Bottled Water

frozen water

We keep bottles of distilled water in the fridge.  The bottles are beautiful, flip top ones, bought from a well known Swedish retailers (Ikea) and make that glorious ‘glop’ sound when popped.  Recently, and by recently I mean in the last 18 months or so, which I realise to someone relatively new to life may seem a long time ago, but to me feels like a mere drop in the ocean of life, the fridge began to regularly over cool any water that remained in the bottles.

I think it looks like an iced Christmas Tree which I find quite beguiling, however, I cannot help but wonder whether this is our fridge slightly over egging it’s role.  Consequently, I find myself considering much more than is healthy, the need to defrost the fridge.  Obviously, as with so many other things on my ‘to do’ list, the amount of time I spend considering a task to perform, greatly outweighs the actual time it would take to complete the task.  But still, it niggles away at my sub conscious, coming to the fore only when yet another bottle recreates a winter scene.

In my heart of hearts I know that this means our fridge is probably coming to the end of it’s useful lifespan, which I also find quite irksome as I expect everything I buy to last for ever.  Apart from kettles and washing machines which, if they last over a year I feel eternally grateful for.

I would like to be one of those people who factors in the lifespan of white goods into some sort of financial structure whereby, after so many years it is a given they will need replacing and therefore the resources are there.  Knowing I should at least attempt this tactic does not, in the slightest, change my reaction of absolute disbelief verging on panic when, either because they just stop working, blow up, or refuse to continue in the manner with which they were first purchased, I find myself having to consider replacing that item.

And so it is that, at the moment, I find myself on the white goods precipice of replacement but not quite accepting that the inevitable will occur, believing instead, that if I just let it ride, something miraculous may happen and the fridge will have a word with itself, realise the folly of it’s ways, and stop freezing everything that is put inside it.

Meanwhile, until it conks out completely, I am going to revert to type and behave like an ostrich.

*sticks head firmly back in the sand*

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Elderflower

Elderflower#2

We have been busy.  Very busy.

As some of you may be aware, the elderflower season is upon is.  I absolutely love the fact that this prolific bush produces the most divine flowers for a couple of weeks at the beginning of summer which you can use in so many ways, but then, if you missed that window of opportunity, it creates another one in autumn when the flowers have turned into berries.

And the best thing about this bonkers bush?  It is almost indestructible, and everywhere.

This week we have been making both Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Champagne.

The cordial takes absolutely no time at all – approximately 24 hours  – and is an absolute doddle to make.  Take the biggest pan you have and put in 1.5 litres of water.  Adder 2.5kg of sugar and bring to the boil.  Take off the heat and add 20 elderflower heads, the peel of two lemons and the lemons, sliced.  Finally add 85g citric acid.  Stir, pop the lid on the pan and leave.

The next day sieve the Elderflower and Lemon pieces out of the liquid.  Pour the rest of the liquid through a piece of muslin to catch any of the wee bits and pieces which may be lingering around.

Bottle.

Beautifully refreshing with sparkling or still water.  As long as you can get over the fact that, neat, it looks like a very large urine sample…

Meanwhile we have also started making Elderflower Champagne which is proving to be a little more complex at this experimental stage.  However, we have the bottles and the corks all ready for each stage in the hope that, eventually, we will hit on an absolutely corker, if you’ll forgive the pun.

As with so many other things, only time will tell whether we have made something undrinkable, or indeed, a small piece of perfection.  Either way, it’s really good fun, and not at all expensive.

The Elderflower window of opportunity lasts two weeks, or thereabouts, so there is still time to pop out and forage.  Just a little tip, pick them in the morning sun for the sweetest flavour and make sure you use them that day.

Let me know how you get on.

Little Balls of Wonder

Healthy Cocoa Truffles

These little balls of wonder are to die for.  And what’s more they don’t have a grain of sugar in them.  Not one iota.

Now this is the thing.  Whenever I have a go at making balls of things, they never look as they should, in my opinion.  I’m not the world’s best circle roller.  Actually, I have no idea how those people on the telly do it, but it always looks so simple. Anyway, that doesn’t detract from the fact that they are delicious, and, I’m sure much more healthy than other round sweet things you could make.

