Saturday, 18 July 2009

Fruity drinks and flowery cushions................

I made some raspberry vinegar for using in the winter; it's lovely in a salad dressing, and for making a drink - just a tablespoon or so topped up with cold water and a cube of ice. Well worth making - put your raspberries in a jar, cover with vinegar and a spoonful or so of white sugar, stir gently to dissolve, put a lid on, and leave for about three weeks, shaking gently from time to time. Strain into a bottle and keep in a cool dark place.
I amde black currant syrup too, which is ready for processing in the hot water bath today along with another jar of gooseberries, which looks really pretty - stripes of green and red gooesberries. Balckcurrant syrup - pick over the currants (no need to top and tail), put in a pan and cover with cold water; leave a long time to simmer very gently until the juice is extraced - can take a couple of hours. Strain the fruit out and measure the juice. For every pint of juice I add 10 oz of sugar, but this can be more or less to taste. Warm the juice and dissolve the sugar in it, let it get cold, then bottle it. For keeping, process it in a hot water bath for 25 minutes or so, then cool, label and store. Makes a lovely hot drink for the winter, just with boiling water added; another way is to freeze it in ice cube trays, and use one per drink topped up with boiling water.
Raspberry vinegar on the go:

I got the sewing machine out and finally got my cushion finished:

I've seen these around the blogs, and while I wouldn't want a traditional Union flag cushion in red white and blue (I have my reasons...........LOL), the floral versions really appealed to me, so this is mine, for the rocking chair.
I also got two skirts altered that have been hanging around for a long time; one was a button-through front denim skirt - a daft idea - keep slipping open and the buttonholes stretching and tearing - not made for practical life; so I sewed up the front opening and re-sewed buttons down the band, Looks just like it did, but easier to wear. The other job was altering my Good Life skirt as I call it. Now, I'm no Felicity Kendall (LOL), but I did have a similar skirt to hers in this TV programme - an old faded, genuine 1970s Indian cotton print skirt. I originally got it on LETS as a floor length wrap over skirt, which I shortened. The waist band got tatty, though, so I sorted it out and elasticated it, so I reckon another 5 years wear there :)
So, happy with all that, and now have an idea for the beautiful crushed velvet in forest colours that I have. Watch this space. :)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Home made tomato ketchup

Knocks spots off the shop bought stuff, I can tell you! The best recipe I've found is one I've been using for years, from the Floyd on France book, by the inimitable Keith Floyd. It's fairly adaptable; I use whatever I have in the larder or store room; sometimes I use whole cloves if I don't have powdered - I just fish them out when done :). Any type of vinegar that you have to hand seems to be suitable, and omit or add more chilli etc to taste. I make it every year, and still have one bottle of last year's left. Looking forward to a good crop of tomatoes this year, wanting some to dry and store in olive oil, some for ketchup, some for bottling, some for salads, some for sauces/pizzas, and some to eat on the way to the kitchen LOL

Here's the recipe - give it a go and let me know what you think:

2lbs tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
1lb onions, finely chopped
2lbs or so of red peppers, de-seeded and finely chopped
oil for frying
3 oz sugar
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 wine glasses vinegar
large pinch powdered cloves

Fry the three vegetables in oil for about 45 mins until soft; strain through a sieve and put back in pan. Add all other ingredients and cook pover low heat for about 2 hours, stirring from time to time, until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning - add more heat (chilli), sugar, vinegar etc to taste. Put into clean, warm glass bottles and process in hot water bath for 30 minutes or so, leave to cool on wooden board, tighten lids, leave until cold, then label and store in a cool place.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

July Giveaway

This month's giveaway is a set of 6 handmade cards - flowers, trees, leaves, patterns. Each card is complete with an envelope and in a cellophane bag, so you can keep or give them away; they are blank for your own message to suit. I hope you like them and feel inspired to enter - just elave a comment below, or e-mail me at

Thanks for sticking with the blog, hope you're enjoying it; I see we passed the 50,000 hits yesterday, quite a milestone! Big thankyou to all who read, and I hope you get something out of it.

Back to the daily grind..................

More backwards looking progress I suppose! Progress to me, though. I like real coffee, but have just got back into grinding; have done on and off over the years, but now it's wanting to bet back to the very basics of coffeemaking. Coffee is a privelege for me - it's come all that way across the world, grown by someone, processed, packed and arrived on my table with little or no effort on my part, so I try and treat it with respect. I gave up on instant a few years back, apart from the occasional jar for Bean, or for when I couldn't get ground. Now, I think I'd rather do without. When we first got our house, I bought isntant, because that was more or less all I knew. We then progressed to an electic coffee machine, with filter papers, for ground coffee. When that wore out and broke, I didn't replace it, but went back to instant. I was a bit happier when Fair Trade and organic appeared, so stuck with that for a while. I then eventually got a glass cafetiere, secondhand, which we still have, for ground coffee. We bought a few beans on and off as and when we found some that looked interesting or whose name appealed in some way - again, Fair Trade and organic wherever possible.I've now got organised to just ahve the freshly ground all the time; new beans with a lovely airtight tin to keep them in; back to the old enamel coffee pot I've had for nigh on 20 years or so, and a very nice ceramic, brass and wood grinder picked up half price at the Steam Fair a few years ago, for only £5.
Now, it's a joy to sit at the table and grind the beans for coffee - just enough for one cup, or two or three if required. Takes minutes, doesn't need to be hurried; put the kettle on the stove before you start grinding, and the coffee pot beside it to heat up. Take time to make a real drink, take time to drink it as it should be drunk. I need't even describe the aroma as it's made, a real bonus. No going back for me now.

Monday, 13 July 2009

It's been a day of......................

- walking; took the dog out early this morning and picked the very first of the earliest brambles - huge, soft, juicy, sweet, dripping with juice, warmed by the morning sun

- washing; I got 3 loads out and line dried, another up on the kitchen pulley

- ironing; got up to date with the ironing

- shovelling; cleaned out the goat yard

- concocting; made a new batch of gorgeously scented beeswax polish

- baking; almond macaroons, lovely with coffee

- clucking and quacking; talking to the chickens and ducks, gaterhing eggs, checking them over, just watching

- podding; podded another picking of peas, and started a gallon of pea pod burgundy (think The Good Life LOL)

- starting; I made a new apple juice starter for sourdough bread

- keyboard tapping; keeping up with forum and blog worlds, learning all sorts of things, enjoying friendships

- trimming; got two of the feet on one of the goats trimmed - more to come, but it takes two of us. Heaven help me when I need to train them to be milked......

- tea drinking; best drink of the day at any time

-cleaning; got on well with the Monday housework, so an easier day tomorrow

It's a lovely feeling, the physical tiredness after a good day's work done; not exhaustion, not feeling drained, not drudgery, just a satisfied feeling after a productive summer day

I spent half an hour each day last week following a life drawing class on TV; the class was led by an artist, who provided a running commentary and tips, and general views on life drawing, the universe and everything. I found the whole thing hugely enjoyable; I've done life drawing at school and since, but never nudes, so was a new experience for me. These are the better ones - I found the men easier to draw than the women, and much preferred the black ink pen to the pencil (which I was forced to use when Bean purloined my pens for a couple of days). I enjoyed the discipline of having to sit and draw for half an hour, and stuck with it. I'm no MIchaelangelo, but I got a lot out of it. Will need to make more time for drawing, and get back into painting too.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Thought for a Sunday

He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the plants, the waters, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments - is the rich and royal man.

Ralph Waldo Emerson