Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nashi Pear, Ginger and Vanilla Bean Jam

Today's jam recipe is brought to you by the letter D for Divine!


A couple of weeks ago we visited our friend's farm and while we were there, the kids filled a gigantic bag with beautiful Nashi pears. They had a ball in the orchard with the guinea fowl fussing and curious cows coming over to say hello. Aside from devouring nashis as a juicy snack when fresh or sliced up and thrown in salads, stir fries & desserts, they make great jam.





I'm finally finding my confidence in jam making and ditched the recipe book to create my own. I decided to make a batch with ginger and vanilla bean and it turned out to be a winning combination.









1kg of cored & diced Nashi Pears

1kg jam setting sugar

1/2 a lemon

2 Tbsp of fresh ginger, finely grated.

2-3 vanilla bean pods





Pop a small plate in the freezer.

Place pears and sugar in a large heavy based saucepan and stir through.

Let sit for an hour to macerate before adding a squeeze of lemon juice and warm over a medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

Add ginger and split vanilla beans to the pot.

Bring to the boil, then lower heat to a simmer, stirring regularly to prevent burning the sugar.

When the jam has thickened pop a tsp of mixture onto the plate from the freezer, place back in freezer for a few minutes then press finger into mix, if it wrinkles then it's set.

Spoon into warm sterilised jars, including the vanilla bean pods, seal and flip upside down for 30 seconds before turning right way up. Store in a cool dark place and consume within 12 months.



I love how the amber syrup is flecked with those tiny black vanilla bean seeds.
A little bit of warmth, spice and sweetness captured in glass.



Enjoy xx Em


The Brain Drain

No, this post isn't about the dumbing down of Australia because our best and brightest are being driven overseas thanks to severe funding cuts by the government. That's a whole other who needs THAT to be a successful, balanced society!


Rather, I received the results of my brain scan last Monday.




The good news is that there's no tumour, making my oncologist very happy. Woot!!! Cancer you can kiss my ass! Actually, no, strike that...leave my ass the hell alone!


What showed up, however, was a small arachnoid cyst on my posterior fossa (the back of my brain). Apparently it's something I've had my whole life and never known about because, until recently, it's been asymptomatic. The last couple of months of nagging headaches and random hits of vertigo seem to indicate that perhaps something has changed. The position of the cyst is in the area of the brain that controls balance. So, my GP has arranged a consult with a neurosurgeon. If he thinks the cyst needs to be drained then I'll be having a spot of brain surgery.


I'm so incredibly relieved that it's not cancer. I'm also grateful that if it is the cyst that is causing these issues, then surgery can fix it. I cope better with illness if I know what is causing it and what can be done to resolve it. It's the unknown that unravels me and causes my bottom lip to wibble. So, now it's a case of waiting for the neurosurgeon's rooms to call and let me know what date my consult is, have an MRI to get a better look and go from there.


Boob and brain surgery, let's hope they don't get it mixed up and I find myself with a drained boob and a silicone implant in my brain.


xx Em.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crabapple Jelly

Mr Apple, warden of the Store Stump, was the last to leave for home.
By the time he reached Crabapple Cottage, the first flakes were beginning to fall.
"Is that you dear?" called Mrs Apple as he let himself in through the front door.
Delicious smells wafted down from the kitchen.
Mrs Apple had spent all afternoon baking pies, cakes and puddings for the cold days to come.
Brambly Hedge, Winter Story - Jill Barklem

Just call me Mrs Apple folks...spending afternoons in the kitchen making beautiful preserves for the cold winter days to come. Today's recipe is for a scrumptious crabapple jelly found on the fabulous foodie blog by Sally Wise.
1.5 kg crabapples

Wash the crabapples and place them in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the crabapples are soft. Pour the mixture into a colander, capturing the juice in a pot below. Take this juice and pour it through a colander or sieve lined with 2 thicknesses of muslin.

Measure the liquid into a large saucepan and for each cup of liquid add 1 cup fo sugar. Bring to the boil and cook over medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes or until setting point is reached. (To test for set, place about 2 teaspoons of the mixture on a cold plate. If it sets then the jelly is ready). Remove from heat and allow bubbles to subside for 2 minutes at most. If any scum has developed on the top of the jelly remove with a slotted spoon. Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal immediately.

I adore the hue of this's like liquid gold.
xx Em


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Messing about in boats.


"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows



There's nothing for it on such a gorgeous day but to take a paddle down the Molongolo river. Just messing about, nibbling on wild blackberries along the riverbank, spotting birds and water dragons and letting our fingers trail through the water.

"The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air."

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows


"The pageant of the river bank had marched steadily along, unfolding itself in scene-pictures that succeeded itself in stately procession.

Purple loosestrife arrived early, shaking luxuriant locks along the edge of the mirror whence its own face laughed back at it. Willow-herb, tender and wistful, like a pink sunset-cloud was not slow to follow. Comfrey, the purple hand-in-hand with the white, crept forth to take its place in the line; and at last one morning the diffident and delaying dog-rose stepped delicately on the stage, and one knew, as if string music has announced it in stately chords that strayed into a gavotte, that June at last was here."

Kenneth Graeme - Wind in the Willows.


Enjoying the last weeks of summer.


xx Em



Well hello Sunday! My nagging headache is finally subsiding and to distract myself from scanxiety I thought I'd do another foodie post. I had my brain CT and bone density scans on Friday and I'm hoping that the films will show a beautiful tumour free brain tomorrow. As for my bone density, it's bound to be pitiful, but at least there are no surprises there.
Anyway, onto the lovely foodie post with two preserving recipes to share.
The first is Miche's Apricot Jam that I found on Susan Herrmann Loomis' beautiful french blog
This is so simple to make and has an incredibly intense flavour.
The second recipe I snavelled from the Taylor's website and just tweaked the quantities to match the large batch of pears I'd picked from our tree.
8 pears
1 bottle of port
1 bottle of Shiraz
1 cup of caster sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
8 cloves
1 tspn nutmeg
2 vanilla bean pods or 2 tspns vanilla extract
1 tbspn orange zest
1 tbspn lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tspn salt
Combine all ingredients, except the pears, in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Simmer the liquid gently for 10 mins while you peel and core the pears, leaving the stalks on for decoration.

Drop in the pears and simmer for 30 mins, turning occasionally to cook evenly. Remove the pears and place them into sterilised preserving jars. Pour over the syrup leaving a 1cm headspace. Seal jars.

Totally scrummy served warm with a side of vanilla bean icecream.


Happy preserving!

xx Em