Sunday 20 October 2013

Photo A Day

11th October; after all this lovely weather we have been having, today we had POURED for ages. I don't mind the rain if I have a brolly I can stand under!

12th October; Last weekend I showed you my new sourdough starter. Today I made some bread! Quite pleased with it but I need the oven a bit cooler.

13th October; Hmm well what can I say about today! The Guides had  Bushcraft day, tons of outdoor activities like fire lighting, shelter building, butter making etc etc. Yesterday the weather was dry, if dull but today it poured....and poured......and poured! This was the state of my boots and trousers at the end of the day!

14th October; Muddy Monday and we were looking at how the signs of Autumn had moved on. These holly berries were green last time we looked at them and now they are this lovely orangey colour. I wonder how long it will be until they are red?

15th October; not sure why this is sideways but this was the most amazing fungi that was growing outside Guides! It is HUGE; about a metre wide and nearly 50cm high!

16th October; we awoke to this in the morning, shepherd's warning. Sadly there were two classes going on school trips and yes the weather did change and once again it poured!

17th October; I stopped on my way home to buy petrol and it is a job I really hate! Whilst I was filling up I was gazing about me when I caught sight of this row of chimneys. Now I have filled up here countless times and I have never really noticed them before!

18th October; we had a castle afternon at school and I took in Jasper's playmobil castle for them to play with. So after dinner, my 6ft tall, size 11 footed son, spent an hour or more setting it all up on the lounge floor! 

19th October; We yesterdays playmobil fest led to Eliza retrieving HERS from the loft too! SO this was the state of my floor by the end of the day!!!
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Thursday 10 October 2013

Photo A Day

1st October; I am actually reading a that I mean a paper and pages one as opposed to one on my Kindle. I haven't read a proper book like this for ages and it is really reminding me just how much I love the small of a new book!

2nd October; we thought we might eat some of the HUGE marshmallows that we bought in America. They really are massive but much nicer than English ones as they are not as sickly.

3rd October; it rained tonight; lots. This is how high the raindrops were bouncing off the patio! I haven't seen rain like this for ages.

4th October; I had to bake some flapjack and brownie for my son who was doing a scout hike competition. As I was scraping out the bowl I broke my favourite spatula that I have had for 23 years. I have had many replacements bought but they just don't match up to this one that came free with my Kenwood Chef, when I got married!

5th October; as I mentioned before, Jasper was in a scout hike competition and I was acting as his service crew, along with another Mum. At one of the checkpoints, I heard and then saw, this huge skein of geese. Sorry about the ariel right across the picture; it was on one of the emergency vehicles and I couldn't avoid it!

6th October; the day after the hike and it was the presentation ceremony. Despite getting lost, Jasper's team came 8th out of 14 teams, hiking 45 mile in just under 13 hours.

7th October; Muddy Monday and we found these amazing toadstools. The top was glowing like a burnished metal in the beautiful sunshine that we are still having.

8th October; Trumpet fanfare!!!I finally have an apple on my tree! Well I use the term loosely as it is more like a stick! I have had the tree for about 4 years and this is it's first EVER apple. It is about 2" round so a bit too tiny to eat. I know it looks a funny colour but that is because it is an Egremont Russet.

9th October; a sad day. Today Bilbo, our last guinea pig, passed away. We have no idea why; he was running about fine yesterday and this morning he seemed to have had some sort of stroke. He died peacefully whilst Katy was holding him, reaching the good age of almost 5.

10th October; Ooooo it was chilly today. I think our Indian Summer has ended so it was out with my trusty, cosy cowl that I knitted last year. Nice and snuggly!
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Sunday 6 October 2013

Crabapple jelly.

I showed you a picture last week of the apples/crabapples that we scrumped from the bypass didn't I? Well here's what we did with them.

First cut them in half and put them in a large pan and cover with water.

Bring to the boil and simmer until soft and pulpy.

Put into a muslin and strain all the juice off. Now all the recipe books say that if you want your jelly to stay clear then don't squeeze the muslin. Well firstly you need asbestos fingers to squeeze it anyway but secondly I don't like to waste any drops, so I always squeeze as much out as I can!

Measure how many pints of liquid you have and pour into a large pan...I use a stock pot.

Then add sugar in the ratio of 1lb of sugar per 1 pint of liquid. I collected 8 pints of liquid. so I needed 8lbs of sugar. That is the only maths you will need!

Stir it as you bring it gently to the boil to allow the sugar to dissolve. It will look rather cloudy at this stage.

Once the sugar has dissolved allow it to come to what the books call a full "rolling boil". I think that is fairly descriptive; it has to boil quite vigorously rather than a simmer. As you can see, scum tends to form around the edges and it is best to scoop this off using a spoon, (or if you are posh I think there is such a thing as a jam skimmer you can buy!). Watch it doesn't boil too hard or it can spit/burn. This stage takes quite a while; you are boiling it until you get a "set". To test for this, put a china plate in the fridge. Add a few drips of the jelly to the plate and leave it for a minute or two. Then push at the surface with a finger and if it wrinkles up and forms a kind of "skin" then it is ready! I find that the colour will deepen significantly as it gets more "jelly" like and it is never really ready the first few times. Once it starts to set it can go quite quickly so keep an eye on it.

Whilst all this is doing it's thing, you need to sterilise the jars you are going to use. I put them in a warm oven, about 150 deg, for about an hour. I also tend to do more than I need as you can't really tell how many jars it will make! This is really important as the jars need to be hot to receive the boiling jam so they don't shatter. Transferring the jam to the jars is quite a risky business; I use a ladle and pour just one jar at a time. Don't get it on you as it WILL burn.

Fill the jars really full as it will shrink a bit. There are a few ideas about what is the best way to proceed now. Some people swear that you need to heat the lids and put them on the hot jars in order to keep it sealed and sterile. However, if you have ever tried to hold a hot jar of runny, boiling liquid in one hand and screw on a hot, metal lid with the other, whilst wearing oven gloves then you will see why I prefer to leave everything until it is completely cold! It does need to be cold and not any degree of warm, or condensation will form on the lid and this is what will turn the jam mouldy.

Then the worst job; washing down the super, sticky jars! See, despite all my squeezing, my jelly is really clear; and I love the colour too.

Finally you get to design a label. Eliza likes to do this job and this is called Roundabout Jelly because we got the crabapples guessed it...the roundabout!!! My 8 pints made 19 jars of jelly....and the teeny one!
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