Saturday, 29 August 2009


Last year I found a recipe for 'Apple Butter' which I published on this blog. I have since found another recipe which is even better.
I had not heard about 'Apple Butter' and then I heard that whole festivals are held around this event.

My neighbour has a small orchard and said I could collect all the windfall apples, so yesterday was my day for cooking with apples - infact I did not finish until nearly midnight when I sat down to look at my results. I made 'Apple Butter' and 'Apple Chutney'.

Spiced Apple Butter

6lb windfall apples
2 pints water
2 pints dry cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch ground allspice
rinfd of a lemon
1. Wash the apples and cut into pieces
2. Place in a large pan with the water and cider.
3. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the apples are very soft
4. Push the fruit and cooking liquid through a fine sieve and weigh the pulp
5. Allo 3/4lb of sugar to each 1lb of pulp
6. Return the pulp to the pan and simmer until it has recueced by 1/3 or until thick
7. Add the sugar, spices, lemon rind
8. Boil, stirring frequently until no liquid remains
9. Spoon into clean, dry, warm jars
10. Cover and seal with an airtight lid

I used brown sugar this year. It is just wonderful on buttered toast

Apple Chutney

2lb apples
8oz onion
1lb brown sugar
11/2pints pickling vinegar (spices already added)
8oz sultanas
1/2oz salt
2 teaspoons grouond ginger
1. Peel, core and slice the apples. Peel and chop the onion
2. Put the onions, apples, sultanas and salt into a large pan witht eh salt and
3. Simmer until soft.
4. Add the sugar and ginger and stir until soft.
5. Boil the chutney until it is thick.
6. Pout into hot, clean jars and seal.

It is best left for a couple of weeks to infuse the flavours and I serve it with cold meat, cheeses and crusty bread.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Crockpot Recipe

I use an electric Slowcooker for this recipe - just plug it in and leave it till you return from work.

Beef and Ale
2 sticks celery
2 onions
2 carrots
glug olive oil
pinch mixed herbs
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
pinch black pepper
500g diced stewing beef
500ml Guiness or Stout
1. Trim off the ends of the celery and roughly chop the onions

2. Peel the carrots and slice lenghtways and roughly chop
3. Place all vegetables, herbs and oil into a frypan and fry for 5 minutes

4. Add the meat and flour.

5. Add the ale and tinned tomatoes - season well.

6. Pour into the slow-cooker and leave on a medium heat for 4-5 hours.

7. The meat should be tender and delicious.

You may need to add more seasoning.

This is a basic recipe and you can add any of the following to the vegetables
- Chicken and White Wine (use fresh thyme as the herb)
- Pork and Cider (use sage as the herb)
- Lamb and Red wine (use rosemary as the herb)

I added Dumplings to this recipe/
4oz SR flour
2oz suet
pinch salt/pepper
pinch mixed herbs
1. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and add enough water to make a soft
mixture (it should not be too wet).
2. Place heapfuls of mixture on top of the meat.
3. Cover and cook for a further 25 mins.

I served this with buttered courgettes and green beans - straight from the garden



Yesterday finished with grey skies and rain. I could not resist taking some photographs of my decking flowers in the rain. The 'bizzie lizzies' have flowered all summer, never failing to give me some colour. I just felt kind of sorry that they will be coming to an end quite soon. The decking furniture looked kinda sad as well with the drops of rain on them.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Little Bag

I have certainly been in the mood for making little bags this week and today have made two more ready for the'Friendship Swap'. I haven't decided yet which one to send. Take a look for yourself and see what you think.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sewing Day

I have just completed my sewing project for the baby which arrived last week - Faryl Evie. I have made as requested the baby bag using Amy Butler's pattern, but without all the extra pockets.
this As there was fabric left I made a little quilted bag following Rachael Griffith tutorial this and then decided to make a slightly larger bag to go with it. I just love the fabric and am really pleased with the foinal result. I am going to use the little quilted bag pattern for the Friendship Bag Swap - so watch this space to see the finished product.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Blackberry Jam

Yesterday I picked blackberries ready to make some jam. I just love the colour of blackberry jam. I was given an electric jam maker last year as a gift. It was something I would not have bought for myself but it has been very useful for preserving.

Blackberry Jam
2lb blackberries
2lb preserving sugar (added pectic)
1 lemon - juice
1. Wash the blackberries to remove any dust etc and drain well
2. Place the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice into the jam maker
3. Press P4 and time 15 minutes.
4. Sterilse the jars by washing and then heating in the oven.
5. After 15 minutes test the jam set on a plate
6. Pour the jam into the clean, dry jars.
7. Cover and label.

I just love to taste the jam on bread and butter as soon as it is made.

You can still make this recipe by using a preserving pan instead of an electric jam maker, but you may need to boil it for longer.
The electric jam maker is self clean once you have made the jam - a real bonus.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Green Beans

Yesterday I collected from my garden some tomatoes, courgettes and green beans.
I just love green beans and in Yorkshire we often eat them with a white sauce.
I cannot eat all the green beans at the moment so I freeze them for using in the winter, and it reminds of the summer days when the bees were buzzing around the flowers in order to make the beans.

To Freeze Green Beans
1. Snip each end off the bean with a paoir of scissors
2. Cut the beans into short lengths and place in a large sieve
3. Wash the beans under cold water.
4. Bring a large pan of water to the boil
5. Once boiling add the beans and boil for 1 minute
6. Remove from the heat, drain and place into very cold water for 1 minute
7. Drain and place the beans on a baking tray and put into the freezer.
8. Remove the beans from the freezer and put them into freezer bags, seal, label
9. Green beans will keep well in the freezer for up to nine months.

To cook from the freezer, just plunge into boiling water for 4-5 minutes, drain and serve.

White Sauce
25g margarine
25g plain flour
300ml milk
pinch black pepper
1. Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan
2. Heat over a gentle heat, strring all the time with a balloon whisk
3. The margarine will melt and absorb the flour grains thickening the sauce.
4. Stir until the sauce bubbles.
5. Add the black pepper

I serve this sauce with green beans

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Garden Party

The day dawned bright and I was up early to make Cherry Mu-Cakes, Mincemeat, and Cherry and Ginger Scones to take to the 'Garden Party. The 'Garden Party' was hosted by a lady in the next village and was in aid of church funds. Her garden was so beautiful and filled with the most amazing plants and flowers. My photographs don't really do it justice, but I hope you enjoy the atmosphere. The wasps were a bit fierce around the cake stall, but everyone was a winner on the 'tombola'.


300g plain flour
20g baking powder
75g margarine
75g caster sugar
Added Options
12 chopped glace cherries
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tablespoons mincemeat
75g grated Cheddar Cheese (leave out sugar)
pinch mustard
pinch black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to Gas6/200C
1. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl
2. Cut and rub the margarine into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
3. Add the sugar
4. Add the ingredients of your choice - mix well
5. Add enough milk to make a soft/firm dough and gather together with hands
6. Place dough on table.
7. Fold dough in half, then again, then again, then again
8. Press the dough out lightly with hands to 2cm high
9. Cut out using a cutter or make into squares or triangels - whatever
10 Bake 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack

The secret is not to over handle the mixture and it must not be too wet.
Perfect everytime.
I made 100 plain scones for our school garden party and filled them with strawberries and cream - must remember to publish the photographs of the school garden party as it was on 4th July and it was a great celebration.

Friday, 21 August 2009

A Busy Day

What a wonderful day. I visited my friend who was having an Art Exhibition and selling some of her crafts. Her inspirations mainly come from Cornwall where she spends the summer months beside the beach and the sand dunes. Beach Huts feature alot in her work. I went with my sister and we chatted over tea and cakes whilst browsing. I just love browsing, the weather was warm, the flowers smelt heavenly and the chat was inspirational.
We then went to see the NEW BABY - Faryl Evie. Oh! so sweet and such a mop of dark hair. Her fingers and toes so tiny and such soft skin. Babies are so special and such a gift to the parents. They loved their wicker basket of goodies. As we left I said it hardly seems any time that my neice was a baby herself and now she is all grown up with a baby of her very own.

On our way home we stopped to visit 'The Green Place', which is in the village of Sileby near Leicester. The little shop is set back from the road in a wild garden full of apple trees and lavender. They have a small 'tea shop' and it is a friendly place to shop, explore and unwind - selling all things 'green'

I am home with a pattern and fabric to make a baby bag, which I will start over the weekend and hope to show you later. but first I have to make more Mu-Cakes for the garden party on Saturday.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Getting Ready

To-day has been another one of those days when I am 'getting ready' to do something.
I finished packing a wicker basket to take to visit my great neice. Faryl Evie was born on Monday and I am so excitied at seeing her for the first time.
I baked a selection of goodies this afternoon to take to an Art Exhibition that a friend is having at her house. She is the most amazing artist and I am looking forward to seeing her new work. She asked me to bake a selection of goodies so that people can eat, drink and look at her work. So I made some of my Chocolate and Courgette Mu-Cakes, Blueberry Mu-Cakes and a Citrus Slice. I call them Mu-Cakes as they are a cross between a Muffin and a Large Cupcake with an added ingredient.
I did sit down for a few minutes this afternoon to make some knitted flowers to take to a garden party on Saturday. I think I will 'be ready' very soon.

