My Spring cleaning adventure Part 2.

My Spring cleaning adventure Part 2.

Yesterday I tackled the bedroom with some help. Today I hope to continue cleaning working my way through the rest of the house. Hoping not to miss anything important I am using the help of About Home who provide a handy list of jobs with hints and tips to make sure nothing is forgot.

I tidied the living room again hoovering and removing cat hair from the carpet.

Next I wanted an air freshener to help get rid of the smell of cat. I wanted something long lasting but inexpensive. I also didn’t want anything with lots of chemicals as I am asthmatic and even if I wasn’t natural is better and often cheaper. I googled how to make my own and found an easy to follow recipe on blog 25. all you need is a container you can put holes in, baking soda and an essential oil of your choice.

First I prepared my container, blog 25 uses a mason jar which is very handy but, I had to make do with the contents of my kitchen.

I used an old (washed out) coffee jar with plastic lid. I tried to pierce the lid but I couldn’t manage this with the tools I had at hand. Instead I used an old bobble to secure a bit of fabric with pin holes over the opening. Before putting the fabric over the opening I filled a fith of my jar with baking soda. To this I added 10 drops of vanilla oil to ensure a strong scent. I then put the plastic lid on the jar and shook the contents to mix it together. After this I put the fabric lid over the jar secured with a bobble and found a home for my new air freshener on the windowsill.

(pics to follow)

After this I continued tidying hoovering the sofa cushions and putting away dry washing. My new goal is to ensure washing is put away straight away instead of leaving it on the sofa for days.

Tomorrow I am back at work so the rest of the deep clean is on hold till I have time to continue.

For now I would love to hear how your spring cleaning adventures are going?

Webistes

http://housekeeping.about.com/cs/cleaning101/a/springclnngguid.htm – about home website with spring cleaning list

http://blog.freepeople.com/2012/08/diy-2ingredient-air-freshener/ – blog 25 air feshener recipe.

Save the Bank Gift Idea

Free word art for every occasion

Mothers day has just been and the next occasion I have coming up is my siblings birthdays in april. Sometimes the need to spend money on gifts and going out to celebrate occasions can feel never ending especially when your on a tight budget. So instead of breaking the bank I am going to create home-made presents for the next few occasions. Hopefully more if I have any success. I want to create something unique without having to spend hours working on it. Im all for gifts from the heart which you have spent time and effort making however with three separate birthdays in the next two weeks and very little time to make anything due to working twelve hour shifts I need something simple.

Looking at gift ideas on Facebook swap sites and google I found this website where you can buy personalised word art for any occasion :https://www.facebook.com/Wordartforyou

I really liked the concept but didn’t want to spend £13 buying something I could probably make myself. So I googled it.

The first helpful website I found belonged to another blogger Maggie.  http://blog.thelovenerds.com/2013/09/free-shaped-word-art.html Her website provided instructions on how to make your own word art using a free online engine called Tagxedo. http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html

I decided to give it a go. First I headed over to the website.

5

Then I clicked on create. Next I had to install silverlight as I am now working on a new (second-hand) laptop.

This took me to the creation engine

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Next you need to click load. On the left hand side.Then you can either type in the words you want to use, upload a file from your desktop (perhaps of your favourite poetry) or choose a web address.

3

For my first trial I chose to use a web address. In fact I chose the address for my blog.

Then I hit submit and waited.

Once you have chosen your text you can change the shape.

2

I decided to try a dinosaur as they are awesome.

din 1

If you then want to change the colour of your creation use the theme arrow down the left hand side.

If you want to change which words are which colour then clock thee circular arrow next to colour.

If you want to change your text font then you can either select the circular arrow next to font for a random selection or use the arrow to pick a specific option.

The software is nice and easy and best of all free to use. Have a play around until you find something you are happy with.

“Orientation” : allows you to choose the direction that you would like your words to face.

“Layout” shifts the words around

When your done click on the save/share button to either print or save the image to your computer.

Good luck                                            dino blog

Kindness its not just for Christmas

Quick Christmas appeal

Christmas is amazing I love Christmas. I love trying to guess what presents I’ve got and if my partner will like what I’ve got him. I love cooking and baking in the run up to the big day. I always try to save some money in the run up to Christmas so I can get something nice for Christmas day and New Year’s Eve.

In all seriousness though Christmas is a time for family, forgiveness and thoughtfulness it’s not just about the presents. Whilst many people are getting ready for Christmas day, worrying if they have bought the perfect gift for their children and if the everything will run smoothly or if there will be another argument over what to watch on tv, others just see it as another day on which they have to somehow make ends meet and survive.

Giving and receiving presents is lovely but there is no need to panic if your gift costs less than their gift. That is not what Christmas is about it’s about appreciating what you have and trying to share a little of what you have with others who have less.

