Wednesday, 25 July 2018

WOYWW 477 Cooking Again

Still nothing on my desk. This week has been quieter and less busy than of late, and I’ve taken advantage of this in order to rest a bit. It’s been so hot! Up at the top of our garden there is shade from the apple tree and it’s very pleasant, but down in the patio it would be unendurable to sit for even five minutes!

I had a cooking day today, hence my lateness in signing up to WOYWW – I originally didn’t intend to join today but thought you might like to see my efforts even if they are kitchen-related instead of studio-related!

I had a big Tesco delivery first thing, and as usual, washed the fruit and veg and trimmed the latter so it wouldn’t take up so much room in the fridge. I always blanch the trimmings and freeze them, and when there’s enough in the bag, I can make soup, so nothing is wasted. In the bowl are today’s trimmings – quite a lot! I used to throw away the stalks of broccoli and the tough upper leaves of leeks but sliced up and cooked slowly, and then liquidised, they make excellent vegetable soup; they are full of goodness, and there’s no waste.

While I was preparing the butternut squash, I suddenly wondered if it was possible to eat the seeds. I checked online, and found that you can – they are related to pumpkins and I regularly buy those to put in the bread. Maybe now I shall use squash seeds instead, and save myself the expense! I separated them from the fibrous pulp (which also went in with the vegetable trimmings!), washed the seeds, and dried them on kitchen paper, ready for roasting later.

Here are most of my ingredients, ready for me to start cooking.

I recently discovered “Brothers Green Eats” Youtube channel – these two brothers cook amazing stuff in a tiny kitchen, and I’ve got loads of ideas and advice from their channel. This week I watched a video where they cooked several dishes that could be put in portions in the fridge or freezer for an instant ready meal full of goodness. I was keen to try this, and this is what my efforts today were all about.

Here is the finished meal, plated up and ready to eat.

Fridge and freezer fodder! What we didn’t eat for lunch today.

From top left: slaw made from shredded cabbage, carrot, sliced radishes, spring onions, sliced mango. To prepare the vegetables I used my VeggieBullet (see photo of ingredients, in the background) which shreds and slices in double-quick time – literally seconds! Bag of fried chicken thighs. Before cooking I boned these, and made stock with the bones, which was used to cook the bulgur wheat. The chicken thighs were fried skin-side down (no added fat) until they were crisp, then turned for a few minutes to finish cooking the meat. Two jars of sauce, the first being a light dressing made from lemon juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, almond butter, a dash of French mustard, fresh coriander, dill, a little honey, chopped spring onions and a little vegetable stock, blitzed in my high-speed blender. This was used to dress the slaw. The second jar contains a quick barbecue sauce made from tomato ketchup cooked with some paprika, vinegar, a little ground cumin and cayenne and a touch of brown sugar.

Second row: Bulgur wheat cooked with some chopped spring onions and peppers, using the stock from the chicken bones.

Third row: Roasted vegetables – butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, celeriac (par-boiled for a few minutes in the microwave to soften), broccoli and broccoli stalks, onion, leek, courgettes, garlic and peppers roasted in toasted sesame oil with some chilli flakes, cinnamon, ground cumin and paprika, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds and brown flax seeds.

Finally, the squash seeds, roasted. I mixed some chilli flakes, ground cumin, ground coriander and cayenne pepper in a little olive oil and tossed the seeds in this before roasting them on parchment paper in the oven. They are super-delicious – really crunchy and with quite a spicy kick! Much better than crisps. The trouble is, each time I walk past the bowl, I have to eat some. They won’t last long!

Next time I am going to roast them plain, and save them to put in the bread. Maybe I’ll never buy pumpkin seeds again!

Talking of break, this is the batch of sourdough I made at the weekend. Marginally better, but still spreading too much. I am going to try with a slightly less hydrated dough, and definitely keep an eye on both the first and second proving so that it doesn’t over-prove.

The structure of the bread is good – the holes could be bigger, but they are shiny as they are supposed to be, and the flavour is excellent. I’m getting there, slowly!

Esmeralda is behaving magnificently, which is great. She is now in her new routine of being fed twelve hours or so before I make the bread, and allowed to grow at room temperature, and after I’ve made the bread, she’s fed again, and put back in the fridge for another week.

I made a better batch of kefir cheese this week as well, taking longer to strain the kefir through the muslin, and gently agitating it periodically, to encourage some more whey to drain through. I didn’t squeeze the bag because it just makes kefir come through into the whey.

With some of the whey I made some lemonade. I added some basil leaves (this is a fabulous combination for a lovely, cold, refreshing summer drink) and blitzed it in my high-speed blender – which was a mistake! It generated huge quantities of foam which took ages to disperse. I think this was caused by the protein in the whey. Next time I shall make the lemonade and blitz it before gently stirring in the whey. You don’t really taste the whey, but it’s adding that extra layer of goodness and lots of gut-friendly bacteria. Can’t be wrong.


