Tuesday, 5 April 2016

the cookery calendar challenge: looking back at March

Once more I am joining Penny for the cookery calendar challenge.  I am finding it difficult to find time to cook new exiting meals but I do enjoy exploring my cookery books and I do like a challenge. The idea is to dust off a neglected cookery book from your shelves and choose two recipes to cook. I have to admit, I couldn't find any inspiration at all on my shelves instead I gave into the temptation and bought a new one... the latest Nigella Lawson book, Simply Nigella. I am quite fond of Nigella Lawson's cooking, she knows how to enjoy food. I don't watch her on the TV so much but we have three of her books and each is used once every blue moon, which is more often than most of the cookery books we own. Her Malteser cake is unrivalled and the cherry coke ham is to die for. The recipes are generally simple without being boring. The ingredient lists are not so exotic and extensive that you find yourself substituting or omitting, or just giving up. She does shop in Waitrose rather than Asda and some of the ingredients may sound a little posh but luckily we have a small local Waitrose, which I love and where we go shopping every now and then. 

I chose two one pot recipes, both cooked slowly in the oven. I am a lazy cook and an don't like to wash many pans and pots. I also work full time, and any dish that cooks on its own is welcome. 

First I made the beef chilli with bourbon, beer and black beansI chose it because it doesn't use kidney beans, which I don't like. This recipe asks for black turtle beans, which I had never used before. They don't need soaking, which is good. It is not a tea total recipe! The liquid used is beer and bourbon. The meat is cheap beef shin, which is full of flavour but needs a bit of trimming. Jack had a feast of trimmings for which I hope he is eternally grateful. We all liked the chilli. I really liked the black turtle beans and will buy them again. The leftovers were delicious in baked potatoes. The one negative about this recipe is the unappetizing look of the finished dish, a dark brown lumpy mess. I like my food pretty and it took a little convincing to try this chilli. It didn't photograph well I am afraid, so no pictures here.

The second recipe was the chicken and wild rice. It is an interesting combination of chicken, cranberries and wild rice. I really like wild rice, it is firm and has a lovely flavour. It is often mixed in with plain white rice but this is not what to use for the dish because the white rice would go all soggy. I used a half and half mix of wild rice and Camarque rice, because I couldn't find pure wild rice. The two are not dissimilar in texture and colour so all was good. The dish was wonderfully soupy and flavourful. Everybody liked it, even the fussy teenager. One to copy and stick in my own cookery jotter.  


I have since made the massaman curry and the sweet and sour slaw from the same book, both delicious and both quick to make. I have bought the ingredients for chicken tray bake with bitter orange and fennel and I am really looking forward to eating it. I have left the recipe open on the kitchen counter for Richard to find. Mind you, he is quite good at not seeing stuff....

I should also mention that Sam cooked a delicious meal this month. I appreciate it very much when my teenager cooks but I am always a little very apprehensive because he tends to make an impressive mess and usually chooses to fry everything, thereby covering the kitchen surfaces in a thin layer of grease, and jeopardising our health. His recipe was a very involved recreation of a Chinese take-away dish, orange chicken. I don't know where he found it. The dish was sweet and sour and sticky and delicious and there wasn't even sauce left to soak up with a slice of bread late at night. Sam didn't cook any vegetables because he used an entire bunch of spring onions, that's plenty of goodness he says. He did also used up all the vegetable oil we had.



Annie didn't feel like a cookery challenge in March but she did cook a few simple dishes and her old favourite, coconut lime chicken with roastinis (gnocchi gently fried in a generous amount of butter). She did include vegetables.

I am lucky to have children who like to cook. 

In April, I am trying out a couple of recipes from my one and only vegan cookery book. I am not sure why I bought it because we are not vegans and have no intentions of becoming vegan either. I think the 'cheese'cake on the book cover made me buy it. The biggest challenge will be to get the teenager to eat! I may also have to hunt for the ingredients, some I have never heard off.

What have you been eating lately? Do you have any family favourites that you would like to share? What about favourite cookery books? 

Happy cooking (and eating). xx



22 comments:

  1. They all look delicious Christine. How have you fond the Simply nigella? I love her books and writing but have found this one the least 'user friendly'! I'm planning to join in with Penny this month and may even remember to take pictures of the actual food :) xx

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  2. This is such a fun challenge to read about. Kids that cook are the best gift ever - right?!

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  3. I am a Nigellas fan as well. I have just tried the same cranberry and chicken dish with wild rice. Like you I used half and half wild rice. I think it might have been a bit oppressive with all black rice. I love her kitchen book. Out of all my recipe books I have used that the most. I think it's time I joined this recipe book challenge, I have been procrastinating but I have sooo many books that I don't use. B x

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  4. I'm so glad you reviewed some recipes from Nigella's new cookbook. I have it, and have been slowly trying out some of them but hadn't got to these yet. My recommendation would be to skip the slow-cooker Korean beef and rice pot though. If you like to eat food that looks nice, this is not the dish for you. It looks more like something Jack would eat. Plus it doesn't taste good.

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  5. I am in awe, I tend to stick to what I know and am not very adventurous at all. I have a lot of cookery books that just gather dust on the shelf and are never opened. I am also impressed that you are encouraging your children to take part in the challenge as well, good for you.

