Monday, 23 May 2016

A Record of Recipes

I wonder what the collective noun for Recipes should be.  It's probably just a 'collection' really, but I think there should be something far more exciting, like the fabulous "Parliament of Owls".  I shall put my mind to it, and encourage you to come up with your own.  Here are my first attempts...

A Delight of Recipes
An Abundance of Recipes
A Fullness of Recipes
A Satiety of Recipes
A Gluttony of Recipes
A Guzzle of Recipes 
(that last one seems very Roald Dahl-esque to me)

Five Beans Foods put up a blog post today that she said is really written for her mum, which is fabulous.  And more fabulous because I'm going to eavesdrop on her wisdom and steal it!  I love how (in her words) her blog is a record of her recipes - and I've decided that's what I'd like mine to be too - I have a shocking memory, so it's great to have a place to keep my recipes, that are easy to find.  And to share with friends.

It's report writing season at school.  This means that many of my fabulous teacher friends have Very Clean Houses.  For me, it means I enter a frenzy of cooking and baking.  I may also be procrastinating by writing a blog about my frenzy.  All because I'm going to be Very Organised, and not have to cook or bake for my family while there are extra deadlines.

OK, so maybe not.  But it's fun anyway.  I feel like a Very Good Housewife when I've prepared some meals.

Today's cooking has included:
* porridge - breakfast that cooks itself while I get dressed
* vegetable stock It's a Thermomix thing
* Cauliflower soup (saved washing the Thermomix) oh my word, it's divine - Thermomix users, you MUST try the cauliflower soup recipe on the Everyday Cooking Chip.  
* A "Dump Bag" for Beef Ragu & Massaman Curry
And there is hope that I will also achieve
* Choc Choc Chip Raspberry Muffins adapted from here, (everyone liked these) and
* Lemon Curd.  Because there are lovely lemons on our tree, and if one really wants to procrastinate, one should have something to show for it!  This didn't happen!

A post from Woogsworld caught my eye the other day, because a wonderful reader of hers contributed a series of "Dump Bag" recipes.  
The name is no joke, apparently it's common in America, although feel free to snigger if you like.
I did.

Dump Bags involve a large plastic ziplock bag (although I'm sure you could just use a container - would that make the name worse or better?) containing all the prepared ingredients for a slow cooker meal.

Label and freeze, and then the evening before you want to cook something, put it in the fridge to defrost overnight.  Pop it in the slow cooker in the morning, and Bob's your Uncle.
Or not.

I knew this would be the answer to my feeling like a Slovenly Housewife, so I printed them out, bought some ingredients, and went to work.

There was a recipe for Lamb Shanks on the Woogsworld blog, however, it required Red Wine. Someone seems to have drunk all of the red wine at our house.  We aren't replacing it, because I know for sure someone will drink it all over again.  Win for Making Good Choices for our health!  But not-so-good for our culinary delights.

So instead I took the ideas from the Lamb Tagine to create some Lamb Shank Slow Cooker Magic.  I also cross-referenced Stephanie Alexander's wonderful Cook's Companion, which is still one of my favourite cook books ever!  This is what I did.

Monday Lamb Shanks
2 large lamb shanks - this was enough for our family
1 brown onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped too lazy to crush, couldn't be bothered washing up another utensil, and figure the flavour will soak through anyway.  Hopefully no-one eats a piece of garlic
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tblsp chicken stock (or substitute 1 tsp dried chicken stock)
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
Dried parsley
4 pieces orange zest
Pinch chilli flakes
1 stick cinnamon
2 teaspoons paprikawhich I forgot to add until just now, while I'm writing this for you!
generous pinch saffron
4 potatoes, small chunks
2 carrots, chunks
1 sweet potato, chunks
1 zucchini, chunks
1 tblsp honey the whole moroccan vibe seemed to invite the sweetness, and I'm not a fan of dried fruit in things so I omitted the prunes
olive oil

I heated the olive oil & browned the shanks.

The slow cooker I bought a couple of years ago has a browning function and can be used as a pressure cooker.  This makes me very happy.  I hate browning slow cooker meals in another pan, because the whole point of slow cooker meals is that they are meant to save work!

Then I added the onions & garlic so they could soften while I chopped vegies desperately.  The recipe called for 8 hours of slow cooking. I was on a deadline here...

Then I added the chicken stock and water, tinned tomatoes, and the vegetables.

Stephanie recommended making a bouquet garni.  With vivid recollections of Bridget Jones' blue string soup, I elected instead to pop the herbs into a fill-your-own tea bag that I use to make up tea bags from my favourite leaf tea.  I bought them at a Adore Tea in Gold Creek in Canberra.  They are a bit like this.
Infuser bag - perfect for the bouquet garni - so easy to remove at the end.
I threw in the spice bag, and kept the browning function on for a bit longer until I had the casserole bubbling furiously - I started cooking far to late for the 8 hours recommended.  I'm hoping the cooking at high heat will cut an hour off my cook time.
5.5 hours was plenty after giving the shanks a ferocious start.

I didn't have many photos along the way because the brainwave to procrastinate further by blogging blog my recipe to share with you only came later...

Besides, I'm sure you all know what chopped up meat and vegies look like.
Something like this?
5.5 hours was plenty, the meat was falling off the bone, tender and juicy.  I added a little couscous.  The casserole was delicious!
I'm not great at this food photography thing.  Really, how can you make stew look good?  It tasted good though.  I'll let you imagine.

For your entertainment (or perhaps encouragement?)
I have included a photo of the mess that is my kitchen bench during food frenzies.  Or perhaps at any time.  Nice change from highly manicured bloggers photos.  Not that I achieve those usually, remember this blog is just for me, and any friends who want to join in.
Please tell me your kitchen looks a lot like this when you're in a cooking frenzy...

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