Faced with an engineer coming round to look at my fridge, it was time for a clear it out at the weekend. Further inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his War on Waste (please sign up and support HERE NOW) I made a cracking casserole with celery, onions, courgettes, carrots, potato, sweet potato and mushrooms – all of which were ‘on the turn’ and slightly limp, but were fine once trimmed, peeled and cubed. I added some part-cooked fava beans (no Chianti though!), a tin of tomatoes, dried herbs, paprika and a stock cube and left it to bubble for an hour or so before adding dumplings. It made a warming, healthy and filling meal that lasted us three days, yet it could all have easily been thrown out. Food for thought, indeed…

Having made my first Parkin (last food blog), I left it to mature and go sticky for a week, but sadly it was still crumbly! What to do? It was too tasty to just bin it, especially with Hugh on the case, but more was ending up in my lap than in my mouth, so I decided to turn it into a pudding instead. Now, as a fan of GBBO, I have watched a lot of caramel being made – some successfully and some less so -but it’s not a thing I would normally faff about with. I didn’t have any cream in the fridge either, to make a sauce, but managed to find one that used milk instead. It’s quite a thorough recipe, but the method does need reading before you start. I did get everything ready but still had a few anxious moments.

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Basically you just put sugar in a pan and heat over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until it starts to colour, then fold the melted sugar over the un-melted sugar. Once it takes on a good colour, add warmed milk and stir for England!! Mine went into a big globby lump, but I persevered with stirring for about ten minutes and eventually it dissolved (phew), although I was on the verge of giving up. It makes a really tasty, toffee-flavoured pouring sauce that you can keep in the fridge and use as required. When poured onto the parkin and heated in the microwave for a little while, it softened the cake and made it like sticky toffee pudding. Great for these colder days!

To keep my husband happy while the parkin was maturing, I discovered this recipe for parkin biscuits, which had been taken from a 1954 treacle recipe book. I have to say – wow! These are easy to make, looked just like the picture (hurrah) and got better with age. The sticky mixture did break the blade off my mixer attachment though, so be warned and maybe use a wooden spoon and brute strength instead.

Carole`s Parkin cookies

I suppose next time I’ll have to be thinking about Christmas goodies. Bah humbug.

Keeeeep cooking!

Blog by Carole Ogden for Bolton Live!

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