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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Easy and quick relish receipes

The other day I came back from the allotment with a lot of root veggies and to be honest I didn't know what to do with all of it, plus my mother in law gave me 2 baby butternut squashes. 

For many years I stuck to receipes from preserving books, don't get me wrong all very tasty but today I like experimenting too,so here  today I will share with you how  I discovered these amazing new combinations,  colours and ended up with 3 amazing new flavours!!!

Now, if you never had a go at making relish, you must give it a go right now! So delish with crackers and cheese or spread it on your lunch sandwich. 

Now, whichever one you choose the process described below is the same, for each one of them. 

Prep work:
Check your cupboard for all the necessary ingreadients;
With soapy water clean, rinse and place in a tray/s your jars and lids;
Begin with peeling and washing the veggies;

Basically I had all these veggies from the allotment and did not have enought time to cook them all, so I got all the veggies chopped and in separate cooking bawls, then begun pairing them until I found  the ingredients that will work well together. 

White beetroot and Red Goosberries Relish 
Delicately sweet with a goosberry tang, pairs well with shaper, strongly flavoured cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Stilton or any other blue cheese. 

You need:
1kg White or yellow beetroot 
500grams(g)RedGooseberries 
300g red onions
200g of Demerara sugar
1table spoon of salt
200ml of Cider Vinegar 


Green Tomatoes and Apple Relish
Rich, flavoursome relish that brings out the best of smoked and vintages cheese. 

You need:
750grams(g) Green tomatoes
500g Gala Apples(or any apples you have)
400g White onions
2 gerkings 
100g Demerera sugar
200ml Cider vinegar
1 table spoon of salt
1 table spoon of carraway seeds
1 tea spoon of all spice 
1 tea spoon of ginger




Spicy Baby Butternut Squash and Carrots Relish  
Crunchy, fresh and moderately spicy complements any intensely flavoured cheeses, we recommend caramelised onion and thyme extra mature cheddar, but any other similar will work well. 

You need:
2 Young butternut squases(total about of 1kg)
400grams (g) of carrots
150g of Demerera sugar
200g of Stawberry Vinegar
200ml water
2 yellow peppers
300g of red onions
1table spoon of sweet paprika
1 table spoon of salt
1teaspoon of chilli flakes





To Do:
Dice your veggies either by hand or in the food processor(I used the food processor).
In a non stick saucepan add your sugar, vinegar and spices,stir gently and bring to boil. Once in boil add the diced veggies and stir bringing it to boil again. 
Reduce the heat and cook for further 30 min, sityring  occasionally. 

Whilst your veggies are cooking, get your your jars cleaned and on a metal tray. 
Pre heat the oven to 150degrees Celsius  and put the jars and lids in the oven for about 25min. 

By this point a you are nearly ready! 

>Make sure that you spoon the relish in the jar whilst still hot. 
>Put the lid(if no lids available you can put a wax disc and cellophane, tie it with string or elastic band). 
>Label 


Lastly, be sure to leave some aside for tasting!!!!!!

It will store for 6months or more if in a cool aired space. 


Most importantly enjoy it! 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Decorating a lamp shade with vintage postal stamps.


It has been a week of induldging in crafting of all sorts, from sorting out my craft room to decorating lamps shades, to up cycling a stall and many more. 

Anyway, today I am going to share with you how I decorated the lamp shades. This is an easy and cost effective way to change the look of a tired looking lampshade.( mine was just plain metal). 

You need:
* crafting glue;
* artist's paint brush(medium size);
*lamp shade of your choice;
*stamps, lots of them! I got mine from a local charity shop for next to nothing. 


I chose to work with a mix of stamps rather than one type or one size to make the project look a bit more quirky.  

When you buy used  stamps, usually have part of the envelope or post card stuck to the back, if you can, remove it but it is not a must, I removed some but not others,  as some of the stamps were a bit 
fragile. 

 Start with:
The lamp shade is clean and dust free;
Then dab the brush in glue;
Apply the glue generously to the back of the stamp(do about 10) this is because the glue makes the stamps softer and easer to apply. 
Finally apply the stamps in the chosen order, be sure the go over with the brush so all those corners are glued on and any are bubbles removed. 

Leave to dry, I left mine overnight and then spay it with some clear varnish either sheen or mat, depending on the look you wish to achieve.  Give a couple of coats to seal the paper, trust me it will make it easier to dust!


E Voila! 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Drying your own herbs

I have been drying my own herbs for a long time now. Before the allotment I always foraged through the supermarket's Sale corner, usually late in the afternoon for fresh bunches of herbs that were sold due to the expiring date:).  I found it outrageous that you can pay over 85pence for a few grams of dried herbs, yet a fresh bunch would cost anything up to 20pence,when on sale of courseand even if not on sale it would be about 75pence. Each bunch would supply around 2-3 52gr jars.  

However if you do have a herb box/ bed regular cuttings  is a must to promote new growth so the excess can be dried. 

So if you want to build your own herb collection, here is what you need to do! 

Source the herbs, either use my supermarket tip from above or if grow your own, dry the surplus. Also in the UK the Etnic Fruit and Veggies stalls, markets provide a good supply of fresh herbs. 

