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Nut crumb topping

I’ve recently discovered that nuts comes with pesky enzyme inhibitors inside them, that can put a strain on your digestive system and makes it more difficult for your body to absorb all the good nutrients in them.  You can overcome this by soaking the nuts overnight before slowly drying them out in an oven, then eating them as you wish.

This is something traditional cultures did and I’m all for learning from our ancestors and the knowledge they gleaned over many many generations.

Nuts ready for baking

After enjoying bowlfuls of Greek yoghurt topped with honey and a mixture of crumbled nuts on holiday, I thought I’d give it a go as I really wanted to recreate the mixed nuts ‘crumb’ for my own breakfasts.

Here’s said holiday breakfast…

Greek yoghurt with honey and nuts

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Lemon cake with yoghurt drizzle

I have pretty much given up sugar in the past couple of months, I’d like to share more of my experience of cutting it out, but for now I wanted to share my first attempt at a sugar free sweet treat.

I found this nice sounding recipe for lemon bars and liked that it was simple and didn’t use a list of weird and wonderful ingredients.  Mr Rigg loves lemon drizzle cake and this sounded like it might make something pretty similar.  I’ve make cakes before with ground almonds and they usually come out moist – this lemon cake was no exception.

Moist lemon cake

Because there’s no raising ingredients, it’s pretty much the thickness of the batter you pour into your tin, but what it might not give in depth it provides in flavour and texture.

It’s sticky and moist and sweet, but with a lovely tangy lemon taste.  I even made a ‘drizzle’ to go over it, using raw yoghurt and maple syrup (as suggested in the original recipe) – however, the original looks more like whipped cream (I think this is because Greek yoghurt is very thick), whereas the raw yoghurt I used is much runnier.

If you’ve never experimented with natural sweeteners (like me!) then I would really recommend giving this recipe a try – you might be surprised how delicious it is.  It would make an excellent pudding served warm.

Lemon cake with no sugar

Lemon Cake

To begin with I preheated my oven to 180°C.

Firstly I placed my butter (1/2 cup) into a little saucepan on a low heat to melt it.  Once it was melted, I mixed in 1/4 cup of local honey and 1/4 cup of organic maple syrup, and a 1/4 tsp salt.

In a separate mixing bowl I beat together 2 eggs, 2 additional egg yolks, and the juice and zest from 1 lemon (our lemon was a jumbo one which made for a very lemony cake).

Then I added the melted butter and syrup into the egg mixture and gave it a good whisk.  Finally, I added 1/2 cup of organic whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of ground almonds.  Mix that together and pour it into a baking tin I’d lined with greaseproof paper.  Bake it for about 30 minutes.

Finally, I made a yoghurt drizzle by mixing in a bit of maple syrup.  I found that you don’t want this yoghurt to be really sweet as the tartness of the yoghurt is perfect against the lemony cake.  We ate ours warm with a tiny bit of lemon zest to make it look pretty.

I wanted to add that just because I’ve given up sugar (as in the white stuff, and its counterparts) I’ve not gone made on the natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, fruit juices etc.  I have been cutting it all out as far as possible, just having a tiny amount in dark chocolate, honey, and watered down apple juice.  This lemon cake was primarily to satiate Mr Rigg’s love of sweet treats and I have only eaten the tiniest of pieces.

Thanks to the little sis for making me aware of this…

Today as part of our holiday at home, Mr Rigg, Buddy and I drove up into Lancashire for a day of walking and eating.  It was a fantastic sunny day (which is was a welcome surprise!) and we started with a long walk from Hurst Green.  We followed a Tolkien-inspired trail which can be downloaded here.

It was a lovely walk, which took us through lush fields of cows, past the turrets and observatory of Stoneyhurst College, down into damp woods with mossy streams, past fields of sweetcorn and rushing rivers. 

There were lots of cute calves like these ones…

And this sweet one!

Buddy – who it seems has never seen a stream before – slowly built up enough confidence to paddle. 

This walk takes you through a landscape that it said to have inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and you can definitely seem glimpses as you pass through this countryside.  I am a huge fan of the books so it was exciting to do this walk!

After our long hot walk we rewarded ourselves with lunch at The Three Fishes – one of Nigel Howarth’s country pub’s. 

We have eaten at The Highwayman Inn up near Kirkby Lonsdale which we really enjoyed – I had a ploughman’s platter with scrumptious piccalilli –  so it was easy to decide where to eat on our day out.  Plus there is a huge emphasis on local and seasonal food.

We sat at a table outside so that Buddy could sit with us.  I drank a cool chocolate milkshake and Mr Rigg a pint of ale whilst we waited for our food.  Chocolate milkshake takes me back to my childhood and I still love ordering it now. 

