DIY Jam and a Touch of Green Stuff

I’ve been spending my mornings inspecting my garden veg patch and I take delight in seeing my produce grow. This morning was no different apart from my poor tiny cucumber plant had been munched by some little critter (slugs I expect). So with a quick question to my Facebook gardening community, I got outside dug it out of its little space in the veg bed and re-potted it. Turna out it was far too early to be planting a cucumber outside anyway. Lesson learnt! It’s now safely inside the propagator/mini greenhouse with the hope it might survive it’s near death experience.

Miniature Cucumber plant; clearly the slugs had a party.

Lettuce, kale and radishes are doing pretty damn perfect in the veg bed. The peas are peeping, the carrots have started to sprout, rainbow chard is popping up left, right and centre too. Leeks are few and far between with only about 4 sprouting so far but beetroot looks good at the moment. My chillie plant on the other hand is inside on the kitchen windowsill and it is thriving. It makes me ridiculously happy to see it all doing so well.

Chillie plant.
Red lettuce
Carrot seedlings
Peas peeping

Today had been awfully miserable weather wise. We’ve been tuck inside our four walls, jigsawing and baking. Dee and I made some fruit and cherry scones and some homemade jam. Bit of a use it up/budget bake to be honest but after just paying for our new kitchen (doing a little dance) which has used up our savings entirely we should be watching what we spend so it’s not a bad thing.

The jam was easy. Frozen mixed berries I used about 500g from the freezer along with sugar to taste (about 2 tbsp) boil the heck of it. Mash the berries together a little Take it right up to 105c and then pour it carefully into a pre-serialized jar. We like the seeds in but strain it if you dont, but please be careful as it’s like molton lava when its finished cooking. But yum, how easy!

Mixed Berry Jam.

Happy jammin’

Love,

L, xox

An Easy Tea Loaf

I’ve been baking again. No surprise there if you know anything about me. Tried this beaut out today because I’m in short supply of icing sugar. I’ve even had to turn down customers because I just couldnt guarantee that I’d have my usual basic ingredients.

This recipe requires no icing sugar or butter and only uses 1 egg. It’s an amazing recipe for using up dried fruit you may have stuffed in your cupboard. I used raisins in my loaf cake but it will work with any dried fruit you have. I’ll be trying dried apricots and glace cherries when I have them in next, but with out further a do (knowing how frustrating it is to scroll through a life story before the recipe reveals itself) here is the recipe!

Ingredients

175g Dried Fruit (use any you like- I used raisins)

110g Caster Sugar

150ml Hot Strong Tea (again, use your preferred but I used normal black tea in this one)

150g Self Raising Flour (alternatively the same weight of plain with 1tsp of baking powder)

Zest of 1 lemon (or orange)

1 Egg (beaten)

Method

Make some hot strong tea (I used two bags) and soak your fruit along with the sugar, preferably overnight but if you’re in a hurry to create this beauty 2 hours will do. My baking for my family is always a little off the cuff and unplanned so 2 hours did suffice in my case.

Tea bags stewing, give it at least 5 mins.
150ml black tea. Next time I’ll be trying earl grey.
175g dried fruit
110g caster sugar

Once the fruit has had at least 2 hours, preheat the oven to a low temp, around 150 degrees. This is a low and slow cake. Line the tin with baking parchment, these measurements are suited to a 1lb loaf tin, just double the recipe if you have a 2lb tin. If you dont have a loaf tin, use what you have, but do line it regardless of the shape or size.

Line the tin well, will save sticking cake and scrubbing the pan later.

To the tea soaked fruit add the flour, beaten egg and Zest and mix well. That’s practically it. Tip it into your lined tin and bake for around 40 mins (double the time if your doubling the mixture) or until golden and when a skewer comes out of the loaf clean.

Tea soak fruit and the rest
Mixture snug in the loaf tin
The tip drip on my mason and cash bowl

Cool for 10 mins before tipping out on to a cooling rack. Once cool, slice and serve with or without butter. If your a fruit cake and cheese kinda person, then I’m pretty sure that a slice of this with a tiny wedge of Wensleydale cheese would hit the spot.

Share with your household of course, then leave some with neighbours so you cant eat the lot.

Sliced tea loaf

I’m still playing with this recipe, and may do a marmalade take on it too; but I really hope you enjoy it. Dee scoffed a slice after her dinner and it got the cheesy grin of approval so happy days.

Stay well and stay safe,

Love

L, xox

Apple Crumble(v) and A Missed Easter

We made a use it up crumble.

And here is the recipe. It’s totally vegan unless you choose otherwise; so stay wild moon child and eat this to your own taste, vegan or not its delish.

Baked apple crumble, straight from the oven.
A recipe for a classic favourite, with a vegan twist.

Ingredients

120g Plain Flour
60g Vegan Buter
60g Caster Sugar
40g Oats

A round about method (and commentary).

Get your hands in! Rub the butter into the flour until a breadcrumb consistency. We like a mixture of fine and larger breadcrumbs. Add the oats and sugar and mix it well.

For this particular crumble I peeled 5 small apples we had left over in the fruit bowl and 2 small pears. I sliced the apples and chopped the pear in to cubes, threw them in the old school enamel pie dish we inherited from Mans Nan (we lost her just before Christmas and we miss her so). I mixed in about 30g of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon because, well cinnamon and apple; enough said.

Cover it over with your crumble topping (great to mix in a handful of chopped pecans if you have them too) bake for about an hour until golden and crisp on top. I use a gas oven currently and I go medium to low heat for this one.

Enjoy your crumble – served with custard, ice cream, cream or your fave vegan alternative. I had a bit with alpro plain yogurt. Delish.

