Je suis Bouche Bée ( Gob smacked to you and me)

Über Eats, Deliveroo, Grub Hub, Feast, to name but a few!

Given where I live, in a London Mansion block, a stones throw from a myriad of fast food outlets, one could be forgiven in thinking that there is not a call for any of the above to deliver just 1 minute down the road. How wrong can I be. The other day, a leather clad, helmet wearing individual, sauntered down the street carrying a very small paper bag from Pret a Manger. In it was a sandwich and a drink! Seriously? This was followed the following day by a similar man with a KFC bag! I have to say that I am speechless. And according to our porter, there are some people here, who have deliveries 3 or four times  a day, Breakfast, Elevenses, Lunch and Dinner. ( Joe the juice, Starbucks, KFC, Chicken, Nandos, Eat, Pret, Costa,  the list goes on)

So, moving swiftly along, we have been cooking fishy things this week, and I do mean we , as himself has also been creative with fish in the kitchen.

Firstly, he was inspired to cook  Crispy Chinese Fish, along with a spicy sauce, and then  he has learnt to adapt, as my instructions on leaving the house are ” Do not go and buy anything “. So he hunted in the freezer and found some fish, smallish fillets, and white.

  1. one or two fillets per person, ( cod, haddock, pollock) depending on size
  2. 100 grms cornflour
  3. salt and pepper
  4. chunk fresh ginger.
  5. oil for frying

Mix together the salt and pepper and the fresh ginger which has been squeezed in a garlic press ( easy to do it if peeled), rub this all over the fish.

For the sauce

IMG_3411

  1. 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  2. 4 Tbs Rice Vinegar
  3. 2 tsp sugar
  4. 3 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  5. 2 Tbs Soy Sauce

This all very easy and very tasty, mix all of the above, put into a pan and bring to the boil, leave to simmer gently. Heat some oil in a pan or wok, and when hot ( test with a piece of dry bread, and when it sizzles, the oil is hot enough) carefully add the fish ( do not overload the pan) and fry the fish until golden brown. Serve with some of the sauce ( it should not be too runny) poured over the top!

I too have been playing, and I too hunted in the freezer and came across Shrimp ( actually my freezers are not at all random .. nor  are my Pantry shelves, they are very carefully ordered, even though I do not have a list of what is there, I know what is there and where it is located). Shrimp in American speak are large  but they are not as the Brits call them Prawns. I buy my Shrimp, frozen, either from Billingsgate or from the Chinese Supermarket or from Costco!

In New Orleans ( pronounced New Or- Lons) much of their food is based on French cuisine with Cajun thrown in. One of the favourites is Shrimp Remoulade, or in the UK, Prawns with a Marie Rose sauce ( a pink sauce invented in the1960’s by a popular TV chef, Fanny Craddock).

The New Orleans version of Shrimp Remoulade is Shrimp in a spicy sauce, either on its own or with avocados.

So lots of ingredients, but don’t let that put you off!

  1. 1 Lemon
  2. 1 Egg
  3. 1/4 cup creole or spicy mustard ( it is usually brownish in colour)
  4. 1 tbsp horseradish sauce
  5. 1 tsp paprika
  6. 2 Cloves of garlic squeezed
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 2 sprigs parsley chopped
  9. stick celery finely chopped
  10. 1 Shallot finely chopped
  11. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  12. 4 Dashes of Tabasco
  13. 1 Cup olive oil

Then for 4 people, 4 small avocados, 1 Lb Cooked shrimp, some Romaine lettuce or baby Gem, some lemon quarters to serve ( optional)

Zest the lemon and juice it, whisk  together the  items 1-12 and slowly pour in the olive oil, whilst whisking. until you have a nice thick mayo type sauce. Cover with cling film ( touching the surface so that a skin does not form and refrigerate until needed.)

Arrange the avocado halfs on a bed of leaves , mix the sauce with the shrimp ( you can really cheat and buy ready cooked ones) and fill the avocados ad serve with a wedge of lemon.

As an aside, Fanny Craddock was probably one of the first TV Celebrity cooks. Her show started in 1955 on the BBC !

 

 

 

Don’t Throw Bread Away !

I heard on the radio the other day that British people throw away more bread than any other food! This completely flummoxed me. Why throw away Bread? I can honestly say, that I NEVER throw away bread. Bread freezes better than anything else, you can take it out of the freezer, defrost and put back into the freezer without any harm coming to you or to it. Actually if using for toast,( himself often has toast) my lovely toaster has a little knob on it which means frozen, press that and the toast cooks just a little longer to compensate for the fact that the bread is frozen.

Living where I do, there are shops within a stones throw, that are open from 6 am to 11pm, so why do I freeze my bread? Well, firstly, I have no idea when or where himself wants to have toast or a sandwich and secondly, I am far too lazy to have to go to the grocery store just for bread ( another food that freezes well is Milk, so when you go away for a weekend, or a couple of weeks, put your milk into the freezer, ready for your return).

Consequently I always have bread. At the moment it is Sourdough, which even I like (especially with smushed avocado). However, even if you think that the bread in your freezer is getting a tad old, looking a bit dry, you can use it in other ways. Make it in to fresh bread crumbs, dry it out in the oven and then blitz it in a food processor, or put it into a bag and bash it with a rolling-pin.

My favourite way of using up old bread and this is especially good with old baguettes (they go stale very quickly ) is to make Bread Pudding. This is the New Orleans Bread Pudding and Not the English Bread and Butter pudding.. Himself has a sweet tooth and often sneaks a nibble of a dessert when I have gone off upstairs to bed. I don’t often make deserts but when I do, it is usually something that I can then freeze and to which he can help himself.

This week I have been playing in the kitchen and have made the above mentioned Bread Pudding and Bakewell Tart.

So let us start with the Bakewell tart, history says it comes from Bakewell In Derbyshire, and there is a similar one from Gloucestershire.

You will need a quantity of Short pastry ( about 8 oz) and there is nothing wrong with using ready-made. Me? being a bit odd always make my own. On top of the pastry you will need

  1. 4 tbsp of Jam preferably raspberry
  2. 2 eggs
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 3oz Butter
  5. 3oz castor sugar
  6. 6oz ground almonds
  7. 4 Tabs plain flour
  8. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. Flaked almonds to decorate ( optional)
  10. Icing sugar for dusting
  • Pre heat the oven to 190C
  • Grease a 10 inch tart tin
  • Roll out the pastry and line the tin, prick the pastry with a fork
  • Cream together the butter and sugar ( can do this in a food processor) add the eggs and the lemon zest mix in the flour and the baking powder along with the ground almonds
  • cover the pastry with a layer of raspberry jam and then add the Bakewell mixture on top.
  • Sprinkle with flaked almonds if using.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes until brown.
  • Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar when serving. can be served with Creme fraiche.

And onto Bread Pudding, as I said this version is from New Orleans. It is served in many of the world-famous restaurants of that party city.

To make this calorific dessert you will need

  1. 500 grams of any bread, baguette, brown bread, croissants, brioche or a mixture of any of them
  2. 1 litre of milk
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  5. 4 oz sugar ( 120 Grms)
  6.  about 4oz raisins or sultanas
  7. 4 oz chopped nuts
  8. Butter or spray for greasing
  • Preheat oven to 190 C, Grease a loaf pan. Using a food processor, with the motor running drop in the bread, large bits at a time, to make fine breadcrumbs
  • Put the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl
  • mix the eggs and milk together and pour over the bread crumbs, add the sugar, nuts, apple and raisins. Mix well together, using your hands works very well.
  • Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 50 mins until golden brown.
  • Leave to cool

Then the best part is the whisky sauce:-

  1. 4oz unsalted butter
  2. 4 oz sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/2 cup whiskey

Melt the butter and the sugar together, pour into the food processor and add with the motor running, the egg along with the whiskey.

To serve the bread pudding, cut into slices and pour over some of the whiskey sauce.

This freezes very well so I usually make extra sauce. Then, I slice the pudding and lay on a baking tray, pour over the sauce, and freeze. When it is frozen, the sauce will be tacky, I remove and wrap individually in cling film and package and put back into the freezer. So when Himself fancies something sweet, ( and he does have a sweet tooth) it is there waiting for him. He has been known to eat it frozen!!