Citrus Slice

200g margarine
200g sugar
200g SR flour
4 eggs
2 lemons - zest and juice
2 limes - zest and juice
2 oranges - zest and juice
Pre-heat oven to Gas 5/190C
Grease and line a swiss roll tin
1. Place margarine, sugar, flour and eggs into a mixing bowl
2. Use an electric whisk to cream all the ingredients together until light and
3. Add the zest of 1 lemon,lime and orange - mix well
4. Spoon the mixture into the tray and level out.
5. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until risen and sponge springs back when touched.
6. Whilst the cake is cooking put the juice of the fruits into a saucepan with 4
tablespoons sugar.
7. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar is dissolved
8. Peel the zest from the remaining fruit and cut into small pieces
9. When the cake comes out of the oven pour over the citrus juice and allow to soak
into the cake.
10 Sprinkle on the sliced zest and leave to cool - the cut into slices.

This is a lovely moist cake with a citrus smell reminding you of the summer days.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Button Tin

I keep my buttons in an old Scottish Shortbread tin. I am about to make a fold-away bag to keep in my handbag and need a button. So I tipped out some of the buttons to have a look for some inspsiration only to find that my button tin has become very boring, with dark buttons. Where have all my pretty buttons gone to?
So, I will have to make the bag and go in search of a pretty button at a later stage.
I will post the details of my fold-away bag once I finish it.

Conversion Chart

This has to be the best Conversion Chart ever and so easy to use.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


These cakes are made in a Muffin Case with extra Cupcake ingredients, so I call them Mu-Cakes. I vary the added ingredient, but today I made Courgette and Chocolate ones - yummy.

Courgette and Chocolate Mu-Cakes

150g margarine
150g sugar
150g SR flour
3 eggs
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon chocolate spread
1 large courgetter - grated
Pre-heat oven to Gas 5/190C/375F
1. Place margarine, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, chcolate spread and eggs into a
mixing bowl.
2. Use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients together until light and
3. Add the grated courgetters and mix in.
4. Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases
5. Bake for 20 - 25 mins until well risen and springy to touch.
6. Cool on a wire rack.

The cakes keep well as the courgettes make them moist, however they don't last long and taste great warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.

A New Baby

Congratulations to my neice and her partner on the birth of thier daughter Faryl Evie who was born yesterday.
I had been waiting for the news all day and then at 6.00pm came the phone call to say that she had arrived and all was well.
Such joy and I can hardly wait to visit. To day I gathered together a wicker basket of items to take on my first visit. I am going to make the Mom a gift bag filled with lavendar.
Enjoy the photographs showing my basket of goodies.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Jam Jars At The Ready

It all started yesterday when I was given a huge bunch of beetroot. I just had to set to to-day and make some Beetroot Chutney. The first thing to do was to sort out all those jam jars and get them ready for Chutney Making. I have been given alot of jars over the year so I am prepared for anything. I made the Chutney as before - see my recipe from 8th August. The little metal contraption is my jam jar filler - just pop it over the jar and it fills is easily with no mess around the top - works every time.
I used 2 cooking apples in my Chutney recipe recipe and remembered that I had read somewhere about a really easy apple lemonade, using the skins from the cooking apples, so just had to share it with you.

Apple Lemonade

peel from 2 large cooking apples
1 lemon - sliced
cold water
sugar to taste
1. Place the apple peel and lemon slices into a saucepan.
2. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
3. Cover with a lid and boil for 10 minutes.
4. Add 1 tablespoon - or sugar to taste.
5. Leave with the lid on to go cold
6. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a jug.
7. Add more lemon slices and leave in the fridge until required.

Tastes absolutely wonderful, especially after making Beetroot Chutney.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Friendship Bag Swap

I came across this great idea on a blog that I follow and thought I would join in - make a bag and swap it possibly across the ocean. So I am busy with a little design, but hey check it out for yourself, you may want to join in.

Friendship Bag Swap

Spiced Chicken with Biryani

Spiced Chicken with Biryani (2)
For the spiced chicken
1 dessertspoon ready-made sweet chilli sauce or mango chutney
1 tsp ready-made curry powder
pinch ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with the edge of a knife
1 dessertspoon ginger syrup (from a jar of stem ginger)
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, skin scored several times with a sharp knife
For the biryani
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ onion, peeled, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with the edge of a knife
50g button mushrooms, sliced
pinch chilli powder
pinch ground turmeric
200g basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly in cold water before cooking
50g fresh peas
1 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1. For the spiced chicken, in a large dish, mix together all of the spiced chicken
ingredients, except the chicken thighs.
2. Add the chicken thighs and turn to coat them in the marinade, rubbing the
marinade into the scored chicken skin using your hands.
3. Cover the dish and chill in the fridge until needed, or ideally overnight.
4. When the chicken has marinated, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
5. Arrange the marinated chicken thighs on a baking tray, leaving a little space
between each thigh. Spoon teaspoons of the remaining marinade over the chicken
6. Transfer the chicken thighs to the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until
crisp and beginning to blacken.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and continue to cook the chicken
thighs for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is dark golden-brown and
completely cooked through.
8. Meanwhile, for the 'emergency biryani', heat the oil in a large casserole that
has a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry for
3-4 minutes, or until softened and starting to colour.
9. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
10. Add the chilli and ground turmeric and cook for a further minute, stirring well,
until the spices are fragrant.
11. Add the rice and stir until well combined.
12. Add enough cold water to the pan to reach 1cm/½ in above the level of the rice.
13. Bring the water to the boil in the pan, then immediately cover the pan tightly
with aluminium foil and cover with the lid. Continue to boil the rice for 4-5
minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the residual heat for a
further 15 minutes (the steam in the pan will continue to cook the rice).
14. Carefully lift the foil covering and add the peas and chopped tomatoes. Return
the foil covering and stand on the residual heat for a further five minutes, or
until the rice is tender.
15. To serve, fluff the rice with a fork, then divide it equally among two serving
plates. Place two quick-spiced chicken thighs alongside each serving. Serve with
a lightly dressed green salad.

This recipe is really good, but next time I will use more marinade and use it for the extra sauce.

Pineapple Dessert
1 medium pineapple
4 tablespoons rum
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Peel the pineapple, slice into 8 rings, and remove the centre core from each
ring while leaving it whole.
2. Place the rings in a shallow glass dish.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
4. Pour mixture over the pineapple, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or it can
be left overnight.
5. Heat a little butter in a fry pan and fry for a couple of minutes on each side.

Serve with ice-cream.
This is also quite good on the BBQ

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Wild Flowers

Last year I took some photographs of wild flowers that had been planted in Sheffield by 'Friends of the Earth'. Some of the photographs are in my slide show.
I was driving in Sheffield the other day and came across more wild flowers. Not quite as stunning as the previous year, but these are in a different area and still look beautiful in the evening light.

Elgol - Isle of Skye

I did a road trip around Scotland a few years ago and one of the most magical places I visited was Elgol on the Isle of Skye. I crossed to the Isle of Skye using the little ferry at Kylerhea. To get to the ferry I used the road from Glenleg (another beautiful place nestling on the west coast of Scotland). It is short crossing on a ferry that holds probably 10 cars. The current is very strong and the ferryman uses all his skill to make the crossing. It is a single track road from Kylerhea to Broadford. From Broadford I took the B8030 to Elgol. The road is single track with passing places and the scenery is spectacular. Round every corner something new to look at and wonder how people live in the little houses and what they do for a living. Elgol nestles around what seems like the end of the earth and a steep road down to the harbour. From the harbour you can take a boat trip, but I just sat for ages looking out towards the Cullin Hills. The weather was not brilliant, with squalls of rain and then bright sun with strong winds - but hey this is Scotland and who cares when you have such beautiful scenery.
I visited Elgol again last October as my son asked me to check out some designs for an engagement ring as he wanted something special to ask Jessica to marry him. My son now lives in the USA and as a Scottish boy wanted an unusual, unique design. I spent many hours with Garth Duncan who designs and makes the most amazing jewellery.
Emails were sent backwards and forwards and eventually the ring was sent to the USA and Frazer and Jessica were engaged over New Year. The ring was stolen in January and amazing it was found and returned to the happy couple. A Celtic charm indeed. Elgol for me is a truely magical place and a must for everyone who visits the Isle of Skye.
Hey all. Check out