Saturday, 10 March 2012

Number 7

Hi Y'all!

As I write to you I am currently being most of the seven dwarfs - I have a horrid cold! This will not stop me however from writing my fast becoming all consuming blog! I have so much to write about today I may stretch it to two posts! 

First thing to report - I hate being ill :( I am such a baby - I would love nothing more than to simply go to bed and be looked after until I'm better - unfortunately that doesn't happen in this house! I am dosing myself up and eating soup so hopefully I will be better soon! Today I searched on pinterest for remedy's and crikey I didn't realise there would be so many... whether they are old wives tales or not is yet to be told.

But it got me thinking about my dad. When I was younger and even when I had left home if I was ill he wasn't the cuddly type, but what he would do would be to make me stew and dumplings (with plenty of pepper) and a carrot cake (no frosting just gorgeous moist cakey goodness). I would instantly feel better after that! I want to share his recipe for stew with you as I think it is one we should all have and use as a cold remedy, tummy warmer or lovely winter evening meal. I wish he was here now - I could really eat some carrot cake and stew!

Dad's special Stew.

Ingredients - 
500g of diced braising steak or stewing steak
2 x beef OXO cubes
3 potatoes diced
2 carrots sliced
1/2 a swede diced
1 leek sliced
1 packet of dumpling mix (suet)
self raising flour for dusting
gravy granules
salt and pepper
(feel free to add any other veg you like)

Method - 
1. Trim the fat from the beef then place in a large saucepan. Cover with boiling water and crumble in the 2 OXO cubes, then stir well and season with plenty of black pepper.
2. Bring the meat to the boil, then turn heat down to a low simmer. Place the lid on but keep an eye on it - stir every 15 minutes and keep cooking until the meat is cooked through. This will be roughly 1.5 hours to 2 hours approximately.
3. Towards the end of cooking time for the beef, boil the vegetables and potatoes in a separate pan, and make the dumplings following the instructions on the packet (suet).
4. Once meat is finished cooking keep it bubbling gently and add the dumplings. Replace the lid and simmer for 10 minutes, turn and then simmer again for s further 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your dumplings.
5. Add the cooked vegetables to the stew.
6. Thicken the liquid to your taste using a table spoon at a time of gravy granules and stirring well.
Serve with fresh crusty bread and butter.

(I didn't say this recipe was completely healthy did I?!)

Now I could cheat and find you a lovely carrot cake recipe and pass it off as my dads - but I will be truthful... After the 5th or 6th time of him making it, I happened to be getting something out of his cupboard and noticed... a Betty Crocker Carrot Cake packet mix!! Heehee - I never did tell him I knew. But I tell you what - it's the best carrot cake I have ever had - EVER!

Next is the all consuming plan I have in my head for my youngest son's birthday cake. For those of you that don't know I had my own business for a year (after being a chef) doing occasion cakes, cupcakes, cake-pops and any other sweet treat. When my depression became too much though I was forced to stop - I did try to keep going but needed to get better desperately - I miss it terribly but whenever it is a family birthday I get to plough all my creativeness into a cake for them so again the cogs are turning.

Morgan is having a Bob The Builder party this year, but he loves all characters without really having a favourite. I have scowered the internet for images of his favourite characters to make sure I get all the details right, and have finally settled on a design - here is a sketch...

It's going to take me a little while to make the 3D characters, but the 2D ones should be quicker - but he is worth all my efforts! He's also poorly at the moment with a bad tummy bug and can't keep anything down :( I hate it when my boys are ill - I would rather be ill 365 days of the year that have them ill for 5 minutes! All fingers and toes are crossed that it will just be a 24 hour thing! Can't have the birthday boy poorly for next weekend! On his actual birthday we are having the party at a local attraction where they do all the work for you - this will be the first year ever that I haven't made the food and planned the party fun and games myself - but I tell you what, gosh it's so much less stressful. The reason for this, this year, is that my husband will be away in Llanelli for most of Morgan's birthday so to minimise the stress I opted for getting others to do it! Heatherton is an awesome place for little ones parties - having been there to many over the years with the other 2 boys, Morgan is going to love it, it has a 3 floor soft play area, giant board games, pass the parcel, face painting and then a lovely hot and cold buffet followed by jelly and ice-cream! What's not to love, and it's so much cheaper than when I do it myself, they even supply the filled party bags, themed tableware, decorations and invitations!

So I will leave it for now and continue this post next time - told you I had a lot to say didn't I?!

:) xx

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