To start Mr Rigg had Three Fishes Fish Soup, Wicked Mayonnaise, Butlers Tasty Lancashire Cheese, and Garlic Croutons.

The soup was rich and fishy with a good kick of spice, the Lancashire cheese was crumbled and served in a tiny terracotta pot, and the ‘wicked mayonnaise’ was blushed red with flecks of fresh chilli.

I chose a dish from their seasonal menu which was a Salad of Cracked Wheat, Sweet & Sour Bank’s Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Garden Peas and a Yoghurt & Cucumber Dressing. 

I wish I could eat this salad everyday for lunch – it was so delicious.  The salad of cracked wheat, broad beans and garden peas was studded with fresh herbs and red onion, and topped with cherry tomatoes that had been cooked just until bursting.  Then drizzled round the edge was this cooling dressing of yoghurt and cucumber.

Mr Rigg’s main was from the seasonal menu – Gazegill Farm Organic Sandy Oxford Black Pork Faggots, Girolle Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potato, Broad Beans and Garden Peas.

Neither of us had tried faggots before but Mr Rigg enjoyed them and the tiny morsel that I tried was delicious, but probably an acquired taste – very different in texture and flavour to something similar in shape like a meatball or burger.  Mr Rigg said it was coarser and a stronger flavour like that of liver.  It’s always nice to try something a bit different.

And for my main I pigged out with an Elmwood Platter of Local Seafood which included: Port of Lancaster Beech & Juniper Smoked Salmon, Lancaster Smoked Kipper, Hot Smoked Trout, Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps, Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Picked Cucumber, Beetroot Relish, Horseradish Cream, and Homemade Bread. 

The smoked salmon with speckled with tiny capers and shreds of red onion, the potted shrimp fragrant and warm, the smoked trout went deliciously with the sweet earthy beetroot relish, and the pickled cucumber cut through all those flavours of fish. 

The smoked mackerel pâté was light like a mousse, a tiny mouthful on a toasted circle of bread, topped with micro herbs.

I have never tried kippers before, and although it is a very strong flavour and perhaps not something I would order on its own, as part of a platter like this it was delicious.

We had initially planned to stop eating here…but I was too tempted by Raspberry Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream

…and Mr Rigg easily gave into the lure of homemade Milk Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Ice Cream with chocolate sauce.  Not a good shot of the ice cream, Mr Rigg was very protective after I nabbed the first mouthful which got me in a lot of trouble…

Both were absolutely delicious.

Our lunch was finished off with a glimpse of Nigel Haworth himself who arrived at the pub just before we left.  If you’re in Lancashire, do make sure you stop at one of Nigel’s country pubs – we can certainly recommend the food from both The Three Fishes and The Highwayman!

I’m not one for putting photos of myself on here, but I love this picture of Buddy and I out on our walk…

Happy holidays!

I am feeling sorry for myself at home with a horrid cold – my eyes are running, I’m coughing and sneezing and generally feeling miserable.  It’s the summer and I’m stuck at home with a cold.  And on top of that I’ve lost my taste!

Ultimately that means I’m not dreaming too much of what I want to eat for dinner, food is chosen based on it being strong tasting so that I might be able to savour at least some flavour.

So whilst I’m sniffling and swallowing whole garlic cloves in a bid to rid my body of this cold, I will share my recipe for homemade granola.  I never used to like the idea of granola, being a bit to put off by sawdust like muesli.  But this is different, it’s baked in the oven drizzled with honey until it’s golden and crispy, and it’s full of seeds and nuts.

Our favourite way to eat our homemade granola begins with a bowl of natural yoghurt, covered in a layer of fruit purée, topped with a generous amount of granola and drizzled with an extra naughty bit of honey.  It’s also good with fresh fruit added into this mix.

I must say that this recipe is inspired but adapted from a fantastic book by Jenni Muir called A Cook’s Guide to Grains: delicious recipes, culinary advice & nutritional facts.  It is fabulous on so many different levels, both for its facts and history to the lovely recipes, and the beautifully designed cover.

Homemade Granola

This makes 1 large jarful

200g roasted hazelnuts
4 mugs of rolled oats
4 mugs of barley flakes
2 mugs of rye flakes
3 handfuls of pumpkin seeds
3 handfuls of sunflower seeds
2 handfuls of linseed seeds
1 jar of runny honey

A couple of notes before starting:

  1. If you want to roast the hazelnuts yourself, simply spread the hazelnuts in a baking tray and cook for about 20 minutes in the oven at 180°C – don’t let them burn.  Once they’ve cooled a little, rub of the skins by placing them in a tea towel and rubbing your hands over them.
  2. You could use different nuts in place of hazelnuts, I’ve previously used pecans which was equally delicious.
  3. When choosing honey I would pick a darker coloured honey – they are usually stronger in flavour and best for this.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Bash the roasted hazelnuts up – I like to wrap the hazelnuts up in a tea towel, hold securely and bash with a rolling pin.  I do this until they are crushed into various sized pieces.

