Thursday, 30 August 2012

Blackberry heaven

There is nothing more delicious than a perfect blackberry! Don't get me wrong, I would never refuse a bowl of juicy, sweet, red strawberries or luscious pink, slightly tart raspberries but there is something about the determination of blackberries to grow in every overgrown patch of neglected garden/field that makes them special. And the fact that in a normal year each handful picked fluctuates between teeth clenching sour to divine bliss makes them a little like playing russian roulette with fruit ...

I always think that blackberries are ripe in late September but this year I happened to wander down the path behind the houses in our road a couple of weeks ago (so early August) and there, in all their glory, were ripe, juicy, big blackberries. And not just a few eager berries but everywhere I looked were more and more, asking to be picked.

So after a quick trip back to the house to grab a few bowls, Sophie, Justin and I went blackberry picking. There were so many ripe ones that I hardly had to move to fill a couple of bowls. The kids did a reasonable job of filling a bowl and then emptying it (into their tummies) when they got bored of picking/ had had enough of getting stung by the protecting nettles!
So what to do with all those yummy berries? I froze a bowl full (by spreading on a tray and freezing before transferring to a bag), I made some blackberry and apple jam and I made some blackberry diggles. The few remaining berries were enjoyed on breakfast!

I made diggles (a yummy biscuit) with rhubarb a little while ago (see here) but I my favourite version so far has to be with blackberries. Needless to say, they didn't last long ... 
© 2012 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Friday, 24 August 2012

What happens when the Tooth Fairy goes on holiday: Part 2

Sophie lost the second tooth (her sixth actually) in as many weeks while she was at Nana's house for a sleepover. Thankfully, Mummy was suitably prepared and had sent the tooth pillow with her.

In the morning Sophie found a note, from the Tooth Dragon again, who was still filling in for the Tooth Fairy - apparently she had lost her passport and was waiting for the postman to deliver her a new one so she could get home!

Let's hope she doesn't lose anymore soon, so the Tooth Fairy is back for the next one, although Sophie did suggest that maybe next time it might be the Tooth Bat who came - I wonder where her vivid imagination comes from?

© 2012 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What happens when the Tooth Fairy goes on holiday?

Sophie lost her first tooth when she was just a little over 5 years old, so quite early amongst her peers. Thankfully, I was prepared and already had a cute pillow with a pink gingham pocket on the front so we popped the tooth in and waited for the tooth fairy to work her magic.
 



We weren't quite sure what the going rate for teeth is these days but it turns out it is £1. And Sophie must be special as the Tooth Fairy has left her a tiny note with each of the teeth.

But what happens when the Tooth Fairy goes on holiday? Surely she can't be expected to work 24x7x365? It turns out that she does have a summer holiday and the Tooth Dragon fills in for her. The Tooth Dragon is still learning it seems and a little clumsy with her flames but she did manage to take the tooth without waking Sophie ...


I wonder what will happen with the next tooth?

© 2012 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Homemade Lemon Curd

 
One of the things I wanted to do with the children over the summer holidays was to make homemade lemon curd. I made this when I was a Girl Guide for my homemaker badge (many years ago) and I still remember how delicious it was.

I used a recipe on the BBC website from the Hairy Bikers but looking for the page again today I found another recipe, also from the Hairy Bikers that is much simpler and requires a lot less effort than the one I used!

The recipe I followed told me to stir for 10 minutes and whisk for 15 minutes, which meant staying whilst the lemon curd cooked - very satisfying to see it turn from sloppy to thick and shiny - but after two minutes stirring the kids went off to do something else! When I make it again I will definitely try the version I found today (which I have included below), allowing me to go off and do other things while it cooks (like make meringues from the left over egg white).

The finished product was as delicious as I hoped, deep yellow and thick and sharp in taste, and Sophie requested "homemade lemon curd on toast for lunch today, please" so a success with her too.
So for those interested in making your own lemon curd, here is the version I didn't do but will be making next time! Pretty similar in quantities of ingredients but a lot less physical input ...

Homemade Lemon Curd 

Ingredients
4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
200g/7oz unrefined caster sugar
100g/3½oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk

To sterilise jars, wash the jars in very hot, soapy water or put through the hot cycle of a dishwasher. Place the jars onto a baking tray and slide into an oven set to 160C/325F/Gas 3 for 10-15 minutes.

Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.

Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Recipe by the Hairy Bikers taken from the BBC Food website.

© 2012 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.