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  6. I don't buy or use cookbooks much any more, I'm more apt to go to Pinterest for a recipe. I like Nigella and any time I see her show I watch it, she looks like she actually eats as opposed to some of the chefs who are so skinny you know they don't eat.
    This week I made a Chinese dish: chicken with broccoli, onions and mushrooms. We loved it and will be put into the rotation.

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  7. All looks yummy! I'm trying to clean up my diet at the minute and have bought a few books recently - I must actually use them!
    Jillxo

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  8. My eldest used to enjoy cooking but it's a struggle to get my youngest interested. I always enjoy these posts, it gives me a little more inspiration for the coming weeks. I'm giving meat up slowly as I don't really enjoy eating it anymore but I do like shin in a stew or something similar xx

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  9. Mmmmmm the nigella recipe descriptions made my mouth water! Most of the time I am perfectly content to live with a veggie, but you can't quite beat meat for some recipes :) And Sam and Annie's recipes sound yummy too! I#m just starting to use some Gino Di Campo recipes, trying to find more exciting pasta recipes for work night evenings, first one tomorow :) have a good week x

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  10. Our kids use to take turns in cooking it stands them in good stead fo when they have to do it :-)

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  11. Hey Christina,
    I have that Nigella cookery book, and have wanted to make most of these recipes. We have friends for dinner on Saturday. All very casual. I might try one of them. You are very lucky that your kids want to cook at all. I am sick to the back teeth of cooking macaroni cheese. I'd love for the boys to be more adventurous; me and their Dad will eat anything. But they view most foodstuffs with suspicion and have always, always refused to try anything new. It's just one of the reasons why we don't go out to eat as a family. I shall have to bask in the afterglow of your four and their impeccable eating habits ;)
    Leanne xx

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    1. You'd be surprised how fussy mine are Leanne. I usually hate mealtimes and our dinners are repetitive. Sam for example is totally weird with food, doesn't eat anything savoury/creamy, anything with cooked eggs, hates most vegetables and refuses to eat mashed potatoes, and he picks out chunks of meat from stews to eat but leaves all the rest. That's just what I can remember at the top of my head. I am praising Nigella for creating a dish that nobody refused to eat and that everybody liked, it is a rare event. I should probably write about the frustrations of our routine family mealtimes. xx

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  12. Wow, it all looks delicious, Christina. You're a good cook! Your kids are too. I love Nigella and have made quite a few of her recipes. I only own Nigella Express but I borrow her other books from library over and over to try new things. I often scan the pages to make copies to keep. Thanks for sharing your dished, I will have to keep them in mind to make myself.

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  13. Thank you so much Christina, for joining in with the Cookery Calendar Challenge again, I really appreciate it. As you know I chose the same book as you this month, with slightly less success! I recognise in some of your phrases the issues that got on my nerves about the book; soupy textures (although obviously correct for the dish, not a texture my family respond well to), slightly awkward ingredients to find, food that looks unappetising on the plate. However, you have really enjoyed the flavours which is what counts. Incidentally you can use the same book more than once for the Cookery Calendar Challenge, as long as they are 'new to you' , so please don't feel you have to buy new books for the challenge. Your vegan book sounds intriguing, loom forward to reading about your dishes from it. I recognise the 'let's fry' approach from Sam, my oldest is the same on occasions when he cooks, everything looks like an american bbq and all fried to the detriment of waist lines and kitchen cleanliness. An industrial level clean up always follows. X

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  14. My mouth's watering just looking at the photos, I think that dish which Sam cooked looks particularly appetising. Daniel's never really been interested in cooking, mind you, he wasn't very interested in eating either until he went to uni, he was so fussy but living in student digs has changed him for the better, he eats all sorts of things now which he never did before and manages to feed himself so he must have found his cooking mojo along the way. Eleanor enjoys being in the kitchen, she cooks for us and makes meals for her boyfriend too, in fact, she cooked for his family last week.

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  15. My children are grown now and reading your post brought back memories...both pleasant and well..not so pleasant. Tough letting them make meals and messes but, as I now know, memories. Didn't realize at the time how much they enjoyed doing cooking because as teenagers they didn't say much. Now, as we sit together for a meal, they like to speak of the things they cooked and the fun they had. The bonus is that they both enjoy cooking now as adults!

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  16. Sounds like a good months eating! I have that book too and there are some great recipes aren't there. I wanted to try the chicken one but I couldn't find any wild rice without white rice so I bought red rice instead, I will give that a go on your recommendation! xx

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  17. Not to be trendy, but because I feel better not eating dairy products or gluten containing products I have been searching out recipes that contain neither. The last cookbook I bought is a paleo one that uses a lot of almond flour and simple ingredients. I am enjoying what I am eating...or not eating, but have great admiration for the delicious looking food that you and yours have been cooking! xx

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  18. Lovely to read your cookery experiments. I totally failed with the cookery challenge this month and it does look like this month will be better as I fractured my ankle yesterday. A good excuse to finally get my husband cooking!

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  19. Everything looks beautiful as well as very yummy. The chicken and wild rice with cranberries would be just what I would order.
    Hugs,
    MEredith

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  20. The chicken and wild rice has been on my list for a while - I even have the chicken in the freezer and bought the cranberries and wild rice, but sadly have no kitchen at the moment so it'll have to wait. Thanks for the recommendations for the chili, I'll give that one a go.

    I do love reading about what other people are cooking and eating! xx

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  21. sounds great, I love wild rice but haven't really cooked with it, and the beans sound interesting too! Well done on another successful month x

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx