Tahini and Basil Sauce

This’ll be the last I’d say.


Three of four Secret Garden Roses are teeny.


It feels suitable, you know?


This is just their first year though.


A rose planted in memory of a friend.


A lot of growth, but no strawberries.


They’re such bright spots of colour.


Simple, fast, well if you discount growing the basil.

Yo, Dear Reader, I’m honestly surprised I got any basil with the way the first part of the year went, but here I am harvesting in October, not that I’ll complain. One year I went overboard making pesto, the year with the heatwave I think, and ended up with well over a year’s worth. So over time I’ve devised ways to utilise the fresh basil that aren’t just pesto because no matter how good anything in the extreme can become soul-crushing, or at least taste bud crushing. I’ve played around with my limited pantry and recently I’ve been varying my meals a little bit more again, I’m healing in a lot of ways, Dear Reader, and I’ve been mixing a tahini and coconut sauce for drizzling, you can pour it too, even just splatter it around I won’t judge. I’d love it with lemon, but that isn’t happening, so when I had yet more basil and no juicy mangoes I decided to take a chance. I’ve mixed basil with coconut milk, no coconut cream in the shops currently, for curries and this is just an extension of that idea. Yes, there is a lot of garlic, I could say two or four, but why lie, Dear Reader? I like garlic and this sauce is so simple you can adjust freely anyway. It’s a simple herby, salty and slightly creamy sauce that I just pour over seasoned chicken and rice or pasta. I still think along the lines of Getting The Good Into Ya with every meal and using the harvest is always important. Winter’s creeping in, Dear Reader, so I’m making all I can out of what I have and stocking the freezer. That’s all for today, Dear Reader, I’ll be back again later, until then stay safe and take care.

I’ve been cramming everything in there and it’s now taking shape.


Rain and sun over and over today. Glad I’ve smothered the back weeds.


They’re so much better after a year.


Spurge, a wildflower it seems. I’ll leave it.


Not finished yet.

Ingredients

150ml Coconut Cream or Coconut Milk
60g Basil
60g Tahini
24 Cloves Garlic, Peeled (Less or more to taste)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Make around four 75g Servings.
Can be frozen.

Method

  1. Add everything to a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Separate and either freeze immediately or keep in the fridge. Serve hot or cold.

Bramble Jelly

Such a deep colour.

Yo, Dear Reader, this is a twin of the Apple Jelly Recipe, they’re very similar, this uses the natural pectin in both fruits to allow you to just use granulated sugar, but the apples will likely be the main source, if you’re playing around with other fruits you can just use jam sugar, either completely or as an addition, you’ll learn to play with ratios, I did, Dear Reader, the raspberry took mostly jam sugar and granulated topped it up. These are for selling so I’ll make sure they’re the best they can be, but the best part of small batches of jam made with various fruits harvested at different places and times means each is wholly unique. If you take your time and follow the steps you can’t go too wrong and any failure can be a teaching moment.
The Raspberry Variation.

The only thing here that might be new is the microwave sterilising, an Uncle told me about it, an avid and practiced Jam maker, and it has stood me well in my years of makin jams. It ensure the jams are piping hot and freshly cleaned, but gets them done faster than heating an oven. Remember to check for cracks at each stage, I clean these several times, when I take them out I check, wash and check, rinse and wet and then heat and recheck before adding jam or jelly. Everything should be hot. Be mindful of how hot boiling jam is too, you’ll get burned once or twice and never want to have that happen in the extreme. Best advice is to have everything ready, hot water to easily rinse out the pots is handy too. You work fast with jam and when it’s all sealed up and cooling you may hear the seals popping when the vacuum is formed. That’s what keeps it fresh. I see people take a jar from me and open it, if you do that then refrigerate it, the seal is broken and the jam will not stay fresh. I also see people tilting fresh jars and no, don’t, just don’t. The pectin forms overnight, but can take a few days and some jams and jellies can be a looser set, some firm up fully after weeks. Respect the art that goes into it and enjoy it is my advice, Dear Reader.
A good day’s effort.

