Thursday, November 20, 2014

CHRISTMAS PUDDING MADE!

Today I made the pudding for our family Christmas, one of my beginning steps to being a bit organised. The recipe I always use was given to me years ago by a school mother who was a wonderful cook and in fact catered as a business. It is so simple to make and really is delicious, bringing the fruit to the boil and letting it cool before adding the final ingredients.




And don't die of shock....


                                                                RECIPE 
2 1/2  lbs mixed fruit, I use lots of raisins, some sultanas and I I have any some currants. You could use craisins...dried cranberries, apricots, your choice really but lots of raisins, leaving them whole so they are good and juicy!
2 oz mixed peel...I don't use because none of us like them!
4 oz chopped dates
Pinch salt, 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
If I haven't got the particular spice I might substitute cinnamon, ginger etc
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brandy or rum, I always use brandy...
Heat all of the above until it reaches a boil, turn off and leave until COOL. I usually do this the night before the actual cooking. 
When cool add 3 large well beaten eggs, 4 oz glacĂ© cherries...I never weigh these just maybe 3/4 cup, left whole again so you get a juicy piece of fruit, 2 oz almonds chopped but I always use walnuts, broken into pieces by hand, much easier than getting out the chopping board, and lastly add the 375  
gram packet of pastry mix. Sounds peculiar but of course it is the flour and shortening...butter? ...already mixed.  Believe me it DOES WORK! 
Cover he top and boil for 5 hours, 1/2 mixture for 3 hours.
I have a couple of tips, after greasing the pudding bowl I place strips of baking paper across the base of the bowl, making it easier to get out of the bowl on D Day.




Covering the top with a couple of layers of baking paper...which I leave on unless it is very wet after the cooking, it doesn't seem to be a problem.


Then I put strips of foil across the base of the very large pan which then makes it easier to get the pudding out.
This bit has been added today, the day after the original post as I realised I didn't say to add water to the pot! A big OOPS! I put some in at this stage, after the strips of foil are in place, maybe 2-3 inches. Then put pud in! When the bowl is in place just check that the water comes up to at least 3/4 of the sides of the pud. I have to carefully pour water in as my bowl is only a tad smaller than my pot. Then you bring pot and pud to a boil and let it simmer away for the five hours, checking to see if the water needs topping up. If I can hear a gentle simmer I know it is right! Good luck!



The only thing I haven't written down in the recipe is the size of the pudding bowl, maybe you can work it out from my photos. I store in the fridge until Christmas Day, a cool pantry would be fine.
On Christmas Day I boil again for 2-3 hours, doesn't really matter, it gets put on and just left, a slow simmer. 
So there you are, our Christmas pudding made! Hope you try this pudding and do let me know how you go!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

BUSY, BUZZING BEES AMONGST THE ROSES



Another rose I've discovered in my garden. I don't know the name so would love someone to tell me. The bees adore it, rolling around in ecstasy to get as much pollen from the delicious stamens as possible! I'd almost say they were in a frenzy, squabbling to be the one to get the most pollen! 







The flowers fade, the outer rims of the petals quite creamy and the main part a beautiful pale apricot, softer than the orange that it first shows. The scent is beautiful but not a strong one and the stamens loaded with pollen, come out from quite a red centre...





These last two photos are from some that have been in a vase for a few days, the pollen has simply dropped onto the petals, I've not seen this before.
See you soon!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MORNING BIKE RIDES




As you may know I ride a three wheeled bike around our little town for some exercise! I'm really enjoying these early morning rides, especially at the moment...after the cold mornings...and before it gets really hot. A bit like the story of the three bears...my 'porridge' at the moment,the temperature is just right! 
But is is more than just the temperature...it is all the fragrances that fill me with delight as I ride. This morning there was the scent of freshly mown grass, a jasmine flowering over a post, wisterias in bloom, the 'whiff' of delicious roses as I ride past. On one of my 'roads,'on the edge of town, there is a horse farm so I have the lovely...to me....horsey smell as I ride right past.This morning a sheep truck drove past me, no sheep on board but I could still smell them, again to me a smell that brings back memories. 
Then there are the birds I see and hear. So many different ones and some elusive, I hear them but they are well hidden high amongst the foliage in the trees I past. There are of course the magpies dive bombing me, crows and Indian Mynah birds strutting their stuff,  very important in their own eyes. Willie wagtails, masked lapwings, blue wrens and so on, a real feast of them.
So come with me and I'll show you some of what I've seen in the last couple of days...












A 'bee' tree caught my eye!


If you look very carefully you can see the bees above...I just happened to pull up beside the tree this morning and noticed the bees very busily flying in and out. 


So...I hope you've enjoyed your ride along with me! And that you're enjoying your Sunday too!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

ROSE HEAVEN

I hope you won't be bored with this post....more rose photos! The first bunch I picked was given to the owners of our rental, they were so gorgeous and so scented I thought she would like them as I know they haven't yet developed their new garden. And it was easy for me to pick my second bunch, so much choice!




And my third, all the same variety this time...


Today I visited a friend, taking a lovel bunch of pale pink roses for her as she has lots of stronger coloured roses in her garden. I wish I knew all the names of the roses here so I could sound knowledgeable! Before we leave here I will ask our landlady to walk around the garden with me and a I will WRITE down the names of my favourites and will then plant them in our new garden next Autumn.
AND my friend gave me a beautiful big bunch of her roses to bring home! I put them in a bucket when I got home, up to their necks to give them a good drink and a cool down...


Two vases later, preserving jars actually as most if my vases are still packed and I've run out of the ones that I do have...








I wish you could smell them! I have one vase now waiting in our bedroom, one beside the chair I sit in at night, one on our table, and more on a shelf in our kitchen area, how spoilt I am!! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MY FIRST BUNCH OF ROSES!



There are millions of roses, welllllllll, perhaps that is an exaggeration but it did seem that way when Lucy, Joe and I pruned them all! I've been watching the delicious buds appearing and waiting for the day I could seize the seccateurs and pick a bunch! E had picked the first pink one for me a couple of weeks ago so we did have that to adore!
So this morning I could do it! With seccateurs in hand, Bear, our dog, and I went into the garden, just the back garden mind you and we collected this lovely bunch, yellow, the deepest dark red which the photo doesn't do justice, pinks, and pink with apricot tones, most of them scented, how lucky am I to have such a collection to choose from!






And beside me as I write there is this beautiful scented pink rose, short stems so I'm floating them in a bowl as I didn't want to lose any of their 'sisters' who were budding up with such promise!



I wish I could give all my readers a bunch of them so you could all enjoy the fragrance as well!
Maybe tomorrow I'll pick some fro my front garden and show them to you. Have a good and rosy day today!