Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mr Blue Sky

Just a quick post to show you what I have been up to this afternoon.

I wanted to do some sewing, especially to get and finished a quilt for a friend that I have started. As it was so sunny I decided to take my sewing machine out in the garden.


Tomorrow I will be sewing the quilt top together and will post a picture.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

How to make ........... Marmalade

****  I actually made the marmalade and wrote this post in January.  It took me ages to write this up as my laptop was playing me up.  I had just got to the end and the computer died on me.  I nearly cried!!  I know that in the background it saves the post as you go along, but I couldn't find it and really couldn't face sitting down and starting all over again.  Now that Blogger have updated their site it shows me all of my posts, including all of the draft posts that have been saved ..... and this one was sat there.  So, it is out of season but who cares. 

I'm now on my last jar of marmalade and I wish I had made more.  Hay Ho, at least I have something to look forward to in January! **


It suddenly struck me the other day that it was the season for Seville oranges, which are the perfect oranges to use when making marmalade.  I've always wanted to make marmalade, but I'd never got around to doing it.

I made jam for the first time two years ago which was always something I had wanted to do and never got around to it.  I wish I had tried it before because it was really EASY.  I think what had put me off before was the thought of it being difficult to make and that the jam would never set and it would have been all a waste of money, time and energy. But it wasn't at all and it tasted so good.  I made strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry (once I started I could stop!!).

So realising that the Seville oranges were in the shops I decided to have a go at marmalade.

  • 1kg Seville oranges
  • 2kg demerara sugar
  • 75mls lemon juice

I scrubbed the oranges, removed the little tops and put them in 2.5ltrs of water. Bring that to the boil, put the lid on and let that simmer for 2 - 2.5 hrs.

I would suggest putting the coffee on.

Whilst the fruit is simmering it's best to get prepared for later when it's all hands to the pump. Put three saucers into the freezer, you will use these to test the setting point later.

Then wash the pots that you will use. This amount of fruit will need around 6 or 7 jars, so it's best to prepare 8 or 9. I have learnt from experience to do more as it isn't an exact science and there is nothing worse than having lots of lovely jam/marmalade left and nothing to put it in. I put mine through a short cycle in the dishwasher and then put them in a pre-heated oven (100 deg) to dry and sterilise.

The oranges are ready when they are nice and soft and the skin pricks easily. I wish this was scratch and sniff as the smell that comes from this is lovely. It's like a summers day in the kitchen.

Remove the oranges from the water, but keep this as you will need it later. Let the fruits cool down and remove all of the pips.

I used a fork and flicked them into a sieve resting above a bowl to catch any juice.

Now comes the chopping part. This is where personal preference comes in, if you like thick pieces of peel, slice them thick, if you like them thin, slice them thin. I just chopped and had a mixture!

Measure out your reserved cooking water and make it up to 1.6ltrs with water. Add the chopped peel, sugar and lemon juice. Slow bring to the boil to let the sugar dissolve.

Now bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 10-15 mins or until it has reached setting point which is 104.5 deg c.

To check if it has reached setting point, go and get one of the saucers that you put in the freezer. Take the marmalade off the heat and very carefully take a teaspoon full and put it on the saucer.  Leave it to cool down for a minute and then push your finger through it.  If it crinkles it has reached setting point, if it doesn't put it back on to the boil for 5 minutes and then test again, or in my case again and again and again.  This really did seem to take forever and I think it must have been on the boil for at least 25 mins.  I will put my hands up now and say that in the end I got a bit fed up with it and decided that it had reached setting point even though it wasn't crinkling.  More about that later!
Let the marmalade cool down for 20 minutes.

Take your pots and lids out of the oven and VERY carefully fill them with marmalade.

Put the lids on and leave them to cool down.  Now, I did say that I didn't wait until it had completely reached setting point didn't I .........

Guess what I had to do the next morning......... Decant, re-boil, re-steralise and re-pot. That will teach me 'eh! Now, when I realised the next morning that it hadn't set I done a bit of research on the internet and marmalade can be a bit tricky with reaching setting point and can take a lot of boiling. Some people got around this by adding shop bought pectin, so that is exactly what I done and it passed the crinkle test first time.

I did think that there was too much of the peel and this was probably due to having to boil it for so long and the liquid evaporated, therefore leaving a higher ratio of peel to liquid than normal.  This was easily sorted by taking some of the peel out.

