Category Archives: Family

Pipers Farm – a Review

I haven’t done a review on here in a long time, but thought I may as well do one for Pipers Farm – sorry, no photos of the finished meals, they didn’t last long enough…

I’ve looked for an online butcher for a long time. As a former chef, if I’m going to pay top whack for a chicken or pork joint, I want free-range meat and want to know where it’s been raised. I get my pork & lamb from a small holding not too far from me, and I have blogged about them before, but I hadn’t found any online butcher for poultry that I wanted to try until I found Pipers Farm in November.

They get their meat from a group of farms in the south-west that raise all their animals free-range without any added feed. This time, as my son wanted duck for Christmas dinner, I was originally looking at just getting a duck, but then added a whole chicken too. Then I saw the packs of chicken hearts and chicken livers and had to get some – I love both but have never seen packs of chicken hearts for sale in the UK before.

I decided to get some duck legs as well – we love crispy duck and I can get the pancakes from an asian food store so… I got 10. I started to look at the rest of Piper’s Meat’s website and saw venison too. I ordered some venison shank and some hearts but they were out of venison heart. I convinced my hubby and son to try beef heart a while ago, and they really liked it, so figured they’d try venison too. I was about to check out when I saw that they had beef bones – I make stock all the time but haven’t seen beef bones for sale to the public so got several kilos.

The order came on the day it was supposed to, in 2 boxes with ice packs and wool insulation. I unpacked it and everything looked really good. It’s all packed individually so I kept out 2 duck legs; it turned out that the cold packing is so good that they were mostly already frozen so we had them the following night for dinner. I packed everything in the freezer except some of the bones to make stock and those 2 duck legs.

I roasted them after rubbing them in 5 spice powder and they were delicious, a good size too. They had lots of flavour and not a huge amount of fat – some duck seems to be all fatty skin and not a lot of meat. I kept the fat for roasting potatoes.

The beef bones actually had a good amount of beef on them still, one looked like a mini beef shortrib! I made a ‘white’ beef stock (I didn’t roast the bones first) with about half of the bones and it made about 5L of stock after simmering with lots of veg – onion, carrot, leek, garlic, celery and bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley, thyme. The longer you simmer stock for the better and this simmered for almost 24 hours. I had taken the meat off the bones at around 5 hours and had our cat begging me for it while I was still stripping the bones – he had some while it was still quite hot. I use this meat for the cat as a treat but also for risottos (chicken) and soups, depending on the meat. I froze most of the stock but we had asian noodle soup first… a good stock makes a good soup.

We had the duck roasted for Christmas as my son wanted; I stuffed it with an apricot & prune bread stuffing which helped stretch the meat a little. Alongside were roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts and carrots, roasted parsnips, gravy made from the juices in the pan. The duck came out with crisp skin (I only pricked it with a fork and sprinkled salt on it) and with most of the fat rendered off. There was a great depth of flavour in the meat and gravy and a 2.5KG duck made 6 meat portions + the bones for stock for another meal or 2. You don’t need huge portions of meat when it’s this good – savour it and enjoy, don’t gobble it down, no matter how tempted you are!

Last night I roasted the whole chicken and it was packed with flavour and not bland at all – and you get the neck, heart, giblets and liver with both the while duck and chicken. I roast them well seasoned with salt & pepper wrapped in foil and eat them before the rest of the meal is done, they were gorgeous. (Hubby and son don’t like liver or the neck so I get them). Yes, I could roast them for the gravy but I’d rather eat them. There’s a higher meat:bone ratio on a chicken than a duck and I use the bones for stock – I’ll probably get 9-10 meals out of this chicken once I’ve made the stock.

I will definitely be ordering again from Piper’s Meats – we have loved each piece of meat we’ve tried. I also like that you can keep the packaging – the boxes, wool insulation & icepacks and then send them back once you have had 5 orders. We accidentally reused our boxes and I plan on using the wool insulation so won’t be sending the packaging from this order back, but probably will for other orders.

This isn’t supermarket meat – think of buying this meat as an alternative to eating out in a restaurant. You’d pay more for bog-standard pizza for 3 at a chain restaurant than the chicken and all the sides cost. All told, the roast chicken dinner was just over £20 and while this is a pricy meal for 3 eating at home, once it’s stretched over 2 meals and balanced out by the much cheaper meals I make regularly – pasta bolognese, pesto pasta, noodle soups, jacket potatoes etc. it’s actually not that expensive. I know not everyone can afford this, or think they can, but if you do a little thinking about what you eat and go for better quality meat less often it’s doable.

