Monday, 25 April 2016

Black cherry jam

I didn't realise, until a friend pointed it out to me, how difficult it is to get black cherry jam nowadays.  She loves it and can't seem to get it (reasonably priced) anywhere.  I said I'd look out so, when I remembered that Sainsbury's does bags of frozen black cherries, I knew what to do!

I had two bags of the cherries which I defrosted and simmered in a little water.  I asked my friend if she wanted whole cherries or cut up cherries and, in the end, mashed them a bit with a potato masher which worked great.

Then I measured what I had and added sugar in the proportion pint to pound - in other words for every pint of fruit I added 1 lb sugar.

Now, cherries are pretty low in pectin so I used jam sugar and also added a good squirt of bottled lemon juice.

I added the sugar and lemon juice to the cherry mix, gave it a good stir and left it, covered, overnight.  I've discovered that when I do that, less boiling is needed and setting point comes very quickly.

So the next day, when the sugar had all dissolved, I boiled it up, checked for set (got it first time) and bottled it.   Today I will be off for coffee with my friend, with several jars of jam and a jar of marmalade.  I love bearing gifts!

As for cost, well, no, not cheap, certainly not frugal!  The cherries were £4 (although they are sometimes on special offer) and the jam sugar is more expensive than the ordinary sugar at £2.00.  But, when you can't normally find that jam, it is worth it and it's not more expensive than comparative quality bought jam (I checked My Supermarket).

And making jam is a very satisfying experience!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Top tip: scum


A little tip for home jammers.

That 'scum' that you are told to scrape off - I do sometimes, it depends how much and whether it will spoil the look of the jam. Well, there's nothing wrong with it and it is packed with fruity flavour. Keep it and mix it into yogurt for a most delicious breakfast or dessert.

I've just had the scum from some black cherry jam with my breakfast yogurt and - wow, delicious!
No waste either!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Stewed rhubarb and strawberries

This is so simple I hesitate to post it but, I thought, my blog, why not?

Thank you, Google images!
We've started pulling rhubarb from the allotment and I had some strawberries that I bought on impulse but which were a little hard and not that juicy.  Berries like that do improve with cooking and strawberries and rhubarb is a flavour combination that the angels sing over so . . .

Wipe the rhubarb and cut into inch chunks.
Pop them in a pan with a little water and some sugar.  I err on the side of caution because you can always add more later.
Gently stew the rhubarb until it is almost soft.
While that's going on, hull the strawberries and cut them in half (or quarters if they are large.
Add them to the nearly soft rhubarb and simmer for a short time more.

That's it.  You can add flavourings like ginger and I have an idea that a dash of balsamic vinegar might go rather well but I love it straight.

You can have it with custard, cream or yogurt.  You can make a pie or a crumble.  It would be wonderful on pancakes or waffles.
You could add it to vodka or gin to make a fruit liqueur.
Or swirl it into ice cream.

I usually mix it with my home made natural yogurt and it's wonderful!

Here's a link to my own original strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam which is just wonderful!

Sunday, 17 April 2016


I've had back to back visitors for a few week so haven't been recipating very much (is that a real word - no, probably not!)

I Will Be Back!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

No knead crusty bread.

The actual recipe is here.

Just scroll down until you get to the recipe.
I changed nothing so won't reproduce ingredients, etc, just share some photos.

I didn't take a photo of the original mix but it was not a pretty sight, not confidence inspiring in the least little bit.  Imagine the four ingredients, roughly stirred together.

 Half way through the long rise.  Still not looking wonderful
Shaped into a boule.

And after baking . . .
. . . there you go - a rather attractively rustic looking loaf.
 And inside?

And it is pretty frugal too.

I'm going to try a half wholemeal, half granary loaf next.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Top tip: drying pasta

Making your own pasta?

You can buy a lovely wooden drying stand for a tenner or a lot more.  They're gorgeous but take up room.

or . . .

You can do what I've just done!   :-)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Frugal: Tomato soup

I've just made this for lunch.  I would estimate that it costs around about 40p to make, so it's pretty frugal.
It makes enough for two and it's nice so, although I have posted something similar in the past, here's what I did.

a dab of butter
half a smallish onion, peeled and chopped
half a small carrot, peeled and chopped
a 3" piece of celery rib, chopped
(these three were just what was left over from another recipe, hence the vague amounts)
a squidge of garlic puree
1 tsp marigold stock powder
a can of chopped tomatoes
a pinch smoked paprika
a pinch mixed, dried herbs
some pepper
two halves of sun dried tomatoes in oil (the secret ingredient)
a pinch of sugar

Conventional way
Saute the vegetables in a bit of butter until softening.  Add the garlic puree and mix well.  Cook for another minute.
Add the stock, the chopped tomatoes, swill the can out with some water (about a third of the can) and add that too.  Add the paprika, dried herbs, pepper, sun dried tomatoes and a pinch of sugar.
stir well, cover and simmer until everything is soft.
Blend the soup well, check seasonings and adjust.  I didn't add salt because the stock already has salt in it.

Thermomix way:
Saute the veg and the butter for six minutes on 100, speed 2
Add the garlic puree and give it another minute on the same setting.
Add the stock, the chopped tomatoes, swill the can out with some water (about a third of the can) and add that too.  Add the paprika, dried herbs, pepper, sundried tomatoes and a pinch of sugar.
Cook on 100, speed 2 for 20 mins.
Allow to cool just a bit.
Blend at speed 10 for 1 minute.  Check seasonings and adjust.

I then pushed it through a sieve to get rid of the last little bits of tomato pips but you don't have to.

I will have some for lunch with maybe a little dollop of yogurt or some soft cheese stirred in.

Photo to follow if I remember to take one.