In the USA there is a spray to grease pans or even frying pans, it is called PAM, but it is not available in the UK, it even gives chocolate icing a sheen when used sparingly. However when I visited the kitchen of the Club Med sail boat, in the middle of the Atlantic, I was surprised to see the french equivalent, and guess what? it is available on Amazon !!!IMG_8364

Amalfi Lemon Tart and Beetroot Ice Cream

I found this recipe the other day and was very keen to try it. I am not sure if I have ever tried Amalfi Lemons, having never been to the Amalfi coast, but when I googled, “Where to buy” I found I could get them on-line at ” finefoodspecialist.co.uk” but at a hefty £11.95 a kilo!! I am pretty sure that Selfridges Food Hall could sell them as well, but when Himself shopped there a few weeks ago, he blithely bought me two beautiful mangoes for my breakfast, what he didn’t realise was they sold them by the kilo and had a bit of a shock at the till £19.0 for 2 Mangoes !! So maybe I will not be going there to hunt for Amalfi Lemons.

IMG_5154

Consequently, I used common or garden unwaxed lemons. As we use the zest it is obviously better to use Unwaxed one.

  1. Use your favourite pastry recipe or really cheat and use bought pastry.
  2. 5-6 Lemons, unwaxed
  3. 300 grams chilled unsalted butter
  4. 300 grams caster sugar
  5. 6 whole eggs
  6. 3 egg yolks
  7. 1 beaten egg white

Heat the oven to 200 C/ Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry and press into a 26 cm tart tine, ( preferably one with a loose bottom) leave to rest for about 10 mins.

After that line the pastry with some greaseproof paper and fill with some form of baking beans, Rice, lentils etc will do. These can be reused time and time again, as long as you mark the container ” For Baking Only” otherwise someone might just try to cook with them, which would be a disaster!

Bake the pastry case for 20 mins, remove the paper and the beans, brush the case with the beaten egg white to seal it and bake for another 5 mins  and then remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile zest the lemons and then juice them, mix both with butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently to melt both the sugar and the butter. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks until pale yellow and pour into the saucepan. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Do not allow to boil as the eggs will scramble.

Remove from the heat, leave to sit for a few minutes and then pour into the cooked pastry case.

Light the grill and place the tart under it to char the top of the tart. It might be prudent to cover the edges of the pastry with aluminium foil before hand, to prevent the pastry from burning. When the tart is cool refrigerate before serving.

And finally, Beetroot Ice Cream.IMG_8276

A few years ago, we were in Mexico for Easter and went to San Miguel d’Allende, an absolutely delightful town about 3 hours drive, north-ish of Mexico City. It seems a safe haven for many retired Americans, the climate is great, life is cheap , medical service excellent and not so far from the USA. Dining experiences in Mexico, have on the whole been excellent, but with one remarkable exception. We had been on a tour of the botanical gardens and headed off to find an organic farm with restaurant. However, upon arriving, although we had a reservation no table was available, only one in the midday sun ( and we had 2 small children with us). Needless to say, Son in law was not impressed. A quick telephone call and we were headed back into town, to the restaurant we had eaten in previously and it is called “The Restaurant”

All I remember about this restaurant was a) the food was very good b) they didn’t mind children at all, infact welcomed them and c) our starter, which was a goats cheese salad with Beetroot and Horseradish Icecream. Divine ! If you check this restaurant out on trip advisor, it says, the food is American, it is not and secondly mixed reviews. I put this down to, too many American Expats, who expect a cheap meal. My family and I, as we went twice in two days, thought differently.

Since then I have made my own version of the ice cream, experimenting along the way.

For the Ice Cream you will need

  1. 500 Mls, ( 2 Cups) double cream
  2. 3 Large eggs
  3. 6 oz/150grms fine sugar
  4. 1 cup milk
  5. 1 jar of horseradish sauce apprx 160 grms
  6. +/- 500 grms cooked beetroot ( thank goodness you can buy them vacuum packed already cooked!)

Blend all of the above together in a blender. If you have an ice cream machine, so much better, and then it is very simple, set the machin to cool/freeze and pour the mixture in, it does not freeze solid, but when the machin stops turning, remove the mixture and put into a plastic container and put into the freezer.

If you do not have an Ice Cream machin, pour the mixture into a plastic container, put into the freezer and about every 30 mins or so, give it a good stir.

I servve it on a bed of leaves along with some goats chees, either baked ( hot and melting) or just cold. Delicious either way.

P.S. too much tart? cut into slices, and freeze! it freezes well!

 

 

Collecting Recipes

Whenever I am reading newspapers, magazines, new cook books or nowadays web recipes I copy and try many of them. Yes, in days gone by I was the one who would annoyingly, rip out the pages of magazines in dentist and doctors waiting rooms. Nowadays of course with smart phones, I just take a photograph of them. No wonder my phone is constantly  telling me ” Storage almost Full”!

