Monday, October 31, 2011

Apples on the Bounty (apart from the mittens)

We tried our real cider last week and it was much improved on when we put it into the bottles for its second fermentation, so now we're letting it rest some more before getting stuck in. Above is a little crate of goodies we took round to our neighbours: six bottles of 'Toe Curler' (real cider), a jar of Tomato Relish and a jar of Plum and Apple Jam. All of which has been made from apples off the estate. A good little hamper, I thought. It was fun taking it round. Our neighbours had come over the previous week with Apple Cheese (can you spot the theme?) and Apple and Walnut pudding, which was delicious. We had the pudding after dinner that night. So nice to get an unexpected present.
I love those squat jars. I haven't found an independent baking/cooking supplier in Edinburgh so far. Lakeland is okay for some stuff but heavily over-priced on others. 
I like seeing all the preserves and relishes lined up, ready to be used throughout winter. Next year I hope to be better prepared for canning/preserving.
The relish is a Mrs Beeton's recipe (as is the jam). I like it because it uses very little vinegar and sugar to preserve the fresh ingredients, which include root ginger, chillies, apples, tomatoes and onions. So it remains fresh and delicious.
And finally, the mittens I've made for my friend's birthday tomorrow. I doubt she will look on here before then. I totally love the colours. I wasn't sure when I began, but quickly loved the contrast. They are very vibrant. So much so, that I may un-knit my own green and purple mittens and knit them back up as black and purple. I'm loving this slightly-off black (Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply). 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


For the past week I've been getting up for a couple of hours during the night, unable to sleep, even with herbal sleeping pills and Ibuprofen. I know it's to do with my caffeine intake as this happens every so often. I drink strong coffee (usually only one) about mid-morning. Then the build-up of lots of strong coffees over time takes its toll and I have to cut it out completely for a few days. I had no caffeine a couple of days ago and slept really well the night before last. But yesterday I just couldn't resist having a small amount of caffeine in my decaf coffee. Big mistake! I felt sleepy around 9pm, that passed and I was up until midnight. I read in bed for a while, put the light out, couldn't get to sleep, and ended up getting back up until 6am
I re-watched Strictly Come Dancing, AND the results show, AND It Takes Two from yesterday. I didn't feel sleepy at all
I ate two satsumas, and three squares of dark chocolate, knitted a few more rounds of my mittens, and STILL didn't feel sleepy.
I was badgered by Meg into giving her the last of her half-chicken, knitted some more, Meg got on me and we had a cuddle for a while. 
And finally I went to bed. I took more Ibuprofen and fell asleep. 

I slept until 11.30am and woke up feeling full of caffeine (though I've had none).

So, today will be a caffeine-free day, and probably the rest of the week, until I feel normal again.

For some reason, during the darkness, Elspeth Thompson came to mind. I had only just discovered her writing and books and had begun following her blog when her husband announced on her website that she had died. I felt very sorry for her and her family (of course), and sorry that she wasn't able to get through that deep depression to surface again and find enjoyment in life. Because she had so many positive things and interests. Sometimes life is about endurance, until the fog clears and colour returns. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


It has become a tradition of mine, every year, to make Plum and Apple Jam, roundabout now, though I am a little later this year. Part of the purpose of the exercise is to make jam from the free bounty that is around but I am short of a plum supplier now, and we used all of our eating apples to make cider! So, I went to Whitmuir Organic Farm and bought local apples and imported Italian plums. I was hoping they would have local plums, or some of the Greengages I used earlier in the year to make jam, but non.  

I must say it is one of the best batches I have ever made! It turned out really well and is as delicious and jewel-like-in-colour as ever. Two jars are for my friend's birthday, and the other two I'll keep for ourselves. I think it's very likely I'll make more very soon.

This is my little bowl of bounty that I got from the garden the other day. Not as much as in previous years, obviously, but lovely to see nonetheless.
The Great Cider Mission! I collected Hagos from the airport on Tuesday and we headed straight to the home brew shop to collect bottles and bottle tops for the real cider. It smelled a bit whiffy when we took the top off the tub (!) but I thought it tasted okay. Hagos thought it tasted like lemon juice! So now it's fingers crossed for this second fermentation process. There are so many people who are interested in the real cider, it has to be a success.
On Friday when I watched Nate and JJ we went with our neighbours and their children to the cooking apple tree in the centre of the maze. We picked a few apples, though it had recently been plundered, and I got enough to make this batch of apple tarts. They are okay. Not great as I only had butter rather than margarine for the pastry, so they're a bit heavy, but nice anyway.

I really wanted to include my latest knitting project in this update, but though I think the friend I'm making them for won't check my blog before her birthday I don't want to chance it. But, I'm very pleased with the knitting! And I was/am just in the mood to knit this particular thing, and the colours, which I really wasn't sure about to begin with, I've grown to really love, and I think they look a bit gothic! I'll update photos after 1st November when the present will be given.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Cakes, and a Wedding

JJ and I baked fairy cakes on Friday, and decorated them (as above, and below). He did all the mixing of the cake mix, and requested the raspberries, and directed how the cakes with icing/writing icing should be done. There were 12 cakes altogether, but we had to test one to make sure it was okay, hence why there is no cake with my name on it. Actually, stopping him from eating them all was no mean feat! I had to keep reminding him they were for dessert.
I was really pleased I'd decided to make the cakes rather than buy them pre-made, as I did with the gingerbread men. They tasted delicious. Recipe was from The Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.
And then, on Saturday, Hagos and I went to Rik and Jenny's wedding, held at Duddingston Kirk in Edinburgh, then onto the reception in a lovely hall in Leith.

We've known Rik for years, met him way back in London while we were touring with Senser. 

It was a really great day, though I started crying as soon as I turned and saw Rik walking into the church! I know he reads my blog so I will restrain the sentimentality, but suffice to say he is such a heartfelt person, and this was reflected in the enthusiastic happiness and genuine joy his friends felt for him on this special day. 

We also bumped into another mutual old friend at the wedding and had good fun swapping a few unrepeatable Rik-tales. Splendid.