Pipers Farm currently have a 15% off sale on until Jan 11, so if you are thinking of ordering, go for it!

New Year Plans 2020

Well, we all know I haven’t really blogged much in 2019. It’s hard to do long-term, as anyone who has a blog will know. I struggled with coming up with posts and also the time to write properly so didn’t write many at all. I suspect this year will be similar, but I will try!

I am making big changes to my little handmade business this year. I’ve seen so many businesses come and go on Etsy and on Facebook. People think, oh, I can make that, and charge less, all these businesses are ripping people off! So they start off with knit baby hats or buying in cheap glasses and pre-cut vinyls or MDF shapes, and charge materials x 2. They don’t factor in all their expenses – electricity, packaging, paypal fees (if they aren’t insisting on being paid by Friends & Family), insurance (if they even have it), doing accounts, time spent packaging and going to the PO… the list is almost endless.

But what they really don’t factor in is their time and wear & tear on their bodies. This is a huge issue to take into account – if someone is working every hour they are awake just to sell £4 items that take 30 minutes to make, they will be wrecking their health, relationships with significant others, children, other family and friends. When they finally sit down to do their taxes they’ll spend hours sorting them out to realise that they’ve made very little for 40+ hour weeks and could have made more flipping burgers at McDonalds 16 hours a week. So they disappear after a few months or a year. And then more take their place. It’s a whole other blog post on people valuing handmade items and being willing to pay properly for someone’s time and skills…

These “pop-up” handmade businesses who often aren’t trading legally anyway, underprice and undercut other handmade businesses instead of figuring out that long-term businesses charge what they do to be sustainable and are not ripping people off – handmade items should cost more than mass-produced! So I have been getting fewer and fewer orders for keepsake cushions, knit scarves & cowls as well as photo props which used to be my best sellers – the last are boobs, uteruses and placentas and they still sell pretty well.

Ever since I made 150 uteruses & placentas for a wholesale order in 3.5 months, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I would have to slow down because my hands wouldn’t put up with knitting 10 hours a day anymore. And that time is now. If you have been reading my Facebook business page over the past year, you’ll see there are lots of posts of me saying “my hands are bothering me again today, so I have to take it easy” or similar.

I have made fewer items this year, and it’s frustrating when you are used to making a certain amount and you just can’t anymore. I am phasing out items in all my shops on Etsy – Green Living Co Looking Glass Design, and Anatomical Knits by LGD, Ebay and Amazon. I will be focusing on items I like to make, using up my current craft supplies for other items and once they are made and sold, that’s it. I will be doing more sewing and the knitting will be less of a focus. I’d like to knit for me and my family more.

I will also be starting a job working for someone else for the first time in 8 years. Partly because of the changes in the handmade industry but also other factors like politics and the environment – we need to make do and mend, reuse already made materials and items much more and pushing newly made items that aren’t eco-friendly or aren’t environmentally consciously made in some way doesn’t feel like the right thing to do anymore.

One thing that will be staying open is the Green Living Co Etsy shop and more upcycled and more items made from repurposed materials will be available this year. I’ll keep you posted as much as I can about what items are being phased out and what will be added to all my shops. Below are some of the items still available!

Blue Scrubbies
Peach Scarf Strap
Buckwheat Hulls

Mustard & Black Drawstring Bag

This Summer…

You know when you’d go back to school & get the teacher asking you “What did you do last summer?” Here’s my answer.

Well. It’s been ‘fun’. As always Looking Glass gets slower over the summer and I expect that. When my son was younger I would use the time to do things with him and go places, have playdates etc and not worry too much about sales.

This summer, I thought it would be different – son was away for 3 weeks (eek!) and I had PLANS. Yes, PLANS all in capitals in my head with a to-do list as long as my arm. Then reality kicked in. We needed a new fence and finally were able to get one. I decided that I could take the old one down myself and asked a neighbour to help and we got it down in about 3 days. This isn’t a big fence, but this was in the first week of July in a heat wave and the £($(£*$£f72y posts had to be dug out – and boy, did that take forever. We had a shovel, crowbar, breaking bar and a sledgehammer and there were a few we’d have cheerfully used dynamite on because the concrete was so stubborn.

