Saturday, 30 September 2017

Saturday Roundup

Its been a busy day here with lots of elbow grease and cleaning going on.  Still have a lot to do but it is deep clean session so it usually takes a little while.  Still ongoing but very slowly getting there.

OH has been fishing for a few days but has come home early I was not expecting him until tomorrow. As it had threatened rain and he did not want to have to pack the bivvy up in the wet (as it makes it smell not very nice and then you have to get it out in the garden to freshen it up and dry it out).  So he has perhaps been a little sensible as true to form it is now raining.

We have not long walked the dog and it started spitting whilst we were out and about.  We have then come home and I have had the job of bathing the dog.  She has to be bathed pretty regularly as she has a skin and a food allergy which results in her every so often getting really sore and she has a special shampoo that costs a lot of money.  We have just run out of that so will have to order more.  At least it helps her skin.  They think that she is allergic to the food colourings that are in most animal foods so she is on a special one which is mostly chicken or fish based.  That is part of it but not the whole story.  Her skin gets very dry as well which is the other part.

I have been to the veg shop and added some more fruit and veggies to the stockpile; I have more plums, cooking apples, and peaches and some veggies for tomorrow night's tea. I have also bought two trays of eggs to turn into pickled eggs for OH.  I also have to finish off the pickled cabbage this evening and get it bottled up.  I also have to bottle the cooked beetroot which was left to cool overnight

I did not manage to start the piccalilli last night so I have that to do tonight and then I can finish that off tomorrow.  So quite a lot to do as usual.

Right there is no peace for the wicked.  I am going to go and start on the beetroot and get that out the way quickly followed by the pickled cabbage.  

There is something very satisfying of having preserves on the pantry shelf to go to  be an ingredient in a particular part of a meal or jam in pastries or sandwich cakes.  Pickled onions with cheese and some fruit bread of some description to serve up with apple, pickled onions and a lump of cheese  It also provides reassurance when funds are low.  Hopefully when I start with the canner this will give even more security.  I am going to wait until OH is home on a Saturday before I start with this, he is pretty good technically and can sort out what I need to do and then I will take if from there.

Right catch you later on.



Non-Stick Cooking Liners

I found these at Poundland for the obligatory £1 apiece.  It strikes me that these would be okay to use in the dehydrator for preparing and processing fruit leathers and also for preparing home made cake decorations and with sweet making. I ended up buying 5 and may get some more as I also think that I will be able to customise my cake tins using these and cutting them to shape of each tin and then kept separate marked up with the tins size etc.  They are quite a generous size.

They will be ideal for lots of baking and cooking tasks.

I had been eyeing up their version of the liners which were a lot more expensive and also a confectionary mat in Lakeland which was quite expensive so I thought I would try this option first.  I already have some smaller ones but this one is a lot larger the size is 33cm x 40cm.  All I can do is try but I think they will be more than okay.  It might also make older tins that are starting to go rusty as they do (the pure metal ones that is or where the Teflon has come off trays) more useable and instead of throwing them away.  I have favourites when it comes to baking and I get quite upset if they get damaged for one reason or the other so this may be a way of making things work long term. Think they will be ideal for cookies as well.

Well we can only see what we will see and I will give it a whirl!

Catch you soon.



Christmas Planning 2017 - Pomanders, Fir Cones and Scent - Setting the scene

Starting with Fir Cones

I love natural things and am an avid collector of all sorts of natural bits and bobs when I go out walking. If there are fir cones laying on the ground I have to pick them up.  They can be used for oh so many things especially in the run up to Christmas.  I was brought up to collect as we walked.  Initially when I was a child it was to pick up twigs and fir cones to go onto the coal fire in the winter months as well as helping Dad chop the kindling the sticks utilising an axe to create the perfect kindling with which to start the fire.  We also used to pick the sheep's wool off the barbed wire fences and take this home and it would go in with the kindling with which to start the fire.  The daily newspaper  after being read the following day would be turned into fire starters.  Essentially this was a couple of pages of the newspaper which were folded into long strips (concertinaed) and then the balls wrapped into knots and popped on top of the kindling to catch the flame when the fire was first lit.   In the coal scuttle to the side of the fire would be coal and sometimes logs as well as fir cones.

Unfortunately at present I do not have a fire or a log burner  which I hope in the very near future is put right but that does not stop me passing on information and bits I have come across to those of you that do and perhaps inspire others to go for a log burner in their homes.  It gives another form of heating which I believe in this day and age is very necessary.  I do not think we should become over-reliant on any one form of heating but should hedge our bets.  I would mention that I have the brass tooling toasting forks, fireside companion, copper kettles etc and the scuttles.  Just no working fireplace/log burner.

Fire starters can also be made out of pine cones with the addition of some melted wax.  The ideal way of doing this is to collect all the bits of left over candle and melt it gently in a pan on low heat and then tip it over a few cones in a pan and then let it dry.  Package into suitable storage like a net bag and hang up in your storage area and pop a couple of the cones on to start the fire with the kindling.  The wax will soon catch the flame.

Equally you can pop them on top of the fire plain as they are or with the wax on  and they will release the wonderful piney smell into the room.  You can also use herb stems and dried orange and lemon peels to the same effect.  

However you can also scent fir cones  = they cost a fortune in the shops but it is not difficult to make these yourself.  Scent is very underrated but at Christmas it helps to promote a really festive and ambient mood.

I found this link the other day cones/ which shows you how to scent fir cones either by the use of essential oil or with dried cinnamon.  It does not matter which way you do it that is entirely up to you but a few on the side as part of the Christmas decorations or indeed on the fire would be magical.  I love the scent of cinnamon and orange etc. but no everyone does.

I have also dried orange slices to be used in garlands with bay leaves and scented pomanders and perhaps a few scented fir cones as well.  I would also like a bowl of scented pomanders to pop into each reception room.  

Dried Pomanders and Dried Orange, Apple, and Lemon slices

I have bought some cheap apples to turn into apple slices initially for decorating the house and to be incorporated into garlands but I thought I would also do a few for the pantry shelf as well.

I also have some small tangerines that were also quite cheap.  I have quite a few of these and thought would make some Tarragon and Orange jelly, Tangerine curd, small scented pomanders with cloves stuck in them and then dried with a mixture of cinnamon and orris root.  I have everything in he house and I cannot at this precise moment lay my hands on the cloves.  Typical.  I also have extra lemons and was thinking of doing something similar with them.  I have bought a few limes to turn into dried whole fruit for garlands as well. So there is going to be a lot going on.  I am very much colating bits together as I come across them and trying to make the best of the ingredients and foliage etc that I can.  I have some dried bay leaves already and my bay tree has put on quite a bit of growth over this last summer.  I am eyeing up a few branches which are going to be used in decorations but they are being left for a while yet even though I am itching to get my mitts on them.

I have also quite a few of the large cinnamon sticks which I am going to turn into star decorations but I did buy a load of cinnamon sticks last year so they will also go into the garlands as well.  I am looking to do my own garlands for my dressers.

I also like candlelight at Christmas the big white church candles which can always be displayed within a decorated wreath/candle ring.  I also like to have an oil burner going as well something festive and Christmassey. This year I would like Spruce in the house as well but we will see what we can come across.

At least I am on holiday the week before Christmas and the full week after Christmas this year that means I will be really able to get into the swing of things.

Scented Cushions for Garlands

I had also thought to make some fabric stars  and hang them from the garlands.  However I had thought to either have an insert pad stuffed with cinnamon and spices to pop inside.  Either that or a pad of wadding scented with festive oils.  As well as doing little groupings of square cushions scented the same way and tied with ribbon like a miniature stack of presents.

Just a few thoughts no doubt more will come as we progress along but I do try and make things as welcoming as I can and comfortable.  Now a roaring log fire or log burner would make it even more welcoming.  One can dream.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 29 September 2017

Sticky Mess

Its been all go in the kitchen this evening.  I have a big pan of beetroot cooking and I have another one to do.  Jars of this will go to relatives and friends at Christmas as part of a little bit of something.  Once cooked I shall leave it in the pan to cool and then once cold peel all the outer skin off, slice it and then add the cooled vinegar.

I shall then start the next batch although I might change this to beetroot pickle for something a bit different.  Will see how many jars are made up first before I decide.

I have also been pricking my sloes; a lot of them had split in any event and I have the last of the sloes to add to the jar.  Hopefully I will get more on Sunday when we walk the dog as I would like to put some in the freezer for another batch later on. 

The supervisor has been there watching my every move.  Bumble (one of my six cats) has been close up and personal watching my every move and inspecting what I have been doing all through the process.  The sugar and the gin are now in.  I do love the smell and taste of gin.  Now on to preparing the next bottle.  It will be well worth all the stickiness on a cold winter's day when I can have a tot of this to warm me up.  Perhaps I am sad but I find piercing the sloes with a bodkin curiously cathartic I tend to lose myself in my own little world.

I have also bought two new jelly stands and bags for making the crab apple jelly, probably will start it on Sunday will see how it goes.   I will need the two jelly bags going as I have other ideas as well. However crab apple jelly is a must in this household to go with my home rolled stuffed belly pork it makes a superb accompaniment, brings out the taste of the pork beautifully.

I actually like making jellies; whether it is the clear jewel like appearance that appeals to me or the subtle flavourings I think that they look very good nestled on a pantry shelf as it speaks of lots of delicious meals to come.

The Pickled Cabbage has also been started I should be able to finish that up tomorrow evening and get it packed into jars.  It looks very pretty on top of a small salad with some cold cuts over Christmas together with some butter fried oyster mushrooms  until they are golden as a hot dressing as well.

There is still loads to do though.  I am back to work on Monday so I am going to have to break down a lot of the other stuff into an item or two at night when I get home from work.  I really do not know how I find the time to work as well!  Very tongue in cheek that.

I am in the midst of preparing another batch of picallilli for the brining process anyway and that also should be finished up tomorrow evening.  I have just stopped for a coffee break.

Its a bit noisy here tonight' next door neighbours we think they are Russian or Latvian are having a party trouble is they all end up getting bladdered.  If they are not quiet by a reasonable time I shall thump on the wall.  Trouble is they start playing guitars and singing at 3:00am in the morning and that is when I really do thump.  I need my sleep.

Right there is a big batch of vegetables waiting to be finished.  Catch you later must get on.



Florida Orange Style Juice

Can you remember the "rolls" of Florida Orange juice that you used to buy from the shops from the freezer.   I think initially the Birds Eye company sold this but then other companies bought out their own.   I used to love that juice, especially as it was lovely and chilled and slipped down a dry throat a treat.  I have not seen anything like that recently.  I wonder if you can still get it.  

In preparation for Christmas we must not forget our drinks.  A lot of us do not want to go OTT on the alcohol front but because of all the rich food want something to freshen up our palate and soothe our throats.

So why not squeeze your own juice and store it in ice cream boxes in the freezer.  It will take a little work, but at least if you prepare it before you are going to get all the clutter and the debris from the oranges all sorted  out.  You can make your own mixed peel with this, but I will cover that on another post.  I am very lucky in that the veg shop often has reduced oranges for £1 a bowl.  The skins may not always be pretty but as long as they make great tasting juice that's all I am really interested in and this time it will be something for the freezer rather than pantry.

There is a link here as to how to freeze your home-made fruit juice.

Once the juice is made, and has been frozen bring out the frozen juice on Christmas Eve and let it defrost in the fridge.  Especially if you start your day off with a Bucks Fizz which is the tradition here and because it is pure orange juice it will be good for the kidlets too. This will be a tidier and simpler option on the drinks front over Christmas as by dealing with it this way you have got rid of all of the clutter and the kitchen is not becoming untidy.  My kitchen is very small and space is at a premium so clutter would just cause a major problem.

It depends on how many are going to be with you for Christmas as to how much orange juice you can make; but if there are going to be loads of you get the kids involved in processing the juice as well.  The beauty of juice prepared like this means that you will be able to start Christmas breakfast off well and even have a Bucks Fizz to start the celebrations off with proper pure juice and no nasties.  Just a little planning and preparation is needed beforehand which will save you time over Christmas in the long run and may require an accumulation of several batches of juice processing and some space in the freezer. 

I shall look out at the veggie shop for when they have an offer on oranges and take advantage of that.  I also intend to blend several varieties of oranges, tangerines, clementines etc together for a smoother and flavour filled blend as well as some individual blends.  

Right better get a wriggle on.

Catch up later on.



Plum Brandy Liqueur

This probably is a little late for this year, but then again maybe not as you are still able to buy plums on the market and in the supermarket just different varieties.

I had not contemplated plums in any kind of alcohol before and this recipe was attached with the Sloe Gin Recipe in my Sloe Gin making kit.

The recipe is as follows:

The recipe initially says to use plums off your own plum tree or replace them with Damsons.

The recipe can also be used as a basis for other fruits such as peaches or cherries but you would have to adjust the sugar to taste.

You will need:

1 litre/34US fl oz of Brandy
900g/2lb Frozen or Fresh Plums
450g/1lb of Demerara Sugar


Was the fruit thoroughly.

Freeze the plums whole.  This will reduce the amount of straining required.

Add the plums to the sterilised Kilner jar then add the sugar cover with the brandy and fasten down the lid.

Store in a dark dry place at room temperature.

Tip the jar upside down and gently shake the jar to mix in the sugar. This will allow all of the ingredients to macerate together and enriches the flavour.

Leave three to four months.

Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth and decant into separate bottles.

Leave for a further month before enjoying your homemade plum Brandy.

Probably just out for using this Christmas although not strictly.  However could make it this year and then you will have a vintage one on the go for next Christmas although you could always drink it in between to see if it passes muster.

One for the list I think.

Catch you soon.



A timely arrival

I mentioned the other day that I had ordered some Kilner bits and bobs including a Sloe Gin making set.  I thought it would be next week before I saw that but it has arrived this morning, which I am very chuffed about as it can now be used for making my sloe gin.  I have a nice large container for putting the sloes and the gin into.  I have two litres of gin to be used in this respect.  There is an angled funnel, and four bottles into which the Sloe Gin can be decanted into once the Sloes have been taken off the spirit.  The Sloes on this occasion will be used to make Sloe Gin Chocolate for eating at Christmas but I will keep the fruit in the freezer until I am ready to make the same.  I am not wasting the flavour.  I also have cherries soaking in brandy and I am going to do the same with them as well.

In the leaflet that accompanied the set there is also a recipe for Plum Brandy.  I will post that up later on.  However I have previously posted an article on Sloe Gin, and a couple of other derivatives here:

I also ordered a coffee grinder.  I therefore need to find myself some coffee beans.  Might mean another trip to Waitrose.  I also added to the order a decanting strainer funnel and also a jam jar funnel so that everything goes into the jars and not the floor.  So I am well pleased with the arrival of this particular package. 

I also did well yesterday in locating 6 x 1 litre Kilner jars at £1.50 each.  A local Department store had them on offer Beales (formerly the Co-op) in Peterborough.  I fell pretty lucky with that transaction as well as the jars are normally £3.50 each x 6 and I got all 6 of them for £9.

Catch you later on.



Thursday, 28 September 2017

Fresh Herbs

I love the scent and smell of fresh herbs there is something wholesome and fresh about them.  I have not done too badly with them this year considering but there is always room for improvement. 

I have the herbs drying off coat hangers.  The herbs are tied in little bunches and attached to the bottom support of the coat hanger with a little string.  It should not take too long for them to dry.  I will then with the sage at least crumble it into jars for long keeping over the winter.  I prefer to air dry them as I think that more important things can be processed in the Dehydrator like jerky or dried vegetables or tomatoes for sun dried tomatoes.

I have  at present drying for the winter months the following:

Fresh Sage  - I use in lots of home made stuffings.  I really need a bit more and may well have to buy some as my sage is new and has not got itself set properly. I am hoping for a better crop next year but may move the plant in any event. It is also good for sore throats and a good one to make in this respect is a herb honey clear honey with the sage added but it is soothing and then use the sage infused honey to make sage tea with.

Fresh Oregano; I love Oregano on pizzas and on barbecues and always have some in house.  

Fresh Garden Thyme; I use a lot of Thyme as well I find it perks up chicken dishes and adds a depth of flavour to gravies and sauces and tend probably rely on this one quite a lot; although I do not put much in at a time.  I have pickled eggs to do this weekend and I always add fresh thyme and mace blade with black peppercorns to the mix.

Lemon scented Thyme.  This one I fell in love with served on carrots at a local hostelry and I have been using it ever since.  I have a new book with lots of different recipes in which I intend to find and go through this winter, but lemon scented time will definitely be making a repeat performance in this household next year.  One worth making room for.

Fresh Parsley.  There is nothing like home grown and naturally dried Parsley to add to a white sauce to accompany fish.  It really does have lots of flavour so this is one I tend to have on hand a lot as well.

Fresh Rosemary.  I adore Fresh Rosemary especially when it is served with garlic studded roast lamb.  I tuck a little sprig of Rosemary into each cut in the lamb that has a stud of fresh garlic in and it beautifully scents the meat.  It is one of my favourite ways of cooking lamb.  Its so so tasty.  I had also contemplated adding a bottle of red wine to the mix but OH is not keen on wine in food so I have to be careful.

Flat Leaved Parsley, very much as the curled leaf parsley.

There is also Basil in the ice cube trays in a little oil.

Fresh mint in ice cube trays in water.

Fresh chives in ice cube trays in water.

I have also got some mixed herb vinegar on the go as well a couple of bottle of this.

I did the keeping mint sauce the other day and the mint vinegar for serving it with.

I also intend to make some croutons and cover them with oil and fresh mixed herbs and then dehydrate them for use over the winter months with home made soups.  Will bring a bit of the summer back into the winter months.

I also want to get some Bouquet Garni made as well.  They always make a stock or a stew a little more flavourful.

I shall keep doing a bit here and there until I have enough to carry me through to next Spring.  Well that's the plan anyway.

Catch you soon. 

Pattypan xxx

I am a Cider Drinker

I have invested in a fruit press for having a go at making my own cider.  We both like cider here and I also like Perry for those of you who do not know this is the pear version of cider.  My Nan and my Mum used to make both when I was growing up.  So another real blast from the past as it were.  I also have the option now of preparing apple juice.

I have relatively good access to apples and pears at the veg shop which are sold off cheaply on a regular basis so it seemed only sensible to make use of this regular supply of apples and pears. You get about 1kg for £1. 

We all have to have something to eat but we also need something to drink. I thought that this might fit in very well with our way of life.  I am a cider drinker but I am not sure whether I am a cider maker that will be revealed in due course but in for a penny and in for a pound I am going to have a go.  Now what is she getting herself into.  

