The TV wasn't bad either. The Brits are funny about their 'telly'. It is completely normal for a gardening show to come on a 9pm on a Friday night. And I kid you not, they had a show that came on at 7pm every weeknight for about a month called "Spring Watch" and "Autumn Watch" which was a live nature show. "Autumn Watch" must have been tricky to film since it was already dark by the time they started broadcasting live from some pond outdoors. One of the re-occurring pieces was about a beaver who spent the entire season chewing through a fallen tree. I'm pretty sure he made it trough for their season finally.
And although I'm back in the land of 300+ channels of anything you could ever want to watch on TV (not that I have cable...) I do miss their basic network TV. The BBC's various nature shows definitely win out against ABC's Dancing with the Stars or NBC's Deal or No Deal. One of the shows I particularly miss this season is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage. As he explains in the opening credits each episode, "ever since he left the city and came here to the country he's been producing his own food. Raising livestock and growing vegetables. And the longer he's been here the more he's felt in tune with the seasons."
Although I could do with a little less of Hugh's semi condescending message of "everyone should grow their own food and not shop at tesco because they do bad things to their chickens" I do very much admire what he has achieved at River Cottage. It is something to aspire to, but not something readily available to most people. But damn- I can't wait to one day make my own Elderflower Champagne from the wild elderflowers growing in the surrounding fields!
The BF very sweetly procured last year's River Cottage Autumn and I've been re-watching them all. Episode 1 has the cooks battling it out for best beet pudding (as in desert, not specifically pudding). I can only hope that they had an over-abundance of beets that year, because I can't figure out why else they would think to put beetroot into a brownie. Then again, I can't think of why I was compelled to make them either.
But I'm glad I did. I only wish I had pureed the beets and not grated them, because that was really the only slightly-off putting part of the brownie: the texture. Besides that, they were fluffy yet dense, sweet and chocolatey but also earthy from the beets.
If you're feeling up for something different, do try these- I brought them into the office (almost against my own will- too embarrassed to admit that I made beetroot brownies for the fun of it, but then I'm not about to share a full pan of brownies with the BF) and people actually liked them! Some new what the "secret ingredient" was and other didn't but all in all, these quickly disappeared.
From this recipe on River Cottage Autumn
- 250g/10oz good, dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
- 250g/10oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing
- 250g/10oz caster sugar
- 3 free-range eggs
- 150g self-raising flour (we used wholemeal self-raising)
- 250g beetroot, boiled until tender, peeled and pureed
1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a baking tin of approximately 20 x 30 x 3cm and line the bottom with baking parchment.
2. Break up the chocolate into pieces, cut the butter into cubes then mix them up a bit in a heatproof bowl. As the oven begins to warm up, put the bowl onto one of the shelves for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter starts to melt. Stir, and put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely.
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Gently fold in the flour then the beetroot – be careful not to overmix or it will make the brownies tough.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes. A knife or skewer pushed into the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Don't be tempted to overcook them! Remove the tin from the oven and leave on wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.