Summer fruit

It’s that time of year again, the first of the summer fruit are ripening, and despite the weather my thoughts are turning to jam making. In between the showers I ran out to the garden to pick gooseberries. I love them,  maybe because they are one of the first fruits to ripen and you can’t eat them raw so you have to think about what to do with them. One of the first things I make is a simple sponge cake with gooseberries dropped on top of the raw cake mix with a sprinkling of dried rosemary, bake for 25 minutes then sandwiched together with crème frache and  top with some brown sugar, delicious!

The second thing I did this year was to  turn them into jam with some elderflowers. It’s a lovely recipe I found in a National Trust preserve cookbook. The elderflowers gives the jam a lovely pinky tinge and wonderful flavor.

1.35 kg green gooseberries

1.35 kg  preserving sugar

500ml water

6 to 8 elderflower heads

Add the water to the top and tailed gooseberries in a large pan or jam kettle. Simmer for 30 minutes or until very soft. Stir in the warmed sugar until completely dissolved, then bring to the boil. Tie the elderflowers in a muslin bag and add to the pan and boil until setting point is reached. Remove the muslin bag ad pour jam into warm jars. Makes about 6 jars

Raspberry crisp cake  is another early summer favourite, and is great for picnics. My daughter made it last weekend  for Fathers day.  I can’t remember where the recipe came from originally and  I’ve had to change it since I gave up eating wheat, but wheat or no wheat it still tastes good.

350g  self raising flour (for wheat free version, 175 g wheat free flour, 100 g ground almonds and 75 g polenta 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp zantham gum)

225 g butter

I medium egg

125g brown sugar

125 g  frozen or freash raspberries

grated rind of a lemon

icing sugar

  • Put the flour or wheat free substitutes and baking powder into a food processor with the butter and blitz, add the sugar  and lemon rind and blitz again.
  • Add the egg and blitz until the dough comes together.
  • At this stage you can chill the dough for 30 minutes, but if I’m in a hurry I just divide the dough and press half into a well greased      20 cm tin put  the raspberries on top, break up the remaining dough and crumble over the raspberries.
  • Bake at 180 or 160 Fan oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Cool in tin and cover with icing sugar.

Slice of cake


Puerco Pibil

A few months ago my son introduced me to Puerco pibil/Cochinita pibil, Mexican slow roasted pork. The dish plays a key role in the Johnny Depp film Once upon a time in Mexico. My son  had tried it out with some friends after finding the essential ingredient,  Annato seeds in his local market in Norwich. We scoured Leicester for the seeds but no joy, so we made do with smoked paprika. It was good, but I felt something was missing.

Then recently on a trip to Bristol we stumbled on a little shop selling Mexican chillies products and furniture, here I managed to pick up some of the seeds made into a paste which cuts out lots of hard work as the seeds are very hard and you need a spice or coffee mill to grind.

Over the Bank Holiday I cooked  it for some friends and it was brilliant. I followed the instructions in the video featuring the director of the film, Robert Rodriguez  (just to warn you this video is aimed at the young  and so the language is a bit colourful, but funny) I couldn’t find banana leaves so wrapped the pork in baking parchment and foil. I also cooked it at a lower temperature  as my oven is quite fierce. It sits happy waiting until you’re ready to eat.

This is the  Puerco Pibil Recipe I found on the internet mixed with instructions from the video and some changes of my own, but I don’t think it matters if you make it with substitutes as it still tastes good.  Remember don’t  make it too perfect you’ll see from  the video what happens to the chefs who do.

I served it with rice, new potatoes roasted in olive oil, green beans and courgette and carrot salad.

We finished  with a summer fruit pavlova.

My new shed

A while ago I read a blog by modflower` on shed envy. I’ve have been coveting  other people sheds for years, but had to make do with the children’s old play house until the end of last year when the felting blow off in a strong wind. The poor old thing limped on until this spring with some old compost bags used to patch the holes. Today with the help of my son and a lot of hammering we put it out of it’s  misery.

This is  my new olive stained shed. I plan to grow climbers over it to soften the edges.

After a week of sunshine all the flowers have blossomed and even in my small garden there it lots happening.

WEA Card Making Course

Last weekend I finished a 2 Saturday WEA card making course. We had great fun and learnt a number of new techniques including wax crayons with stamping  and kiss stamping. For the crayon technique we needed to melt the wax I my heating tool was so fierce I blow wax across the table and almost set fire to my card which ended up  in the bin.  We also learnt to make three new cards: the twisted easel, double twisted easel and pull-tab card. We all loved the easel card , but hated the tab card as it was so fiddly.

Here are some of the cards made by the class:

This is the twisted easel card using the melted wax crayon technique.

Flower pull tab card

Dovecate twisted easel card

Jubilee double twisted easel card

Angela Cutting card making tutor with a selection of cards.

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