I even have an I-pad, dedicated to all things food and travel. On this I-pad, I either store recipes in a recipe folder or I store them ( and the travel) as PDF’s in books, and so I can flip through them just like flipping pages of a book.

I nearly always condense the recipes, and in a real book I annotate, but have not found a way to do this using the PDF method ( I must consult my all things computers gurus). Oftentimes, I find the recipes too long-winded, so much so, that anyone new to cooking would be severely “Put Off” at first glance. I first condensed and simplified recipes many years ago, firstly as my young son was having difficulty reading, but loved cooking, so I created an easy to read cook book, just for him. At the time also I had my own, informal cooking school, in Brussels and my pupils were mainly Expat women of many different nationalities. It became necessary to come up with methods that were easy to understand for all.nbg

So to this day, I still annotate and condense.

Today I tried 3 new recipes, one by Tom Kerridge, of Hand Flowers fame one by Theo Randall and one by ME ! They all  worked but I have reservations about the first, but inspite of my reservations, HIMSELF seems to like it a lot !

Tom Kerridge has a recipe for Caramelised honey and roasted vanilla crème brûlée which I came across in The Times.

  1. 2 Vanilla pods ( I used liquid vanilla, which takes out the step of roasting the vanilla pods)
  2. 60g of heather honey ( I used acacia honey from Waitrose as it also contained the honeycomb)
  3. 7 eggs

And to serve the Honeycomb cut into 8 pieces and he used Demerara Sugar, I used fine castor sugar.

Now this is the bit of the recipe, that I have a problem with, so listen very carefully ( well I mean read and understand).

It says measure the honey and heat to 140 C using a digital probe or thermometer. I possess three such items, two cooking thermometers  and a digital probe ( a Thermopen, which decided not to work) I think most home kitchens do not have a thermometer, let alone a digital probe. As my digital probe was defunct I used the thermometer, but actually 60 g of honey in the bottom of a pan is not very much honey and although it was a smallish pan, I had to tilt it, to be able to measure the temperature, and then my stove top would flash at me ( it is induction), however I got there in the end. If you do not have either a probe of cooking thermometer, I would suggest heating the honey gently until it begins to change colour and caramelise, keeping a careful eye on it so as not to burn.

Remove from the heat, add the cream, whisking well.

Whisk the eggs, until they are pale yellow, pour over the cream, again whisking whilst doing so. Return to the heat and heat up to 86C stirring constantly, the mixture will bubble up almost to the top of the pan but will subside as you whisk.

Pour the mixture into a blender and process for a minute and pour into ramekins.

Refrigerate , until they are cool and ready to use. Sprinkle sugar on top, and either place under a hot grill to caramelise or use a blow torch. Serve with a bit of Honey comb on top of each.crene brulee

After all that, I forgot to serve with the Honeycomb !!

 

Don’t go there, Club Med, Vittel, that is !

Once again we have been thwarted, on our annual drive from the French Alps back to the UK.

We are Club Med aficionados, and have been for the last 30 years, and most recently crossed the Atlantic ( for the 2nd time) on their beautiful sail boat Club Med 2!

This year we thought we would be really clever and drive to the Spa town of Vittel, where there is a Club Med, with two golf courses! What could go wrong?

Well , apart from the golf courses ,Le Peulin was beautiful and Le Mont St. Jean, very interesting as it also formed part of a Point TO Point horse racing course, so trying to decide to go over the object, around it, under it proved to be a challenge. Actually it reminded me of ” We are going on a bear hunt, can’t go over it can’t go through it, etc.” Otherwise, everything was wrong, perhaps not wrong but to be honest it was the worse Club Med, that we have ever been in !

Partly our fault maybe, we did not realise that there are  3 hotels for Club Med in Vittel, and I feel that the Club Med booking agent should have told us, or maybe it was full, but we were in the family hotel, and nothing wrong with that BUT, we were just the two of us.

When we arrived, it was just before “La Rentreé” return to school for French kids. The place was full to bursting and going in for dinner at 8 pm was absolutely manic! It seemed that chaos reigned, and worse of all, A BUFFET!  Something I abhor! 99% of the tables, were family tables, which were all full. Normally there is a hostess who will seat people, but not here but we did find a table for 3, which was occupied by a teenager, who quickly departed, when faced with two old fogies and English ones at that!

