Marmalade fit for Paddington…if he also loves cheese!

Tadaaaaa!!! Behold, the most perfect preserve! I’m also loving the cute tags made using some of the Kirsty Allsop range.

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A while ago I blogged about meeting Jill of ‘Jill’s Jams’ fame and how she had inspired me to try and make my own preserves and this follow on post has been a long time coming but you know what they say…

‘all good things come to those who wait’

After searching for inspiration and a method which required little of the normal jam- making paraphernalia (cheep is the way after all!) I decided that chutneys were the way forward. I was a bit down hearted as I was really hoping to make a yummy marmalade to spread on my toast for breakfast but at least this way I could fulfil my aim of making or home enhancing all of my Christmas presents this year (oooo I bet you lot can’t wait can you, you lucky ducks!)

As I said last time, the ‘Pinterest’ research commenced and I stumbled upon a recipe I liked the look of just as I was about to drop of to sleep! (anyone else spend hours once they have tucked themselves up in bed, glued to ‘Pinterest’ or is it just me?)

Now, I know Paddington Bear looooves marmalade like I love cups of tea as he was a huge childhood hero of mine and so I jumped for joy when I realised the chutney I was aiming to make was, in fact, labelled as a ‘marmalade’! I was able to feel joy at the prospect of making something I really wanted to whilst also…ahem…selflessly making a gift for someone else.

The recipe pinned from notquitenigella.com was easy to follow, required few ingredients and I was very pleased when my ‘try-hard’ efforts looked as though they were paying off and quick! 

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Due to the citrus juice (I’m no scientist but I think this is a pretty reasonable guess!) the mixture began to break down and ‘ferment’, not sure if that is the correct term but again, I think it’s a decent guess (you can tell I’m an expert at this!) before I had even put it on the heat!

Although it has been sat in my fridge for a over a week now, I finally got the chance to try some of it at the weekend as I had been holding out for a strong cheese worthy of my delectable ‘Orange and Carrot Marmalade’ and it was mighty fine indeed!

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If you like a chutney to have a sweetness and a hint of spice to it then this is the one for you! Click here if you fancy giving it ago yourselves, it is very tasty and has a subtle Christmasey smell about it as it is fragrance with cardamon and ginger- perfect for this time of year!

I would like to say that Mrs Try-hard has, in this case, succeeded!

What have been your latest triumphs?

Have you tried to make a preserve and think I should have a go at it too?

If so then leave me a comment or link and I’ll certainly ‘try’ to give it at go!

Until my next, ahem, success!

Mrs T x

Music to my ears!

‘If music be the food of love, play on’  or something like that… here is my response to the weekly writing challenge anyway-

Last year for Christmas I bought my dad a personalised print from Not On The High Street. It featured 16 black and white prints of cassette tapes and you could have the name and title of a song printed on each label strip to create a ‘playlist’. I relished the challenge of narrowing it down to just 16 songs I had created shared memories to with my Pappa.

You see, my dad left my mother and I when I was 2 1/2 and whilst he has made many decisions in his life I don’t like, his taste in music is something I love and an area we could truly bond over. Amongst some of the tracks I chose were Chris Rea’s ‘I’m gonna buy a hat’ and Warren Zevon’s  ‘Werewolves of London’- classic cruising in the car songs I loved to sing along to when I was a tot!

Music has always been a big element of my life and, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a big sentimentalist! I love the way music can bring people together, transport you back to the moment something happened or make you cry with laughter or sorrow at the memories they conjure.

The song we played at my mum’s funeral for example, always makes me cry and smile at the same time as, whilst it reminds me she is no longer here, it takes me right back to our kitchen listening to her singing along to it on the radio- priceless!

I hope my children can be reminded of wonderful memories and moments we create together just by hearing a few chords of a familiar song in the same way I am with my parents.

They might not always be around but the memories never go away…just fade around the edges slightly until you’re left with a cosy, warm glow!

What relationship do you enjoy with music? What is your favourite song?

Happy listening

Mrs T x

Age ‘Concern’? Yes I have a few…

Over the Half Term week Mr T, wonderful family members and myself got well and truly stuck into the task of sorting, clearing and storing things from my mother’s house. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not a task I relish!

We have given away many items to good homes, recycled an abundance of paper and inundated the local charity shops with most of the rest and it is this issue I wish to quietly rant about today.

I’m all for reusing and grew up wearing and playing with most of my cousins, mum’s friends and even taxi drivers children’s hand-me downs. It is not this element I have issues with here.

In today’s economic and Eco climate I feel we (myself included) should be making more of an effort to peruse and purchase others pre- loved ‘junk’ before buying and creating more of our own.

Anyway, I digress (into a semi political direction)… When I was last down at my mum’s a few weeks back I popped a few (read 9) bags of clothing and other prize goodies into the local ‘AgeUK’ 20131104-204825.jpg

shop which had an appeal for more stock posted in its window. The lady who greeted me was very kind, appreciative and understanding as she handed me the Gift Aid form to fill out.