The skip – a large one – was parked on my neighbour’s drive for a few days longer than I’d have liked (them too, I’m sure) but it eventually went. The company I hired to put up the new fence also went and even faster. I fired them after 1 day because the work they did was so shoddy. The fence posts they put up came out again in less than 10 minutes each – the concrete they made up was like fruit crumble topping and the posts just lifted out.

wobbly fence
cracked concrete
post hole after post lifted out

To get the fence up before Sept. meant that I had to do it. In the heat, with my neighbour who helped take it down (he’s not the one living on the other side of the fence). We are both perfectionists (he used to make medieval armour)and both of us slightly decrepit so there was lots of “don’t fuss!”, “watch your knee!” & “watch your back!”.

Then… the neighbour who is on the other side of that property boundary & who had been consulted about the fence got shirty about it even though he had been consulted about when/the height/how it was going to be put up etc.
Hence more trips to the fencing place to get more materials and gravel boards to raise up the height. One Saturday, this neighbour decided to pull off one of the panels at the front & damaged 2. This is criminal damage, he was seen and then subsequently denied it – there is no corroboration so that’s that, the police can’t do anything. He’s refusing to allow us onto the property to finish or paint the fence after we told them they were no longer allowed to paint their side — but waited a week to kick us off the property so we could get most of the fence up (and start to paint) & we were still on their rented property to do so. Yes, we had permission to be there up til then.

So I have a 90% done fence with 3 panels missing; it’s half-painted on the other side from my garden. And that’s how it’s going to stay as they are refusing mediation via either the police or the housing association they rent from. I have PLANS to sort this that will not involve going on the property. So endeth July.

redone fence
redone fence 2
redone fence 3

In August the fence painting started. Because of my back I can’t paint all day, and the weather wasn’t fully co-operative anyway (rain) so it was sort of ‘how many panels can I repaint, and can I manage to do a first coat on another before I need to stop?’ kind of painting. We’ve got most of our side done in a moss green which I like more than I thought I would. My hands began to really ache though so the last day we painted it was just son and hubby to give me a rest. And I got more of a rest than I bargained for.

We also bought IKEA furniture – we desperately needed more storage and son needed a dresser that could hold his clothes, he’s been using the same one since he was 5 and it was tiny. They came, all 18 boxes… and we started to put that together when we weren’t painting the fence. Son really has enjoyed it. Hubby hates it. None of it is finished after 3 weeks as I ended up in hospital with pancreatitis. I do not recommend! I was in the hospital for 6 days and self-discharged as the air beds were killing my back – I spent the last night there on the chair by the bed with a heat pad or TENS machine on.

I’m still recovering, had to shut my shops for 2 weeks, and have no idea when I will start to get orders again. I’m taking it easy and am not pushing myself this week. If I had to grade this summer it would get a “D”.

Did you have anything ‘interesting’ happen this summer? Did you enjoy yourself, or did you have a disastrous summer like we did?

Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe

Chocolate Fudge Cake

I made this last week for one of hubby’s work colleagues who retired and had his last day on Tuesday. There hadn’t been any big plans for a party or anything special, he wanted to keep it low-key. Originally hubby thought there would be about 10 people but there were several groups of people who wanted to wish the colleague well on his retirement so there actually ended up being several cakes and other bits too. Hubby told me mine was the most popular – people thought it was a bought cake. I did buy the truffles I put on the top, and we had the gold dots in the cupboard so decided to toss them on too, to jazz it up a little. I also sent in raspberry coulis to serve with it; it’s very rich and needed something to cut through the ganache.

Top of cake

The cake is made in a slightly different way than by creaming the butter & sugar together and makes a nice slightly dense cake that isn’t too dry. I’ll make it again to get a few more photos but I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post for it, so only took photos of the finished cake. I did have to level the cakes so that I could stack them.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
75g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs
150ml greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
175g butter (not margarine!) melted & cooled
125ml veg oil
300ml cold water

Butter & line 2 x 8” cake tins; preheat the oven to 180’C/160’C Fan.
Mix together the sugars, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
In a jug or bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.
In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter and veg oil with an electric mixer then mix in the cold water.
Add in all the dry ingredients and mix slowly until blended.
Add in the egg mixture and blend again. Pour into the tins and level.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking at 30 minutes to see how much longer they will need.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

Ganache Icing:

15 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
15 oz cream
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp icing sugar

Gently heat up the cream until it’s almost at a boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate and let sit for a few minutes, then whisk together; if there are still chunks of chocolate after a few minutes, place over a pot of boiling water to warm up slightly, whisking constantly – don’t let it get too hot. Add in the golden syrup and icing sugar.

