social spark Aisling Beatha: March 2012


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thai Roast Chicken

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It might not look much but it tastes amazing.  Thai flavoured roast chicken.  You will need (sorry for the quality of the ingredients photo, my camera was being weird today):

  • 1 whole chicken (for the timings in the recipe you need a 1.5 kilos chicken.  I used what I had and adjusted the times.
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tsp green thai curry paste
  • 2tbsp fresh ginger grated (or 2 tbsp from a jar)
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic (or from a jar, that's the one without a label)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 small fresh chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh  coriander (cilantro), chopped.  (Yes, I store my coriander in a coke glass.)

because I am watching the amount of fat we eat, I take the skin off the chicken before I cook it.  Otherwise all those lovely flavours will just go into the skin which we don't want to eat.  This way the flavours go into the flesh.

Put the chicken into a large freezer bag

In a jug mix all the other ingredients.  Pour them into the bag.  If you're worried about spilling it down the outsides of the bag, just do what I did and put the whole jug inside the bag before tipping the jug up to pour.

Tie the bag so that nothing can leak out.  You don't want to trap lots of air in there, but you don't want the tie tight against the chicken either.

And squish a few times before putting in the fridge to marinate for a while.  Leave it for at least an hour but more is better.

Preheat the oven to 180c (350 f)

Transfer the chicken to a roasting tin with a roasting rack.  There will be liquid inside the cavity of the bird, which you will want to tip out into the tin, but don't worry if a bit remains inside.

For a 1.5 kilo chicken you will need to roast the chicken for 1.5 hours.  Baste the chicken occasionally with the juices in the pan.  Oh and BTW if you got someone else to preheat the oven for you, it's worth checking what temperature they put it on at, or your chicken could be well done before your other stuff is ready.  Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.

There you have it, 1 Thai roast chicken.  We usually serve it with brown rice and a salad.

Like I said, not much to look at, but it tastes amazing.  You might even put some lemongrass in there as well if you have some.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hairy Bikers Scandinavian Rye Bread

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Some of my American friends will not know who the Hairy Bikers are.  Well . . . . they are two guys from the north of England who ride motorbikes and love their food!  And they obviously have a lot of fun doing it.

Anyway, my son and I are rather big fans!  And when we heard they were putting out a new series and a new book to go with it we were rather excited.  The Hairy Bikers big Book of baking sees the guys back to doing what they do best, travelling hundreds of miles on their bikes and sampling loads of food on the way, replicating some of them with their own unique twist.

Today I made the Scandinavian Rye Bread from the first episode of the new series.

You will need:

  • 175ml whole milk
  • 175 ml water
  • 2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 * 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 250g rye flour
  • 250g strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt (not pictured)
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • oil for greasing (not pictured)

Put the milk, water and sugar into a small saucepan and heat VERY gently, stirring constantly, just long enough to dissolve the sugar and get the mixture lukewarm.  If it feels HOT to a clean finger dipped in, it's too warm.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl.  Stir in the yeast

and leave for 10 minutes until there is a light froth floating on the surface.

Put all the flour, rye and white, in a large mixing bowl, stir in the salt and caraway seeds,

Make a well in the centre and pour the yeasty mixture into the flour

and mix with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, to form a soft, spongy dough.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface

and knead for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.  Kneading this dough can be hard work as it is quite dense.  Normally I would use my stand mixer for dough kneading but my mixer is fairly lightweight and I doubt it would stand up to such a dense dough, so I did knead by hand today.

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled clingfilm. Or, if like me, you discover that you are completely out of clingfilm, invert a clean trash bag over the bowl, and tuck the ends under the bowl, trapping air inside.

Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.  It wasn't as warm today as we were expecting so I could probably have left it up to 2 hours for a better rise.

After rising, put the dough on a floured work surface and knock it back with your knuckles, then knead for another minute.  Shape the dough into a fat oval or round loaf, pulling the dough from the top and sides and tucking it underneath to make a neat shape.

Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with parchment and score the surface 4 times with a sharp knife.  Cover it loosely with the oiled clingfilm, you used earlier and leave to prove for a further 40 - 50 minutes until is has doubled in size once more.  Again it was a little cooler than expected today so I should have left it a bit longer than that, but it still worked OK.

Preheat the oven to 180c (160c for a fan oven), 360 f, Gas 4.  Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes, or until it is well risen and the base sounds hollow when tapped sharply.

Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

You can really smell the caraway when you cut into it.  I tried the bread 3 ways, with butter spread, with chilli cheese spread and with Wholefoods apple and pear spread.

The chilli cheese was a bit too strong for me, but the strong flavours of the rye bread stood up to it nicely.  The butter revealed that there was a bit too much salt for my tastes and I would lower it slightly if I make this again.  Normally I would not serve sweet spread on a wholegrain bread, I think they work better on white bread, but the strong flavours of the fruit spread go well with the strong flavours of the rye bread.

This would go really well with a chunk of mature cheddar and some of the caramelised onion relish I made last week.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Encouraging Cards

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This is part 2 of a 2 part project.  I shared part 1 yesterday, when I shared the tin that i decorated to put these cards in.

This is a gift for a friend who needs a bit of encouragement at the moment.  I found a list of "Who we are in Christ" and switched them into the 2nd person.  Then I searched the internet for photos that I felt would go with the particular messages I wanted to put on the cards.

Then it came time to make the cards.  I measured the tin and worked out that I could fit 9 cards that size onto a large sheet of thick cartridge paper.  I used two sheets, making 18 cards in all.  I used my big T-square ruler to mark lines in the right places on the sheets, then cut them with my paper cutter.

I rounded all the corners with a corner punch and checked they fit inside the tin.

Then I set down to decorating them.

I worked on all the backgrounds first.

Some I did with Distress inks onto a non stick sheet and spray water.  Some I did with distress inks, or other inks, sponged all over the card, and some I did by sponging inks through stencils, but layering it up with multiple colours on the card.

I got my fingers into a right mess with all that ink and sponging.  That photo of my fingers is AFTER a first attempt to clean up!

Then I got to work decorating them.  This took over a week, I worked on one or two cards when I could.  I used all sorts of media and techniques, paints, inks, texture paste, iridescent powders, stencils, embossing powders and so on.  Here are the finished cards.

Popped them all into the tin that I showed you yesterday and wrapped it up.

I hope it blesses her, it sure blessed me in making it.  Which is your favourite?

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.
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