Take a large roasting tray and add all of the dry ingredients.  Mix them up with a wooden spoon.

Drizzle over the jar of honey and bung in the oven.  Cook for 5 minutes then remove and mix up.  Repeat this process (cook for 5 minutes then mix) for about 20-25 minutes or until the granola is crisp and granola.

Once it’s cooled you can pop it in a jar and use when needed.  Should last for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Girl Interrupted Eating is a fantastic food blog and one of my favourites.  On discovery it a month ago, I spent all evening reading back through the blog.  It’s written by Becky who lives in the East Midlands and she posts some delicious recipes.  She’s also often out foraging for wild food – horseradish is her latest find beside the canal!

With summer starting to peak and thoughts of Autumn looming on the horizon, I have been inspired by Becky’s recipe for Blackberry yoghurt cake.

The full recipe can be found here and be sure to add Girl Interrupted Eating to your favourites.

Image: Girl Interrupted Eating

So this is the first of my Food Finds posts, the one that inspired me to start them.  I will try and post one every Monday along with a fabulous recipe from the blog of choice.

On my search for strawberry jam recipes I came across a lovely blog called Nami-Nami.  It’s written by Estonian and there are some delightful recipes that I’ve just never come across or heard of before.  I love discovering food and dishes that are particular to a specific place or town or region or country.

It was a recipe posted here for Danish buttermilk soup that inspired me to start sharing my food finds. 

To me that picture just makes me want to eat it all up, without even really knowing what’s in it.  I might try it with some of my homemade granola.  If like me, you’d like to ‘eat it all up’ and want to know how to make it, the recipe is here.

Image: Nami-Nami

With my head full of thoughts of food for the week ahead, I thought I would start with a quick weekend round-up. 

Friday saw more of Mr Rigg’s incredibly good homemade pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella, Serrano ham and rocket.  An unbeatable favourite.

On Saturday we spent lunchtime collecting a HUGE tub of homegrown raspberries at the bottom of the garden.  I am amazed by how many there were – and there are still lots more to come that are ripening.

Mr Rigg and I made some of our delicious homemade granola – I will definitely post more on this as it’s a staple in our house and best enjoyed on a base of plain yoghurt and fruit purée (even the purée was homemade this time!).

Last night we ate an omelette with eggs from Abbey Leys filled with grated yellow courgette, baby plum tomatoes and shredded roast ham.

Packed lunches for this week include bitter lettuce and pea soup – an excellent (if slightly grassy tasting) way to use up the garden lettuce that is beginning to go to flower.   Toasted pitta bread with lashings of goat’s butter is needed in my opinion to help this soup go down…!

Tonight we made a Nigel Slater inspired grilled tomato pasta sauce with roasted tomatoes, garlic and a dash of cream.  He is a genius.

We must also use up the gorgeous local gooseberries we bought to make gooseberry fool.  They are blushed a claret red so should make a deep coloured fool.

And for the week ahead – maybe a chicken tagine with fennel and preserved lemon and homemade blackcurrant cordial.  A plan is needed and some shopping doing.

P1140111

I am a huge fan of River Cottage and really enjoyed watching the summer series – I especially loved their strawberry fayre.  I would love to organise events like that for my living.  Anyway, before I get off topic…Hugh made blackcurrant ice lollies and they looked so tasty I made a mental note to make them before the summer was out.

On a recent trip to the dreaded supermarket to stock up on a few basics, I discovered they were ‘chucking’ tons of fruit away (common sense would tell you none needed to be reduced) that had reached its sell by date.  There were a couple of punnets of organic peaches from Italy, the peaches soft and furry.  I came away with three punnets and an idea to make a peach versions of Hugh’s lollies.

P1130247

So here’s my recipe for Peach and Yoghurt Ice Lollies, but really I’m sure it would work with other combinations of fruit and yoghurt, or just pure fruit if you preferred.

P1130248

Peach and Yoghurt Ice Lollies

Makes 8 ice lollies with fruit purée leftover

About 10-12 peaches (less if you don’t want leftover purée)
Something to sweeten it with (honey, caster sugar, icing sugar, agave syrup)
Vanilla yoghurt

Start by skinning and pitting all your peaches.  Discard the skin and stones and place the peach flesh into a bowl.

Blitz the peaches up into a smooth purée and add a sweetener if needed.

Take your ice lolly moulds – now, as I see it there are two (main) options when deciding on how to fill your moulds. 

1)  I chose fill 1/3 of the mould with purée before topping it up with yoghurt.  Using a spoon I slightly swirled the peach mixture into the yoghurt which made it look quite pretty!  Of course, this is not necessary!  I then added a final thin layer of peach purée.  These were popped into the freezer.

2)  The other main option would be to mix the peach purée into the yoghurt before filling the moulds, so you have a peach flavoured yoghurt lolly. 

I suppose you could also do multiple layers – peach, yoghurt, peach, yoghurt and so on.  Have fun! 

P1130261

On tasting the lollies, I think next time I would try mixing the peach purée into the yoghurt before adding them to the moulds to create a more consistent flavour.  My lollies were lovely, and great if you fancy a bite of icy cold frozen peach, then a refreshing burst of frozen yoghurt.

P1140105

cheese at Stroud Farmer's Market

cheese at Stroud Farmer's Market

I am visiting my family in the Cotswolds for the weekend.  I have left N with his dissertation research, two naughty bunnies, and the rugby to keep him occupied.  After having a rather blonde moment and ending up four junctions down the motorway too far and nearly in Bristol (I have done this trip a million times so there’s no excuses) I finally made it down on Friday for lunch with my parents. 

Visiting my family in the Cotswolds always feels like I’m coming home, I just feel so relaxed and at ease here.  By the time I was 18 I had lived in over twelve houses, been to about four or five different schools, and lived in the USA, but this is my home, the place I will always come back to. 

home

home

This morning I dragged my mom and little sister (not so little anymore, nearly 16 as she likes to keep reminding us) to Stroud Farmer’s Market.  I visited this renown farmer’s market for the first time last summer and it was fantastic.  It is in the heart of Stroud, set throughout the small ancient streets and offers a huge variety of goods.  I was struck by the choice, which is often so limited at farmer’s market, especially by the stalls selling vegetables. 

extra virgin olive oil from Eleon

extra virgin olive oil from Eleon

Despite being a rather chilly and blustering early Spring day, we had a lovely morning and came home with a basket of goodies.  We weren’t there to do our weekly shop, although I wish I lived close enough to do my weekly shop here, so just bought some ‘treats’.  We also tried some scrumptious olive oil and cheese.  The little sister tried a lot of cheese. 

delicious cheese from Shepton Mallet

delicious cheese from Shepton Mallet

My basket contained: Monmouthshire air dried ham from Trealy Farm

charcuterie from Trealy Farm

charcuterie from Trealy Farm

…a Jammie (like a jammy dodger but made with shortcrust biscuits and homemade blackcurrant jam – I will be trying to recreate these at home) from Hobbs House Bakery

Jammies from Hobbs House Bakery

Jammies from Hobbs House Bakery

…a piece of Morn Dew (cow) cheese and a Little Rachel (goat) cheese made by a man in Shepton Mallet (this is the best cheese I have tasted in a long time); a bottle of organic whole milk from Jess’s Ladies Organic Farm Milk (I dream about this milk when I’m at home in Cheshire – it is to die for and how all milk should be)…

milk and yoghurt from Jess's Ladies

milk and yoghurt from Jess's Ladies

and a Mixed Berry Doughnut (yes I said doughnut) made by Pippin Doughnuts

doughnuts from Pippin Doughnuts

doughnuts from Pippin Doughnuts

Mom’s contained: a bunch of locally grown purple tulips…

locally grown flowers

locally grown flowers

…two Mixed Berry Doughnuts and a Cinnamon and Brown Sugar doughnut from Pippin Doughnuts

cinnamon and brown sugar doughnuts

cinnamon and brown sugar doughnuts

a loaf of bread from a lovely bakers whose name I can’t remember…

lovely bread - bottom left

lovely bread - bottom left

…an Organic Cotswold Brie from Simon Weaver (check out their website for some delicious sounding recipes); a Black Nancy (rolled in charcoal) and a Trickle both from the Shepton Mallet cheese man.  The little sister also polished off a vegetable samosa.

bread, brownies and hot cross buns from Hobbs House Bakery

bread, brownies and hot cross buns from Hobbs House Bakery

The afternoon was spent at the local garden centre where I picked up a couple of small trays of lettuce (oakleaf and red little gem) and some purple sprouting broccoli plug plants.  I will plant them down at the allotment and cross my fingers that the wild bunnies don’t annihilate them. 

All in all I have had a pretty perfect day – food and gardens – and my family thrown in for good measure.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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