So, this is my last batch, I have grown so, so much this year, Dear Reader, where one fruit failed another made up for it tenfold. The birds have been dropping seeds for me and I now have a rasp[berry plant and a blackberry plant, both wild, I have ideas about those, but that’s for another time. It’ll be unlikely that I’ll see more apples, how this person had so many is a mystery because everyone is struggling to find any, so I can be free for a while. I’ll carry on composting everything leftover and add it to the bushes again as I have year after year. It pays off, Dear Reader and likely makes a lot of people, myself included, happy. Oh, in talking about happy people, I gave jam to the kids, they’re great kids, and it was two melted together, not ideal for selling, but a delicious way to use up the leftovers if you haven’t enough to fill a jar. You can stack and refrigerate, if they aren’t sealed then storing unrefrigerated wouldn’t be safe, or melt them down as one jam. As I say it’s not perfect, but useful and the kids won’t mind as it won’t last the day likely! I’ll be back again soon, Dear Reader, until then stay safe and take care.

Ingredients

1100g Blackberries, Fresh or Frozen
500g Cooking/Windfall Apples
Granulated Sugar As Needed
500ml Water
Optional: Teaspoon of Butter

Method

Place a plate or saucer in the freezer before starting.
Use strongly flavoured fruits.

1. Cut up the Apples without Coring or Peeling and add to a large pot with the Blackberries, add water and then cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the Apples and Blackberries are mush.

2. Remove from the heat and mash using a potato masher until everything has been reduced to pulp. Pour the mixture into a straining bag and let drip overnight.

3. Weigh the juice and add it and equal weight in Sugar to a large, deep pot, cook on a gentle simmer, do not boil, until the Sugar has dissolved.

4. Add the Butter and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for five minutes and test for set (see Below)

(Alternatively alternate stirring clockwise and counter clockwise while boiling to help break up the scum.)

Drop a little of the mixture on a chilled plate and run a finger down the middle, if the Jelly stays divided then it’s ready, if it rolls back then boil again for a minute and retest until desired set has been achieved.

5. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the warm Jelly into the prepared Jars while they’re hot then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.

6. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.

Apple Jelly


It was so thick it started to set as I was pouring, no harm, but you have to work so fast.

Yo, Dear Reader, I honestly could’ve sworn I had this recipe typed up, but apparently not. Ah, well, I have now and I’ll have another very similar one following. This is the most basic, traditional recipe for apple jelly, it comes from my own experience and and old book about preserves. It’s one of the more time consuming recipes, but also one of the best to use windfall or sour apples, every batch is as unique as the combinations of fruits. Being able to throw all the apple in, this is important as it is the main source of pectin, I’ll skip the science, I’m not filling a word quota, Dear Reader, just passing on what I know. I’ll copy and paste between recipes, there isn’t much difference and you can mess around with other fruits, just keep the pectin levels of the fruit in mind.
Had some leftover, added it to another later to give to the kids.

The only thing here that might be new is the microwave sterilising, an Uncle told me about it, an avid and practiced Jam maker, and it has stood me well in my years of makin jams. It ensure the jams are piping hot and freshly cleaned, but gets them done faster than heating an oven. Remember to check for cracks at each stage, I clean these several times, when I take them out I check, wash and check, rinse and wet and then heat and recheck before adding jam or jelly. Everything should be hot. Be mindful of how hot boiling jam is too, you’ll get burned once or twice and never want to have that happen in the extreme. Best advice is to have everything ready, hot water to easily rinse out the pots is handy too. You work fast with jam and when it’s all sealed up and cooling you may hear the seals popping when the vacuum is formed. That’s what keeps it fresh. I see people take a jar from me and open it, if you do that then refrigerate it, the seal is broken and the jam will not stay fresh. I also see people tilting fresh jars and no, don’t, just don’t. The pectin forms overnight, but can take a few days and some jams and jellies can be a looser set, some firm up fully after weeks. Respect the art that goes into it and enjoy it is my advice, Dear Reader.

In between drippings I harvested more squash. Three slightly different types.

The great thing about this is it can be made more savoury, the addition of fresh herbs, either boiled with the jam and strained, dipped in boiling water and placed into the jar or chopped and sprinkled before sealing. You can use any apple you like, cooking apples, the harder green apples, I don’ know how universal the name is, crabapples, I’ve used small orange coloured crab apples that made the sweetest jelly. Like I say, have fun with it, Dear Reader, any jam or jelly that fails to set is still edible and if you’re unsure start by using jam sugar to get the method down, knowing both ways is useful. I’ll be back later, Dear Reader, until then stay safe and take care.

