Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exploration into making rowan jelly

Every now and then I've attempted making jam with varying success. I started with strawberry jam about six or seven years ago. It was a complete failure as far as jam goes - it did not set. But it tasted delicious so I've persevered with jam making. 

Purchase of jam thermometer has meant that my results have been a bit more consistent since. Apart from raspberry and blackberry jam last summer, from the excess produce of allotment last year, which turned out the consistency of tar...very sticky...but again very tasty. The glut of Victoria plums got turned into jam very successfully and it is young sir's favourite.

Thankfully my sample audience is young sir and my amazing hubby rather than Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and their the response to even the worst kitchen disaster is very positive and encouraging. I am yet to burn anything beyond their ability to consume it.

The dreamer in me likes the idea of being self sufficient with home grown vegetables galore and few chickens wandering around in the garden etc. Since getting the allotment, the dreamer has come to the conclusion that self sufficiency would be far too much hard work (however much fun it looked like in the good life) and I am happy just pottering on and growing few vegetables for fun - which is just as well as my crop can be counted with the fingers of a single hand this year!

We went for a walk on Sunday and I spotted lots of lovely looking rowan berries. The dreamer in me resurfaced and thought how wonderful it would be to make rowan jelly. I've never made jelly in my life. I have never actually even tasted rowan jelly before. Undeterred I went back the following morning and picked a whole bag of rowan berries, came home, googled rowan jelly, found a recipe and gave it ago...

First I de-stalked the berries, put them in a sauce pan with (supposedly) same weight of apples (I didn't have enough so I cheated and added some shop bought pectin), just cover with water and simmer away for 20-30 minutes. 

The result is mushy berries that you leave to strain overnight (or at least four hours). All the recipes I saw forbid very explicitly trying to squeeze the juice out as it would make the jelly cloudy...

You measure out your liquid and for each pint (600ml) you use a pound of sugar (500gr)

Warm the sugar up in the oven at 110c for 10-15 minutes

Add the warmed sugar to the juice and stir on low heat until the sugar has all dissolved and then boil until setting point is reached, skim of any scum and put in sterilised jars.

And finally look at your pretty jars and feel very content with your efforts.

Young sir scraped the bowl when he got home from school and loved it. He wants it with his toast in the morning. Who am I to tell him that it is supposed to be eaten with game and most people consider it too sour to have for breakfast ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - cake, canines and cat

1. Young sir turned five on Friday. I know it is a cliche but time has flown! I am sure it was only a moment ago he was a teeny, tiny baby...

2. Young sir requested fish and chips, donuts and cheese for his birthday supper. I love fish chips so I obliged very happily :)

3. For months Young sir has been telling that he would like to have a spiderman cake for his birthday. I was dreading making it but I'd done my research and googled spiderman cake images, picked one that didn't look too complicated that I'd attempt to make. Alas on Thursday night he spotted some Lighting McQueen sugar figures in the supermarket and changed his mind. The end result was a racing track with luminous green grass (desiccated coconut turned green with some food colouring) on the sides.

4. On Saturday Young Sir had his first proper(ish) birthday party. So far we've had a little party at home with a few of his friends but being at school nursery last year introduced him to a whole new way of celebrating (=a soft play full of screaming kids). The church has bouncy castle and lots of space to run around so we had his party there. The plan was some bouncing, food and games led by amazing Jackie. And it went well - so well that Young sir wants to do the same next year.

5. David's mum came up over the weekend. She had been to a dog show in Ripon and came to visit us after which was lovely.

6. The cat did not agree. At all. One look of her canine friends and she scampered. Very fast. And was not seen for 48 hours!

7. The dogs were very keen to make friends with the C-A-T and kept considerable amount of time staring out to the corner of the garden where they had last seen the puss.

8. On her return the cat was very pleased to see even Young sir with whom she usually has a hate-hate relationship. He gave her a nice long cuddle and she did not try to escape.

9. I like writing my blog but I am very bad at reading blogs (apart from those written by people I know and especially my sisters). I do try every now and then but usually fail because the posts are a) too long, b) not funny, c) too serious all the time*, d) all of the above. There are two exceptions: Adventures of a Middle-Aged Matron (whose post on parenting last month I loved) and Jamie, the very worst missionary.

9.5 My posts probably fall to the all of the above category too often but thankfully I have lots of sisters who will read my posts regardless of me boring their pants off. I love my sisters!

10. One of the most listened albums in our house at the moment is On the Shores (by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser) and this is one of my favourite songs from it

As usual -here are links to other lovely ladies who've hopefully had time to sit down and write a Ten on Tuesday: HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah.

*occasional seriousness is good - like all things, it needs to be in moderation!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten on Tuesday...time flies

Serious omission in blogging over the last 'few' weeks so I am determined not to make it a month without blogging and I'll scrape together a hasty ten. It won't be as touching and thoughtful as Helen's post last week which left me wishing I could write like her and be as honest and vulnerable as she is!

Much has happened so here's not very deep whirlwind tour of things since the last post.

1. We went to the zoo. It was bank holiday weekend so we queued for about 75 minutes to get in. But it was sunny and we had uncle Mark and lovely Jen to keep us company so all was well.

2. Since the zoo visit the most requested bedtime story has been Topsy and Tim go to the zoo!

3. Whilst at Mark&Jen's young sir came up with a corker announcing that 'if you have short hair, you are smart'. A fair conclusion to make as people usually say to him after a hair cut (i.e. when your hair is short) 'don't you look smart!' I love hte way how his little mind connects things at times.

4. Young sir started school last week. So far so good. He loves wearing his uniform and he looks pretty cute in it.

5. I have to confess to posting the obligatory first day in uniform picture on Facebook - but how could I resist??? Especially as we never had school uniforms in Finland so they are 'exotic and exciting' - or so I think until next year when I need to start ironing the proper shirt that he'll have to wear in year one. I wonder what age you are allowed to teach kids to iron...

6. V*-day came and went and I passed with minor corrections. I surprisingly did actually enjoy the viva even though they didn't ask any of the questions that I'd expected!

7. The first swimming lesson of the new term took place on Friday. Young sir is in group of seven little lads, all wanting to be first at everything!

8. The excitement this week has been school lunches. I am not actually sure what he had yesterday. He had sweetcorn and carrots and a yogurt but not sure what the main part of the meal was!

9. Being a boring mum concerned with good manners and with words of affirmation as one of my main love languages I asked him if he said thank you to the dinner ladies to which he replied that he'd forgotten to take his 'thank yous' with him, he'd left them in his bedroom, as you do. Today when we were walking towards his classroom he happily told me that he'd got the 'thank yous' with him today.

10. It is my first week post viva and I haven't got the list of recommended corrections through yet so I am enjoying being lady of leisure for the time being - it is weird getting up in the morning and not spending the day studying!

As usual - other lovely ladies who've hopefully had time to sit down and write a ten on tuesday are HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah.

* viva - oral examination for PhD