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.

Advertisements

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.

 

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

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

 

 

The whey to make your own cheese

I have always wanted to have a go at making my own cheese but have always been put off by my assumption of the need for complex ingredients and equipment. Then I found this recipe for Labneh a simple cheese that can in made in 24 to 48 hours.  http://www.self-sufficient.co.uk/Making-Labneh.htm. This inspired me to look for more easy cheese recipes.

I bought some whole milk, 500g of Greek yogurt, a pack of clean dishcloths to use as cheese cloths and some more honey.

Straining Yogurt

Straining Yogurt (Photo credit: eekim)

Making the Labneh was very simple. I mixed salt into the yogurt. I placed one of my clothes inside my colander covering the holes and then poured my salt yogurt mix into this. I brought the edges together ensuring none of the mix escaped and sealed it at the top with a food clip (the recipe suggested elastic or string but I used the first thing that came to hand). Then I left this mix to drip over a bowl for the next 24 hours.

Next, feeling a bit braver, I moved on to making my own curds and whey. I used the recipe from wiki how: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Cheese-at-Home to attempt this. I boiled two cups of milk. Then I turned the hob off and mixed in 4 teaspoons of vinegar leaving the pan on the hob. I left the pan for about seven minutes then strained the mixture through my substitute cheesecloth lined colander. I doubled up my cloths for the next bit just in case. I squeezed water (this is the whey) out of my curds and then skipped the option to add salt before hanging this next to my Labneh to drip. Next time I make this I will probably try adding herbs at the salt stage but this time I wanted to try the basic cheese before I began to experiment with the flavour.

3 hours later- checking on my curds and whey I found my small parcel solid enough to place in the fridge. My Labneh mix was still very soft I placed this in the fridge too. I tied both to the shelf above allowing them to continue to drip. I now had two cheese mixes which needed to be left a minimum of twenty four hours to mature.

24 hours later I decided to test the cheese.

The Labneh was still very soft but had formed into a delicious creamy cheese. I tested this on toast and would definitely make it again. It was so easy that I would try this recipe again with my three year old nephew who loves helping in the kitchen.

The Curds had hardened into a solid ball and on tasting had very little flavour reminding me and my friend of mozzarella. There was also a slightly vinegary taste around the edges. This may have been due to my adding slightly more vinegar than suggested to help the curds separate from the whey. If I made this again I would buy un-homogenised milk instead of the normal whole milk.  I would also add some basic herbs to change the taste or use it on pizza instead of eating the cheese cold.

The results- This was fantastic fun and I would try it again. When I have another go I would like to try making cheese using goat’s milk instead of cows. I would also like to test the fridge life of the cheese but this would involve leaving it long enough to go off (a difficult challenge in my house).

Once again thanks for reading. I hope this has been in some way helpful and don’t forget to share your own experience.

Best wishes

Rachael

 

P.S. Here are some picture of my cheese although forgot to take photo’s until after it had already been tasted so the recipes make more than seen.

 

Homemade Labneh (soft cheese) in blue cloth

Homemade Labneh (soft cheese) in blue cloth

Homemade hard cheese from curds and whey mix

Homemade hard cheese from curds and whey mix

Basic Pasta Variations

English: A plate of cellentani (also referred ...

English: A plate of cellentani (also referred to as cavatappi) pasta with pesto and tomatoes as prepared by the photographer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello and thanks for following my blog. Today I build on my earlier post and provide some ideas for variations to the basic pasta recipe. You can find the post here: https://frogandcount.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/basic-pasta/

If you take the basic recipe you can, in theory, add anything you want to change it to your taste. I usually stick to herbs and vegetables as it is easier to mix in and it has less effect on the cooking time than meat or dairy.

Choose what you would like to add and mix it (with a blender where possible) into the egg before adding to the flour.

Remember that if you add a more liquid substance then you will need to add less liquid later to make the dough stiff. It’s a case of experimenting and adding more flour or water until you get the ideal consistency.

Here are a few suggestions of things to add to your mix but don’t forget you can add your own.

Why not try:

Dandelion leaves

Spinach

Grated carrot

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054)

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

½-1 tin of tomatoes (will need to blend this with egg to get a smooth paste)

Pesto (I prefer red, you can use shop bought or homemade)

Mixed herbs

 

Or for a less savoury alternative:

Grated orange zest

Cocoa powder

One sweet pasta recipe I would like to try next time I have friends for dinner is Bittersweet chocolate ravioli:  http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/36/Bittersweet_Chocolate_Ravioli44066.shtml

This shows that you can do whatever you like once you have mastered the basic recipe. Sweet or savoury budget and imagination are the only limits.

Good luck and please share your own unique pasta recipe alternatives.

Best wishes

Rachael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic Pasta

This week I decided to concentrate on back to basics. I have had a request for how I make pasta so will be covering that today. Fresh pasta is easy to make without too much hassle, tasty and inexpensive with plenty of variations available. I tend to make mine in batches freezing the spare before cooking to eat at a later date.

The basic ingredients for pasta are: flour ( I use basic plain although you can get wholemeal, gluten-free and other types if you want to adapt the recipe to your taste), eggs, salt( a very tiny amount) and water (some people use oil) which helps bind the dough together and stop it from becoming too stiff.

How I make pasta:

I take two pre beaten eggs, a pinch of salt and 3 ½ to 4 cups of plain flour and place it in a large mixing bowl.

Then I use a silicon spatula to mix it first but it is fine to use a metal spoon or clean hands.

Once the egg and flour is mixed begin to knead together by folding and pressing the mix until it becomes a stiff, thick but not too sticky consistency.

If the mix is too sticky add a tiny bit more flour or if the recipe is too floury use a bit of the water. Make sure all the dough is well mixed together.

After this I usually cover my bowl and leave the dough to rest for a minimum of half an hour.  If you’re planning on saving some for later then let it rest in the fridge.

Divide the dough into sections and roll out to the desired thickness on a floured surface (pasta swells when it cooks and thinner pasta cooks faster). I find it easier to only roll in one direction and then flip the dough as it prevents it sticking and ensures a more even thickness.

Cut into the required shape either by hand or use a pasta machine. I cut mine by hand and find that squares are the easiest shape to get even size pieces and it is far less fiddly than trying to cut straight lines.

Very lightly flour the pre-cut pasta you want to save and place in a box/ bag into freezer.

The other pasta is ready to cook now. Boil some water and cook for 3-5 minute’s. it will float when done. Serve immediately with the sauce of your choice and enjoy.

Finally stick your feet up and let someone else do the washing up.

Dough

Dough (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other ideas

This is a recipe from one of my favourite sites that suggests measurements for serving eight: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2984/fresh-pasta.aspx

For those of you wanting to try something a bit more extravagant that still won’t break the bank why not try making potato pasta (gnocchi). I found an easy step by step recipe which I intend to test myself here: http://www.delallo.com/articles/making-homemade-gnocchi-step-step-guide

I haven’t tried making vegan pasta yet, but someone who has is Vegan Dad. Why not check out some of his recipes at: http://vegandad.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/easy-fresh-vegan-pasta.html

If you want gluten free alternatives to your favourite recipe there are some fantastic suggestions available here: http://www.delallo.com/blog/recipes/transform-your-favorite-recipes-gluten-free-recipes