Rosy Jam

I’m being pampered with a guest post from Jacky (and so are you)

I am a home edding mum who loves all things of a foraging/self sufficiency nature.  Actually, my love borders on obsessional!
Recently, my foraging adventures have combined 3 of my favourite things: roses, foraging and preserve making!
I took the sprogs with me on a little excursion (along with my field guide, Richard Mabey: Food For Free handbook!) to a nearby public right of way footpath that is festooned with wild rose bushes.
We collected a quantity of pretty rose petals (about 2 mugs full when packed in) … leaving the rose centres intact for the future hips, of course!
We brought them home and sorted them out, liberating any critters that had the misfortune of hitching a ride home in the bag.
Then we, or rather I, as the sprogs had now taken up electronic devices, dissolved 2 cups of sugar in half a cup of water and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  The rose petals were then tumbled inside the liquid and stirred for 30 mins.
Cool slightly then pour into sterile jars.
As you can see from the picture, you may either leave the petals in or remove them.
If you leave them in, they float to the top and look pretty as a picture!
All you need to do now is either drizzle the rosy gorgeous loveliness over fresh pancakes, ice-cream or hot, buttered toast!  It is the most delightful jam I have made to date.
Hope this inspires some of you to try nature’s bounty that is both fresh and free!
JJ x

Let The Fermentation Begin! – Elderflower Champagne, A Tutorial.

This is so simple and cheap, each year I make three batches and pop it into up to eighteen plus, previously drained (gulp, gulp, gulp) clean (I use sterilising tablets on them because it’s so easy) wine bottles. Store it upright, to prevent pressurised leaking, and feel free to start glugging it back chilled, anytime after six weeks. It’s delicious. Thanks to Angela and Sandra for passing it on.

1. Put one and a half pounds of sugar in a big bowl and drench with two pints of boiling water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add six pints of cold water.

2. Add the rind and juice of two large lemons. Don’t worry if the pips fall in, you’ll be straining it later. (Yes, that is a potato peeler)

3. Add two tablespoons on white wine vinegar (I’ve used cider and even malt at a push)

4. Add four large flower heads or six small (after slicing off the chunkier bits of stem) I can never resist chucking in a couple more. See those thunder flies? Technically, this wine is not vegetarian.

5. Stir well and leave covered for 48 hours stirring occasionally.

6. Strain (I use an old muslin resting in a plastic sieve) and pour into bottles leaving an inch gap at the top. Screw down well. Leave in a cool place. You’re done. Well done.

Meet Julia

Julia is the sort of person who has dropped round a lasagne, two casseroles and an apple crumble, before the doctor has even finished diagnosing your incapacitating illness. She is there for everybody, all the time (though perhaps not Julia) She achieves this with two tiny tots and some bigger tots as well. She recently made us some apple jam that G is in ecstasies over and she kindly has written out the recipe especially for you, gentle reader. And so welcome to my first. Ever. Guest. Blogger.

(The picture is of apples from Locks Park Farm, stories from a small organic farm in Devon )

