Sunday, July 27, 2008

Salmon Cakes

I actually cooked something on the range the other night, a rare event in these blisteringly hot summer days. But as these salmon cakes only take about 8 -10 minutes to cook, it wasn’t too much of an ordeal. We also had a salad made from some homegrown Swiss chard and yet more tomatoes.

This year has been our best year ever for tomatoes, so much so that we have done a few trades with friends and neighbors and exchanged them for corn, red cabbage, zucchini, and free-range eggs.

Also, in my last post, I told you about winning a writing contest with an outline for a non-fiction book. Well the judge’s comments were so favorable that I sent out book proposals to seven publishers, and this week received three rejections. Oh hum, it’s tough at the bottom. Looks like Mick won’t be giving up the day job any time soon. If you’re interested you can read more about it on my other blog

Anyway, back to the grub. This recipe originally appeared in Cappers magazine (several years ago), but I’ve tweaked it quite a bit.

Salmon Cakes


2 slices of wheat bread, toasted, cooled, and coarsely crumbed (do this in a food processor if you like).
1 14½ ounce can red or pink salmon, drained, bones and skin removed
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped.
A squirt of fresh lemon juice
A dash of black pepper
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup of Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • In a large bowl combine salmon, onion, parley, lemon juice, and pepper. Stir in sour cream, egg, and fresh breadcrumbs.
  • Put Italian breadcrumbs onto a plate. Shape salmon mixture into four patties, and dip in breadcrumbs to coat.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and fry salmon cakes for 4-5 minutes each side.

For the Swiss chard salad.

Put some Swiss chard onto a dinner plate, and top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh basil and coarse ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar, and top with some crumbled feta cheese.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I've been tagged!

I just remembered. I was tagged a while back by the lovely Raquel at Sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to this.

Six random things about me:
  1. I am as blind as a bat without my specs. I have been short-sighted since the age of seven, but in recent years I have had to start wearing specs with transition lenses, as I can no longer see to read. One of these days I’ll go to the opticians and he’ll hand me a white stick and a guide-dog.
  2. I love reading and writing. In May this year I won first place in the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation annual writing contest with an outline for a non-fiction book. I also got a third place for an inspirational article entitled, You’re Looking Fine, Oklahoma, and an honorable mention for a young adult short story entitled, Play it again, Sam. I am also a regular contributor to Oklahoma Living Magazine.
  3. I seldom make desserts, cakes or cookies, as I am fat enough without all that sugar.
  4. Although I can bake, I can’t make pastry to save my life. Whenever I’ve attempted it in the past, I can never get it off the counter and into the pie dish without it falling to pieces and ending up looking like a patchwork quilt. My mother always made great pastry, and she told me I was too heavy-handed with it. That has never changed, thank goodness for Pillsbury pie crusts I say.
  5. I have eaten bananas all my life, but last year, for some obscure reason, I developed an allergy to them.
  6. Many people think that because I’m a British broad over here that I must be married to an American. Not so! Mick is from the county of Yorkshire, and I am a Lancashire lass, though sadly a lass no more. The War of the Roses continues to rage in our house. Well, occasionally.

I’m not going to tag anyone else, but if you want to play along feel free to do so.

More homegrown produce

Pizza Tomatoes

This side dish makes a great accompaniment to grilled sausages or bratwurst, and it uses up some more of those homegrown tomatoes.


2-3 large tomatoes, thickly sliced.
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • Pre-heat BBQ grill to low.
  • Take a large piece of heavy duty foil and turn the sides up to make a sort of baking tray, brush lightly with oil, and layer tomatoes.
  • Top tomatoes with basil, black pepper, mozzarella, and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
  • Grill on BBQ for 20-30 minutes, until tomatoes are heated through and cheese melts.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Homegrown Veggies

Not only do we have a surfeit of tomatoes we also have plentiful peppers, so I used some up by making stuffed green peppers. These would have been much better with some mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, but as I was out of mozzarella I had to make do with cheddar. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my nearest grocery store is 16 miles away, so if one runs out of something one just has to improvise. They turned out pretty good anyway, and used up the leftover Tomato Gloop. (See gloop recipe below).

Gloopy Green Peppers

Serves 2


2 green peppers, halved and deseeded
12 tablespoons of tomato mixture, but avoid using the gloop.
A dash of black pepper
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

  • Grill peppers directly on the bars over a high heat for 3-4 minutes per side until slightly blackened. Reduce heat on grill.
  • Bring peppers back in kitchen, lay them on a lightly oiled sheet of heavy duty foil, and stuff with tomatoes. Add a dash of black pepper to each and top with cheese.
  • Return peppers to the grill, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until cheese melts.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

In England, in the spring, we always used to buy Jersey Royal potatoes, which are just about the most delicious spud I’ve ever tasted. They have such a wonderful earthy flavor. We are growing some russet potatoes this year, and we harvested some early. I have to admit they were a taste sensation, with the same lovely earthy flavor as the Jersey Royals.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Serves 2


6 baby russet potatoes (or baby red potatoes) cut into 4-6 chunks depending on size of each spud.
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh ground black pepper


  • Place potatoes in center of a large sheet of heavy duty foil, sprinkle them with rosemary and black pepper, and dot with butter. Crease up the sides of the foil, pour wine over potatoes, and seal package loosely.
  • Grill over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 50 – 60 minutes.

We also had grilled lemon and garlic turkey loin. This was already in a marinade when I bought it, so I added some additional garlic and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, just to perk it up a bit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Homegrown Tomatoes

Tomatoes on the vine

All the tomatoes we grow are Heirloom varieties, this year we have three different types. A Giant Beefsteak that we grew last year, kept some seeds from one of the tomatoes, dried them, and planted them this year. That’s the beauty of Heirloom seeds, unlike the hybrids you buy at the garden center, they are recyclable, and each time you re-use them the strain becomes stronger. This year we decided to try an Old Virginia variety, and the nice people at Heirloom seeds kindly sent us a free packet of Big Red tomato seeds to try, so we did.

