Friday, 22 May 2009

Nursery Flapjack recipe

At nursery this week we made the most delicious flapjack, so gooey and moreish - I just had to share the recipe with you!

Nursery Flapjack

6oz margerine

6oz brown sugar

8oz oats

1tbs golden syrup

pinch salt

12 x 9" baking tray


Cream the marg and sugar together. Stir in syrup, oats and salt.

Line the tray with baking paper and spread the mix evenly in the tray.

Bake for 30mins at 170oC until golden. Cool on a wire tray

Cut into square whilst still warm and serve straightaway for gooey goodness. When it is cold its rock hard!!!


Thursday, 21 May 2009

Tomatoes and the generosity of strangers

Most of you reading will have heard of freecycle, a scheme where you offer unwanted 'stuff ' for others to pick up if they need some. Over the past few weeks we've freecycled lots of unwanted clutter from the house.
Yesterday, we collected some unwanted plants from a local grower and I was able to double the varieties of tomatoes we are growing this year!!
So now as well as the 'Gardeners Delight' we bought as young plants and the 'Alicante' Little Jonesey grew from seeds we will have 'Garden Pearl' in our hanging baskets, 'Beefsteak' in the greenhouse and 'Moneymaker' in tubs in the sunny spots in the garden!!
Hopefully the harvest will be vast and I'll be able to pop a jar of homemade chutney back in to the lady that kindly gave me the plants.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

My Freedom Garden Update

Our very first Nastutium Flower!!!

We've not grown these before but they are dead easy, the leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible!

The rain over the past week has really done the garden good, let me take you on a tour of some of the highlights....

Our first year growing tomatoes, they are up to 2ft high now but I'm surprised how early they are flowering. I've even learnt how to nip out the side shoots!!!

I threw down a handful of rocket seed in the soil at the bottom of the squarefoot planter and its growing great guns!!!

Redcurrants are bountiful this year! Compared to last years harvest of 5 yes count them 5 berries!!!!

No the photo isn't upside down this baby pear is reaching for the sky. Once again only a handful have set. Maybe I will hand pollenate them next year. Does anyone else have any tips for growing pears?

The beetroot leaves are coming on - I've already pinched some for a salad! Apparently taking the odd outone shouldn't affect the beetroot underneath as lon as its limited to 4/5 in total. I need to start some new seedling off soon so we have a second lot to harvest later.

Little Miss Jones' spinach has doubled in size in the past week.

The new strawberryies are growing nicely! These should make a nice compliment to the alpine strawberries I planted last year.

Little Jonesy has been planting up sunflower seeds.

Of course I've had a bit of help from my gardener in training, Little Miss Jones!!

Monday, 18 May 2009

How to recycle your way bigger better plants - Home made suntrap / greenhouse

Sweetcorn, Sunflowers, Strawberries and Beans growing in the Suntrap

We don't have a traditional greenhouse and our conservatory is a cold northfacing one so after our seeds have germinated we transfer them to our homemade (recycled) suntrap to give them a little bit of extra warmth to help them on their way!!

As you can see they are recycled UHT milk cartons, the shiny insides make a great reflective surface to focus the heat onto the plants. Simply wash out your cartons thoroughly the cut open and tape together to make mini suntraps.

I grew two lots of sweetcorn side by side but put a suntrap behind one. Of course there could have been several variables but the one in the suntrap grew about a third bigger so far!!!

Give it a go, you've nothing to lose!!
What clever growing tips do you have?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Quick & Easy Recipes - Sponge Pudding

Ever fancy a quick and easy pudding?

Every evening I get 'mummy what's for pudding?'. If I haven't already prepared one then I have a couple of great standby recipes...

Microwave Sponge Pudding

75ml vegetable oil

2oz sugar

1 large egg

2oz Self Raising Flour

2 tbs milk

2 tbs jam / golden syrup

Grease a microwave bowl, pour in jam/syrup and set aside. In another bowl mix remaining ingredients than pour on top of syrup/jam in greased bowl - do not mix!!

Cover and put into microwave. Cook for 3 minutes on full (my microwave is 1200w) or until cooked through. Loosen around edge and turn out onto a plate. Delicious served with custard


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

How to stay on the simple path - Preparation

Yesterday's post on temptation showed that we are all prone to little slips on the journey to a simpler life so how can we help ourselves to stay on course?

