Ok, I admit it, I’ve gone full on “The Good Life” recently. Following on from learning all about Beekeeping I volunteered to help clear ground for an apiary allotment site near my house and found out that there was a small starter plot up for grabs. Well, grab it I did!
This is what I started with. About 5m x 16m of weed suppressed ground. I have spent the last few weeks digging and fencing and working away.
There was an awful lot of digging. The ground didn’t have any weeds, which was a blessing, but it did have a load of crushed plastic pots, a shovel, a rake, a fork, a pickaxe and a hammer all rotting away, along with what might once have been a green house base? Anyway, it all needed clearing and levelling and the clay soil enriching.
I’ve also developed a naughty habit of buying the Amazon 1p plus postage books on gardening. In fact I’m awaiting delivery of a few more that caught my eye this week!
This is where I’m up to: fences built, beds marked out and paths laid. I’ve crops in the ground and I’m preparing to build a chicken run at the far end so I can have fresh eggs too! More on that and the epic shed move soon!
Now, this isn’t the most thrilling post ever, I’ll grant you. But I have been whipping up a batch of smoothies ever Sunday evening for a few weeks now so this is most definitley what’s happening in my kitchen!
I never manage to eat breakfast before I leave the house of a morning. I will always, ALWAYS choose to have that extra 5 minutes sleep. And when I get to York… well, those sausage sandwiches from Greggs are mighty tasty! By the time I’m at my desk it’s all systems go and I just don’t really have time to eat something. Thus, smoothies!
They go in a bottle* so you only need one hand free to have them. No chewing needed so you can still answer the phone, and they are made of fruit, milk and yogurt, all healthy, all breakfast foods! I favour the basic strawberry and banana but if there’s other fruit around, kiwis or peaches for example they they get thrown in there too!
Makes 5x 250ml
3 bananas, roughly chopped
200g strawberries, hulled
200ml vanilla yogurt
milk to top up
– Put the bananas, strawberries and yogurt in an upright blender.
– Top up with milk until around the 1250ml mark. If there’s fruit piled up above that mark go below by a similar distance.
– Blitz until smooth.
– If you don’t have the 1250ml needed add more milk to get you there and blitz again.
– Pour into bottles and refrigerate until needed.
– Grab one each morning and you’re good to go! Just give a good shake before drinking to mix it all up again.
* I use the Starbucks Frappucino bottles. They’re the perfect size and a nice thick glass, which keeps cool nicely during my commute. Asda sell the Frappucinos for about £1 usually and I have a weakness for iced coffees so I have a collection now. Just peel away the labels (they come away quite easily) and wash thoroughly after each use.
Now this is something so simple but absolutley brilliant. Basil with pineapple. It just works so well! I was served this when we visited our relatives in Switzerland and had dinner with them. It came totally out of left field, no one had had pineapple with basil before but everyone agreed it was brilliant!
We ate it with extra thick double cream from Gruyere (OMG, most amazing cream ever!) and meringues made using Raisinee, a kind of alcohol, which were amazing! It lent a sort of fruity aroma to them. Back in the UK I had to make do with normal meringue and cream, but still, very very tasty!
6 basil leaves
splash of fizzy water or tonic water
– Peel and core the pineapple and cut it into chunks.
– Cut the basil leaves into strips using scissors.
– Mix everything together in a bowl and add a splash of fizzy water or tonic.
Juice of half a lemon
knob of butter
– Quarter the apricots and remove the stones.
– Crack the apricot stones with a mallet and a lot of strength and take out the kernels. Drop these into a cup of boiling water.
– After a minute take the kernels out and remove the brown skin.
– Put the apricots, kernels, lemon juice and water in a very large pan. Simmer for 15 minutes until the fruit is soft and the contents are well reduced.
– Take the pan off the head and add the sugar, stiring until it is dissolved.
– Add the butter and return to the heat boiling rapidly for about 15 minutes or until setting point is reached** make sure you keep stiring it from time to time or it may burn.
– Remove any scum with a slotted spoon and then pour into pots.***
* This recipe can be adapted with a bit of mathematics to any quantity of apricots.
** To test this first hold up the spoon you are stirring the mixture with and see how it drips. When the drips get slow and it looks more viscous instead of rapid and runny test a small bit of the jam on a small plate that you have put in the freezer. If you push this jam across the plate with your finger and it wrinkles up ahead of your finger then it has reached setting point.
*** To sterilise the pots before use wash them in hot soapy water and rinse them thoroughly. Then put in the oven on a low heat to dry. Bring out of the oven fill and put the lid on while it’s still hot. This forms a seal and means it will remain sterile.