The press I have found is a brand new Vigo press a 12 Litre one off Ebay, which I am pretty pleased about.  In the past I have bought a bottle steriliser/pasteuriser processor/fruit extractor ( from them and have been pretty pleased with it.  The press will also be very useful for making apple juice as well.  So I am pretty chuffed all round.  Things are starting to come together and I am very lucky.

So lots of things to play with and keep me out of mischief or get me into it in the greater scheme of things.  I certainly am not going to be bored, but there are other things I need to do with the general running of the house as well rather than my cooking and my crafting on all levels.  Sometimes you just have to get down to the nitty gritty and do it - not that I am enthralled at that, but needs must.

Catch you later on.



Charity Shop Finds

Nothing much of late however I am on the look out for nice pine picture frames with not particularly nice pictures in to recycle with some of my finished pieces of needlework as it costs an arm and a leg to have them done professionally these days. I have some nice pieces which it is about time I had on the wall; mostly cross stitched. So today I managed to find a nice one quite large for £4.  I shall keep my eyes open though for other suitable frames in due course.  Sometimes they are a bit scuffed but a little tlc and elbow grease often works wonders.  Sometimes if they are little to scruffy then out comes the paint pot and they end up getting a drastic revamp.  However at the end of the day I have to take things as I find them.  I predominantly go for pine, as it matches my pine furniture and blends in

I also picked up another picnic hamper for £5.  This will be ideal to take home prepared goodies to friends and family over the Christmas period.  I am ostensibly thinking of my brother here.  Although if I can find some more hampers at realistic prices I may well get some more. Will see how that pans out.  I am forever on the look out for tins or little baskets or indeed hampers to add to my collection.  

A little green glass dish was all on its own and it spoke to me and so that has also come home to add to my collection. £1.

And a set of four soup bowls which will be ideal for use everyday.  I love soup during the winter months as it warms the heart and the soul and keeps the body fed.  So only a few finds but better than none and they will all be put to good use in the days to come. £2.

So not bad for £8.

I am still picking up preserving jars where I can from the Charity shops as it works out so much cheaper, but yet again I don't see any for weeks and then they all come at a rush.  But that is the way the cookie crumbles.

Catch you later.



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Its been a bit of a busy day

Not how I had planned it by a long chalk.  In any event I ended up going into town for some bits that I could not get locally.  I did not get them all but I am back in town tomorrow for a little while so hopefully will get the missing bits tomorrow.

I think Christmas was waiting for me at the John Lewis store in the Queensgate shopping centre.  As I went in on the ground floor I was  met by all the Christmas trees up, men on vertical lifts adding the Christmas lights to the ceiling, the shelving and baskets all decked up to the nines with some lovely stuff but it was not finished.  I shall have another peek tomorrow and if I remember will try and take a photo.  It looked lovely in any event. 

I also went round the Tiger shop and they have one or two nice bits in, including some glass candle bowls/lanterns in three different sizes and slightly different shapes in green, red and purple blue.  They really looked good at £2 per lantern.   So some of those might make their way into my basket also.

I also need to get some Christmas pudding bowls tomorrow for the puddings which are to be made this weekend.  I got side-tracked last weekend from making the puddings and the cakes.  Both lots of fruit are in the soak as we speak.  So that will be another good job done with once all sorted and I can forget about the puddings but the cake will have to be fed.  I will pop up a separate post on this.

I also have a lot of decanting to do in respect of the different flavoured vodkas.  I have also got a bramble liqueur (using brandy) on the go as well as a gin and apple liqueur type drink.  I bought apples today to make apple pop.  I also have some for drying for Christmas decorations and for eating with my granola or home made muesli.

A few weeks ago I bought an enamel Cake serving platter/carrier from Wilkinsons.  I went in there again today and came out with another one; I will need this for when we take the Christmas cake to my brother and it will be safer in the carrier than it will be on my lap plus it will come in useful in my pantry.  I also managed to get some little tiny jars for the harissa paste and some larger ones for some more chutney.  I also bought some 2lb loaf tins for making bread.  I have 1lb ones thus far oh and a pair of nutcrackers - don't no where mine are but it will be easier to open the Filberts with rather than me biting on them to split the nut which might not do my teeth any good.

I have some more chillies to thread up tonight as well as some other bits and bobs so am likely to be missing.  If I can get back I will but I do have an awfull lot of stuff to do and as usual so little time to do it.

Catch up with everyone later.  Take care wherever you may be.



Filbert Nuts

Are the green version of cob nuts/hazlenuts and like Green Walnuts they are delish.  They are always out  from the end of August and this time of year and I end up getting mine at Waitrose. 

The first time I had Filbert nuts was when my Dad went to a customer's place of business to do some repairs and they had a load of these nuts scattered on the floor.  In the end they gave him some and he brought a scuttle full home.  They were delish.  I seem to have a thing about nuts of all kinds.

