Wednesday 29 August 2018

Raspberry and Blackberry apple cider vinegar

Just before I went on holiday I finished this year's first batch of apple cider vinegar. I am planning to keep 1 bottle for pure apple cider vinegar.  and the other two I will use to make raspberry and black berry apple cider vinegar.   I have picked them the day before I left and let them sit until we are back.

Now I am back I am pleased to say that I turned the apple cider vinegar into 2 1/2 gorgeous fruity balsamic vinegars.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Apple cider vinegar

As lots of apples have dropped of the cooking apple tree at my neighbours and the eating apples in the allotment, I have decided to make some apple cider vinegar with them.
I hope to have apple juice later in the month but for now I don't want to waste these windfalls.

I put some lids on top of the apples to stop them from floating and coming in contact with the air. I hope that the plastic has no effect on the outcome. We shall see in a few weeks time.

I did add some of the previous apple cider vinegar together with some honey so hopefully that gets the process going.

This is what it looks like on Wednesday 8th August

Is the stuff on the bottom the 'mother'?

I will have to wait and see at the end of the month if this is indeed the mother. By then I will be pressing apples again and make more of this amazing stuff.

Just back from holiday. Today is the 26th August and have tasted the vinegar and tasted lovely and fruity. Have composted the left over apples and made nearly 3 litres out of this batch. As I am planning to make another batch this week when apple pressing I will take some of this batch as a starter for more vinegar for the year ahead.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Even when on holiday I can't stop myself harvest abundant fruit

When I arrived in our lovely holiday spot in Holland, Loenen aan de Vecht, I noticed that a lane of apple trees along one of the main roads in the village was going to waste as they were full of (small) but ripe apples but no body seems to pick them.  So on my way to the shop I picked a few not too damaged ones in order to make some appel pannekoeken, apple flappen and apple carré.

At the shop I bought some flour, raisins and a pack of puff pasty. The following days, we had some delightful treats from apples that would otherwise have ended up in the Kliko (green wheeliebin).

I found a local juice maker  de Schulperij  who is happy press apples (if you can bring in a minimum of 600kg) you can make up your own label. A good idea if you club together with some neighbours who also have apple trees.

In the mean time we are enjoying those little apples in Loenen as part of our holiday activities.

Friday 17 August 2018

Outing to Landgoed Marienwaerdt -

I had read so much about it in the various magazines so when I found that the Landgoed Fair in Beesd coincided with our holiday in Holland, we felt we had to go.
We took the bus and the train to arrive at Beesd station to be awaited  for by a kind gentle man with a mini bus, who took all those who wanted straight to the entrance of the fair.

I really enjoyed going to the Marienwaerdt's Landgoed winkel and bought some original Molenkoek mix. we had a demonstration of the bakers of the estate and a little taster too. It was delicious so decided to buy a pack and see if I could make it just as nice as they did. The verdict is out as I will share it with my family when they come back from their holiday.

The smells nice though and it looks good. Hopefully worth doing again.


Tarwebloem, havermoutvlokken, bakpoeder, zout, rozijnen en kaneel.

Monday 13 August 2018

Monday 13th August - apple pressing and what to do with these courgettes?

Rain forecasted, but we are not put off. Just put a gazebo up to keep up  dry and cosy

With so many lovely sweet cherry tomatoes ready, having 10 people for lunch is a great opportunity to use them as a snack.  We made some mini tomato, basil, mozzarella kebabs

Caprese Salad Skewers

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mozzarella balls
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar  (we used our homemade blackberry balsamic vinegar)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Assemble, tomatoes, basil (roll from one end to the other), and mozzarella balls on medium-sized toothpicks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  1. To make balsamic glaze, add one cup of balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, set on simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it reduces to a syrup consistency. You can check by dipping a spoon in the balsamic and if it covers the back of it, it's done. As it cools, it will thicken a bit more then drizzle on top of caprese salad skewers.


Apple Juice

With the apples being ready nearly 14 days earlier than last year, it threw me a little as this is normally a task AFTER holiday, so now thanks to some lovely helpers I will turn this batch of eaters and cookers into some tasty apple juice and can take some time off in the knowledge that when I come back some lovely juice is awaiting us.

As it is such a busy morning, we had a easy lunch. Courgette soup with feta and mint  with quick bread.  For the bread we used 220gr self raising flour, with a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of natural yoghurt, and some water to make a good dough. In this case we also added some pressed garlic, but we could have used sundried tomatoes, olives too.