Whether your simple goals are to simplify, have more free time, save money, spend time with family, most temptation problems can be overcome by a few simple changes in your lifestyle. I will look at each of these in turn.....

  • Preparation
  • Organisation
  • Routine
  • Simplifying
  • Support
  • Community
  • Knowledge


I am a planner and a list person, I write list after list after list... In lots of areas I think about something for ages before I do it. But sometimes in life I can't see the problem at all, I haven't prepared!!As my mum will remind me constantly,

'Eliminating the temptation before it arises is a hundred times better than dealing with it once its there'.

My kids always played up after school because they were hungry (no preparation on my front). Using preparation we can sort this one easily, we need to be prepared before we turn up at school with a snack.

As with anything on this journey, you can look at your goals and choose how deeply you want to do this you may decide it is important the 'food' is a piece of fruit or that there will be wholemeal muffins baked at the weekend as a family time activity!

Quick fix:- call in at shop next door and buy sweets/ crisps/ cakes
Intermediate Solution :- turn up at school with some food brought from home.
Simple Living Solution :- bring a homemade snack to school.

I hope you can see how this theory would work across the board.

What preparation tips do you have that you could share?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

How much do you really, really want it?


Just before work today I started getting some lunch together. I got out the bread and went to the fridge to get cheese. Picking up the cheese I noticed the pork sausages behind that were getting near their end date. Thinking 'ooh I'll do those for the childrens supper' I started cooking them in the frying pan.

As they browned I looked at the sausages, I looked at the bread, I looked at the sausages, I looked at the bread....

Maybe one sausage sarnie won't hurt. * For those of you who don't know, OMJ is meat intolerant so I'm veggie too to give him support.

The thought had entered my head but suprising, thats where it stayed! I cut the cheese, walked out to the garden to pick rocket, ate the rocket on the way back in and had a lovely cheese and homemade chutney sarnie instead for lunch.

I thought about it after, living the simple life we are confronted daily by temptation and choices, the quick fixes or pressure to fit in with friends. Each time we are faced by these we need to think, do I really want to make that choice more than I want the life I have chose. After not very long the decision will be made in your head before you think it and the pleasures and satisfaction you gain from chosing the way you want rather than what others want will be tenfold ( healthier diet, a simpler home, the taste of a homegrown tomato...)

This post isn't meant as a lecture to anyone, we all make our own choices, but to serve as a reminder to me that I can choose to stay on course when faced with temptation and that it is so worth it!

Its very nearly that time of year again when the hedgerows are abundant with Elderflowers. They are still only little green buds around here but I'm hearing rumours that elsewhere they are in flower!!!

Here's a quick recipe to get you started..

Elderflower Champagne

10 Elderflower heads
2 Lemons (sliced)
8 pints (3.5 litres) of water
1.5 lb (700g) sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Put elderflower heads and lemons in a clean bucket and pour on the water.
Leave to soak for 24 - 36 hours.
Strain through a sterile cloth (or muslin) and add sugar and vinegar.
Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and pour into screw-top bottles. L
eave tops slightly loose for 10 to 14 days or undo daily (one of mine popped its own!!)
Drinkable after a fortnight but better after 2 to 3 months.
Serve chilled.
Hmm, that reminds me........ I think I may still have a bottle from last year in the garage!!!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

How to make a Homemade Fridge!!!

We've been fridge free for over 4 months now!!!! We've been using a keep- cool and putting in freezer blocks to keep the temperature down for milk / cheese etc. and on the whole its been fine :) BUT the cold weather has been on our side!!

Increasing temperatures outside have had us looking on ways to better our initial idea.

We did toy with the idea of running a 12v coolbox off a solar panel but the figures ( and safety issues didn't work) so insteads we've come up with this instead....

OMJ and Little Jonesey have converted one of our smaller kitchen cupboards into a homemade fridge. It's on a cold wall (adjoining the garage). They insulated the cupboard all surfaces, inside the door and under the top drawer, with a roll of insulation foam and we stuck reflective foil on an outer side near a radiator. Daily use is similar to the cool box, we keep food in open tupperware boxes / trays with freezerblocks to keep the internal temperature low! It seems to be working well! And with the added bonus of a shelf in there I can go back to refrigerating cheesecake, jellys and the like!!!

Their first proper family project of the summer.