Thursday, 2 October 2014

Family Food - Orange Garlic Roast Chicken

I love autumn. The kaleidoscopic colours of the trees; the warm, earthy smell of rustling dry leaves; the excuse to cover my grown out, neglected, wiry barnet with a jauntily tilted beret. Well less "jauntily tilted", more "a bit skew wiff", due to having given one of the kids a horsey around the garden before we left for our walk to the shops.

Do you know what I hate about autumn? Having collected yet another virus/infection/bug and a flare up of seasonal eczema. Yes, I am both contagious and more unsightly than ever at this time of year.

So how do we best represent early October, in a culinary sense? By roasting a chicken with as many cold remedies as possible. Fortunately, it tastes pretty amazing too. (Note: Lemsip may not be included in this dish, but may complement it.)


Whole chicken (no giblets)
3 cloves garlic
Herbs - sprig of rosemary
Salt and pepper if you like

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Roughly chop carrot and onion, place onto roasting tray as bed for chicken. Sit chicken on top.
  • Grate zest of half an orange, mince a clove of garlic and stir into about 25-50g of softened (room temp) butter. Add cracked black pepper and maybe even chilli flakes if you're adventurous
  • Make small slits in skin over chicken breasts and drummers, stuff with this butter mix.
  • If you're brave, try stuffing an orange slice, or half one, in here too.
  • Stuff a couple of chunks of onion, a slice of onion and couple of halved garlic cloves, I like a wee sprig of rosemary too.
  • Rub skin with leftover mixture and a bit of rock/sea salt. Skip salt if making stock for a baby later.
  • Cover with tin foil, put in oven for recommended time on packaging - or 20 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes.
  • Remove foil 20 minutes from end to crisp the skin up.
  • Leave to sit for a while, admire your handiwork, preferably witha large glass of wine.
  • Ignore that roasting tin, sure it'll come clean after a very long soak in the sink. Anyway, someone else will take care of that surely. Won't they? It'll be fine.

Serve the good bits, save the rest! Strip it after (poor wee chick, but don't worry it's not going to feel a thing) and save all edible meat in a Tupperware tub. You can use it in a pie or soup, or both.

Break up the carcass, put it in a big heavy bottomed pot with a roughly chopped carrot and an onion, maybe a sprig of a herb or something. Cover it in water. Boil, then simmer, lid on for 2 hours. Keep checking and top it up with water if it gets too low.

Lo and behold, you've made stock! Bugger off, Bisto! Get tae, Oxo cubes! You're now a proper cook, like your gran. Drain off liquid with a sieve, leave it to cool. It'll turn to jelly. Freeze some, use for baby cooking. And it's great for adding to soups, and pie fillings.

Well done! You may have spent this entire dinner in the kitchen - but you have achieved a roast chicken PLUS stock! Proud of you.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunday Morning 7am


It's taken me 35 years of enjoying nothing more caffeine injected than a coffee flavoured Roses chocolate, or a sip of Coca Cola, but now it's become the morning staple. I may even have two cups this morning... (Whoa there Nelly!)

The reasons for my conversion are manifold. Well, twofold. I have two small children now, The Bairn (nearly 3) and Bairn 2.0 (6 months old). I generally wake in a fog, first thought being "Ugh, Bairn 2.0 is in my armpit AGAIN, we must get her to sleep in her own cot all night tomorrow" - this thought being repeated every single morning. Today being Sunday, that's closely followed by toys out, CBeebies on (Andy and Cat babysitting the kids until breakfast time) and shut blinds ignored.

And secondly, this...

Our Nespresso Citiz with Milk.

I promise I am receiving no benefits from this advertisement! Although it's likely that the high heid yin of Nespresso is a subscribing reader of my immensely popular and regularly updated blog (pah!). Furthermore, if you are reading this Mr or Ms Heid Yin, I'll have a whole batch of the orangey coloured and blue pods, please.

Over the years, I've become adept at purchasing a certain type of gift for The Other Half. For example:

  • A balloon ride for two
  • A helicopter ride for two
  • A steak dinner for two
  • Event tickets.... You guessed it, FOR TWO.
Well for his last birthday, I decided to really spoil him. He's had his eyes on one of these beauties for a couple of years. As the only coffee drinker, he always felt it was somewhat out of reach, like a shiny, red-and-chrome desert oasis. So I went for it - heavily hormonal, weeks before the birth of Bairn 2.0, I took pity and clubbed together with my parents (yes, I am thirty-five) to buy that beautiful beast of a machine for him.

A gift only HE could ever truly enjoy.

