The nights draw in or how I nearly cut my finger off today

So, I’m a huge fan on Pinterest and have been looking at paper snowflake patterns for Xmas. I have found that:

  1. I need better scissors for paper cutting
  2. I cannot fold paper succesfully

Here is a picture of my efforts – all are first attempts, be kind! The paper wasn’t really big enough for some of the designs but that’s fixable. Also, they all need ironing flat! The Cub loves them but insists on calling them cobwebs – huzzah!*


Tonight we are having Boston Baked Beans, in a combination of the Sainted Delias Frugal Food (pg 198) and Carolyn Humphries Slow Cooking From Around The World (pg 63) with some different bits and guestimates on quantities.

Here’s Delia’s version:

Serves 4

  • 450g dried white haricot beans
  • 1.7 litres of water
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbl black treacle
  • 2 tbl dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbl tomato purée
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 350 g streaky belly pork, in one piece
  • Seasoning

Measure 3 pints (1.7 litres) water into a large saucepan, add the beans, bring to the boil and boil gently for about 2-3 minutes; then remove the pan from the heat and leave on one side for about 1 hour, or until the water has cooled. Now return the beans to the heat and simmer uncovered until the bean skins burst when you lift them out of the water (which will take around 45 minutes). Drain the beans next, reserving the liquor, then measure the liquor and make it up to 1 pint (570 ml) with water if necessary.

Transfer the beans to a casserole and pre-heat the oven to gas mark ½, 250°F (120°C). At this stage, blend the mustard powder with a little of the measured bean liquor, followed by the black treacle, sugar, tomato purée and crushed garlic, and pour this mixture over the beans, along with the measured pint (570ml) of liquid, some seasoning, the sliced onion and a bay leaf. Now cut slashes across the pork (approximately ½ inch/1 cm apart) and bury the meat in the beans until only the rind is showing. Then cover the casserole tightly and bake very slowly for about 6 hours.

During the last hour of cooking, take the lid off the casserole to allow the rind on the pork to crisp a little. Also, keep stirring the beans during this last hour and, if they show signs of getting too dry, add just a spot more water. Serve very hot.

Carolyn Humphries – Slow Cooking Through The Seasons

  • 350g dried haricot beans, soaked in boiling water for at least an hour or in cold water overnight
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 225 g salt pork, rinsed, rinded and diced
  • a good pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • seasoning

Drain the beans and place in a large saucepan. Add the water, bring to the boil, part-cover and boil for 15 minutes. Tip inot the slow cooker

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the onion and pork and fry quickly for 2-4 minutes. Tip into the pot.

Stir in the cloves, mustard, treacle, tomato purée and vinegar. Tuck in the bay leaf and season lightly. Cover and cook on High for 6-8 hours, by which time the beans should be bathed in a rich, dark sauce.

Taste and re-season, if necessary, discard the bay leaf and serve.

What I did:

Soak about half a pack of beans overnight.

Boil the crap out of them for 15 minutes.

Drain keeping the boiling water.

Keep 1 pint of the boiling water, add the mustard powder, balsamic vinegar and treacle to the water. Stir until all the treacle is dissolved.

Added a packet of parma ham pieces from Aldi to the beans.

Added some passata to the slow cooker (I had no purée), poured over the water, stirred and cooked on High for 8 hours.

Served with home made bread – it was very scrummy 😀

* That might have been sarcasm**

**That was DEFINITELY sarcams


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