Sunday, 4 October 2015

Aga Yoghurt

I had been eyeing up yoghurt makers for a while, but winced at the price. I also quite wanted a cheese strainer but that was £20 more again.

The definition of homely for me is my Grandmother's kitchen, warm from the Aga and always busy; my Grandfather made beer and brick like bread and Granny made everything else, including yoghurt from a half melted ancient plastic yoghurt maker. From that she concocted my favourite pudding of stewed apple and home made yoghurt. Could I recreate this? for a start I would not go out of my way to find a dilapidated germ incubator, so I would have to search elsewhere. Aga recipes tend to go for chapter and verse, with boiling and cooling and standing on your head with a thermometer and to be honest I am too lazy to go that route. Apparently yoghurt makers come complete with a lazy cooks recipe and so far it works brilliantly for me.

The Recipe

First sterilise your jar (I am not sure how necessary this is, but why not as it is easy and all recipes I consulted bandied around the words scrupulous and clean so it sounds sensible). Wash your jar then pop the clean ringed water in a baking tray in the simmering oven for 20 minutes.

As UHT milk has been heated and cooled they had done the arduous work for you.

2 or 3 tablespoons of natural full fat yoghurt (after your first batch you can use your own, just save a few tablespoons from the bottom of the jar)
A tablespoon of milk powder (non essential but apparently this just gives a better texture)
Full fat UHT milk.

Mix the milk powder, yoghurt and a little of the UHT milk thoroughly then add the rest of the milk to the top of your jar. Cover with a sock monkey, or if sanity prevails wrap in a tea towel, then leave on the top of your simmering plate lid overnight.

As personal preference I strain it a little through muslin (to make this easy I just put muslin over the top of the jar with an elastic band and turn upside down in a suitable bowl) then after about ten minutes pop in the fridge and in about an hour or so you will have lovely yoghurt.

Perfect time of year to stew apples to make Granny's special pudding!

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Friday, 2 October 2015

Craft cafe

The Pickle had one request when we moved that we would have special time making things together, probably as the move was fairly relentless as we did the packing ourselves. Special time is lovely but the call of the washing machine or other random but inane essentials of life can seem too loud to ignore; hence Craft Cafe.

The main rule of craft cafe is to have fun, but apart from that we try to model it on an external experience (now that local cafes are just a memory) and have a pre planned craft activity. I hope we will keep it up, but this what we did in the inaugural date.

Menu: home made chocolate brownies
Orange juice for the DinoBoy and Hot chocolate with cream for the Pickle.

Activity: Corn Dollies

Am I the only one who remembers making corn dollies at primary school? Having failed to remember in time to snaffle a few blade of corn from a field before harvest we settled for the rather easier option of craft straws.

Being only 4 DinoBoy had not the patience to take on full weaving but so we just had Tom cuddle time learning how to plait instead. Simple fun!

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Let the Aga Saga begin

I was not to an Aga born - instead it crept up on me. I was mildly amused by the prospect, it seems like stepping into a cliche. I was prepared, we saved a battered solid fuel Raeburn from the skip and managed to wrangle it into a van and even more impressively install it. The down side to that initiation is that I have had a close shave with feeding the simmering over with random household waste, absent mindedly forgetting it our Aga does not have an open furnace.

Well, it was love at first bake - I lifted the lid and bathed in the instant warmth. Just as well really as shortly thereafter it petered out. After almost two years it needed a service. Therein is the bummer, on top of its insatiable thirst for oil it needs an £85 service ever 6-12 months. Too late, I was hooked! Could it be the fact that festooning it with damp laundry renders the flat bottomed torturer almost redundant, no ironing required except for a quick glide for work shirts (my children look presentable at school for the first time).

Also Aga toast? Why had I not heard about it? It should by the inspiration myths and ballads. Well, maybe that is going too far but it really is rather pleasing!

I had to refer back to Aga guru Amy Wilcox as at this stage in my life I can't be bothered to learn from my mistakes - a course of action that has made life so interesting up until now. Apparently the rule follow is 80:20: no, not the ratio of wine to tea for a happy life, but I should cook 80% of food in an oven and resort to using the hot plates on top only 20% of the time. So rather than slowly sautéing an onion stove top, I just whack it into the bottom of the roasting oven in an oven dish - potentially saving on a more dirty dishes to be washed, what is not to be liked? Yes, I am still worried about the descent into a twin set and pearls, but at present that is still a way off.

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Monday, 14 September 2015

A journey South West

It has been a long time, dear blog. I have ideas, inspiration and flashes of genius but alas you will just have to take my word for it, because I have neglected you terribly. I finally lost my nerve and sold my Batchelor pad in London and got rather giddy with the proceeds.

We had plans to find a plot and build an eco dream house, but instead I am here. I have morphed into a fully fledged stereotype straight from the pages of Joanna Trollope; I have dragged the family to the the country and a freezing wreck of a house with an Aga that needs taming.

I have a few ideas for what I would like to write about going forward. Some of my creative projects - as this is going to be decoration on a big scale with a tiny budget and getting to know my Aga, which will really be about trying to do loads of slow cooking without resorting to meat everyday. As dog walking is such a big part of life I may write about some of the routes I discover, as each time I discover a new path or byway it is like adding another gem to my treasure chest.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

My Spring Garden

I love my garden - but things have been getting in the way...until now.  I have a potting shed full of seedlings and I have been doing the most important thing that you can do in a garden (sorry, my blog, my logic ;) - I have been enjoying it. These pics are of me lying in the garden with my camera watching clouds and taking snaps.

Thanks to the lovely Annie at Mammasaurus for inspiration and linky (OMG saw the first edit and it had auto-edited linky to thanking for a 'kinky') I will add her badge the moment my computer behaves and lets me copy the code. Got it, finally 
How Does Your Garden Grow

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Open the windows, open the doors: spring is springing. Daffodils and crocuses have finally given way to primroses and we are ready for long days playing outside.

Hello primrose, it is great to see you again!

Inspired by the sticky fingers blog - click on the gallery icon to the right to see more. Xx

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery