Sunday, 23 November 2008

A speckled egg

Having commented about how long it was since I saw a double yolker I just realised also how unusual it is nowadays to see a speckled egg. When I was young eggs ranged through all shades of brown and white (can you have shades of white?) and were variously speckled or unspeckled. This one – in a tray of two and a half dozen – was the only speckled one I’ve seen in ages. Why? Are speckled eggs less marketable for some reason?

Incidentally, I have since learned that Richard had a double yolker a week or so ago. That means we probably had two in the same batch.

Friday, 21 November 2008


How’s this for an ideal breakfast toast with marmite or base for Welsh Rarebit? Or you can just eat it on its own as a soft and fluffy bread. Once again it’s a bread machine recipe.

Water – 300ml (11fl oz)
Peanut Butter – 3 tbsp
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Strong White Flour – 450g (16oz)
Dried Skimmed Milk Powder – 2 tbsp
Salt – 11/2 tsp
Castor Sugar – 2tsp
Fast-acting yeast - 11/4 tsp (1 sachet)

Pour the water into the breadmaker bucket.
Add the peanut butter, olive oil and about half of the flour.
Sprinkle on the salt, castor sugar and skimmed milk powder.
Add the rest of the flour.
Mound the yeast in the centre.
Put the bucket back in the breadmaker and set the menu to 1 or basic white. Set for a light crust and 1kg.
Leave the machine to do the rest...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Double Yolk

Well, that hasn't happened to me for years (literally). About 1 in 1000 eggs has a double yolk so it isn't all that rare. In some countries, markets sell cartons of double yolked eggs. If you reckon on using about nine eggs a week, as we do, then you would expect to get one every two years. But it is certainly many years since I had one despite always using free range eggs and not battery ones.

Double yolkers happen when ovulation occurs too rapidly or when one yolk somehow gets "lost" and is joined by the next yolk. Double yolkers may be laid by a pullet whose reproductive cycle is not yet well synchronized or, occasionally, by a heavy-breed hen, often as an inherited trait.

You can also have no yolkers (cutely known as 'fart' eggs!), double shelled eggs, eggs without shells, eggs of weird shapes and even a five yolker - which made the Guinness Book of Records.

Photo courtesy of © Michelle Byerly

An egg within an egg happens when an egg that is nearly ready to be laid goes backwards and gets a new layer of albumen covered by a second shell. This extremely rare example of an egg within and egg comes from Michelle Byerly, of Jasper, Texas. The egg was laid either by a Buff Orpington or a Black Australorp in early 2004. The internal egg had no yolk.

According to where you live, a double yolk can mean anything from an forthcoming wedding to a financial windfall to a death in the family. I think I like the middle prospect best!

So would a double yolked egg produce twins, I wondered? The answer, it seems, is probably not, the presence of the two yolks would generally lead to an unsuccessful hatch because the nutritional value of the white is insufficient for two embyros.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


I bought some pork roll the other day but it had virtually no fat or skin on it so I asked the butcher to add some. This he did, tying it around the roll with string. (This was after he had weighed the roll and told me the price so I didn’t get charged for the crackling). The end result was a superb piece of tender meat with great crackling and a fine accompaniment – a variation on one of Simon Rimmer’s from ‘Something for the Weekend’.
Serves 4 but you may want to add mashed potato to make it really filling.


1kg/2lb 4oz pork belly, ready-rolled
2 tsp vegetable oil
200g/8oz smoked bacon cubes (lardons)
500g/1lb 2oz cabbage, chopped
50g/2oz butter
100ml/3½fl oz white wine
200ml/7fl oz double cream or Elmlea
2-3 tbsp sea salt
juice of one lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Make deep cuts in the pork belly skin at 2cm intervals
3. Rub the sea salt and lemon juice into the skin of the pork belly. Place into a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/360F/Gas 4 and continue to roast the pork for about one hour, or until completely cooked through.
5. If you are serving it with mash – put the potatoes on to cook with twenty minutes to go.
6.About fifteen minutes before the meat is due to be finished, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the bacon cubes and fry until crisp and golden-brown.
7. Add the cabbage and butter and cook 3-4 minutes, until the cabbage starts to wilt.
8. Add the wine and the cream and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to a thick sauce.
9. To serve, remove the pork from the oven and carve into thick slices.
10. Place a large spoonful of the cabbage mixture onto each plate and top with slices of the pork. Drizzle with a little gravy and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

How high is your Yorkshire?

After much research The Royal Society of Chemists (RSC) has published guidelines saying a pudding has to be more than 4in (10cm) tall. According to scientist John Emsley, another ingredient for success is native Yorkshire blood. He said: "It's the instinct of people born and raised in Yorkshire. You can tell if the cook has the right touch." The judgement followed an inquiry from an Englishman living in the USA who e-mailed the society seeking scientific advice on the chemistry of the dish following a string of kitchen flops.

According to the RSC the pudding should always be served as a separate course before the main meal, and the best gravy made from the juices of a roast joint should be used. When I first went to Leeds I discovered that Mrs Smith with whom I lodged for a while was a great cook. Evening meals, when I was there, were first class but Sunday lunch was the piece de resistance. Like all good Yorkshire housewives she served Yorkshire pudding and 'proper' gravy as a separate course before the main meal. The original theory is said to have bene that it was to fill up the belly and save money by serving less of the more expensive main course. Mrs Smith didn't seem to realise that was the objective and served the most enormous Yorkshire Pudding - halved between us, followed by a huge main course and then a big (and usually equally filling) dessert. Sunday afternoons were spent snoozing. It's the only time in my life I've been over 81/2 stone!

For my recipe for Yorkshire Pudding mix see Toad-in-the-Hole.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Here's a super starter to the day from MissPrism.

Heat up a mugful of milk in a small saucepan. Break up 40g good dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids is best - if it's any stronger you have to add sugar too, and three ingredients is more than I can cope with at breakfast time).
Switch the hob off sos's you don't burn the house down, then put the chocolate in the hot milk and whisk it like billy-o until there are no lumps left. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and drink it.

Breakfast is healthful
and chocolate is breakfast;
you do the logic.

(MissPrism's "Somewhat old but capacious handbag" blog can be accessed from the side panel of my Rambles from my ChairBlog)

Sunday, 2 November 2008


This is a basic wholemeal bread recipe using a bread-maker.

350ml (12 fl oz) water
2 tbsps olive oil
450g (16oz) strong wholemeal flour
1½ tsp salt
1¼ tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp dried skimmed milk powder
1 sachet (2 tsp) fast-acting dried yeast

Put the water into the bread-maker bucket. Add the oil and half the flour. Sprinkle with the salt, sugar and dried milk. Add the rest of the flour and then put the yeast in a small well in the centre.
Replace the bucket in the bread machine ands set the menu (usually no 1; 1kg; medium crust).

Press the button and let the machine do its work.

When the bread is cooked, carefully shake it out of the bucket (being careful not to burn your hands in the process) and put it on a wire tray to cool. After an hour cut and eat!!!