Saturday, 28 September 2013

Sarah's "Masterchef" Challenge

Sarah, aka Her Indoors, She Who Must Be Obeyed, or just The Missus decided to throw caution to the wind, and issued a challenge in the style of Masterchef....

She provided the ingredients, and a list of allowed items from the cupboard, and I would cook dinner this evening. And for her part... she promised to eat it!

So this is what I had...
8 oz beef strips
Sweet potato
Tomatoes, and tomato puree
Beef stock cube
Chinese Five Spice
Garlic granules
Soy sauce
Fresh Basil
and a few staples - flour, butter, seasoning, oil.
I didn't feel that my usual approach (chop it all up, bung it together, and call it casserole) would quite be in the spirit of the challenge. So this is what I did....

Peel and slice the sweet potato. Slices 1/4 inch (5mm) thick.
Shallow fry these for a couple of minutes in medium hot oil, and set aside to keep warm in the top oven. Meanwhile the fan oven was set to 200 degrees C.

Stir fry the beef in the wok for 2 minutes.
Add 1 chopped medium onion, and continue for another 2 minutes. 
Add the chopped mushrooms and tomatoes, and continue for another 2 minutes. 
Add 1/4 pint beef stock, sliced carrot, and 6 small (tiny) chopped, unpeeled potatoes.
Bring to the boil, and add the chopped basil, a good sprinkle of garlic granules, a squirt of tomato puree, a dash of soy sauce, and pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Mix some cornflour in cold water, and after ten minutes slowly add it to the mix. Adding just enough to thicken the sauce.

Pour the whole lot into an ovenproof dish, and arrange the slices of sweet potato on top to cover the whole surface. Dot small knobs of butter over the top, and put the dish into the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.

Since I had peas on the list, I served it with a portion of peas (and allowed myself a glass of elderberry and blackberry wine - a perfect accompaniment to beef)

The only ingredient from the list I hadn't used was the Five Spice.

Sarah cleared her plate, and I didn't even have to force her... so I think I nailed this one!!!!

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Rainbow Mystery

Amy's second writing homework was to describe a journey to the end of the rainbow.

The Rainbow Mystery
One sunny day, I was out walking my dog Bailey, along Dog Lane. When I let him off the lead, he found a cave that I hadn't seen before. Bailey ran into it and disappeared. I followed the path through the dark cave on and on, until I saw a light coming out of a hole. Looking out of the hole, I saw a magical land.
Bailey saw a pink cat. "Woof" said Bailey, and ran off chasing it, over a glass bridge, along a dark green road, into a large dark green castle.
I ran in after him, but the witch already had him tied up. The witch shouted " I will turn you into a pink cat, hee-hee-hee". She went to get her wand, and I quickly untied him and escaped.
There was a rainbow over the whole land, and in the distance, there was a flower palace, so we ran to it, where the Queen welcomed us.
She gave us some biscuits, and told us she wanted to cast a spell to get rid of the witch, but she needed chocolate chip coins from the pot at the end of the rainbow to make the spell.
The witch had cast a spell to keep the Queen in her palace. "Will you get them for me?" She said.
"Yes" I said, "but will you look after Bailey for me."
I walked through the forest, over a rickety stone bridge, by the jigsaw pond, and under the bubble rocks that float and bounce upon the ground.
At last, I got to the Red Dragon Beach, where the end of the rainbow was. The pot of gold was sitting in the water at the edge of the sea.
I collected all of the chocolate chip coins, and took them back to the Queen.
And then I took Bailey back home.
The End
Amy A. Grant

Matilda the Space Tiger

My 7 year old daughter Amy, loves to read and make up stories. She isn't yet so keen on the laborious task of writing them down.
So when the school set her homework of writing a story about space, she enthusiastically came up with lots of wonderful ideas; but when she realised how much she would have to write, the story ended up considerably abridged.

After much encouragement, this is her first story.....

Matilda the Space Tiger
Deep in the jungle, lived a tiger called Matilda. Her mother found  a  magic egg and gave it to Matilda.
One day Granny told her about space diamonds. Then Matilda said she would go up to space to get some.
So she got two hollow tree trunks, and tied them together with vines and built a hut on top out of leaves and sticks. She filled the tree trunk with dried grass and set it on fire by rubbing two stones together, climbed into the hut and was launched into space.
First, she went to the moon to collect moon-dust. When she added water to the dust it turned into blue moon diamonds. The she got back into her spaceship and set off again.
She arrived at Neptune and landed on the south pole of Triton. Then she collected ten pink ice diamonds.
She then got back into the rocket and launched herself back to earth. When she was home she gave five to Granny and kept five for herself to decorate her den.

The End
Amy A. Grant