Sunday, 27 May 2012

Disney Turkey Leg!

OK, so that hard period of time appears to be letting up a wee bit, the sun is shining and my mood seems to be lightening too and staying that way...let's hope so anyway!

Those of you that follow me on twitter and instagram may have seen the hashtag #talesofhomesmoking a week or so's the story behind it!

Have you ever been to Walt Disney World in Florida? If you have, chances are you've seen children and adults alike walking around eating what looks like a dinosaur leg? Yes? Have you been one of those children or adults? I know I have been! (I will hunt out the picture for you some day)

Those amazing monstrosities of meat are called turkey legs and they are delicious! As well as that - they're pretty fun to eat too! You can channel your inner cave man, your inner pirate or your inner Henry VIII and get munching! The first time I ever had one I channelled my inner pirate - there were lots and lots of 'Ooaarrrgghhh's whilst eating it I can tell you!

So anyway, why am I going on about this Disney experience? Simple! Because my fiancé and I have been reminiscing about all of our holidays recently (we really need a holiday!) and turkey legs inevitably came up in conversation; I wondered if I could recreate one at home? That is, afterall, my aim at the moment - to create anything I can at home - so I thought I'd give it a go!

Off I popped to Sainsburys and lo and behold...turkey legs are only £1.61 each! Bargain! So I snapped one up and started my search for a Disney turkey leg recipe.

First things first, you have to put the leg in brine for 24 hours. The brine I used was 1 litre of water with 1/4 cup of salt and 1/8 a cup of brown sugar. Leave it in the fridge in this for 24 hours and Bob's your uncle! One brined turkey leg. Next step:


The little buggers are SMOKED! How did I not know this?

Crud. No home smoker in sight....Could I maybe....make one?

I remembered seeing Heston and the Baker Boys do it on a couple of Channel 4 cooking shows so maybe I could make my own home smoker?

YES! I can! And I did!

I found a tutorial on YouTube which basically advises you that you can use dry rice and tea to create smoked foods. You line a heave frying pan with foil, slap in the rice and tea and whack up the heat. Then you place the food to be smoked on a wrack on top of the pan and then seal with more foil and leave it to smoke!

Here's my *cough* home smoker...

Looks great right? No? No I didn't think so either but when the house started to smell like smoked kippers I thought I was on the right track!

Oh and I've left out the part where I used a wok at first and somehow managed to set fire to the oven...I digress - back to the smoking!

So 4 hours later...I've had to open every window in the flat and close the kitchen door. The flat STINKS of smoke and I was starting to get light headed about an hour in - if you do this you need ventilation! A few times I wanted to give up - the smell was choking me but every time I took a peak under the foil I just couldn't give was working!

One smoked turkey leg...

Did it taste good? Can't tell you it needs to be roasted! (This is no mean feat this turkey leg malarky, they must work hard at Disney for those yummilicious treats!)

So the next day (this is day 3 of project At Home Disney Turkey Leg by the way) I roasted it! I covered it in foil again because I was worried about it drying out and roasted it on 180 for about 40 minutes (foil off for the last 10) and.....drum roll please....

One turkey leg!

Look at Roofus! He clearly felt hard done by that he had a bowl of dry food for dinner whilst me and the other half were eating this beauty!

And the verdict? Well, let's just say that we pretended to be pirates and put on a Disney film to celebrate - I made a real Disney Turkey Leg! Success!

However...there is a down side...

Look at my frying pan!

The non stick has burnt away, it actually bubbled over the side of the pan (it didn't get into the foil or rice so don't worry about poisoning!) and STUCK to the oven! We had to scrap it off of the oven :( So my cheap £1.61 turkey leg has cost me a £40 frying pan (my favourite pan I might add) so I don't think I'll be doing this again!

Apparently you can buy 'liquid smoke' which you put into the brine at the first stage and it creates the smoked flavour in meat and then you can just roast without the need to smoke....Maybe I should have done this first??

