Homemade Mincemeat, Raspberry Flavoured Strawberry Plants & Radio Leicester

At the weekend I was invited onto the Saturday morning show at Radio Leicester.  I took in a homemade mini Christmas cake and the truffles I made last week, for him to try.  I love going in and chatting as they always makes me feel so comfortable to talk.

You can listen again here (approx. 1 hour and 7 mins into the program).

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At the weekend I received two free strawberry plants from Spalding Bulbs.

Last month I agreed to join Spalding Bulbs Blogger Club and every so often I will receive one of their products in return for an honest review.

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The strawberry plants are called Fragaria framberry (Fragoria x ananassa) and this is what Spalding bulbs say about them:

An exceptional strawberry that tastes like both strawberry and raspberry! It can be eaten straight after picking or used in a dessert. Grow just like ordinary strawberries and amaze your friends with this new variety! If you’re looking for something special, this is it!

You can find the plants on their website here.

The strawberry plants were delivered in a strong cardboard box and they were surrounded with a sturdy plastic carton.

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The plants were moist and in good condition:

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I put the plants into my cold greenhouse and I will plant them out in the spring when the weather warms up.

The only thing I would say to Spalding Bulbs is that there were no instructions or details of how or when to plant them outside.  This may be intentional as I have grown strawberries before, but it is something that would certainly help inexperienced gardeners.

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I can’t wait to try these strawberries when they grow.

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I also planted two more trays of broad beans this weekend.  You can see from the picture below that the broad beans that I planted a few weeks ago are doing well, but it is far too wet at my allotment to plant them out yet, so I will have to leave them where they are for now.

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Nearly everyone loves mince pies at Christmas. 

I adore mince pies when they are homemade but I really do not like the ready made shop bought mince pies as much, even the more expensive ones.  So I make mine.

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Mincemeat is very easy to make and tastes so much nicer than the shop bought alternative.   The history of the mince pie we know today is very interesting:

Originally mincemeat contained meat and mince pies evolved from a medieval pastry called “chewette.”  which was made with chopped meat or liver, boiled eggs, ginger, dried fruit and other sweet ingredients. It was fried or baked. During the 17th century, the meat products were replaced with suet, a beef or mutton fat.

 By the 19th century in Great Britain and North America, mince pies no longer contained any meat. Today mince pies are traditionally filled with fruit mincemeat, containing dried fruit, spices, nuts, suet and alcohol. The pies are cooked and dusted with caster sugar or icing sugar.

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I used Delia Smiths’ recipe, with the odd change, as I didn’t have all the ingredients she suggested.  The recipe below is exactly as I made it, but you can find Delia’s exact recipe here.

I managed to make just under six jars with the recipe below and according to Delia, it will last for approximately three years, though I have never put this to the test.

Delia has worked out that her ingredients cost just £3.65 to make.  That works out at approximately 66p per jar.  A standard jar of shop bought mincemeat costs approximately £1.00 to buy and I would like to bet that homemade mincemeat tastes nicer!

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When you first buy the ingredients to make Christmas recipes, it does seem to be expensive, when they include fruit, Brandy and spices.

I look out for offers leading up to christmas, for example I bought most of my Christmas ingredients when Tesco had them on a ‘3 for the price of 2’ offer.  The Brandy that I buy for my recipes is the cheapest I can find and it lasts ages (provided you don’t drink it) and the spices last for ages too.

The Brandy and spices are also used in other Christmas recipes I make, so nothing gets wasted.

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Homemade Christmas Mincemeat

450g Bramley Apples, cored and chopped small (don’t peel)

225g shredded suet

1225g dried mixed fruit (with mixed peel included if possible)

350g Soft Dark Brown Sugar

Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

20g ground almonds

4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 tablespoons brandy.

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Put all the ingredients, except the Brandy, into a large mixing bowl and mix together.

Cover the bowl with a plate or a clean cloth and leave the bowl in a cool place for 12 hours or overnight, so the flavours have time to mingle and develop.

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Preheat your oven Gas ¼ /225F / 110C

Transfer your mixture to an ovenproof dish and cover loosely with foil and place in your oven for 3 hours.

