Tag Archive | Radio Leicester Interview

Homemade Christmas Gifts…

This week I have been busy again.  I started the week by making another batch of laundry liquid.  It still amazes me how much I save by making my own liquid and it only takes about fifteen minutes to make approximately three months worth (and I wash a full load every day).

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I also made some more dishwasher liquid too, using soap nuts:

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And I topped up my homemade multipurpose kitchen spray too, using white vinegar and a few drops of teatree oil.  The vinegar cuts easily through grease and dirt and the teatree oil turns it into an antibacterial spray.

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All of the above things help me to save money around the home and I don’t use any nasty chemicals either.

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In the garden:

I also managed to buy another bag of woodchip to complete my the paths in the new area in my kitchen garden:

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I then brought a couple of bags of soil conditioner to spread over two of my beds (I will buy some for the other beds another day):

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I have left the soil conditioner on the top of the soil so the worms can do the hard work for me over winter.  I have also covered the two beds with weed suppressant to prevent weeds from growing and to also prevent the winter rain from leaching the nutrients out of the soil:

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I am already looking forward to growing crops in this area next Spring.

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Preparations For Christmas:

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Well Christmas is nearly here and this week I have been turning my attention to Christmas presents.

On Saturday I talked to BBC Radio Leicester about Christmas presents on a budget:

You can listen to the interview here if anyone is interested.  The interview starts 11 mins into the show.

I love chatting to Radio Leicester and they always make me feel very welcome.  I hope this comes across in the interview.

One of the things I talked about was homemade presents.  I love homemade presents as I always say they are “from the heart and not just the bank account”.  I took in three homemade presents to show (and taste) and explained that they are far cheaper to make than buy and by making them yourself you can have far nicer presents for far less money:

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The present on the right looks like a Christmas pudding and my daughter made these for all her friends and teachers last year and kindly made this one for me to take to the radio show.  It is a chocolate orange with maltesers stuck on with melted chocolate and she melted white chocolate over the top (to look like cream) and she put a little bit of plastic holly on the top.  She wrapped it in cellophane and it looked fantastic.

The box in the middle had homemade truffles in.  I love homemade truffles as they are so easy to make and look and taste really good:

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I also took in a present of which contained cubes of chocolate with cranberries and sultana’s and this is how I made it:

First I melted a bar of my favourite chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water stirring all the time…

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When the chocolate had melted I added some cranberries and sultana’s and mixed them until they were fully coated in the chocolate (you can use anything you enjoy e.g. smarties, maltesers etc)…

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I then poured the mixture into a tin / container that was lined with clingfilm (you can use silicone bakeware too if you have it)….

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I then left the chocolate mixture to set (don’t put it in the fridge).

When it was set I took it out of the mould and removed the clingfilm….

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I drizzle some melted white chocolate over the top and again left it to set…

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When it was set I chopped the chocolate into cubes and wrapped it in cellophane….

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Top chefs will tell you that the chocolate should be ‘tempered’ to keep the shine on the chocolate, but if you slowly melt the chocolate and keep it away from the fridge whilst setting, I don’t think you need to for this.

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This week, as Christmas is near I turned my attention to my Christmas hampers.  I started by covering my homemade jars of jams and chutneys with a pretty pieces of tissue paper, tied with a bow:

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And then I wrapped a few surprises (including my homemade wine) to also go into my hampers too and then I started to put them altogether:

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I am very pleased with the result, though I do still have two hampers to do.

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I also made three mini Christmas cakes this week and a full sized cake too.  The Christmas cake recipe I use is very easy and can be eaten straight away, without having to continually ‘top it up’ with brandy.  The recipe is here.

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I like to give the mini Christamas cakes to our parents, as they are just the right size for them to enjoy.

I decorated the mini cakes and wrapped them in cellophane and I think they look great and I would be very pleased to receive one….so lets hope they like them:

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Just incase you are wondering, I brought my roll of cellophane approximately three years ago on-line and I still have loads left.

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  I checked this week and you can buy a 100 meter roll of clear cellophane for about £12 (incl. delivery).

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Before I finish today I wanted to show you a lovely couple of chocolate logs that my daughter made last week for her friends at school…..apparently they all enjoyed it.   The recipe is here.

Each chocolate log costs approximately £1.50 to make and tastes delicious……to buy a supermarket ‘finest’ chocolate log it costs £3 and I bet it wouldn’t be as nice!

