All on a cold and wintry afternoon

I love, love, love cooking in a wood fired oven – no secret there!

Arguably our BIg Bakers Oven Hester is a very bad influence on me – or perhaps it’s rather that I am a harsh taskmaster on ‘her’.

It’s just an irresistible situation when she always stands at the ready, cooktop hot, oven at temperature, all while the house is being warmed – who can resist that sort of opportunity to cook?

Here for example is this afternoon’s escapades just because it could be done without using any electricity, good excuse.

We visited a friend this morning, a pastry chef in the local area, who had made the most delicious ginger cake I had ever tasted.

The recipe came, incidentally, from “Delicious” magazine – the cake has a wonderful flavour and a beautiful rum and ginger glaze. Of course that had to be made the minute we got home.

The daily bread, effectively risen by a homemade hop/potato yeast was next for the baking.

Then there was dinner of course, a pot roast of beef simmering in a gravy with mushrooms and garden vegetables.

And then the vegetables as accompaniments, as well as a potful of potato slurry to make a different yeast just for the fun of it – this one based on citric acid.

At the same time Hester did duty airing the aprons from the cooking class last Saturday. No chance of their drying on the clothes line with days and days of rain here.

There was a homemade cheese to experiment with also. Many types of dairy-ish bits and pieces resided in the fridge and needed using very soon – a carton of sour cream, a part bottle of buttermilk, about 2 litres of whey leftover from making ricotta and a litre of best quality full cream milk. They were all combined and heated on the wood stove, then prepared as for paneer.

The result? It looked seriously strange for a while, but it actually turned out to be a kind of quarky texture, very pleasant. I added it to cooked hot potato cubes, making a lovely and creamy mash.

So now – what to cook next? It’s such a bonus that while the house is warmed I can cook all I please without even having to think about turning on an electric stove. Love winter.

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