Ingredients

Cooking Apples, As Needed or Enough to Fill A large Pot
Granulated Sugar As Needed
Optional: Teaspoon of Butter

Method

Place a plate or saucer in the freezer before starting.
Use strongly flavoured fruits.

1. Cut up the Apples without Coring or Peeling and add to a large pot, add just enough water to cover the base by a few inches then cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the Apples are mush.

2. Remove from the heat and mash using a potato masher until everything has been reduced to pulp. Pour the mixture into a straining bag and let drip overnight.

3. Weigh the juice and add it and equal weight in Sugar to a large, deep pot, cook on a gentle simmer, do not boil, until the Sugar has dissolved.

4. Add the Butter and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for five minutes and test for set (see Below)

(Alternatively alternate stirring clockwise and counter clockwise while boiling to help break up the scum.)

Drop a little of the mixture on a chilled plate and run a finger down the middle, if the Jelly stays divided then it’s ready, if it rolls back then boil again for a minute and retest until desired set has been achieved.

5. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the warm Jelly into the prepared Jars while they’re hot then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.

6. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.

Mango and Wild Garlic All Purpose Sauce

Someone dropped off Wild Garlic, I’ve never used it and had to do with what I had to hand.

I’m slowly learning when the mango is ripe enough to eat. Golden orange, fragrant flesh is a fair indicator you’ve gotten it right.

Yo, Dear Reader,  haven’t eaten wild garlic before and had no real idea of how best to utilise it, I could’ve Googled, but eh, I tasted the leaf and it had a pungent fresh garlic hit, the stems were bitters so I left those out and the flower heads had a taste of onion so I threw those in. Allium tasting sounds strange, but the combination of onion and garlic and that indefinable freshness that leafy greens have when fresh is summed up in the word. This is a hard to describe sauce, purpose-wise that is, it’s pretty basic otherwise, I use it on hot pasta, but keep it cold, well, I mean the original with basil, you can use it as a dip, you could heat it, but you’ll lose a lot of the good when you do. I could’ve made pesto, but I hadn’t any nuts in and I have found pesto too oily at times, just a personal thing, this work because it has that punch of freshness, with a sight underlying bitterness. When poured over and dispersed through a dish the bitterness diminishes and the slightly sweet mango and the pungent garlic spreads over everything just enough to pack flavour into each mouthful. It’s simple food, but fresh and after the Winter fresh is always appreciated. Not much to say today, Dear Reader, I’ll be back again soon. I’m going to be decorating another birthday cake, a wheat flour one, but he same could be done with buckwheat, I might share it and let people see what they can learn from it, it won’t be anything to elaborate, but it should make a dreary birthday better for a friend. Okay, stay safe and take care, Dear Reader.

Quick to come together and a really fresh taste.

Ingredients

250g Fresh Mango Chunks
70g Fresh Wild Garlic Leaves
12 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
90ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Makes Five Servings.
Can be frozen, just top with Olive Oil.

Method

1. Add everything to a blender, layering the Wild Garlic and Mango in alternating layers, finally topping with the Olive Oil, then pulse until everything is combined and uniform, no need to add extra water. Use right away or cover and leave in the fridge for a few days.

Glutinous Rice Flour Gravy

It looks stodgy, but really isn’t.

Yo, Dear Reader,I haven’t been feeling all that great and sadly my taste-buds are refusing to work, I can taste coffee so small mercies and all that, so I haven’t been all that interested in what I’m eating, great start for a recipe post, no? Still I did say I’d try a few things with the glutinous rice flour and you really can’t do much with it that isn’t commonly know, it has a very specific range and considering the beautiful stretchy, chewy texture the dough it makes has you don’t need much else. The issue is that chewy dense texture doesn’t translates to other recipes, no matter how light and airy this flour looks it’s very dense, even blended. Still, I had this vague idea on the back-burner for years and finally it’s brought to fruition. I will freely admit it looks awful, when the liquid hit the pan the entire sauce seized and I had to add more liquid, the recipe below reflects that, but when I whisked it the sauce still resembled a gloopy mess and I admit, Dear Reader, they don’t call me honest Jack for nothing, well they don’t because that’s a pen name, still, nothing venture nothing gained. I tried a spoon and there was this super smooth textured gravy, simple as they come, but it was just the right balance or smooth and subtle to moisten, but not overpower. Hence the reason I’m sharing such a simple recipe, you can never tell who may need a recipe just like this, I prefer nut butter gravies myself, but this is a great simple sauce to use in a pinch. I’ll get back to myself soon, Dear Reader, I’m not pushing myself and I’m making sure I eat well, I keep being told I’m losing more weight and that I look great, so there’s that. I have indoor plants to look at and cards to shuffle that’s where I find my peace in these gloomy Winter months. Until later, Dear Reader.

