This is a long post but there is a lovely recipe at bottom so feel free to skip to the end if you’re short on time!
I have a feeling that my hopes to keep a fortnightly blog are much like my hopes to keep a tidy house - I mean well but it’s not something that I’m naturally good at!! However, as with the tidy house, it is something I will learn with and get better as time goes on; it may not be perfect for a good while but I promise it will certainly reach an acceptable level.
Over these past….hummmm…let us not dwell on the actual amount of time but it is safe to say I have been a busy bunny. For those of you who follow Pro-Wrestling: EVE (the all female pro-wrestling company I run with my other half: Pro-Wrestling:EVE) you’ll know that we’ve been dealing with venue changes and all sorts of FABULOUS things like that! I won’t go into more details as I may start weeping and I’ve heard the tears of the exasperated are really bad for laptops. The past few weeks have been hard work and stressful but belief in the company keeps me going. I love that we’re able to showcase strong female role models along with a damn good show. Everyone seems to be talking about roller derby at the moment and it makes me laugh, I know those women are tough but they‘ve got anything on pro wrestlers (if you have doubts just stick on Beyond The Mat and you‘ll get what I mean). For those who want to see more you can check out the 10 roster members confirmed for the upcoming shows on October 8 & 9 that will now be held at Gym Combat, Nottingham here (WARNING: There is a 3.9% chance that Alpha Female will jump through the screen and eat you): EVE roster video.
Along with wrestling work I have been managing to get quite a lot of cooking done and have some laid back time too, among other things I’ve:
Had an indoor teddy bears picnic with the kids (the rain just wouldn’t stop!!)
Watched quite a lot of this (10 geek points for naming the correct episode)
Fled from Sudbury and the exploding car outside my house!! I have no picture of this as my country brain was too alarmed to remember such technological devices.
Celebrated my sisters wedding. This my favourite picture from the wedding as it’s so natural, such a genuine smile from my big sis and I love how emotional my new brother-in-law is looking.
Fed my children LOTS of chocolate
Then there is the most heart breaking thing and that was saying goodbye to Harry Potter. I know, I know - Harry Potter a bit of a marmite of the geek world. I’ve never actually been that big of a fan of the films but I appreciated them, I loved the designs, music and general feel of the movie if not what they decided to cut.
The books, however, have been a constant for me. I started reading them when they first came out, I was 11 years old and socially awkward but I was whisked away into this magical world and it’s been there for me ever since. Harry Potter was there was I took my GCSE’s, when I had my heart broken, when I battled CFS/ME (I suffered very badly from the age of 16 and up until recently spent the large majority of my time bed bound not even able to feed myself). When my friends, fed up of me always being ill and not much fun were not there Harry Potter was . I made new friends and met new people through a shared love of Harry Potter and it made me brave the geek world where I now feel so comfortable! I became a woman, fell in love and became a mother and Harry Potter was there the whole time happy to take me away to it’s magical world whenever I needed it. I picked up the last book when I was pregnant with my daughter and fantasised of the day I would get to read it to her; even going back and reading the books aloud to my bump!
I know it seems silly, the books will always be there for me but the last film made me realise that I don’t need the books in the same way any more. I am so lucky to have family and friends around me and to have made a life for myself where I don’t feel the need to escape anymore. I am happy. For this reason I decided to be brave, I went to the last film knowing in my mind that I would be saying goodbye to Harry Potter - goodbye to the support, the crutch that kept me going all those years. The world will always be there for me but now it will be a warm and welcoming embrace and no longer the strong hands stopping me falling into the abyss that I so often needed.
Harry Potter being so strongly in my mind influenced the food I was cooking and over the next few weeks I’d like to share with you the recipes that fondly remind me of Harry Potter. They are indulgent and old fashioned and obviously very British. For some reason Harry Potter always leaned more towards desserts for me but I do have one savoury dish that is my absolute must whenever I’m in a Harry Potter mood. Here’s what I have lined up:
I have no clue where this originated but I like to think that it was one of Gainsborough’s favourite tarts and was named after him. I actually work in Gainsborough’s sisters house and I can just imagine this deliciously sweet dessert being served up there! The recipe for this one is at the bottom of the blog.
Raw Chocolate and Strawberry Tart
This one isn’t old fashioned at all it’s just for some reason I always found myself eating fresh strawberries with chocolate sauce (in summer) or strawberry creams (at Christmas) while reading Harry Potter so the combination always takes me back!
Vegan Chicken and Ham Pie
Chicken and Ham Pie is mentioned in the books and was one of my favourites. It’s a recipe I’ve played around with a lot when it finally clicked that I should think more outside the box and I finally got that taste and filling combination I was looking for :-)
Harry’s Treacle Tart
How could this one be missed??? I’ve found it quite funny reading several blogs trying to ‘veganise’ treacle tart recipes. I did nothing to this recipe, it’s exactly (…well - I used wholemeal flour for the pastry base but you get my point!) as my Great Grandmother made it and I love it.
A recipe for a Gainsborough Tart follows. It’s an old favourite of mine, especially as I tend to have the ingredients to hand. It’s made with a thin and delicate pastry crust then filled with jam and a creamy vanilla middle and topped with coconut. It’s a perfect dessert summer or winter and goes particularly well with afternoon tea. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
For the pastry base:
Mixing bowl, spoon, rolling pin, Clingfilm, tart dish
8oz very fine wholemeal flour
2oz vegetable shortening
1oz caster sugar
2tbsp cold water (add as necessary)
1/ Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Sift flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar
2/ Add the margarine and vegetable shortening in small (tsp sized) lumps and gently rub into the flour/sugar mixture until it resembles bread crumbs
3/ Add the water a small amount at a time and mix until the dough starts to stick together in a ball.
4/ Crush it twice with the palm of your hand on the work surface then sandwich between two sheets of Clingfilm.
5/ Roll out the dough until it’s roughly 3mm thick. The Clingfilm stretch a little while you roll and will prevent it from falling apart or sticking to the work surface.
6/ When it is the correct dimensions remove one of the sheets of Clingfilm and press pastry side down into the greased tart tin.
7/ Remove the top layer of Clingfilm and patch any gaps in your tart case as necessary. Poke some holes in the bottom with a fork and bake for 20mins at 220 degrees. Leave to cool while preparing the filling.
For The Filling:
Whisk or electric beaters, blender of any kind (to puree the silken tofu), large mixing bowl, tart dish, wooden spoon
5 tbsp Raspberry Jam (seedless) stirred
6oz caster sugar
4oz silken tofu
6oz brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
Splash of non dairy milk as required
3oz desiccated coconut
1/ Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Blend the margarine and tofu together and add to your mixing bowl.
2/ Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture is light and creamy in colour.
3/ Sift in the rice flour and baking powder and fold in until the mixture is nicely combined. The mixture should be the consistency of a thick cake batter, if it is too dry then mix in a small splash of non dairy milk then set aside.
4/ Put the raspberry jam into you prepared pie base and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Pour over the rice flour mixture and even out the top if necessary.
5/ Sprinkle over the coconut and bake at 190 for 45-50 minutes until the filling no longer wobbles!
6/ Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. It is delicious both hot and cold.
above: Afternoon tea in the garden with a cup of yogi tea (rose tea) and a good sized slice of Gainsborough Tart