Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Yesterday Evening

Started early as we ended up going cherry picking down the garden.  Managed to pick about 11lb of cherries which have been bottled in syrup and then processed by the hot water bath method after adding a squirt of lemon juice to each jar.  We still have not finished picking the tree.

I had a lovely evening sat on a stool in the garden, peacefully getting on with my repetitive chores of stalking the cherries, then washing and then pitting the cherries.  The work slow but rythmic and I found my natural rythm as I got into things, A time of work, but also to loose myself in just being in a peaceful balmy garden, and hearing all the noises of different life but just letting it wash over me and just chilling and relaxing.

 Needless to say I had company the cats all came at some point just to sit with me, and Squeak bringing her latest victim a small mouse and then insisting on chomping it whilst she was sat beside me.  Poppy was just sat on the same stool watching every so often wanting some fuss and Merlin being the different kind of baby he is insisting in sitting in an empty flower trough

I got 12 jars of bottled cherries in sweet syrup and got them processed.  Just one small thing when bottling I always tuck a strip of greasproof paper into the jar folded over to fit snug inside.  This helps keep the fruit submerged under the syrup.

Tonight I have frozen three bags of cherries for the freezer and tomorrow evening I intend to make the sugared cherries and put some up for Christmas.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Apple and Mint Relish

A few years ago I went to the Christmas Market (Lincoln)with my cousin and partner in Crime Mandy.  There was a food market there as well and we were busy tasting the sample pots as you do and Mandy came upon a relish I wasn't too sure of at first sight but on tasting it was fresh and lovely.  I took a card but lost it and since then haven't been able to find it or a recipe.  I have found a recipe for a fresh apple and mint relish it hardly has any vinegar in or sugar in so I am going to play with the recipe and see what I can come up with as it was a lovely relish.  I wish I had bought some at the time.

The following recipe which is a Simone Seekers one from her Quick and Easy Preserves book ISBN 0-563-36946-9 is the "Fresh" version and the original recipe ideal as a short term provision for the fridge.  The fresh version does not keep any more than a week in the fridge.


1 medium cooking apple
1 large eating apple
2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of runny honey
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
A pinch of salt
A pinch of ground allspice
A pinch of white pepper


Peel and core the applies and put in the food processor together with the vinegar. Process briefly until finely chopped but not mush the vinegar will stop the apple from browning.  Mix well with the remaining ingredients and leave for 1 hour before serving.
I think that this might be particularly nice with left over cold pork and home made chips as it would be refreshing and moist compared to the texture of the pork which is always however well and carefully you cook it a little on the dry side.  Together with some left over home made stuffing.
I am going to have a play anyway  report back later

Sugared Cherries


3lb/1.35 kg firm black cherries with their stalks on if possible
3lb/1.35 kg sugar
1 1/2 pints/750ml water

Trim the cherry stalks to 1 inch in length (2.5cm).  Make up a syrup of sugar and water and add to the fruit.  Simmer slowly until the cherries begin to look transparent, rather like glace cherries.
Drain the fruit from the syrup and spread it out on cake racks to dry.  Leave overnight in a warm place.  Next day spread them out on greaseproof paper and leave in an airing cupboard for another 24 hours.  Pack into a plastic box layering them with waxed paper.

To serve as sweets dust them with icing sugar first or dip each into a little melted plain chocolate.

These would be lovely to bring out as a special treat at Christmas, so time to make them now as the cherries start to put in an appearance.

Words for the Day

Whatever course you decide upon

There is always someone to tell you that you are wrong

There are always difficulties arising

which tempt you to believe

that your critics are right

To map out a course of action and follow it

to an end requires courage

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

2010.06.27 My Weekend

Well its been a hot old weekend here in Peterborough and today is a lot hotter than the rest of the week  As the song says its too darned hot!  The poor old cats really haven't known what to do with themselves all of them finding some shade to hang out in or asking to come in periodically.

I have processed all my elderflower cordial now and have 18 bottles ready for the pantry.  Now I just have to find a place to squeeze them in.  I am looking forward to having a go at lots of other flavours now as well.  I also have four jars of strawberry syrup processed for the pantry.

I am quite pleased that what I have done by way of syrups and cordials seem to have gone well this weekend as I have never really done them before and using the baby bottle steriliser has made for quicker processing.  I still have the tomato passata and the plum jam to do but that can be started tomorrow night when I come home from work

The sage has been rubbed and decanted into the storage jar - I have about one-third of a large jar full of sage a herb I use a lot of in the winter months for stuffings etc. It has been good to grow it in my little herb plot then dry it and process it knowing that no nasties have been anywhere near.

Friday night I weeded the herb bed and sorted out the plants a bit giving a bit more space  to some and adding some more herbs in; have added a load more chives, oregano, parsley, tarragon and rosemary as well as some lemon balm and feverfew.

I still have the mustard to finish off. I have used Bumble Bee honey beer to soak the seeds in, although I believe that the original recipe used Guiness, but I think at the end of the day you can use whatever takes your fancy.  I just have to locate the small jars I have to pop this into.

We have had honey roast thai style chicken for tea with salad, new potatoes, garlic bread, tomatoes, coleslaw, cucumber.  It was very tasty I shall do that again, especially if accompanying it with salad.  All I did was liberally coat the chicken in butter then put a Thai style spice mix (Schwarz one) and sprinkled this on and then dribbled clear runny hunny all over then just bunged it in the oven at Gas Mark 5 for about an hour and a half.  It was absolutely delicious and very moist.

Unfortunately I still cannot locate the camera lead.  I have one or two more photos to put to different articles.  Its somewhere safe as usual.

Also have the watering up to do.  On Friday I managed to get 4 tumbling tomatoes reduced to 75p per plant from Wilkinsons and they are very thirsty as are the cucumber plants.  The gardening has sort of got sidelined this year but I intend to get it sorted so that I get a better start with it next year.

This heat really is doing me in.

Take care everyone  I understand that it is due to be another hot day tomorrow.



Strawberry Syrup/Cordial

Yesterday morning I went to the greengrocers for my usual Saturday morning top up of fruit and veg.  I always check in the bargain basket as they often have tomatoes, peppers, apples and grapefruit as well as other bits at a reduced price of 50 pence a bag; I find this very helpful as at this sort of price I can managed to put goodies up for The Pantry and the Winter months for next to nothing.  I always have a chat, as you do with the ladies who own the shop we always have a bit of a banter and Tyson my ginger tom camps out there during the day.  They were saying that  because it has been extremely warm strawberries have not been keeping well because of the heat and I was asked if I wanted a couple of punnets.  I said yes - they thought they would be useful for Jam but I thought syrup - something different that I haven't really had a go at before.  I was therefore given a bag of strawberries that they couldn't sell not because they are not edible just that they are not at their optimum level and in the spirit of waste not want not I have therefore made some strawberry cordial syrup with them.

Simmer fresh hulled strawberries with sugar. For every 100g of fruit that you use add 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Add lemon juice and a good squeeze of lemon( as strawberries are low in pectin) until the fruit is starting to go "mushy" and soft and at this point I introduced the potato masher to extract as much colour and juice as I could.  Then strain through a sieve. And secondly  re-strain the syrup through fine muslin.  Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal.  I then popped the steriliser on  and put the bottles in until it was up to temperature and then processed in the steriliser for 15 minutes to help remove any air within the bottle thus enabling longer keeping quality of the syrup. Otherwise process by the hot water bath method to extract the air.

 Use as a cordial or with a fizzy wine or champagne or as a syrup for ice cream or pancakes. Can also be used diluted with ordinary water or fizzy water for a squash type drink.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Home Made Mustard 

I like Mustard but use it sparingly and it is something I have never had a go at making before, but I have been inspired to have a go at making the same after seeing the tutorial on the jamjarshop website.  The link is above for those of you wanting to have a go. The full recipe and pdf instructions as well as there being a link on You Tube

I have just put my seeds in to soak overnight (you use a yellow mustard seed and brown) and will be able to finish it off tomorrow.  So I am going to enjoy playing again and it all adds to The Pantry provisions and possible Christmas pressies.  So will play catch up tomorrow.


Must say I am quite impressed with this and I have five small jars out of the mixture. I used a honey beer and white wine vinegar.  Thought that this might be really strong but at the moment appears to be mild. Will be nice with some gammon or some beef.  Will certainly make this again.

Photos will have to follow later.

Full Moon

Tis full moon tonight and I am [if the moon puts in an appearance  and we are not clouded over]and I can see her I am going to cleanse my crystals in the moonlight to recharge them.

The new moon is  according to the astrologists the beginning of a new period in our lives, and apparently a lunar eclipse is due to occur tonight with a solar eclipse in precisely two weeks time  - apparently they travel in pairs. (I don't think we will see this in the UK but if you live in Western US, Canada, Alaska, Antartica, Australia and the Middle East and Asia I belive you will see this.  I just take it that we have come full circle for this particular period

Never mind UK that we are dipping out again.

Funnily enough, my friend has twin daughters and the past few days they have been kicking off and causing problems, and she laughed whe I suggested that it may be just the run up to the full moon upsetting them.

But despite all that to me the moon is pretty magical she was lovely last night as I hope she will be tonight. There is someting peaceful and serene about our lady moon as well as magical.

I hope she brings peace and restores your imagination and soothes your soul - I shall watch for her in the darkness just sitting and being peaceful and at one with myself - peace and tranquility listening to the night sounds, just enjoying the stillness of a lovely magical night.

Be at peace wherever you are



I have cherries

I have been down the garden and the cherries are nearly ready.  I am getting ready to pounce and intend to pick the riper ones a little later on as normally the birds manage to snaffle the lot. They usually ripen whilst we are at work. The variety is called Stella it was sold to us on a dwarf rootstock, but something has gone terribly wrong and its massive.  Will have to drag the little ladder down the garden a bit later too muggy at the minute and at least that way I will get some cherries.  Will probably bottle them in a syrup they are a nice bright red and yellow cherry not a purply wine coloured one, but all the same cherries.  The one or two I have had this afternoon taste very nice.

Just hope I get there before the pigeons do.

Using Up Marmalade

Its that time of year where I am busy going through my storage cupboards using up items before they get past their sell by date and half a jar of this or that.  Am doing the same going through the freezers and the jar store.  First to hand was some marmalade and I don't like wasting much if I can help it.  Now I am sure that I am not on my own with this
Ever ended up with half a jar or just some marmalade on the pantry shelf and not really know what to do with it. Here are some ideas

  • Mix marmalade with some honey and fresh grated ginger and use as a marinade for chicken.  This is very tasty.
  • Combine chopped rosemary and marmalade and spread over a leg of lamb half way through the roasting.
  • Add a tablespoon of marmalade to your gravy for roast pork, lamb, and chicken to give a tangy richness
  • Heat up some marmalade in a pan with some water once warmed through sieve to remove the rinds and then serve as an orange sauce with some ice cream or with duck to create your own duck a l'orange.
  • Make a Marmalade cake.
  • Use half a jar in a home made steam sponge pudding to create a self saucing pudding.

Experimentation with a bottle steriliser

A lot of us (not everyone) have items in the kitchen cupboard that we are probably not always using to their full extent or we wish for an easier method of processing stuff without the expense.  One example of this is that I have on my list of to do's a go at making soap in a slow cooker.  From what I have read it is safe and contained, and there is less risk of injury using this method.

One of the problems I have come up with during my journey through home food processing is the question of finding a nice sized bottle that would hold some goodies for the pantry in like for home made ketchup, fruit sauces, ice cream sauces, cordials etc. I acquired some nice sized sauce bottles from Ascott and yet again that was as far as it got.  That is until I decided to do the elderflower cordial and wondered what I could put it in and also keep it for quite a lengthy period of time.

I have therefore been experimenting this week as a while back I had a thought and acted on it (very impetuous I know) about sterilising the numerous amounts of bottles I have without quite so much clap trap involved.  I therefore acquired a baby bottle steriliser  (mine came second hand from a car boot a while back) and thats as far as it got. Until this week I did not even know if it worked. But that thought came round from pattypan's personal archives and rose above the parapet again and I have found that it is ideal for any medium sized slender sauce type bottles (mine came from Ascott).  It has not only sterilised my bottles (and keeps those bottles safe and sterilised for up to six hours so the instructions say as long as you don't lift the lid) but I also "bottled" my elderflower cordial in it for long time storage.  So will see how it goes but its a lot easier doing it this way rather than balancing bottles in a large preserving pan and them going off piste as they say and wedging them with tea towels to keep them upright.

I can get six of the sauce bottles in to the steriliser (it uses citric acid and water) or three slightly larger bottles as the sterliser is quite deep.  But for larger bottles I think I will need to invest in a pasteuriser from Vigo the only drawback here is that it costs £150, but the advantage from what I can see is that if you have lots of kilner jars or that type jar and you have a lot of jars to process you can get quite a few in this machine to process the bottles in bulk which is both a saving on time and energy in the long run.  The machine can also be used for various other projects like a tea urn at a country fete etc. 

There is one thing I regret not being able to have (or at least I haven't located one yet).  When I was a little girl (a long time ago I know) but when my mum had my brother there were a lot of nappies to be washed, aired and dried and we didn't have central heating in those days - only one coal fire in the front room and a small stove in the kitchen and it was always cold and we had longer colder winters (the one we had last year was nearer the norm).  It was therefore a tad difficult getting things dried and quite often the washing was put to dry before the fire in the winter months.  Mum and Dad invested in what was known as a drying cabinet with wooden rails in it. It was ideal for drying damp clothes and airing dried ironed clothes.  Its only as an adult all these years on I see the potential of that piece of equipment.  If only I could get my hands on one of them it would be ideal for doing batch drying of home made pasta.

So perhaps we should all re-evaluate what kitchen equipment we have and see what other uses we can put things too.  It would be lovely to hear if you have come up with some other uses for your own equipment.

Catch you all later

Apple & Lemon Curd


1.4 kg/3lb cooking apples peeled cored and sliced
300ml/ 1/2 pint/1 1/4 cups water
900g/2lb/4 cups sugar
grated rind and juice of 4 lemons
50g/2oz/1/4 cup butter
5ml/1 teaspoon ground ginger
2.5ml/ 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
8 egg yolks lightly beaten


  1. Put the apples into a preserving pan with the water.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer until the apples are soft. Press them through a sieve.
  3. Return the apple to the cleaned preserving pan and add the sugar, lemon rind, juice, butter and spices. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Bring to the boil, then removed from the heat and stir in the egg yolks.
  5. Cook getly until the mixture is hoit but not boiling and has thickened.
  6. Pot up the curd in warm clean jars and cover.

Makes approxiately 5lb/2.3 kg.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Beeswax Polish

This is the first recipe I have come across which doesn't use turpentine and I was pleased to find this as I have had some difficulty in locating turpentine; I can find a substitute but not the real thing.


85g/3 oz beeswax
30g/1 oz white wax or 1/2 standard sized candle
600ml/1 pint of white spirit
600ml/1 pint of hot water
1 tablespoon washing up liquid


Over a moderate heat and using an old saucepan (certainly not one that you would use for food) melt the wax.  Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the white spirit.  Mix in the washing up liquid with the water and gently add to the wax mixture.  Let it cool, stirring occasionally then put into screw top jars and label very clearly.  When using allow the wax some time to sink into the furniture before polishing off with a clean cloth.

Taken from Recipes for a perfect country weekend by Linda Burgess and Sally Anne Scott ISBN 1-85029-333-3

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Tuesday Musings and Lemons

I needed some more lemons as I have elderflower cordial on the go and also have some Elderflower Champagne to get started. So I nipped round the shop to get some lemons and came back without them.  I was not paying 40 pence per lemon.  They would have to be gold plated before I pay that! Daylight robbery. That was the Co-Op.

So I went to our market today in town and got 10 large lemons for 20 pence each  £2 for the lot.  I nipped into Waitrose for a browse on the way back as I like this shop and to get the latest recipe cards  and evey they were only charging 20 pence per lemon.  Come on Co-Op its about time you got your act together. 

I Will get some more lemons at the end of the week as I also want to make some Apple and Lemon Curd too.  I am starting to gear up to get some precious preserves put up for the winter months.  Judging by the holly berries on my bush in the garden its going to be another hard winter, so the more I have put up the better, and besides now I have the preserved peel recipe it will be very satisfying using up as much as I can without having to throw anything  away. I can also see the peel being very useful as a filling for apple dumplings as well

I nearly always keep lemons in as they are very handy for bunging in the whites wash as this bleaches cottons and also gives them a lovely fragrance, and also dipped in salt to clean copper or brass to get the really heavy tarnish off.

The best part of today though was I found my gooseberries so will be topping up and topping and tailing at the end of the week for some jam and the freezer.  I also want some apricots too.

And I have found some more preserving jars which I had forgotten I had got so they will be turfed out this weekend and hopefully will be able to get some bottled fruit put up.

I am after bottling the following for the winter months:

Hedgepick Pie filling
Red Mixed Fruit Salad
White Mixed Fruit Salad
Pears in Saffron
Pears in Red Wine

That's just for starters, even if I only do a couple of jars a week it will be better than nothing  (and will be easier on the purse) and home bottled preserves are full of flavour and don't have any nasties in them; and won't cost me anything but the initial outlay for the jars  - some of which I already have, but the beauty is you only pay out the once.

Lots to do and so little time to do it.

At least I found my goosegogs

Catch you soon

Blueberry Muffins

I love home made muffins  - they fill all criteria for me as severe comfort food when I am feeling blue - especially blueberry ones which are my all time favourites, but apple and cinnamon and raspberry and white chocolate are also hot on their heels. Coffee and pecan nut the flavours are only limited by your own chocie.  They can be served with coffee, as part of a pack up box, as a filler in between meals, served as part of a breakfast or as part of high tea and if you make them yourself you get far more for your money and you can always freeze the extra until they are needed so that they do not go to waste, although I cannot ever foresee muffins going to waste - well not in my household.


250g/9 oz self-raising flour
2 x 5ml spoons (2 teaspoon) baking powder
1/2 x 5ml spoon (1/2 teaspoon) salt
100g/4 oz caster sugar
1 egg beaten
250ml/8 floz buttermilk
50g/2 oz melted butter
150g/5 oz blueberries

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and stir in the sugar.  Beat in the egg, buttermilk and melted butter and beat the batter until it is smooth.  Stir in the blueberries.
  2. Pour in the batter into 12 greased muffin tins.
  3. Bake the muffins in the oven preheated to 220 degrees C, 425 degrees F or Gas Mark 7 for 20 - 25 minutes until they are well risen and firm but springy to the touch.
  4. Cool the Muffins in the tins for 2 to 3 minutes then turn them out.  Serve with clotted cream.
*Cannot locate buttermilk I have made these with a mixture of yoghurt and milk and they still turn out more than okay.


Other firm soft fruits can be substituted for blueberries, blackcurrants and redcurants.  Both give lovely results

You can start these the night before i.e. make the batter and then in the morning beat the mixture well and then stir in the fruit just before cooking, serve warm and fresh for breakfast/brunch but however and when you make them savour and enjoy them.

Solstice Moon

I watched the sky tonight  - I had to go out into the street as I could not see the moon from my house.   She appeared to be slung very low in the night sky. There is something magical about the moon that lights our night skies, something hypnotic, something soothing  The sky was midnight blue and had a rippled effect of light and dark like a raspberry ripple ice cream.  There was a bright glow in the sky where the moon was but I did not see her just like a zig zag effect in the night sky the zig zag being the light from the moon in the night sky.  A touch of the Harry Potters and the zig zag from his wand creating mystery and anticipation; with a doseful of magic and serenity to boot.

The wheel has turned again,  the nights will grow longer the days shorter and nor shall we see or travel this path again; another month, another year another place; we move ever onwards time travellers in space, time and ether to new events and new experiences to new growth and to fulfil our souls journey.  Each one of us different, unique our experiences often challenging and not what we expect.  Lets hope the path well travelled provides the peace and sustenance we crave to nurture the new growth and to take us ever onwards

Jumbleberry Jam

This is quite a versatile recipe by virtue of the fact it doesn't matter about how much of a particular fruit you use its the total weight that matters so you can basically make use of what you have available in the garden if you have your own fruit bushes, so getting the maximum amount of use for a little fruit.  If you don't have your own fruit such as myself at the moment you are not restricted as you can check out the bargains on reduced fruit or can even make a cheats version of this with a mixed bag of fruits from a freezer centre as long as the weight of the prepared fruit equates to 1lb.


450g/1lb mixed berries (i.e. strawberries, blueberries, raspberries reducurrants blackcurrants etc)
450g/1lb sugar
freshly squeezed juice of 1 large lemon


  1. In a preserving pan mix together the berries and sugar and then stir in the lemon juice.  Warm the mixture over a low heat stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Cook at a full rolling boil until the jam reaches setting point.
  3. Pour into hot sterilised jars seal and label.
This is great as a filling with either butter cream of fresh cream in a Victoria Sandwich cake or Swiss Roll.  Its also gorgeous on bread and butter or hot buttered toast.

Words for the Day

"And when you come to a meeting of many ways and do not know which to choose, do not choose at random but pause and reflect.  Breathe with the trusting, deep breaths you took when you first came into the world; let nothing distract you, but wait and go on waiting.

Be still and listen in silence to your heart and when it has spoken to you rise up and follow it"

Susanna Tamaro from "Follow your Heart"

Sunday, 20 June 2010

My Weekend

I haven't done much housework this weekend (shock horror)  as I have been quite tired after a very busy week; so I have been playing hookey and been playing with lots of other things including making the elderflower and chammomile hand gel and the preserved peel in syrup; trouble is when you having fun time soon flies and I still have had loads of other things to do as well. But its nice to have played for a change has been a luxury.  Its fun to play especially after being  at work all week.  Truth is I am ready for a holiday but it doesn''t look as if that is going to happen either.  Yes days off work but not holiday holiday.  Never mind will get there in the end one day. 

OH has been fishing, Missy went with him, Tyson has spent each night on the foot of the bed with me, enjoying sprawling and taking full advantage of the fact that Missy is not  there, and renewing his claim to the bed.

 This afternoon went for another walk and this time went a slightly different way.  No end of rabbits everywhere and the way I went was a proper old fashioned hedgerow walk that I hadn't been down before, but needless to say will go that way again.Have bought some more elderflowers back to process into cordial and to elderflower champagne and also to dry. (Since done) Also will do the gooseberry and elderflower jam using gooseberries from the freezer probably tomorrow night when I get home in the jam machine.  Haven't seen any gooseberries yet hope to get some more to replenish the freezer as well.  Elderflower jelly will have to wait until next weekend when I can get some cooking apples.  Also have dried some more apple rings .  Probably will get some kiwi fruit to dry next week but this time string them on cotton.  Am trying to stock pile some dried fruits so that I can do my own home made muesli which I make on a regular basis, but this time round drying as much fruit as I can myself.

I am well pleased with the preserved peel recipe.  I have some grapefruit which I intend to make some curd out of and the skins from this will be ideal for doing a grapefruit version of the peel.  The first jar have done is oranges and lemons, then there will be grapefruit and then lemon and lime.

I have lots planned to do, and I certainly want to bottle some fruit up for the winter months as well as do some jams and chutneys.

I would quite like to have a go at doing some home cured bacon, hams, salami, proscuitto, and pastrami.  Have some recipes just need to be able to get reasonably priced meat to have a go with.  Me thinks a recce of the meat market is in order and perhaps a glance at the fish counter also as I want to pot some prawns/shrimps for the freezer.  Will do my research first with my plotting and planning.

Catch up soon

Take care



Dyrham Bitter Orange Teabread

At the time of typing this I have not tried this recipe but I intend to as soon as my preserved peel is ready as I am a great fan of tea breads of any kind.  They are the original cut and come again food and spread with butter  - very yummy.  I cannot wait to try it especially after the lovely fragrance of orange and lemon emanating from the preserve jar of peel.  I have some ordinary peel so I may well make this before then if I find I cannot wait.


Rind or two oranges coarsley grated
4floz/100ml of orange juice
4oz/125g mixed or preserved peel chopped
4oz/125g margarine
3oz/75g light muscovado sugar
1 egg
3oz /75g self raising flour
3oz/75g wholemeal flour


Grease a 1lb /450g loaf tin.  Mix together the orange rind and juice and the peel. Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the egg accompanied by 2 tablespoons/30ml flour, add half the remaining flour with half the orange mixture and fold in carefully with a metal spoon.  Add the remaining flour and the rest of the orange mixture and mix well.  Spoon into the prepared tin and bake at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C  or gas mark 4 for about an hour or until the cake is beginning to leave the sides of the tin.  Cool for 5 minutes then turn onto a rack.

