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….. Making pretty things
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Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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Fig Ice Cream – No, neither did I.

One of the joys of summer, for me, is fresh figs on a daily basis. They’re picked straight from our tree, which is just outside the kitchen door.  The taste is truly divine. Every time I go outside, I can’t resist picking a couple more. One day last week, I was in and out more than usual and ended up with a growing mountain of figs on the kitchen table.

This might surprise you, but not everyone in our household is crazy about figs. This left me with a dilema. I had a mountain of figs and there was no way the rest of us could eat them all before they went off, so I got creative. I gave some away and made the rest into fig ice cream.

Chilling a gorgeous taste, like fig, down can be a mistake. When I tried making plum ice cream, the subtle taste was lost, leaving a fairly bland ice cream. I’ve never sampled fig ice cream before. I had no idea if it would be a hit or not. After some research, I decided the best way forward was to make a kind of fig jam and add it to the cream mixture. I didn’t have time to make and cool an egg custard as well, so I went for an eggless ice cream.

Cutting a long story short and going straight to the punchline, the result was amazing. It was a serious taste bud tingling moment. It was fruity and fragrant with a hint of sophistication.

Took me right back to being a ten year old, in London, when I was taken along to an ice cream parlour, for the first time. I’d never seen a whole counter of different ice cream flavours. Was it Baskin Robbins? I don’t remember. It certainly claimed a large number of varieties, which none of us could believe until we saw it.

Anyway, up to then I’d not seen more than vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream. Or tasted any other flavours, for that matter. I stood there mesmerized by the unusual, fun and exotic combinations, all set out in tubs before me. It took up one, whole side of the shop. Not surprising, the experience stayed with me.

I suspect there wasn’t a fig option, but it would have fitted right in.

Roll on several decades and here we are with my offering.

The amount of lemon can be varied. It makes a perfect taste combination with the fig. It also transforms the colour. Like magic. The mixture goes from deep ruby red to a sumptuous pink, when it’s added.

Did I mention that it tastes amazing?

Want to have a go at making it? Here’s the recipe.

Fig Ice Cream
Ingredients Steps
Makes 1.5 pints

10-15       ripe figs
1/2         small lemon, juice and zest
75ml      water
75g        sugar
250ml    double cream

1. Cut figs up into small bits and discard the stalk.
2. Put figs, water and lemon zest in a saucepan and simmer until the fruit is soft.
3. Add in sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes like jam.
4. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
5. Use either a potato masher or a hand blender to puree the mixture.
6. Stir in cream and lemon juice. Chill in fridge ready for ice cream machine.
7. Follow the instructions of your ice cream machine

 

Will I be making fig ice cream again? You bet I will. It is so easy to make. I can see it being a summer staple from now on. Too delicious to miss out on. I might try it with an egg custard base next time, to make it a little less like a sorbet, but that is the only part I might change.

I can’t help thinking that some one out there has been keeping their cards close to their chest where fig ice cream is concerned. Secret squirrel scenario. Maybe I should have sworn you all to secrecy before I started. Too late now.

Best advice I can give you is to go plant a fig tree in your garden, or else make friends with someone who has one. You won’t regret it. Fresh figs for a summer breakfast takes some beating. Added bonus is that the rest can be made into ice cream. Now that is, if I say it myself, a good idea.

How to make pumpkin spice

It’s pumpkin time again.

Runs around, hugging pumpkins.

I’ve been very self controlled up to now. I’ve mostly held off until mid October, but I’m just going to cut loose and enjoy everything pumpkin for a few weeks.  When else can I get away with it? Cooking, baking and making. I do love this time of year.

So. With no further ado, my first pumpkin themed activity to share is homemade pumpkin spice. A quick simple make. I use it in baking and drinks. It warms you up. Makes you smile. Although, I have to admit, that those last two are probably just me.

First up, because apparently this does confuse people, pumpkin spice does not contain pumpkin. Not a splodge. Think of it more as a spice you add to pumpkin, or something else, to bring pumpkins to mind.

Secondly, it is easily mistaken, on this side of the Pond, for Christmas spices. For a good reason. It uses pretty much the same spices. I use a similar mix for my Christmas pudding. The same spices. Maybe not in the same quantities. My top tip is not to mix it with citrus, otherwise it feels more like a Christmas spice than a pumpkin spice.

Thirdly, like Christmas spice, everyone has their favourite recipe. This is my go to recipe.

As you can probably tell, from the photo, I don’t have a preferred place to pick up spices. I do like to buy the unground versions, when I see them. I think they hold the taste and fragrance more.

Also I can cackle away and channel my inner potion maker, as I grind them with my mortar and pestle. For this recipe, the spices need to be ground.

How to make pumpkin spice

Ingredients

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 – 1/4tsp ground cloves

Mix the spices in a jam jar, with the lid on, then decant into a smaller jam jar, to reduce the air in the jar. Store in a cool place, along with your other spices.

This little jar should last me to the end of the month, I hope. I don’t need much each time. I like to make smaller quantities, otherwise it’s left to sit on the shelf until next October. I’d prefer to make fresh. Same applies to buying. As lovely as pumpkin spice is, I can’t see myself using it all year round and the jars you buy are more than I need.

The pumpkin spice can be added to all sorts of different recipes and even crafts. I have a few in mind, but I’ll leave the first one until next time.

Organized

I’ll be honest. I go through stages of being organized and, without a doubt, September is the month of choice. Not surprising really, as the children go back to school, which gives me more time, and, just as crucial, it’s all about new. New teachers, new subjects, new interests. The word “new” litters every sentence they utter. I’m surrounded.

This September is no different, so I’m getting organized.

To start with I have been getting my weekday routine set up. I’ve started to follow a tidying and cleaning routine (again, she cries), so when I sit down to work, there are no nagging things to distract me.

Three weeks ago, I started following the Organised Mum Method (#teamTomm). Simple routine, with reminders on Instagram, and it’s working. I’m not someone that generally has a tidy house, but I am loving going into a room and finding it looking presentable. Really makes me smile. The family love it too. It only takes 15 minutes to do the usual daily tidy/cleaning and then 30 minutes a day to target one area, on rotation.

And no cleaning at the weekend. Let’s get real. You have got to love a system that gives you the weekend off.

More crafting time for me!

I also organized my eldest Teen’s desk. She can now sit there and study. Last couple of nights she’s done just that and seems happy with her progress. Success!

So will it stick, this new routine of mine? I know why I usually fail to keep my organization vibe going once September slips by. I set myself unrealistic targets. I feel the fail. Once that happens, it’s easy to let one day missed turn into a week, and then more, until it drizzles out completely. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

The penny has dropped that I must stop beating myself up about not crossing everything off my to-do list. Or lifting the same items from today’s list to tomorrow’s and then the next. It’s not about doing it all, but doing my best.

Lists are there to help me, not to rule me.

Now the wonderful thing about getting organized is that I have extra pockets of time to spend in different ways.  My week has not been all about cleaning or list making. No. It’s been about me having room and time to do the things I really love doing. More time to read, knit and spend time with my family.

Three wins from this week:

I tend to read while waiting in the car for one of my children, and also last thing at night. I’ve won myself some extra time this week and finished my book “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter“. It is slow, but captivating. Real struggles and emotional turmoil. Glad I read it. Now for the next. Any suggestions?

At the weekend, we went out as a family to the small, independent cinema in Wells to see  Jack Black in “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” A fun film. Thank you, organized-me.

Also with my extra time and organization at its peak, I spent a happy time making chocolate cherry mice after school, with my middle teen. Partly helped by me working my lists and adding the ingredients to my shop last week. It is quick and everyone loves them. Unorganized-me hardly recognizes herself.

Dead easy to make.

Chocolate cherry mice

Ingredients:

small punnet of fresh cherries, preferably with stalks
100g dark chocolate
pack of Hershey Kisses (I found them in Waitrose)
handful of toasted almond flakes
cocktail sticks (if cherries are missing stalks)

How to make:

1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave until it runny.
2. Unwrap enough Hershey Kisses, so you have one for every cherry.
3. Hold the cherry by the stalk (or cocktail stick) and dip it into the chocolate until the cherry is covered.
4. Push the flat end of the Kiss onto the cherry to make the head, and put the mouse on a plate.
5. Slip two almond flakes between the Kiss and the cherry, to make ears.
6. Leave to set.

Eat and enjoy. If these are to be kept a while, then store them in the fridge, but only for a few days. Not that I would know. These pesky mice were gone in two seconds flat.

I am so enjoying the extra time and space to do what I love to do. A little bit of organization and I can have that time. Joining in with #wotw with my word organized.

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