Sunday, 21 September 2014

Boiled Fruit Cake

Hello Dear Reader,

This is a Mary Berry recipe, often used at the county shows as a competition recipe. I've adapted it slightly as dried fruit is really expensive.

To make this you will need

 1 & 1/2 bags of mixed dried fruit. - 750g of dried fruit.

397g tin of condensed milk - 1.09
150g of butter - 60p
100g of glace cherries - 65p
225g of SR flour - I used GF flour, but you can use ordinary baking flour. 39p (GF)
2 level teaspoons of mixed spice 10p
1 level teaspoon of cinnamon 10p
2 beaten eggs in a mug 33p
IF - you are making the GF version, fill the mug with milk and add that too, GF flour needs more moisture.

Total cost £3.36 - cuts well into 16 portions - 20p a slice. Not bad for a nibble of indulgence.

Turn the oven on to 150/gas mark 2.

In a large pan, place the butter, condensed milk and all the dried fruit. Heat gently stirring all of the time until all mixed together.

Turn the heat down and keep stirring for a further ten minutes.

Remove from the heat and cool for 20 minutes. 

Add the beaten eggs and milk if making the GF version.

Beat well together.

Add the flour and spices.

Spoon into 7" tin, lined with greaseproof paper. You can buy tin liners like this from Lakeland if you don't live near Trago. The cost me £4.50 for 100.

Bake for two hours - I check mine after one hour. After removing it from the oven, leave to cool for an hour in the tin and then transfer to a cooling rack or plate to cool completely before storing.

This will last for ages, I think it could even make a good Christmas cake. It's best eaten the day after you've made it. The condensed milk gives it a toffee like flavour and the fruit gives it a dense rich texture. It's wonderful on a Sunday afternoon with a bit of cake. Keep it wrapped in foil or in an air tight tin and this will last all week even after being sliced.

I'm entering a baking competition soon, so you'll see a few cakes as I practise. Now it's your turn, what's your favourite cake? 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Humble food that can make a difference

Hello Dear Reader,

If you ever think food isn't important then think of those who don't have any. Food is rooted at the centre of our culture and how we cook, and what we eat says a lot about who we are. I had this moment of depth last night, over a glass of wine watching the Twitter feed from the MADs in London. As ever, it was an honour to be a finalist in Best Thrifty and Best Food blog. The wonderful Ricky at Skint Dad  won best thrifty blog. Please pop over, take a look and say Froogs sent you xxx The food bloggers are an accomplished lot: A Mummy too, which is a proper grown up foodies blogger. Her recipe index is comprehensive and a great go to site for families with children, not only to feed but to involve in cooking. I love the complexity of the Bento boxes, and the competitive edge too of Eat Amazing. What a lucky lot her children are and what a creative mum she is. Gourmet Mum has a lively approach to getting her family to eat healthily and her recipes are fresh and easy to follow and always beautifully lit and photographed. Finally the lovely Crazy Kitchen, who makes the home cooks among us look like we're just not trying. Her food is as professional as her slick and professional website. Her recipes are easy to find and even easier to follow. Please drop by to their websites and say hello. 

Then there's Frugal Queen. My photos are poorly lit, I use a £60 camera covered in cheese sauce and without superfast (not round these parts until the end of 2015), I often have washed up, had a shower and got ready for bed before the photos have uploaded. My recipes are simple home cooking and they are certainly nothing fancy. With that in mind, I'm immensely grateful that you read, that you follow, that you chat to me on Facebook, that you tweet and retweet and I'm incredibly humbled by the emails you send me. Every day, over the site receives over 11,000 page views and each month over 37,000 unique visitors log in and read. 

I don't always write about food but is is so important.

It changes lives and cements families. So many of my memories about my family are about the food my mum fed me. We didn't have much and in some cases, we didn't have enough but we never went hungry. Food was always plain, never shop bought, always homemade, filled us up and did us good. She was and is an incredibly good cook and then and now that food is not just delicious but nurturing and comforting. We take it for granted, but there are families out there who don't like to, can't or won't cook for each other and generations of people are growing up without the skills to eat well. That's ok if you have money, someone else can cook it for you, either Mr Marks or Mr Spencer can make your meals for you, even Mr Morrisons can add to your table. That being the case, where's the heart and where's the love in the making of that meal?

Here's my simple recipe for Veggie Lasagne - serves 6.

Pre- heat the oven to 160C.

3 stalks of celery finely diced
2 onions finely diced
2 large courgettes cut into cubes
1 tin of sliced mushroom - or five fresh ones, diced.
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 heaped teaspoon of chopped garlic
1 heaped teaspoon of mixed herbs
salt and pepper
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons of oil

You can add any vegetables to this, what ever is in season so long as it chopped small enough to sit easily between the layers. I  made a large lasagne for everyone else and a small gluten free one for me. Don't worry, I didn't eat all of it in one meal.

  • Fry the ingredients above for 10 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and seasoning.
  • Bring to boil and then simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Make the cheese sauce.

3 heaped tablespoons of corn flour
50g of butter
3/4 litre of milk
salt and pepper to season
100g of grated mature cheddar

  • In a sauce pan, heat the butter
  • Stir in the flour until it forms a ball
  • Add the milk and cheese
  • Stir over a medium heat, continuously until thickened.
  • Remove and leave to stand.

Assemble the lasagne

  • In an oven proof baking dish or casserole or pie dish.

  • Pour some oil into the bottom

  • Place sheets of lasagne to cover. I don't pre-cook. I make my sauce quite wet so the lasagne can soak this up, softening whilst cooking.

  • Next layer of vegetable sauce

  • Next a layer of lasagne.

  • Now sause

  • Then lasagne

  • Finish with a liberal pouring of the cheese sauce. You could sprinkle some cheese on top. We ate ours with lettuce, grated cheese and some chopped red pepper. 

  • Place the casserole dish on a baking tray, in case of spillage and bake for thirty minutes. I usually take it out after 25 and leave on the side for fifteen minutes before serving. Other wise it's just too hot to eat.

Simple, cheap and a really simple supper. It keeps well in the fridge and makes a great ding cuisine for another day. I write because I really believe that we can all eat well enough, even if we have a tiny budget, not a lot of time, or money and only a few skills. It's great that there are foodie families out there, eating lovely food but it's also great that families are creating bowls of soup, hearty stews of simple veggie lasagnes. I also want to save families money so they can save up for or keep their homes or make a small wage work really hard.

Thanks everyone for voting, for Parentdish and Kenwood for sponsoring and for Sally Whittle, without whom, the blog awards wouldn't exist. Thanks so much.

Over to you Dear Reader, what difference does feeding your family well mean to you?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx