Breakfast muffin (gluten free)

One of my daughters is always dashing around, frequently doesn’t have breakfast and often ‘picks something up’ on the way in to work when she gets her daily caffeine hit.

I know you can buy breakfast bars etc. but when I have looked at the ingredients I can’t really say I would want to start my day in this way.

So, I had a session experimenting at the weekend and created a muffin – full of breakfast  ingredients. Tasty, filling and nutritious.

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Makes 9

Preheat oven to 180c / Gas 4       Lightly grease a muffin tin

Ingredients:

1 cup of rolled oats      1 cup of milk           2 eggs (1 if using non gf flour)

1 cup of gf plain flour    1tsp baking powder   1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup coconut sugar / muscavado sugar       1/2 cup stewed apple    1/2 cup raisins

Method:

Put the oats, milk and eggs in a bowl. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Finally add the sugar, apple and raisins. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

I served them with Greek yoghurt and a dollop of apples sauce.

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…my daughter took a couple to test – had them for ‘breakfast on the go’ – thumbs up from her 🙂

Seasons

Chatting with a friend the other day, we started to discuss the seasons – random I know – and tried to pick a favourite.

I found this really difficult but in doing this task I realised that my love of the different seasons revolves around food choices!

Spring: I love spring – the fresh colours – vibrant greens of new buds, blossom laden trees – replaced with fruit in the autumn, blankets of yellow for daffodils. Planting of vegetables under glass ready for the frosts to stop. Hens, ducks and quail come back in to lay.

Summer: fruit sorbets / nice cream. Arrays of salad vegetables. New potatoes…yum

Autumn: the amazing palette of colours and the trees enter their quiescent phase for the winter. This is when I really wish I could paint. With autumn comes such a marvellous bounty of fruits and vegetables and the sound of the tractors harvesting wheat, barley, maize. hay for the animals etc. Nights turning cooler – one pot suppers / casseroles / fruit crumbles  /  jam/ liqueur and chutney making / freezer filling.

and then there is winter…curtains closing early, log fires burning, mulled wine, fruit cakes, mince pies, rich food and of course – family gatherings.

If I had to choose one…probably  autumn.

How about you?

 

 

Blackcurrant cassis 

Ingredients:

650 g blackcurrants -washed and drained

750 ml red wine

500 g sugar

100 ml brandy

Method:

Put the blackcurrants in to a large bowl and partially mash them. Add the red wine. Cover the bowl and leave for 2-3 days at room temperature. Stir and mash each day.

Strain the liquid through a colander and then a sieve and place the liquid in to a large saucepan. Add the sugar and warm to dissolve stirring continuously. Allow the liquid to heat up but  do not boil. Keep the liquid hot for 15 mins stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Stir. Bottle and seal.

Enjoy – this is delicious on its own, with a sparkling wine or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

Baked apple stuffed with raisins and honey

A deliciously simple desert that reminds me of autumnal suppers as a child.

Take a large cooking apple and remove its core. Place on a oven proof dish. Stuff dried fruit of your choice into the hole and place a heaped teaspoon of set honey on top. Bake in the centre of the oven- gas mark 5 / 180 C until the apple is soft. I served this with a generous pouring of cream. If you wish to play around with the flavours and make it a grown up pudding – a drizzle of a liqueur on the dried fruit before cooking is a tasty addition.

Personally I like the simplicity of the flavours as it is.

What to do with all this produce…fruit liqueurs

There is only so much fruit that I can freeze – the new additional freezer we bought last year for the bumper crop of gooseberries, plums and pears was only half empty and this year’s bumper harvest of rhubarb, blackcurrants and redcurrants have filled it completely again. I am now faced with 5 full tub trugs of apples and a couple of tub trugs worth of damsons still on the trees! I am, however, not complaining and I will manage to find space in the other freezers for most of the produce.

It does however mean that I the liqueur making season is upon me ! People who know me always find it amusing that one of our cupboards is filled every year with an array of fruit liqueurs…amusing because I very rarely drink alcohol. There is little I enjoy more than being able to offer a tasty fruity tipple to accompany the food I make when visitors around.

The selection in the picture is my array of blackcurrant liqueurs – vodka, liqueur, cassis and gin. If you were to rummage in the cupboard you would also find: redcurrant cassis, rhubarb and orange liqueur, damson gin, sloe gin, gooseberry vodka and pear vodka.

All the fruit used, once strained from the liquid is put in to a pie or crumble – a deliciously warming dish that I call my drunk fruit desserts. Always a favourite with my husband 🙂

I will put all my recipes on my blog over the next few weeks.

What to do with some much produce…apple, honey and rosemary jam 

I first tasted this delicious combination at a friend’s house a couple of years ago. Whenever they visited some friends in France they would come back with a jar of loveliness called: Confiture de pommes au romarin et au miel de montagne. I acquired a recipe and then promptly forgot about it until recently. Recipe translated and tweaked resulted in 5 jars of apple, honey and rosemary jam in my kitchen yesterday. I resisted the urge to taste it until today to allow the rosemary to infuse the jam…delicious.

This is what I did:

Ingredients:

2kg of cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped in to small pieces (pips saved)

100g sugar

250g honey – I used set

Juice of 3 lemons – keep pips

20 ml of water.

Rosemary sprigs – washed and dried

Method:

Put the sugar, water, lemon juice and honey in a large pan and bring to the boil – stirring frequently. Put the apple pieces in to the syrup mixture along with the apple and lemon pips wrapped in a piece of gauze. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and mash about half of the apple mixture down – I used a potato masher. Put back on the heat and simmer for anohter 5 – 10 mins.  Put in to prepared jam jars and push a sprig of rosemary in to the mixture ahead of sealing the jar.