If I was deeper into the countryside would be different I would probably be able to locate this seasonal treat locally but for the time being I have to rely on the supermarket for my annual fix this is the way that I have to do it for now.  I just love them raw.  However if you want to keep them you can roast them yourself and then keep in the freezer.

Here are instructions on how to do the same:

Do you have a must have seasonal treat and if so what is it and how do you enjoy it.

Love to hear from you.



Preserving Jars and Equipment Mostly for the Pantry

As I do a lot of preserving I am always on the look out for preserving jars of various descriptions.  I have had them all over the years  (and I still have an awful lot) including antique Kilner jars some of which belonged to my mum when I was a little girl and some of which I have found at Antique stores and off the Internet.  All are put into use wherever possible.  Most of them are in the shed but not all.  Periodically I go on the Internet, primarily Ebay and I manage to pick them up quite cheaply.   I also source  the seals so that I can use the antique jars again and again (Leifheit closures). 

Just recently I have added another 40 or so Kilner jars to the stash - especially now I have the canner and no doubt more will be added in due course.  The ones below are the medium sized Kilner jars, but now I need to stock up on the litre jars.  There do not seem to be the offers on these though and those are the ones I need for the soup and other canning.

One thing I do do, is that I am very specific and careful to only use the Kilner or Mason (or alternatives) for canning or bottling.  Jams and marmalades and curds go into jam jars.  Pickles have different sized jars which are a lot larger or I use the Sarson's vinegar jars for the pickled onions or shallots.  Sauces and cordials I use hex sauce bottles.  These are an ideal size to be processed in the baby steriliser.

I normally recycle jam jars.  Jars  (jam jars) like Uncle Ben's sweet and sour sauce, Patak's jars etc. are standard sized lids which the Lakeland closures fit.  So where I can recycle I will.  However I have also found that Wilkinsons do a nice range of jars quite cheaply and seem to have expanded their range just recently.  I need to get some of their little ones for the Harissa. 

I have also bought a few more flask jars for storing Sloe Gin or the like in.  I have several already but a few more never hurt especially with the amount of stuff I have managed to put up this year.  

As I intend to take advantage of what mother nature lets grow in wild larder for many years to come I have invested in a couple of these barrels (upright and trestle versions) for the pantry shelves.  I intend to add a few more yet, but this is a good start.   I have plans for this coming year on the wild larder front more so than in previous years so I am going to need a good stock of jars, bottles, canning jars etc.

I think the second one in particular would be good for vinegar storage but it may well be specifically for alcoholic preserves only.  I shall make a decision on that once it arrives.

I have also ordered some more of these sifters for the pantry to put the different variations of sugar in and some cocoa and drinking chocolate.  The sprinkler on top of each bottle is ideal.  I also have cinnamon sugar, rose petal sugar and lemon sugar to process.  I may end up buying a few more of these yet.

And the Sloe Gin set.

On the Kilner product I have bought the Butter Churn, a Cream Maker, a Spiraliser and a coffee bean mill.  I have also bought several of the drinks carriers as well. There  are one or two more bits I would like from the range but they will come in time.  I am looking at next to buy their what I call pate jars as I will need these in the run up to Christmas for storing home made pate's and deli items in.

I am slowly drawing together all the elements that I would like for the Pantry long term.  I have a large pot without a lid which came from my Nan's pantry which is in the unit at the moment.  It is however extremely useful for storing Walnuts in salt to keep them fresh.

I am still looking out for the sweetie jars to add to my stash for the pantry and for Victorian glass storage jars of different sizes.  So eventually I will have the majority of what I am after for a well stocked pantry, but at the moment it is a never ending process.  I also use Douwe Egbert jars recycling them for herbs and other dry ingredients as they are quite a nice size.

So it is an ongoing process but by the end of it I should have a very useful pantry where I will be able to find everything relatively easily.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Foraging finds

Well off we tottled with the moo (Missy is also known as moo i.e. Missy Moo) well armed like a British Expedition trip.  I have a wooden basket that I normally use and could I find it - not at all.  Its safe somewhere just not sure where.  So instead I have gone armed with a couple of decent sized carrier bags, some freezer bags and a bin liner.  We do not need the hook as the trees are not that high up.  Also a biscuit each and a bottle of drink.

We promptly arrived at the Crab Apple Trees most of the apples were down so I have been scrabbling on my hands and knees under the tree picking up the apples which were perfect.  I think I have about 20lbs in weight with which to  make crab apple jelly, spiced crab apple jelly, crab apple and sloe jelly, sloe gin jelly,  crab apple cheese, crab apple and rosehip cheese, crab apple and rosehip jelly.  I am hoping that I will have more than enough crabs to do everything I want to make.