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I also want to show you some wonderful cakes that one of my daughters friends made to take into school too this week:

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I think the cakes look wonderful and it just shows what you can do with a little bit of imagination!

“Homemade really is from the heart and not just the bank account”

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

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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.

Cooking On Radio Leicester And Pumpkin Recipe Week

Today was a big day for me, as I went into Radio Leicester to cook live on air in their kitchen.  It’s not the first time I have been into their kitchen to cook, but I was still very nervous.

You can listen to the program here.  I was cooking from the start of the program for the first hour.

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A couple of weeks ago, a lady called Kimberley had asked Radio Leicester if they would help her to learn to cook from scratch, on a family budget.  They asked three ‘Experts’ to help her out (which made me laugh as I’m just little ‘me’ with no training whatsoever).  I was very humbled to be one of them.

They also invited a lady from Derby, who said she came from a family that has always cooked from scratch and she was trained in catering and hospitality at Southfields College and another lady who teaches cookery on behalf of Leicester City Council and writes for the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ website that you can find here.

I couldn’t ‘boil peas’ when I left home and my friends used to call me the ‘packet mix queen’, so knowing this I tried very hard to make sure that the recipes that I made were easy and quick to cook and were in my usual ‘Notjustgreenfingers’ style, of ‘cheap to make’.  I used ‘value’ ingredients to prove that good food can be made cheaply, so you can live well on less.

I started by showing Kimberley how to cook a Thick And Creamy Vegetable Soup, that I wrote about a few weeks ago.  I did have a problem with their Electric hob as it took 45 minutes to heat up and then in the end it went on ‘super hot’ mode instead.

Thick And Creamy Vegetable Soup

You can find the recipe here.

I worked out that each bowl cost me approximately 40p to make.

This soup freezes well too.

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Then I showed her how to cook Fish in a Parsley Sauce:

Fish In Parsley Sauce

You can find the recipe for the parsley sauce here.

I worked out that the fish in parsley sauce costs just 82p per portion.

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I then followed this with a quick and easy Microwaved Jam Sponge, which is so quick and easy to make.  It’s great to make when you have unexpected guests for dinner.

I have worked out that each portion costs an amazing 9p to make.

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Microwaved Jam Sponge Recipe

100g margarine, plus some for greasing the bowl

100g granulated sugar

2 eggs beaten

100g self-raising flour

2-3 tablespoons of milk

2 tablespoons of jam

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Beat the margarine and sugar together.

Add the beaten egg.

Fold in the flour and add enough milk to achieve dropping consistency.

Grease a microwave bowl with margarine.

Drop the jam in the bottom of the bowl and put the mixture on top.

Cover the bowl with a small plate or Microwave Clingfilm, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape.

Microwave on ‘high’ for 8 minutes (based on an 800W microwave).

Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before turning it out.

Serve with custard or ice-cream.

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Just to finish off I showed Kimberley how to make a multipurpose ‘Old fashioned cleaner’ out of white distilled vinegar and a few drops of Tea Tree essential oil.

White vinegar is a great mulitipurpose cleaner and if you add a few drops of Tea Tree oil it then becomes a multipurpose antibacterial cleaner.

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I hope people enjoyed listening to the show.

 

Pumpkin Recipe Week:

Yesterday, I started my Pumpkin Recipe week.

  All of this week I will be looking at ways to use pumpkins, so they are not wasted after the Halloween pumpkin has been carved.

  Today’s recipe is great to serve at Halloween parties.

It’s a variation to the jam sponge recipe above:

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Microwaved Pumpkin Scary Syrup Sponge Recipe

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100 grams Margarine, plus some for greasing

100 grams Sugar

2 Eggs beaten

100 grams Self-raising flour

200 grams raw pumpkin

2 tablespoons of golden syrup

1 teaspoon baking powder

A few drops of food colouring (you can use any colour that you have, I used orange)

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Cook the pumpkin in a pan of boiling water until it is soft.  Drain the pumpkin and mash it a little bit

Beat the margarine and sugar together.

Mix in the beaten egg and food colouring.

Fold in the flour, baking powder and the pumpkin.

Grease a microwave bowl with margarine. 

Drop the golden syrup in to the bottom of the bowl and put the mixture on top.

Cover the bowl with a small plate or Microwave Clingfilm, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape.

Microwave on ‘high’ for 8 minutes (based on an 800W microwave).

Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before turning it out.

Decorate with scary things.

Serve with custard with a few drops of food colouring in for effect. 

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Thank you for reading my blog today.