Monday, 28 July 2014

HOW TO MAKE SPICED PLUM JELLY


We were delighted to be given a load of plums by friends in our village. The plums are the small sour type, not the juicy fleshy ones that you'd usually eat, and they advised us that this was better to make jelly than jam.

We had 2kg of fruit in total and put them into a large preserving pan with roughly 1,200 ml of water and four cinnamon sticks. We then cooked the plums over a low heat on the hob for about an hour, until the skins split and the fruit became mushy. We put a small plate in the fridge, you'll find out later why if you haven't made jam or jelly before.


We then strained the plums through a large muslin, I really must buy one of those dangly bag things as each year I mock up something quite amateurish like the boys' chairs above! Which the little one couldn't understand at all and climbed on the table to sit on his chair. 


To make a very clear jelly, you are advised not to squeeze the bag and to let it drop out naturally for up to 24 hours. Our patience lasted about 2 hours before we carried on to the next bit! 


After emptying the jewel coloured liquid into a large pan, and putting the fruit remains into the compost bin, we weighed the amount of liquid and then heated it up to boiling point in the pan, before adding natural granulated sugar. You should add 225g sugar to every 300ml of juice. 

It took about 20 minutes of boiling before the jelly reached the setting point, although depending on the fruit it could take from 5 minutes. To test whether its ready put a small spoonful of the jelly onto the plate, if you can run your finger through it and the line of finger remains without oozing back together then its ready. 


I sterilise my jam jars by putting them through the dishwasher on a hot cycle, some people prefer to put them in the oven. Once the jam is ready pour into jars, seal and label! I had some warm poured over some vanilla ice cream, naughty but nice. 


WE'RE JAMMIN'






The little man helped me pick the blackcurrants from the garden this week, we had just enough fruit to make one jar. We used blackcurrants and one and a half times the weight of the fruit, of golden granulated sugar, this must be the easiest jam in the world to make and it tastes delicious too.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

FARMERS' MARKET FROLICS


We love our local farmers' market, it's our weekly treat (out of football season of course!) I love the beautiful flowers and fruit, and this week my lovely eldest son bought me two bunches of flowers as I couldn't choose between them. The boys always choose chocolate twists and eat bits off the French stick before we get home much to my annoyance! Daddy buys cider from the local organic cider producer, sausages and cheese from the cheese man. Saturday lunches are the best of the week.




PERFECT PLACES TO PADDLE




We are blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world and take for granted the pretty villages and countryside nearby. It's quite ironic that the most expensive places to live in the Cotswold's were originally built for the local mill workers and farm labourers and were remote, cold and dark to live in, and often damp - I know I've lived in one!

This week we visited the picture postcard perfect village of Lower Slaughter, where a pint of beer in the village pub cost a whopping £4.75! We cooled ourselves down by buying ice creams and having a paddle in the Slaughter Brook that meanders through the village.

p.s. the tunic that I'm wearing is my old Next uniform from when I was a Saturday girl about 20 years ago! Am quite exited that I still fit into it, but quite sad that I have a load of clothes that are now THAT OLD! At least the hat was a more recent edition from Jigsaw.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS

Camping




What are your camping luxuries? Mine is a bell tent, a real fire and toasting marshmallows on sticks. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

HOW TO MAKE A PICNIC LOAF


I made a picnic loaf this week for the school picnic, it's so simple to make and very tasty. You basically buy or make a round loaf, cut a lid at the top and then scoop out all the bread inside (which you can then use for breadcrumbs which can be frozen if not used straight away). 


To fill mine I roast aubergine, peppers and courgette in the oven at 180 degrees for half an hour, with a generous amount of olive oil and garlic. 


Then I layer inside the loaf with rocket leaves, tomato, basil and mozerella cheese. Squashing it firmly down inside.


finally adding the roast vegetables on top and gently but firmly pressing down the lid on top. You can fill it with whatever takes your fancy, even stews in winter. You then slice it up to serve and you should see all your layers as you cut generous wedges! Simple, easy and delicious, perfect for a summer picnic.

ELEVEN


My eldest was born at the height of a summer heat wave, much like the one we're having at the moment. The local fields we full of barley ready for an early harvest, where swifts screeched across the sky and beautiful blue cornflowers were in bloom. He wasn't in a hurry to come into the world, but he has been in a hurry ever since. His energy, enthusiasm, kindness and love inspire me and wear me out in equal measure but he has taught me so much. Happy birthday my eldest son x 



We woke him up at 7.22 am in the morning with a breakfast of pancakes, drizzled with maple syrup.  


Life has been so hectic recently I hardly had any time to go shopping, luckily the lovely Sarah Benton, of the Lion Street Store swung into action after I had admired some of her posts on Instagram! She photographed a picture of all the fab things in her shop that would appeal to an eleven year old boy, so I could easily choose! The presents arrived wrapped in really cool wrapping paper (below). Thank you Sarah, he loved the gifts they were perfect and it was a great way to go shopping!



The little one secretly stole the sweets and was caught eating them behind the flowers! He is turning into such a monkey.


This year the boy didn't want a birthday cake, instead he chose a pile of brownies, so the day before the younger boys and I made a mountain of 36 brownies!

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