Category Archives: Hugo blogs

Green and orange winter vegetables and a gallant caretaker

greenorangeveg

HugojournoandJava

I noticed that Bossy hasn’t been boasting about her latest achievement: a broken bone in her foot, which she achieved running around barefoot like a child. (I’m only telling you this because I felt she was a little bit dismissive — caustic even — about my entirely-justified need for a change of  location for my bed in her last post.) Java goes absolutely stark raving loony if she doesn’t get enough exercise so, in the absence of a suitably tiny strait jacket, Bossy has been taking us out on her bike, pedalling with one foot. Because she’s such a klutz temporarily handicapped, I’ve been staying by her side as her balance looks more than a little bit precarious. Apparently though, I underestimated her ineptitude because she managed to cycle into me and fall off anyway. She wasn’t cross though because I think she knew I was just trying to be supportive.

In other broken bone-related news, the Tall One has been seeing an acupuncturist, Mr Chan, about his shoulder. He seemed quite upset that Mr Chan hadn’t shown any enthusiasm to see his entire x-ray collection as opposed to just the relevant ones. I have to say, I can see Mr Chan’s point; extensive and chronologically-ordered photographic evidence of someone else’s fracture history is hardly inspiring is it?

As you all know, I’m not a vegetable fan, but I have to say this dish was quite pretty and apparently very healthy. With a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds pack quite a punch. Having said this, Bossy and Tall eat them all the time and it doesn’t seem to stop them from doing silly things.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 shallots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 handful pumpkin seeds

1 handful flaked almonds

1 satsuma, peeled and cut into segments

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ tablespoon honey

Cook the Brussels sprouts briefly in salted boiling water for about five minutes, drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the shallots and garlic until golden. Add the sprouts and carrots and cook until the carrots soften a little (about five minutes). Add the pumpkin seeds, flaked almonds, satsuma pieces, seasoning and honey and cook for another few minutes until everything is honey-coated. Serve!

Chicken and sweet pepper tagine and cowboys on bicycles

tajine

HugojournoandJava

Somebody is going to have to give me a crash course in human logic, or lack thereof, because there are things I’m currently struggling to understand. First of all, I thought that the main function of a butcher was to provide you with an endless supply of slobberingly succulent meat. Not so apparently. The Tall One believes our butcher to be of unparalleled counsel when it comes to his own joints, cartilage and bones and takes his advice over the doctor’s when it comes to treating his dodgy knee. So, since the butcher told him that cycling was the way forward, he has had his bicycle surgically attached (have you noticed that I’ve mastered the metaphor?).

The Tall One and Bossy sometimes take Texas, the very old horse, and Bijou, the very young, insufferably silly horse to a field where proximity to a river and shady oak trees means the grass stays lush year-round. Taking them there is one thing, bringing them back quite another. Bijou has a tendency to pinch the head collars from their ‘safe place’ and hide them. So, bearing in mind that humans are meant to be of superior intelligence, this is what I don’t understand: Why don’t they just find another place to store the head collars? Bijou gets the better of them every time which means that, as he’s quite good at hiding things, they invariably come back ‘au natural’  (the horses, not the intellectually-challenged humans). The sight of Bossy and Tall trying to round them up on their bicycles makes it all worthwhile though.

So to conclude, if you’ve got dodgy knees, the butcher’s your man. And if you want to outwit your animals Bossy and Tall are most certainly not…

bikeshorses

I have to say that Bossy outdid herself with this dish, although I might only be saying that because I feel a bit mean inferring that she and her husband are ‘intellectually-challenged’. I’m not usually a big fan of spices, but this was subtly fragrant and the tagine dish was a pleasure to lick clean.

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

8 chicken thighs

Juice of half a lemon

4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut

1 red pepper, washed and cut into strips

1 green pepper, washed and cut into strips

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bay leaf

Two tablespoons of honey

200g dried prunes

150ml chicken stock

Fresh coriander to serve

Gently brown the onions, garlic and chicken in the olive oil in a medium-sized casserole dish (or a tagine if you have one). Once golden brown (after about five minutes), add the lemon juice, carrots, peppers, seasoning and spices and continue to brown for a further five minutes. Add the honey, prunes and chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for about half an hour with the lid on and then remove the lid to allow the sauce to caramelise slightly. Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander. Delicious served with couscous.