So, after re-potting I was eventually done and had lots of lovely marmalade to enjoy, especially as I am the only person in my house that likes it.  Result!
**  It also seems like the dog likes it too and enjoyed two pots which I had left opened on the table! 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

How to make ....... Ginger & Chocolate Brownies

I love making brownies, especially when you get them just right and they are lovely and squidgy in the middle and even better if you eat them when they are still warm!
Now, I wouldn't say I have made these too many times, but you can see from the page in the book that they are a firm favourite in our house!

The recipe is in The River Cottage Family Cookbook. It is a REALLY good book and has lots and lots of recipes that we have cooked. I have lots of cook books and sadly many of them are there just make make the place look cluttered pretty. I have all of the Nigella Lawson books and can probably count on one hand how many times I have made something out of them, but I can't say the same for this one, or any OF Jamie Oliver's either. His books are great too and the best one is his 30 Minute Meals.

Anyway, today was a brownie day.

250g Chocolate
200g Unsalted butter
200g Caster sugar
3 Eggs
125g Plain flour
50g Cocoa powder

Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C

The book does say 100g walnuts, but I've never put them in.

Do you like my book stand.  Duct tape is SO versatile!

I usually make them with milk chocolate (I find dark chocolate too rich) but the last time I made them I didn't have enough, but I did have a bar of Green & Blacks Ginger hanging around and I thought why not give it a go. They were GORGEOUS, especially the little pieces of ginger that you find.

Melt the chocolate and butter.  I do this on a medium-low heat in the microwave.  Keep a close eye on it though as you don't want to heat it too much.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are light and creamy, this only takes a couple of minutes.

When the chocolate and butter mix has melted, pour it into the egg and sugar mixture and stir until it is fully incorporated.

Sift the flour and coca powder into the mixture and fold in with a wooden spoon.

Line a tin with tin foil and put a teeny tiny amount of oil into it and brush around.  Put into the oven.  My oven is a fan oven and it takes 23 minutes to cook.  When you take it out the sides are cooked but the middle is still nice and squidgy.  If you put a knife into it, it will come out with a sticky mixture on it.  Now what ever you do, DO NOT put it back into the oven.  Take the tin out, put it on the side and leave to cool in the tin.  It will carry on cooking whilst cooling and the middle with be lovely and squidgy.

Can you see how damp and squidgy they are.  YUM YUM YUM YUM!!

Please give these a go as they are just gorgeous. 

Happy baking!

Love Marge x

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Feeling Poorly

Another Saturday, another thumping headache so I'm snuggled up on the sofa with wood burner lit, trying to get rid of it ....... without much luck.

I hope you're having a better day!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday's Song - Jason Mraz, I won't give up.

Do you a bit of a drive to work in the morning?

I have a 45 minute drive and I know to some people that would be their worse nightmare, but I love the drive.  It's usually the only time I get to be on my own and I like being on my own. Time to day dream, time to think life through, time to talk to my sister up in heaven.  I listen to Chris Evans on Radio 2 and I think he's bloody great.  I can't stand the presenters on our local radio and if I ever have to listen to them I want to hit the radio ...... not a good start to the day, eh?  I find they are usually so false and put on that stupid happy, laughy, bubbly voice on and try to make it sound like they are having so much fun with their 'pals' in the studio, but I just want to shout at them 'WHY CAN'T YOU BE NATURAL, I'M NOT HAPPY, LAUGHY, BUBBLY IN THE MORNING AND YOU SHOULDN'T BE EITHER!!!!!'  aaaarrrrrggghhhhhh


Anyway, Chris Evans (in my humble opinion) get's it just right.  Just the right amount of happiness in the morning and what really makes the show great is that his team genuinely sound like they are having a good time and like each other and not pretending! 

This song usually comes on the radio on my drive and the radio gets turned RIGHT up and I sing at the top of my voice and sway side to side as I am doing so ......... I'd love to know what people think! hahahaha

You have to really listen to the lyrics as they are beautiful.

Enjoy x

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thursday's Song - Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends - No Hopers Jokers & Rouges

I L.O.V.E Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends! 

My husband introduced me to them in the middle of last year.  This is the husband who doesn't really care about music and me that can't live without music. 

I really mean that by the way, music is really, really important to me.  I'm one of those people that if anything happens in my life I assign a song to it.  Make ups, break ups, illness, love, death, all of it.  I can't really listen to Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars as it's the song that reminds me of when my sister was in hospital and losing her battle with breast cancer.  I did want to just lay with her and forget the world.  As I said, I can't listen to it and I have to turn over the radio when it comes on.