Take out the oven and leave to cool, stirring every so often.

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The mincemeat will look like it is swimming in fat , but this is how it should look.  By stirring it, the fat will coagulate instead of it being in tiny shreds and it will encase the other ingredients.

When the mincemeat is cold, stir again whilst adding the brandy.

Put the mincemeat in sterilised jars.

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(Sterilise your clean jars and lids by placing them in the oven at gas mark 4 for 5 minutes).

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

Tomorrow I will be using the mincemeat to make mince pies.

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13 thoughts on “Homemade Mincemeat, Raspberry Flavoured Strawberry Plants & Radio Leicester

  1. Hello Mrs Thrift! I too received something from Spalding this week. I’ll have to do my review asap! I have no idea what to do with mine though, you’re right about possibly needing some instructions for certain things! The strawberries sound nice though, I bet they taste lovely. I’m a bit worried about getting my broadbeans out this year. My soil has now gone really cloggy.

    Oh, I almost forgot – I listened to you on the radio!! Really good interview! 🙂 sounds like you had a great time!!

    • Hi Anna, yes I always have a laugh with Tony. I’m always so nervous for the first few minutes but then I’m alright as he does make you feel so comfortable talking to him.

      Do you know what Spalding bulbs are sending you? It’s great getting plants to review isn’t it, though I’m surprised they are sending them out this close to christmas, but free plants at any time of the year is great.

      Yes, my soil is the same so I think my broadbeans will have to stay in the cold greenhouse for a while yet.

  2. Spalding have just sent me it – a beautiful Hydrangea (well twigs at the minute) I think I’ll put it in a big pot, I think it could stay in that full time for a couple of years. I’m really looking forward to it growing up! It’s arrived in good packaging.

    You sounded great on the radio! It was really entertaining 🙂

  3. I used to be invited fairly regularly onto our local radio but my contacts left. The last time I took fresh strawberries. The hardest bits were outside broadcasts where the live show is piped to you through headphones. I was also on Gardeners’ World once which was an experience. They filmed for 4 hours which was cut to about 4 minutes. It’s something to tick off the list isn’t it?

    Also snap about Spalding bulbs – I got an apple tree buy my crticism was not enough information before buying,

    • Wow, Gardeners World, how brill is that! I look at the radio as a bit of fun. Last year on Christmas day they came round to look at the veggies I cooked for my Christmas dinner. It was so funny and made our Christmas.

      • That would make for an amusing Christmas.

        When I took in the strawberries the presenter was making all sorts of ecstatic sounds whilst eating them – must have come across as interesting!

        The Gardeners World thing started because we had a problem with contaminated manure. It was really funny as when the programme ended the phone rang and it was a French friend ringing to say she had just seen me on the TV but was so excited that she hadn’t a clue what I was talking about!

      • That’s really funny!
        What happened about your manure? I have read alot about aminopyralid contaminating the manure on allotments, if this is what happened to yours then it must have been terrible for you.

      • Yes it was aminopyralid. We were one of the first to make the connection to manure (because all the people on our site affected had sourced manure from the same place)so had lots of correspondence with the RHS, the company producing the stuff and the government department as well as lots of media interest. I also gathered together as much information as I could and developed a section on my website to help inform people about it, I still get email asking for advice.

        Fortunately we weren’t too badly affected and after a year things were back to normal which hasn’t been the case for everyone.

      • Good on you for helping people as much as you did. Thank goodness things got back to normal after a year for you. I can’t believe they can still use the it, I really think it should be banned as it is bound to end up in peoples gardens dispite the warnings.

  4. Those strawberries DO look good. Mine are all sort of wilted at the moment because it is soooo hot! I give them a water in the morning and again in the evening, but they do suffer so during the day, along with most of my poor veggies.
    I LOVE love LOVE the recipe!! I am pinning it so if I get time to make it I can find it 😛

      • Yeah, me too, lol, because at the moment, even though they are producing, it is a scant offering, and I’m not getting any because my one year old loves them and is always watching for them to be ju-ust ripe enough to eat!!!

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