This year I am supporting a Christmas charity organisation called the big give (link at bottom) who raise funds and co-ordinate their appeals to help you help the charity of your choice. You can choose from location and cause to decide where you want to spend your money.

I am also trying to make Christmas go further by trying to raise awareness of the need to help others and be kind not just at Christmas but all year round. This doesn’t have to be a financial commitment it can involve donating old items to charity or donating time or even just letting someone else get on the bus before you or holding a door when you didn’t have to.

I am collecting the stamps I receive on Christmas cards and giving them to charity. It’s a small gesture that doesn’t inconvenience me in any way and can help someone else.

Don’t just be kind for Christmas be kind wherever there is opportunity. The benefits include making another persons day and being aware that you have helped someone when you could have not.

I hope you all have a lovely christmas full of love and appreciation.

WARNING: over kindness can lead to a sense of fulfilment and the need to help strangers.

Links

http://www.thebiggive.org.uk/ -charity donations to location and cause of your choice

Fungus Foraging or A day outside in the fresh if damp air.

English: fungus

English: fungus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fungus Foraging or A day outside in the fresh if damp air.

Last week I got invited to attend a fungus foraging course at my local woods. I was very excited by the prospect and after a bit of organising managed to get a lift to the start point.

It was a wet day but the tree’s afforded plenty of shelter from the rain. I was surprised and delighted by the turn out. There must have been 40 of us who had dug out wellies and braved the weather to explore the outdoors.  Other than me there were plenty of families many with children. It was fantastic to see how excited the kids were at the concept of searching for and identifying something so basic and often overlooked.

We searched for about an hour covering only a small area. Then retreated to the car park to display our finds on a trestle table and ask the expert questions about our finds.

Personally I was surprised by the vast variety of fungi we found in such a small part of the woods.

I had a very enjoyable day and would go to other events at the forest in future.

foraging and recipes 025 foraging and recipes 030 foraging and recipes 033 foraging and recipes 040 foraging and recipes 039 foraging and recipes 041

Jelly bean mushroom

jelly bean mushroom jelly bean mushroom

Jelly bean mushroom

foraging and recipes 052 foraging and recipes 053 foraging and recipes 054 foraging and recipes 055

Friday Foraging Fun (well almost)

Today we went foraging. It was a delightful sunny day and we had finished our chores so we decided to take advantage of the weather and head outdoors. We wanted to go foraging as September is a prime time for free foods. The main aim was to collect as many dandelions as possible to make a batch of dandelion liquor that would be ready for Christmas.Yarn anf foraging 005

As the weather was so nice it was just lovely to be outside and we weren’t expecting to find much.

We were pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed a good few hours in the open air and returned with dandelions (heads and leaves), clovers (the flowers are amazing and very sweet), crab apples, blackcurrants and mushrooms (which we decided to compost instead of eating to be on the safe side).Yarn anf foraging 007

Yarn anf foraging 010

Overall it was an invigorating experience that made us feel like children hunting for hidden treasure.Yarn anf foraging 008

This afternoon was spent making the base for the dandelion liquor with honey and lemon juice. As well as cleaning our prizes ready for use tomorrow.

We have found a few recipes for crab apple jelly and lemon aid that we want to test although this may involve a second trip at some point to collect more fruit now we know where it can be found. The site I will be using for my base recipes is :http://www.sallywise.com.au/blog/crabapples-the-not-so-humble-fruit/

I still have some leftover apples that I picked whilst at home and the blackcurrants picked today which will be cooked into either a preserve or a desert.

If you have any suggestions for things to do with foraged ingredients or want to share your own experiences please leave a comment.

 

I hope you are enjoying a pleasant September and reaping the benefits of what is available locally.

I hope you will come back again.

Dandelions revisited

In june I made a batch of dandelion liquer which I then proceeded to forget about and left to ferment. on getting back to uni we all decided to try it. it was a delicious very fruity liquer with a slight after taste for the alchohol.  I have been implored by my test subjects to make this again and will probably be giving away strained versions of the drink as gifts next year, a few of myfriends have suggested it had a mellow taste similiar to a sweet mead. however i have not tried mead so can’t compare the two.

I got the initial recipe from http://vallenuova.blogspot.it/2012/05/foraging-dandelion-liqueur.html

however the idea came from http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/things-to-do-with-dandelions.html

the initial recipe You need:
100 dandelion flowers (collected when fully in bloom)
A syrup made with 250 g of water and 300 gr of sugar
2 whole lemons cut in pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
750 g of water
750 g of 95º alcohol
(you can use Vodka and reduce the amount of water accordingly)

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some g...

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some grass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make a syrup with 250 g of water and 300 g of sugar and let cool.