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

I don't think I've got the hang of this blogging malarky at all.

I've always thought of blogs as places for people to talk about whatever they want or need to, whenever they want or need to. Somewhere they can talk about things that excited them or things that make them cry, somewhere they can share happy times and sad times and perhaps show off some great ideas along the way.

So why, when I'm going through a particularly tough time, do I hide from my blog? Why don't I want to write anything down? I know from experience that writing things out can be as good as talking to someone you love about it - a great therapy and way to clear your brain. But I just can't bring myself to do it.


Because I'm scared someone will read it! How ridiculous! I'm scared that someone that knows me will read it and then either take offence because they're part of the problem or get upset because they didn't know there was something wrong and not know how to help (or because I didn't tell them in the first place).

I'm a creative person, I make different things when different moods take me (my house is never cleaner than when I'm angry!). A couple of days ago I was so sad that I spontaneously wrote a poem...a poem! I haven't done that since I was a hormonal teenager!

There is no where 'safe' for me to talk. So I've been hiding away and trying to cope on my own.

Well that isn't working.

I'm not entirely sure on the point of this. I needed to get something out without actually getting anything out. I guess now it's out.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Let's make this house a home! Part 3

Oooh I'm onto part three already! I have no idea how many parts there will be but it makes me happy that I'm continuing to make pretty things for our little flat to make it more 'ours'.

So this blog post is about a garland/bunting thingimawhatsit that I actually made a fair few weeks ago, but just haven't gotten around to blogging about yet!

I've seen lots of people making garlands made from old book pages which I simultaneously love and hate - I love the ideas of using passages from your favourite books, but I couldn't bring myself to destroy a book (or have someone else destroy a book) for the sake of something pretty. Nope. Just can't do it.

So I found this tutorial on making a heart garland from craft paper - woo!

Except...I don't have any craft paper. Drat! And the whole point of making things myself is to not spend too much money so I can't exactly go out and buy any can I?

So I needed to make a solution...ta-da! Light bulb moment! I printed off some pages of text (I don't know about copyright for things like this so they're random pages) and I tea bagged them!

Stop sniggering.

I used cold, soggy tea bags to give the paper a nice antiqued look :) Word of advise...drying on a clothes wrack worked brilliantly! AND the paper is stiffer when you've done this too!

I should have printed double sided text but I forgot so I folded each sheet in half and glued it together with my trusty Pritt Stick before slicing it up...

I got three slices out of each piece of paper and needed 7 in total for each heart - you do the math for the number of hearts you'd like :)

As the space that I wanted to hang my garland in is only small I chose to make four hearts - they're quite big! I strung them on some wool, but if you had some twine this would look much better.

Here's my finished garland :)

I'm rather chuffed with it!

I'm going to make some more of these with a couple of alterations to make them even better! I'm also thinking of making mini ones as Christmas tree decorations!

What do you think?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Feeling Frugal

I have to make a confession.

I waste far too much food.

Not through buying too many fresh products and throwing it all away when they go rotten before we eat them. No, no, nothing as terrible as that. We're actually pretty good at buying exactly what we need fruit and veg wise and very rarely do we we waste any (go us, woo!).

Where we waste food is in the dry food department; cooking the correct amount of pasta/rice completely eludes me!

Now I know everyone says to freeze left over rice to use another day, but my problem (our problem - it's not just me that does this!) is that I tend to dish up everything I've cooked, even if I know it's too much which means that when it's left, it can't be saved and ends up in the bin.

This just will not do.

So I tried weighing out the 'correct' portions of rice and pasta and would you believe it! There was plenty!

But then I couldn't be bothered to get my scales out every, single, time.

So that went out the window! We waste soooo much rice it's ridiculous, probably about one or one and a half portions most meals so I needed to come up with a solution.

So I did.

I spent 15 minutes the other day and bagged up two-person portions of rice and pasta to put in the cupboard ready to be used.

