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

How To: Dog Treats

Making something seem the sweetest way to pass some abundant time during lockdown. If like me you’re totally sick of eating your baked good right now and do not want to put on another half pound, pound or hell even a stone, then might I suggest a treat for our four legged friends?

Dee and I make “Aro Doggie Biscuits”. Super simple, “easy squeezy peasy lemons” as Dee would say (then follow it up with “I’m a funny thing mummy” and a big cheesy grin on her darling face). There are only 4 ingredients (3 if you dont count water) and super great for little ones to help you out with or just take over till its time for popping them in the oven. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found online, if I can find the link again I will post the original.

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cups of Plain Flour

1 Egg

2 tbsp of peanut butter (optional)

Water enough to form a dough

You guessed it, combine all the dry ingredients till thoroughly combined. Add in the peanut butter and tablespoons of water until it forms a soft (but not sticky) dough. We used our hands but feel free to use a dough hook in a mixer or a fork or spoon or whatever is to hand. I ain’t prescriptive about these things.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and then use a cutter to make small shapes. If you have no cutter, just get creative, use your hands and make little shapes that way. On a lined tray, bake for around 12-15 minutes at about 180. Perfect little treats, made by you for your furry friends.

How simple right? A tiny activity to get on with in lockdown. That’ll take up at least half an hour (including the washing up).

I hope the majestic floof in your life enjoys as much as Aro Doggy does.

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

Peppermint Crispy Crunch & Village News

I’m in to preparing snacks at the moment, and following my recipe for energy balls yesterday I gave another couple of recipes the once over this morning. I managed to stock up my freezer and fridge with low cal snacks.

One of our faves at the moment is a peppermint crispy crunch bar. So easy to make and low calorie to boot. I used a loaf tin to make my crispy crunch in, but use what ever is good for you. I’m all about the improv here!

Ingredients (7 serves at 80 cals per serve)

50g Dark Chocoalte (I used 72%)

1 Table Spoon of Coconut Oil

1 Table Spoon of Honey

1 & 1/4 Cups of Puffed Rice

2 Table Spoons of Desiccated Coconut

Method

Melt the coconut oil, chocolate and honey together in a bowl over a simmering pan of water (bain marie).

Mix together the desiccated coconut and puffed rice, then pour over the glossy chocolate combo. Coat all the dry ingredients thoroughly with the chocolate combo. Once mixed, put in to your choice of pan. For this I used a loaf tin lined with cling film with enough over hang to cover the top of the mixture. Press the mix down into the tin till the rice puffs crush slightly, this will ensure that it all sticks together. Set for a few hours in the fridge and cut in to 7 bars/chunks/shapes of your choosing and enjoy with a cuppa.

Thank me later.

In other news, we’ve just had a riot of sirens all around us and an air ambulance over head.

Source’s say that there has been a head on collision close to where we live. I believe it was a police chase with drug dealers. An entire section of road has been taped off. Ambulance, police and fire services are all at the scene attempting to cut a young woman out of a car. I’m hoping that no-one is seriously hurt, especially the victim. There’s another load of victims from what started out as a petty crime in our village. (Picture not my own).

The impact on the families surrounding this incident will be immense. Sending warm and well wishes to anyone involved.

Xoxo, L.