In a glass jar that you can close tightly put the flowers, lemons, lemon juice and syrup.
Close, store in a warm place and let rest for 1 week.
Add the 750g water and the alcohol and leave for about 3 months.
Filter and enjoy!

 

the adjustments i made was using honey instead of sugar and vodka instead of alcohol. only a tiny amount of vodka is needed however less than a teaspoon. the only other significant thing to note as i found with one of my earlier batches once open the mixture if not drunk within 3 or 4 days starts to go off. it would definitely be best to make this in smaller portions to avoid waste or invite friends round to help test each batch.

 

Kombucha continued

English: Mature Kombucha

English: Mature Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Hey again,

Last post I outlined the basics of Kombucha.  This time I am going to investigate  how to flavour the finished product.

 

 

Here is a video outlining the basics of how to start your own culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58FzJdliRE&feature=share&list=PLWzMfwDxBs_m9uVcO74d6KeRm8-eN6sGz

Once you have made your own Kombucha and got the hang of making plain batches you might want to have a go at flavouring.

Flavouring is done after the first fermentation. Once you have a batch of plain Kombucha you are happy with you can decant some of it into a separate Glass container (don’t forget to set aside some of your kombucha mix to start your next plain batch)  and then begin to experiment by adding the flavours of your choice. Bear in mind that Kombucha is a living substance so do not use chemicals to flavour it. Instead why not try adding fruit or fruit juice.

Once you have added the ingredients you are using to flavour the Kombucha then you have to re-cover it (still allowing it to breath) and leave it to re-ferment in a warmish (room temperature) place out of direct sunlight. After 5 to 14 days it will be ready to drink depending on your personal taste. Don’t forget to leave a comment on your own mixtures as it is always nice to find new flavours.

There is a fantastic video available on how to flavour Kombucha available here:

Homemade gift kombucha starter

This is my first full day back in sunny Yorkshire since Easter.  I spent the day unproductively enjoying the sunshine that has been reluctant in its appearance. This post is dedicated to my sister whose birthday is next week. She has just moved flat and I wanted to get her something nice but personal. For this reason I decided to make a gift this year rather than buying one. She is very supportive and often offers me both ideas and encouragement for my blog. After careful consideration I decided to gift her with a kombucha starter kit.

I researched what kombucha is in an earlier post along with instructions for starting your own.

http://wp.me/p3vj8Z-8Y

Kombucha

Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is what I learnt about basic Kombucha care:

Kombucha type of drink made using a micro-culture which is sometimes refered to as a mushroom or scoby. The mushroom is used to fement a mixture of black tea and sugar in order to produce a cold tea that can (depending on care) taste like anything between vinegar and champagne (although its usual taste is similar to cider).

You have to keep your kombucha mix in a glass jar out of direct sunlight. The lid should be removed in order to let air in but covered (I find kitchen roll and a rubber band work well) in order to stop dust and flies.

The scoby should not be allowed to come into contact with metal as this will kill it.

There are two ways to make kombucha either a batch at a time or in a running (continuous batch). For the batch at a time method you transfer some of the last batch of ready kombucha and the scoby to a clean glass jar and then add the cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the continuous batch every time you take out some of the liquid from the kombucha mix you replace it with more cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the second method it has been suggested that you add slightly more sugar than in the initial batch as the pre-existing mix as well as the new tea feeds off the sugar.

Plain kombucha takes 10 to 14 days from adding the sugar black tea mix before it is ready to drink.

The ready kombucha can be flavoured by decanting into another glass jar, without the scoby and the kombucha needed to start the next batch (or continue brewing), adding your flavouring of choice and leaving it a few days to take on the flavour.

I hope this explains the basics for those of you who are interested. I hope to do a post in the future about the different recipes which include kombucha.

Best wishes

Rachael

Emergency flour free dessert – Rissoto cake

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I was invited to have dinner by a friend from my chapel who lives a few villages over. Me and another friend had agreed to walk down and visit before the end of the academic year. I volunteered to bring the dessert if she brought the wine. Being me I didn’t want to bring a shop bought cake so decided to make my own. However my attempt at making a pineapple sponge ended very badly. Although I followed the recipe, I forgot baking powder gets stronger with age and added an extra pinch, the cake tasted very bitter.

At this point I had finished the last of my flour but still needed to make something for the promised dessert as I would be walking across the next day.

I Googled flour free desserts and found this recipe at :

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2762/italian-rice-cake-with-red-fruit.aspx

It was a recipe for cake made from risotto rice, milk and lemon peel. It came with the suggestion to serve it with a red fruit salad. I didn’t dust the top with icing sugar as suggested but the cake was well received.