We have started to pick the sloes.  I have about 2lb of them and when OH comes back from fishing at the weekend I am hoping to go and pick more.  At least I can start off the Sloe Gin.  I have two litres of gin in the cupboard specifically for this purpose.  The sloes are a nice size as well.  Some of them have already split but they are still going in the freezer to give them some frost.

I hope that in the interim someone has not swiped the sloes as apart from the sloe gin, I am looking to make sloe vodka and also slider as well as jam and jelly.

I have also found a lovely recipe for turning the sloe pulp into chocolate.   I may actually freeze the pulp and then use this for making the chocolate for Christmas. Yum.  I will pop this up later.

So a nice start which I am chuffed with.   I also found some tiny larch cones for use on Christmas decorations and cards smaller  than those I usually get. Hopefully will be able to spend more time at the weekend and harvest a little more of the sloes, some more crabs if needed and rosehips, and some more larch cones and teasels. So for the time being matters are progressing nicely.  Now I have some more serious preserving to do.

Catch you soon.



Fresh Mint, Mixed Frozen Berries, Tangerines, Mixed herbs and vinegar

I have four bunches of sweet fresh mint ready to turn into home made long-keeping Mint Sauce.  This is something that I make most years and is really simple to do.  Also very simple to reconstitute. The Recipe is here:

OH uses copious amounts of mint sauce and/or jelly so this is one that is always in constant use as he uses mint sauce on everything.

I have also made some mint vinegar for adding to the mint concentrate so that you really get that impact of flavour and freshness.

The Mixed frozen berries are to turn into cordial and coulis for the pantry shelf.  I shall process them in the bottle steriliser and that way on they will keep through the winter months and I will be able to drag out ice cream sauce during the middle of winter. It is also good on cake.  I am not paying £5 a bottle no way for a bottle of home made Coulis especially when it is so easy to make at home.  You can of course, make Passion fruit coulis, Strawberry Coulis, Raspberry Coulis, Blackberry Coulis, Blackcurrant Coulis, etc. etc.

The tangerines were reduced and I fancy making some tangerine curd for a change. I managed to get four nets of oranges.  It will not make a lot but at least there will be a little. Lovely on toast and in cakes alike. Yummy.

The mixed herbs are for a batch of home made mixed herb vinegar.  I am just about to bottle up the Tarragon vinegar so the jar will become available to do this new batch of vinegar. At the moment it has the remnants of the Tarragon in it but these are strained off through a paper coffee filter or through very fine muslin and then decanted into fresh sterilised bottles.  I don't put any herb in the newly sterilised bottles at all. I always add a splash of Tarragon vinegar to home made Prawn Cocktail sauce (its my secret ingredient) and it gives a bit more of a tang.  It does not take long but makes a heck of a difference to dressings for salads and also for deglazing the pan of meat juices when making gravy.  You only need a little but it helps build up the flavours in the gravy. I think the mixed herb one would be good with a roast like Porchetta (a favourite here).  I will not of all the herbs buy Parsley from the supermarkets.  This one I buy the plants and then dry it myself.  The flavour and the quality of the dried herb is far more flavoursome this way on.

If there are any herbs left over they will get put into the freezer in ice cube trays for use during the winter months.  I also intend making some more herb butters as these are especially good with things like steak and garlic and parsley for home made garlic bread which is lush.

Right some serious work on as usual.  Better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Lazy Chilli Flakes

This is a recipe taken from the Preserves book by Dick and James Strawbridge.

You will need:

150ml (5 fl oz of vinegar)
2 tablespoons of sugar
50g/2 oz dried chillies stems removed
a pinch of salt
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the vinegar and sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Blitz the chillies in a food processor or grind them using a pestle and mortar, until flaky, and add to the vinegar.  Bring t the boil and then allow to cool in the pan..  Season with salt and pepper then pour into a jam jar.  Seal tightly and store in the fridge. 

To use add a little to your chosen dish.  However use sparingly as it is hot.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Autumn Foraging

We walked Missy this evening and went and had a look at the crab apples. There are a few and I hope to go for these tomorrow.

There are also cones, teasels and rosehips. 

There was also a lovely surprise.  The golden load of sloes.  I have never seen so many together.  I aim to pick these as well as there is so much you can do with them and then pop them into the freezer.  That way round I can use some and then save some for a later batch of sloe gin or sloe and crab apple jelly or sloe and apple jelly, sloe whisky, apple and sloe sorbet, slider, (sloes in cider), sloe gin chocolate, sloe port, sloe vodka,  sloe gin jelly, sloe gin and chocoloate pudding, sloe chutney, and there are so many more combinations beside including a cranberry and sloe gin sauce. 

So it looks as though I am taking my basket with me tomorrow to harvest some of the contents of the wild larder.  Always adds an element of surprise to the pantry especially on a cold winter day.  But Sloe Gin is a lovely cold day winter warmer.

