Jam: Round 1!

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For Christmas my friend bought me a jam making kit and up until two weeks ago I was yet to get around to using it! With so much end of summer fruit on offer I decided to give it a whirl and my first go was to be a traditional strawberry jam! While the kit I have is from Kilner and contains a funnel, jars, labels etc there is nothing to stop you using the contents of your own kitchen cupboards! You will need a solid, thick based pan to make the jam in. Don’t use a non stick pan because it will get ruined! You will also need some sterilised jars! You can re use old jam jars and sterilise them with boiling water or in a dishwasher. You can then dry them in the microwave so as not to contaminate them with damp dishcloths!

Aside from all the equipment the jam is actually quite easy to make! I used a Delia Smith recipe and made 3 medium jars. Before you start cooking the jam you will need to chill a small plate in the fridge or freezer. You will see why soon! So! Here’s how to do it…

Ingredients

450g Jam Sugar

650-700g Strawberries

Juice of 1 Lemon

Method

1. To begin the jam making you will need to clean and dry your strawberries and remove the stalk. Make sure you dry them! Extra moisture is a no no!

2. To prepare your pan you need to grease the base with a tiny bit of butter to stop the sugar burning then layer the fruit, sugar, fruit, sugar in the pan evenly. Delia Smith recommends leaving the fruit overnight to allow the sugar to draw out the moisture. This keeps the fruit more solid when the jam is made. I included the step but left the pan for only a few hours. I also kept my strawberries whole but if you wanted you could cut them in half which would give you a smoother jam.

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3. After the fruit has rested you can begin to heat the jam!!! Place the jam on a low to moderate heat to just melt the sugar and release some of the fruit’s juices. Try not to stir the jam too much as it will break up the fruit.

4. When the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice (make sure there are no pips!). Next turn up the heat and get the jam really bubbling! (See below) When it’s really bubbling. Time it for 8 minutes!

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5. After the 8 minutes remove the jam from the heat and get your chilled plate! Spoon a little jam onto the plate and push it with your finger. If the jam is done you will see the surface wrinkle! If it doesn’t wrinkle heat the jam for another 3-4 minutes then repeat the process and look for the wrinkles! You can do this a few times until the jam is set!

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6. When you have removed the jam from the heat add a knob of butter and mix to disperse the scum from the jam. As the jam cools another ‘scum’ of bubbles will form on the top of the pan. To keep this to a minimum when the jam is slightly cooled fill the jars to prevent a large scum form forming. Leave the lids off and allow the jam to cool fully.

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7. As a final step when the jam is completely cooled use either wax discs or 2 layers of cling film cut the size to seal the top surface of the jam. Then pop on the lids and label! The jam should keep for a few months in a cupboard but once open keep in the fridge!

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I’ve died and gone to wine heaven…

When it comes to wine I’m not particularly adventurous but I absolutely love a gorgeous chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or an indulgent glass of prosecco! This weekend I visited the Clitheroe Food Festival with my friend and we bought ourselves a delicious bottle (which we then drank far too quickly!) from D Byrne and Co a local wine shop that dates back to the 1870’s. To say its a treasure trove would be an utter understatement! If you were locked in here you’d be drunk for this lifetime and the next there’s that much stock! From the old to the new and from every corner of the globe there’s something to suit everyone’s taste! And it’s not just wine, cider, whiskey anything you can imagine you can buy here! I love the oldy worldy feel the shop has! It’s brilliant for a good, CAREFUL rummage! I’m still having nightmares about knocking over a full shelf of stock…

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Colour Pop: Kitchen Essentials

With so many great summer colours around in the clothes stores this season its a given that this trend carries through into interiors. I’ve seen so many epic, crazy bright kitchen utensils and items I figured I would share some of my favourites with you!

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1. Ikea Chosigit Ice Cream Scoop £2 www.ikea.com

2. Colourworks Cookie Cutter Set £3.74 www.tesco.com

3. 5 Melamine Measuring Spoons £3.50 www.marksandspencer.com

4. Joseph Joseph Nest Plus Measuring Spoons £10 www.debenhams.com

5. Coloured Mug Tree £4 www.matalan.co.uk

6. Ikea Iris Tea Towel £2.75 www.ikea.com

7. Bamboo Fruit Bowl £12 www.matalan.co.uk

8. KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer £429.95 www.johnlewis.com

9. Colourworks Non Stick Frying Pan £10.99 www.tesco.com


It’s to dry for…

I recently discovered the ‘To Dry For’ website. Its basically a website selling the coolest and greatest tea towels I’ve ever seen! Drying up has never been so good! And the best part? It delivers worldwide (like Pitbull :p) so if you’re abroad you can get some too! While they are slightly pricey, their graphical styles and great imagery make it worth it! I’d love one as a present! Here’s a selection of my favourites!

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Kawaii Cute!

I’m not usually one who goes for the super cute stuff but I fell head over heels for these Japanese Kawaii erasers! Kawaii is a Japanese word meaning ‘cute’ and represents a key style in Japan for all things girly, tiny and sugary sweet. I bought myself a set of the dessert erasers from eBay as it skipped the delivery fee but they are available in the UK through www.tofucute.com and they’re really reasonably priced!

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Letterpress shortbreads…

So after much waiting I FINALLY got around to using the alphabet stamp I bought off EBay a few months back! The results were a little mixed, the press worked really well when the dough was raw but did spread a little when they baked making the text harder to read. I think this is because I used a slightly soft shortbread dough I think a dried dough would produce a more defined result!

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To begin a made a single batch of shortbread dough using this recipe here minus the lemon. I then broke the dough into three batches and used a paste food colouring to dye two of the parts. Do not use liquid food colouring as this will be too wet. I then rolled out each colour separately on a caster sugar dusted work surface.

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I used the leftover pieces mixed together to make these tie-dye looking biscuits! I cut out the dough using shaped cutters and placed them on a greased baking tray.

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I set up the letterpress or stamp with my desired message and pressed it into the cut shapes. I had to be careful not to press the stamp in too hard as it left a line around the edge. You can see how defined the letters look on the raw dough below. I then baked the biscuits in the oven and decorated with icing. Although the finished article doesn’t have very defined text I’d still recommend giving this product a go as it would also work really well on royal icing for topping cakes! And for the price you really can’t go wrong!

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I gave in to my mug love…

After posting here a few weeks ago about my love and lust for the fabulously chic Maxwell Williams ‘Putting on the Ritz’ range I finally succumbed after seeing it for sale on Achica! I bought four of the mugs in varying patterns and I couldn’t love them more! They look fabulous! The grey and gold have a metallic frosted look and the mugs are gorgeous bone china and a great size for a lovely cup of tea! Each mug was only £2.90 on Achica so a snip really when the label on the base says £8.00 each! I couldn’t recommend it more! I only wish I’d bought the plates too!

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