Let sit and cool for 15-20 minutes. You may need to cut the cakes level if they have a domed top. If you do, then flip them upside down so the bottom of the cake is now the top and the crumbs won’t get in the ganache at the top of the cake.

Spread about 1/3 of the ganache on the bottom cake for the filling. Top with the 2nd cake and ice the top and sides. Decorate with whatever you like. This cake will easily serve 12-16 people.

Variations:

Add in cherry pie filling to the middle, and only have the ganache piped at the sides to hold in the filling, then top with chocolate covered cherries, whipped cream rosettes and chocolate shavings.

Add a thin layer of marmalade to the middle and candied orange peel on the top.

Serve with a raspberry sauce/coulis – or redcurrant, as long as it’s slightly acidic & not too sweet to cut through the richness of the ganache almost any fruit sauce will work.

Tofu Taco Recipe

Tofu Tacos
Check out the tofu… nice & spicy

We are trying to eat more vegetarian dinners and while we all like tofu, we rarely eat it. I decided to get some today and found a recipe for Smoky Tofu Tacos and decided to try it. I tweaked it, as always (partly as I didn’t get smoked tofu). I’ll link to the original recipe at the end if you’d rather try the original.

They are actually quite filling, and the 2 of us left half the filling so I’d say this is a recipe for 4…

Topped with sour cream & avocado

Tofu Tacos

1 package fresh tofu
2 peppers, I used 1 yellow & 1 green
2 onions
2 tbsp veg oil
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of kidney beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp water
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
(plus extra spices to sprinkle on the tofu)
2 tsp demerara sugar
6″ tortillas, wheat or corn
yogurt or sour cream
1 small bunch of coriander, chopped
1 avocado,sliced

Take the tofu out of the package and place in a bowl or a plate wide enough to keep the tofu flat and hold water too. Wrap the tofu & plate in cling film, then place a container on top weighted with tins, rice, dried beans etc to flatten the tofu and squash the tofu and drain the excess water out. This will also firm up the tofu and help it hold together better.

Slice the onion into thick slices, then on low heat, saute the onions in 1 tbsp oil until they start to brown. Add salt & pepper once they start to brown, not at the beginning. Take them out of the pan, then repeat with the peppers, also sliced thickly. Once they are browned, take them out of the pan and set aside.

Put the chopped tomatoes in a small pan and heat up with the grated garlic and let cook until it’s reduced a little, stirring occasionally.

Clean out the pan if needed, then put in 2 tbsp veg oil place on med. low heat. Slice the tofu into 1 cm slices, then dry off. Once the oil is hot, place the tofu gently in the pan so you don’t get splashed, then turn up the heat a little and let the tofu brown. Sprinkle the tofu with salt, pepper, ground cumin & coriander. Once it’s brown, turn over and sprinkle with the spices again. Take out and place on paper towel.

Put the reduced tomatoes & garlic peppers & onions, kidney beans, tomato paste and water (if needed) into the pan on med-low heat and stir well. Add in the spices, sugar and stir again, then put in the tofu. Turn down the heat and stir gently so the tofu doesn’t break up and let gently simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped coriander.

Pop the tortillas on a plate and microwave for 1 minute to heat up. Serve each person 2 tortillas topped with the tofu mix, then top with yogurt/sour cream and slices or chunks of avocado.

Tofu Tacos again

Here’s the original recipe.

Roasted Curry Cauliflower & Chick Peas

I don’t often manage to get savoury recipes blogged. I do them far more often than sweet ones but they don’t usually get photographed and written down.

Bowl of Curried Cauliflower

This one I made for lunch last week; I felt like something veggie and had a half a cauliflower to use up. This is definitely one I will make again!

Cauliflower & Chick Peas

Roasted Curry Cauliflower & Chick Peas

1/2 med. cauliflower
1 small onion
1 can of chick peas, drained & rinsed
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 slices ginger, sliced into sticks
3 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp nigella seeds
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp water
small bunch of fresh coriander
plain yogurt

Take the cauliflower and slice into 1″ thick slices, then cut the core out to break them up slightly. Chop the onion into 1cm chunks, then mix together in a large bowl with the cauliflower, veg oil and spices. Tip into a roasting pan, making sure they are well mixed together. Roast for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion and cauliflower are cooked through and slightly browned. I put the 2 tbsp water in the pan about half-way through to help steam the cauliflower slightly. Serve with freshly chopped coriander and a spoonful of yogurt. Makes 2 servings for a main course, or 4 for a side. Of course, if you end up having more cauliflower than will fit into a 9″ x 13″ pan, you’ll need to adjust the spice amounts up. You probably won’t want more chick peas until you use a whole cauliflower.