A neighbour has some Japonica (Japanese Quince) so I am going to ask if I can have a few to make a Japonica and Apple Jelly (that is if I can catch him).  I am therefore looking forward to making my Crab Apple Jelly, Spiced Crab Apple Jelly and some Rosehip and Apple Jelly and some Sloe and Crab Apple Jelly.  I  am going to check out some other recipes later on.

OH is fishing from Wednesday so I am going to make the most of tomorrow night's foraging.

Catch you soon.



Dried Dates and Dried Figs and Apricots.....

I love dried figs and dates.  They have been a part of my Christmas forever.  My father acquired a taste for them when he was out in Egypt and they were then on the sweetmeats plate every Christmas.  I absolutely adore fresh figs as well.  Same with Ginger and Turkish Delight.  Had to be the Ali Baba one though.

Dried dates can be bought in the long slim packs with the plastic forks in them; I buy these when they are reduced and then chop them up and use in baking.  The veg shop has them periodically and sells them off for about 70p per pack  You can also buy them sugar rolled and they really add a little bit more texture and flavour to cakes.

I have been looking for dried figs this year so far without success so I am going to try Waitrose whilst I am away from work to see if they have any.  If they do they will be squirrelled away into the pantry for use in baking and puddings.  Since starting this post I have found my dried figs in Waitrose and have invested in a couple of 500g bags.  They also had dried Apricots so I shall get some of those next time I descend.  There are a couple of more items that I need to get hold of as well so I may well get them all together.

I also use Holland and Barratt for the dried fruits as well usually when they have their offers on.  I particularly like their crystallised ginger.

In the traditional older recipes for Chutneys dates were often used to give a darker colour and sweetness to the chutneys.  I have many older recipes and I think its about time the moths were dusted off some of these recipes.  The chutneys, like Mincemeat are very good for using up fruit that is perhaps a little past its best but with the additions of vinegar, sugar, spices are brought to life again. 

I am particularly fond of golden sultanas.  The local Asian shop I use has them in periodically and when they do I snaffle quite a few bags.  They keep the green raisins in for the curry but the golden ones are a bit hit and miss and they are one of my favourites is it not always the way.

So on the long list of things to do this week I also have to make the mincemeat, do some fruit chutneys, make some festive chutney, start the Christmas cake and Christmas puddings. etc.etc.  So it looks as though its going to be a dried fruit sort of week apart from anything else.  I also have more greengages to turn into something for the pantry shelf and more piccalilli is also part done.

Unfortunately I have not found any Damson's this year.  I had so wanted to make some Damson Gin and also some Damson and Orange jam.  I have been eyeing up fruit trees on the Internet but there is just no way I will get them in my current garden.  

The next thing on the list is Quince.  I would like to make some Membrillo and also quince jelly and bottle some slices.  I am hoping OH will take me to a local Butchers this week which is where I got the last lot from so we will have to wait and see what we can come up with.  I might be a tad early yet.

Right on with the alchemy turning plain ingredients into something special for the pantry shelf.  Its going to be a very happy Christmas here with all the Vodkas and Gins and syrups and Rumptopf, and Cherry Brandy that is on the go.  Hic.  

Catch you soon.



Cake Lace Kit

When I went into Waitrose the other day I picked up a little cake lace kit for £4.50.  I thought that it would not amount to much but in reality for decorating a cake or cakes it is quite reasonable.  You get a big pot of gold icing and a little tiny rubber lace mat including 8 shapes which has three lacy flower rings a butterfly a heart two little tiny ribbon shapes and two little flower rings.  So all in all not a bad buy.

Think that this will come in useful over the Christmas period or for decorating birthday cakes in the future.  By the way the gold icing is not a tiny pot but quite reasonable in all the circumstances.

Catch you later on.



Rosehip Vinegar

I have been browsing through my preserving books for something different.  I have found it and I am going to try this although have never made this before.

The recipe comes from the Preserves book by Dick and James Strawbridge.

1 litre of cider vinegar
4 tablespoons of sugar
50g/2 oz of rosehips
peel from 1 orange

Put the vinegar and sugar into a pan and heat until dissolved.  Allow to cool then set aside.  Meanwhile thread the rosehips and pieces of orange peel onto a wooden skewer.  Place the skewer in a sterilised bottle and pour in the vinegar.  Seal and leave for 2 to 3 weeks before using.

Apparently it is very good  with chicken and fish and can be drizzled over melon and prosciutto and salad for some added zing.  Guess where I am going this week to get Rosehips for this, rosehip and crab apple jelly and also rosehips for the shells and to dehydrate for my vitamin c quota during the winter months.

I also want to get some rosehips for making wine.

Going to be busy.

Catch you soon.


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)