Didn't quite turn out like that, of course. But the advantage being I can share the pain of cleaning the milk thing out every time I'm too slow to make the morning brew. See, I'm a selfless soul.

Now I'd better peel myself of the sofa and start the rest of the day.

Good morning!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

36 Weeks - Maternity Leave IS ON!

It's ages since I last blogged, I know! Practically an entire pregnancy has passed by, with possibly only one post. It's a disgrace! Now I'm finished work, I have LOADS of time on my hands. Generally, LOADS of time on a Wednesday and Thursday, when The Bairn is in the hands of his beloved nursery. The way in which I have spent my last couple of weekdays at home has been varied, and exceptionally exciting....


  • An actual haircut (and even some last minute highlights - oooooh, fancy!), by an actual hairdresser. The first in about a year. Yes, she may have left my fringe looking as though its been involved in a frenzied attack by a gang of animated blunt, violent, pinking shears, but I did feel like a "Proper Person" for the two hours I was there.
  • Watching, from behind a cushion and bouncing on my birthing ball, episodes of One Born Every Minute. Sobbing uncontrollably at the first slimy, bloody, purple-faced appearance of every new arrival - usually accompanied by my yelp of "Oh, it's a baby!" as though this is some sort of unexpected revelation.
  • Eating Ginger Nuts and Quavers. Well, if I'm also including a daily pear and occasional orange surely that makes for a balanced diet???
  • Cleaning the bathrooms. No, I don't have five beautiful marble-surfaced havens of tranquility. A tiny, grotty ensuite shower room and a bathroom. I HATE cleaning. Thank God I now have a gargantuan belly (combined with arms the length of those of your average Oopa Loopa), preventing me from reaching across and into the bath for scrubbing it. I love my Mam, who heroically travelled 100 miles, on three different buses, to assist me in this matter.
  • Reading my way through the Game of Thones Series. IT'S THE DUGS BAWS, MAN! If I haven't finished before baby Daenaerys Stormborn arrives - when will I? This a serious cause for concern.

You may ask, how do I have the time to blog?

Because my magnificent Other Half has taken The Bairn for a swim (since evacuated due to fecal matter having been discovered, unfortunately, at the jacuzzi end of the baby pool - the lifeguard looks very serious with his wee poopscoop. Good luck with that, mate). I'm sitting in the cafe, with a hot chocolate and my Glorious iPad.


A Proper Person!!!

Did I just sit here drawing a poo in a swimming pool? Yes, my friend, I believe I did.


Friday, 25 October 2013

Family Food - Spicy Roast Butternut Soup

Been properly poorly this week with a stinky, horrible cold (or dare I say, flu?) - with which I have likely infected most of my family near and distant, at my cousin's wedding. I'm a naturally huggy/kiss-on-cheek type person. I did try to curtail my affection, but one hug-n-kiss combo issued unavoidably involves a sequence of events whereby you can't leave anyone out - can you? They might feel left out, for goodness sake! What kind of animal would omit a relative from a (virus) cuddle? Not I!

On my first rare day off sick, I decided soup was required. The usual "go-to" staple in our home when we feel guff (or just really lazy) is Heinz Cream of Tomato soup, so you can imagine my disgust on finding NONE in the tin drawer! Horrified screams may have been heard as far away as Wick, or even Jupiter.

What I did have in the Busyalibee fridge was a butternut squash and half a leftover huge sweet potato.



Medium sized butternut squash
Half a huge sweet potato, or a normal sized one
An onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves
Teaspoon of cumin
1cm cube of fresh ginger - I use frozen
Sea salt
Black pepper
Chilli flakes
1/2 pint Vegetable stock


  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C.
  2. Slice butternut squash in half lengthwise, then each lengthwise again.
  3. Place on roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 1 hour. Meantime, set timer for 30 mins and...
  5. Peel and roughly chop sweet potato, add to roasting tin, drizzle with oil and season.
  6. Roast for remaining 30 minutes with squash (hope that makes sense?)
  7. When veg is roasted, fry up onion and crushed garlic with teaspoon cumin, ginger and teaspoon of chilli flakes.
  8. Scoop flesh from squash skins and chuck in pan, with sweet potato.
  9. Add stock, stir, simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Blitz with hand blender until smooth.
  11. Add more water/milk if it's too thick for you.

And that's it! Very easy - and absolutely gorgeous. Though I still feel like absolute crap, so it's medicinal qualities are perhaps lacking somewhat. And do you know what? It actually tastes better today than it did 2 days ago when I made it!

Lovely Jubbly.