You can use this as a side dish with roasted chicken or as a meal on its own. You won’t need potatoes – this is very filling!

Curried Cauliflower & Chick Peas

“Fish Fingers & Custard”

My son turned 9 last month and we had the usual party – at the Center for Computing History in Cambridge – they have ‘Retro Gaming Parties’ for all ages. The kids had a blast and their parents are now planning their own gaming party soon.

He wanted a Tardis Birthday Cake originally and we looked at tutorials online, but as I can’t actually decorate a cake…. we went for “Fish Fingers & Custard” also from Doctor Who. If you don’t remember, Matt Smith’s first episode when he met Amy Pond – he tried out food to see what he liked and decided on ‘Fish fingers and custard’. The show used cake, apparently, but I decided on Shortbread.

Fish Fingers & Custard

They are a little time consuming to make, but worth it for the look on the kids’ faces! Some only tried one because another Mum said they had to try one or they couldn’t play more computer games, and a couple wouldn’t eat them with custard so they had jelly instead. The recipe makes enough for 60 shortbread fingers.

Fish Fingers:

12 oz./375g soft unsalted butter (do not use margarine!)
6 oz./165g white sugar
19 oz./590g plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 tsp salt

5-6 egg yolks
water

200g digestive biscuits or graham crackers
4 tbsp melted butter
3 oz./100g sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – I use an electric mixer. Sift in half the flour and the salt, then mix again. Sift in the rest of the flour and mix. Separate into 2 balls, wrap one up in cling film. If it’s very soft, put it into the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

Roll out one ball of dough on a floured surface to about 9-10mm (3/8″) thick – about the thickness of a fish finger. Try to make it as rectangular as possible. Cut out fingers about 7.5cm (3″) long and 2.5cm (1″) wide. I cut each row out as I went along to try to get as many out of each sheet as possible. I used a small ruler so they would all be the same. Place each one on a cookie sheet with parchment/baking paper on it and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other ball of dough, then again using the leftovers of both together.

Cutting out the Shortbread Dough

Crush the biscuits/crackers. I used a food processor to make crumbs then added the sugar and melted butter and pulsed a few times to mix. Place on a plate or pie plate. (you’ll probably need to make this in batches depending on the size of your food processor). Once the fingers are chilled, whisk the egg yolks with enough water to thin them out a little.

Egg Wash
“Breading”

Put each finger in the egg mix and make sure they get covered, then transfer to the coating plate. Cover each one well, pressing down to coat. Remove back to the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the fingers have been coated. Put the cookie sheet back in the fridge to chill again for 15 minutes. Make sure you don’t crowd the cookie sheet, they will spread a little and you don’t want them to stick together. (I put mine a little too close together).

More ” Breading”
Ready to chill again

Bake at 180’C for 15-20 minutes or until they are cooked and start to brown. The ‘breading’ should crack a little and they should look like actual fish fingers. Carefully take off the sheet and onto a rack to cool. They will be soft and break easily when hot.

Baked & Cooling off

We served them in icecream tubs with bought custard – there were a couple of kids who just couldn’t get past the ‘fish fingers’ look and eat them with custard and a couple who gingerly tried then realised they were biscuits and dug right in. It was an easy birthday dessert, and perfect for a party too.

Happy New Year!

Hello again. I know, I know, I abandoned you – but not intentionally! I ran out of steam to write blog posts – I did’t just want to post new items I have made to sell all the time, but couldn’t think of anything else to blog about!

Happy New Year!

In Real Life, it’s been hectic, son’s settling in well to boarding and singing, hubby’s been very busy at work and helping son with music practice. I’ve been busy labelling new clothes to replace ones that have gone missing at school, and reminding him to wash his hair properly. He’s shot up as well; he’ll need yet more new clothes in a few weeks, I’m sure. We already had to buy new school shoes to replace the half pair he lost a week before the holidays started – 1 went missing after Games and he hasn’t had his ‘Cinderella’ moment yet. We couldn’t wait to see if it did come back when the new term started, though. Right now, we all have colds, so are grotty and grumpy but I stocked up the house before Christmas so we have had enough stuff to make soups and meals you want to eat when you have a cold.