Preserved Orange and Lemon Peel

I am very fortunate in that I have quite an eclectic mixture of books with lots of recipes and/or projects to have a go at and I like trying new things out.  Mind you most of my projects usually have to do with food one way or another. I also love reading my books and am always researching recipes playing with them and then sometimes adding my own twist on them.  This recipe I found yesterday and it would appear so simple which is what attracted me to it.  I was going to wait until the first batch was completed (this is very much a work in progress recipe as you add the peel when it is available with a layer of sugar) however after poking my nose in after one night the aroma is wonderful and the sugar is turning to a syrup that I have decided to post the recipe here together with a follow up recipe for a Tea Bread which is also in this delightful little book.  I must say all the National Trust Cookery books I have are well worth their weight in gold.

This particular recipe is taken from the National Trust book of Fruit and Vegetable Cookery by Simone Sekers ISBN 0-7078-0131-1 which is my kind of recipe as it only requires a little preparation and then can be left to itself apart from regular shaking inbetween times.  It stipulates that it is very good for cakes and puddings.

I am always seeking out those special recipes for use in my pantry and for goodies for the Christmas pantry.  Peel is something that gets chucked away and we end up buying it for our cakes and tea breads so why not make it yourself.

Scrub Oranges and Lemons grapefruits and lime and then peel off with a sharp knife as much as the pith as is possible. You will end up with a pile of pith and membrane.  I then let the peel soak in boiling water and then drain them.  I then sliced the peel into thinnish strips and then chopped into squares and then layered the peels in a preserving jar with a good layer of sugar between each layer (you can add to the jar with alternating layers of sugar and peel as you go). Putting a lid on in between. Make sure that the jar is shaken often as this helps the sugar turn to syrup. The peel can then be used in cakes and puddings.

The Chopped Peel

After it has been dried with kitchen paper

The First layer of sugar in the bottom of the jar

More sugar piled on top and after the first shaking the peel is well covered

Everytime you pass it by give it a good shaking which should help
create a syrup in which the peel is stored

After one night the sugar is starting to develop into a thick syrup

I wish you could smell the aroma from the jar it is delightful

I think this is going to be a very good way of making your own preserved mixed peel, which although covered and preserved in sugar is not hard like  normal mixed peel and from the smell of the jar is probably going to have  far more flavour than any commercial product, and from what I have read this preserve can be used in replacement of any recipe that has mixed peel in it.  I can als see a use for the syrup in fruit salads and dribbled over pancakes etc. Will post a follow up in a few weeks.

This is a good recipe to make when processing the mixed fruits for varous types of jam and or curd where there is the peel left over.  Its good to use it up as it doesn't rot down well in a compost heap and this is one answer to another problem.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Simple Pleasures

When you have too much you don't appreciate what you do have and when you haven't got much its the simple things that give the greatest pleasure "the silver lining" if you like.

My simple pleasure in the last few weeks are the first flowers off a rambling rose that seems to have come into its own this year. I have never had flowers off it before and yet there have been so many stems of beautiful gently scented blooms that each one has made me smile. I have tried to do little bits with them like drying the petals, and a small bunch of them and also the heads of some others, but these ones I have put in a posy just for me, but then that is being selfish so I want to share them with you. Roses the flower that speaks so much to everyone but straight from the heart.

 I love Roses they mean a lot to me and they are one of the first flowers I ever remember; my grandfather used to grow quite a few of them on his plot and they were always so lovely each one so different.  I even found a pressed rose in my great grandfather's bible that had been preserved and put up as a memory of a special occasion although I have no idea of which one, but special all the same.

My mother was born in June; and my grandparents named her June Rose; her second name came from a big bunch of Roses that my grandfather brought to my grandmother from his allotment to celebrate her birth.

Memories are so special and so fleeting, but moments like that speak of a far deeper more hidden emotion  a grand passion - one that some of us cannot show because they do not know how to or there is something that has happened that stops them doing, but that does not mean they do not feel, others show too much; but it is far better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.

I hope you find your simple pleasures wherever or whatever they may be - they are for you to enjoy wherever they may be.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Elderflower and Chammomile Hand Gel


3 tablespoons of Arrowroot
100ml/4fl oz water
2 tablespoons of Dried Chammomile
2 tablespooons of Dried Elderflowers
3 tablespoons of glycerine


Gather together the ingredients and measure them out. Prepare some small screw top pots ready for storage.

Heat the water and add the herbs. Leave to steep until thoroughly cooled.

Warm the glycerine in a double boiler and add the arrowroot. Stir very well.

Strain the infusion. Gradually add to the glycerine and arrowroot mixture and stir until it is clear and starting to gel. This is important becuase if the mixture thickens too much it makes it very greasy and gritty - the skin does not absorb properly (guess who found out the hard way) The mixture sort of goes translucent and shiny and starts to thicken when ready.  If mixture does go too thick add a little more liquid to thin it down but use a whisk to combine the mixtures together.  Decant into pots.

The mixture when ready should be gentle and soothing and is excellent for softening hands without making them feel greasy.

Chammomile is naturally healing and soothing and this gel exploits the herb's ability to soften the skin. Elderflowers are considered effective as a tonic for all skins.

First time I have had a go at a gel, been quite interesting - very steep learning curve
Measure out the Dried Elderflower

Add the Chammomile

Add the Water to steep the herbs and leave to stand until cool

Now that its cool the colour deepens

Strain off the herbs and retain the liquid pressing down with the back of a spoon
to extract all the liquid

Measure out the Glycerine

Add the Arrowroot and blend in so that there are no lumps

Nice and Smooth

Starting to Gel

Potted up - It looks promising will have to wait and see.
 I have used a Glass as could not locate my miniature pots

With its lid - it is going to be on the kitchen windowsill for use every day

Now I have to wait for it to cool

This recipe taken from the Magic of Herbs by Jane Newdick ISBN 1-85833-281-8


I am extremely chuffed with this and it is leaving my skin very soft.  I slapped a load on after doing the washing up today and my skin feels soft.  Shall definitely make some more of this.
Store in the fridge

Cherry Brandy

This is something that I try to make year in year out,  It is on the Pattypan list of makes for the Put Down each year.


450g/1lb nice dark cherries (traditionally Morello cherries are used)
75g/Approx 3 oz of sugar (or add less or more depending on how sweet you want this)
600ml/1 pint of brandy
Almond essence 2 drops  - Optional


  1. Remove all the cherry stalks and keep these to one side.  I have found another recipe for using these which I intend to have a go at this year.  This will be posted separately.
  2. Prick each cherry all over with a sterilised needle or wooden cocktail stick.  I use a cherry stoner to remove any of the pits, especially with a view to eating the macerated fruit later on.
  3. Layer the cherries with the sugar alternating in a sterilised jar to within approx one inch of the top of the jar.  If using the Almond essence add now.
  4. Pour in the brandy to cover the cherries by about half an inch.  Seal the jar and then store in a cool dark place for at least three months before using to allow the flavours to develop.  Shake the jar from time to time.
  5. Line a funnel with a double layer of muslin and strain the brandy through into a sterilised bottle.  Seal the bottle and label
  6. Don't waste the cherries after straining they are delicious topped with fresh whipped cream or just pouring cream or if you fancy them as a sweetmeat dunk them in melted chocolate and allow to set.
Makes about 1 litre/ 1 3/4pints

Alcoholic bounty for adults

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Things to do over the Next Few Weeks

I am a great list maker  - I make lists of the things that I would like to do - sometimes I complete them sometimes I am a tad optimistic, but I do find lists helpful a good memory jogger and it is so satisfying ticking things off as items being accomplished and those items not achieved can always be carried forward.


Before I start anything tomorrow evening I need to do a little bit of shopping in order to make some of the bits and bobs I have scheduled to have a go at.  So first things first is the shopping list:

  1. Butter - for everyday and making curds - done
  2. Milk - for everyday, yoghurt and cheesemaking
  3. Cream - for puddings and cooking.
  4. Lemons - for curds and cleaning - done
  5. Basil
  6. Tray of Eggs - obtained
  7. Puff Pastry couple of packs done
  8. Apples - obtained
  9. Oranges
  10. Cooking Apples
  11. Glycerine Yes
  12. Strawberries - first batch for syrup done
  13. Beeswax
  14. Rennet  Yes
  15. Sunflower Oil
  16. White wine vinegar
  17. Hops
  18. Jasmine leaves
  19. Orange blossom water
  20. Rose Water
I also managed to pick up a few extra items; so some of the stuff will be deferred to next week. The extras I obtained were:

Rye Flour
White Spelt Flour
Buckwheat Flour
Vegeren Rennet - Cheesemaking
Vitamin C powder - Breadmaking
Arrowroot - for cooking and beauty products

I needed quite a few of these just hadn't expected to be able to pick them up today.

Thats just for this week and there may be some other bits and bobs am not able to get so those items wll go on a file forward list.

Foody Things To Put Down In Store
  1. Make Mustard - done
  2. Make Yoghurt
  3. Bottle Tarragon Vinegar
  4. Make Some Basil Oil
  5. Make Some pesto, put into individual ice cube trays and freeze
  6. Make some walnut pesto put into individual ice cube trays and freeze
  7. Make Elderflower Cordial - done
  8. Make Elderflower Curd
  9. Make Elderflower Champagne - done
  10. Make Elderflower Wine
  11. Dry Elderflowers -done
  12. Make Elderflower Jelly
  13. Make Gooseberry and Elderflower Curd
  14. Make Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam
  15. Make Strawberry and Elderflower jam
  16. Make Lemon Curd
  17. Make Orange Curd
  18. Dry Some more Apple Rings - done
  19. Dry stale bread for home made breadcrumbs/stuffings
  20. Make Curd Cheese - any excess to be frozen
  21. Make Yoghurt
  22. Start Rumtopf done
  23. Make Herb jellies
  24. More Rose Petal products including conserves - done
  25. Home Made Muesli
  26. Home Made Mincemeat - done
  27. Preserved Peel in syrup - done
  28. Make Sage Oil - done
  29. Make Strawberry Syrup
  30. Make Fruit Coulis
  31. Make Plum Jam
  32. Bottle tomato passata
  33. Apricot curd
  34. Freeze cherry plum tomatoes for winter months done
  35. Bottle Plums
  36. Dried more sage and rubbed into storage jar - done
  37. Apricot Jam
  38. Make Orange Wine
  39. Make Lager
  40. Make Bitter
  41. Make Cider
  42. Make Apple Pop
  43. Make Ginger Beer
  44. Make Giner Wine
  45. Make Plum Wine

Edible Things

  1. Home made ice cream
  2. Make Jelly/Trifle
  3. Make Savoury and sweet puff pastries
  4. Make Croissants
  5. Make Pain Au Chocolat
  6. Make Ice Lollies for the freezer - made cider adult ones
  7. Make Bread
  8. Make Pannacotta
  9. Make Profiteroles


  1. Washing
  2. Line Drying
  3. Ironing
  4. Strip Bed and get sheets laundered dried and ironed
  5. Polish and Hoover out bedroom
  6. Hoover stairs
  7. Sort out Dining Room
  8. Sort out Pantry and take everything out, wash and paint out; put everything back including storage of cake tins and storage tubs etc in back of pantry.
  9. Scrub out kitchen
  10. Get kitchen walls papered with lining paper.
  11. Paint out kitchen and stencil
  12. Make blind for kitchen and also sink skirt
  13. Door Curtain


  1. Tidy and sort front garden including weeding nearly there
  2. Weed herb bed - completed and re-sorted
  3. Plant up herb tubs - completed
  4. Sow some more seeds
  5. Get stuck in with the weeding and clearance in the back garden
  6. Get rid of any rubbish

Well that's the plan anyway and the best laid plans of mice and men often meet detours along the way.  Will see how it goes

Catch up soon.

The Pearly Gates

The Pearly Gates

40 Gypsies arrive at the Pearly Gates in their Transit vans and caravans.

St Peter goes into the gatehouse and phones up God, saying.

'I've got 40 travellers here. Can I let them in?'

God says 'We are over quota on Pikeys . Go out and tell them to choose between them which are the 12 most worthy, and I will let just

the dozen in.'

Less than a minute later St Peter is on the phone to God again.

'They've gone', he tells God.

'What?' says God, 'All 40 of them?'

'No, the bloody gates'.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Elderflower Jelly

This recipe is apparently very good with chicken, game, pork or lamb


20 elderflower heads stalks removed
1.35kg/3 lb cooking apples chopped
3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
granulated sugar

Makes about 3lb


  1. Put the apples, elderflowers and vinegar in a large saucepan with 900ml/ 1 1/2 pints of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer until soft then strain through muslin overnight.  Measure the liquid and for every 600ml or 1 pint of liquid add 450g / 1lb of sugar.
  3. Return to the saucepan and cook gently allowing the sugar to dissolve then bring to a rapid boil.
  4. Boil until setting point is reached, this may take up to 25 minutes.  Pour into warmed jars seal

Lemon and Elderflower Syllabub


300ml/ 1/2 pint double cream
2 tablespoon of elderflower cordial
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Serves 2 to 3 and the beauty of this recipe is that it can be made in the winter months too, using the cordial as a base.


Whip the cream and gently fold in the elderflower cordial and lemon juice.  Serve in chilled glasses


Tinky (official name Clover) is the oldest of my cats 20+ still very vocal and enjoying life.  She was part ferrell when we obtained her as a kitten had been living in the fen in amongst some old tyres and we originally thought she was black.  But she cleaned up and turned out she was black and white. She is very pretty and long haired although does not have a terribly thick coat. A very affectionate moggy when she wants fuss by does she want it and will not leave you alone making silly purring noises in the process.  She likes it best when its me and her and the young uns give her a bit of peace and quiet and she can come through into the other rooms, trouble is when we let her through we have one heck of a job getting her back.  All of my cats are very vocal and here she is up to no good taking over the dresser again gradually easing everything off in the process!

Syllabub with Wild Rose Petal Conserve

Now I have made the conserve I had better have some recipes for using it - I am looking forward to trying this one at the weekend.

1/4 litre/1 1/4 cups/1/2 pint Whipping Cream
1 tablespoon of brandy
4-5 tablespoons Wild Rose Petal Conserve

Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk lightly add the brandy and continue to whisk until the cream thickens to a soft peak.
Fold in the Rose Petal Conserve and pile the syllabub into 6 wine glasses.  Chill before serving.

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)