I have no idea how long this will store  – probably quite irrelevant as one jar has nearly gone already. I didn’t treat this like an ordinary jam, cheese or jelly in that a setting point wasn’t reached. The consistency is of a very, very thick sauce. Delicious on toast but I would imagine equally scrumptious with pork or game.

What to do with so much produce?

Those people who know me well know that I cannot bear to waste any food that my garden produces. My cooking apple tree and damson trees are laden. So my husband is gathering a tub trug from each every few days and I am freezing it all.  Damsons are easy – I just wash them, drain, bag and freeze. Apples take a bit more effort. An old aunt showed me a simple and not too time consuming way to prepare the fruit:

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Peel and slice

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Put in water with a bit of salt to preserve colour and prevent browning

 

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Drain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spread out on to a cling film lined baking tray. pop in to freezer.

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Leave for about 2 hours until frozen

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Break the slices up as you pop them in to a freezer bag.

There you have it…sliced apple that with a quick rinse are ready for pies etc throughout the year until the next harvest 🙂

 

 

Nature’s bounty

Someone said to me over the weekend, ‘You never get anything for nothing.’

To which I responded, ‘Blackberries!’in probably a very annoying manner!

But it’s true…if you know where to look at this time of year nature provides an amazing array of gorgeous fruits to harvest. Riding through the forest this weekend I passed elder trees with boughs hanging from the weight of berries – jam, chutney and wine. The hedgerows were bursting with blackberries – perfect on their own or sublime when combined with apples. Old twisted and gnarled damson trees seem to survive on some otherwise inhospitable land – perfect for crumbles, chutneys, damson cheese / jelly / jam and of course drowned in gin and sugar and left for the next 3 months to create a warming and festive liqueur.

An afternoon stroll along a country path can reveal: sloe, bilberries, plums,  and hops.

I love this time of year – so much, for nothing. 🙂   All the fruit gathered and sitting in various receptacles in cold rooms in the house is then followed by hours of baking, cooking, freezing and of course the delight of eating these autumnal flavours throughout the following year.

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Damsons and cooking apples from the garden

 

One Lovely Blog Award

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A huge thank you to the lovely Dolly of koolkosherkitchen, an extremely supportive and helpful blogger-friend with an amazing blog, who has nominated me fo One Lovely Blog Award.

Here are the rules:

 

  • Post to accept the nomination.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • List 7 things about yourself.
  • Link to the blogs you nominate.
  • Notify the recipients of their award.
  • Post the rules!

Seven things about me:

  1. I have a wonderful husband, family and friends who support me through the ups and downs of life and whom I feel thoroughly blessed to know.
  2. I am and always have been an animal lover – taking  in waifs and strays all my life. Presently I have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 horse, hens, ducks and quail. All keep me busy and keep me out of mischief!
  3. I love music – having a truly eclectic taste. One minute I may be listening to AC/DC and the next listening to Faure’s Requiem.
  4. Books, books and more books – I love reading. Shelves are bending as I add to my collection. I have a few favourites that I read every couple of years – To Kill a Mockingbird, A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music (am a Vikram Seth fan) and Shipping News.
  5. Poetry – have always loved it – ever since my daddy bought me my first book of verse when I was six years old. I love words – I love to learn new words – language is such a delight to explore and use, yet we tend to stick to a core vocabulary.
  6. Nature – flora and fauna – love it all and the magical sights and treasures this planet has to offer.
  7. Lastly, if I can only share 7 things – I love cooking and exploring flavours and playing around with ingredients. Cooking gives me a real freedom of expression.

Now the difficult part – nominating 7 and only seven other blogs. I apologise if I have not included you but I have so many fantastic blogs to choose from 🙂

  1. Lathiya from Cookwithsmileblog https://cookwithsmileblog.wordpress.com 
  2. Jack from Pepsfreefromkitchen https://pepsfreefromkitchen.wordpress.com
  3. Daal from Happiness Between Tails https://happinessbetweentails.wordpress.com
  4. Amanda from A Thousand Crumbs https://athousandcrumbs.com
  5. Jane from Cakes, bakes and simple suppers  https://cakesbakesandsimplesuppers.wordpress.com
  6. Aleks from Healthy food and travel blog https://aleksdajcz.wordpress.com
  7. Rachel from How to provide https://howtoprovide.com

Thank you, Jo x

Happiness is homegrown

I don’t have a very large back garden – about a fifth of an acre  – but the space is put to good use. Because the house is up for sale, I haven’t planted the vegetable plot this year…probably should have done as we haven’t sold yet!!  The garden has a variety of fruit trees – Victoria Plum, Grenadier Apple, Egremont Russet and James Grieve  desert apples, Damson, Bartlett and Conference Pear, Gooseberry, Red / Blackcurrant bushes and Rhubarb. Each year these wonderful plants provide a vast quantity of fruit – so much last year that I had to buy another chest freezer! This year, due to the odd weather, the gooseberry bushes have borne little fruit and the plum tree is clearly resting after a bumper crop last year. However, all other trees are covered in ripening fruit.

The chickens indicated this morning that the red and black currants were ready for picking – red and black juice stained beaks were a real give away!  So… half an hour later 2 bowls were filled…still masses left to pick off the laden stems 🙂

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and so begins the making and baking…pies, cakes, puddings, cassis, flavoured vodkas, jams etc.