 

Hazelnut mocha cake (gf) and hiring a PA

chochazelnut

HugojournoandJava

Noisy is a resourceful boy: Within a day of returning to school last week, he had found himself a very efficient personal assistant. A much-needed personal assistant I might add because, although he’s a clever boy, he doesn’t do well with practical matters and is rather absent-minded. Quite often he asks me what day it is and whether or not he’s had lunch yet. His new assistant ‘phones him in the morning to tell him which classroom he should go to and at what time, and in return Noisy advises on homework matters.

I have decided to take a leaf out of Noisy’s book and recruit a PA for myself. I believe that in some circles, you don’t even exist if you don’t have a PA. I’m having difficulty finding someone though. So far I’ve had applications from Java (ha ha, in your dreams Java), a couple of hens and a somewhat persistent hedgehog. Still, I’m quite determined because things can’t go on like this – I have too many slap-happy charges. Last week Bossy went flying over the handlebars of her mountain bike because Java chased a deer onto the track in front of her, and Java pinched a pair of Bossy’s shoes and vomited into them. I have taken to hiding in the shower for some respite. Please let me know if you can suggest any suitable applicants.

hugoshower

Hazelnuts are a good source of oleic and linoleic acids and are also rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals.

Ingredients (10 servings)

150g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)

115g coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons black coffee

4 eggs, separated

100g cane sugar

100ml plain yoghurt

70g ground hazelnuts

40g buckwheat flour

75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil until smooth and add the vanilla extract and coffee. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and yogurt until light and smooth and then combine with the melted chocolate/coconut oil/coffee. Mix the ground hazelnuts, buckwheat flour, chopped hazelnuts, salt and bicarbonate of soda together and combine with the egg yolk and chocolate mixture. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently but thoroughly fold into the mocha mixture. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave to cool. Delicious served alone or with Greek yoghurt or ice cream.

Double chocolate buckwheat cookies (gf) and pointless activities

doublechoccookies

hugotypewriter1by

Bossy and Noisy went on holiday to the Pyrenees recently. Bossy actually considered taking Java with them for about three seconds, before coming to her senses with a jolt. It would have been funny though – the thought of Java in a hotel makes me chuckle. She doesn’t own a lead and thinks it’s OK to jump on to the table while people are eating. I don’t think she’s ever even been to a restaurant before. Unlike me, sophisticated she is not. It’s a shame that she didn’t go though, because it would have been more relaxing for me; as it was I had to put up with her incessant crying and whining. It got so much that I taught her a new game: Running Away. She got quite hooked on it and played every day they were away, much to my delight. It put the wind up The Tall One though I can tell you – I don’t think he fancied the idea of telling Bossy that he’d lost her little dog.

lacmountain

Bossy and Noisy got up to all sorts of foolish activities such as going up to the top of the mountain and coming back down again on two-wheeled contraptions at full pelt. How futile does that sound? I can just imagine how Bossy must have shrieked – I’m glad I wasn’t there to subject my poor ears to the certain GBH. Noisy confided in me that he went well ahead to disassociate himself from her; he’s at an age when he gets very embarrassed by his parents. In my opinion he’d be quite justified in always being at that age. He also climbed up some very tall trees and swung from branch to branch. I don’t understand the need to do that at all – it’s not as if he’s a monkey. Well, I suppose he is a bit of a monkey, but still.

leonettree

Then they went down a very rough and angry-looking white river on a rubber raft. Why on earth would you pay to do that? It sounded very dangerous to me and I’m beginning to worry for their sanity. Obviously their sanity is an ongoing cause for concern, but now even more than ever. The Tall One was worried all the time they were away about whether they were going to return intact as they’re both quite prone to broken bones, but they came back in one piece – or two pieces as the case may be – and normal (I use the term lightly) service was resumed.