Why? Because the only ingredients they have in them are dates, cashew nuts, raisins or sultanas, cocoa powder, ground rice and water.

Now I know all dried fruit has natural sugars, in fact some are as high as 70%, but what they also have is fibre which, in my book, makes them good for you and I have decided I am an expert on the matter since I once gave up sugar for six weeks, four hours and thirty seven minutes.

*moves swiftly on*

The trick, I think, is to make sure you get the proportions right.  45% or so of the mixture needs to be dates, 25% cashew nuts, 15% raisins or sultanas and 5% cocoa. The more observant of you will, by now, have realised that my ingredients add up to 100% and there is, as yet, no mention of the ground rice.  That is because it is an optional added extra that I literally just sprinkle a little of over everything else before setting to, and pulping.  It adds a little texture and fortitude, but they would be just as scrumptious without it.

As a slight diversion away from the subject in hand, but a necessary discussion to have, I have realised that to get any further on my culinary journey, I really must think about investing in a food processor.  I used to have one, but a combination of age and not paying attention when it was on meant that, gradually, all that was left was the motor.

For a while I convinced myself that I would replace the parts that had worn or broken, but one day, in a moment of enlightenment, I made the executive decision to ditch it.

Since then I have relied upon my trusty steed, otherwise known as a hand blender, to see me through the ‘make into a pulp’ or ‘liquidising’ phases.  However, even the trusty steed has it’s limits, and today we reached one of them.  You really do need a food processor for these little balls of wonder.  I managed with a combination of using the mezaluna to cut the big pieces down to size, and the trusty steed to completely blend together, but it wasn’t without hazard and not the most enjoyable process, whereas with a food processor it’s bish bash bosh done.

Once the mixture is all pulped, you may need to add a little water to bring it all together.  Then roll into balls and roll these balls in some cocoa powder.  The size of the ball is up to you, but there is a certain satisfaction about just popping something whole into your mouth and savouring, so I would recommend a small teaspoon size or less.

The only down side to this taste sensation is that it is very difficult to not scoff the lot in one day.  Consequently, I have absolutely no idea how well they last.

So if any of you do decide to give them a go and get past the 24 hour mark, do let me know what happens next.

Minion Made

photo (91)

Today it is our beautiful Freya’s 18th birthday and so, alongside a gift, the wee boy and I decided to make her some cake.

We have gone through many ideas for cake, starting from the (Danish?) Princess Cake we saw on the Great British Bake Off, to fairy cakes, muffins, a bar of chocolate, and many, many more.

You will never guess what the wee boy has plumped for…  A box of cake mix from the supermarket of Despicable Me (yes, the film) Minion Made cupcakes.  The one where you just add 1 egg and water.

I am, unsurprisingly, slightly crestfallen that he has opted for this mode of baking as I secretly believe he has been swayed by the packaging (haven’t we all at some point?).  However, it is his choice, and she is his Freya, so I keep my mouth shut and go along with it.

Firstly, we have to open the package marked ‘cake mix’ and add 1 medium sized egg, 60ml water, and whisk until smooth and creamy.  We duly do this, and end up with a very runny mixture, without lumps.

We are supposed to carefully share the cupcake mixture between the 6 (yes, only 6) cupcake cases.  There is hardly anything in them, and it has not been shared equally, but in they go, and we wait.

Twenty minutes later, we open the oven and discover that they have sort of risen and do spring back, with a little too much vigour if I’m honest, so we take them out and pop them onto a baking tray.  At which point they shrink back into their cases as though related to violets.

It is now that we open package number 2.  Icing mix.

We are greeted by a white floury substance which turns the most magnificent yellow when water is added.  Actually, I quite like the transformation as it reminds me of Birds Custard Powder.

Anyway, the icing is then added to the bun and a rice paper set of eyes and general swizzles are placed on top.

Done.

They will not be the most edible cupcakes in the world, and the icing has been ‘quality controlled’ when already put on the cake, but they have been made with love, coupled with an absolute belief by a 4 year old, that Freya will think they’re fab.

What more can you ask for?