Anyway, I digress.  The husband came across a documentary about them on Sky and loved them instantly and so did I.  Even they will admit that they are not professional singers, but to me that's what makes them more appealing.  They look like they are just having the best fun ever.  All bar one, they have been friends since the were little and they get to travel the country, having a good time, doing something they love with their best mates.  I could go for that.

We went to Exeter in March to see them live (husbands Christmas present) and they were amazing. Their voices are so powerful and I think that only when you see someone live can you get a real feel for them. A brillint night.

I have just finished their book which had me giggling away to myself, reading all about the things they have got up to and the mishaps, usually involving Billy!

I have chosen this song because for some reason the lyrics hit home to me.  Anyway, enjoy the song and enjoy the boys.

Marge x

Monday, 16 April 2012

I have an Aga crush

Actually, I'm having more of a huge love affair with one and unfortunately it's an affair from afar.  I don't have an Aga and I can't see myself having one for a few years yet, but does that stop me from loving them, not a chance!

Don't get me wrong, this is not a recent discovery as I have always loved Agas and have always wanted one, but for some reason over the last 2 months it has become a HUGE thing and I can't stop thinking about them. I have been looking at Aga shop websites, deciding whether to have a two, three or four oven model (I settled on a four), what colour (light blue), what the energy consumption is, the price (eekk!!) and just swooning.

I have cards of them hanging in my kitchen.

I had to buy this card when I saw it in a shop in Exeter when me and hubby went to see The Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends.

I also have had this stuck to my kitchen wall for over a year

It was from Country Living Magazine and it's how my kitchen is going to look when I finish it (I have to start if first though!).  The kitchen will be minus the Aga though.

And look, I have the perfect place for it to go as well. 

Apparently the cottage had a solid fuel Rayburn up to 20 years ago, but when they renovated it they thought it would be a good idea to rip it out ....... how very dare they!

We had a day in Swanage last week and we went into a shop that had one; working, warm and gorgeous.  Well, of course, that has just made the wanting increase a hundred fold.

Now, how can I get my hands on a spare £8,000 (ish!).

Saturday, 4 February 2012

What I Love Today ......... Hot Chocolate

It's very cold here today and at this precise moment it is trying to snow.  I don't want to be a kill joy, but I hope it doesn't.  I should be going to London tomorrow to watch Lion King - The Musical.  It was my eldest's Christmas present and we have  been getting all excited this week.  Knowing what our transport system is like, a tiny bit of snow and the trains will be cancelled!!  #fingerstightlycrossed

As it is so cold, I could think of no better way to warm up than make a big mug of hot chocolate.

 I had to go into town especially to get the drinking chocolate and boy, was it busy in the supermarket.  Snow fever has hit the country.  My daughter works at Waitrose and she said that it was busier today than any day leading up to Christmas!!!

Do you like the spoons?  A Christmas present for The Daughter.  I LOVE them (maybe that's why I bought them for her).

To be honest with you, even the 'not so hot chocolate' paste is yummy .................

......................... but I managed to hold back and wait for the hot milk to be ready!

All that was left to do was put my PJ's on, sit in front of the wood burner, patchwork quilt on my lap and get warm.

Have you had snow?

Lots of love

Marge x

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Once again it has been a while since I have posted any thing here.  Once again, I apologise.

But, I can assure you I have not been idle.  A new job has been started and settled into, exams have been sat and all passed, Christmas has been bought, wrapped, cooked, unwrapped, eaten, and decided to keep me company by hanging on to my thighs and a few things have been made by my fair hands.

The one thing I am most proud of are the dollies I made for my two nieces for Christmas, they were ssssooooo lovely I had trouble giving them away!!  They were based on Tone Finnanger's Tilda Good-Night Angel that was featured in Mollie Makes (Issue 8).  Anyway, have a look at the pictures and tell me what you think.

May I present to you Agatha & Merryn

This is Merryn and was handed over to my niece Tallulah to look after.

..... and this is Agatha who was given to my niece Lucy.

It was very hard to wrap them up and give the parcels out as I loved them so much, but I know they will be looked after and cherished for years to come, so that makes it a little easier ...... I guess!!!

I used a Cath Kidston fabric for the nightgowns and some embroidery thread for the hair and the rosy cheeks were painted on with fabric paint.

I hope you like them as much as I do.

Lots of love

Marge x