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

And You Know I’ve Tried A LOT of Brownies

Simple Homeschool has a post that fits Connie’s journey to culinary competence. Here.

When she began asking to cook (age nine or younger) I found it hard as:

1. she didn’t want help

2. she didn’t want recipes

3. my kitchen is MY KINGDOM!

Also she made grimace inducing food, it felt wasteful. I was negative and anxious.

I coped by nixing certain ingredients, demanding she clean up before and after and shutting the door and walking away (returning only to place dubious cake mixtures in the oven)

First her baking became edible. Then delicious. She never wrote anything down but seemed to remember which amounts and combinations went well. Then she began using recipes. Age 11 she could make a three course dinner for six. Age 12 she bakes the best brownies I have ever tasted.


Don’t You Judge Me! or Eternal Principles Betrayed

As I am going to France at the weekend and won’t be back this side of Hogmanay, I thought I’d review my self imposed “goals of steel“.

1. Make sourdough bread, the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall way (Taking recipe to France)

2. Get through all 7 of my Michel Thomas “Even Grade A Morons Can Learn to Speak French” cps ( Er…)

3. Send my short “Agatha Blake” to Basement Stories (Will do)

4. Knit a hat (Chosen the pattern, Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop hat. I’ve done it before and it even has a bit of fancy colour change)

5. The data for this entry has been lost to cyberspace. I cannot be held accountable.

6. Get S and P reading. (Plodding on fine)

7. Make Raisin Wine from my Jewish cookbook. (So happy when I found I could use my Rumtopf pot. So sad when my wine went hairy. Now replaced with “get bikini wax”. Done)

8. See Simon Schama (I SHOOK THE HAND)

9. Get back to Zumba (packing DVDs for holiday)

10. Get back to belly dancing (Done)

11. Grow my fingernails (Done, I look hot in those trousers)

12. Make macaroons from “A Homemade Life” (Done, they are super easy, only three ingredients, taste fantastic)

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.