As a surprise the children brought a cake for us all to enjoy, it was so tasty that we asked Ruth for the recipe

  • 10ml vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1–2kg large courgettes, cut into big chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sprig thyme
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 15g mint, finely chopped
  • 100g feta
  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Chive flowers, to garnish (optional)
This simple soup tastes outstanding and when you have courgettes coming out of your ears, it feels like an achievement to eat so many in one go. Anyone can make it and it freezes well too. 
I know that, like me, my wife and son both really enjoy this (daily) soup, although the question, ‘How many courgettes did you use up?’ does sometimes make me wonder if I should give them the weekends off.
Gently heat the oil in your largest saucepan. Add the onions, garlic and courgettes with a generous sprinkling of salt. 
Cover with a lid just smaller than the pan, so it rests on the mountain of courgettes, pressing them down. 
Keep the heat low and allow to cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, so that all the courgette chunks get a turn at being on the bottom. 
Add the bay leaves and the sprig of thyme and allow to cook gently for a further ten minutes. 
Pour in the lemon juice, then replace the lid for about 15 minutes. The courgette chunks will start to break down and release their moisture. 
When all the courgettes have softened, there will be a considerable amount of liquid in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and liquidise the contents until the soup is smooth. 
The courgette skins will create dark speckles, making a great visual contrast to the almost luminous paler green. 
Stir the mint into the soup before serving in individual bowls. 
Crumble a small handful of feta into the middle of each bowl, drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil and finish with the lemon zest and a scattering of chive flowers, if you are using them.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Wonderful grapes

This afternoon Mark and I set off on our bikes to pick up Glo's grapes.
They were great last year so here is hoping for another amazing crop.
Well, she has not disappointed me. This weather must have been ideal for the grapes as trays full of sweet black grapes came to me to wash and clean.


Grapes ready to go into the Entsafter

I added about 12 left over cooking apples (from Judy's garden) so the cordial I made today is Grape and Apple. It tastes divine!

Friday 10 August 2018

First apple picking session of the season

Today after a day of heavy rain, I went to harvest the first apples of the season at Judy's.
We were amazed by the size and abundance of these beauties.

After an hour of picking and a lovely cup of coffee, we drove home with a car full of beautiful apples (eaters and cookers) 

Thank you Judy for letting Mark and I pick them, we plan to turn them into some delicious apple juice. I have already invited Ruth and the children to come and join me as they enjoyed it so much last year.

With the team: Yumi, Yuki, Sunny, Hanni and I we turned these into some delicious juice.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Making sore throat 'sweeties' today

Yesterday Mark and I went out to our normal place in Coton to check the black berries, It was a little disappointing, most likely due to the lack of rain. Still I managed to make:

3 bottles of black berry and apple cordial
2 bottles of Blackberry, ginger, lemon cordial
2 trays of blackberry, ginger, lemon  fruit leather

and one large block of sore throat gummies
blackberries, ginger and lemon just/zest
After straining I added honey and let cool to room temperature
Then added Dr Oetker Vege Gel according to instructions (3 packs could do with one more for a firmer set)

Blackberry and Ginger Gummies

Strips of fruit leather (blackberry and Ginger)


Figs are starting to get ready

This year I was more organised and contacted the Vet students before the holidays. they told me that I could let myself in whenever it was convenient.

Last week I went and harvested enough large juicy figs for a daily breakfast helping. Yumm.
I went today again and found these beauties

Some will be eaten raw but the others I have turned into a jam, to use for fig rolls, my favourite!


Monday 6 August 2018

Monday 6th August - a Mediterranean meal on a hot summers day

As the weather has been so hot for so long, it was a perfect day for a cold soup.  Today we made a gazpacho for starters.
the basil is growing really well in the stacked plastic bottles

First  a lot of chopping of onions, peppers, tomatoes, basil  and garlic

Carmen, June and Ada, the chopping team

Delicious Gazpacho, we added some ground lovage seeds for flavour

We also picked a marrow (as I overlooked it when picking the courgettes a couple of days ago) we decided to stuff it with couscous, peas, mint, blue cheese and topped it off with parmesan cheese


and a tray of roasted vegetables
Elaine picking cherry tomatoes for the roasted vegetables

As the oven is on for the bread and the roasted vegetables, we made some blackberry Bakewell muffins with the blackberries we picked.

Melendra and Simone making the muffins

Whilst everything was in the oven we walked into the garden and picked some beetroot for everyone to take some home and experiment a little. The egg timer went off so we went inside as it was time to indulge and share a delicious meal with the lovely From Spade to Plate friends