 

Ingredients

200ml Stock (Chicken, Beef, Vegetable etc) or Meat juices
1 Tbsp Glutinous Rice Flour
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Method

1. Add the Flour, Salt, Pepper and Butter to a very hot pan and stir together as the Butter melts. Keep it stirred to prevent burning and cook for a few minutes until the mixture has turned slightly browner.

2. Pour in the Stock and then whisk everything together and bring to a boil, once the boil has been reached reduce to a simmer and cook until Gravy has thickened.

Apple and Raspberry Jelly

Part of me is grossed out by the whole apples and part of me is glad the compost bins are here.

The raspberries are really vibrant.

Yo, Dear Reader, I promised you I’d share the recipe if it worked, really I should be leaving these in dusty presses to be long forgotten and rediscovered in the colder months, but who has time for that in this busy age? No, no, it’s all about speed, that’s why this recipe takes…a really long time? Ahem, anyway, it worked, whether it constitutes a Fruit Cheese I’m not sure of, there’s a very different texture here and it is solid, but I’ll call it a jelly and save confusion and potential mislabelling.

This took nearly half an hour of smushing and squeezing. Worthwhile, but slow.

A slow simmer, everything about this recipe is laid back.

The big difference here is that we’re using sugar and not jam sugar, the apples are providing the pectin, but what’s really unusual is that the apples aren’t stained through a fine bag, they’re pressed through creating a very silky smooth puree rather than a liquid, this makes this jelly very differently textured from a smoother jelly and makes it feel more than the sum of its constituent parts. We’re also excluding the lemon and the butter, the fruit scum seemed to clear itself thanks to all the stirring, but if it was bad you could skim, but that’s an aesthetic consideration, I’m not fussy that way. This just takes a lot of time, leave aside an hour or two and be prepared to be very confused as to when it’s cooked, I added the testing step because it really doesn’t change all that much ones it re-thickens and you’re left with a pot of simmer sauce and no clear idea of where anything ends. This is why you come here, Dear Reader, the honesty and the information the cook books often fail to include, we cooks and bakers aren’t omniscient and shouldn’t have our recipes make us appear so.

It looks grainy, but it’s so smooth.

Pop a spoon in, pull it out and it just stays in one firm piece, take a bite and it melts.

There isn’t much in the cooking, just time and patience, Dear Reader, and the best part is you could get all of this, sans sugar, wild, or from your own garden, mine is a mix, the raspberries are mine, from frozen and the apples came from a friend. The taste of the fruit matters as even with the sugar you’ll have the texture and sourness of the apples and the tartness of the raspberries balancing everything out. It really is so tasty, it could work as well savoury as sweet, there’s just enough of a balance of savoury and sweet here to have the flavour scales tip depending on how you serve it. A lot of these preserve recipes are for using up Summer fruits, really it’s probably the reason they exist in the first place to preserve the taste of Summer for the colder months, it’s far too easy to pick up a jar of jam all year around so recipes that create something that can’t be bought are far more worthwhile then straight and simple versions, though fresh will always top store bought in my eyes,er, mouth…ummm. I have a few more recipes waiting on fruit to ripen, so, Dear Reader, you will just have to wait a while until they and I are ready. Until later, take care.

I have people I make Jams and Jellies for, it’s keeping a family tradition alive.

Ingredients

750g Cooking Apples
500g Raspberries
Sugar As Needed

Method

Place a plate or saucer in the freezer before starting.
Use strongly flavoured fruits.

1. Cut up the Apples without Coring or Peeling and add to a large pot, add just enough water to cover the base then cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the Apples are soft.

2. Add the Raspberries and cook uncovered until everything can be mashed to a pulp.

3. Rub the Pulp through a fine sieve and return to the pan and cook until as thick as possible.

4. Weigh the Pulp and add equal weight in Sugar to the pan, cook on a gentle simmer, the Sugar will cause the mixture to loosen, cook at least until it thickens again. Cook for around 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, being careful of burning.

5. Drop a little of the mixture on the chilled plate and if it sets as a solid soft mass then it’s ready, if a thicker set is desired cook for longer.

7. Wet Clean Jars and heat in the microwave for one to two minutes until dry. While they sterilise soak the lids in boiling water for a minute or two. Pour the warm Jelly into the prepared Jars while they’re hot then screw on lids and let rest at room temperature overnight.

8. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.

Same Old, Same New: Yearlong Coconut Basil Sauce

Those crates save so much time and backache.

Though sitting on the low kitchen chair hurts my back. Worth all the pain though.

I used a little more coconut milk and used some coconut cream too.

If only you could smell it, Dear Reader.

Freezing currently then popped out, bagged, put into one large bag and back they go.

Original recipe here. Today went from “I will do nothing” to “I have done too much”, but after a long year, Dear Reader, I finally have this Coconut Basil Sauce, sans lime and without any meat as of yet, but I tell you honestly without any hyperbole that this has been in my mind since last year. I made so much pesto that second year and the third followed with an even better harvest, I’m still eating pesto from that year, so I was able to experiment, but this sauce stood out. It’s this and the Basil Mango Sauce from here on out, this year hasn’t been as kind, but finally the sauce returneth! This is a huge punch of basil, garlic and I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted it. Freezing diminished it in no way and the basil used was only hours old. The basil hasn’t looked as good as last year, nut last year was a true fluke I may never see again in my lifetime, but patience has paid off and I have a blend of, wait for them:

Genovese Basil (The great balancing basil, lets strong flavours mellow)
Thai Basil (The punch of aniseed and gentle warmth)
Basil Horapha Rue Que (Diminutive, but hat smell is concentrated)
Basil Cinnamon (Much like the Thai, but more vigorous)
Basil Violetto (A gentle warm clove smell and taste, but much stronger than other purple basils)

Even if this was all I get, I did have to take a heavy hand with the cutting, but I did feed them before they went back into the greenhouse, I will be content. I made three last year as a test and I have thought about them, the flavour is like nothing else. Pesto doesn’t compare. All I need do is defrost, let simmer with meat, or not if you prefer, get your own sauce mind!, and serve it over rice, if I’m lucky and the stocks last with Sauteed Harlequin or Sweet Potato. I started the garden for basil, just two long trays on a chair and look at me now, Dear Reader.

One of the rescue roses.

The Sweet Peas and Royal Mallow are starting to grow well, they’d been swamped by weeds, but a good, careful, weeding helped.

A lot of my roses were rescues. Much better in my garden than dead.

My red rose. Red is surprisingly rare around here.

Alcea Rosea. I thought it was dead.

There’s a big supermarket, getting bigger soon, that sells these bulbs, root sections and different kinds of corms for just €1.39, which is admittedly a very specific price, and you take a gamble each time, but if they grow at all they will thrive. The selection is so varied from little anemone to huge hollyhocks, I never let a chance to get something unusual out of the bin whenever they appear. It’s where many of my flowers came from, you can’t guarantee they’ll grow regardless of where you get them so it’s much better to go cheap and plentiful with occasional splurges. I lost a dahlia and something else that wasn’t marked, but after a moment I realised I had two hostas from a friend that needed potting, I lost lilies, though I have one and a nub left, but I used that soil for planting. I can replace and in a way I’m glad to have the chance to change things up, there are flowers I really do love, but you can’t keep everything static, that goes against nature. It’s not always an even flowing path, but wherever it goes there goes Jack, where it’ll take me is anyone’s guess, Dear Reader, but it’ll be fun, even in the heartbreaks fun is lurking just beyond the horizon. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

I could’ve made this panoramic…whoops.

Next time…if I remember.

It’s very long.

Same Old, Same New: Sweeter Savoury Strawberry Basil Sauce

This presentation style is now a trademark.

Now, surely you’re thinking that it’d be hard to get delicious tasting strawberries at this time of year, sure there are store varieties, but nothing can compare to those fresh from the garden. Which is true, but these are from the freezer, I stumbled across a bag of old variety strawberries, the harder, slightly tarter type I grow along with the sweeter new kinds, I say that like I planned it and didn’t just get gifted a lot of strawberry plants a few year ago. In truth you’d imagine frozen anything to be inferior, I’d tell you honestly if they were, I’m not proud, but these are as fresh as the day I froze them, they were picked and frozen within minutes, what amazed me, Dear Reader, was the basil that I chopped and froze in water has retained it’s taste and aroma perfectly too. So, what else could I do but make The Titular Sauce, and since I was making it for rice today I felt like changing things up a little. Again the point of these informal recipe reworks is to share what I’ve learned. I’ll gladly freeze basil the same way next year, I never expected much, but I suppose fresh really does matter, it was a matter of half an hour before it was all harvested from the plant, chopped pushed into ice-cube trays, next year I’ll use the large ones, which recently did their duty for turkey juices (Something on that too).

Okay, sorry for the even more confusing aside, I never promised perfect clarity, just rambling, useful tips. So, there was a holiday called Christmas recently, you may have missed it. But on that day, in the Irish way we overcook a turkey, yes, the Irish overcook meat to a nicety, turkey is dry already, but nothing can match the prowess of an Irish person making sure it’s “done”, which in many a case means almost dehydrated. So, this year we decided to buck tradition and turn things on their heads, or rather their front. We left the turkey breast side down and wrapped it up tightly in tinfoil. It did cook for longer than needed, you can’t get away from that completely in Ireland, remember that beef here is grey, but as we lifted it the carcass split, which was worrying at first, then the brown meat, usual dark grey, was just lightly coloured and, for the first time in my life, delicious, usually relegated to the second day curry, this time it  was fought over. The leg bones slipped out, the breast meat just came away whole, the whole bird feed three people for three days and all that remained was bones. The meat was flavoursome and moist. Cooking it upside-down kept it from drying, the legs from burning and made it a miracle bird to those used to dry, almost tasteless meat. The juices were saved, frozen into cubes and used for gravy, they’ll stay in the freezer a while long. Anyway, sorry for the long aide, onto the dish of the day.

So, strawberries as the nightshade free tomato are firmly a favourite of mine now. They don’t replicate a tomato perfectly, but they impart something of the sweet, tartness that is really very hard, if not outright impossible to find without nightshades or citrus. What I did differently was I left the chicken breasts whole, rubbed them with brown sugar, salt and pepper. They’re golden from the butter and oil the onions were fried in, I kept all the sauce and meat to one pan, more flavoursome that way, not that you can see it under the sauce. The onions are cooked until they just started brown, the chicken goes into a high heat for a minute a side, to get the sugar to caramelise a little, they cook a while and then I remove the chicken to rest and toss it the strawberries and basil, leaving the sole additional sweetness to be the brown sugar sticking to the pan, the whole lot simmers and cooks until everything has melded and melted into this wonderfully contrasting sauce, the slightly sweet onions and the warm, tart strawberries, the pungency of the onion meeting the gentle sweetness of the berry is really something, the richness of the butter giving it an pleasant oily mouthfeel, okay, sorry, that pretentious, but it is good. The chicken, with resting juices, go into the pan for the final few minutes. The sweet potato is cooking while this is with this sweet seasoning, brown sugar in there too, just a simple saute in butter and olive oil, I find the oil stops the need to add too much butter when it dries out, making it soggy after a while. The whole is tossed onto the rice, perfectly steamed, as it has been since I originally found the recipe and figured out the ratios for every kind of rice I use.

So, Dear Reader, a lot for such a basic recipe, but you know it helps to know all you can about what you’re eating, you can adapt and tweak anything if you know how and why it works and if you’re on a restricted diet that kind of skill is vital. It’s easy to get into a rut with food, sometimes you need to play around a little to remind you to enjoy what you’re eating or even just the preparation of food. That’s it for today, Dear Reader, I’ll be back again sooner rather than later, hopefully with something new to share. Take care.

Same Old, Same New: Thursday Scrounge

Two carrots were intertwined, but grew separately.

I was confused until I remembered these were a rainbow mix.

Freezing is really perfect for this kind of use. No way I’d be able to use all I harvested in time.

Well, it’s been two minutes since my last post, better hurry this up before I start losing my reader-base, I’m joking of course, I have my Dear Reader and that’s all this style of writing needs, right, Dear Reader? Heh. Did you ever have one of those days where you just had to improvise because you hadn’t a fully stocked kitchen, but everything ended up delicious? If I had planned this, carefully running out of garlic, sweet potatoes and purposely failing to remember what I had planned to eat, not forgetting to forget the natural peanut butter, I’d have been hard pressed to do as well as I did. The garden was very supportive of my efforts, the purple carrots might not be large, but they are flavoursome, the first of the second batch of beets was a beautifully mottled white and pink, the shed onions, as I now think of them, hid a few small ones perfect for roasting and a harlequin squash was just what was needed and was found happily sitting in amongst the rest, the frozen strawberries, like jewels in the sunlight, hid themselves well, but I found them eventually, the basil I froze earlier in the year when it seemed endlessly harvestable was a blessing after all this time. The garden was a huge part of this Thursday’s dinner.

Big and chunky was today’s theme.

 Fruit on steak is still too good.

Amaranth was cashew, it’s that or quinoa with a nut butter, which is drier and goes well with the mash I have in the freezer, the sauce is Strawberry and Basil and even after freezing you can still taste the basil and the sweetness of the strawberries hasn’t diminished a whit. It’s nothing new, hence the title, but I’ve never tired of this dinner. I get all I need in it and it really fills and satisfies. I’m finding a different enjoyment of foods these days, the earthy beetroot, the spicy carrots the tender slightly crisp squash, the natural sweetness of he strawberries permeated with the rich herby flavour of the basil, the slight sweetness present in the butter-soft onions, it’s afar cry from the trash I used to eat and no other word will do, Dear Reader. I’ve learned to cook meat, vegetables and grains and seeds near perfectly, much better than the burnt mess of processed “chips” and dried out hunks of beef slathered in instant lumpy gravy. It takes time and effort, Dear Reader, but it’s worthwhile to sit and really enjoy eating, an almost guilty feeling rises, but I know I have no fear of ill health or weight gain as this diet was crafted foe me by a very well informed person: Me. I’m really glad I have me watching my back, Dear Reader. I’ll be back again, a little later this time, so take care until then.

Mango and Basil Dip

Original here.

Couple of points before I begin, Dear Reader. The recipe is vegan even if my  use for it isn’t, the original looks nothing like mine, mine is bright green!, no idea why, I’ll report back on the frozen version, I topped it with more EVOO to stop the basil turning black. Once you cut out acid and nightshades dressings and sauces start to become scarce, Dear Reader, but here I am in the year of 2018 with a sauce featuring fresh basil. Every year I wonder if I’ll find anything new to do with my limited list of edibles and I somehow muddle through. This is made with a mixture of genovese and Thai basil, you can use anything you’d like naturally.

I had too much so I’m freezing half as a test.

My mango had started to go bad, but I had enough, this was already cut down a lot and when I cut it down further I still had to much for one serving. Not a bad complaint, I’ll update this with the frozen option when I get around to it, could be a while, though I see no reason as to why it shouldn’t be fine, I’ve frozen all he ingredients in different ways before and they came out just fine. I like t be absolutely certain of things before I tell you about them, Dear Reader, I might not be much, but I’m responsible.

I used the Jerk Rub with a little honey.

Not a great deal goes into this and because it’s unheated you lose none of the freshness, there’s a beautiful balance of fruitiness and sweetness from the mango and a spicy fresh kick from the basil and raw garlic combination. I honestly don’t know how you’d use it, over a salad freshly picked from the garden perhaps?, as for me letting it cut through the flavour of warmly spiced chicken strips and soaking into fresh rice seemed just right. With my hay fever, I think that’s what this is, wonder where I’m getting the pollen from? A mystery for the ages, Dear Reader, fresh and fruity is best, besides this heatwave isn’t doing wonders for my appetite, I still have to eat, but I’m feeling pretty indifferent towards food. This was nice and bright for a warm Summer’s day.  See you sooner than you think, Dear Reader.

Ingredients

1/2 Ripe Mango, Peeled and Cubed
17g Fresh Basil Leaves
4 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
30ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Makes Two Servings. Can be frozen, just top with Olive Oil.

Method

1. Add everything to a blender, layering the basil and mango in alternating layers, finally topping with the oil, then pulse until everything is smooth, no need to add extra water. Use right away or cover and leave in the fridge for a few days.