Thursday, 10 July 2014

Pear Honey and Almond Upside Down Sponge

Arthur was hankering for an upside down pudding the other night, and while I know what he really wanted was a syrup sponge I fancied something a little fruitier so I put this together.  I think he was pleasantly surprised, I certainly enjoyed it.

Pear, honey and almond upside down sponge

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Made in Water - La Bassine birth pool

Right from the start I knew that I wanted to have a homebirth, hospitals are definitely not or me, but it wasn't until during our hypnobirth classes when we watched some water births, that we considered this as an option.

The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea so I started looking around or a pool that we could use at home.  There seemed to be two options - the birth pool in a box and the made in water La Bassine.  After a good look at both we decided to go with the La Bassine as I wasn't too sure about the seat in the birth pool in a box and the La Bassine seemed to offer a larger internal space for the total dimensions.

We bought the La Bassine birth pool essential kit, including the pool, a heat retaining cover, electric pump, water pump, eco hose, tap connector, repair kit, debris net, protective sheet and a nylon storage bag, everything you need to set up, use and empty the pool.

As directed in the instructions we had a test run setting up and filling the pool.  The pump supplied to inflate the pool was very noisy, but fortunately worked very quickly, the hose was plenty long enough to reach the taps at the other end of the house and the protective sheet was huge and could have covered the entire room.

In just over an hour the pool was inflated, filled and ready to go.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Natural Dye - The Yellow Raspberry Experiment

I have a number of white muslins, baby grows and nappies that I thought it would b fun to brighten up by dying, but maternity pay being what it is, when I came to buy dye I decided it was an unnecessary waste of money.  Then while making my blackcurrant sorbet and appreciating the colour of it, I got to thinking about natural dyes.  I did some reading online about different methods of dying, and mordants to use, and then decided to have a go with what I could find in the garden.

White items to dye
My mum had mentioned earlier in the week that she ha a glut of soft fruit if I wanted to pick some so I started there.  She wasn't too keen when I told her it was for dying rather than eating though!  So I started with the yellow raspberries as she had the most of those.

Yellow raspberries waiting to boil

Friday, 4 July 2014

Homemade cloth nappies - five months later

Before Jen arrived I made a bunch of budget homemade nappies and some wool nappy covers.  I was really pleased with them, they looked cute and were very cost effective.  Five months on I must confess we are not using them, which is a little disappointing!

We are still using cloth nappies but not my own homemade ones, for several reasons.

Having not used real nappies before (or any nappies for that matter) I was a little clueless about them, and despite having done my research, there is nothing like actual use to give you perspective.  The nappies were not absorbent enough, in fact were far from it.  They need to be made from a double layer of absorbent material and/or used with boosters (additional absorbent fabric stuffed inside the nappy).  That alone wouldn't have stopped us using them, I could have easily made boosters.

Only one of my woollen covers fitted.  The crochet one was almost impossible to get on, there just isn't enough flex in the fabric to allow the shape I used to work.  Again this probably wouldn't have stopped us using them, although I definitely would have bought covers as I certainly had no time to knit another.

What did stop us using our homemade ones, is the gift we were given by a friend of some commercially made all-in-one, one size nappies.  She had used them for her son but he had outgrown them so she very kindly passed them on to us to use, and we were spoiled! I will be eternally grateful, they made a world of difference to us in the early days.

They were fab.  So easy to use, with velcro closure an a built in waterproof layer, using the nippers and covers on our homemade ones isn't really so much of a chore, but it is amazing how every little bit helps when trying to adjust to a newborn.  The homemade nappies were just that little bit more to handle, so they weren't first choice when changing.

We have bought more commercially made nappies since, from several brands (mostly preloved) and I'm not sorry.  They are so simple to use and care for and Jen seems comfortable in them.  I am looking at making some of my own again, but they will be similar to the commercial ones.  I will post about them when I get round to it, am also hoping to post some reviews of the brands we have been using.

The good news is, the wipes I made are brilliant, just what is needed, and I'm planning on running up a few more.  So pregnancy sewing wasn't a complete loss!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Blackcurrant Sorbet and liquorice sticks

Some years ago (more than I care to remember) Ribena held a summer promotion where if you got a purple straw you could send it off to claim a free cutting of the Ribena berry Ben Hope.

I was working at a cafe at the time an more than one customer left behind their purple straw so I ended up with several cuttings which grew incredibly well and strike so easily I am now on third or fourth generation plants.

Despite having a number of very healthy plants, I have eaten very few blackcurrants over the years.  They always seem to ripen while we are on holiday and by the time we are back, the birds have beaten me to it.  Not this year though!

Having returned from a holiday on the Saturday I went out to take stock of the garden and noticed one ripe blackcurrant - great I hadn't missed them.  Gardening on the Sunday I looked up to see a bush full of ripe blackcurrants, they had obviously been waiting for me!

With the weather being so warm I decided that the best use of them would be Blackcurrant sorbet.  I used this recipe from Lavender and Lovage although I only had enough berries for a half batch it was plenty.

 I love the colour that blackcurrants give, such a bonus to the taste.  I'm lucky enough to have an icecream maker - an excellent birthday gift some years back - so making sorbet was really a doddle, boil the fruit and sugar syrup, cool and pour into the maker.  My work was done oh so quickly.

Sorbet after mixing in the icecream maker
 I must confess that I did not read the recipe thoroughly and tossed my fruit in the pan whole, without topping and tailing, however I don't feel that this affected the final product in any way, and candour compels me to admit that even if I had read that part, I probably would have been too lazy to do it.

I served the sorbet with liquorice sticks which were great as they worked really well as spoons.  The recipe said it would serve 4-6, but I only made a half batch and it easily served four (with larger servings than pictured below, I started small and went back for seconds!) with a good size portion left over.

Blackcurrant sorbet served with a liquorice stick spoon
It's the first time I've made sorbet and I was amazed at how easy it was and how healthy I can convince myself it is (just a little bit of sugar, right?).  I will definitely be trying more sorbets with garden fruit this year.

As a bonus the seedy mush left over after straining was enjoyed by the chickens!
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