I came across a box of soft shell tacos in the supermarket and couldn’t resist whipping up these simple chicken and pepper tacos for dinner the same night. I don’t often find soft shell tacos in stock, often making do with the small own brand tortillas as an alternative, and I struggle with crunchy tacos (and baguettes for that matter) so when I do find them I seize the chance!
This is a great recipe to have at hand as by cooking the herbs and spices a little first then adding the chicken on top you get the effect of a marinade or spice rub but without any of the associated time or effort. Winner!
1 tsp puréed garlic
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 large chicken breasts, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
Soft shell tacos
Guacamole/salsa/sour cream to serve as you prefer
– Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan then add the garlic, tomato and all of the spices in a little pile in the middle and let it sizzle a little.
– Dump the chicken on top of the spices and quickly stir it around so it’s coated.
– Add the pepper and lime juice and stir occasionally while cooking for about 5 minutes.
– Heat up your soft shell tacos and prepare them as you like. I’ve suggested lettuce with guacamole, salsa and sour cream but mix it up! Mayo works well too. I also like to serve mine with corn on the cob as a side.
Ok, I admit it, I’ve gone full on “The Good Life” recently. Following on from learning all about Beekeeping I volunteered to help clear ground for an apiary allotment site near my house and found out that there was a small starter plot up for grabs. Well, grab it I did!
This is what I started with. About 5m x 16m of weed suppressed ground. I have spent the last few weeks digging and fencing and working away.
There was an awful lot of digging. The ground didn’t have any weeds, which was a blessing, but it did have a load of crushed plastic pots, a shovel, a rake, a fork, a pickaxe and a hammer all rotting away, along with what might once have been a green house base? Anyway, it all needed clearing and levelling and the clay soil enriching.
I’ve also developed a naughty habit of buying the Amazon 1p plus postage books on gardening. In fact I’m awaiting delivery of a few more that caught my eye this week!
This is where I’m up to: fences built, beds marked out and paths laid. I’ve crops in the ground and I’m preparing to build a chicken run at the far end so I can have fresh eggs too! More on that and the epic shed move soon!
Back at the beginning of this year I took a beginners beekeeping class with York & District Beekeepers Association. My mother had taken this course a few years ago and now has several hives in her garden but given last year’s swarm adventure it was decided that I would take the course so that I could assist her. We are now in the thick of swarm season (I yet again spent a day chasing swarms around the village only for them to abscond a day later!) and I thought I’d post a little update on the calmer parts of the year so far.
I’ve really enjoyed going into the hives with mum and seeing all of the things we’ve learned about in class actually in person. You can see above a beautiful arc of capped brood (bee larvae) with stores of honey arranged around the outside in the corners.
Here you can see a close up of the larvae in their cells before being capped. You’re wanting to see nice C shaped larvae with defined segments and a nice pearly white colour (which these were in person!) There are lots of things you’re looking for to check that your colony is happy and healthy. When things go wrong (and they will) you’ll find out because you’re seeing something odd in the brood.
Can you spot the Queen Bee? I’ll give you a hint, she ends in the top left of the shot. She’s the one with the long, pointy bum. Alas, since taking this video (which was taken by accident, I was just filming bees, we didn’t realise the Queen was in frame until later that night when we were looking at the video!) Queen Beatrice has either passed away or swarmed unexpectedly. Upon a later hive inspection there were no eggs. If you can’t see any eggs, your Queen isn’t doing her job! We’ve taken emergency measures to hopefully get them to generate their own Queen and we’ve split off some Queen cells into a nucleus hive to rear a small colony as a back up if we need to re-Queen later in the year. In one of our other hives they decided to go from nothing to 20 Queen Cells and swarming in the blink of an eye! We just mistimed our hive check by 1 day due to bad weather but at this time of year that day can be crucial and they were off!
The beginning of the year was going so well, everything was looking like something out of a textbook but then it all went a bit wrong and we sometimes haven’t a clue why our bees are doing what they’re doing. Beekeeping is a brilliant hobby and it’s absolutely fascinating but for one month a year, I won’t lie, it’s hellish! I’m just hoping that our colonies will have got all of this silliness out of their system now and we can fix them up and build them towards the summer. It’s funny but even with the very little hands on experience I’ve got so far (I don’t actually start the practical part of my course until later this month!) you can get to know the temperament of the colonies, I swear Hive 1 and Hive 2 hum at different pitches and Hive 2’s bees are much smaller. I look forward to getting to know them as we go on, hopefully with 3 colonies this year!
I can’t remember where I first came across the recipe for French Yogurt Cake. It’s always just been there. But I never once felt the need to try it. There were always more exciting, more challenging cakes to try. Why go back to basics with a cake intended to be made with the help of toddlers?
This is why, my friends!
Beautiful, light, fluffy cakes that are the perfect teatime pick me up… or breakfast, coz it’s got fruit and yogurt in and that’s a breakfast food, right?
And, even though I possess no toddlers of my own (Darcy isn’t too good at baking, even though he loves the tasting part!) I can say with my limited knowledge of the species that this would be an absolutely brilliant recipe to bake with kids. No faffy weighing, just measure everything out using a yogurt tub and mix it up. Simple!
And so quick. The thing that takes the most time about this recipe is waiting for the oven to heat up! (Or sometimes it’s the pressing need to pop to the Co-op as you realise you’ve run out of eggs half way through!) We all know there are some days when you just want to get something in the oven without any hassle, these can be whipped together and out of the oven in less than half an hour (although I assume if you do choose to involve kids it will take longer…)
Don’t delay, give them a go today!
1 x 125g tub natural yogurt
2 tubs self raising flour
1 tub golden caster sugar
1/2 tub rapeseed oil
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon, grated*
~ 1 tub frozen raspberries
– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180C.
– Prepare a tray with 6 mini loaf cases. Alternatively you can make this as a large loaf and just increase the cooking time.
– Put all of the ingredients except the raspberries in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Use the yogurt tub to measure out each of the ingredients.
– Divide equally between the mini loaf tins. (Space them well as this mixture rises!)
– Scatter the top of each cake with frozen raspberries.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (If cooking as a large loaf 45 minutes to an hour)
– Allow to cool until just warm them devour! Also excellent when you allow them to fully cool before consuming!
Instead of Lemon and Raspberry these can be adapted to any flavour you like. I have also had great success with Chocolate Orange, just replace the lemon zest with orange zest and add 2 tbsp cocoa powder and a tub of chocolate chips instead of raspberries.