rafting

Ingredients (makes 25-30 biscuits)

125g buckwheat flour (or normal flour is you prefer)

50g ground almonds

50g oat flakes

½ teaspoon ginger powder

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

50g cocoa powder

50g chocolate chips (I broke up some 70% dark chocolate)

25g chopped or flaked almonds

80g cane sugar

80g coconut oil

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Mix the flour, ground almonds, oats, ginger, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, flaked almonds and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Melt the coconut oil over a gentle heat and mix the eggs and vanilla together. Add the melted coconut oil to the dry mixture, combining well and then add the egg mixture, continuing to mix well. Roll into a sausage shape, roughly 5cm thick. Refrigerate for several hours or even overnight.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Cut the dough into slices of just under a centimetre and space out onto a greased baking sheet. Cook for 12 minutes and leave to cool.

Raspberry cheesecake tarts (gf) and pedalling is the way forward

raspberrylemontart

HugojournoandJava

hospital

Home bears a close resemblance to an Accident and Emergency Unit at the moment. To start with, no fewer than 25% of the human knees here are toast. Burnt toast in fact. One knee belongs to The Tall One, and the other belongs to a friend who is staying with us. Both bad knees are as a result of interaction with horses; I have made my point and will say no more on the matter. The butcher told the Tall One that cycling was excellent for the sort of knee injury he has, which means that he pedals absolutely everywhere, even when pushing (or pulling) his friend’s wheelchair. Never mind the knee, what about his sanity?

bikeandwheelchair

Bossy has a broken little toe, but since little toes don’t count, I consider her disproportionate cursing when she hits it to be melodrama. A mild dose of laryngitis on the other hand wouldn’t go amiss. Nothing painful you understand, just enough for her to stop talking – or verbalising as the Noisy One says – for a bit.

Moving on with the inventory, Java has a sore foot due to an impaled pine needle. Big deal – I have those nearly every day. You wouldn’t believe the fuss she made. We were all witness to her pathetic crying, whimpering and exaggerated limping for hours. Also, she keeps vomiting because she steals and eats raw eggs. I have tried to explain that lightly-poached eggs (as opposed to fully-poached in this case) are far more digestible than raw, but I’m afraid it falls on deaf ears. As for me, I have developed tinnitus and migraines because I have to sleep between two snoring girl dogs. Ladylike they are not.

On to the volatiles, I’m a little concerned about one of the hens because she has been trying, unsuccessfully, to lay an egg for over two weeks. I think she might have an intestinal blockage. Either that, or a brain blockage, something I certainly wouldn’t rule out. Another of the hens has a very nasty-looking foot and the Tall One says she’ll probably die soon, but whoever died from a bad foot? I think it’s wishful thinking on his part because he’s irritated that she only ever lays an egg once in a blue moon. A couple of swallows have built their nest on the spotlight above the front door. Every time the spotlight comes on, they fly out crossly wiggling their singed bottoms. How many times do they have to be burnt before they realise they should relocate? How many shades of stupid can a swallow actually be?

These tarts are nothing to write home about in my opinion, but they seem to make Bossy happy, so here you are.

Ingredients for pastry (makes about six tarts)

75g buckwheat flour

35g coconut flour

30g butter

30g coconut oil

½ teaspoon powdered ginger

Pinch of sea salt

Roughly 6 tablespoons of cold water

Ingredients for ‘cheesecake’ filling

250g mascarpone cheese

Juice of half a lemon

3 tablespoons raspberry jam

100g fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons desiccated coconut

To make the pastry, begin by cutting the butter and coconut oil into small cubes. Add to the flours and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Blend by hand until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the cold water, mixing rapidly with a spoon. Remove the mixture from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until you obtain a ball of pastry (if the mixture isn’t ‘sticky’ enough to form a ball, you may need a drop more water). Wrap in a clean cotton tea towel or some cling film and leave to ‘rest’ in the fridge for about two hours. This relaxes the dough and makes it easier to use.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry on a clean, lightly floured surface and fill the tart tins. Bear in mind that buckwheat and coconut flour pastry is extremely crumbly as it contains no gluten to ‘stick’ it together. You’ll probably need to patch and press the pastry into the tins as opposed to just cutting and placing it in as you would with normal pastry. Cook the pastry cases for 15 minutes.

