A Ride to Remember

Yesterday, Becky and I did something for the first time; we went on a fun ride with a Harley Davidson group.  Becky was supposed to go in a side car with her Dad, but the weather was cold and wet, so the plan was changed, and I drove her in the van behind the group of bikers.  The reason was a good one, the Milton Harley Davidson group were raising money for wheelchairs for the 23rd year running!  Nice people.

First they all met for coffee and donuts. I mean donations.

 

Around 10:30 am we were off. I knew where we going, as we had lived there when Becky was very little, but I had no idea what route they were taking.  Holy moly, we went the very long way, the secret squirrel route, the route where no-one would ever follow us. Two and a half hours later we arrived in beautiful Elora.

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Becky went to the Elora Legion to spend time with her Dad, the other riders, and grab some well-deserved lunch, while I went for a wander.

This really is one of the prettiest villages in Ontario and I can’t believe we used to live here.

I picked up Becky and drove her home, the direct route. It was long day, for a good cause, and we both had a blast.  Many thanks for the Milton Chapter for including us in this wonderful day.

Cheryl and Becky

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Fishing For A Compliment

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We chose Whitby Fish Pie for our eleventh Bake Off challenge.  We adapted the recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book, “British Baking”. We had to adapt it because we live roughly 1,000 miles from the sea.

The amounts for pastry were double what we needed so we’ve popped the rest of it in the freezer for another time.   You need 275g (2 cups) plain flour and cut in 135g (3/4 cup) butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix 1 egg with 1 tbsp of cold water and add to the flour mixture.  Work it until you have a dough.  Leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

We chose to make the lattice first, so once the dough had rested, we got the rolling pin out. I drew the outline of the pie dish onto some parchment paper so we knew how big to make the top.  Roll out the pastry into a rectangle and cut into strips.  We used 15.

Becky used a pizza cutter with a baking tin for a guide.

So far, so good.

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Look what we made! We covered it up and put it to one side while we made the filling. We only used 250g frozen cod and 200g frozen prawns, instead of “400g of fresh haddock, 400g smoked haddock, and 175g fresh prawns, peeled and cooked”. Becky likes fish, but I’m not a big fan, so the recipe was WAY too fishy for me, plus it would have cost a fortune to buy all that.  We added 2 cooked potatoes, chopped and 2 boiled eggs, chopped to pad it out a bit.

The recipe calls for 700ml full fat (3%) milk which you heat up with a bay leaf, 4 cloves and an onion, peeled and halved.  You bring to a boil and then leave it for 30 minutes before straining.  Don’t think so.  We cooked the cod in the milk on a very low simmer with a pinch of nutmeg.  It barely took 10 minutes. We ‘fished’ the cod out and flaked it onto the bottom of our pie dish. We put the cooked, thawed, prawns on top, then potato and egg.

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We kept the pot on a low simmer and added chopped broccoli, about 1/2 cup for 5 minutes.  The recipe calls for 75g spinach, but I had added it to a soup the day before by accident. Oops. If you have spinach, just chop it and hold onto it.  In another pot, melt 60g butter (about 4 tbsp) and stir in 60g (4tbsp) flour. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring, and bring it back to boiling. At this point you would add spinach if you had some and 2 tbsp of chopped parsley.  I’m a bit wary of too much parsley due to bad experiences with parsley sauce and fish fingers/sticks when I was growing up. As with any herb or spice, add half the amount and taste before you add any more.

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Pour the sauce over the fish, prawns, potatoes, egg, or whatever you’ve got.

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Now comes the lattice. It was a bit tricky.  I just had to flip it over really quickly.

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Yahoo! With a bit of a trim it looked pretty good.  Brush with egg.

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Bake at 200 C/400 F for 25-30 minutes. I checked after 18 minutes and noticed the filling was bubbling over the top of the pastry.  Disaster!  I looked at the recipe again and noticed one little remark, “leave to cool”.  We should have left the filling to cool before putting the pastry on top.  Lesson learned! Totally my fault. Becky was perfect as always.

The taste test was positive; both plates were clean. It was very tasty indeed! High praise from someone who is not keen on fish. It was clear that the recipe could be adapted to whatever seafood, veggies, or even herbs that you have in stock and like to use.  Plus you will have pastry left over to start another recipe.

Fish Pie

Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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Olives and Thyme

 

Number 10 of our Bake Off challenges is a Black Olive and Thyme Bread from the “Great British Bake Off; How To Bake” book.

Put 250g (2 cups) bread flour and 25g (1 tbsp) whole wheat or spelt flour in a bowl with 1tsp salt and 1 tsp instant yeast.  Slowly add 200ml lukewarm water. We didn’t use all the water. Work the mixture until you have a soft dough.  Knead for 4-5 minutes, cover and leave to rise.  Ours was ready in an hour.

Punch down the dough and place on a floured work surface. press the dough into a rectangle 40 x 20 cm (16″ x 8″). Place 75g of drained olives down the centre third of the dough. We roughly chopped ours and used a mix. Sprinkle 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves over the top of the olives.  We only had dried thyme, so we also used some fresh rosemary.

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Fold one side over the olives.

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Then the other side on top of that and pinch the seams.

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Flip over, cover and leave to rise. At this point, we started chopping vegetables.  When they were ready, we put them in a baking tin with some olive oil and garlic.

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Put the oven on to 230 C/450 F. Put a baking tray or pizza stone in to heat up. At this point, the dough was ready.  We just had to snip the sides with scissors to expose the filling. Cut about a third of the way though on an angle, every 2-3 cm.  You can see we have the dough on parchment paper.  This makes it easy to transfer the dough onto the hot pizza stone.

