Saturday, November 26

random cakes and jobs

Oh I had every intention of writing beautiful individual posts for each one of these lovely items 
 ................. but I just am not going to be able so here in a brief but enthusiastic manner

Made Crab apple chutney- the tree was laden 

Spiced Pear cake

Made with my own Pears

Picking flowers
there were still quite a few blossoms in the garden in late Sept
Roses, Michelmas daisies, Japanese anemone's, lady's mantle
I missed picking flowers from my garden so so much while I was in NY

There are many jobs that need doing around the house

 getting the goose neck gate hung

organising winter fuel

Tying up the wisteria.......
3 years and am hoping, fingers crossed that next year it will flower!
oh and last week I was in Hong Kong


Friday, November 18

Tim Ryan

Irish designer Tim Ryan's latest collection is his best yet 
Currently stocked in Browns London
This collection should take him on to new and dizzying heights
If buyers don't sit up and take notice ............. well I believe they will
Such a talent 
Congratulations Tim
images by Felipe Pagani

Friday, November 11

Apple & Apple Mint Jelly

This is not a typo
Apple & Apple Mint Jelly
is a mint jelly made with Apples, 
for their natural pectin and flavour 
and using Apple Mint 
(sometimes called wooly mint)

Apple mint is, 
in my opinion, by the far the most superior of mints
The flavour is flatter than regular mint
Oh and don't tell me you use spearmint to cook with?
everything ends up tasting like chewing gum!
No, Apple mint is what you need
Fantastic chopped with a little ginger and sprinkled over a fruit salad
Adds the perfect flavour to cous cous
and Lamb...... 
well of course with Lamb it is king.

As we have had a couple of mornings of frost recently here in Ireland 
I decided it was time to stock up on my mint fix for winter
And as my garden has been untended for a year
and the mint has gone a little wild
(taken over)
I made mint oil, by blanching about 
4 cups of mint leaves
chopping finely
and covering with good olive oil in a sealed and sterilised jar
I also did the same but covered the mint with vinegar
for a more traditional mint sauce 
and then decided to raise the bar, go all out and make a mint jelly
This was my first attempt at a jelly
(I mean a real jelly made with natural pectin not a chivers pack)



4lbs Cooking Apples (or granny Smith )
4 cups water
2 cups vinegar
2 cups Apple Mint leaves whole
2 cups Apple Mint Leaves finely chopped
5 cups sugar (approx)

Roughly chop the apples and add to large pan 
keep all of the core and seeds as these have the most pectin in them
add 2 cups whole mint leaves
bring to boil and boil for 20 mins
add vinegar
boil 5 more mins

Strain Apple pulp 
in a jelly bag if you have it
otherwise use an old pillow case
you should have 4-5 cups of clear amber coloured juice
Add this to clean pan and add 7/8 cup of sugar to every cup of juice
so for 5 cups of juice you will add approx 4 1/2 cups sugar
bring to the boil
add finely chopped mint
boil for 30 mins- 1 hour 
this will depend on how much pectin was released 
and how strong your mixture is
You want to reach the setting stage
You can test it using the cold saucer method 
or with a candy thermometer

you should get 4 x 8ozs jars of jelly

Monday, November 7

The frost is coming

The last 2 mornings we have had a thick frost on the ground
they say this winter is going to be a deep freeze

My back yard at 7am

Saturday, November 5


Who can deny there is something about making your own bread
Something primal
a deep sense of... I am in control of my life....
In order to make bread you need
 1 main ingredient
yes I know there are quick recipes
and you can knock out a loaf of brown soda bread pretty sharpish
but for a yeasted loaf you need to be in the moment
while the physical acts of kneading, proofing, rising,
may actually take 20 mins of work
the timing and co-ordinating means you must be able to pay attention

The act of making bread was something I really missed while living in NYC
as I never seemed to have the expanse of unfilled hours it takes
to occupy yourself with yeast and dough
So it is with GREAT pleasure that I return to the pasttime

I am a huge fan of the
No knead method of bread making
But the above baguettes were made using the Poolish method

Bread is food for my soul

photograph by HELEN JAMES


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