Sunday, 8 February 2009

Scummy Jam

I was on a roll. So I thought I would use up the frozen strawberries in my freezer. Unfortunately I think the fact that they were frozen and the fact I didn't read the recipe as well as I should, produced a jam with a lot of foaminess that I couldn't get rid of. Anyway at the end of the recipe it said remove scum, I tried but it was near impossible to get rid of all of it. It still tastes lovely and strawberry jammy, it just doesn't look like it would win a sash at a beauty pageant. Ah well, as with all little mistakes, I suppose I learnt something from the experience.

Grapefruit and ginger jelly marmalade

Well I had a go and I really like it. I wasn't sure if this picture in the book was exactly how the marmalade should look. If so - oops not quite like mine. Lack of self belief made me allow it to boil longer than maybe it should have. It is meant to be a jelly, so to my mind the consistency was ok. The picture in the book on the other hand looked more jam like in consistency. The taste was quite grown up, as it's not sweet and sickly as jam often is. It has that grapefruit tartness with a little ginger zing making it quite moreish. As you can see the little jar is only half full, 'PIG' I can hear you cry - all I can say is 'oink'.  
I will definitely make this one again

recipe taken from:
Good Housekeeping Preserves

5 large grapefruit (about 1.8kg / 4lb) washed
2.5cm (1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced)
Granulated sugar
Stem ginger in syrup, drained

makes 1.8kg (4lb)
75 cals, 0g fat, 20g carbs per serving

Cut grapefruit into quarters. Chop finely using a sharp knife or the slicing blade of a food processor

Put grapefruit and root ginger in a preserving pan and add 2.8 litres (5 pints) water. Bring to boil, half cover and boil gently for about 1 hour until fruit is very soft and contents of the pad reduced to a thick pulp (there should be little free liquid)

Spoon contents of pan into a jelly bag or cloth attached to the legs of an upturned stool, and leave to strain for at least 2 hours. (I bought my jelly bag from

Discard the pulp remaining in the jelly bag. Measure the extract (there should be about 1.7 litres / 3 pints) and return to preserving pan.

Add 450g (1 lb) sugar and 25g (1 0z) finely shredded stem ginger for each 600ml (1 pint) extract. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes or until setting point is reached. Remove any scum with a slotted spoon, leave the marmalade to stand for 10 - 15 minutes to allow the jelly to thicken sufficiently to suspend the ginger, then pot and cover.

Monday, 2 February 2009

The wheels on this car were spinning round and round on the compacted icy snow and it was going nowhere, so some friendly people tried to help by pushing it up the hill. Now this is a long hill, so if they made it or not I don't know. I was holding onto the wall when I took this picture! If you see the picture below I am on the other side of the road - the car was going nowhere fast. I saw somebody else give up and abandon their car.
I tried to get to the station, but I found one leg slipping in the wrong direction until I was literally doing the splits (holding onto a brick wall). For a moment there I thought I would land flat on my backside - but I was able to retain at least a bit of dignity, laugh it off, brush myself down and carry on as if it was an everyday occurrence. At that stage I decided to ask someone if there were any trains, as the answer was a negative I decided to turn back.
Brrrrr!! Well this morning I was unable to get to work as the streets (and it would seem the rail network) of London were blocked with snow.  London very rarely gets snowfall of any significance so this was in some ways lovely to see. Unfortunately I am really, really busy at work so it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Monday, 19 January 2009

French beret
I started to knit a beret this weekend. I haven't been able to start something (knitting) and finish it in a long while, so I am determined to finish this. My only worry is will it fit on my oh so large head? I must have done about a third of it so I could finish it in a week (hmm - we'll see)

