Friday, September 26, 2014

Plum nectar

This glistening jug of sweet nectar is Plum cordial.

My good friend and housekeeper Stacey persuaded me to help her clean out one of our 3 freezers yesterday.  In the bottom, among a gazillion bags of beans and peas and what have you, were a bag of plums.  I think I go these from Michelle last year, and I didnt use them all at the time.

So I endeavoured to get them out and do something useful with them, to make room in the freezer for other goodies.

What I did:
Upend the whole lot into my biggest pan and let them defrost.  Added 3c sugar and 2t Citric Acid and simmered them till the fruit was all softened and falling apart.  Drained them in a sieve and put the drainings into a jug for decanting.

Stacey and I then rewarded ourselves with a Hot Plum Cordial, about 1/4c cordial topped up with boiling water.  It's kind of blackcurranty and plummy and thickly delicious.

I reckon "Hot Plum Rum" would be pretty divine in the winter, just add a dash of rum to the plum tea!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

All in an Afternoon's cooking

At 12midday I decided that I needed to prepare some dinner, given that we will be out and about after school with Glenmark Keas.  So I started hunting around for things to feed us and my parents who are visiting at present.

For inspiration I took down my sister-in-laws' cookbook, Coromandel Flavour - A Year of Cooking at the Bach.  I found a bread recipe, called "Winemakers Bread" and thought maybe I would make garlic bread.  Then the obvious thing to go with that at our place is Lasagne.

Out to the freezer I went to get mince, then I came back and looked harder at the "Winemakers Bread" recipe.  It called for something called "yeasty sediment", which I pondered for a little while.  In the end I decided that beer sounded about right, and I retrieved 2 bottles from the fridge.  I then poured the beer into a pot and warmed it on the Rayburn, then stirred in 4t yeast and 2t sugar.  I left it on the bench and went back to recipe.

It was only then that I noticed that on the facing page was a recipe for Feijoa Wine, and the "frothy sediment" mentioned in the bread recipe originated during the winemaking process!

Oh well, I kneaded in enough flour to make a soft dough, and 2t salt, then set it to raise for 30 mins or so while I made the lasagne.

The bread got kneaded again, then proved for about 20 mins, and then into the Rayburn which was at about 200C.

Now, 1.5hrs later dinner is ready, and it looks and smells very pleasing indeed!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I'll let you in on a Secret - Perfect Cupcakes

Do you ever have trouble with cupcakes sticking to their cases, or to your tin?  Are you sick of creaming butter and sugar, and endless standing over the mixture?  

Try these:  Anna's Magic Cupcakes

You do need to have fresh cream (the whipping kind, not single, or thickened)

You will need - 2 eggs, about 1/2c cream, 3/4c sugar, 1t vanilla and 1c Self Raising Flour (or 1/4c cocoa and 3/4c SR flour if you want chocolate ones)

Firstly, heat your oven to 170C

Then, break the eggs into a cup, and top up to the top with cream.  Put these in your mixer and whisk for 1 minute.  Add vanilla and sugar and beat for 3 mins still soft and fluffy.  During this time put your cupcake cases in tins.  Fold in the flour, till it is all combined.  

This is a soft, fluffy mixture!

3/4 fill your cupcake cases and cook for 15-20mins till lightly browned on top and cooked through.

These are so quick and easy to make, and today I doubled the mixture because tomorrow is the Rock N Wheels meet.  Its a large classic wheels show in our Domain and is the biggest fundraiser for the Brownies/Guides/Pippins in our area.

Think of me tomorrow, as I am manning several stalls all day, including bacon butties and sausage sizzle.  Montana-Rose is in the cake stand.  If you are in Amberley, come on down!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Now we are ALL happy

One of those moments...a serendipitous moment....

I visited wonderful Helen from Roses at Cust last week to pick up a few roses we had ordered.  One of these, St Patrick, I have been waiting on with baited breath for two years.  

On getting out of the car my attention was snaffled by some rose standards which were at the front of the shop.  "Fresia" which is a wonderful yellow rose, with a fragrance to die for, and a beautiful clarity of yellow colour.  Here they were, lined up looking for new owners.
Here they are lined up outside my house, waiting for their new home

Helen told me the story of how they were a cancelled order, and she was so upset because the order had been for 14 Fresia Standards, and her supplier only delivered 9.  So, at vast expense, she had visited Oderings and purchased 5 more to make it up to 14.  Now they were cancelled, and the stock was just sitting there.

It was just the motivation I needed to finalise my "New Garden".  Plans below, a Fresia Rose Bordered walk in through our herb beds, into a hot-air-balloon shaped new defined area.  

A round garden, with a camomile lawn in the middle, a fountain in the middle of that.  Surrounded by a white stone chip and paver walk.  Laburnum hedging around the exterior rim, 3 x pergolas to shelter the lemon trees from frost and wind, and rose standards both leading into the garden, and on interior beds.  Also planned are lavenders (grow well here).

I am happy! I have the most beautiful Fresia Standards.  Helen is happy, her failed order is off her hands!

It's love all round

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Flowers in the Frost

These were a reminder not to  forget to put my gear away, I'm not putting my hands in these any time soon

It is Spring... we have lambs, the garden weeds are growing, the lawn has to be mowed, and everything is thinking about flowering.

In the frost, some have even made a start, the almond trees are flowering.  I am so impressed.  However, the poor daffodils droop their heads every morning, but raise them in the sunshine of the afternoon.