Ingredients

Serves : 8 

  • 600 ml (1 pint) semi-skimmed milk
  • a strip of lemon zest
  • 150 g (5½ oz) risotto rice
  • 100 g (3½ oz) pine nuts
  • 100 g (3½ oz) blanched almonds
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • sifted icing sugar to decorate
  • Red fruit salad
  • 300 g (10½ oz) strawberries     I used strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
  • 125 g (4½ oz) raspberries
  • 200 g (7 oz) cherries, stoned

Directions

Prep:1hr15min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Ready in:1hr55min

  1. Heat the milk with the strip of lemon zest in a heavy-based saucepan until boiling. Stir in the rice, then turn down the heat so the milk barely simmers. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 40 minutes or until the rice is very soft and the mixture is thick and creamy.
  2. Spoon the rice mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Grease a 21 cm (8 1/2 in) springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Spread the pine nuts and almonds in separate baking tins and toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Roughly chop the almonds.
  4. Remove the strip of lemon zest from the rice. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Beat in the caster sugar, grated lemon zest and rum, then add the nuts.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the rice mixture using a large metal spoon. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then wrap (still in the tin) and chill overnight. (It can be kept in the fridge for 48 hours, if necessary.)
  7. To make the red fruit salad, purée 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of the strawberries in a food processor or blender. or by pushing them through a sieve. Halve the remaining strawberries and stir into the purée together with the raspberries and cherries. Spoon into a serving bowl.
  8. Unmould the cake onto a serving plate and peel off the lining paper. Dust the cake with icing sugar, and serve with the fruit salad.

Another idea

To make a chocolate rice cake, cook the rice with the strip of lemon zest as in the main recipe, then remove from the heat and discard the lemon zest. While the rice mixture is still hot, stir in 55 g (2 oz) grated good dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa solids) until melted, then leave to cool. Instead of the grated lemon zest, add 2 tbsp cold strong espresso coffee with the rum.

Plus points

Pine nuts have been eaten for hundreds of years – husks have been found in the rubbish tips from Roman camps in Britain. Pine nuts contain useful amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamin E. * Cherries are rich in potassium, and provide useful amounts of vitamin C.

Total Time

1¼ hours, plus chilling overnight

Some other flour free dessert recipes

http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/45991/ – recipe for flourless chocolate walnut cookies

http://www.chefeddy.com/2010/08/flour-free-chocolate-cake/  – recipe for flour free chocolate layer cake

How to make banana cake

Today we decided to have a go at making banana cake. It is one of those deliciously moreish things that never seem to last in our house. It’s really simple and a fantastic use for those bananas that are a bit too ripe.

Here is the original recipe we were supposed to follow courtesy of test subject A’s mum.

Banana Loaf

2 ripe bananas

2oz marge

5oz sugar (I use a bit less and add extra banana)

2eggs

8oz self raising flour (sometimes I use 4oz white SRF and 4oz wholemeal SRF

Pinch of salt (I don’t bother)

1.   Mash bananas

2. Cream marge and sugar

3. Beat in eggs

4. Add flour salt and banana

5. Add any extras like choc chips/chunks cardomon seeds etc.

Line baking tin with baking paper or if you haven’t any, grease the tin well.

Bake at gas 5 , 190°c ( the recipe I have says 1hour but its never taken that long when I’ve made it. Try about 20 minutes then check.

 

Here’s what we did:

Warning we may have messed up slightly although it was still tasty. For this reason we suggest you follow the above recipe. And read directions before beginning (unlike us).

1)      We took 3 overripe bananas and mushed them using a fork in a glass bowl.

2)      Next we added the sugar and butter (soya pure) into the same bowl (this is where we went wrong).

3)      We mixed these together to get a smooth mixture.

4)      We beat the eggs in a separate cup. Then added them to the bowl.

5)      We added the flour, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of chilli and mixed well.

6)      We poured the mix into a silicon cake tray (hoping it would all fit).

7)      We turned on the oven to 190 degrees ( forgot to do this earlier)

8)      We waited for the oven to heat up. And used this time to wash up our stuff and put away the ingredients.

9)      The mix went in the oven. And we waited again.

10)   After 20 minutes we checked the cake but it was still very gooey.

11)   We kept checking on it at regular intervals until cooked. (tested by sticking a normal knife into the cake and waiting for it to come out clean)

12)   Once it had cooled it was well received.

Overripe banana's

mush banana's with a fork mush banana’s with a fork

Overripe banana’s
mix in sugar and butter

mix in sugar and butter

a nice smooth mixture

a nice smooth mixture

break two eggs into a cup

break two eggs into a cup

fun 15.5.2013 025

pour into bowl

pour into bowl

banana cake banana cake

Mix in eggs

Mix in eggs

pour mix into baking tray

pour mix into baking tray

put baking tray in oven

put baking tray in oven