Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Making Mayo

Stardate 29th April

Having chickens means that come the spring I have eggs, more eggs than I can eat just as eggs so it was time to expand my culinary repertoire to mayonnaise.

I’d been put off making it before because it seem like a real faff and I would then have egg whites left over and I really didn’t have the time to mess about making meringues. Then I found a recipe for whole egg mayonnaise made in a blender and it’s so simple.

The basic recipe is:
· 2 egg
· 2 tablespoon vinegar
· 2 cup vegetable oil
· ½ teaspoon mustard
· ¼ teaspoon salt

In a food processor or a blender wiz the eggs, mustard (either dried or ready made) and vinegar. Then with the processor running gradually add the oil. Once the oil is added it should be thick so scoop out into a lidded container store in the refrigerator. It should keep for a week.

The taste can be varied by changing the type vinegar or using lemon juice instead along with the type of mustard and oil, so lots of experimenting to be done here. Most recipes I’ve read say olive oil on it’s own is too strong for the mayo but a mixture with peanut or sunflower oil works well. I’m into using white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard at the moment which I think gives a taste somewhere between commercial mayonnaise and salad cream.

It’s the 2-egg quantity that’s in the photograph that I made for a group meal but for myself the 2-egg quantity is rather too much for me to eat in a week so I made half quantity. This would have been fine apart from one little problem; it barely covers the rotor blades in the processor or the blender leading to me having a mayonnaise face pack while adding the oil. Good for the complexion but not so good for the kitchen walls etc.

I then recalled reading somewhere a long while back using a stick blender and its tall narrow cup to make it in. The technique here is to blend everything as per above and then blend in a little of the oil. As the mayonnaise starts to form the remaining oil can be added and will rest on top of the thicker emulsion. By slowly bringing the stick blender up you gradually incorporate all the oil. Difficult to explain but if you try it will probably become clear. It worked for me, a one-egg quantity of mayo without needing to wash the walls and a lot less to wash up afterwards too.

Mouse Damage

Stardate 22nd April

I had my early courgettes and squashes germinating on the kitchen windowsill. Obviously someone thought it was a self-serve buffet. Mice in the kitchen are a no-no so it was time to get the trap out.

5 mice later and there is no further sign of any mice. It’s sad to have to use a killer trap but 4 cats and a humane trap weren’t catching any of the mice.

Lychees And Dates

Stardate 22nd April

And what was I eating over Christmas?

It was lychees and dates.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Snowy And Cid

Stardate 20th April

Snowy and Cid have come to an understanding. Snowy is still the top cat, the matriarch, despite being a much weaker cat these days; she’s coming up to 13 and is really showing her age since her ear operation, here and here.

Cid, even though he really wants to be the top cat, being the only male cat, knows his place. There have been the occasional spats but now most of the time they tolerate each other. So imagine my surprise when I spotted this:

I took the picture really quickly as I rightly thought that it wouldn’t last long. I think the togetherness was due less to friendship bit more because neither wanted to back down from having the seat. Still it was sweet while it lasted.

The Fallen Oak

Stardate 6th April

Way back before Christmas I had an oak tree fall into my neighbour’s field. The field had already been sown with wheat and because the ground was wet it was impossible to remove the tree with out ruining the crop all round. The months passed and the wheat grew ever bigger and finally the ground began to dry out.

I’d spent ages inspecting the tree from my side of the ditch and couldn’t see where to begin on cutting up the tree. The problem was that the trunk wasn’t straight; it sort of zig-zaged and the branches were at odd angles and crossing each other. Not really the best thing to have as the first tree you ever deal with along with the first time using the petrol chainsaw.

I procrastinated for ages and then called on Regis for a second opinion. Even he refused to touch it but found a woodman who in exchange for the trunk and major branches would remove the tree. So the day after my quiche baking when I thought I would have very little to do I heard the sound of a chain saw outside and went down to help and to collect my share of the wood.

I was totally amazed at just how quickly he dealt with the tree. It did help that he after he’d cut off the side branches he took away the trunk in two pieces. Oh the joy of the correct tools for the job!

As the site was cleared I stacked my branches by the ditch and helped gather up and burn the brash that was left. I then helped the woodman load up his flatbed with his remaining wood (the pile to the right of the fire). It was then that I noticed that not only did he not have any safety gear – quite normal for rural France – he was also only wearing carpet slippers, making my steelies look a bit of overkill.

The next day was spent lobbing my branches across the ditch back onto my land and then transporting them to the back of the house. It doesn’t sound like a lot of work but oak is heavy, very heavy.

Tempus Fugit

I can’t believe it’s nearly 2 months since I last posted on the blog. So what’s up? Well firstly it was just writers block stressing over lots of little things, compounded by lots to do. So in the land of metaphors, I couldn’t see wood for trees but now there is light at the end of the tunnel :-)

I will now attempt to catch-up with what has been going on here.