Looking Glass Designs has been doing well, too. I haven’t finalised accounts for November & December yet, but it looks like I have passed last year’s turnover for those 2 months. Not sure about the tax year as a whole yet. I also started selling on Amazon Handmade and am pleasantly surprised at how quickly I got busy on there.

I have plans for several new product lines that I hope will sell well, and another style of Camera strap too. This one will be a cover, so I can use some of the fabric on my shelves – I have some gorgeous fat quarters!

I smacked my hand on the edge of our kitchen door jamb in August and it’s still not healed. I’m going to look for a physiotherapist – I went to the doctor’s but as it wasn’t ‘deformed, bruised or not bending’ they wouldn’t do anything…

Pippy’s still missing Annie, he spends a lot of time wanting cuddles and sleeping beside me. He got “old” very quickly once she was gone; he refused to go outside almost at all for most of September. We used to have to pick him up and take him outside. He’s slightly better now, but I’m not allowed out of the house for longer than a couple of hours or he’s very upset when I/we get home. He will be 14 this year, in May/June time.

I hope you and yours have a 2018 that is mostly good – if there were no ‘downs’ the ‘highs’ wouldn’t be so wonderful!

Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe

Here’s the Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe…

Pear & Ginger Chutney

It’s thick, a little tangy, a little sweet, slightly hot with the tiny chunks of ginger, and gorgeous with a mature cheddar. You can use unripe pears and then blitz a few cups of the cooked chutney while hot to make it less syrupy and more thick. (I did).

Ingredients:

10 cups peeled and chopped pears (fairly finely chopped) (15-20 pears, depending on their size)
3 medium red onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
4 cups white sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup seedless raisins or sultanas
1 cup crystallised ginger
1 tsp salt
3 star anise
10 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon, or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 crushed juniper berries

Pour the vinegar in the pot you are going to use to cook the chutney in, then add the pears to it as you chop them up so they don’t turn brown. Take 1 cup of the sugar and the ginger and put in a food processor. Pulse the ginger and sugar together until the ginger is finely chopped, then add to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Stir regularly so the bottom doesn’t catch. Cook gently for 1-2 hours or until the pears are cooked and the chutney has come together. You can blitz a couple of cups of the chutney if the pears haven’t broken down at all, just leave out the whole spices from blitzing.

Sterilise clean jars (you’ll need 8-9 pint jars) by placing them in a tray in the oven at 100’C for 20 minutes. Put the lids in a bowlful of boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Quickly fill the hot jars with the hot chutney to 4-5mm from the top, keeping the rims clean (if you’ve spilled the chutney on the rims, wipe them with a wet sponge and wipe dry). Dry off the lids and screw them on to finger-tight. Leave on a clean dry tea towel on the counter for several days before moving. I usually fill 2-3 jars at a time, then put the lids on.

As long as the lids stay sealed, the chutney will last for years.

Pear Chutney on Cheddar
Makings of a ploughmans’ lunch
Closeup

Rice Crispie Chicken

Yup, you read it right. Rice Crispie Chicken. Sorry, there’s no marshmallows in it. It’s a baked chicken dish my son and I made for dinner tonight. We had some rice crispies that needed using, so… we coated boneless chicken thighs in the crushed rice crispies and baked them. My son did most of the work, I only boned & skinned the chicken thighs for him, but you can buy boneless, skinless ones.

It turned out better than expected, so I thought I’d pop the recipe on here for you to try. It would work with other cereal as well like cornflakes or bran flakes.

Rice Crispie Chicken

Rice Crispie Chicken

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
salt & pepper
2 cups rice crispies or other crisped puffed rice cereal

Preheat the oven to 350’F. Beat the eggs and water together in a bowl with a little salt & pepper. Put the rice crispies in a freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin- you’ll need to crush them more than you think you will, or you’ll have whole ones that won’t stick to the chicken very well.

Add a little salt & pepper to the crushed cereal, or any other spice you’d like to add and put on a plate. Dip the chicken in the egg, then into the cereal, covering the chicken, press down then flip and make sure that side’s coated well. Place on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, then bake for 15-20 minutes
I’d add some cayenne or paprika when we make them again, rice crispies are sweeter when baked! We had them with pesto pasta and steamed veg, but they’d be good in buns too.

I’ll add more photos when we make it again.

Close-up