All our tomatoes (and everything else in our garden) are 100% organic, they have never even sniffed a chemical, and we only use our own compost for fertilizer. It’s a fact that you’re not going to get salmonella from these babies. For more information about our garden see Mick's blog at

Giant Beefsteak, grown from our own seed stock

Old Virginia, small and perfectly formed.

Unlike this big boy, Big Red, who looks pretty gruesome. But don't be deceived by appearances, it still tasted great, and they aren't all as ugly as this one.

As we have an abundance of tomatoes we can now make a dish called Summer in a Bowl, created by Susan at

It’s a wonderful combination of fresh tomatoes, red and yellow onions, also from our garden, garlic, fresh oregano and basil from my herb garden, red and white wine vinegar, a splash of olive oil, and black pepper. You just throw the whole lot into a bowl, and let it stand on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours. Do not refrigerate as this detracts flavor from the tomatoes. Just keep giving it a stir every time you’re in the kitchen, this allows all the flavors to mingle and infuse.

Despite Susan’s totally appropriate name for this dish, we call it Tomato Gloop, because by the time you eat it a wonderful tomato soupy sauce has gathered in the bottom of the dish, perfect for dunking chunks of crusty French bread in. Yum!

Summer in a Bowl, aka Tomato Gloop

Tomato Gloop


5 tomatoes chopped
1 cup red and yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 glug of white vinegar, approximately 1 tablespoon
1 glug of red wine vinegar, approx. 1 tablespoon
A drizzle of olive oil, approx. 1 tablespoon
A generous dash of fresh ground black pepper

You can adjust the amounts in the dressing to suit your own tastes


Throw the whole lot in your favorite salad bowl, leave on kitchen counter for 2-3 hours, and stir occasionally. Don’t forget some crusty French bread for dunking in the gloop at the bottom of the dish.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Les Oeufs et les Pommes Frites

While I was incapacitated with my gammy neck and shoulder, Mick had to make dinner for a few nights. Now his culinary skills may be a little limited, but he can always be counted upon to rustle up a mean egg and chips. What would we do without this Great British standby?

For the uninitiated, British chips are not French fries, those slivers of deep fried potato by-product served up by all the burger joints, but slices of deep-fried real potatoes. In the good old days, these would have been deep-fried in lard or beef dripping, but nowadays, in our quest for healthier food (I use the term loosely in this case), they are deep-fried in veggie oil.

The eggs are also fried in a little veggie oil, we like ours over-medium, so the yokes are still runny, but cooked. Great for dunking your chip butties in.

For yer chip butty, you need two pieces of sliced bread, here we use wheat, but in England it would have to be thick sliced Warburtons white bread, heavily slathered in butter so that when you pack your chips in and eat it, the butter runs down your arm. I already mentioned that I am making no health claims for this dish.

You also need a dollop of HP brown sauce on the side of your plate, but if you can’t get that, A1 Bold and Spicy steak sauce will do (we don’t want any wishy-washy tomato ketchup here, thank you!). You also need to dose your chips heavily with salt and malt vinegar, chips are the only thing I ever use salt on, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

La pi├Ęce de resistance the Chip butty

Egg and Chips

Serves 2


3 large russets
Sufficient vegetable oil for deep frying


4 free-range or organic eggs.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Pre-heat deep-fat fryer to 400°F
  • While oil heats, peel, wash, dry, and chip potatoes.
  • Add potatoes to fryer, when they start to brown, remove fryer basket of chips and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Doing this ensures a crispy outside and soft inside chip.
  • While chips rest, in a skillet heat oil for eggs.
  • Put chips back in oil until browned.
  • Fry eggs to desired doneness
  • Serve immediately with condiments and bread as noted above. Yum!

    Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    Come on down!

    I’m back! I’m feeling a lot better now, but I still have to limit my computer usage. Thanks for all your good wishes.

    I’m conscious that Pam at (I will get these linky things sorted out one of these days), did me the honor of presenting me with this Arte y Pico award which I need to pass on.

    The award originated in Uruguay, and is given for creativity and design, see for more information.

    Here are the rules that accompany this award.

    1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and their contribution to the blogging community.

    2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog.

    3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

    4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

    5. Show these rules.

    It’s been very difficult for me to select five people as I would like to give this award to everyone who reads this blog, and to the authors of all the blogs I read, but I can’t, so it’s no use moaning about it. Without further ado, in no particular order:

    Raquel of Kitchen Mysteries, for being such a lovely person, and for sharing her simple woman’s day book with us, and for the unusual delights (how to make rosewater), she cooks up in her kitchen.

    Pam from for the love of cooking, because she really does love to cook. She gives us easy to make recipes, and her presentation is always impeccable.

    Beth from Jam and Clotted Cream, who lives in the Duchy of Cornwall, one of the most beautiful coastal areas in England. Despite having a temperamental oven, she manages to create great dishes, and some lovely cakes and cookies.

    Cheryl from Cooking, Dunkin Style, who loves to get creative in the kitchen, and her food is always beautifully presented.

    Jeena from Jeena’s Kitchen, a fellow British ex-pat, who gives step-by-step instructions for all her recipes. She often features some great British favorites, and has a penchant for curries, which I also love.

    Thursday, July 3, 2008

    Some time out

    I am under doctor’s orders to stay off the computer for a few days. Between researching and writing my book, and all the blogging I’ve been doing, I have trapped a nerve in my neck which is very, very painful.

    I hope to be back real soon.