Dog pretending not to look at a bowl of apple crumble
Aro the dog looking at our homemade apple crumble.

We’ve had an indoor/outdoor kind of day. We’re in week 3 of lock down and these days are merging into one. Don’t know what day it is most hours and the fact is, it could be three months of this. I’m hoping to utilise some of the time to plan and knock out some publishables in prep for post lock down days, back to work times and ‘normality’ (what ever that is). In the meantime, we will cook, bake, laugh, love, play, make a mess (constantly), clean up the messes, drink wine, write, create and just be in our home.

Little girl in the grass with a watering can plant pot
Dee sits in the grass with her nuby cup and some sweet yellow flowers in a watering can.

As always, I am grateful for all that I have right here. I am however missing my family and my friends. I miss nipping to mum’s for a cuppa and a 3 hour chat. I miss randomly getting together with my sister and brothers, my friends, and of course my Grandma who is more isolated than ever. I miss my sweet nieces and my nephew. And we have fully missed my mum’s and step dad’s Easter Gathering with all of that side of my family. The Easter Bake Off competition we do, which I’ve been band from by the way (untouchable skills you see), the kids Easter hunt and just being together; laughing and enjoying the company. Until we can, know we miss you the most, love you the most and cant wait to see you.

L, xox

A Flicker of A Sweet Memory

It’s funny what you remember when you miss someone.

My Nana passed away sometime ago, while I was still at university studying (fat lot of good that venture did, but that’s another story). My dad’s mum, my nana was a larger than life character. Mum of boys, larger drinker, lipstick wearer and experimental cook. I knew I got my attitiute for cooking from someone, and I’m so giving my nana some of the credit.

I can’t even tell you what made my mind wonder to her sausages and flying saucer eggs today, but I found myself laughing as I remember dinner times at her flat. It was a smokey affair, she chain smoked when she chatted but because she had the window open as she did it, of course it wasn’t that bad (we would cringe now). Anyway, I digress. She owned a George Forman Grilling Machine. Or, in her words “George Formby Grilling Machine” she loved the thing, and it got used a hell of a lot.

My brother and I were always fussy with what we ate at nanas house, mainly as the older she got the more interesting the combinations became and the more the food tasted like smoke. She was however, a fabulous cook in her hay day. We ended up having chip pan chips, homemade of course or pancakes, finished off with crisps, chocolate and yogurt. All healthy stuff! My dad was subjected to actual real dinner, and this particular night was rather spectacular. I remember her wafting through the living room with dad’s plate in hand before plonking it down on the table. On the blue and white crockery was a breakfast for dinner. A staple of her household and very much enjoyed.

On dad’s plate there was a fried egg (sunnyside up), tomato, beans, bacon and what looked like two burgers. My dad stabbed one the burgers and held it in the air asking what it was. My nana asked him what the hell he was playing at waving that sausage about. We were hysterical, well all apart from my nana who was completely confused about the laughing. Dad asked why it was so flat, so she demonstrated her Formby Grilling skills in the air at the table.

She’d only gone and put butchers style (the really chunky, fat kind) sausages in the grill and squashed it down until the machine cliped shut. She returned to the kitchen to put her own meal together.

In the meantime there was the fried egg. Same meal, same day. Dad struggled to cut the white of the fried egg so picked it up to see what was going on. Turns out this egg had been fried to with an inch of it’s edible life. It stayed perfectly flat as he picked it up. He starts making his idea of UFO noises as the yolk balances on it’s white plate like shelf with a slight yellow wobble. Again, both me and my brother fell about laughing while dad tried to put back on a straight face as nana came to the table with her own dinner.

I still remember the smell of her pressed powder, the shade of her lipstick, her choice in skirts and how she always wore a pinny over them. Her kindness and patience. Her spoiling us and caving to our every request for sweets as children. I remember having to watch the snooker when it was on because she loved it but then she’d let us watch the Simpsons over dinner time and let us sit of the sofa instead of at the table with our food. I miss her, her accidental funny anecdotes and the liverpudlian twang that still remained from her younger years in her voice. The raspy cough and the way she would order herself two halfs of larger instead of a pint just because it wasn’t lady like to order a pint (but it was okay to sit with two drinks).

I miss her – photo from my 18th birthday meal. A day of mixed emotions, I lost a dear friend that exact day.

What sweet memories do you hold of a missed love one? I’d love to hear a story or two.

Xoxo, L

In Hiding

I hid from the world today.

Anti-social side came out and I actually avoided going out doors. Uncharacteristic at the moment as I go out every day. I am, for sure, on a down day.

I’ve changed up my workouts which was an undoutable win. I was shuffling about on YouTube and found some amazing yoga and HITT workouts that made me sparkle (I don’t sweat, I sparkle). I’ll be picking this up again tomorrow as I really enjoyed it.

However, yoga sequences are kinda difficult when you’ve a child climbing on you. Having to watch a Yoga tutorial from downward facing dog with your media player up high so the baby can’t grab, then having to fend her off when your doing a warrior pose – believe me it’s a workout within a workout. I’m aching regardless, means it’s working though right!

Strange fact of the day, turmeric in porridge (almond Milk, not cow’s) mixed with a little cinnamon and soya yogurt actually tastes half decent. I’m not talking tons of the stuff, just a 1/4 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of oats. Pretty good, and yellow as aposed to any form of pink or purple porridge makes a refreshing change. Turmeric is a fab antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties too, so great to add in to your diet. Who doesn’t love an antioxidant.

I’m going to work on my mood, I really don’t relish the thought of being down.

Xoxo, L