And on top of that? Well three dinners and three breakfasts, are just not worth any mention at all. Appalling is all I can say.

We have been going to Club Med on a regular basis since 1986, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mauritius, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mexico, France, the USA, Morocco, Egypt, and Transatlantic, the list goes on. The one thing I have always said about Club Med, is the food is always good, but not this time. Three items were just passable, the Beef Wellington, which actually was very good, and the Ongelet beef, which was OK, even f it was a bit tough, and an omelette! I had an omelette for dinner, which the chef cooked very well.

Subsequently , I ordered an omelette for breakfast, not the Chef unfortunately but a cook, who probably couldn’t even boil an egg, let alone an omelette, over cooked, more like cardboard, which couldn’t be folded, but rather dumped in a mess on the plate.Inedible!

I could go on about the food, but enough to say it was awful, so awful that I di not take any pictures, and I should have done so!

And then I move onto the buildings, Grand in appearance, huge and once very grand but now resting on their faded glory, A beautiful Mosaic floor, laid by a Master Mosaic, designer/artist, a mosaicist.  And it was beautiful but the armchairs, were in part severely worn.

barThe main bar was  minuscule  and severely understaffed ( and by 10.30 pm they were more or less putting the chairs on the tables !)  Outside broken tiles and paving stones were everywhere. pavement

And the staff, the GO’s ,  Katie and Adam were delightful, but the Chef de Village? He was not to be seen, not once in three days ( we did meet his deputy, Teddy) the receptionist in  our bit of the hotel was functional and not the smiling happy GO that we are used to, in fact she  seemed decidedly bored, the navette driver, even more so and certainly did not get out of the truck to help with our golf clubs.

building 2
our part of the hotel

Our part of the hotel, was another beautiful building, but with dark corridors, where you had to hunt for the light switches, even during the day, room small, towels, sadly lacking and cheap, the shower door, hanging by a thread and no amenities ( shampoo, shower excepted) no tea/ coffee-making facilities, these are the norm these days. On top of that, no window coverings, a thick curtain but as we looked out onto a small apartment block, ( and they looked straight into our room) it meant drawing the curtains, even during the day, to change .

hotel
The main hotel, which is a beautiful building

Maybe, if we had stayed in the Ermitage section of the hotel, it might have been better, but am not so sure, as we took late lunch there, after golf, and it certainly wasn’t any better.

Vittel itself was founded in the mid 1800’s by lawyer Louis Bouloumié when he purchased the Fontaine de Gérémoy. It is the source of the water by the same name VITTEL, whch today is bottled by the Nestlé Company.

The town is very pretty, beautiful architecture and a wonderful, very large park, for walking, biking, running, alongside a horse race track, a point to point horse race course, barrel racing ( again with horses) and tennis courts.Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 17.24.07

Rumours abound that Club Med is about to close this resort. Can’t come fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

A Trip to London’s Meat Market.

Smithfield or, to give it its official name, London Central Markets, is the largest wholesale meat market in the UK and one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

Located within the Square Mile of the City of London it is housed in three listed buildings.

It is a place packed with history there has been a livestock market on the site for over 800 years and yet is as modern as tomorrow with its state of the art facilities for the receiving, storing and despatching of meat and poultry.

Periodically, we make trips to this market, either when our freezers are running low, or as in this instance a trip to France was due. Once a year himself drives off to France with the car absolutely fully laden, one would think that after 10 years there would be no more stuff to be transported, but I can assure you, that there is always stuff! And I mean stuff!

And so it happened again that just before he was about to decamp, from metropolitan London to very rural France, we made our pilgrimage. It is very easy for us, we go at about 6.00 in the morning, before the morning rush hour, and just a few stops on the Tube gets us there, and we must not forget the shopping trolley, to aid with our purchases! Some of the workers, start at about 10pm, that is when the deliveries start, but the market is open from 2 am until about 7 am though some of the traders sell until 10am.

Buying guide

The basic thing to remember is that anyone can buy at the Market but one should really arrive before 7am to see the market at its best. Walk around and check out the stalls, and ask questions, the stall holders are a cheerful bunch and are more than willing to answer any questions. Prices are not normally displayed so it will mean asking, and check out other stalls before buying, prices do vary ! They will take cash and some will take credit/ debit cards as well.

All kinds of meat, poultry and game are available as well as cheeses, and delicatessen products. Apparently one of the best times to visit, from an experience point of view is the run up to Christmas. Something I have not yet done, but must try and remember to do so this year.

