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Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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The other day I decided to make a stew in the slow cooker. As I started to prepare the vegetables I thought that it would be a great idea to photograph the preparation step by step and put them on the blog.

So this is really a picture recipe which ought to be relatively straightforward for anyone to follow, but I’ll start by just providing a brief description of the process. I’m not going to provide any details on the actual quantities used as I tend not to take too much notice of them. I find that it is often a personal preference on the quantity of ingredients used in cooking, and it also varies depending on the amount of people that you are cooking for.

This particular stew fed two of us with a bit left over for lunch the following day, in reality it would probably have fed three people, or at a push four!

The basic ingredients I used were:

  • Onion
  • Leeks
  • Swede
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Beef
  • Bacon
  • Flour
  • Cloves
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leafs
  • Beer
  • Marmite
  • Tomato Puree
  • Mustard
  • Beef Stock Pot

Chop the root vegetables and put them in the slow cooker, add a little boiling water to keep them from browning while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Coat the beef in flour, this helps to lock in the meat juices, adds flavour and will help to thicken the stew. Put some oil in a pan and warm it through, I’ve used coconut oil as it is a healthier option and is very flavoursome (if you’re on a diet you could dry fry or use a 1 cal spray oil). Lightly soften the onion and leek and then add the beef (for a vegetarian stew you could substitute Quorn, or just add more vegetables) and continue to cook until lightly browned. Add the herbs and stir in the stock.

I have added cloves to give a warm wintery feel to the stew.

Make up some stock of choice, I have used a Knore beef stockpot, and add to the pan then add any other flavourings that you fancy, I’ve used some Marmite and mustard, I’ve also added some tomato puree to add some body. You can now add some more liquid, I’ve chosen to add some beer which creates a sort of ‘carbonade flamande‘ (Belgian Beef), I used a larger but a stout is generally better. You could also use red wine which would give you more of a ‘boeuf bourguignon’ (French Beef Stew), around the Christmas season you could always add mulled wine to give more of a seasonal sort of flavour. I also add a number of things to flavour the stew, Marmite, mustard and tomato puree, you could also use ketchup or a brown sauce, don’t be afraid to experiment just make sure you taste it as you go along!

Transfer the contents of the pan to the slow cooker and then put the empty pan back on the heat, add the chopped bacon and fry gently in the remaining juices until softened and then transfer to the slow cooker, stir thoroughly, put the lid on and cook on low for eight hours. You can obviously shorten or lengthen the time to suit.

If you don’t have a slow cooker then place the stew in an ordinary oven and cook on low. You can of course cook the stew at higher temperatures for much shorter times if necessary but they will not be as flavoursome.

The swede and parsnips chopped and in the slow cooker

 Carrots and onion being prepared

Diced leeks

Coat the steak in flour to enhance the flavour and seal the juices in

Melt the fat in a pan

Gently fry the leeks and onion till soft

Add the coated steak and continue to fry gently until browned

Add the herbs

Make some stock, add it to the pan and continue to cook gently

Add flavouring to your taste

Adding beer or wine will give body and flavour

Transfer to the slow cooker

Add some bacon to the pan to soak up any remaining juices

Transfer to the slow cooker and stir thoroughly

Add a couple of bay leaves and some fresh thyme if you have them, put the lid on and cook on low for several hours

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Recipe of the Day – Home Made Snickers


haven’t posted for a long while as we have been in the process of moving house so have been just a little busy! But now things are starting to calm down as the decorating is almost complete, the wood floors and carpets are down, the solar panels are installed and working and best of all the hot tub is on the patio and fully usable even in this cold weather!

Now that I can start concentrating on normality again I thought I’d share a quick and easy method of making your very own Snickers bar – well almost. Incase the picture doesn’t speak for itself here is the recipe:

  • One piece of baguette
  • A jar of Nutella
  • A jar of Peanut butter 
  • A knief
  • Spread the peanut butter on to the baguette, then spread the Nutella on top. Once complete sit back and enjoy!

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