Get some string or elastic band and wrapp it around the bunch, allowing some for hanging. The herbs must be hung to dry evenly and prevent from going yellow. Hang the in a dry, aered space, I do mine in the kitchen. 

If I have small bunches you ca dry it in a fabric bag where it can dry slowly. You can use it at anytime during the drying process. When fully dry herbs crumble at a gentle touch. If you rub the between your palms you get lovely flakes of herbs! 

Here is my latest collection. 
Dill 

Lovage

Fennel 
Thyme 
For fun I am drying some rose petals too. 
Enjoy! 

Madeira cake with a twist


Hmm, Madeira Cake, especially home made, goes so well with a coffee or cuppa tea  and most importantly it is so welcomed any time of the day! I usually stick to the standard recipe from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1940701/madeira-loaf-cake. I like the texture of this cake, the sponginess  and the top crispness yet so moist. But today I decided to try the same recipe with added ingredients and turn it more into a dessert cake. 

For starters I added half sweetener and half molasses sugar. Adding molasses sugar gave it a lovely caramel colour.

 I did a double portion:
*one coated with ground almonds;
*another more like a fresh fruit torte, this is the one that excites me most. 

Having an abundance of black currants and strawberries I did the following:
Added blackcurrants  at the bottom of the tray with some molasses sugar, added the cake composition and topped it with strawberries and more molasses sugar:)!  

The currants and the sugar turned itnto a sweet fruity caramel with a sticky consistency, where as the stawberries are half crunchy - half chewy.   


In the oven for just 1hr, it is a doubleside, duo taste cake, which you can serve with cream, icecream or just as it is. 

Have you tried traditional recipes with a twist? 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Jam making experiments

Summer has arrived  bringing with it glorious colours and flavours in the form of fruits, flowers and veggies. This year our allotment* has seen an abundance of fruit, primarily because we had a very mild spring and a sunny summer. I have intended for a long time to write a blog, so here is my first ever piece of writing to the general public and there is no better subject to start writing. 

Just to given you an idea of the assortment of fruits we grow throughout the year:

>Wild white and red strawberries for their amazing fragrance,  if you never tasted it you must try it; all around strawberries( different varieties);

> Currants - white, red and black; this old fashion fruit is underused in our day today life- not referring to squash:);

>Gooseberries I know what you are thinking right now, tart and tasteless, ohh noooo I leave them an extra week or more and then pick them, best fruit you will ever try! Full of fruit pulp and juicy, basically similar to grapes but ready to eat late June and July;

> Blueberries, I suspect you don't need convincing, not quite ready yet. 

> Raspberries  both summer and autumn are very tasty and packed with flavour;

>Tayberries, come fom Scotland giving giant red fruits are the must have fruit at

Sunday, 15 June 2014

My own self, The cats and The husband!

Cristina, yes that is I. Some may this is a relatively common name and they might be just right, however behind this name hide two identities, two different stories lines, which will be revealed, as I write my Blogs I will give you different chapters of my life which you will be able to puzzle together at some stage. Stay tunned if interested! 

One is my present lifestyle, I have a regular job, Teaching Functional Skills at the local Further Education College in the UK  to apprentices and people undertaking work base qualifications. For those unfamiliar with the term Functional Skills - it means Maths, English and ICT up to L2-  don't you worry, there will be a time when an entire blog will be dedicated to the meanders of this Trio. In my spare time I like to do a bit of interior design, Crafting of all sorts, up cycling and reupholstering, property renovation and gardening. 

I have 2 cats, both cross bread Main Coon, the male is pure white full of curiosity and energy, with extremely large and sharp claws:). Only just about 12 moths old, he is 6kg already and when this giant lump of fur wants a fuss the I have to use manual handling techniques so I don't damage my already damaged back. In case you wonder, his name is Boo, like ther Ghost in the Mario Games. 

Then there is a girl in the house who believe it or not chatters more then I do. Her name is Mitzy, likes a good tommy tickle and has black paws, she has the most amazing colours, very sweet and gently nature. At about 14 months she is about 5kg and growing or at least so the internet says. 


Last but not least important it is Chris, whom I met in 2007 and I married in 2009, this year it was out 5th wedding aniversary. Together we have been in fantastic places, had most interesting and sometimes silly adventures, created many beautiful memories and hopefully many more to come. 

In a nut shell I have a wonderful life but dreaming always to more! My ideal life would be one of constant creativity time and less rushing on a daily basis. I seem to function better in my own terms and hopefully one day we will move to France to start a "chilled" lifestyle. 

I decided to start  the blog to share many crafting and life experience from which people can take what they find useful and discard what doesn't apply to them. This is because I am very much an Independedn learner my self and prefer slightly more informal ways. 
In my blogs you will find many useful tips and I feel compelled to include some Mmaths and English in it too. These will come I different forms so if ever in doubt just ask. 

My Blog is not designed to be professional, to critises or take a negative look on things  but rather more of a positive attitude towards what we can and can not do our selves to improve our lifestyle as well as  constructively and argumentatively discuss point of views of various subjects and hopefully inspirational. 


I thank you for taking the time to read my posts. 
Kindest Wishes 
Cristina