Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Sloe gin, sloe gin...

It's that time of year when I feel I should be out in the hedgerows, gathering all the free food Mother Nature has to offer.

Not this year.  But, we did crack open a bottle of 4 year old sloe gin the other day and it was rather potent and very warming!

So I thought I would share my recipe with you, no point in buying that expensive shop bought stuff, when you can make great sloe gin at home for a fraction of the price. 

You will need some cheap gin, I use Aldi gin, tastes great anyway but is cheap, bottles or glass jars to brew your gin in, and sugar, lots.

Collect your sloes, they are the fruit of the blackthorn, a plum related bushy tree which grows to a height of around 25 feet. Beware, blackthorns have huge thorns and can grow suckers, which means they can be thick and bushy around the base, you will invariably get caught up in the thorns as you scramble for the fruit!

 Sloes are about the size of your thumbnail, they are bitter to the taste and have a large stone in the centre, they also have a white bloom.

Don't bother picking wrinkled ones, and watch out for infested ones too, some insects like to burrow into ripe sloes. Most old recipes state that you wait until first frost before picking your sloes, no, just pick your sloes and put them on the freezer overnight after washing. This also makes the next stage, pricking them, easier. 

I use a long needle to prick sloes, a bodkin. I hold each one up between finger and thumb and skewer straight through twice, then pop into the chosen container. Mine are these old Tip tree bottles.

Fill your chosen container two thirds full with sloes. Pour over lots of granulated white sugar and tap gently so the sugar gets into all the crevices. Pour enough sugar in to just cover the sloes. Then fill your bottles with cheap gin! 

Now comes the hard bit, put those containers in a dark place and shake occasionally for a couple of months, decant the liquid off into another container, preferably a bottle this time, and enjoy!

Some folk use the gin soaked sloes and cover them in chocolate, I'm afraid I just squeeze them and throw them out.

As an aside, here's Joe Bonamassa singing about the very stuff!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Day trippers

One day a week OH and I pack a picnic and go off somewhere, if you've been with me a while and have a long memory, you may remember my weekly posts about our little trips out. 

As the OH is a big lover of all things Cotswolds, he persuaded me that we needed to visit again. I was after a particular treat from one of the little shops there, so it seemed a good idea.

First stop was Hanbury in Worcestershire, for a cup of tea and a breath of fresh air accompanied by a stunning, albeit misty, view.

 Thankfully, as we headed south the weather brightened and soon the sun was shining gloriously in a deep blue sky.

We ended up in Chipping Campden, a small market town in Gloucestershire, noted for its 14th to 17th century high street. Tip: during school holidays you can park on the school car park for free.

The walk round to the high street from the school is interesting, past St James church and the cart wash, a small museum dedicated to Arts and Crafts, and some rather gorgeous private houses.

I love these gatehouses, or pepperpot lodges as I believe they are called, originally the  entrance to Campden House, a grand country home built by Sir Baptist Hicks in 1613. Unfortunately, it was burnt to the ground thirty years later, and only parts remain, as well as a trace of the gardens under local fields.

The local almshouses

Not seven, but eight!

Random village house with fab stone mullion windows and hay feeders by the front door

The market hall

It's difficult to tell from the photos, but the floor of the market hall is incredibly uneven, but it is still used for stalls occasionally 

Top of St James' church

We found the little food shop we came to visit and bought ourselves a Christmas treat, proper marrons glace, expensive but proper!

It was like stepping back in time as the shop only takes real money, not cards. 

Back to reality and I've been looking for a pair of ankle boots for a while, scouring eBay with no luck. Popped into my local chazza the other day and...voila!

Faux leather Chelsea boots, brand new!  They are only supermarket ones, Aldi I think, but were mine for £3.95 and brand new. I've worn them three times now and they are waterproof and warm.

Another Aldi purchase now, but not second hand.

Both the OH and I love Jelly Belly beans, but they are expensive. I happened to buy some of Aldi's own brand a while back an they are mouthwateringly good!

They were on offer the other day, down to just 89p a bag, oh go on then!

As I'm the not-so-proud owner of a new smart phone (not a ridiculously expensive one!) I'm tending to take all my photos on it at the moment, I think they all look OK, and I'm even able to crop them and everything, ohh get me!.

 hope everyone had a safe Hallowe'en and bonfire night.