Thursday, 29 November 2012

brrgh its a bit cold

OH has just not long come home 9:00 pm and already it is minus 1 - looks as though it is going to be a really cold night.  I know I haven't felt one hundred percent all day.  Went really cold at work and shivery as though someone had walked over my grave and took me absolutely ages to warm up.  I had a very bad Raynauds attack at lunch where I lost the circulation in my hands and my hands went puce with thick fleece gloves on.

I have the heating on at home and the cats are cuddled up as is Missy.

Safe journeys and keep safe wherever you may be.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Catch up on the weekend

Sorry this post should have been published on Sunday but somewhere along the line got lost.  I post it for the sake of completeness only.  

Things were equally busy yesterday, yet more paperwork sorted still a lot to do and sorting out a pile of recipes that I might use over Christmas to one side to go through properly.

OH worked yesterday and so when he did come in last night shattered I had a nice hot meal ready for him.  We had leg of lamb chops which were really tasted, cooked with roast parsnips, roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, peas and lashings of gravy. Both of us were ready for tea and it went down well and was quite tasty.

I also nipped to the shop yesterday to get some veggies and managed to get some reduced broccoli which is going into a blue cheese and broccoli soup and the rest is destined for the freezer.  So if you get the opportunity of reduce priced veg and will not have time to eat it before the sell by date prepare it a freeze it so that you have a ready supply of veggies in the freezer.  I bought carrots, leeks, cauliflower a savoy cabbage, the broccoli a mixed bag of veg used last night. (reduced bags of mixed veg are good as you can use them in so many ways mine was supposed to have been £1 a bag and I got it for 35p.  Strangely they do not seem to have very much by the way of swede or parsnips at the moment.  Will have to get stocked up when this new freezer arrives as we do love our veggies.

Well I slept well last night went out like a light - did not hear the wind quite surprised me when I got up as it is blowing a right old hooley.  Hope you and yours keep safe wherever you are.  It also seems a little milder than it was yesterday.  The animals do not like the wind though or the noise it makes.

I have a nice piece of pork for dinner tonight, roast pork with home made stuffing and apple sauce.  In the run up to Christmas I try and do a piece of pork so that I can get the pork dripping for doing the roasties in but I also like Goose fat but I will not pay through the nose for it.  So its a bit of a tradition that we have a piece of roast pork in the run up for Christmas purely for the side product oh and a good nosh.

Me and my grub



Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wet N Windy

Its wet and windy here in Peterborough  - more rain no wonder I am seizing up a bit like the tin man these days whenever it is wet or we are going to get rain.  I have to walk to work so I have the brolly all sorted out and the all weather gear.  Just four more days at work this week then I am free for the week but have lots of things to do. I made a check list last night and it keeps growing - perhaps I am being a tad over -ambitious but I have a lot to do and little time to do it in.  I am going to pop up to our local market today to see what goodies they have on offer.  I am after doing some more souper mix stock base which is basically salt and fresh vegetables pounded to a puree in the food processor but it is very tasty and adds a bit more flavour to soups, gravies and basic stocks.  I also need some more jar lids so will probably have a potter for those.

right it short and sweet must get a wriggle on

Catch you later on



Sunday, 25 November 2012

Late evening review

Its been miserable weather wise today but my heart goes out to all those adveresely affected by flooding over the past few days I hope things calm down for you soon.  Equally I hope my friends throughout the country are all safe and out of harms way.

Well things have certainly been busy here today and there likely to get a lot busier as the week commences.  I have a lot to do before I break up at the end of a week so that I can get on with preparing the house for Christmas and prepare a lot of food, get the decorations out and it also includes a lot of cleaning.

I had hoped to have some photographs for you concerning the pomanders, but my camera is playing up so for this evening at least I have given it up as a bad job. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to play and create it really has been very enjoyable.  I have also found some proper wooden clothes pegs upstairs that I had forgotten about.  I have seen an idea for making some soldiers out of the wooden clothes pin with the aid of some paint  to decorate the Christmas tree with.  I have also seen a tutorial for skeletonising leaves so I am going to have a go at that as well.  I am also very interested in scenting the home naturally and particularly interested in scented oils, pot pourri and scenting the home and I came across this lovely little article which can be turned into a lovely small Christmas present  That's another reason I would like a dehydrator for.  Simple things that just make things look and smell nice naturally.

We have had a lovely tasty tea and I have the pork dripping for my roasties over the next few weeks or so.  We had the roast pork and lots of lovely crackling served with broccoli, peas, shredded cabbage, roast mixed veggies ie onion, parsnip, potato, carrots, red onion, then served with stuffing home made apple sauce and lashings of gravy.  Was very tasty and really enjoyed it.  There is quite a bit left so will probably have some of that.  Might make some mash for tomorrow night as there are a few veggies left and I think they could be used up as bubble and squeak to go with the cold pork.  There is still some gravy left as well so I think that will be simple tea sorted for tomorrow night.  I can then get on with the Christmas puddings and the Orange Mincemeat.

Right am not going to be long before I go up the wooden stairs to the land of nod.

Will try and catch up sometime tomorrow

Take care



Orange Mincemeat

I  was supposed to be out tomorrow evening but that has been cancelled so tomorrow night is Christmas pudding night (I got side-tracked today) and whilst I have the scales out for measuring the ingredients for the Christmas Puddings I thought I would make a batch of this, something that will be prepared quickly and easily using no gas.

I found this recipe whilst browsing earlier on  and whilst declaring that I had loads of mincemeat readily to hand which I do have I just decided that a little more wouldn't hurt and besides I do use mincemeat a lot and I like to ring the changes with the different flavours. I normally make mincemeat after Christmas in the New Year, but hey what the heck you have to live dangerously sometimes and its nice to have something on the pantry shelf that someone else hasn't.  The plus side is that this is so easy to make just combining the ingredients in the order given  - no cooking.    I am going to leave for a couple of days though to let the brandy and the orange liqueur to soak into the fruit with some cling film over the top to keep the aroma and the flavour in.  I will then bottle it though It makes approximately 8 jars.


4oz/100g candied orange and lemon peel
1lb/500g peeled cored and chopped apples
8oz/225g of shredded suet
8oz /225g raisins
8oz/225g sultanas
8oz/225g currants
9oz/250g dark brown sugar
Half a nutmeg grated
4oz/100g blanched coarsely chopped almonds
Grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
2 tablespoons Brandy
3-4 tablespoons of orange liqueur


Combined all the ingredients into a large bowl in the order given.  Mix and combine all the ingredients together giving a thorough stir through before potting on into sterilised jars and seal.  Store on the pantry shelf until you need some mincemeat.

Now that's the kind of recipe I like.



Pattypan Boo Boo

I have just realised a little error stir up Sunday is today and not next Sunday - 2 December.  Ohhps a diddly.  The day for making Christmas pudding is today.  I had done a little research into when it was supposed to be this year and I typed in advent  next Sunday is the second Sunday in advent.  Many apologies.  Might have to get the puddings started a little later on have everything to hand.

So sorry and many apoligies  folks the best laid plans of mice and men.  I anm heading for the kitchen with my wooden spoon.  Oh and must not forget to put in my apple and carrot (I always add to whatever Christmas pudding recipe I use).

Catch you later



Orange and Clove Pomanders

I am  playing in the kitchen today with some festive pomanders which should hopefully make the house smell wonderful over the Christmas period. This is taken from the book by  Stephanie Donaldson called Aromatic Gifts. And from what I have read it would seem to be a win win situation.  As the fruit dries the pomander hardens up and the scent will fade and yet according to Ms Donaldson if you simply refresh the pomander in some warm water and then dip it back into the saved drying mixture and leave for four weeks turning the pomanders regularly  they will be as scented as they were before.

 I have bought a net of oranges that were on offer  - I already have plenty of spices in but hopefully I should just have enough time to get this sorted in the run up to Christmas really they need longer, but I am hoping that they will keep and I will be able to use them next year as I am using orris root which is a natural drying dessicant. The drying spice mixture can be kept in an air tight jar apparently for up to a year. and van be used to make several batches of pomanders.  Ms Donaldson notes that when studding the orange with cloves to keep them fairly close together but with sufficient room to allow for shrinkage.

She suggests that once they are dried to present them and use them to wrap the pomander in some muslin and then two or three layers of silver or gold net  tie with some appropriately coloured ribbons and some bells and then hang them on the tree or garlands to scent the room.


4oz /100g powdered cinnamon
2oz/50g powdered cloves
1/2 oz/15g powdered allspice
1/2 oz/15g powdered nutmeg
1 oz/25g powdered orris root

Large bowl
Thick darning needle or thin knitting needle
6 unblemished thin-skinned oranges
4oz/100g best quality whole cloves
Cling film
Gift packaging (if giving away)

How To:

Mix all the powdered spices together with the orris root into the bowl.

Pierce a line of holes around half an orange and stud with cloves.

If you are adding ribbon segment the orange and leave a strip which is completely uncovered in cloves so that the ribbon sits properly on the orange once cured.

Repeat the process until the whole orange is covered

Place the orange in the spices tossing gently so that the whole of the surface has been covered in the spice mixture.  Repeat for the other oranges.  Keep the oranges in the spice mix covering the bowl tightly with cling film.  On a daily basis turn the oranges as often as you remember for approximately one month.  They will then be ready to remove from the spices and use.

Photos and update to follow

I like playing and what a nice thing to do on a cold windy Sunday afternoon.

Catch up soon

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Last evening I spent sorting out a load of documentation that needed thinning down and disposing of and once that little job had been completed I then set too sorting out some more of my magazine articles both craft and recipe.  In fact I have found a rather nice cable jacket that I would like to have a go at.  However I have found lots of lovely recipes as well as lots of nice Christmas recipes that are ideal for giving away to friends and some very different preserve recipes as well as some ideas for Christmas decorations.  Plenty of food for thought and squirrelling away for future use.  After a busy week at work it was quite comforting to sit in the warm and methodically work and get everything organised.  It would have been lovely to have had a fire as well it was particularly cold last night.  The sky was really clear and it was as though the stars were chandeliers in a large ball room and only part of the moon was visible but an extremely clear night.

Yesterday during my lunch hour I went up to the market had a look around.  I will certainly be paying a visit to get some stuff  for some more bottling such as pears, cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes whilst I am off.  Yesterday I looked for Sorrell (Hibiscus flowers) but it has not arrived yet it will be there shortly and there is always a rush for it.  I have some recipes I wish to try using this.  I also have some mustard to make; although we don't always use mustard as a condiment I do tend to use it quite a bit in cooking.  Anyways I popped into Wilkinsons and got some candle holders (£1 a pack and there are 6 in a pack) for popping into wreaths and garlands; and some green finishing tape. I also got a couple of packs of replacement seals for the swing bottles at £1 a bag and a set of four glasses for some small cinnamon candle holders a pack of four for 85 pence.  I may get some more of these as the are ideal for individual puddings in the fridge.  I have already done one very large cinnamon candle holder.  Which is not too bad for a first attempt.  I intend to go and get some more from Hobbycraft at the weekend.  The cinnamon angel ornaments I am going to have a go at later on when it is a little quieter.

This morning it is bitter the animals haven't wanted to go far preferring to be in the warm and there has been a thick rhymed frost covering the rooftops , fence posts the grass even making lace work out of the spiders webs.  I have lots to do  the house looks like a bomb has hit it and I am on holiday for a week at the end of this week and there is lots I need to do before then as I want to get a clear run this time round in getting everything ship shaped for Christmas.  I have a lot of cooking to do too.  I also have a new deep freeze which will be delivered  (another chest freezer) and the old freezer taken away whilst I am off; I have been lost without my second freezer/main freezer.  I am used to doing so much myself and I intend to get some steak pies, and puddings also made so that we can eat well during the week and have a meal within about 40 minutes of getting in.  In my small upright freezer I have plenty of meat but hardly any veggies which has caused some concern as I usually have both.  I have found it restricting in my cooking choices but it makes you think about exactly what you are cooking and how you can make a meal with what you have within the house without having to go out and buy something.

Right I am off to get on  - I have quite a bit to do.

Catch up a little later on



Friday, 23 November 2012

Panettone Vodka

I have been searching through and sorting a batch of magazine recipes and also some Waitrose booklets and leaflets going back to 2003, and by the sound of the title of this recipe I thought that I was going to have to soak slices of Panettone in vodka for a while which I thought might be a tad messy but on reading the recipe I think it is a loose term more to do with the dried mixed peel that gives this recipe its flavouring. I now a lot of people don't like mixed peel but it does add a little Je ne sais qois to the flavouring even if you do not like the texture of the mixed peel. 

 I am sorry I cannot give credit to the recipe creator as I have no name and this particular article I thought might have been taken from a book, but it would also appear not or at least no credit is given within the leaflet although it sounds like a collaboration between Smirnoff and Waitrose  It sounds interesting and it might just be made in time for Christmas this year.  The picture shown on the article would appear to give a really dark amber liquid.  It is a recipe I intend to try (if not this year which I am hoping for) and in normal circumstances I would gather what I need together gradually and this recipe uses 2 x 70cl bottles of Smirnoff Vodka  and as. the price of vodka has gone up quite a bit recently it may not be affordable this time round but I know if I don't pop the recipe down I will end up losing it - so this may be one to go back to at a later date.  The notes to the recipe state

" This Christmassy liquor is really easy to make and will make you popular with the lucky recipient.  All you need is a large plastic container and space and patience to store it while it turns into liquid gold.  Serve chilled over ice or straight from the freezer in shot glasses or pour over ice cream for an instant pud".

Takes about 15 minutes plus 3 to 4 weeks' soaking and makes just over 2 litres or 8 x 250ml bottles or jars


375g bag Waitrose Organic Mixed dried fruit
3 x 100g tubs Waitrose Glace Fruits Italian Cut mixed peel (I am not sure this is still avaialble but deduce that any good quality mixed peel would be a good substitute)
1kg light brown soft sugar
Plus an extra 150g-200g to taste
3 x 100g bags Waitrose Toasted Flaked Almonds
118ml bottle of Nielsen Massey Madagascan Vanilla Extract
2 x 70 cl bottles Smirnoff Vodka


  1. Mix together the fruit, peel, sugar, flaked almonds into a large plastic container with a lid (about 5 litres capacity).  Pour over the vanilla extract and vodka and stir well.
  2. Place a large piece of clingfilm over the top of the container then replace the lid to seal tightly and stop the alcohol from evaporating.  Store at room temperature in a cool dark place for 3 weeks to macerate (soak) stirring every three days or so to help the sugar dissolve (replacing the cling film in between each stirring session)
  3. After three weeks taste the vodka for sweetness stirring in the extra sugar if required and leaving for another week to dissolve. The liquor should have a syrupy consistency and a deep honey colour.
  4. To sterilise bottles or jars preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/Gas mark 3. Wash the bottles or jars thoroughly and rinse in boiling water. While hot place on a baking sheet in an oven and dry for 10 minutes.
  5. Strain the liquor into a large bowl through a fine sieve or large piece of fine stretched muslin (either discard the fruit here or put it up and use it as below)  Alternatively place a colander in a large bowl and strain the liquor from the fruit.  this second method will result in a less smooth liquor.  Using a funnel fill the sterilised bottles or jars to 1 cm from the top of each bottle.  Seal, label and date.  The liquor keeps well in the fridge or the freezer for up to 6 months.
"The cooks tip at the end says that the leftover soaked fruit can be added to cake or pudding recipes but use sparingly as it is very alcoholic".  

Now that is waste not want not boozy fruit.  I had an acquaintance who always used to use red wine to soak her fruits in for her Christmas cake and it make a lovely looking cake and tasty.  Might have to have a play as it may be a way of ringing the changes.

Sounds like Christmas in a glass - must try this one as I do like liqueur type drinks and there are always other alternative uses we have to find them as we go along.

Right am off to earn my daily bread.

Catch up soon



Thursday, 22 November 2012


Just a quick pop in to wish all my American friends a happy Thanksgiving and to wish everyone else a day filled with blessings.

Still damp and horrible here in Peterborough and it has been murder walking to work the past few days as it has been so windy horrible and wet and so dark even though I have the protection of a large brolly (it has turned inside out a couple of times) Makes you just want to creep under the blankets or duvets and hibernate and with not having our normal quota of sun this year just compounds matters a little more than normal.

Intend to pop into Lakeland at dinner time as I need a few more bottles for sauces etc.

Catch up with everyone a little later on



Wednesday, 21 November 2012


When we were younger and especially if we had been unwell mum used to get powdered glucose and sprinkle it on our cereals to give us a bit more umpff and energy as it is more readily processed by our systems and is must gentler.  Glucose is predominantly used in sweetmaking and also in beer making.  You can buy powdered glucose from Boots.  A while back I had come across an obscure recipe for making your own glucose syrup from powdered glucose then promptly lost the recipe.  As I have said it is an obscure one.

Anyways I have been researching what sweets I am going to be making during the Christmas period and I have recovered that obscure little recipe so I thought that I would post it here so that I can locate it.  It bugs me if I know I have a recipe and cannot locate it (but that is due a lot of the time is that I have a lot of books and I readily use them on a regular basis.

I was checking out the recipe for Divinity from one of my sweetie books called Chocolates, Sweets and Toffees by Jan Morgan ISBN 0 7063 5890 2.  Right at the end of that recipe are some footnotes the last one being

"Buy glucose syrup at the chemists or make by dissolving 8oz (225gm/1 1/2 cups glucose in 1/4 pint/150ml/ 2/3rds cup of water and boil to 230 degrees F/110 degrees C.  Cool and store in an airtight container."

I knew I had seen it somewhere.  I had even researched on the Internet and had not found anything either.

I used to buy large jars of glucose syrup from my local health food shop quite cheaply then they stopped selling it and they have now since closed.  Come Christmas though I have only been able to locate tiny pots in the supermarkets which have cost an arm and a leg so I am going to experiment with this little recipe as if it works it will end up saving lots of pennies and I am all for that.

Right on that little note I am off to work.

Its miserable damp and pouring with rain here and dark horrible day - but then there is always a silver lining somewhere.

Right peeps catch you later have a good day



Tuesday, 20 November 2012

All things Chocolate

This morning I have had a treat for my breakfast or should I say petit dejeuner.  I am a real fan of croissants (having acquired the taste for them in Belgium when I was seven spread lavishly with chocolate hazlenut spread.   I have for a change had two pain au chocolat with a nice mug of tea.  I would have preferred coffee but my system no longer copes with coffee so we have to make the best of what we have available to us and I must say it has been a lovely treat.  

In the run up to Christmas I tend to stock up with quite a bit of proper chocolate for use in home made truffles etc or home made bark.  As I had to nip to the shop as I had run out of potatoes (will get a sack at the weekend) and I happened to be browsing when I noticed that the Co-op had an offer on two bars of proper confectioners chocolate  for £2.00 so whilst there I snaffled a few bars to put up in the pantry for Christmas and for future use. Christmas would not be Christmas without home made rum balls a ganache method which makes the most yummy of home made chocolates and as I am going to be home in the run up to Christmas these are most definitely on the list.  Will pop my recipe for Rum Balls up on the Christmas Recipe Tab later on for those of you who want to indulge.

Right must dash.

Catch up with you all later  have a good day



Monday, 19 November 2012

More Home Made Christmas Decorations

I love Christmas, and Christmas decorations and I must say I am not impressed withe Christmas decorations this year in the Queensgate Centre.  Normally there is a central display but this year nothing looks as though they have cut back on things bearing in mind the economic climate at the  moment, but they normally manage to put on a good display.  I really liked last year's decorations they were really effective.  Here are a couple of the ceiling lights from last year


I have even looked around the shops in town there are one or two nice decorations and the ones I was particularly interested in from Marks and Spencers seem to have gone already they were wooden  miniature trees and I was quite taken with them but thus far I haven't been able to find any for sale.

I have found this lovely little ornament made out of natural things that greatly fits in with my style of things for this year that is simple homely and made with whatever you have around you.  Its a lovely little tutorial and I thought you ladies might also like.   I have plenty of cinnamon sticks (small size to use) its just the bigger ones I need.

Right am off to get ready for bed.

Catch you soon



I have part worked my cinnamon candle will show photos later on

Preparing for Christmas - 2

I only have a half size oven therefore cooking of any sort has to be planned.  Come Christmas or the run up to it I am doing bits and bobs most nights and I try and plan my cooking wherever possible.  This year I have quite a bit of time off in December to do the decorating and the cooking.  The first stage is making  things like pate and home made pork pie  and these sorts of things are made usually prior to December wherever possible  and in some instances preparing the items and then just freezing them like the Pork pie au natural  and then finishing off as we need it.  

Then there are those sweet items that are long keeping  like toffee and Turkish Delight; then comes the baking like mince pies, Sausage rolls etc.and then I  and cooking  a large celebrationary meal is and can be somewhat of a challenge.  

I have therefore learnt to stagger and do things as I can to enable that everything that is required for the whole of the meal can be in place and cooked as well as the main event i.e. the Turkey,Goose,Beef or Capon.  On Christmas Day my little oven is only big enough just for the Turkey and very little else.  Therefore I try and get as much done as I can which also saves much flapping about and means I can enjoy the day too and most importantly of all we get fed.  I am also very conscious to try and use the oven efficiently bearing in mind the cost of gas in any event.  There is a rule in this house that I am quite happy to do all the preparatory work and cook the Christmas dinner but after that it is cold cuts so that I get an opportunity to enjoy Christmas too and get to watch the TV.  That's really one of the reasons I started making chutneys etc.

To this end I make things like the bread sauce, cranberry sauce, stocks etc and put them, up in the freezer, once made they can be forgotten about.  I also buy fresh vegetables and prepare and freeze them down as well where I can although I try where possible to use fresh veggies (but fresh veggies that you have prepared yourself and then frozen is next best and it can save time).  Most of the roast potatoes parsnips sweet potato etc are prepared, the bacon n sausages and stuffing  is all prepared  on Christmas Eve and then cooked where possible. Things like the Cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier is prepared and frozen and then all I have to do is warm it through in the microwave same with the bread sauce.  Bread sauce is  a requirement in this household and I have found that if I am in a rush the bread sauce is not quite as tasty as it could be - hence another reason for me making it beforehand because the milk gets to soak and the herbs and flavourings macerate into the mixture.  I always make plenty as we like it cold with turkey and cranberry sauce in a sarnie too.  And if there are any veggies left we make bubble and squeak and sometimes that goes into the sarnies too.

What do you do for your Christmas preparations

Love to hear from you



Sunday, 18 November 2012

First Sunday in Advent 2012 Fast approaches

In approximately two weeks time it will be the first  Sunday in Advent.  Advent changes from year to year but this year it will fall on Sunday 2 December 2012.   I am posting this a tad early but I thought that it might serve as a timely reminder for everyone who is making their own Christmas puddings or considering doing so that this is thee traditional date for making your Christmas puddings.  And a reminder to start gathering all your ingredients together if you haven't already done so. 

Otherwise known as "Stir up Sunday" (not originally to do with Christmas puddings but to the sermon that was read on that day which was supposed to stir up the hearts of men"). In modern practice a time for the family to gather around the Christmas pudding mixing bowl, have a stir of the mixture and make a silent wish for what is yet to come. This is what we used to do as children with my Mum and if we were at my Nan's the same custom would prevail.  Nan also used to hide some coins in the pudding as well.  I will post my recipe later on.

Tis also the date to light your first of the advent candles (there are four) before Christmas so your advent wreath needs to be prepared before then.  An excuse to go into the countryside and gather your greenery to make your own wreath on which to site your candles although you must never leave the wreath with candles lit unattended.  You simply might just decide to choose to buy a taper candle with the dates on the side, burning it each night.  Symbolising the light in the world and I am all for more light and more awareness.

Catch you soon



Saturday, 17 November 2012

Saturday catch up

It has been a quiet lazy day from my perspective after an extremely busy week at work which has left me cream crackered and I think I have the start of a cold which I could do without.  Now I am in the kitchen the laziness has fled and I am pottering about to my heart's content.  I am using up bits and bobs out of the fridge so that we get maximum return.  I have some chipolatas I have on the go for tonight's tea  i.e. toad in the hole with mashed potato onion gravy and mashed potato.  Nice and simple.  I also have a cottage pie on the go the spuds are all peeled and the potatoes for both meals are cooking together.  The cottage pie is destined for tea tomorrow.  I am desperately missing my large freezer and I am getting a bit tetchy as I am well behind with food preparations to what I normally am at this time of year; it will sort but just means I am going to have to be highly organised and get a wriggle on in the next few weeks.  These things are sent to try us.

Right will be back later on cannot dally else we could well end up with burnt offerings - it has been known.

Catch you later



Thursday, 15 November 2012

Good morning everyone

Good morning everyone from Foggy Peterborough.  I went out last night on one of my spiritual jaunts and ended up going out to Farcet Fen on the Ramsey Road to a local pub.  Was a bit of a pea souper and as it is a bendy road with dykes down the side we decided to travel cautiously.  It was really thick in the Fen and when we came back into Peterborough last night it was very patchy and then just dissipated.  There is something ethereal and creepy about the fog; it masks everything.  Foggy Peterborough though is nowhere near like Foggy Lincolnshire.  When my Nan was with us I used to go and stay periodically with her and on a Saturday night my Uncle would come to take us out to a pub in Louth where there would always be a bit of entertainment on.  Uncle bless his socks has never been the best of drivers and on one of our trips out we came to leave the pub in Louth and it was thick fog.  We couldn't see where we were going and at one point I had to get out the car and walk in front so that Uncle had some visual point of where the road was as it was that bad.  Fortunately it was a quiet country road with hardly any traffic on it, but deep dykes all the same.

Mention of Louth brings me on to welcome my newest follower Dom of who is a Foodie, reporter and writes regular articles for local publications and runs his own public events business,  Please make him welcome (I know you will),

Right folks I had better get a wriggle on and get myself motivated for the rest of the day.

Catch you all soon (I am at home tonight that will be a novelty)

Take care

Love and light to everyone



Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Lincolnshire Plum Bread and Chine

I was born in Lincolnshire  and most of my relatives live in that fair county so I am well versed in some of the local delicacies such as Lincolnshire Plum Bread and Chine.  So was very pleased just recently to locatey from  my butchers a little bit of Plum Bread and served this with some nice strong cheese.  It was a little pricy but it was very good.  A  Bit of a treat really and something we used to have on a regular basis, especially at my Nan's.    As a result I wenty mosying through  my numerous cookbooks I located this recipe which comes from a recipe book sold in aid of and contributed to by members of the public.  Needless to say its all Lincolnshire recipes.  I am going to give it a try this weekend to see how it turns out.


3lbs self-raising flour
2lbs currants
1lb sultanas
2lbs moist brown sugar
1/4 lb mixed peel
1/4 lb cherries
1/2 lb butter or margarine
1/2 lb lard
5 eggs
1 tablespoon of rum
water to mix

This quantity will make 2 large or 4 small loaves

Cream fats and sugar together. Mix in all the ingredients, mixing and combining together well. Put into tins and bake in a moderate oven (Gas mark 4, 350 degrees F, 150 degrees C for 2 1/4 hours. It improves with keeping, so make at least 2 to 3 weeks before cutting. I store these in tins, but you can freeze them as well.

This is lovely served with wedges of cheddar and a nice crisp apple or can be used as a base for a bread and butter pudding.  Make the most of what you have and use it how you will.

So I will see how I get on.

Chine is a local Lincolnshire speciality which is a salted pork stuffed with herbs (usually parsley)

I found the following link for a recipe for the Chine here.

 We used to have this on highdays and holidays and I have a few slices to have in the next few days.  OH is not keen, but the rest of my family like it.

 Are there any local specialities near where you live.

Take care



The Sack of Potatoes and the Tray of Eggs

 The Sack of Potatoes

One thing I and my family is used to is good food, cheaply sourced.  One thing I do do on a regular basis is buy in a sack of spuds.  I refuse to buy my spuds from a supermarket.  Mine are delivered by the Veg shops owner and on average I have been paying £6 for a full 25kg bag of spuds which on average during the winter months lasts me about 6 weeks (that is for two of us with me cooking most days.   Potatoes are stored for long periods before we get out mitts on them they are long keepers, if stored correctly so people thinking they are getting them "fresh" is a misnomer.  The only way you get potatoes extremely fresh is if you grow them yourself and dig them straight from the garden. My argument is that if you have a few staple ingredients in at all times you can make a meal out of very much nothing and tasty meals at that.  £6 is not a lot to pay for massive bag of potatoes when you put into context that you are at least paying £1.50 in the supermarkets for a small bag of spuds that will not last you very long.  If you think that a full sack is too much why not go in with a friend at £3 a shout and split the bag between you.  I have the Preserves store under the stairs which keeps everything nice and cold but they can equally be kept in a shed or a garage although I do tend to keep the bag closed wherever the potatoes are stored as if they are exposed to the light they will start putting out runners.   Club together with a friend or neighbour to buy things between you if you cannot afford to pay outright you will still end up getting the potatoes cheaper if you go in halves together.  Do not forget our older members of our community a lot of them cannot get out and about - if you have an elderly neighbour include them as well or go and ask if you can get anything for them if and when you do go shopping or if they are able bodied take them with you especially if you have transport.  It will make them feel included, help them, give them some company and you might well learn something useful from them.  Just because people are older does not mean to say we can write them off. Be nice invite them in every so often for a nice hot meal one more person at the table is not going to cost an arm and a leg but will bring a rich reward for both parties.  Go on take a risk.  Please bring a sense of community back to your lives by helping each other.  Bring back family spirit a family that works and plays together stays together.

A Tray of Eggs

My family has always had livestock of one sort or another over the years.  We grew up being imbued with how to look after our animals and because they are a part of our family and we relied on them one thing we always do / did is look after our livestock.  A fresh chicken or fresh eggs put very useful food on the table. Therefore our livestock is worthy of a proper life style and not cooped up in restricted areas.  I buy free range eggs where I can the price is a little dearer but the quality of the yolks is a deeper golden yellow and the animal has had a decent life and has been able to roam and do what it needs to do.  I always buy a tray of eggs as it suits my family as I bake and cook a lot with eggs.  On average a tray (30 eggs) will last me about two weeks.  They are stored also in their trays on a cool shelf. I do not store them in the fridge.

A quick meal from these items

Bubble and Squeak cakes made with boiled potatoes and some left over veggies from the other day mashed together and then formed into cakes which can be stored in the freezer if you have quite a bit of veggies to use up.  Do not waste them.  Serve with a couple of fried eggs.  Sounds an odd combination but the golden yolk of the egg matches in perfectly with the Bubble and Squeak cakes.  Simple food for the soul.  Don't waste the oddments they can always be made into something and often simple food is the best for our souls.

Catch you later



Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Which Dehydrator and why

For a few years now I have had my eye on an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator with timer and as part of my research I wondered whether any of you good ladies have experience of the same or similar products and wondered what you would recommend.  I know that they are pricey bit of kit, but I am looking for something that does what it says on the label.  Many years ago I had a cheapie it cost me £25 and the same machine is still on sale in Lakeland but for £50.00.  I am also considering the Excalibur becuase I can do a lot with it craftwise as well as on the food front.  Would love to hear your opinions on the same.

Many thanks



Cinnamon Christmas Stars Decorations and Cinnamon Candle Decorations And Star Anise Baubles

In recent years where I can I have been having a go at making Christmas decorations from foliage, seed heads etc where I can just to add a little bit of me into the Christmas decorations rather than it all be bought baubles and glass and bits of plastic. I chanced upon this lovely tutorial for making home made Christmas Star decorations with a twist.  The stars have been made out of cinnamon sticks in place of twigs, which Rosy had taken her inspiration from.  I in turn at the moment cannot obtain long cinnamon sticks I only have the tiny ones which are not really big enough  for this project.  So in the same principals of being inspired I have some Indian version of Cinnamon which is more like the outer bark rather than the cinnamon itself so I am going to use them together with some star anise and some dried rosemary and probably some other seed pods.  A little bit of inspiration goes a long way.  Although I have sourced some larger cinnamon sticks at Hobbycraft.  I am going to need quite a few packets to do both these stars and a candle decoration that I have been longing to do for a few years.  I thought I would share this with you in case you also wanted to have a play in the run up to Christmas.

Cinnamon Stars

Here is the lovely tutorial for the stars

Cinnamon Candles

Here is a tutorial for making something similar but it is slightly larger scale but the principle is the same.

I am off again for a few days at the beginning of December so I will probably have a go at making these then (I am compiling my schedule so that I get things done next time) made them to go on some garlands that I have in the front room.

Star Anise Baubles

To add to this a few years ago from a well known local store I obtained a couple of baubles that had been made from star anise. They would appear to be made from a polystyrene ball that has been painted and then the star anise fitted closely all over the sphere with the whole star anise. The ones I bought were left unvarnished and look lovely but as they get older the star anise are becoming more fragile and so I thought that I would put a coat of matt varnish on them to just to make sure that they are a little more secure.  But they make the room smell lovely over the Christmas period and adds that little bit more atmosphere to the Christmas festivities.

Right I have to get to work.  I am a bit here and there for the next few days but hopefully will get chance to pop on for a brief while a little later.

Catch up soon


Sunday, 11 November 2012

How to line the Christmas Cake Tin

I suddenly thought in retrospect that I was taught how to line a cake tin when I was at school and maybe there are some of you out there who do not know how to go about this.

This is the way that I do it and I am not dexterous but I do seem to get an evenly shaped cake out each time I use this method.  It is a bit long winded for which I apologise.

The first thing I do isroll out a piece of greaseproof paper that will comfortably take the base of the pan you are going to use be this round or square.  I  then double it up and then fold it in half.

I then place the base out of the tin onto the paper and go round it in biro so that the template is marked.

I then cut out working from the outside unjoined edge cutting through both pieces of greaseproof until I have two circles.

I then repeat this procedure again so that I end up with four circles.

I then get a piece of string or wool and run this round the circumference of the tin allow about an inch longer and then cut.

I then use this piece of string to measure the length of the paper that I need to line the tin.

I cut this to the length of the string and then fold this in half.

I then fold up a good inch on the loose side of the paper (not on the fold) so that the top of the liner is joined

I then cut at good inch intervals as shown below along the edge that has been folded making sure not to cut beyond the fold.

We can then start assembling the tin I grease one of the circles and place this greased side down into the tin.  I then grease the top and then press the second circle on top pf this.  I then grease this again.

We then come to the long strip with the cut flap and grease this well - this is where things can get a little messy.  You need to grease the long deep part and the cut flap as below. I always melt some fat in the microwave and then use a silicone brush for this purpose.

I then start to ease this in the pan.  The cut edge helps give easement to the paper liner and if you work carefully you can achieve full easement into the pan as below.

Once you are happy with the easement chop off any excess so that the liner sits as below.  Then add another circle of greaseproof this time over the cut flanged pieces.  Grease it well on top and then add the second circle.  This helps to reinforce the base so that the cake once cooked does not fall out.

This completes the inner lining of the tin.

However, to keep the cake from catching you will need to wrap brown paper or newspaper round the outer edge of the tin and tie this with string.

Then cut a couple of further circle and cut a 50p sized hole in the middle of the paper.  Once the cake mixture is in the tin this can then be placed on top to stop the top of the cake catching.

I hope this helps.



Christmas Preparations 1

Well the mincemeat has been made for quite a while and I have a few different varieties to go at on the pantry shelf there is a rum and raisin version, Pat Corbins' Plum Mincemeat, Mixed Exotic fruit mincemeat to name but a few.  I start making mincemeat in January of each year; I have found it is a good way to use up dried fruit that is getting near its sell by date and I usually make it in one of my Rumptopf pots its an ideal container.  I shall pop some recipes up in the New Year.  Its a good way to start the preserving for the new season and besides I use mincemeat all year round not just at Christmas.  I first started making mincemeat from the Delia Christmas book, which uses suet.  These days my mincemeat very rarely has suet in it at all.

I have all sorts of jams and preserves put up and Chutneys. I have a few more things to do which will not take too long and I have further time off work yet to have so I will probably get them done then.

The cake has now been made and has had its first feed it smells wonderful.  I still have a few more things to do like a Dundee Cake and some fruit bread probably a barm brack and some malt loaf as they are best kept for a couple of weeks. My mum bless her heart always makes the Christmas Fruit Loaf (My Nan always used to make this but to a different recipe) which is a fruit loaf that is served with butter and cheese.  It never lasts very long.

I still have to do the Christmas Puddings Stir up Sunday this year is on Sunday 2 December 2012 the first Sunday in Advent so that is when my Christmas puddings will get made.  I always make at least two.

The mulling syrup is prepared as is the Cinnamon Oil and Mixed Spice Oil which are now sitting on the kitchen windowsill to macerate.  I intend to make a couple of more batches of the mulling syrup as I think it will be a very useful syrup to keep in the house. I have in mind to bottle some dried fruits but to serve them in a spiced syrup which should make a light and tasty Christmas preserve to serve with ice cream or some cream.  The syrup would also be nice on pancakes, probably with some tinned oranges, and either cream or ice cream.  I think I would need to soak the dried fruit in the syrup overnight before warming through and bottling and adding extra syrup if necessary.  The syrup is rather tasty on its own.  But the dried fruit could always be livened up with fresh pear and apple just to lift it a little.  It might also be a useful base for a spiced coffee or nice on top of some home made cinnamon ice cream. 

In the coming weeks I have to make some Cranberry sauce to go with the Turkey. I usually make a couple of batches along with some cranberry and apple jelly which we use throughout the year.  It goes well with all sorts of dishes.

I have stated the Spiced Winter Jelly off too and apparently that is ideal for serving with meat and cheese dishes, but I have an idea it would be nice in gravy with roast pork dishes.

Right I am off to get on I return to work tomorrow.

Take care everyone

Catch up soon.



On Flanders Field by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
 Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae circa 1915

We shall Remember them

On the 11 November (the eleventh day) at the eleventh hour we pay our respects to those that have gone before and fought for the freedom of this nation of ours initially through the first and second world wars and latterly more modern conflicts.  It is also the day my grandfather was born in 1900 within the sound of Bow Bell.  Happy Birthday Pop, even though you have been passed over for a few years now I still celebrate your birthday in quiet reflection as the day itself dictates.

My grandfather was a Fitter/Engineer when the second world war broke out.  He was trade restricted and not allowed to enter into the services because of his trade.  This however did not stop him joining the Homeguard (what we know more commonly today as Dad's Army) so he did his bit in more than one way.  Frequently called out during the night; Pop also grew his own veg and built his own Anderson shelter in the garden which was kitted out with a bunk bed and made really posh.  The first air raid siren went off and Pop led the way to the shelter only to end up waist deep in water.  He had dug the shelter below the water table.  Bless him was never allowed to forget it.  Anyway I digress.

Behind their bungalow was RAF Fiskerton.   There is a lovely little website here all about RAF Fiskerton which is extremely interesting

 My Nan worked in the Naafi and used to bring the young airmen and pilots off the base to get them away just for a few hours for a good home cooked meal and a bit of R and R off base.  Many a young man did not return; often very gifted young men that my grandparents and my father knew.

When war broke out my father was only three or four years old.  He was fascinated by the airplanes and was often in trouble for not coming in because he was watching a dog fight between a spitfire and a German plane.  He was nearly the death of his teacher Miss Clarke. The school was next door to my grandparents home and in the grounds there were the air raid shelters.  They were still there when I was a child and in fact most of the village was as it had been during the war with the local shop being in a Nissen Hut.  There were lots of scrapes my father got into as a youngster during this period.   One thing that he was clear on though was that he wanted to be a pilot.  He took the entrance exam in later years but becuase he had not been taught the algebra he failed the entrance exam.  That wasn't the end of it though as he in later life went on to write a couple of books based upon the war and a pilot bringing forward all that pent up information that he had experienced as a child into the hero and heroine of his books.

In later years the colours were placed in St Clements the church in Fiskerton at a special service which I was lucky to attend.  It was a very moving service.  My grandparents lived in Fiskerton for over 60 years and it is the church where my father was a choir boy before going on to be in the Lincoln Cathederal choir;  I was christened there as was my brother.

But today that is about those chosen few who have given us our freedom today.  For their efforts we have our freedom  something that must never be forgotten.  A simple Flanders poppy a symbol that speaks volumes across the world.  So at 11.00 a,m tomorrow please pay your respects and remember them.



Saturday, 10 November 2012

Its beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

I wish you could smell the yummyness of the Christmas cake as the fruit begins to absorb the brandy it smells really lush.  That will be cooked out tomorrow as it needs about 4 1/2 hours in the oven.

I use spices a lot in cooking throughout the year not just for Christmas.  One of my favourite ways of using cloves is a ham studded with cloves, the flavour is wonderful.  (Well I think so).  I think that could be well on the cards for preparing for this Christmas just a small piece as again OH is not keen.

However I have been busy I have made some mulling syrups for both red and white wines which are very simple to make.  Alternatively it can be used with Cider. This should take some of the hard work out of making mulled wine.   This makes a couple of bottles.  I recycle other bottles that have had ingredients in and sterilise them carefully before re-using.  The recipe is a BBC Good food one.

  • 250g caster or granulated sugar
  • 2 oranges , halved
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ nutmeg , freshly grated
  • small piece ginger , sliced 
  1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan with 1 litre water and bring slowly to a simmer, making sure all the sugar has been completely dissolved. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 mins. Leave to cool, then strain through a very fine sieve.
  2. Sterilise your bottles by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing well, then drying them in a warm oven. Meanwhile, rewarm the syrup until just hot, then pour into the bottles while still hot and seal.
  3. Before giving away, add labels with serving instructions: Heat 400ml syrup with 750ml red wine or cider and some slices of orange or apple. Syrup will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. (Mine will be hot water bath processed as this will take all the air out of the bottle and make it last longer which means it will not need to be kept in the fridge.
Make up a kit as a gift by tying some cinnamon sticks to the neck of the bottle with ribbon, and accompanying it with a good red wine. You can buy nice preserving bottles from

 I have also made some Christmas Spice to put into a cake mix;

And  I have started off a winter spice jelly recipe here

I love spice and am particularly fond of the Speculatis biscuits and mulled wine a rather pleasant tradition that I have in the run up to Christmas. (OH is a bit of a party pooper he doesn't like either).   I love the biscuits but it is the mulled wine that helps me get in the mood when doing the Christmas baking.

Tis getting to be that season

Catch you later on



Pot Pourri and Scented Oils

I have been mooching round other people's blogs and also finding lots of ideas via Pinterest in the run up to Christmas this year and I have found this rather nifty idea on how to make your own cinnamon oil for using on pot pourri or on pine cones for the Christmas decorations.  Although I know we haven't got long now I have decided to have a go to see how I get on and if I like it will be put forward to do some more in readiness for next year.  Its funny how a simple little post can end up inspiring you to take the idea even further, which is what this link has done for me.

I was inspired by this post here

A lovely little blog with some good ideas.

I also  founda a lovely little recipe for a simmering pot pourri to put in a saucepan to scent the house on the same blog

Both ideas sound good to me; so I am starting with the cinnamon oil as it is quick to do and I like quick things.  I think I am also going to make an orange, star anise and cinnamon oil too.  Just going to make a little amount to start with and see how we get on.  Hopefully it will be a cheap option to scenting the house naturally over the Christmas season especially as I have most of  the ingredients to hand.  I keep a lot of herbs and spices in at all times and having the Asian Newspaper shop over the road they have all the spices readily to hand.  I also have some grapeseed oil in the pantry as well.  So I am off to have a little play.

Catch you later



Friday, 9 November 2012

Quick catch up

I have had a lazy week this week and this morning I got a lay in or should I say I overslept.  Never mind.  I haven't really done much else but the Christmas cake has been started which I am pleased about as it stands a chance of maturing well before the actual day. It will be cooked on Sunday.  

We have had a lovely sweet and sour chicken for tea together with rice for tea tonight.  Very tasty and very warming.  I have  also done the week's washing and I am so impressed with my new washing machine. 

The animals are all in the warm and Demetri is getting softer and softer he comes most nights now and sits on the settee with me; in fact all the animals seem to be operating a rota system throughout the day they all want the fuss and are all aiming to sit with me at one point or another.  Probably something to do with the pile of blankets in the corner of the settee that they seem to be snuggling into.

Its cold out there tonight, the sort of night that requires a nice fire to warm the house up I am sure the animals let alone the humans would love it.  Pipe dreams here though as we have the fireplaces but the landlord doesn't do very much and I think because the house is old it would need a lot of expensive work doing on the chimney stacks, which puts this out of our reach to even offer to put something in.  Never mind its on the list for the forever home (even though in reality I have to live in the present with my feet very much on terra firma).

Tomorrow I have the house to myself for a while.  OH has to be at work and I have some things to get on with in any event like a pile of ironing I have been trying to avoid all week!

I have been doing some more crotchet on my new stripey blanket that I keep picking away at a little bit at a time. This kind of project is a good one for me as it makes the most of the time that I do have as I can pick it up and put it down when I have a few minutes and besides throws add a little individuality to your home.

I haven't got that far with it but at least its a start am off to do a little more

Catch you soon



Time to Make the Christmas Cake

As a child, I always used to help my mum with the Christmas cake  - it was a fascinating process to a curious child and I loved handing the ingredients to her and trying to swipe a fingerful of the mixture although in those days I was none too keen on the fruit.  My mum makes a lovely fruitcake also and in those days Mum also used to make a Dundee cake as well.

As I grew older My Nan always used to make my Christmas cake for me as my Christmas present. Nan  used to make a wicked fruit cake.  I found out in later years that she used to feed the cake on whisky (quantities unknown but a little dubious) and that cake never used to last very long at all.

This year I am late in making my cake; slapped dannies naughty Pattypan.   I normally have this all done by the end of September,  in order that the cake will have time to mature and give time for dripping brandy into the cake (called feeding the cake) before lining with marzipan and icing. { Ideally I  aim to get the cake marzipanned and  iced in the second week of December  I usually make Royal Icing and that needs a few days to settle down under a wet teacloth before the cake is actually iced}.  

For this year's cake the fruit is soaking in a little brandy as we speak.  I always give my fruit a couple of days to soak before actually making it so that the fruit is nicely plump and the cake will be nice and moist.  So for this year I am in a bit of a rush.

In recent years I have nearly always used Delia's Classic Christmas cake recipe as it is a really moist fruity cake that has good keeping qualities and both of us like proper fruit Cake, although as a child it was a no no and the only bit of the cake my brother and I were keen on were the marzipan and the icing.   That has obviously changed as we have grown older.  This year though I am going to make a second cake but a different recipe and then do a comparison as to which one we like best which will determine which recipe I use next year.  I just felt it was time for a re-visit although this recipe is one of the better ones that I have made and the most consistent.

This is the Recipe that I use as a standard; but it will need to be started at least a night before you cook it; I usually allow three to four days soaking in the brandy.

You will need an 8 inch round or a 7 inch square cake tin which will need to be lined with greased greaseproof paper (I put some butter in a bowl over saucepan of water and melt it and then use a brush to grease the lined cake pan after it has all been fitted out with the greaseproof.  I then tie newspaper or brown paper round the outside of the tin a this stops the cake from catching and cooking too quick on the outsides.


1lb currants
6oz sultanas
6oz raisins
2oz glace cherries rinsed dried and finely chopped
2oz mixed candied peel
8oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
8oz unsalted butter
8oz soft brown sugar
4 eggs
2oz chopped almonds
1 dessertspoon of black treacle
grated zest of a lemon
grated zest of an orange
(optional if the cake is going to be un-iced 4oz blanched almonds)
3 tablespoons of brandy
Extra brandy for feeding the cake


  1. This cake needs to be started at least a night before you want to bake it.  Weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel place it into a  mixing bowl and mix in the brandy as evenly and as thoroughly as possible.  I usually use a tablespoon and mix the fruit around so that the brandy covers everthying.  I then leave the bowl covered with a tea towel somewhere cool and out of the way for at least 12 hours.
  2. On the day that you are going to bake your cake preheat the oven to Gas mark 1, 275 Degrees F or 140 degrees C.  Measure out the rest of the ingredients making sure to tick each item off so that you do not miss an ingredient.  For the treacle I boil some water and put into a cup or bowl get a tablespoon and dip it in the hot water and then add to the mixture - this helps the treacle come off easily.  However I have heard of an alternative method were you dip the spoon in some oil and then into the treacle.
  3. Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt, and spices into a another mixing bowl lifting the sieve up and down to incorporate extra air into the flour. Next in a separate large mixing bowl whisk the butter, and sugar together until the mixture goes very pale and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at at time (i add a little flour with the addition of each egg) using an electric whisk until all the egg is incorporated.  Then add the flour and spices by folding it in with a metal spoon  using a gentle slicing movement with the spoon round in a circle then across the middle - do not beat the aim is to keep as much air in the cake as possible.  Fold in the fruit, peel chopped nuts, and treacle followed finally by the grated lemon and orange zests.
  4. Transfer the cake mixture into the lined greased tin spread it out evenly and at this point if you do not intend to ice the cake add the blanched almonds on the top of the cake mix in circles all over the surface..
  5. Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of greaseproof paper with a hole in the centre the size of a 2 shilling piece/50 pence piece this will stop the cake burning on the top and going hard.  Bake the care on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours.  Sometimes it can take a little longer but in any event do not open the oven door until 4 hours have passed.
  6. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes in the tin and then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling.  When it is cold give it its first feed wrap in double greaseproof paper to allow the cake to breathe with an outer layer of foil and then pop into an air tight storage tin.  You can now feed it at intervals (I usually check weekly) until you need to ice it.
For those of you not familiar with the concept of feeding basically with a fine skewer you make several small holes in the top and bottom of the cake then spoon over teaspoonfuls of brandy to soak in through the holes and soak into the cake.  There is nothing nicer to my mind than the smell of a brandied fruit cake.   Very yummy.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

I am grateful for small blessings

I received an unexpected bonus yesterday courtesy of my brother.  He and his wife have just bought a new washing machine and the one they had isn't that old and they asked if I would like it.  I jumped at the chance; it was delivered yesterday and is now in situ in the kitchen. It is immaculate and is working at present and I am chuffed to bits with it.  I feel very lucky.

So far this holiday I do not seem to have got on very much with what I had intended.  Not that I haven't got on with stuff, just not what I had planned.  Never mind, but at least this evening I have managed to sit and do a little bit of crotchet which is very relaxing.  I have another long term project of a throw worked in white, wedgewood blue,  royal blue, navy blue, red and grey on the go (amongst a load of other things) and I am hoping to have a real spurt in the next few weeks in trying to get some of those UFO's either finished or a little more on the way to being finished.  The thing with crotchet is that it grows quickly and the throws are lovely and snuggly especially on a cold evening like it is tonight.  They also add individuality to your home.  If I had a log fire I would be sat by that working away, just enjoying the piece and quiet and creating. 

I am hoping before long to start on the patchwork I need to get stuck in creating rather than thinking about it.  I have started a  patchwork cushion panel upstairs (another UFO which has been on the go for some time) so I thought that I might on my next holdiay if not before get stuck in and finish that.  I have also started an oven cloth.  The front is finished but I need to find a suitable fabric to back it up with.  I think I may have something suitable in the stash but it is a matter of liberating it.  I have the wadding already.  So two potential UFO's that quite possibly might be finished before Christmas.  That will be a novelty.

Right I am going to get on with a bit more crotchet; it gives me time to think.

Hope everything is okay in your neck of the woods.

Catch up soon.

Love and Light



Rosehip and Crab Apple Jelly (or Apple Helly)

Take equal parts of rosehips to Apples so if using 2lb of rosehips use 2lb of apples.  Chop up the apples (you do not need to peel as the juices will be going through the jelly bag and whizz the rosehips through a food processor until the berries are minced pop the apples and the rosehips into a heavy based pan (not aluminium) and cover with water and bring to the boil until the rosehips and apples are soft.  Strain through a jelly bag (if using the rosehips this way this is a necessity as these berries have very tiny hairs/fibres that if not strained off properly will irritate you system to high heaven so straining is a necessity even iif you prepare the rosehips beforehand.  Always strain.  Remember the innards of what is in the rosehip is the basis of itching powder.

Leave overnight in the jelly bag to drip.  Do not interfere with the jelly bag and try and force the ingredients through as this will spoil the effect of the jelly and we want a nice clear jelly that is jewel bright and looks pretty.

To each 1 pint of juice or part thereof add an equal amount of sugar so for 1 pint of juice you would use 1lb of sugar.

Pop into a pan and add the amount of sugar required, bring to the boil and test every so often for a set where a spoonful of jelly popped onto a cold plate wrinkles on the surface and forms a skin when you push it with your finger.  You can if it is taking an age add some lemon juice as this aids with the set (some fruits have very low pectin and it varies from batch to batch)  If you don't get this effect the jelly is not set and not ready to be taken off the heat.   I always take the pan off the heat when testing for a set as we do not want an overset jelly which will go like rubber or indeed the preserve burnt. Once set is achieved decant into warmed sterilised jars, pop on lids and leave to set.  If a set is not achieved first time round just pop back into the pan and rewarm through until this is achieved adding a little more lemon juice if necessary.

Pop onto the Pantry shelf and bring out and use with roast meats as a side sauce etc.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall also has some very different ideas on how to use fruits from the wild larder.  Including a crab apple and sloe sorbet.  I do not see why you could not use the crab apple and rosehip jelly in the same way.

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)