Not much activity this week. It’s been too hot for much vigorous play but there has been some big game hunting in the jungle (chasing butterflies in the flowerbeds!) without too much success, fortunately for the butterflies. Lily continues to be a Trolley Dolly all on her own. Ruby has gone right off the trolley and now prefers to sleep right outside the bedroom door where she is in danger of being trodden on, and she she is being vigorously dissuaded from this – we have to remove her 5 or 6 times before she finally settles on my hubby’s box of old clothes. They get their little phases for favourite sleeping places and let’s hope that Ruby’s latest choice is short-lived. I told her I only had to put my big foot right on top of her once, and there’d be no more Ruby. It’s funny, but these kitties are never very impressed with anything I say to them. They just give you that look, and go on doing whatever it is you don’t want them to do.

Here is Lily drinking from the bird bath. So much for my hubby’s efforts, putting a nice bowl of fresh water out each day so they don’t get thirsty.


I keep telling the kitties it’s OK to chase the white butterflies (these tend to lay their eggs on people’s precious vegetables!) but not OK to chase the pretty ones. They don’t see the logic of this at all.

Last week I managed to capture this beautiful butterfly, which I later identified as a comma, on our buddleia bush. Isn’t it handsome?

This year, we have far more butterflies than we’ve ever had before, which is a good sign. Buddleia is always a great attraction for them, of course. I found what I think was a red admiral in the bedroom last week, and scooped him up with a chiffon scarf and shook it out of the window and off he flew.

Hopefully this coming week, I might actually achieve some art. Who knows?


  1. I'm sweating just reading about all your cooking! very commendable, if hot! Have a good week. Helen #4

  2. I'm amazed you got so much done in the heat. I made bread pudding today. Karen 23

  3. I have AC and I'm not cooking. You are the queen of keeping everything. I adore how you save all that stuff for soup. Sounds like me, too. Nothing goes to waste.

    I roast my squash and pumpkin seeds. I sometimes caramelize them and sometimes add herbs to the baking process. They make fabulous and healthy snacks.

    LOVED the kitty antics. Happy WOYWW from # 1.

  4. Hi Shoshi, I felt hungry just looking at all your delicious efforts in the kitchen. You definitely put me to shame. Glad you are feeling happier about the bread, as long as it tastes delicious I wouldn't panic about the look so much. Meow to Ruby and Lily, hope Ruby doesn't end up squished! Sarah #13

  5. I'm not much of a cook and am in ooh and awe over your skills and wonderful photos! The bread looks amazing. Have a great week. Warm (tropical!) hug from the Netherlands, Marit #21

  6. Hi Shoshi, well done on all that cooking. I know I could not manage that much cooking in this heat. In fact, we've been living on salads/ salad rolls for the last couple of weeks at least. There's been the odd baked potato, but I don't have to stay in the kitchen for that, lol. Have a lovely week, Hugs, Shaz #7 xXx

  7. Those look like delicious meals! and amazing bread! ha, poor birds, but can't blame the kitty, she needs the liquids too. Happy rest of the week! xo Cheetarah #28

  8. Hi Shoshi. My word - you've been busy!!! Great fun though as you produce great sounding food. Never had much success with bulgar wheat - don't know what I do wrong!
    Take care. God bless.
    Margaret #5

  9. Wow! Amazing efforts in the kitchen. I think cooking is another wonderful form of creative expression. Your kitchen creations look fantastic! Have a wonderful weekend! Julie {#29}

  10. Always something to learn when I visit Shoshi, as my Daughter is a vegetarian it's wonderful to see what other people do with vegetables as recipe books always lead to ratatouille or vegetable lasagna. The colours that vegetable bring are always so inviting what ever the weather.
    Good to hear Esmeralda is still behaving, she is such a useful soul.
    maybe Ruby has found that little draft of cool air that we are all looking for desperately.
    Our Dog lies in the downstairs doorway with her nose pointing to the open door leading to the garden. As she is a black lab we constantly have to remember that she is there for fear of tripping over her.
    Maybe the kitties will rekindle their trolley dolly love when the weather gets cooler.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend & Thank you for sharing WOYWW Tracey #6

  11. That looks very healthy - I wish I could feel as excited about cooking as you do. Perhaps if I looked at it as an art form, I would find it more appealing - at the moment it's just a chore I want to get over and done with - or avoid it altogether if I can! Of course, Lily would drink out of the bird bath LOL - they never drink out of their own bowl. That butterfly looks very unusual - I don't think I've seen one like that before. It is unbearably hot on our patio as well - I can't put up with this heat much longer! Try to stay cool xx

  12. A great way to be creative without involving paper and ink! I love bulgar wheat and would eat it with every meal if I could, Mr D not so keen as me, but uncomplaining! Great idea about getting the trimming over and done with whilst all the veggies are waiting to be put away!


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