Lemon curd 

This weekend I was going to make marmalade, I say was, as I never got to do it. I needed some muslin to hold the pips and pith in the brew whilst the oranges were cooking, but I didn't have any. I've got everything else, oranges, sugar, jars, wax seals, etc, etc. 
Anyway in lieu of marmalade I made lemon curd instead. It's a really easy thing to make - 
4 lemons (juice and zest), 4 eggs, 350 gram caster sugar, 100 gram butter and that's it. Melt sugar and butter, stirring continuously. Then gently cook for about 20 mins, (but not boiling) until thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Decant into sterilised jars. You have to cook it over a double boiler though and as it's all fresh and eggyfied it will only keep 3 months in the fridge or 1 month out of the fridge. This recipe makes about 1.5 lbs, so I got 3 small jars out of it. 
I may use it next weekend when I go to Mike's as we invited his daughter's family over for Sunday lunch - Nathalie, Anthony, Maisie and George. I may make the lemon ice cream (again!) which requires lemon curd. I have to say the Lemon curd does taste excellent, quite moreish.
I shall be making marmalade this week though - I have to, as I have so many oranges. Though I could freeze them (if there was even a smidgen of room in my freezer!).

Monday, 12 January 2009

I love this cream!

This was from the latest batch of cream I made in December 2008. I gave most away as Christmas presents.

I started making my own cream when I found anything I used was stinging me - not just in the pocket either! Also nothing seemed to last the full day. I would use it in the morning and by the end of the day the skin on my legs especially would be dry and flaky. I started by buying Shea butter, which was great, but was way too greasy and messy on it's own and would come off onto my clothes (it was almost as if I was waxing up my jeans to make them waterproof!). 

Then I started looking on the internet for recipes and experimented with different concoctions that were all still very greasy. I eventually found the company Aromantics online and they had some great resources, including recipe books and ingredients. The process is in no way cheap, but the cream is so great I hope I never have to go back to off the shelf products again. I love the fact that I find unusual oils from different sources and include them in the ingredients, giving different aroma's and uses. 

As a woman over 45 the cellulite on my legs really does disgust me - When I was using the usual off the shelf products my skin was not only like orange peel, but rough - horrible, horrible, horrible - it really did look horendous! Well the cream really seems to have made my skin softer so the cellulite doesn't seem half so bad (either that or I'm used to it!). Also it does great things for the heels - no dry skin - it's vunderbar.

You need 2 double boilers a large bowl a whisk, thermometer, measuring jug, scales and of course jars for the finished product. I use disposable piping bags from Lakeland's to get the cream into the jars and I buy my jars from Baldwins.

Fat Stage melted over a double boiler till 75 - 80°:

240ml Apricot Kernel Oil

240ml Almond oil

60g Shea Butter

60g Cocoa Butter

75g VE Emulsifier

Cetyl Alcohol

Water Stage melted over a double boiler till 75 - 80°:

120g MF Emulsifier

2000 - 800ml Boiling Spring Water 

2000 ml is way too runny for me, also I don't have enough room in the equipment I use to hold that volume of cream. I have found approx 1000 ml works quite well. Maybe would need to add more shea butter, cocoa butter and or VE emulsifier if the water was increased, to make it stiffer.

120ml Glycerine

360 drops or 18ml Preservative. 

You really do have to use a preservative as your cream will go mouldy without it (as I found out in an early batch a couple of years ago). I get a lot of my ingredients and the basic recipe books from this company:

the preservative I use form there is called preservative 12 - Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglcerin. Now the very name sounds bad, but I quote 'this preservative was introduced to the general cosmetics marketplace in early 2007 and was the most natural preservative available to us at the time of printing ... Aromantic have had it challenge-tested and have found it works well for people with sensitive skin." All I know is I didn't want to produce something that had to be kept in the fridge - and then only lasted a matter of weeks.

After the first 2 stages are whisked together the cream needs to cool down before you can whisk in the other ingredients,

Third Stage cooled down to 40 - 35°:

Vitamin E oil

Aloe Vera concentrate

Manoi oil

St John's Wort oil

Fourth Stage cooled down to 30 - 25°:

180 drops (6 ml) Essential oils

Really gooey Chocolate Brownies

I baked these Sunday afternoon and ate about 3 of them hoping to see if they were all right. The recipe uses a great deal of sugar so they really give you a massive sugar rush as well as a slightly furry tongue. Shall I take them to work tomorrow? Or is it all in my mind that they're too sickly?