Pomegranate and Kiwi Pavlova Recipe

I love pavlova – it’s such a lovely, tasty and reasonably light desert. The pomegranate and kiwi in this recipe gives it a more up to date feel than the standard raspberry or strawberry and their tartness cuts across the sweetness of the meringue to create a perfectly balanced taste. Another important consideration is not to over sweeten the cream – a little sugar is nice but too much with the sugary meringue is just too much.

For the best results make the meringue the evening before or early in the morning. This gives it time to dry out and become crisp. Whip the cream and assemble shortly before serving.

Ingredients:

3 egg whites
150g caster sugar

300 ml double cream
1tbs icing sugar

1 pomegranate
4 kiwi

 

Method:

Beat the egg whites until they have turned opaque (no longer see through) and hold their shape for a second or two after removing the whisk
Slowly add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time until the sugar is gone and the mixture forms peaks which do now easily loose their shape (known as ‘stiff peaks’). The mixture should also have a glossy appearance. If you can tolerate raw egg taste a tiny, tiny amount – it should NEVER have a gritty texture – it should be smooth.

On a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper or baking parchment create a disk shape with 1/2 the mixture. Use the other 1/2 to create a thick ‘wall’ of meringue around the outside of the disk.

Heat the oven to 140c/275f/Gas Mark 1 and put the meringue tray into the oven. Cook in the oven for 45 mins until they appear very slightly golden. Do not open the oven, simply turn off the heat and leave the meringue in the oven for a few hours. This will ensure a crispy texture.

Whip all of the cream and peel and slice the kiwis. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate.

Just before serving pile the whipped cream into the hollow in the centre of the meringue and arrange the fruit on top in any design you wish.

 

I hope you enjoy making and eating this recipe! Let me know if it is successful in the comments below!

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Blueberry Jam Recipe

My recipes aren’t the healthiest are they…

Jam is actually really easy to make and doesn’t require any fancy equipment (unless you want it to). This recipe makes four small jars (the ones in the picture) or two larger jars. I make this jam to eat right away so don’t use any canning techniques or equipment – if you wanted to use this recipe for long term food storage you would need to. This isn’t the sweetest jam and as such is really good with a whole variety of food. I like it best on a buttered scone.

Ingredients:

800g (approx) blueberries
500g (approx) caster sugar
juice of half a lemon.
2tbsp water

(These mesurments are aproximate as I don;t ussually weigh them, I prefer to go off sight, so if you are a little over or under it won’t make much difference.)

Method:

Add the sugar and water into a pan over a medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar is just starting to dissolve.

Add all the blueberries to the sugar and continue to cook over a medium heat until the jam starts to boil, stirring all the time. Allow to boil for about 5mins, making sure you don’t stop stirring (if you do the jam at the bottom may burn).

After 5 minutes reduce the heat and continue to simmer (still stirring…) for about 15 mins. The easiest way to check if jam is done is to put a drop of it onto a clean plate and wait 30 seconds for it to cool. Then push it with your fingernail. If the Jam is done, it will have formed a skin which will wrinkle, if no skin has formed keep simmering!

When the jam is cooled pour it into your desired containers and enjoy!

E x

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Sock Knitting

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I love the idea of knitting socks. The beautiful fine yarns in gorgeous painted shades. The idea of cosy feet inside squishy warm socks. The reality however is so different for me. For some reason no matter how hard I try I have never finished a pair or socks. I usually get 90% of the way through one and then give up. I think it’s the idea of sewing up the toe I don’t like.

This cute little green/blue example has been sat in my knitting box for weeks. I am going to finish it today and start on a second to make a pair. They will be perfect for autumn weather.

E x

Tortoise Cacti

One of the things you will see plenty of pictures of on my Instagram (@growingcookingreading if you are not currently following me) is cacti. All succulents are super popular right now and they do certainly make the perfect houseplant being as cute yet low maintenance as they are.

My cacti have a special extra bonus feature however – they are the perfect food for my little baby tortoise Luna. They are more of an occasional treat than an every day food but she loves them!

Personally I also thing they take beautiful photographs as they have so much detail when you get up close and the slightly translucent green looks perfect in a windowsill with light flooding in from behind!

Here are a few recent pictures I have taken:

 

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Pre Autumn Knitting

It’s the end of August, which means it is nearly autumn (or fall, depending on where you live). While it is still to warm to be dressing in thick, cosy knits, it certainly is not too early to begin knitting them. Knitting is a slow process and the finished garments are all the more special because of it. Currently I am working on a grey and green cardigan with a wrap front in a aran yarn. I actually started it a few years ago but never got around to finishing it.

After I’m done with this one – just a sleeve and a half left – I’ve already got plans to start on  project for my boyfriend, a mid green men’s cardigan with a lovely set of dark wooden buttons.

I love the slow sense of repetitive motion that you get from knitting as well as the accomplishment from finishing something that has taken so much work and dedication.

E x

Playing the Cello – A Sort of Making.

I have recently taken up playing the cello. I feel like this comes under a type of ‘making’ – not as permanent as knitting or sewing or drawing but just as valid. It is something I find very calming and meditative, it is also something I am doing purely for myself and so I feel no pressure or rush to become ‘good’. It is simply something I can enjoy in the moment.

My cello itself is a cheap, pretty low quality instrument – I bought it on Ebay for about £200 – but this takes any pressure learning I feel, as I haven’t invested so much if I change my mind or decide I want to learn something else instead. I haven’t taken music lessons since I was about 15 and even then I struggled to stick with an instrument for more than a year or two. Hopefully cello will be a long term endeavour for me, but if not that is not a problem either. If I decide I love it then in a year or two I can get myself a decent instrument.

