Old-Fashioned Pleasures

I’ve been re-reading some of my favourite books recently – the Anne of Green Gables series. It has been so lovely to laze around in the heat with a good book, dreaming about pretty Prince Edward Island, muslin dresses and of course “kindred spirits”. Inspired by this faux nostalgia (I’m happy I live in the modern day really – as idyllic as parts of Anne’s life are, I’m rather fond of things like modern medicine and feminism) I’ve been trying to live a bit more like Anne. Appreciating the all the good in the world, using my skills, and being proactive all seem like good aims when it comes to improving my outlook on life.

So, I’ve been encouraging myself to get out and look after the garden, create beautiful crafts and most of all appreciate what I’ve got and try not to waste it.

With that in mind, I looked at the over-ripe fruit that was languishing on the island unit and tried to come up with a way of using it so it wouldn’t go to waste. I thought about Marilla’s famous plum preserves, and inspiration struck!

I stewed the fruit with a little ground ginger, mixed spice, sugar, and a splash of green ginger wine (given to me by my lovely friend Abi), then paired it with a baked rice pudding. Rice pudding is one of my favourites, and so easy to make!

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Baked Rice Pudding

100g pudding rice (any short grain rice should work if it isn’t available)

100g caster sugar

1 litre whole milk (I always use Jersey milk – this is a treat!! If you can’t find it, just dot 1-2 tbsp butter around the dish instead)

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F.  Put all the ingredients into an oven-proof dish that is big enough to hold all the milk and give a gentle stir to distribute everything evenly. If the dish is very full, put it on top of a baking tray in case it bubbles over.  Bake for 2-3 hours until the rice is cooked through, the milk has been absorbed, and the top is golden and bubbly. If it browns too quickly, simply cover with some foil until the rice is cooked.

 

This is definitely something I’ll make again in the autumn, if we have any fruit left – the garden drama this week was the sudden and confusing disappearance of all of our pears! I’m quite sad about it, the pears are my favourite fruit from the garden.

 

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Traveling on my stomach

You may have noticed I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately. That is because, aside from getting a new job (yay!), I was on holiday to Canada for two weeks. I went to university in Vancouver, at UBC, so I took a trip back over to see friends and generally get away from it all. I also ate a lot. Like, seriously, a lot.

Top of the list was brunch, so on the first Saturday after I arrived we headed to Jethro’s, a favourite of ours, for an enormous and delicious meal.

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Later in the week, I also had a donut for the first time in years – it was delicious!

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Lucky’s glazed donut

we also had plenty of drinks, including bellinis, bellinis, and more bellinis!

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I’m  a firm believer that more drinks should come with gummy worms

I’m not really one to sit in a restaurant and take photos of my food though, so instead I collect business cards. Here are some I picked up in Vancouver:

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not to mention Vancouver favourites like Japadog, Granville Island public market, independent cafes, and lots of sushi! I’m a little sad I didn’t make it to Memphis Blues though!

I also took a side trip to Portland with my friend Linda for a couple of days. We couch-surfed with a lovely couple who lived in the cutest building ever:

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Once again, much food and drink was had! Here is a selection of the things we had and the places we had it:

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So, so much food. I also seem to have broken a dam, donut-wise, as I had another one and a half from Blue Star donuts in Portland.

I had such a great time, it was so good to see my friends again, and I think I put on about half a stone in those two weeks. It was worth it though!

My first Commission!

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I completed my first cake commission today! My Mum’s friend asked me to make a cake for her birthday party, and here it is. I got the decoration idea from the Great British Bake Off book I have. Mum’s friend asked for a cake with fruit, so I thought this would be perfect, particularly as I am useless when it comes to decorating with icing. Coincidentally, it also looks like a Danish flag, and the birthday girl is Danish! It is a white chocolate cake, filled with white chocolate mousse and raspberry purée.

Keeping my fingers firmly crossed for now, as I have to take it in the car to the party venue. Praying it doesn’t get dropped or smashed!

Catch-up Post

Hi everyone! I haven’t been active for a while, but I’m still here. It’s been a tough few months for my family, and very busy, so I haven’t had much time or energy to blog. Time is moving on though, and we need to get back to living, as we are now.

In better news, I have also been busy with a new addition: meet my puppy, Digger!

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I have been baking, though less so after Christmas as I was working through all my chocolatey presents! Here are a couple of things I have made since I last posted.

I’ve also been doing some crafting, so hopefully I should have some “makes” posts on the way!

Turning, Turning

The swallows are gathering, the robins are singing, the first winter depression is rushing in from the North Atlantic. All signs point to Autumn!

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We already have mists and mellow fruitfulness, and a bumper harvest of many of our fruit and vegetables.

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I have gluts like this to deal with at the moment, so over the next few weeks I’ll let you know how I get on, and post some recipes to make the best of the new produce.

Learning to Preserve 3.5: Apple and Blackcurrant Jelly

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The day after my apple jelly adventure, we harvested our blackcurrants. Naturally, after my success the day before, I decided to make apple and blackcurrant jelly!

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The pulp was a lot looser this time, and so it took a much shorter time to strain.  I also managed to get the jelly to the setting point more quickly, and to get the jelly in the jars before it set!

Learning to preserve 1: Apple and Tomato Chutney

I’m back from my holiday to miserable weather and masses of fresh fruit and veg from the garden and I’m suddenly getting the urge to squirrel away food for winter! My Mum has always made preserves and pickles, and I thought it was about time I learned how to do it too. I have some big plans, but as I’d never done it before I have a bit of a learning curve so I thought I’d start with something relatively simple.

We have five apple trees in our garden, all of which have had massive crops this year, so apples were the obvious starting point. I decided to make some chutney, using a recipe from a Reader’s Digest book we have which must be older than myself.

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So, apple and tomato chutney it was!

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The verdict: full disclosure, I don’t actually like chutney, but when I tried it, it tasted mostly like ketchup. We’ll see how it tastes in a couple of weeks though. As for the actual process, I got a bit fed up and bottled it when it was still a bit runny but I don’t suppose that matters. Unfortunately, I don’t think I did the jarring quite right as only one of the jars seems to have sealed properly. We’re sending that one to my Grandma and putting the other ones in the fridge.

For a first attempt, I think it was alright. Hopefully I can perfect my jarring technique and get proper seals next time! I’ll update on the taste when it has matured a little!