Monthly Archives: June 2015

Elderflower Cordial

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Elderflower Cordial

 My local park has an abundance of elderflowers, so I decided to have a go at making elderflower cordial. 

  

There are loads of recipes on the Internet, and I have Pam Corbin’s fabulous ‘Preserves’ book, so I kind of meshed together a couple of recipes to make my own. 

I took about 50 elderflower heads, chopped of most of the stalks, and added the zest of 3.5 quite large lemons and 1 lime (because that’s what I had!). I shook the elderflowers to remove bugs, and chucked away any that were brown. 

  

I then sliced the lemons and lime and added them to the pot. 

    

Then I poured about 3 litres of boiling water over the flowers they went a bit brown, so if I did it again I would let the water cool a bit first. 

  

I then left it to steep overnight. With a tea towel over the top.  

I then strained I through a drive with pieces of kitchen paper in it. I replaced the kitchen paper a couple of times as it got quite clogged. 

  
Look how cloudy it is. And look at what was left over….

 
This is it once strained. Much clearer. 

 

I then added 2kg of sugar and 2 generous teaspoons of citric acid that I bought off the internet.  
  

 I then brought it to the boil and let if boil for a little while (10 mins?) to make sure it was nice and hot and would be better preserved (so in theory last longer)

 
I then decanted it into Kilner flip top bottles that I bought from Wilkinsons. The larger ones are half a litre, and the small ones quarter of a litre.  I put them through the dishwasher and then in a 150 degree oven to sterilise them (without the stoppers in the oven – I put them back on once the bottles were full). 

I needed a tiny funnel for the small bottles as the necks are narrow. I guess you could use a jug, but I find funnels to helpful for filling bottles. 

 

I didn’t have enough bottles, so I’ve put some in a jug that will go into the fridge. If you are working out how many bottles you need, just look at how much water you are adding. That will be roughly how much cordial you will get. I’m waiting for it to go cold to mix it with sparkling water, but I did taste it and it is wonderfully floral and not too sweet. 

I think it’s dark because I used hot water which browned the flowers. Another time I will try the cold soaking method, and see what results I get. Have you tried the cold soaking method? How did it work out?

  

  

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Low Fat (Low Syn) Frozen Yoghurt 

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Low Fat (Low Syn) Frozen Yoghurt 

I’m always on the look out for low fat/low calorie versions of my favourite foods, and I recently bought an ice cre maker so I can make low fat frozen yoghurt. 

For the first one one I thought I would use  Choc Shot, which is my new favourite thing. It’s a chocolate flavoured syrup made with ‘Sweet Freedom’ which is a sweetener made from fruit. It has 14 calories per teaspoon, and I love it drizzled over fruit and yoghurt. 

There are three flavours.: chocolate, chocolate and coconut (like a liquid Bounty bar) and spiced orange chocolate (which to me tastes like Green & Blacks Maya Gold). 

I decided to use the coconut one for the first outing of my ice cream maker. 

   
I had some Yeo Valley 0% fat plain yoghurt, which I strained overnight through a sieve with a piece of kitchen paper in it. This was to thicken it up, as it’s quite runny. You could use Greek yoghurt instead, and of course it doesn’t have to be low fat or fat free if you don’t want it to be!

I had about 200g of yoghurt, and I added 1tbsp of choc shot. Which I guess is about 40 calories?  In Slimming World terms it’s 2 syns for 1 tbsp, and the yoghurt is ‘free’. So only 2 syns for the whole lot!

 

A quick mix and it looks like this, and tastes pretty good as it is!  It still has that tartness that comes with plain yoghurt, so you might want to add more choc shot if you want it more chocolatey, or serene of some kind (maybe sweet freedom) to take away the tartness.       

A quick whiz in the ice cream maker. (It’s this Andrew James one – isn’t it pretty?! – I got it from here, and into the freezer to firm up. 

 
I forgot to take a photo before I ate some of it, but here it is.. I put it in the fridge to soften for a couple of hours before eating it to get it to scoopable consistency. And it was delicious! Creamy texture, a bit tart and chocolatey, coconuty yum. 

Hand Painted Herb Labels

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Hand Painted Herb Labels

I can never find herb labels that are pretty and where the range covers all of the herbs I have. So I did a search on Pinterest, and found this idea for painting pebbles.  (Here)

The paint is Decoart Patio Paint, and the cheapest place I found was BG Payne Crafts, which is in Lancashire, but they do mail order. The paint is waterproof and non toxic. There are loads of colours and they stock a really good range. It was difficult to choose which ones I wanted, and I forgot to order a green one, but it was easy to mix a green as I had bought blue and yellow. 

  
I have pebbles in my garden, so I chose the smallest, flattest ones. If you don’t have any, then garden centres always do. 

I just did random patterns, and then painted the names over the top. I used cheap kids brushes from Wilkos. I love these as they are only £1.00, and each one is a different size/shape. 
  
It was really easy, and a fun afternoon in the sun in the garden. My 5 year daughter also did a load of stones. Not sure what she is going to do with hers, will probably find them randomly in the garden! 

 
So here they are, we’ve brought them inside to dry thoroughly for a few days, and I will post a photo of them in situ soon.  

   
     

Here they are in place!

   
   
I think Chives and Apple Mint are my favourites. Which is yours?

  

Dip Dye Adventure

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Dip Dye Adventure

I recently bought a cute little strapless sundress in a lovely cheap shop called Choice. It basically sells Next seconds, and I think I got the dress for £15. 

Unfortunately because it was white it was a bit see through for my tastes, so I decided to dip dye it. 

I forgot to take a decent ‘before’ photo, but here it is wet (draped on my cooker) before dyeing. 

  
I bought some ‘ocean blue’ dylon hand dye (make sure you don’t get machine dye) from Wilkos, and made it up according to the instructions. Because I didn’t want to dye my lovely ceramic sink I did it in a big plastic planter I had lying around. 

   

I then dipped the top 3/4 of the dress in the dye. I wanted a reverse dip dye as it was the bust area I wanted darkest (for obvious reasons!). 

 
I left it for 15 minutes

   Then moved it up by about a 1/4 of the dress (so less fabric was in the dye). 

  

Another 15 minutes and I pulled out more of the fabric, leaving just the elasticated top and ties. 

  

I left that bit in for half an hour before dipping the whole dress in for just a couple of minutes. I then rinsed it all under cold water until it ran clear and left it in the sink (over the tap) to dry off overnight. 

  

Not wanting to waste the dye, I also thought I would have a go at rye dyeing Japanese style, which is called Shibori. See here for loads of ideas. 

I had an old long sleeve white top that was perfect, so I folded it concertina style. 

   
 

Then concertina style along the length to make it into a square. 

 
I then bound it tightly with string. Not sure if the red string was a good idea!

   

 I dunked the whole thing in the dye bath for just half an hour (more through impatience than anything else!). I rinsed it in cold water like the dress and left it to dry in the sink (propped on two tall cans). 

  

So I will hang them outside tomorrow to dry off properly and see how my experiment has gone. Can’t wait to see! 

And here they are..

   
     

The dip dye is cute, but the differentiation of colour in the different bands isn’t as much as I would like, and the line between the blue and white is a bit straight/harsh. Next time I will have the garment wetter before dyeing so you get more dye run and leave it in for less time for the first two stages. 

I like the top – the patterns are cool. Like square windows. Next time I would fold and tie it tighter and leave it in the dye bath for longer for a more defined colour difference.  

All in all I’m happy, and would certainly try it again.