Monday, 17 February 2014

River levels are still up and we're still stuck

I don't need to tell you how bad the weather has been over the past week. At times the waves were so high on the canal that it looked like a mini Severn Bore!

We're still moored just outside Loughborough and although the weather has improved a lot the red light was still on when we walked to Bishops Meadow Lock yesterday and the EA website says levels are rising again this morning.

That doesn't seem to have stopped 2 boats from coming through though and as one of them was a hire boat I'd be interested to know a) does the hire company know they are travelling on a river in flood and b) is their insurance valid?

Until the red lights go off we're staying put, even if we are starting to get a bit stir-crazy!

There are signs of Spring bursting all around us. Several trees along the towpath are starting to blossom, the moorhens are fighting to claim their mates and a pair of swans are building a nest opposite us.

Loughborough is quite a handy place to be stuck as it's easy for us to hire a car every week to make the 2 hour trip back to Manchester. I'm having acupuncture treatment for nerve damage caused by the chemo I had last year. We'll just have to plan our travels carefully for the next few months, once the river is open again, to make sure we can always get a hire car. Enterprise Car Hire are very good as they will pick us up and drop us off again although that service isn't available here in Loughborough due to the extensive road works in the town centre. They're pretty reasonable too and we've been getting a good car for only £25 a day.

Until river levels drop and we start cruising again I won't bore you with the trivialities of life here on the boat. The blog may be a bit erratic but hopefully normal service will be resumed again soon.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Potato Cakes

One of my favourite breakfasts is toasted potato cakes but the ones sold in supermarkets are pretty tasteless so I make my own. They are easy to do and freeze well so I usually make up a big batch. You can also make just a couple by using up any leftover mashed potato.

Whether you use leftovers or make fresh mash specifically for the purpose the first thing you need to do is weigh them

You then need to add a quarter of that weight in self-raising flour. I had 696g of potato so added 175g flour. 

The main thing to remember is to use COLD mashed potatoes because adding flour to hot ones makes the potato cakes very doughy. If you added salt to the potato cooking water there is no need to add any more, if not you'll need to add half a teaspoonful now.

Mix the flour into the potato until it all comes together

I use floured silicone paper so the dough doesn't stick to the work top and press it out until it's the thickness of a pound coin. You could use a rolling pin but it isn't really necessary. I used to cut out circles of dough, re-rolling the trimmings to get the most out of the dough, but nowadays I just make large ones and score them into sections. The amount of dough I had was enough to make 2 large potato cakes.

You can cook the potato cakes in a flat bottomed frying pan or on a griddle iron but I use my chapati pan.

Whatever type of pan you decide to use you need to pre-heat it until you can just hold your hand about an inch above the surface and feel the heat.

Cook the potato cake in the dry pan, don't add and fat, for about 5 minutes and then carefully turn over. I slide it onto a plate and then tip the uncooked side back onto the pan and give it another 5 minutes.

Cool the finished cake on a cooling rack and then cut into individual portions. They freeze really well and are lovely served toasted with a bit of butter or fried and served with bacon and egg.