Monday, 28 September 2015

.... Cooking with Bramley Apples
Bramley Apples and Blackberries

We are lucky enough to have a large old Bramley Apple tree in our garden which at this time of year is bountiful with fruit.  We get a lot of "windfall" apples that drop from the tree and I do my best to make use of them, however, as they can only be eaten once they are cooked this means I have to put in a little effort to try and keep up with what is available. 

One of my usual tactics is to take carrier bags full in to work to share with my colleagues, however, I recently accepted voluntary redundancy so that is not an option. This has not been without some laughs as I tried to explain to my Moldovan and Polish colleagues that they must be cooked before eating, it turns out that cooking apples are peculiar to the UK.  

There was nothing for it but to roll my sleeves up and spend Saturday in the kitchen.  Hubby was working a 12 hour shift so I knew I could get stuck in without any interruptions.  I scavenged the last of the blackberries from behind the garden shed and set to.  First up was an apple and blackberry crumble for Hubby to take into work the next day to share with his co-workers.

This is all based around Delia Smith's basic crumble recipe

225g plain flour
75g butter (at room temperature)
100g sugar (I use what ever kind I have to hand)

Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it is evenly distributed and resembles cake crumbs, add the sugar and mix through.  This is ready to be used now or it can be frozen to be used as and when required or it will keep in the fridge.

For the filling I peeled and sliced about 900g of Bramleys put them in a pan with enough water to cover the bottom and about 40g of sugar, cook until the apple starts to collapse and go fluffy. Place the apple mix in baking or Pyrex dish about 9 or 10 inches long. Add the blackberries they will make the apple go pink.  Cover with the topping, fork it  down, dont press.  Bake at Gas mark 4, 350 F 180C for about 30-40 minutes.  Serve with custard, cream or ice cream and don't think about what is happening to your waistline!!

I also made a couple of smaller ones where I added some mincemeat to the apple mix instead of the blackberries, absolutely delicious with vanilla ice cream.  The reason for using the mincemeat is that I brought quite a lot when it was reduced to 25p a jar in the supermarket after Christmas last year, Some have expiry dates as late as 2017, however, there are a couple that go out of date in October so any excuse as I love those festive flavours. 

This link will take you to the delia on line website, although I couldn't spot this basic recipe on there.
Bramley apple and Blackberry crumble

My other makes were both chutneys so I won't be able to feed back on these until they have matured a little.

First up was this classic apple chutney from the BBC good food website, I found the recipe easy to follow, it didn't require me to purchase a lot of extra items and didn't have to be cooked for hours.  I made a bit of a mess up and put in more ginger and mustard seed than the recipe asks for (wrong sized spoon), I tried to take some back out but know that there is more in there than there should be, oops.  Hopefully it will still taste fine and you and I will be the only ones who know about this misdemeanor.
Classic Apple Chutney

My second chutney make was also from the BBC good food website autumn tomato chutney  I only made half the quantity suggested as I was using tomatoes from the garden and wanted to save some to eat fresh.
Autumn chutney bubbling away
It yielded 3 jars and I can't wait for it to be ready to try, there is something so satisfying about making things with your home grown produce and this contains both tomatoes and apples from the garden.
Autumn chutney

There are plenty more apples left on the tree so I am in the market for recipe suggestions.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

... paper play with autumn leaves

The weather here has taken a distinctly autumnal turn, cardigans have been in daily use and the big debate about is it cold enough to put the heating on has begun ( we have resisted so far).  My Pinterest feed has been popping up with images showing that I am not the only one to have noticed the change in the season and my Leaf me alone board has been getting regular pins fed into it.
Autumnal dispaly

I enjoyed my  adventures with recycled paper play and still have plenty of pages of the book left along with some brown paper that had been on a parcel delivered earlier in the week so I decided it was time for a new mobile.
paper leaf mobile

I toyed with creating different textures by screwing the paper up or by folding it in half to give it a sharp line.  The leaf shapes are a combination of free hand cutting and drawing round some small cookie cutters that I had, it has resulted in a variety of shapes and textures that I am very happy with.  I love the shadows that are cast, it gives the whole thing another dimension.
Brown paper leaves

Once the mobile was up I had to carry on and dress the rest of the mantle, my vintage Sylvac pottery is perfect for an Autumnal display.
Sylvac Squirrel
Sylvac mouse
Sylvac deer

I jumped on the idea of using some of my vintage button cards to complete the display, this is in the room where I do my sewing so I can look up and  see these little lovelies while I am working. It seemed to be lacking a little punch of colour and I hit on the idea of using some of my sewing threads which seem to do the trick.

The old mobile has now been consigned to the log burner to have one final useful role in helping to start the fire.  Who says recycling can't be fun.

How are you marking the change in the season or are you hanging on to Summer a little longer?

Friday, 4 September 2015

...National Sewing month

The USA have declared September as National sewing month

I like the idea of having a month dedicated  to sewing not only does it encourage you to take up your needle it also is an acknowledgement of the many sewers that are out there, it is generally a solitary pursuit which is why so many of us keep our blogs to communicate with the wider sewing community

 This  30 minute sewing challenge was brought to my attention on a Facebook group as a way of celebrating this. I like the idea of committing to just 30 minutes of sewing a day for the month and it would be interesting to see what could be achieved by adding all these little pieces of time together,  but I also know that this is not going to happen for me every day in September as we are on holiday plus I haven’t done anything in the past 3 days.

It did raise a few questions  though 

  • Will I be able to stop at the 30 minute mark?
  • Will I need to set an alarm?
  •  Would it be like when the factory whistle blows and tools are downed mid seam only to be picked up the following day? 
  • Does the 30 minutes include time for gathering your bits and bobs together?
  • Does reading/writing sewing blogs, browsing fabric websites and talking on Facebook groups count after all it is sewing related?

I think I might give it a bash in October, I have already earmarked a couple of projects that needed finishing off and a 30 minute hit might be just what is needed,, after all they are unfinished for a reason. 

If you are taking part please  leave a comment and share your plans