Blend all of the ‘cheesecake’ ingredients together well, keeping a few raspberries aside for garnish. Fill the precooked tart cases and decorate the tops with the set-aside raspberries. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Apricot buckwheat cake (gf) and Hugo sorts things out

apricotbuckwheatcake

hugotypewriter1by

As is too often the case, I feel compelled to tell my side of the story following  Bossy’s latest piece of intelligence (I use the term with a generous helping of irony). I was so annoyed that I had intended to ‘forget’ to include her silly recipe in this post, but Bossy can be very insistent. Obviously my ‘forgetting’ would have been a pedagogical measure and not out of pettiness. Between ourselves though, I consider Bossy to be a lost cause so I didn’t press the issue.

As I mentioned before, in my spare time (sadly lacking because I’m so exploited), I am studying for a degree in psychology. This is quite a challenge as it’s very hard to find peace and quiet to study in this house. Also, I have to be careful not to leave my books lying around because Java chews them to pieces, Bossy drops them in the bath (she falls asleep while reading), the Noisy One makes aeroplanes from them and the Tall One uses them to light fires. The upshot is that there is hardly any room left for me to lie in my basket as, once I’ve finished studying I have to hide all my books under the blankets. I don’t think Bossy takes my degree very seriously, which would explain why she doesn’t understand my need for time on the couch to contemplate. The couch plays a very important part in a psychology degree.

sofa2

Bossy is in denial about just how annoying Java is. She thinks she’s ‘adorable and perhaps a tiny bit dizzy’, whereas in reality she’s an unrelenting and unspeakable pest. Actually, they both are. For the record, Java is also in denial about just how annoying she is. Or maybe she isn’t, which is even worse. Sigmund (I think we would have been on first name terms if he had ever been lucky enough to meet me) believed that when people explain their behaviour they rarely give a true account – not necessarily because they are deliberately lying, but because they are great deceivers of others and, to an even greater degree, themselves. Bossy meet Java, Java meet Bossy. I rest my case.

hugojavaonback

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

170g dried apricots (preferably organic), chopped

100ml olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs, separated

100g cane sugar

100ml plain yoghurt

70g ground almonds (you could substitute ground hazelnuts)

40g buckwheat flour

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, olive oil and yogurt until light and smooth. Mix the ground almonds, buckwheat flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon together and then combine well with the wet mixture. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently but thoroughly fold into the mixture. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin and leave to cool. Delicious served alone or with Greek yoghurt or ice cream.

Crab avocado and playing chicken

crabavocado

HugojournoandJava

Once again I find myself at my wits’ end.  The Spring is a very busy time for me as I’m out every night until at least midnight escorting invaders off the premises. There are so many animals coming out of hibernation in a foggy daze, having forgotten who’s boss and needing to be reminded of their boundaries. I actually think I’m being charitable; they’re probably not in a six-month sleep-induced daze at all, they’re just disrespectful, trespassing hooligans. As if this isn’t enough for my nerves to contend with, Java, having finally understood that she must eat neither the hens nor their eggs, has decided that she should play with them instead. I suppose her rationale (if she’s capable of such a thing) is that they must be useful for something (er, Java have you and the hens actually met?). Of course, this makes them screech, which in turn makes Bossy screech and the general mayhem is such that I can’t catch up on my sleep. I sometimes think it’s a shame that dogs don’t hibernate…

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tablespoon Greek yoghurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon chilli powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g white crabmeat (I used tinned)

2 ripe avocados, cut in half with the stone removed

5 basil leaves, shredded

Combine the yoghurt, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and seasoning in a small bowl. Add the crabmeat and mix well. Fill all four of the avocado halves with the crab mixture, scatter with the basil leaves and serve. Makes a delicious starter.