Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog

Happy Valentine’s Day

Tim and I really struggled on what to do for Valentine’s Day. It was our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, and really, our first Valentine’s Day to spend together, since last year he had to work 2pm – 10pm on it. Last year I managed to surprise Tim with a heart shaped cake* and a bunch of valentine’s on the front door. This year…we were stumped. We thought about going away for the weekend to one of the bed & breakfasts we enjoyed staying at, but then thought it might be crowded. We thought about going out to a nice dinner, but again, the crowded factor came into play. Instead we decided to just stay home, and I cooked a meal for us.

(there was steam coming off the food!)

For Tim – he had a steak grilled on the George Forman, steamed broccoli/cauliflower, roasted potatoes/sweet potatoes, and a side salad.

For me – I had prawns (shrimp), roasted asparagus, some of the potatoes and steamed vegetables, and a side salad.

I had never cooked a steak before, but apparently it was edible!

We tried grocery shopping at Morrisons this week (when we usually go to Tesco), and I didn’t know where anything in the store was. After two trips around it looking for the baking aisle, I gave up. This was our dessert:


I made butterscotch sauce (all you do is cook butter & sugar on the stove, remove it from the heat when it boils and add vanilla), and served it over ice cream and bananas. It was tasty, but not what I had been expecting to make for the day!

And Tim and I even dressed up for the occasion:
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I even had a new dress! Tim’s granddad gave me some money for Christmas, and this dress was on super low clearance at BHS (marked down to £10!), so I picked it up intending to wear it when we went out…since we didn’t go out, I decided to wear it anyway.

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day!

*To make a heart: bake one square cake and one round cake. Cut the round cake in half. Set the square cake on a diagonal, and use the round halves to make the top part of the heart.

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Jamie Oliver is my Hero

On our first trip to the library when I got my library card, I borrowed Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food. I had watched his Christmas cooking specials this past December and loved his recipes and his style of cooking, so I thought his cookbook(s) would be worth checking out. I decided to borrow this one from the library that way if I decided I didn’t like it, I wasn’t out any money.

And I love it.

I learned how to make poached eggs!

A few weeks ago, Tim asked me if I could make poached eggs for breakfast. I did a bit of umming and ahhinng, because the only way I knew how to make poached eggs involved a three-piece special pan. But as I was leafing through Jamie’s cookbook, he had a whole section devoted to cooking eggs, and I learned that poaching was pretty easy –

Bring water to a boil, and gently drop the egg into the water (Jamie recommends putting the egg in a cup first). Boil for 2 minutes for a runny yolk, 4 for solid. Remove with a slotted spoon and boom – you have your poached eggs.

Jamie also taught me how to make a British staple – Yorkshire Pudding.

Again, this was one of those recipes that to read it, you’d have thought the author was insane and you’d write it off as something a bit too complicated, but it really wasn’t bad at all. See?

Jamie’s recipe:

Set oven to it’s hottest temperature possible and pre-heat your muffin tray in the oven. Whisk together: 285ml milk, 115g flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Spoon vegetable oil (his original recipe called for 1tbs/cup, but I plan on reducing it in the future to 1/2 tbs) into the hot muffin tray and place it back in the oven for 10 minutes to heat the oil. Quickly spoon batter into hot oiled cups (best to do this while the tray is still in the oven). Bake 15 minutes. Don’t open the oven door to check on them or they won’t get puffy. I then removed the puddings from the trays and placed them on a wire cooling rack with a paper towel underneath to drain off some of the oil (since I really think I used too much!). I even checked other recipes online to see if I really had to do the pre-heating thing, and you do. The only difference between this recipe and others out there are the amounts of flour/eggs/milk.

I also learned how to make roasted potatoes that are crispy. This is something that is a staple for Tim’s family instead of serving potatoes mashed, so I wanted to learn how to do them (though I probably can’t do them with a roast until I get a double oven or bigger oven) – boil potatoes for 10 minutes, drain and shake colander. Bake in a roasting pan drizzled with olive oil for 1 hour. Pretty straight forward and the potatoes were good. Not as crunchy as I had hoped to make them, but it was still good for my first try!

And of course, my recipe last week for cranberry muffins also came from Jamie Oliver.

My beloved Betty Crocker might have to share some limelight with Jamie Oliver.

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Pork Ribs in the Crock Pot!

I have a LOT of posts in the pipe, including the rest of London (2 days), Newark (one day), and the trip North (4 days), but for now, I thought I’d share a recipe I created yesterday:

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the finished dish because the day I decided to make this we happened to suffer a power outage…FORTUNATELY, the crock pot managed to stay hot for about an hour after the power went out, and the ribs were fully cooked!

I completely winged it on this recipe, adding things I thought would work, and the result is a sweet rib, which is a nice alternative from spicy bbq!

Pork ribs bone-in or boneless (thawed)
ground ginger
black pepper
1 cup cider ( I used a cranberry apple version) (can probably substitute beer)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup tomato sauce (canned or jarred, plain)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons golden syrup (can probably substitute honey) (optional)

Cut rack of ribs into separate pieces (I cut mine into 2-rib sections). If using boneless, cut into strips about an inch wide if not already cut
Rub ribs with pepper and ginger. I don’t have actual measurements for this, I just sprinkled some on and rubbed it in. (probably no more than a few teaspoons of each).
Spray crock pot with cooking spray and place ribs in crock pot. I made a layer on the bottom, and then placed the second layer cross-wise on top.
Combine cider, vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, and syrup.
Pour sauce mixture over ribs. If there isn’t enough sauce to cover the ribs, add water one cup at a time until ribs are covered.
Turn crock pot on low and cook for 4-6 hours (depending on how hot your low is).

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Chicken A La Becca

I found this recipe for Chicken a la King in toast cups on one of the food blogs I read regularly and had decided it was something I might want to try to make for Tim someday…but the toast cups looked like they’d be something I’d fail at. My friend Falnfenix IMed me one day and told me she had made the recipe with success and the toast cups weren’t that hard to make, so I decided to try my hand at it…of course, I needed to use ingredients we had on hand and my end result while similar to the Culinary in the Desert post, really only shares the toast cups in common!

So – start with her toast cup directions. I used a silicone muffin tray though and discovered I needed to toast them for twice as long before they started to look toasty…and even then, they didn’t get that golden brown toast colour.

Then, I took a look at her recipe and at what I had in the kitchen and did the following:

*Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan
*add 1/4 cup flour after butter has melted, stir.
*add 2 cups chicken broth
*add 1 cup diced carrots, 1 cup diced celary, and 2 cups peas
*add 1 tsp white wine and 2 tsp white vinegar
*sprinkle with parsley, sage, pepper (from a 4-colour grinder), paprika, and salt
*add 1 Tbsp corn starch if it’s not thick
*add 4 cooked chicken breasts, cubed

Then it was simply pour into the toast cups. Tim said this was delicious, and he had the leftovers at work the following day without the toast cups.


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