Thursday, 28 February 2013

Loss and Hope

Today is my due date. I did not plan to, but ended up spending a few minutes this morning taking time to grieve a baby I miscarried at 12 weeks pregnant a number of years ago. I don’t know whether this baby will come today or sometime in the next few days or will need to be induced, whether labour will go well or not, what labour will be like (apart from hard and painful – terms that are hard to quantify in a real way without having done it before), whether we’ll be okay, whether I’ll be a good parent, whether we’ll have a good baby. On the 13th January all those years ago, the day after my miscarriage, I made a note in my prayer diary of Isaiah 45:11-12, which says:

“Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”

God was in control over that situation, and there is great peace, comfort and hope in knowing that He is in control as I wait in this situation.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Feta and Red Onion Scones

I’m not sure what first put the flavour combination of feta and red onion in my mind – initially I was thinking along the lines of feta and either red onion or red peppers, but the plump red onions won when I was at the supermarket. My initial thoughts for that flavour combination were actually along the lines of muffins. Today, when I finally got round to trying to turn the flavours in my head into flavours on a plate, the idea rapidly evolved from muffins to a flat bread topped with feta and red onion to scones to a flat scone topped with feta and red onions to a crusty loaf of bread and back to muffins. I eventually settled on scones, primarily because they seemed the easiest, quickest option involving the fewest ingredients. This recipe makes about 8 scones (or more if you make them small). All the cup measurements are based on a 250 ml mug as equal to one cup. As you’ll see, I added the cheese and onion to the mixture before rubbing in the flour and I’ve given my instructions in the same format. I did this because I wanted to break up the feta as I was rubbing the fat into the mixture. However, the more obvious thing to do may have been to rub in the fat first and then to mix in the feta and onions – just do whatever feels most intuitive for you at the time.


What you need:

A large red onion

Little bit of olive oil

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

Pinch salt

Generous sprinkling of dried oregano


200 gram pack of feta cheese

1/3 cup soft margarine or softened butter

Milk (for brushing the tops of the scones)

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F) and either grease a baking sheet or line it with greaseproof paper.

2. Slice the red onion into thin slivers whilst heating the oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry until soft and cooked.



3. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and then add the oregano and a sprinkling of pepper to the flour/salt.



4. Cut the feta into large cubes (or cuboid shapes, if you’re me) – mine were about 1 inch by 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch and then add the feta to the mixing bowl with the flour and seasonings.



5. When the onions have cooked, remove the pan from the stove and add the onions to the mixing bowl. I was too impatient to wait for them to cool down, but you can if you want to.


6. Mix everything in the bowl together thoroughly.


7. Add the margarine or butter to the bowl and rub thoroughly into the mixture – this didn’t take me long to do as the heat from the onions melted the butter and cheese and seemed to speed up the process. Draw the dough together into one mass (this may be quite crumbly).




8. Shape the dough into small, round scones or tip onto a lightly floured surface and flatten into a round about 1 inch high (I didn’t measure the diameter) and then cut the round into 8 roughly equal triangular shapes.



9. Place the scones on the greased or lined baking tray and then brush the top of each scone with a little bit of milk. Bake the scones in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until browned and delicious.




10. Either eat warm from the oven (if you’re impatient like me) or cool on a cooling rack before eating. Either way, I would highly recommend that you accompany your scones with generous lashings of butter.



Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Honey and Almond Biscuits

Last year I tried my hand for the first time at a nearly flourless chocolate cake, which incorporated a healthy abundance of ground almonds. The cake itself was good, but, I felt, needed tweaking and refining before it would be blog-worthy. So I bought various ingredients intending to try my hand at it again but somehow never got round to it. Various other uses for the unopened bag of ground almonds bought for attempt number two at the cake flitted across my mind but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I finally tried making something with the ground almonds – a something which was nothing like the chocolatey, sugar-laden visions that had filled my ground almond day dreams. These honey and almond biscuits were a bit of an experiment, which actually turned out pretty tasty…and with the psychological bonus that they must be better for me than other biscuits as they are sweetened with honey rather than sugar (at least that was my rather unconvincing rationale as I reached for a fourth second one). These biscuits are quite chewy in the middle and will last for a few days in an airtight tin. This recipe makes about 20 biscuits. The cup measurements are based on a 250 ml mug as equivalent to one full cup.


What you’ll need:

1/2 cup self-raising flour

2 cups ground almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

1 egg

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F) and either grease a baking sheet or line it with greaseproof paper.

2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl (imagine the photo for this stage…), add the almonds and cinnamon to the bowl and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula.





3. Add the honey to the flour, almonds and cinnamon and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You may find it easier to deal with the sticky honey if you fill the mug with boiling water, leave it for a minute or so and then empty it of the water (thereby heating the mug) before measuring the honey – the heat will help it to slide out of the mug and into the bowl more easily.




4. Add the egg to the honey/flour/almond/cinnamon mixture and mix together thoroughly until the mixture comes together into a dough.




5. Scoop out teaspoonfuls of the dough, shape into balls (this can be a sticky process) and then place each ball about an inch apart on the prepared baking tray.


6. Dip a fork in a little bit of extra flour and then press the fork into one of the balls to flatten it slightly. Repeat for every ball of dough, dipping the fork into the flour each time, to prevent the dough sticking to the fork.



7. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before eating.