Tiessennau Mêl (Welsh Honey Cakes) for St David’s Day

Tiessennau Mêl are Welsh honeycakes. (In fact, that’s just what ‘tiessennau mêl’ means in Welsh.) My family doesn’t have many traditions (from the Welsh side or from any others, honestly) but one of mine is to make these every year on St David’s Day – which is today!

A perfectly-sized-for-snacking treat!

A perfectly-sized-for-snacking treat!

This is an old recipe that I have tweaked a bit myself. (Is anyone surprised?) As one might expect for honeycakes, the batter can be quite gooey and sticky! It’s definitely worth the trouble, though, and it is not nearly so challenging to work with as I anticipated the first time I made them.

The cakes themselves are not too sweet, but thick with the flavour of the honey (so make sure you use a honey with notes you enjoy) and a little too delightfully easy to nibble on. I always wind up snagging one (or three) from the platter every time I walk through the kitchen!

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Fairy Nectar (a warm, happy drink)

If you, like me, are spending today hiding away in a blanket fort with adorable animals and reading/movies unrelated to the outside world (I voted early this morning; I hope everyone else in the US has or plans to as well) may I offer a recipe?

I’d intended to make cocoa this afternoon, but it felt too heavy, so I pulled this recipe out, tweaked it a smidge, and came up with a nice – and somewhat lighter – warm drink. Also very simple. You can even just use the microwave to heat the milk first if you prefer.



Fairy Nectar

1 mug milk
1 tablespoon honey
6 drops vanilla extract
4 drops orange extract
2 dashes cinnamon
1 dash ground cloves

Heat the milk until nearly bubbling, then stir in honey and extracts. Once fully incorporated (a few moments’ stirring) remove from heat and pour into mug. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves. Enjoy!

Making Vegetable Stock

Last night I tried a new experiment – a super basic one, but something I’ve never done before. I’ve been collecting the ‘ends’ of vegetables when I cook (when I remember) since the end of July, when I came across instructions for it, planning to do this.

I don’t really use vegetable stock for much (usually I use chicken or beef broth in soups) but there is one particular recipe I do, and I have always bought stock for it, of course. This seemed like it might be a delicious alternative and – hey, I’m throwing away those ends anyway now, I may as well at least try it and see how it works out!

Freshly-strained and still-steaming vegetable stock.

Freshly-strained and still-steaming vegetable stock.

Not so much a ‘recipe’ proper, but here’s the basics. Continue reading

Easy (and Rich) Beef Soup

aka Throw-It-Together Beef Soup

I created this recipe – by which I mean I literally threw it together mostly as I went along, starting about an hour and a half ago. I’m writing up this post while I sit here devouring a bowl of the deliciousness.

I had a hunk of beef (london broil) in my fridge which was originally meant for other things, then as of yesterday when I realised I wasn’t up to cooking it (I’ve somehow injured my shoulder; basic things are a bit tricky right now) for the freezer. It never made it there, I realised this morning, so I improvised dinner out of it.

This is a ‘liquidy’ style soup, which tend not to be my favourite (partly because the broth is often thin or flavourless) but this one is wonderful, with a nice rich liquid that isn’t too much. It was also, aside from chopping everything for it, really easy to throw it together.

It’s proving a good meal to round off the end of a rather stressful day. The end of the ‘doing’ stressful, anyway – I’m currently waiting for a storm to hit and hoping it isn’t too bad of one.

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Apple Spice Scones

Even if you don’t generally like scones, you may like these – or so I am informed by several people who tried them with varying levels of wariness.

The recipe is pretty thoroughly of my own creation, though its inspiration did once upon a time come from one I found online. I stumbled across it and decided to make these ‘apple scones’ and take them along to a movie night with friends. Only I wound up twisting and altering the recipe far more than I usually do the first time I make something. Baker’s intuition . . . and I was playing, honestly. I do love to bake!

One friend at that movie night was dubious, and the other actively knew she had never liked scones. Both bravely tried these anyway. Two scones made it home with me for breakfast the next morning. The one who did not like scones is one main reason why this recipe stuck around my kitchen and was further played with and finessed into its current form – and if I go too long without baking them, occasionally I get puppy eyes.

These scones are moist and sweet (but not too sweet) and spicy, but not overpoweringly so (unless you decide to double or triple the spices, which the recipe can stand up to just fine). You may like them with butter, but I never serve them with it, they are moist and flavourful enough on their own.

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Kitchen Experiment – Mystery?

Today I am going to attempt (after a bit more prep-work) an experiment I have been wanting to try for years, and have never had the appropriate, er, single ingredient. It may go horribly awry. I hope it will go wonderfully.

This is the equipment I require for the experiment:

Very large pot; rounded glass lid (with no vent), brick, large-ish glass bowl, ice.

Very large pot; rounded glass lid (with no vent), brick, large-ish glass bowl, ice.

(The equipment is assembled in my living room floor at the moment, for space and perspective reasons.)

The only thing other than the single ingredient that is key to this (and has kept me from trying this experiment for years) that is not shown in this picture is water. (And whatever container I will use to store the finished product.) It is a finished product for which I have a list of recipes and further experiments I wish to try, not really one I will use alone.

Any idea what I’m doing? (Really, I only have a vague plan myself – it’ll be fun!)

If this goes well, sometime in the next week I will return with photographs and a report and instructions on how to do what I am about to spend my morning attempting. If it goes poorly . . . well, probably I’ll return with a few photographs and a slightly downcast report of what I was attempting.


Update: What I was attempting was to distill rosewater, and it worked wonderfully! Check out my report (and instructions)!

Kielbasa Stew

This recipe is actually one that my mother was very fond of – she discovered it when I was a kid, and made it fairly often, in the process making it her own. My version here has been tweaked a bit further even from hers, which was fairly drastically altered from the original (the origins of which I have no idea).

sausage stew, ready to eat

Kielbasa Stew, all ready to eat!

This is a nice thick stew that sort of blurs the sometimes-difficult-to-determine line between soup and stew, and it makes somewhere around eight rather hearty servings. (So if you, like me, are often feeding only yourself, you might want to freeze some of it for later. Unless you like it enough to eat it frequently for the next week – no judging from me; I do that with a couple of my favourite dinner recipes.) It does freeze and reheat well, fortunately, if you want to take that route.

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