Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Ginger Beer Comeback!

I have been drinking quite a lot of ginger beer recently and buying packs of it on special in the supermarket. However, last week my daughter reminded me about the ginger beer I used to make on the farm when they were young.

The recipe was given to me by an old friend, Margaret Brown, years ago and so I have started making it again! It’s a good reminder that tucked away in your old trusty recipe books full of handwritten recipes, from mothers, grandmothers and aunts, there are some great ones that need to be revisited from time to time. Also maybe it’s a good time for me to put them into a computer so they don’t get lost forever among the loose pages covered in butter stains and coffee marks!

This drink is easy, refreshing and cost effective.

Ginger Beer

5 litres warm water
3½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon natural lemon essence
1 teaspoon dry yeast
Mix together and leave 2 hours stirring occasionally. Then bottle, leaving space in bottles – leave 3 days before drinking.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blue Skies - Red Tomatoes

It's been a fantastic growing season in Christchurch - lots of blue sky and sunshine and we've all loved watching our gardens flourish even though we're on water rationing.

I was quietly working in the kitchen yesterday with my chefs and overhearing their conversation as they worked.

They were talking about their vegetable gardens and how many courgettes they had picked, when their beans would be ready, the state of their tomatoes and how many eggs their chooks had laid yesterday. It made my heart sing! There is a quiet revolution taking place and people are returning to the soil, growing their own food and taking such pleasure in proudly cooking and feeding their families with wondrous, seasonal, fresh produce. There is nothing better and the satisfaction gained unparalleled.

Over dinner last night with friends the subject came up again and we talked of visits to France and Italy where driving in the countryside everywhere you looked there were houses surrounded by carefully tended vegetable gardens, giant artichoke plants, tomatoes and every other imaginable vegetable.

A wonderful way to preserve excess vegetables is to make relishes and pickles. I am sharing my Aunt’s tomato relish recipe today because it’s a favourite, the uses are endless, and a barbecued or grilled lamb chop without it seems unthinkable.

Tomato Relish

12 large tomatoes
4 large onions
1 tablespoon salt
Malt vinegar
500g sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1½ tablespoons mustard powder
(mix the curry and mustard powders in a bowl with a little vinegar to form a paste before pouring into the tomatoes and onions)
5 dried chillies
2 tablespoons flour

Roughly dice tomatoes and onions, place in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Stand overnight.

Drain and discard liquid. Place tomatoes and onion in a large saucepan and pour over vinegar until the liquid reaches 2 cm below surface of vegetables.

Bring to the boil, add sugar and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes. Mix flour with a little extra vinegar to form a paste. Pour into hot mix, stirring constantly and gently boil for a further 5 minutes.

Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Some other things I love to do with Tomato Relish

Under the cheesy mix for mousetraps

Mixed with mayonnaise and dolloped over cold chicken

Split saveloys, fill with relish, wrap in bacon, hold together with toothpick
and grill (memories of my mother!)

Add to meatloaf mixture before cooking

Add to mashed potato for cottage pie topping

Use for a quick pizza spread

Use in quesadillas with shredded chicken, grated cheese and coriander

With sour cream and corn frittersIn pinwheel scones with grated cheese

With grilled haloumi

Cook it - Love it!