
When I got home I cranked up the laptop and checked the next stage taking particular note of the pictures and getting quite excited when mine looked exactly the same! I dragged the mixture out rolled it in flour left a bit longer and then dusted it and wrapped it in the t-towel. The next couple of hours waiting weren’t wasted……I used them to locate the cooker and work out how to switch it on (well I did say I hate cooking!)
The final stage and I have to admit to a bit of a panic when some of it stuck to the t-towel ……but I persevered and it actually wasn’t too bad and did come away eventually. Then…..off it went into the pre-heated oven and I waited…………with a glass of tinto to keep me company and calm my nerves! I was amazed when it actually looked as it should do when I took it out of the oven and even more amazed this morning when I tasted it and it was edible…….and not just edible it was really really tasty! :-)
It’s definitely something I’ll make again so I’ll forgive Wendy for bullying – sorry that should say encouraging – me and I may even try something else in the future! :-) Oh and here’s a picture just to prove I did it! Lesley x
Lesley S bread

10 November… Lesley made Bear Bars

Lesley S Bear Bars

And she liked them! 

 “Yes that was really easy and I had to have a taste even tho they are going to be my breakfasts for the next 3 weeks – it was yummy! I did change a few things – used raisins, sultanas, cherries, mixed nuts, cashews, walnuts, des coconut, sunflower seeds and about a tablespoon of molasses sugar with the oats, flour, apple sauce and eggs :-)…”

and she was so impressed she told her friend

“They’re called Bear Bars Margie after Wendy’s hubby! Lovely tasty bars of fruit and nuts and seeds – very healthy and tons better than the shop bought ones and they’re really filling! Get Nat to make you a batch – here’s the link:…”
And then she saw the Chicken Jalfrezi……
Lesley S Chicken Jalfrezi
Lesley ” has been cooking again! I made up for the weather outside by making this from Wendy’s Jalfrezi recipe and very nice it is too! :-)) Notice I don’t take much convincing when it comes to curry! lol”
Good work, Lesley!
And then she proved she had been paying attention… and produced Bone Idle Bread!Lesley Bread

17 January 2010

Lesley has been cooking again… and this time, having a real cooking session. Shepherd’s Pie in the morning,

followed by Keema

So much for never cooking eh? And she lets slip that she regularly bakes Bear Bars….

I think the avowed non-cook is resuming her kitchen duties! Way to go Lesley!

15 April 2010

Lesley cooked again… this time the Pastryless Pie

Lesley says:

Well I’ve made this tonight and once again I’m impressed – and not just with myself for doing it! I did tinker a bit with the recipe and ended up using stilton, smoked cheddar, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes and red onion. Had the potato base and ham edging but used fromage frais instead of double cream. It tastes fabulous and I even managed the broccoli which is a bit of a miracle really because I have an affinity with The Bear when it comes to that! So thanks Wendy for another recipe added to my repertoire! x

Look at that delicious edging!

A perfect example of using a base recipe and changing it to suit your ingredients or preferences!