Good comfort food this, great served with vanilla ice cream or any kind of cream actually. It’s a great follow up to a roast as you just chuck it in the oven about an hour before you want to eat it and leave it until you pull it out and dish it up. It’s a very flexible dish, I had the oven on at Gas mark 5 and 7 and finally off while cooking this and it usually comes out just about perfect every time. You can replace the plums with most other fruits too, but keep an eye on it to see it doesn’t over cook.
6 large plums
3 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs
6 tbsp demerara sugar
a knob of butter
– Slice the plums into 1/8ths and remove the stones.
– Put in a pudding basin and sprinkle with half the sugar.
– Top this with the bread crumbs and sprinkle with the other half of the sugar.
– Slice up the knob of butter and dot it all over the top.
– Place in the oven for an hour at Gas mark 5 or if you have something else cooking as a main course then put it in with that until the juice bubbles up and stains the crumbs.
250g tub marscapone
5 tbsp cream or creme fraiche
5 tbsp icing sugar
8 digestive biscuits, crushed
250g summer fruits (Take frozen summer fruits, sprinkle with sugar and leave for a few hours til defrosted)
Fresh fruit to garnish
– Mix together the marscapone, cream and icing sugar in a small bowl.
– Put the crushed digestive biscuits in the bottom of the ramekin dishes.
– Top the biscuit with a few spoons of fruit, including the juices, dividing it evenly between the bowls.
– Spoon the marscapone mix on top of the fruit layer.
– Smooth down and garnish with a few pieces of fresh fruit.
– Chill for at least 30 minutes.
1kg frozen summer fruits
~12 slices white bread, a few days old, crusts removed
– Put the fruit and sugar in a large pan. Cover and heat gently until the juices flow and the sugar is dissolved.
– Line a pudding basin with clingfilm then butter the inside.
– Cut the bread into a circle to fit the base of the bowl and strips to cover the sides and top of the bowls also. Arrange the bread so that the base and walls of the bowl are covered.
– Using a slotted spoon take the fruit from the liquid and put in the basin. Occasionally spooning on some of the juice so it permeates the whole pudding.
– Place the bread on the top of the fruit and spoon on some more of the juice.
– Put a small plate of saucer on top of the pudding and gently weight it down. Don’t press too hard or it can all squish out.
– Place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
– To serve gently turn out onto your serving plate and ease the cling film out the peel off. This may not be the easiest step and can all go horribly wrong. Don’t worry, I guarantee it will still taste good!!
– Serve with cream.
– Heat your oven to gas mark 3 and line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.
– Whisk the egg whites in a scrupulously clean glass bowl until stiff.
– Whisk in the sugar a spoon full at a time, adding the colouring with the last of the sugar.
– Continue to whisk until the colouring is fully mixed and the mixture is stiff and glossy.
– Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a wide star nozzle and pipe onto the baking paper in swirls approximately 5cm wide.
– Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until solid.
*I like Asda’s natural pink colouring as it makes a delicate pastel pink instead of the irradiated salmon pink you usually get. Alternately if you are serving it with fruit as I did you can use a few spoonfuls of the colourful juice. I didn’t do that this time as I was making the meringues a few days in advance.
I served these by gently spreading a layer of marscapone on each swirl, then sandwiching a spoonful of mixed summer fruits between the two layers. They’re a tiny bit messy to eat but delicious! The meringue is deliciously chewwy inside, if you want a harder meringue then bake for longer. Even on their own these swirls make a delicious mouthful.
I made this a few months back and have only just got round to putting the recipe up. It’s too late for elderflowers now but keep it in mind for next year. I’m well known for drinking nothing but diet coke and I think this stuff is delicious!
Makes around 2.5 litres
1.8 litres boiling water
25 very fresh large elderflower heads
50g citric acid*
2 medium oranges, sliced
2 large lemons, sliced
– Put the sugar ina large bowl or pan (I used a jam pan) and pour on the boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and leave to cool for 30 mins.
– Meanwhile pluck the flowers from the stalks, making sure to remove any bugs. You can leave little bits of stalk in but nothing too thick or it will spoil the flavour.
– Add the citric acid, sliced fruit and flowers to the sugar syrup, stir well and then cover and leave in a cool place to infuse for 24 hours stiring from time to time.
– After 24 hours heat the oven to Gas Mark 1 and put 3 or 4 thoroughly washed and rinsed screw top wine bottles in for 15 minutes. Remove and leave to cool for another 15 mintues. Put the tops in boiling water for a few minutes to sterilise them.
– Strain the elderflower liquid through a seive lined with muslin or a clean teatowel making sure there are no bits.
– Pour into the prepared bottles, seal and leave to cool. When cool place in a cool dark place to store, or perferably a fridge.
– Drink diluted with cold fizzy or tonic water.
*Can be bought from most traditional chemists, you usually have to ask as apparently heroin addicts use it for something and so they restrict access.
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!