So simple, yet so effective. Now we have no waste (unless we're not very hungry and that doesn't happen very often at all) which is fantastic and another little bonus is that I now know exactly how many meals we have left in the cupboard which means I can plan my weekly shop even more easily! No more extra bags of rice and no more running out of rice either!

I think we eat too much rice.

Anyway, I'm quite pleased with my little frugal moment. I hope it helps someone else too.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Comfort Food

How often, when you crave comfort food, do you toddle off down the road and buy yourself some? Or pick up the phone to order it? Or order it online (damn you Just Eat for making it possible to pay for a Chinese online with my debit card!)?

Really? Just me?

Don't believe you for a second!

Anyway, as times is hard (far too hard) buying comfort food isn't exactly an option, so I've been coming up with cunning ways of eating comfort food without the excessive price tag (and if I can make it healthier but still as comforting - even better!).

My latest creation is one which I think will be made again and again. Yesterday, during film night, my lovely other half and I tucked into a home made pizza! Not just any old pizza...this one had a sweet potato pizza base that I also made all by myself :)

I hunted all over the internet for the pizza base recipe as I was sure I'd seen it somewhere, but I couldn't find what I wanted - there are so many different versions. Some used baking powder, some didn't. Some used eggs, some didn't. Some used wholegrain flour, some used a flour I've never heard of and couldn't pronounce if I wanted to! So I decided to wing it a little and make the base in pretty much the same way I make potato worked!

Would you like the recipe? Then keep reading chikadees! And erm...the male version of that if you happen to be a male ;)

1. Boil up your sweet potato and mash with butter and some seasoning - allow to cool
2. Mix with self raising flour. My potato was about 450g and I used about 200g of flour - I kept adding until the mixture was no longer sticky and could be rolled into a ball like this:

3. Mix in a dessert spoonful of olive oil.
4. Spread out onto a baking tray (greasing first if you need to) into whatever shape takes your fancy (who says pizza's have to be round?!)
5. Bake on 180 (fan assisted - adjust accordingly for your oven!) for about 15 minutes or until it looks like this:

And that's your base! How yummy does that look? Now for the topping! Again, times is hard, so we didn't have any pizza sauce in the cupboard. Instead, I blended up a tin of chopped tomatoes, added salt, pepper, garlic and a pinch of mixed herbs and bobs your uncle! Pizza Sauce! The left over that I didn't use on the pizza went into a jar to be used as pasta sauce for tonight's dinner!

Here is the finished article before it went into the oven:

And ten minutes later:

Nom nom nom....twenty minutes later it was gone.

Not bad for comfort food don't you think?

What do you think of my little recipe? Would you like more of them?

Someone pass the rabbit's foot!

So it's been a while hasn't it?

I'd love to say I've been off having adventures, seeing the sights and living it up, but unfortunately (as happens now and again) life has simply gotten in the way.

Over the past two weeks there has been nothing but bad luck for the Lou Lou's household! There's been broken laptops (and replacement laptops), stolen phones, stupid (idiotic and useless) network providers messing up insurance claims, doggies sitting in red hair dye (that was fun...), incorrect council tax bills, stupid horrible big sized trousers (I'm not going into the tantrum which followed having to buy these) and a broken oven!

In TWO WEEKS! That's enough crappy things for a couple of months don't you think?!

The only two good things that have happened in those two weeks? The moment my lovely other half and I managed to NOT miss the bus in the rain in Liverpool and him buying me this as a little present :)

And that was after I left him for an hour and a half outside in the freezing rain because I forgot to give him the coffee money and disappeared into a room with no mobile signal! Poor bloke practically had hypothermia when I emerged!

So those are my excuses for being rubbish and not blogging. In my defense, I do have a few posts planned and will be doing them shortly! You never know, if I get my (apparently huge) butt in gear, I might do another today.

I hope the last two weeks have been nicer for you all?

Oh and in case you were wondering, those lovely little doilies are by the fabulous Girly Bunches! Go and take a look at her beautiful, girly creations!