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The recipe suggests putting a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven to heat up and adding a cup of cold water when you put the dough in the oven.  I’m not really happy doing this. I’ve tried it a couple of times and ruined one baking tin and almost burnt myself.  This time, I just used a spray bottle and sprayed cold water on the dough and around the oven. We put the veggies in at the same  time.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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We had the bread with the roasted veggies, chorizo, cheddar cheese and olive oil.  It was good! We also have veggies ready to throw on pizza, pasta, panini, quesadilla, etc. You can also do root veggies to use in soups, salads, or omelettes.  This was a fairly simple recipe, but it looks quite special.

Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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TheWeek That Got Away

April sunset

The week got away from us; appointments, meetings, and weather so gorgeous that we had to barbeque. Although we had planned a Bake Off recipe and bought the ingredients, it just didn’t happen. C’est La Vie! Enjoy the sunset.

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The Other Stuff…

Becky and I do bake other things beside Bake Off challenges, so here’s a quick post about the other stuff.

We made Cinnamon Buns with cream cheese frosting for my Book Club. The recipe comes from “Sweet Home” by Rebecca Miller Ffrench.

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Cauliflower Cake from “Plenty More” by Yotam Ottolenghi.  It’s only considered a cake because there is some flour and baking powder added to the egg mixture.  I love cauliflower and this was a really creative way of cooking it.

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This is my own personal goal at the moment; fluffy whole wheat buns. I combined two recipes for this bake.  It was the best so far, but I’m hoping for an even lighter bun.

We also baked a sweet potato quiche with stilton and membrillo (quince paste ) which is also from “Plenty More”. We used some leftover Mashed Potato Pastry instead of shortcrust pastry and it was delicious!  Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph it and we shovelled it down rather quickly.

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The weather is still lousy and we may get more snow tomorrow!  Where is Spring?

We’re not baking anything this weekend as I’m now trying to lose the extra pounds I put on while eating all this lovely food. It’s a tough life.

Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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Winter Couronne

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Spring in Ontario!  This week Becky and I baked a Ham and Cheese Couronne.  This is number 9 of our Bake Off challenges and comes once again from Paul Hollywood’s excellent book “British Baking”.

You put 250g of bread flour in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and 7g instant yeast. Add 50g of softened, diced butter, I egg and two thirds of 135ml of warm milk.  Start mixing with your hands and add the milk a little at a time until you have a “soft and slightly sticky dough”. We did not use all the milk.  Give the dough a good knead for 5-10 minutes.  Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. Now comes the fun bit.  Roll the dough out to 33cm by 25cm (13″x 10″).  Lay 10 slices of slices of air dried ham over the dough.  We used Speck.

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Becky adds the next ingredient 250g soft cheese.  Paul uses goat cheese, but we used cream cheese. Then comes 15 Basil leaves chopped.

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Roll it up from the long side.

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Split it lengthways down the middle leaving one end attached.

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Twist those two pieces together like a DNA spiral, pull into a circle and attach the ends. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.  Bake at 200 C/400 F for 25 minutes.

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It turned out a little smaller than I imagined, but was quite tasty.  I think it would be great for Pot Lucks or picnics. It’s a versatile recipe that is also filled with apricots and nuts in another Bake Off book.

Happy Baking!

 

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Macaroon Madness

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We did bake two batches of macaroons this week; pina colada and margarita flavoured. I was able to repair the mixer and get back to baking.  These Mocktail Macaroon recipes were from the “Great British Bake Off-How To Bake” book and were number 8 of our challenges.  We did not use food colouring by choice. Both recipes made 20 pairs.

For the Pina Colada Macaroons, whisk 3 egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add half of 225g icing sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is very thick and glossy. Mix remaining sugar with 55g ground almonds and 45g desiccated coconut and fold into the egg whites.  We sieved the sugar and almonds. Use a piping bag to pipe circles onto a baking tray.

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This was the first batch and the mixture was a little thicker than it should have been. The instructions did not mention to tap the tray and I almost forgot. Leave the mixture for 20-30 minutes until a skin forms on the surface.  Bake at 150 C/300 F for 14 to 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the Margarita Macaroons, it is the same 3 egg whites and 225g sugar, but no coconut and 105g ground almonds.  Don’t forget to tap the tray!

The pineapple filling needs 100g of drained pineapple chopped in a food processor and 75g sugar heated until the mixture is like a jam. Cool.

The lime filling needs the juice of 2 limes, 60g sugar, 2 tsp cornflour and 2 tbsp. of water heated until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens. Cool.

For the pineapple filling, whip 125ml whipping cream and fold in 4 tbsp. of the pineapple jam.  Use to sandwich the macaroon halves together.

For the lime filling, whip 125ml of whipping cream and fold in the lime sauce.  Add extra icing sugar to taste.  You can add 1 tsp of chopped mint to make Mojito filling. Use to sandwich the macaroons together.

I found the pina colada macaroons very sweet and Becky found the margarita macaroons very tart.  If you look at the fillings, the recipes call for more sugar in the pineapple cream than the lime cream, which seems odd. We gave a big batch to our neighbours (taste testers) and the children liked the pineapple while the mom preferred the lime.

We can’t believe we made these. They looked and tasted pretty good. Six months ago, we would not have attempted these.  Look how far we have come in a short time. Our confidence grows with each bake. We have found a new flavour to try next time; Salted Caramel.  Yum!  We will make these again, but maybe in smaller amounts.

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Happy Easter!

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