One of the ways in which I am probably going about my cello playing ‘wrong’ (although I don’t think there is a truly wrong way to do something you enjoy) is that I haven’t as of yet found myself a teacher. I had one or two lessons a year or two ago before deciding it wasn’t the right time for me to start learning. These meant I learnt the absolute basics like how to hold the cello and bow, but I have had no more personal tuition since.

I am aware that without a teacher I will never be ‘good’ and quite honestly a large part of this decision is financially motivated – I just can’t afford a teacher right now. Maybe when I am no longer on a student budget I will reconsider. I also feel though that by learning through the wealth of resources available in books and on the internet I am able to learn at my own pace and in a stress free way. If I am busy and can’t practice one week I don’t have to worry about disappointing my teacher or not having made enough progress.

I have been playing for about two months now and while my progress has been slow I have had some proud moments – for example learning how to play Hedwig’s Theme (the music from Harry Potter) or replacing a string for the first time, or the first time I played for someone else.

Some of the most useful resources can be found in the book Cello for Music Lovers: A Self Taught Method

 

Chilli Sauce Recipe

IMG_20170823_110457_509I was given a handful of chillies and tomatoes that someone I know had grown and used them to make this lovely (but quite strong) chilli sauce. The sauce uses citrus juices which really cut across the chilli heat giving a nice depth of flavour and honey gives a hint of sweetness. I have kept the ingredients pretty simple to let the chilli flavour really shine through.

 

Ingredients:

  • 10 fresh chillies
  • 10 small cherry tomatoes
  • 3 gloves of garlic
  • a drizzle of oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • juice of one orange (or lime would also work nicely for a less sweet taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • salt and pepper

 

Method:

Heat the oil in a pan and gently cook through the chopped chillies, tomatoes and garlic cloves until the have softened.

Add the citrus juice and stir together. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, just until the mixture is starting to turn a little sticky.

Add salt and pepper.

Stir in the honey.

Blend together in a food processor until smooth. Add water to achieve your desired consistency.

 

The sauce can be stored in a clean container with a lid for up to 7 days in the fridge. If you want a less spicy sauce, substitute half of the chillies for a chopped red pepper

What I’m reading: August 2017

I’ve been reading twice as much as normal lately. I am due to start my history teacher training in September and due to my undergraduate degree not being in history, but in a related subject, I do have a serious number of knowledge gaps. Especially when it comes to the early modern period. Luckily, I love reading and I love reading about history so honestly this hasn’t exactly been a chore.

The books I’ve read so far this month have been:

The First Ladies of Rome: The Women Behind the Ceasers by Annelise Freisenbruch
This was a really interesting read, especially for someone who has always overlooked Roman history as being too much about men and wars. I especially enjoyed the first half and the entire book could have been dedicated to the life of Livia Drusilla (wife of emperor Augustus) and would have been a fascinating read. However I found that as the book progressed it felt increasingly rushed as if it wanted to fit in every possible royal woman of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately for many of the women included just not enough evidence survives or was ever produced.

James I and the English Witch Hunts by Tracey Borman
I loved this book. It uses one case, that of the Flower women of Belvior to context the witch hunts in both England and the rest of Europe. This allows it to use the characters of these real life women to establish a narrative that demonstrates the hysteria of the period. It is sad, compelling and factual all at once. 

Summer of Blood; The Peasants Revolt of 1381 by Dan Jones
The story of the Peasants Revolt would be difficult to make boring even if you tried. Dan Jones’s writing is easy to read even for those who aren’t avid historians and the book is quite short meaning it makes a short-ish read. An interesting book if you want to learn about this period and hugely readable. 

Murderous Contagion – A Human History of Disease by Mary Dobson
This book is long. Very, very long. It covers a huge topic and it organised by disease. This makes it possible to ‘dip in and out of’ which is nice. It reads something between a general interest book and a reference text. However diseases, and their various treatments through time are bizarre, baffling and occasionally terrifying. 

 

E x

A Change of Name.

Hi,

You may all have noticed that I have changed my name. You may also noticed that I have not posted in a while. These two are related, as I was finding under the old name that I was limited to a very narrow number of topics which I honestly felt I exhausted pretty quickly. Under the new name ‘Growing, Cooking, Reading’ I feel like this can become a place for me to share much more of what interests me.

I hope to include

  • Gardening and planting topics – the old name was extra irrelevant since I am about to move to a house with a garden.
  • Recipes and food stories – I like to thing I’m a pretty good cook and I would like to be able to post recipes or just general food posts, a little like the one on fermented foods I did a while ago.
  • Books and book reviews –  If I read something really good, I will let you know about it.
  • Other topics – anything from a simple knitting pattern or a sewing idea to posts on reusable items and environmental topics.

 

I hope that not only will this make my writing more fun for me, it will also become much more fun to read, as it is not just recycling the same topics over and over again (as much as recycling is great!)

 

 

Sauerkraut and Sourdough

If you’ve read my previous post on the topic, you’ll know that I am currently in the process of making my first batch of sauerkraut. It’s going pretty well so far, I ended up adding some red cabbage I had in the cupboard and I’m yet to have any exploding jars, mould or overly odd smells. I’m going to give it a few more days before tasting.

Next to the sauerkraut jar on my kitchen worktop is my sourdough starter. I love baking bread and I especially love the taste of sourdough. It has taken a few months of experimenting to get the consistency and level of yeasty-ness right and it is still a little bit unpredictable, but I love the taste it gives my bread. I also love not having to use those single use foil packets of yeast, which produce so much waste!

I hope the sauerkraut has worked, I’ll let you know when I have tasted it!