Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Apparently we have blackcurrant bushes in the garden.
I wasn't aware of this fact until my brother and sister proudly brandished a large bowl of the things in my face this morning.
Despite my obviously marvellous and astounding talent of being able to eat a lime like an orange, I find blackurrants too sour, so whatever we decided to make with the haul, it had to involve copious amounts of sugar. (And so it did! A whole kilogram, in fact.)

After one initial boiling with just a bit of water, we strained them to remove all the skins and tiny stalks and possibly insects. The thicker stuff that came out was mixed with sugar and combined with cream to make a delightful fool.

The rest was boiled again with sugar and a few pieces of ginger. Whilst skimming, I took the time to enjoy the pyschadelic swirls of colour in the pot.

Okay, so it doesn't look too impressive, but trust me, it was.
Kind of. I'm clearly very easily amused.
Anyway, after the syrup was boiled I squeezed in one lime to make a blackurrant, ginger and lime cordial. It's scarily addictive in its un-watered down form - tart and sweet, slightly hot and tantalising from the ginger, and fragrant with lime. I needed a bigger lime hit however, so I trickled some cordial into the squeezed out lime and sucked it all back out. I love lime, did you know that? My teeth were squeaky and my stomach hurt after repeating this process many times, but it was worth it.

I think I also might have invented my own cocktail. This cordial + gin + tonic water = a good drink? I know nothing about cocktails, but the family seemed appreciative. (The kiddies, of course, got an alcohol free version.) Can I ™ that? I'm going to ™ that.

That's the non-alcoholic version. It was pretty cool the way this foamed right over the top of the glass, and it does make a beautiful - and entirely natural - colour. The parents christened this a Bloody Sophie, which they found hilarious. I most certainly did not, and would love and suggestions for an alternate name before that one sticks..

The last blackurrant related item were some cupcakes with blackcurranty icing. My sister is having a sleepover as I type and apparently children these days require sugary treats at ridiculous hours of the night. We ran out of cupcake cases, so I hedged my bets with some petits fours cases - adorable, but labour intensive. What would have been 12 normal cakes turned into roughly 45 mini ones.

Icing them was not fun, let me tell you. Here is a 10-year-old brother's hand to illustrate the size:

Cute, but annoying.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Back from Turkey, sporting some ludicrous tan lines. The worst came from the fact that I was constantly wearing leggings (don't ask), so my legs are ridiculously pale and my feet are beautifully bronzed. How are your holidays coming along?

A while back I had mentioned that I hadn't baked a loaf of bread in all my seventeen years. This fact was unbearable to me so I decided to start making my own bread immediately.
Wanting to take things easy for the first couple of attempts, I decided on a no-knead recipe (the laptop is broken so I've lost the link but I'll try and track it down somehow). Suffice to say, I'm utterly hooked. There is now a permanent, on-going bowl of dough in the fridge just begging to be baked at any given moment. Basically, you chuck together a basic dough (something along the lines of 6 cups of flour, 3 cups of water, 3 tsps of yeast and 3tsps of salt, but don't hold me to it), leave it to rise, then stick it in the fridge for up to a week until you fancy bunging it in the oven. The bread itself is very airy and chewy, with a lovely dark crust. When it gets a bit stale after a few days - if it lasts that long - it makes brilliant toast.

Since there's no kneading involved, the dough is very wet and incredibly hard to handle. Eventually though, after much wrestling with a ball of gloop that loves adhering to your fingers, you will manage to get it onto the tray. I dust mine with flour or semolina usually, but always find that I have to chisel and prise the finished product off the metal. Therefore, I find baking parchment to be the best option.

One day I was feeling particularly energetic so decided to do a bit of kneading. Same formulation, very different dough. Much easier to handle, and of course the baked loaf was different in texture - softer and with less big air bubbles in it.

There were also some experiments with a brown loaf.

And, everyone's favourite, an olive and chilli bread. This particular loaf was gone by the time I woke up the next morning.

Bread machines: Just Say No!

Friday, 3 July 2009

See you in a week!

I feel bad about not posting recently.
My laptop broke and I've been using - or not, as it seems - the big communal desktop.
Then I realised that I was going on holiday today (had no idea!) so I obviously can't go ahead with a new one right now. But I promisepromisePROMISE I'll come back with something about homemade pasta (hint: never again).
Hope you all have amazing summery adventures.