Sunday, 24 November 2013

On the 5th weekend before Christmas

I bottled some wine.  24 bottles to be exact.

You may notice one empty bottle at the front - well you do have to test it!
Making wine is quite a long job but fun.  I make two sort, the first is what I call tinned wine. This is the kit wine where I buy a kit which contains a tin of concentrate, this makes 6 bottles of wine in about 6 weeks.
The other sort is made from scratch using fruit and vegetables.  These are either given to me, grown by me or foraged.
I bottled some elderberry kit wine, elderflower and apple and plain elderflower which was started in June this year, not quite ready to drink yet. The apple and elderflower started in June last year would not clear, properly, so have given up and bottled it anyway.  Not one to put in a show, but fine to drink.


I also needed to "rack" some other wine.  This is a technical term for syphoning the wine from one demijohn to another to take away the sediment that forms in the bottom.
Bottling the wine is a bit of a faff.  Firstly I collect the bottles from the storage bin behind the shed and give them a good scrub.  Pour in the steriliser and leave for a bit.  Then with some help syphon with a plastic tube into the bottles.  Push the corks in with a special corking tool, write a label and transfer to my "wine cellar". Haha- I mean the garage.
This whole palaver of bottling 24 bottles and racking 3 jars took me all afternoon!

I make wine for a few reasons

It is nice to drink!
It is much cheaper than bought wine.  The kit wine works out at about £1.50 a bottle and the homemade is the price of a bag of sugar and some yeast, sometimes a carton of fruit juice too. Maybe 30 p a bottle.
There are less chemicals in homemade.
It is better for the environment on two counts.  Firstly my wine hasn't been shipped across the world.  sometimes we buy wine from Chile and Australia and I wonder how much energy it takes to get it here. then there is all the  travelling to the shop to buy it and bringing it home. Wine bottles are quite heavy.  Secondly I constantly re-use my bottles, I have been making wine for around 5 years and keep using the same ones, so don't have to take loads of empty bottles to the recycling bank.

Anyway job done- until next time.  

I also managed to tick some other jobs off the list including defrosting the outside freezer, doing some shopping, getting my tickets for the pantomime and cleaning out the chicken hutch.  Phew!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

no nuts or peel

When I first met Mr HH he said that he didn't like mince pies, it turned out that he didn't like mince pies made with traditional mincemeat as it always has nuts and peel in it.  
In 1996 I bought a magazine "Prima Christmas Traditions", which I still have and use each year for various recipes.  In it was a recipe for mincemeat.  I didn't realise that you COULD make your own!!!  The recipe had nuts and peel in it, but I figured out that I could just leave them out, yes, leave them out and that is exactly what I did.

From then on every Christmas I made a few jars of mincemeat and mince pies were enjoyed by all, including Mr HH.

Last year I tried a new recipe, Plum and Russet mincemeat from the Rivercottage Handbook No.2, preserves.  It was lovely, more jammy than brown and lumpy, but very nice, so have made some more this year
1kg of chopped plums are cooked in the juice of two oranges and then pureed.  This is mixed with the zest of the 2 oranges, 500g of peeled and chopped russet apples (I used normal cooking apples as i had been given some) 200g each of currents, sultanas and raisins, 100g of marmalade, 250g of demerara sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 2 tsp ground ginger and 1/2 a grated nutmeg.  50 mls ginger wine.  mix this all together and leave over night.  The next day cook for two hours in a very low oven (130C) and then stir in 50 ml of brandy. put into sterilised jars.

Then the fun begins
These are normal mince pies made with sweet pastry with ground almonds, they freeze well and I will probably make quite a few of these.

or maybe these ones with stars on top

 or maybe these puff pastry Christmas trees, a bit fiddly but my favourite

Our other favourite, that get eaten so quickly I can't find any photos of them are baked mincemeat donuts.   The recipe is in good food magazine

Baked mincemeat doughnuts
Can't wait to make these!

Will need to give the mincemeat a week to mature - well maybe a couple of days!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Blanket Ta-da!

It's finished!  My green and pink ripple blanket.

A close up of the pattern.

I made it to go on my bed, and oh! how warm and cosy it is.

 The yarn is Rowan, Belle Organic by Amy Butler. The pink is 4 ply, the turquoise is aran and the rest is double knit, this has given it some texture.  I bought the yarn from John Lewis last January and have been working on it on and off all year.  It was never meant to be something that was rushed at, just a project to pick up and do a bit now and then.  It was a bit thick and warm to work on over the summer and also got too big to take out with me.

I was, of course inspired to make this by Lucy at Attic 24, I followed her instructions, stitch by stitch and then voila!  A whole blanket!


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Remember, Remember

The 5th of November, or indeed the closest Saturday to it!

Bonfire night!  A massive bonfire followed by almost 20 minutes of bangs and explosions, it was excellent.

This event is held in the next village to us, hosted by the sports club and held on their football fields.  No entrance charge, just donations.

It was quite windy, but the rain held off.  The weather here has been very strange.  On Monday we had a gale, we were fine, but many fences came down and some trees, lots of people have been without power. And if you had hoped to travel by train on Monday you were out of luck, as they cancelled all trains between Norwich and London.  
The rest of the week has been really warm, yesterday we spent some time at the allotment and it was warm and sunny, 14 C!!  in November?  This can't be right.  Last night was the warmest bonfire night I ever remember, it is usually freezing.

In the last week the clocks have gone back (so dark so early), we have had Halloween and Bonfire Night and now....................

we can start to think about Christmas!!