Fabulous Fig Recipes (for the non fig lover).

picked figs

Last year I was moaning on here about how much I really didn’t like figs. I don’t want to say this out loud, but there’s a chance that I’m slowly becoming accustomed to their strangeness. I’m still not a big fan but I’ve found ways to make figs work for me and mostly I think that involves taking away a lot of the figginess. I’ve struggled to find different fig recipes over the last couple of years. I like to take away the texture and disguise some of the flavour but most recipes celebrate the unique qualities of this funny fruit and it was tricky finding a selection that suited my tastes.

When properly ripe, figs are quite soggy, they have what I can only describe as a pappy texture. They also taste mega sweet and leave behind that sugary after taste that real ribena has (or old chewing gum), I’m guessing that’s fructose! As much as I am not keen, I still can’t leave them on the tree so, as well as giving them away, I’ve found some recipes that work for me: a non lover of figs…

ripening fig

(I spend every other day wobbling on a giant step ladder, reaching dangerously high to grab at all the ripe fruit I can find. I have no idea why I go to such lengths, I guess I don’t like to see them go to waste).

Homemade fig chutney

Fig Recipes:

Nigel Slater’s Fig Chutney.

This one is by far my favourite fig recipe. It takes quite a bit of bubbling but I’ve been highly rewarded. Especially yesterday when I had some with cheese and crackers. It’s even better this year. The only change I made to this recipe was swap raisins for apple. I had cox growing in the garden too and thought to use those rather than buying more ingredients. I’m not a very tidy chutney potter/canner, so it seems.

fig tree

Dried Figs.

A weird one this and they do have a medicinal quality. But I kept going back for more so that must mean something. Very easy to do and I was surprisingly impressed by such a simple thing.

Fig and Lime Sorbet.

I was dubious about this one but honestly there are so few ingredients that I think I was just being stupid and lazy. I haven’t made this for a couple of years so this year will see its return (today is probably a fig picking day actually and by chance I have limes in the fruit bowl – they were for mojitos but I’ll make the sacrifice). I love the citrus in it. I love lime!

Sticky Toffee Fig Rolls.

I’m cheating with this one, I’ve not made this recipe yet! But the kids have asked for fig rolls and these have got toffee in them so they can’t be that bad!

fig

If anyone has any other fig recipes they’d like to suggest, do let me know. I’m trying to think of boozy things but I’ve got nothing at the moment.

Garden fig tree.

I’ll be saying goodbye to figs next year. This tree is far too big for its boots and we’re going to chop it. It needs a good pruning. I think you’re supposed to do that in January. As figs grow from the previous year’s twigs that means no figs for at least a year. However, I think it’s safe to assume that I won’t really mind!

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Summer Holiday Baking – Coconut Rock Buns.

Cooling my coconut rock cakes. Rock buns

I remember making and eating these when I was little. They’re coconut rock cakes and this is a really easy recipe. The kids and I made these last week. They were made and ready to eat within half an hour! Not too bad. So, if you’re having one of those days, when you can’t be bothered to go out and the kids need something to do, then this is your summer holiday treat!

The bad news for me was that I discovered my scales were broken when I went to make them, so I had to guess the measurements. I then had a think and roughly worked out that things could be rounded to the nearest cup sizes. Surprisingly, they worked well! I’m looking at this as a positive, it means that you don’t have to be exact, which is great when baking with children.

Ingredients:

1 cup/120g self raising flour

Half a cup/100g caster sugar

115g salted butter cut into cubes. (I cut a normal 250g pack at just under the half way point).

1 cup dessicated coconut. If you don’t like coconut you can also use raisins  (it’d be the weight equivalent rather the cup equivalent though and that’d be just over 100grams.

1 large egg

100-150ml milk. Take it easy and see how it goes. I just sploshed it in and didn’t measure exactly.

Method:

Using fingers and thumbs, rub the flour and butter together in a good sized bowl. This is easy and doesn’t take as long as you think it will. You can cheat and whazz it in a food processor but that just makes for more washing up.

Stir in the sugar and coconut.

Add the egg and milk and mix into a stiff dough. It’s a bit like making ugly scones, so that’s the sort of consistency you’re after. I might have added too much milk to mine, which is why they’re a bit flat. I don’t think it matters that much as they still taste pretty yum.

Plop some dollops on to two lined baking trays (we used two dessert spoons to help) and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. I’ve got a gas oven, so it’s Gas Mark 6. Google tells me that that’s 180 degrees C  for fan, 200 degrees C for not fan! Or 400 F.

making coconut rock cakes.

Be warned, maybe you’d like to call them Coconut Rock Buns instead of cakes. I gave these to a friend’s offspring and they looked at them and delcared that they weren’t cakes at all and didn’t want them. As soon as I changed the name, they ate them all…

Yummy homemade coconut rock buns. Rock cakes Easy recipe.

 

 

And then May was over…

flowers

May has been a month of birthdays and flowers. It begins with one (mine!) and ends with one and there are some in the middle. I’ve made a lot of cake. Yesterday I made a flippin’ gorgeous cake for Grandma (my mother-in-law!).

A delicious strawberry vanilla sponge cake.

I don’t often wander outside of my cakey bakey comfort zone. I stick to what I know because I will at least get something that works. However, I went rogue and found a new one on a blog!! Sometimes I get lost in all the recipes but I was very firm and decisive. I chose this moist and fluffy Vanilla cake.

A yummy birthday cake for summer.

I chose a stunner. Honestly, it was really good. I’m so glad I went with it because, well,  I almost didn’t.  I got all my ingredients ready (nothing daft, just ordinary cake ingredients) but hadn’t actually read the recipe properly. When everything was out and I was about to begin, I got all confused. This recipe is just egg whites, no yolk. Wha? Never seen that before. Thought it was just gonna be an ordinary sponge. Anyway, I went with it and out came a goodun.

Best summer cake ever!

I can’t leave anything alone though. I am not a strict follower of recipes. I grated in the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange. I also only needed two cakes not three so did a bit of maths to sort that too. My insides were 300ml of double cream, a couple of spoons of icing sugar sieved in, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whipped together and splodged inside, it made a very summery and delicious sponge cake. And I chopped strawberries and left them for a couple of hours in a weeny bit of sugar before spooning those on top of the cream.  If you want a birthday cake for the summer, this is it. I ate it for my breakfast this morning too. Still yummy.

Crochet diamond blanket

Anyway, moving on from talking about cake. I began this green crochet blanket a few weeks ago. It got sidelined by a couple of other wips but I got it out again yesterday and I’m enjoying it again. The pattern is easy to follow and I just know it’s going to look awesome. It’s called the Diamond Stitch baby blanket.

Making another granny square

This was one of the things that distracted me. Just a granny square blanket. But I needed to see what the colours would look like when I put them all together. Needed to.

crochet in the garden

The weather was glorious at the weekend so everyone sat outside to enjoy it. I finished off the granny square (it was never meant to be a giant).

BBQ in the garden.

It was so lovely we decided to have a BBQ in the garden. Another Yum moment. Love a BBQ but often too lazy to bother…

bbq

It always takes a while to get going because I don’t use firelighters. Instead I cross my fingers that I’ll find enough twigs in the garden to start it off.

Applique felt flower thingy

I’m still doing this. I started in the middle of March and haven’t got very far. It will look nothing like this once finished. I was just going to keep building up the layers to see what happened. I have a bouquet of wild spring flowers in mind. I was moving on from some mini spring flower applique/embroidery type thingies I made a a couple of months ago. A bigger project seems to have scuppered me somewhat.

Cherry Heart's Victoria Shawl. Fab pattern.

And then there was the shawl I made. I really do love this, It’s a delight!

Puffy edged Victoria Shawl.

I love that edging. I have never been able to come up with something like that from my own brain (not yet anyway). I went and treated myself to Cherry Hearts’ Victoria shawl. I mentioned this a little bit on the last post but I just want to show some more pictures of it because I like it so much.

I made Cherry Heart's Victoria shawl.

In real life my walls are a soft mossy green. Not the vommy putrescence they appear to be here.

Cherry Heart's Victoria Shawl in brown.

Last shawl pic. Until I make another one that is.

And that’s it for now. Just felt like I needed a catch up. Oh! But whilst I’m here I’m going to say thank you to Hannah at a Box of Buttons for nominating me for a Liebster Award and Eleanor from Harebells Crochet for nominating me for The Creative Blogger Award. Dead chuffed to get these, thank you so much. I’m not going to have time to do it properly. Basically, the bloggers I would end up nominating are in my blog roll on the side bar, so go and check those out! In my usual half arsed way I will share 5 facts about myself (and only because I did a fact thing on Instagram a few weeks ago and I’m just going to copy those!).

1. I have a degree in Art History. I have forgotten most of what I learned.

2. The longest job I ever had was working at the Odeon in Exeter (a long time ago during uni and after, when I couldn’t get a “real” job). I still have dreams where I’m cleaning up popcorn.

3. I’m from Southampton but I’ve lived in Devon for about 16/17 years.

4. I love books, TV and movies. I used to do a lot of of watching/reading before children and crochet. Children get put to bed and crochet gets put aside for The Walking Dead and A Game of Thrones (no spoilers please, I can’t get season 6 of GoT yet!).

5. Actually these facts aren’t that interesting so I think I’ll stop. Ooh, number 5… I’m really boring!

A Really Easy Minecraft Cake.

Really easy Mine Craft cake recipe.

You know those amazing cakes you see on Pinterest, yeah, this isn’t one of those. I am not a baker. I love cooking, I am good at making food that tastes nice and I love eating, but I am not a baker. If you’re the same as me then you can probably make this recipe and feel half way pleased with yourself! Ok, so it isn’t Pin worthy but it’s alright. I’m not good at decorating cakes so I think simple is best. I’ve tried being fancy before but it just doesn’t work.

Birthday Balloon

This recipe has evolved from a different one that a friend passed to me a few years ago. If ever I want chocolate cake this is the recipe I go to. Over the years I’ve made tweaks and changes, so much so that I now think I’m allowed to call it an original!

It’s dead easy to do as it’s an all in one method for the cake and you can cheat even further by using self raising flour instead of farting about with baking powder and bicarb!

Inside cakey.

Easy Chocolate Mine Craft Cake:

275 grams plain flour.

1.5 tsp baking powder.

1.5 tsp bicarb

3 tbsp cocoa powder

210 grams caster sugar

3 tbsp golden syrup

210 ml sunflower oil

210 ml milk

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract.

Half tsp salt.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a big bowl, then add the wet ingredients. Whazz together with an electric whisk and divide into two 7″ square tins (lined with greaseproof paper). Put them in the oven Gas Mark 4/160c, for 35-40 minutes. I don’t have a fan oven so I swap the tins over after 25 minutes). Sticking a skewer into the middle will tell you if it’s done. If it’s clean it’s done, if it’s not then it needs a few extra minutes. Take out the oven and leave to cool.

cakey face

cake mix

Slicing the top off.

The cakes won’t be 100% flat and you want them to be as flat as possible. That means slicing a bit of cake off the top of each. These can be taste tests bits, you need to taste plenty of it to make sure it’s ok.

Some ingredients for a Mine Craft cake.

Butter Cream Icing:

500 grams of softened salted butter (I microwave cubes of cold butter in a bowl to soften it in 4-5 second blasts, mixing around after each blast. Works for me).

500 grams icing sugar, sifted. (I like my icing buttery so this is how much I use. Most people add up to twice this amount for real butter icing. You can freeze leftovers!)

1 tsp Vanilla extract.

Mix the above ingredients thoroughly together in a big bowl. Take a generous quarter of the mix and put into another bowl. Sift and mix 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the big bowl. Squirt two tubes of green food colouring into the small bowl of icing and mix (Aldi do a good version of the Dr Oetker gel colouring but I couldn’t be bothered to drive just to get some).

Making butter cream icing

butter cream for minecraft cake

making a cake

Smoosh on the chocolate butter cream to the bottom square and then sandwich on the top one, which I place upside down to give you a square top. Before I start doing  this I tuck bits of greaseproof paper under the cake to stop the board getting messy. (Next time I want to see if decorating somewhere else, then transferring it will work better because I ended up tearing half the icing off the bottom when I removed the paper…ho hum).

Easy icing for Mine Craft cake.

Once sandwiched together, put more of the chocolate buttercream around it, filling in gaps. A knife in some hot water will neaten up corners and make it more cubey.

The green icing is spread on the very top. Use the flat of a knife to pat over the top to create grass. I add chocolate sprinkles to the sides for dirt. I empty it into my hand and then gently throw/spread it on. Then you eat it!

We ate a Minecraft cake.

An eaten Mine Craft cake.

A really easy Mine Craft cake.

Actually using stuff from the garden.

Ripening figs

We spotted ripening figs on the tree yesterday. I ate one, just to say that I had. One is enough for me, thanks.  They’re so weird.

Inside a fig

The flavour is strange, as is the dual texture. I dislike the pap but the crunchy seeds are interesting. I’ll give most of them away but I like to make one annual figgy gesture by trying them in a recipe. I could do a chutney I suppose. One year I dried them but they were kind of medicinal.

Nasturtium seeds to pickle

These are Nasturtium seed pods. I’m making piccalilli today. I picked these yesterday, as well as other things to accompany them.

vegetables for turning into piccalilli

These are all from my garden and have joined a chopped up onion to attend a piccalilli party. Yesterday, I sliced them up and put them in a giant bowl with lots of salt.

vegetables being salted for piccalilli.

In about an hour I’m going to wash off the salt and then muck about with the pickling ingredients. The recipe is a River Cottage one. I wouldn’t have thought of using the Nasturtium pods. I’ve heard that you can treat them like capers, but I haven’t looked into that.

courgette polpette

With more courgettes than is necessary, I also remembered another recipe I wanted to try; Courgette Polpette. They were OK but I would change the recipe if I made them again. With all that courgette, they were just too wet. And they needed way more cheese. Everything benefits from a shed load of cheese.

Parsley from the garden. Very easy to grow.

The Parsley is from the garden too. I love it. I like to grow it in the veg bed where it can get nice, big roots. Growing it in pots is not the same. It also lasts all season and you can collect seeds the following year, to start all over again!

Mojito in the mint!

Saving the best till last, cocktails! I had a Mojito with my garden Mint. We’ve only got dark rum though, I hope that’s acceptable.

Mojito in the garden

The only other thing I use the Mint for is sauce for roast lamb. I’m so hungry right now.

drinks in the garden

And an order was put in for a G&T, so I plucked a few Borage flowers off of the many many plants I have and popped those in with a slice of cucumber. Borage flowers have a kind of cucumbery flavour too.

Borage and cucumber in a G&T

I’m also quite thirsty.

Gin and Tonic with cucumber and borage flowers

Anyway, I’m off to finish my piccalilli! Hope it works. I have to wait at least four weeks to find out…

We went camping!

camping in dorset

On a gloriously sunny weekend in Dorset, we went camping. It was hot. There were eight of us, four adults, four children. That’s two families. We had a lovely time. I wrote about this place a couple of months ago.

camping on the farm

There was only one heavy tumble down into a badger’s set (resulting in lots of bruises) and only one incident with a hand saw (involving  a quickish trip to a Minor Injuries Unit) but they somehow have added to the weekend, making it more memorable… and good for story telling.

cooking soggy shoes

Our shoes had to dry by the fire after a short but heavy downpour.

a little bit of rain

We briefly took refuge in the woods but it got slightly soggy so, in a break in the rain we went back to the tents.

dinner on a camp fire

We had delicious meals on the camp fire. The first night was a chicken and chorizo stew with new potatoes. The second night we had carbonara with homegrown courgettes.

dorset countryside

We camped in this very green and clovery field.

dorset sunset

I took a ridiculous number of sunset pictures.

first night camping

It was a beautiful and mostly peaceful place to be. We had to endure music from a nearby party the first night. It went on until 2am, ugh. In the first photo, peaking out from behind some trees is a white marquee. That is where the party was happening.

looking into our field

We stayed on a farm I know. I’ve been camping there a few times but this is the first time since having kids. I was worried it would be a nightmare but the children had a fantastic time. I didn’t like them waking us up at 4.45 but it was only for two nights.

camping in a field

Unfortunately, we forgot our sleeping bags so  Husband kindly drove back home to get them. It’s only about 50 minutes from home and I don’t think he minded too much. I just can’t believe we forgot such fundamental camping equipment. Duh.

camping in the great outdoors

This is our new tent, bought so that the boys could have one section and we could have the other. It has a porch inbetween. Nice and roomy.

camp fire

Camping isn’t camping without a proper fire to cook on and keep warm.

our camp site

This looks messy in the photograph but in reality it was very well organised. In lieu of crafting we set to work making an awesome drying rack thingy for dishes and a washing line for clothes. There is a bin hangy thing in there too and extra sticks stuck in the ground to hang lanterns from. It was very cosy.

a proper camping breakfast

Here is a proper camping breakfast!

another camping sunset

Nice views.

camping sunset night two

Promptly upon our return we all came down with a bug. I’m still feeling rubbish as I’ve been kept awake by pukey kids for two nights. Decent sleep hasn’t come to me yet. It’s such a shame because it put a downer on coming home. I think we caught the germs before we went camping and harboured them whilst we were away.

I might get back to some crochet today but I still don’t have much energy. I’ve been doing too much camping laundry instead. Boo.

Some random crafting and baby vegetables

mohair shawl

I made this  a couple of weeks ago. It is a mohair mix that used to be a jumper in the 90’s. It was unravelled by a 92 year old woman and remade as a shawl by me for her daughter (my Mother-in-law!). The pattern is the Elise shawl I found on Ravelry. It was nice and straight forward to make.

blocking crochet

It needed blocking, which I did directly on the bedroom carpet. I don’t have any fancy blocking boards (if such things exist). I’m not sure this method is recommended but it works for me.  Any way, it turned out well so that’s all that matters.

handmade reversible bag

As an accompanying gift to go with the shawl I made this reversible bag. The tutorial is  clear and easy to follow. A few years ago I made a knitting needle case for my Mother-in-law out of the same fabric so I thought it would make a nice matchy matchy present. If I remember correctly the fabric was from Ikea. I probably bought it about four years ago. Hmm,  I obviously didn’t press this bag very well.

hook yarn and crochet

I also made up a very quick project from the book Hook, Yarn and Crochet by Ros Badger. I bought a ball of King Cole Cottonsoft DK especially for this one. This was beautiful stuff to use. I’d love to make a baby blanket out of it but can’t justify it at the moment. If any one I know begets a child then I might consider spending the extra to buy some.

blue crochet lamp shade

It’s a lamp shade cover! Now I’ve remembered that I still haven’t sewn in the ends yet, as soon as I finished it, it was shoved straight on. Maybe I’ll do that job today. It left the room a little bit darker but I like it. With the left overs I made four little coasters but I haven’t taken any pictures of those.

first veg

At the beginning of the week I came with up some excuse that these new vegetables were ready to eat. In reality they were super small and probably needed a weeny bit longer suckling from their roots.

baby courgettes and broad beans

Nevermind, we ate them anyway! I fried them in butter with garlic and lots of salt and pepper. Looking in the garden yesterday, everything has replenished and there are definitely some spoils to be had. Properly grown this time I reckon.

Good, now I feel as though I’m catching up with crafting projects. I have a few things half done and some things waiting to get started but I’ve also ticked other things off the list, which makes me feel better.