Thursday, August 10, 2006

Norwegian style strawberry jam

Last year when I visited Dougal he had just made a batch of strawberry jam. But this was no ordinary strawberry jam but one that required very little cooking and was kept in the freezer. As my strawberry jam always takes an age to make I was very interested and brought home with me one of the packets he had used. The packet from 'Jam' promised less sugar for more berry flavour and contained vitamin C, calcium phosphate and pectin. All I had to do was take 2kg strawberries and the contents of the packet and bring to the boil for 2min. Then add the sugar and stir until it had dissolved. I actually had a phone call at this stage so the fruit and sugar mixture boiled for five minutes too. Then the jam went straight into hot sterilised jars, from the oven. And it had set in a couple of hours as it cooled. As easy a that - fantastic, no messing about trying to get the jam to set, just strawberries from my garden, some sugar and a packet of Jam! And as it is actually in a cupboard and doesn't need to go in the freezer - may be this is down to my extra boiling.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pesto spaghetti squash

While I was pottering through the vegetable isles of the supermarket yesterday I chanced upon a spaghetti squash and thought I would buy one and see what it was like. I hunted throught my recipe books but found nothing about it, so as it was the size of a butternut squash I thought I would cook it in the same way. So I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds to leave a somewhat hard flesh in the beautiful speckled yellow shell. I put both seasoned halves into a roasting pan and filled the pan half full with water. I then carefully lifted it into a 200°C oven and placed a flat baking sheet on top - I had forgotten to buy any foil! - and cooked the squash for 40min. Then I removed the pan and retrieved the squash halves. I scooped out the succulent soft flesh - all stringy like spaghetti, the name did not lie - into a bowl and added 2 teaspoons of pesto sauce and mixed it in well. Then I put the flesh back in to the shells and topped them with a handful of breadcrumbs and dotted with butter and placed the halves on the baking sheet. A further 15min in the oven and my dinner was golden brown and smelling gorgeous - and tasting too!!! This has got to be good for the waistline - hardly any fat!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

tiny fishies

Ok so this is not the best photo in the world but that fish is tiny - about 1mm high and about 10 long!!! I found this little chap along with about 10 brothers and sisters in my old fish tank. I had just come back from an early morning run (this allows me to go out and nobody to see me plod along the canal) and was sat on the step in the garden and thinking that I really should take the old tank down to the tip - snails and all - when I saw something dart about. My immediate thought was - thats a bloody big mosquito larvae and so got down on my hands and knees to peer in through the slightly grubby glass at the 5cm of water in the bottom. It then occurred to me that they would have to have been very cunning mozzies to get into the tank with the lid on. But, low, this was fish life not insect life. The white cloud mountain minnows must have laid eggs in the old tank and now that they are with the other fish in the new tank there was nothing to eat their progeny in the old one! So I am now the proud surrogate-parent of a whole new set of fishies!!! I just have to figure out how to get them into the new tank and ensure they don't get eaten, and all before it gets too cold for them to live outside!!!
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