Bog Roll :: stuff/food

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

17 Sep 2017

Apple yield

Today we went to check the community and our orchards to see what we had.

  • Egremont Russet - plenty of fruit but not full or ripe yet
  • Worcester Pearmain - plenty of fruit and fully picked already (22/09/2017)
  • Orleans Reinette - 3 apples, some evidence of bitter pit. Looking happier than last year
  • Ashmead's Kernel - 2 apples, ripe and picked, looks happy
  • Cox's Orange Pippin - 11 apples, ripe and picked, looks happy

The community orchard had virtually nothing this year, though we did get some pears from one tree.

22 Feb 2017

Chocolate "cake" recipe

I can't take credit for this as I took the idea from the Mornflake website, but I did tweak it a little. There is no wheat flour, no added fat and virtually no added sugar.


  • 2 medium eggs
  • 25 g freshly ground almonds
  • 20 g oatbran
  • 15 g coconut flour
  • 30 g whey powder
  • 5 g sweetener, e.g. sugar or xylitol
  • 5 g cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp crystallised orange peel
  • 25 g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
  • 50 g soya (or almond or oat or cow's) milk

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. You may need to sift the coconut flour as it is prone to clumping. Add the eggs and the milk and mix to a wet goo. You may need to add more liquid if it's a bit sticky and/or your eggs are on the small side.

I put mine in bun cases and baked as buns but you can easily put them into a cake tin or brownie tray. Bake in a cool oven at 170°C for 15 to 20 minutes, until a knife or skewer comes out clean.

The result is a low fat, low gluten, low sugar, high protein, high fibre, chocolate cake. The original recipe coated the cake with a orange icing, which I skipped and add a touch of sugar to the mix and the chocolate pieces directly to the mix, which I think is more practical.

The main thing it needs is a stronger orange taste though, the orange peel I added hasn't added enough orange to the mix, but it has a good chocolate taste, so I think it's worth trying again.

29 Oct 2016

Peanut butter biscuits

My better half loves peanut butter so I got a 1 kg tub of pure peanut butter - no added salt, sugar or fat. I like it in things but not really on it's own - which is good for my waist! Today I thought I'd try a biscuit recipe, I also swapped the butter for rape oil - as it's cheaper and healthier than butter.

  • 225 g sifted self-raising flour
  • fat, either vegetable oil or butter:
    • vegetable oil, doesn't contain any water:
      • 60 g rape oil
      • 15 g water
    • butter, naturally contains about 20% water:
      • 75 g butter
  • 50 g crunchy peanut butter
  • 50 g golden-syrup or runny honey
  • 25 g muscovado sugar

Mix the flour, peanut butter and oil (or butter) in a large bowl with your fingers until it resembles bread crumbs. Works best if you gradually add the oil. This works much better than you would think.

Next add the sugar, syrup/honey, and start to form into a dough ball, add the water as you go. You need a firm dough ball that may need more or less water - depends on how wet your peanut butter is.

Form the dough into small walnut sized balls and flatten with a wet fork - creating a criss-cross pattern on top. Space apart on a greased baking sheet - allowing them to flatten and expand outwards.

Back in a warm oven, 180°C/170°C fan/Gas 4 for 10-12 minutes, turning half way. Leave on the sheet for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

09 Oct 2016

Anzax Biscuits

Yesterday was the Community Orchard Fair in the village. My better half made some oat biscuits that were reminiscent of those my grandmother used to bake. So today after our visit to the Blackmoor Apple Fair we bought the missing ingredients and I made a batch this afternoon.

As far as I can tell the Anzax biscuits are actually ANZAC biscuits and someone mistranscribed the name when they copied the recipe. The recipe my mother typed up - which I can only assume is my grandmother's is basically one cup (unspecified size) of flour, sugar, rolled oats, dedicated coconut, a glug of golden syrup, a glug of water, ¼ pound of butter and a tea spoon of bicarbonate of soda.

There are lots of variations of the ANZAC biscuit on the web, all basically the same but varying a little in the sugars used, granulated, caster, and brown, and the closest I was able to find to this Yorkshire ANZAX biscuit is one from New Zealand.

I've tried to do this before but not had much success. Today I tried again, with a different cup and a bit more care. The recipe came out this time as:

  • 155 g plain flour
  • 200 g granulated white sugar
  • 100 g jumbo rolled oats
  • 90 g dessicated coconut
  • 30 g golden syrup (~56% invert syrup, 44% sucrose mixture)
  • 35 g of warm water
  • 75 g oilseed rape oil (instead of 125 g of butter)
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

In a large mixing bowl put all the dry ingredients and mix. Put all the liquids in a jug and warm in the microwave (don't let them boil!). Pour the warm liquid mixture into a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and work in with a large soon. Once mixed, use you hands to form into small balls - you may need to add extra water at this stage. Place the small balls on a greased biscuit tray - evenly spaced out. Place in a "cool oven" at 160°C for about 10-15 minutes, turning half way and carefully check towards the end as they will burn if you aren't careful. They should be consistently even golden in colour - they should not be pale in the middle and dark brown on the outside!

Best served with a nice cup of tea - though other beverages may work also.

14 Sep 2016

Apple yield 2

On my way home I checked our apples trees out. The Worcester Pearmain were starting to drop on their own and were fully ripe so I picked them all, about 20 apples. The Ashmead's Kernel were also pretty full and large, and had started to drop some apples already, so I picked any that looked damaged and the largest (about 20 in total), leaving most on the tree.

I left the Egremont Russet, Orleans Reinette and Cox's Orange Pippin apples on the trees as they showed no sign of wanting to fall and still looked pretty small and weren't ripe when I tested them.

So far no wasp damage and I also removed any apples that had been attacked and damaged by other insects so that there is nothing rotting on the tree.

04 Sep 2016

Apple yield

Today we went to check our small orchard for apples and perform some early autumn weeding. Today's results are:

  • Egremont Russet - plenty of fruit but not full or ripe yet
  • Worcester Pearmain - plenty of fruit and much of it is full and ripe, so larger/redder apples picked
  • Orleans Reinette - plenty of small immature fruit. Not looking happy this year
  • Ashmead's Kernel - covered in fruit but not yet ripe or full, looks happy
  • Cox's Orange Pippin - not full or ripe yet, but looks happy
  • Plum - no fruit and some die back - not happy
  • Damson - 4 or 5 fruit - otherwise happy tree

Most of the apples will not be ripe for another few weeks, so more trips will be required this month.

14 May 2016

Recovery Shake

Last weekend we went for two longer bike rides to build endurance and get use to longer rides and on consecutive days. This week I also cycled to work on two consecutive days - which though much shorter rides also contribute to fitness and endurance.

My favourite post ride recovery food is a banana milk shake. Ingredients (* optional/suggestion):

  • Banana - should be reasonably ripe for best result but you can have it any way you like
  • Yoghurt - plain whole milk based, but soya based is an alternative
  • Milk - whole milk is best, but semi-skimmed or soya is an alternative or a blend
  • Whey protein powder* - raises the protein level but is optional
  • Xylitol* - a low GI sugar alcohol, adds sweetness, is safe on your teeth and adds fibre
  • Inulin* - a soluble fibre, adds a little sweetness and is a good way of sneaking soluble fibre into your diet
  • Powdered Psyllium seed husks* - another fibre, adds bulk and fibre to your diet
  • Nutmeg or cinnamon* - adds extra flavour if you find banana a bit bland. I also tried cocoa, but found it didn't make it any better...

Chop the banana up into chunks in a blender jar, add a couple of dollops of yoghurt, a tea spoon of whey, xylitol, inulin - if you want, three tea spoons of powdered Psyllium - if you want, grate the spice on top - if you want, then add about 500 ml of milk. Blend until smooth.

The fibre isn't necessary, but I find it's a good place to hide it if you are trying to add more to your diet. Also you don't really want a lot of extra fibre before you exercise but it's okay to have it afterwards... The physalis husk in particular adds bulk and makes the shake feel more filling.

The added protein from the whey isn't essential but a little protein is a good idea after a ride, and it's well tolerated by the body and it blends into milk very well with no real strange taste - being milk based to start with.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

Today I made a small batch of rhubarb and ginger jam. Our usual source of rhubarb had only a small batch for processing this year, and we collected it last weekend. It has spent most of the week soaking in sugar and lemon juice in the fridge. I used my classic method. Input was 1.7 kg of rhubarb, 1.7 kg of British sugar from beet, juice of 2 lemons (frozen and defrosted) and 300 g of crystallised ginger (finely chopped). Yield was 11 small 100 g jars for this year's Sheep Fair and 3.5 370 g jars for me.

I'm now rather full of sugar and feeling a bit odd!

23 Oct 2015


Early this year I went to see my GP. I had a strange pain on my left side that I had been aware of for a few months and had become concerned about as it hadn't gone away. My GP asked the obvious questions and could make no sense, so he ordered a battery of tests. Two things came out of the tests, the first being elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in my blood, not high enough for medication but best reduced and high blood pressure which did need urgent medication...

I spent most of the summer having more tests: being prodded, irradiated, magnetised, and having more blood drawn (I think doctors still like their leaches...). I also had some pretty horrible alpha/beta blockers to lower my blood pressure.

No one mentioned it but I decided that I should lose some weight - I knew I was overweight, so removed extras from my diet, getting rid of excess salt, fat and sugar. I didn't actually have a bad diet, but I clearly did have too much of it.

Lowering my weight and improving the quality of my diet has reduced my systolic blood pressure by over 1 mmHg per kilo, or about 22 mmHg in total, and my diastolic blood pressure by slightly less, about 18 mmHg. That's pretty good and has drastically fewer side-effects than any medication.

Yesterday I had the result of my lipid tests. My total lipoprotein levels have fallen from over 5 mmol/l to just over 3 mmol/l. They weren't dangerously high, but they were not good, now they are very healthy. At the same time the level of my high-density lipoprotein (HDL) have risen from around 1 mmol/l to 1.8 mmol/l, changing my total cholesterol to HDL ratio from just over 5 (not so good) to less than 2 (very good).

As I've previously said my diet wasn't too bad when I started this change, and I already had plenty of exercise. What I did was trim the extras and snacks, curbed the salt and caffeine, added nuts and more soluble fibre, substituted some of the milk with soya milk and substituted some of my yoghurt with stanols containing yoghurt. Finally I just watched my portion sizes. Nothing radical overall.

The pain? It went away on it's own, still no explanation...! I'm still on calcium channel blockers for my blood pressure, but my GP thinks if I can stick to my diet/activity levels I may be able to come of them too!

03 Oct 2015

Green gage chutney

Yesterday we made two batches of chutney: one was green gage and apple plus lots of spice and the second was just green gage based and less spicy. We now have used up all our green gages from this year - at long last...

09 Sep 2015

Cambridge Gage Jam

Last year our gage tree (probably a Cambridge Gage) had plenty of fruit but they were all inedible. This year it had plenty of fruit, so much so that as fast as we collect it there is even more ready to collect....

It's been a while since we had gages to jam. I used the same method as previously, though I added a fraction more sugar as the fruit wasn't fully ripe. Today's batch was 1.7 kg of fruit (cleaned and destoned), 350 g water and 1.2 kg of sugar, plus the usual juice of a frozen and defrosted lemon. The yield was pretty good and as we have loads of fruit left, even after we give some of them away I'll do another batch later this week.

25 Jul 2015

GCN/Hannah Grant Energy Bars

Today I tried to make some GCN/Hannah Grant energy bars. I fist had to convert from silly cups into sensible units*, and we were missing pumpkin seeds but we had everything else.

  • 4 ripe bananas - about 340 g. Blended to a fine mush
  • 200 g rolled oats
  • 100 g dried fruit - we used rasins
  • 60 g linseed/flax seeds - our were golden
  • 60 g sunflower seeds - ours were kernels only
  • 60 g almonds - chopped
  • 60 g pecans - chopped, we also had some cashews in this mix
  • cinnamon - I substituted nutmeg as my better half doesn't like cinnamon
  • salt - skipped as I'm on a low salt diet

Mix together, spread in a baking tray - ours wasn't deep enough, it should be 2 - 3 cm thick and bake on 170°C for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into energy bar shaped pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Before baking it looks a bit like a home made lard & seed cake for garden birds, which in may respects it is, albeit with a lot less fat and lot more expensive ingredients!

Mine is now cooling and we'll try this it afternoon!

How do you measure a cup full of banana? Weights are far easier to use.

25 May 2015

Rhubarb Jam

Over the bank holiday weekend I made two batches of jam: rhubarb & ginger and rhubarb & orange. I made a small batch last year - which we've not yet eaten - but it's quite a while since I've made so much and for sale.

This year I remembered to grade the rhubarb first, so that each batch was made from stems of similar diameter, which means that they cook evenly and you don't end up with a heterogeneous mixture - which is bad.

17 Sep 2014

Apple and Damson Jam

I made damson jam, it's something I've not made for years. It's the first year we've had fruit from our damson tree. Sadly we were on holiday when the fruit was at it's prime so we lost some to birds and age. In the end we had about 1.5 kg of fruit that was okay, to which we added a further 1.5 kg of cooking apples we collected from a box in the village.

I gave everything a wash and picked out the past redemption fruit, and put the cleaned damsons and roughly chopped apples in the jam pan and added 400 ml of water. I then heated the mixture and gave it a good mashing until it was all broken up and soft. Previously I've tried making jelly but the yield is dreadful, so instead I forced the mush through a collander to hold back the stones, pips and coarse material.

Next I cleaned everything up and started on the jamimg process. I added 1.5 kg of sugar, 300 ml of water and the juice of a lemon into the jam pan and heated to boiling. I then poured in my 1.5 kg of apple and damson puree, and brought quickly to the boil. I let it have a full rolling boil for about three minutes (damsons and apples have a lot of pectin and if you boil for too long you just get rubber). I then potted it up and left it to cool.

From this batch I got 9.75 jars of jam, which isn't too bad at all. It's not as clear jelly, but it tastes plenty good and it's a lot easier to make than proper whole fruit jam. When I put it in the jars it was very runny and didn't lool jam at all, this morning when I inspected it had set well, I'll find out tonight if it's over cooked!

16 Jul 2013

Jams and Jellies

It's been a while since I made jam or jelly for myself. Last year wasn't great for fruit and the jam I did make was sold in the Sheep Fair. This year I've make one batch of rhubarb & orange and a batch of redcurrant. Our green gage tree is happy so we may get some fruit from it by the end of the summer but better not count any chickens yet....