The joy of windfalls…
The fascination of something for nothing.  So little effort and such great rewards…
Boil up a pan full of fallen Bramleys and it is stunning the pleasure you can derive!
Wash said plunder and chop into quarters, merely removing bad bits and live cargo.  Boil the fruit within an inch of their life in enough water to just cover them in a large pan.
In the meantime allow self much smugness and either multi task blithely or sit back, heels up, enjoying a fragrant cup of tea in real china – or just pretend with most comforting mug…
When boiled to soft mushy pulp, remove from heat.
Erect a make shift strainer thingummyjig by using an upturned four legged stool and a well washed muslin knotted firmly one corner to each leg.  Position a very large bowl under said muslin ‘net’.  Carefully fill muslin with mush and juice and leave to drip through slowly over night.
The Juice…
Next morning having set aside all other mundane matters transfer remaining dehydrated apple mush in the suspended muslin bag into a bowl without squeezing any more juice out, if you were to do so, horrors, this would result in cloudy jelly!!!
Boil up the clear “juice” with 1lb sugar to each 1pint juice, bring to the boil and boil, boil, boil until it reaches the elusive setting point.  Pot into sterilised jars and impress your friends by saying such things as “look at how it catches the light when you hold it up” and “its good in gravy with pork you know!” and so on… as if you truly are the cookery whizz incarnate you so lovingly wish to be…
Having stunned all with your prowess at making jelly (not only good on toast but as a change to apple sauce or with ice cream…)… you turn your attentions to the grey sodden mush you are left with, oh yes, peppered with pips, core and stalks… not to mention skins…  destined for the compost bin? Not yet by gum!
Push the mush through a metal sieve a couple of spoonfulls at a time until you are left with what looks like a cow pat on a drab day and a pile of skins and pips… Compost the skins and pips at this point and throw caution to the wind.
The Mush…
The same rule applies basically, 1lb of mush to 1lb of sugar.  Boil together
When the mush keeps a clean line across it when you draw the edge of a spoon across it, it is ready.  You can boil it down to as thick as you want really.  But at this stage it qualifies for the title of a fruit “cheese” rather than a “butter”.  This is good with pork as an alternative to apple sauce or with ice cream… are you noticing a pattern developing?!  Or, darn it, you could just eat it by the spoonful straight out of the jar cos it IS that good… I am toying with next time omitting the sugar and just going the whole hog and melting some toffees into the mush and calling it: Toffee Apple Sauce… and yes, the capitals lend credence to the concept… and no, that probably wouldn’t be so good with pork!!!  :0)
have fun…. xx

Use my Loaf: A Bread Making Tutorial.

Most weeks, most days I make my own bread. It is easy and gets rave reviews. Thanks to the (strong) white flour and a tip from Waitrose magazine, I’ve worked out how to make it with only a moment or two of kneading. It is not a flakey crusted, artisan sourdough but it is a bazillion times tastier than the average (even posh) supermarket loaf and it requires your active involvement for only 10 minutes. It turns simple suppers of soup or cheese and pickles into feasts and if you get the hang of it you can confidently add all sorts of ingredientst (my favourite is a hefty helping of dates and cinnamon for a musky, sweet loaf)

Let me show you how I do it:

All these amounts are approximate and therefore flexible, once you’ve made it a couple of times you won’t even need to refer to them.

1. A tablespoon of dried yeast, a teaspoon of sugar (or honey or molasses) and cup of tepid water. Leave them in a big bowl to party until they look like this:

2. Pour on two more cups of water and add about one kilo of flour and a heaped teaspoon of sea salt (Maybe try a bit less if you’re using table salt) Shake the bowl a bit and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave for however long suits you: ten minutes with a cup of tea, or two hours down the shops. The gluten in the flour will start to leach out, saving you kneading time.

3. Bring it together in the bowl and give it a minimal squishy kneading, until it’s mixed together into one big doughy lump that’s not too sticky and looks a bit like this. Though if you’re worried, err on the side of wetness. Those little yeasty creatures need damp. Grab that tea towel again and leave the covered bowl for anything between an hour to overnight/overday.It will puff up and look like this.

4. Give it another minute of two of kneading to knock it back and then divide it into greased tins. Cover and leave for the usual 1-12 hours.

They will rise, don’t panic if it’s not by much.

5. Preheat oven 200 C. Pop in your loaves. Depending on the size of your loaves check them after 20/25 minutes. On top you need a warm golden brown, on bottom a hollow noise when you tap it with your knuckles. Leave out of the tins and propped up/on a wire rack to cool (or they’ll be soggy)

6. I wish I could be there with you but please send me any questions I would be very happy to offer more help. Once you feel like you are getting the hang of it you’ll find inspiration everywhere. Slosh in some olive oil, sun dried tomatoes and rosemary. Mash in those elderly bananas from the fruit bowl. Paint the top with beaten egg before it goes in the oven. Use milk not water. Sprinkle on or in some seeds. Add a handful or two of oats. It’s the combination of simplicity and freedom that keeps you interested. The satisfaction of creating something so ancient and so necessary will fill you up.