Gift Aid, btw, is something I always tick and wish I didn’t have to- I feel rotten that charities have to resort to such measures to increase their donation total- but am very glad exists.

I was quite impressed, to tell you the truth, that all of the items I had donated would be labelled with my unique Gift Aid code on them so any tax profits could be reclaimed and left the shop with an intrinsic sense that all was well with the world (imagine air kick Mary Poppins style here)

That is until I received THE email!

Today I clicked the open button and was outraged and honestly shocked that charities were having to do such a thing as offer the money they had made on the items I had donated BACK to me!!!! Who donates something and then thinks 10 days later ‘actually, yeah, I’m a bit strapped for cash this month so I’ll have that £3.50 I donated to charity back please’ ?????

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People don’t pop a quid in the Poppy Appeal box and then try and fish it back out with a          pin do they? NO of course they don’t!!!

I’m sure there is some really sound legal reason behind AgeUK having to offer me the   money but does it make it morally right that we subject charities, who are set up to help and support some of the most vulnerable members of our society, to such a humiliating task?

I, for one, will continue to donate and tick the Gift Aid box but AgeUK can rest easy as I will, in no way, shape or form, be begging the money back!

Even in such hard- up times as these, there is aways someone worse off than you and AgeUK (and other wonderful charities, who, I would presume also have to undertake such red tape tasks) I salute you!

Many thanks for indulging my moan peeps but I was shocked to find out about this and would imagine many of you are unaware of it also.

Until the next rant….
Mrs T x

Waste Not, Want Not

The other night I indulged Mr T for an hour and sat through an episode of Karl Pilkington’s ‘The Moaning of Life’. Now, it’s not that I don’t like the man, he has an unabashed knack for stating the obvious and saying what everyone is thinking to a level I applaud, it’s just not my usual T.V. cup of tea!

Whilst I was half watching and half ‘pinning’ it struck me that this episode was well timed to coincide with the recent news article regarding TESCO’s admission that

..it generated almost 30,000 tonnes of food waste in the first six months of 2013.

To be honest, whilst I am horrified by the level of waste, I’m not surprised, those of you who have read my blog will have picked up that food wastage is a bug-bear of mine (click here to read more from me). We have become a throw away society where little attention is given to anything deemed ‘past it’ (read into this what you will)

The Guardian published an excellent report on the global issue earlier last week which you can read at your leisure by clicking here.

In a slightly less ‘highbrow’, yet equally enlightening, comment on the topic of food waste, Mr Pilkington takes time out of the daily grind to follow a guy who has ‘dropped-out’ of the preverbal rat race in order to lead a less stressful and more intrinsically happy life (something I can relate to after 5 hours of school work today, let me tell you!).

Whilst exploring the issue of just how one goes about living without money (lets face it, most of us ‘rat racers’ are also wondering just how to go about this at the moment thanks to the economy) Karl has his eyes opened to the issue of food wastage when they discover box upon box of perfectly fine and untouched takeaway pizzas in the bin.

How can we, as an apparently civilised society, justify this? Surely there are people out there who would give their right arm for a warm and filling meal? Food-banks are being heavily relied upon and emptied on a regular basis right here in the U.K.

I in no way mean to offer a solution here in this blog but it does prompt me to think and try harder to save and cut down on our households food wastage.

With this in mind my eyes fell upon the fruit bowl yesterday, where, a beautiful, bruised and browning bunch of bananas were living. Rather than chucking them in the bin I googled a banana bread recipe and set about baking! Image

Even if I do say so myself, the first slice was YUM, the second slice was even tastier and the slice for breakfast this morning was delish! The hubbie and I are rapidly approaching the point of banana bread overload but it is a recipe I shall make again for sure!

How will you try to reduce food waste?

Do you have an opinion on the issue you’d care to share? If so, please leave me a comment 🙂

Happy Sunday

Mrs T x

First flushes of new love wearing thin?

So… I did warn you this would happen! A fortnight into blogging and over a week with no post…’lazy‘ some would say, ‘lost interest‘ others might whisper but the truth is I have been without t’internet (apart from on my phone) for the best part of the half term week.

Excuses, excuses I hear you cry and you would be right- yes I could of blogged from my phone (as I am doing now) or I could of sat up when I finally got home late on last night BUT I didn’t!!

I value you far to much, oh dear readers, (I am presuming I have some- big presumption I know but hey, I’m a glass half full kinda gal!) to do a half a*sed job and, truth be told, I like the ritual of sitting at my kitchen table with a steaming cuppa as I perfect my offering- this I shall endeavour to do tomorrow, promise (and I do try hard to keep my promises!)

Until tomorrow…

Mrs T x