MONDAY to FRIDAY from 2am (visitors and buyers should arrive by 7am to find full range of stalls open) Closed on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.

This time we bought Rib Eye, it comes vacuumed packed and in packs of 2 kilos, @£15 a kilo so we bought 2 of those. Next was chicken breast and boneless skinless chicken thighs ( more flavour than breasts and juicier) and then it was what was described by our friendly butcher ” beef that the Asians buy for their stir fry” so we bought that and I have to say, whatever cut it was, it was great in stir fry or fajitas!

We ventured home and the meat ( as it was vacuumed packed), was sent off to France to wait for me to slice and pack as necessary.

The one thing I did not expect to find in the market were Portuguese custard tarts! But there they were! Amazing!

If you want a fun early morning trip I can thoroughly recommend a trip to this market and for more info. go to www.smithfieldmarket.com

Happy Market Shopping Everyone !

A Summer Occupation

Something happens to me in summer time in the mountains. I have to make Jam. This started a few years ago simply because Himself has to have Apricot Jam whilst in France. Of course I could go to the grocery store and buy “Bonne Maman” but that would just not be the same! In France, in the summer there are roadside stands selling trays of apricots and so inspired I started making jam.

The first year, was just Apricot , but the following year Marcel, the farmer whose house/barn is attached to ours, decamped to the Lakeside and put his barn up for sale. In the garden was a wonderful red currant bush and so I asked if I could pick them and so that year we had red currant Jam / Jelly as well, and so it has progressed.

However, I have now learnt to cheat a little. Using frozen fruit has tremendous advantages, no need to bend low to pick, de-stone, wash, clean, or remove bugs. Consequently, so far this year I have made raspberry, cherry ( fantastic being able to buy de-stoned frozen cherries), Myrtilles, again these are the equivalent to blueberries, but they grow wild and are few and far between on the low bushes, but frozen ! Easy Peasy, as they say. And of course some more Apricot, but for this, I actually had to stone them etc. myself!

Jam making has to be an occupation of rural French Housewives. As the grocery stores at this time of year are full of the requisite Bonne Maman type jam jars, and other jam making equipment including Sugar! I am sure it is also available in the UK, but here is is there on the shelf, next to ordinary sugar, so no need to go hunting for it. The sugar is labelled Sucre Gélifiant ( Preserving Sugar) it contains 98.7% sugar, along with acidifiant ( pectin); citric acid. So almost no need to add anything else, though I have to admit that I have added, maybe a 1/4 Cup lemon juice.

The other things that make life a bit easier, is having a preserving pan, a long handled wooden spoon or wooden shaft with a metal stirrer, and a jam thermometer.

So put very simply:-

Put into the pan the fruit, defrosted or not and heat until the fruit is very soft. For each kilo of fruit a kilo of sugar is require. Pour in the sugar, stir well and continue to heat on a medium heat. Put in the thermometer and occasionally stirring, keep an eye on the thermometer. Using a thermometer makes life very easy indeed, as there are different heats indicated and Yes there is one marked JAM! No more guess work needed, but being old school in this respect I do still test that the Jam has reached a setting point. This is done by spooning a small amount of jam onto a a plate or saucer, put somewhere cool for about 5 minutes, press a finger onto the surface and see if it is setting.

The jars need to be sterilised , and this can be done in the dishwasher or in the microwave. Place the jars half filled with water and microwave on high for about 3 minutes, long enough for the water to boil. Several jars can be done at the same time. Lids of course can’t be done in the microwave, so I put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drain the jars and leave upside down on a clean cloth and wipe dry inside with some paper towel. Using a ladle fill the jars almost to the brim with the jam, and tightly seal on the lids, label and you are done !

Easy? But of course! Happy Jam Making !

However I have just had a real Flashback! Walking up the lane, there is the most wonderful rosebush full, of the most beautiful rose hips.

A lifetime ago, whilst living in Normandy, I decided that my girls needy some extra Vitamin C and what better way to give it to them than RoseHip Syrup! And yes, somehow or other I found the recipe in some old cookery / home hints book and made my own. ( I guess that despite having two small children I had plenty of time on my hands.) I seem to recall also being very fed up with Baguettes that went stale too quickly making my own bread daily with the help of my then 2 year old. I seriously doubt that she remembers that and also doubt that she would ever make her own today! But then again why would she?