Countryside Plum Cake

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day.

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day.Living in the countryside and finally having our own garden and an orchard means that we get to enjoy a lot of fresh produce straight from the source. We still can’t get used to this fact; it’s so surreal sometimes… In the past things had to be planned… I couldn’t just bake a plum cake on the whim, I couldn’t mainly because I had no plums in the house… I had to drive to the supermarket and purchase some, which 99% of the time were unripe and thus still too hard to use… now, I just walk out into the garden and pick some from my tree… how cool is that?!

Anyhow, after months of baking brownies and chocolate based cakes and muffins, it was time for a change… summer has finally brought us a lot of super juicy and extremely tasty fruit, so I thought it was about time we added them to our menu.

The recipe below makes one 8 inch square tin, just like you would use to bake brownies, which is as it happens the perfect size for just the two of us, but if you have a bigger family or you are expecting some guests then simply double the volume of the ingredients and turn it into a sheet cake. Also, I should add that this cake tastes the best on the 2nd day, so make sure you bake a portion big enough to allow for plenty of next days “leftovers”.

On the first day, you have a defined cake with plums – crumbly light cake with refreshing moist plums inside. However, on the second day, the cake is becoming much moister with fruity juices spreading throughout the cake part think of it as a self-drizzling cake. Try for yourself and tell me which day you like best.

Now, let’s get baking.

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day.

Ingredients:

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 15 large Damsons plums
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt
  • Icing sugar – for decoration (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan and prepare an 8-inch square tin by lining it with baking paper.

In a small saucepan over a very low heat melt the butter, once melted put aside to cool.

Wash, halve and pit the plums then put them on a large baking tray to air dry whilst you continue with the rest of the cake.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the sifted flour, both sugars, and salt.

In a separate small bowl beat the eggs, then add the vanilla essence and stir well.

Once the butter has cooled down to room temperature combine it with the eggs and mix well.

Finally, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and with a silicon spatula mix well until combined.

Pour the mixture into the earlier prepared baking tray.

Decorate however you want with the plums, or simply place them next to each other in a grid. Whichever way you go ensure that the skin side is pointing up. When your work of art is completed just pop into the oven.

Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Once totally cooled down, decorate with icing sugar (if using), then finally cut into portions and enjoy.

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day. #plumcake #cake #fruitcake #baking

How to Prevent Air Pollution in Your Home

Air pollution is a really big problem all over the world. Due to industrialization, people living in big cities all around the globe may suffer from lung diseases that can be directly related to air pollution.  

Most people think that it’s only the pollution outside that is dangerous to their health. To the contrary indoor pollution can be just as dangerous; some reports even go so far as to claim that this is even more of a problem than outdoor pollution.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution, such as air fresheners, dusty furniture dust mites or just poor ventilation. If you want to make sure that your family will remain healthy, check out the following tips to reduce the levels of indoor pollution in your home.

Fill your home with many indoor plants – Sometimes synthetic cleansers can do more harm than good, therefor it would be a good idea to use natural air cleaners instead. The perfect example of these are indoor plants as they can remove harmful elements like benzene, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde. Some plants that you can put inside your home are lady palm, rubber plant, Boston fern and peace lily. Check this article for the “Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxin” and see if any of them takes your fancy and would fit in with the aesthetics of your home.

Ban smoking inside your house – everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. This is also true for people who inhale second-hand smoke. If you or anyone in your family is a smoker, then try your best to quit or at least do not allow smoking inside your home. When you have guests coming to your home, make it clear to all visitors that you do not allow smoking inside.

Use natural cleaning supplies – there are many cleaning supplies containing what are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause fatigue, headaches, and sinus congestion. To avoid these symptoms, make sure that you just use natural cleaning supplies. There are many simple home products that can be used instead of shop bought harsh chemicals. Ingredients like baking soda, which works well as a deodorizer and scouring agent, vinegar, which will help you disinfect things or lemon juice which is a perfect freshener.

Clean your air ducts regularly – proper ventilation is needed to make sure that the air is clean and pure. While you need to make sure that your house is properly ventilated, it’s also important that your air ducts be free from particles which may cause sickness. You can try to deep clean your house on your own or you can hire the services of a professional so that they can rid your house of indoor air pollution.

 

Most of these tips above only require a little bit of your attention, but that little attention can result in big benefits for you and your family’s health. Take time and make the effort so that you can ensure that every member of your family is as free as possible from air pollution hazards in your home in future.

 

Honey Pickled Cucumber Slices

Crisp, sweet yet at the same time slightly tart with a fantastic aroma and just a hint of a vinegary bite these honey pickled cucumber slices are the perfect way to preserve them for winter time.

Crisp, sweet yet at the same time slightly tart with a fantastic aroma and just a hint of a vinegary bite these honey pickled cucumber slices are the perfect way to preserve them for winter time.The recipe below is from my Mum. She has been preserving cucumbers this way for years now and everyone who tries them always complements her on their taste. They aren’t your standard pickled cucumbers; that sharp vinegary taste is replaced with a sweeter, honey based brine, which puts a totally new spin on your pickled cucumbers… Try it and you will not be disappointed.

The batch below will allow you to make five 0.72l jars (if you pack the cucumbers pretty tight).

Crisp, sweet yet at the same time slightly tart with a fantastic aroma and just a hint of a vinegary bite these honey pickled cucumber slices are the perfect way to preserve them for winter time.

Ingredients:

  • ~3.5kg cucumbers
  • 750ml filtered water
  • 250ml 6% vinegar
  • 150g white sugar
  • 1tbsp salt; heaped
  • 5 whole allspice or 1/4tsp if using grounded one
  • 5tbsp honey

Additional per jar:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 10 mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves whole

Crisp, sweet yet at the same time slightly tart with a fantastic aroma and just a hint of a vinegary bite these honey pickled cucumber slices are the perfect way to preserve them for winter time.Method:

Fill a cooking pot with the water, add vinegar, sugar, salt and allspice and bring it to a boil. Make sure everything is dissolved (well all but the allspice that it). Put aside to cool, then add the honey and stir well till dissolved.

Wash your cucumbers and slice them into about 1cm thick slices. Too thin slices will make the final pickled pieces to soft and wobbly 🙂

Now, it’s time to pack the cucumber slices into the clean jars… pack them tightly, the tighter the better.

Once the cucumbers are packed in, add garlic, mustard seeds and cloves, and finally slowly pour the earlier prepared brine into the jars until they are full. Put the lids on and close tightly.

Take a large cooking pot and test to see how many jars you can fit comfortably inside, you may need to do the cook in batches. Remove the jars and add a wet folded kitchen cloth to the bottom of the pan, return the jars to the pot making sure none of the jars touch the bottom and the side of the pot directly. Fill with cold water until the jars are covered to ¾ of the jar height and bring to a boil, once boiling cook for 5 minutes. Do not over boil them… the longer you boil them the softer the final slices will be we are after a pasteurising effect here to kill off any bacteria not to actually cook them.

Crisp, sweet yet at the same time slightly tart with a fantastic aroma and just a hint of a vinegary bite these honey pickled cucumber slices are the perfect way to preserve them for winter time.Whilst they are happily bubbling away, somewhere on the worktop make a temporary resting den for the jars… they will have to stay there for about 24h. Place a thick towel or two on the worktop. When the five minutes of boiling are up, using thick kitchen gloves remove the jars from the boiling water, check the lids are still tight and put to rest on the towels in an upside down position, yep stand them on their lids. Once all the jars are placed on the towel then cover with a few more towels or even a blanket and let them stay like this until the next day.

Move to their long term storage place and enjoy as and when needed.

Crisp, sweet yet at the same time slightly tart with a fantastic aroma and just a hint of a vinegary bite these honey pickled cucumber slices are the perfect way to preserve them for winter time.

Why Go Organic?

Organic September might be coming to an end but it is never too late to join it… after all the changes we should be making are supposed to be for life not just for the month.

Last month I shared with you a post about #organicbeauty and a campaign for clarity organized by The Soil Association, this month however I would love to talk about food.

Why Go Organic?

Food must be the first thing which comes to mind when we think organic, but why should we buy it?

Well, organic food can have huge positive benefits for us as consumers, for general animal welfare and most importantly for the environment. Some people say: “Oh, but I simply can’t afford to be buying organic”. Excuse me, but that is just a lot of poppycock. In general as a nation we buy so much mass produced food, we spend thousands upon thousands of pounds on unhealthy, chemically enhanced food products and we can always somehow find the money for it… but I offer this point of view; wouldn’t it be easier and better to shop less but buy higher quality products? Wouldn’t it be better to take care of our health, our future and actually have a care about what we put on our plates? Wouldn’t it be better to go organic?

Yes, it would but… most people don’t really think about it.

Most of us don’t bother to wonder why one product can cost 50p and its organic “brother” £2 or £2.50… there is a reason for it!

Have you ever stopped and wondered what is actually inside your 50p favourite product?

Stop, think about it and read the limited packaging information… you would be amazed what your cheap and cheerful food contains! (Try by checking out a can of soup some of which are 97% water)

In the long term going organic will pay off, I am sure of it. Feeding yourself and your family with good quality, real food will pay off in the future… better wellbeing, better health; it all counts and it all matters.

According to The Soil Association for food to be labelled as organic, at least 95% of the ingredients must come from organically produced plants and animals. All organic food must display the code number and prefix of the body that certified it, as well as the EU’s organic logo.

I don’t know how about you but we rather eat less of a good quality food product, then stuff ourselves with cheap and cheerful products. If the family budget is tight then you can always go part ways to converting to organic. How about the big family meal together, the traditional Sunday roast, it’s a minor special occasion and justifies the additional expense as a treat.

Organic products taste so much better, you can really tell the difference even if it is only a simple cup of tea, savoury snack or a chocolate treat these foods taste like a real food!

So tell me, are you a pro organic or it really doesn’t make any difference to you where your food comes from?

12 Delicious Matcha Recipes

12 Delicious Matcha RecipesHave you ever even heard about matcha?

Matcha green tea powder is an amazing source of antioxidants including the powerful EGCg, fibre, chlorophyll and vitamins like vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium; it boosts metabolism, burns calories, calms the mind and relaxes the body… it is truly a source of wonders!

Lately, during my journey towards the new me, I stumbled into the unusual world of matcha. Thanks to Kiss Me Organics I became the proud owner of some Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder of a culinary grade and… surprise surprise… hardly any idea what to do with it next.

Luckily my purchase came with a recipe book, handy hey?

My e-book contained over 50+ recipes for drinks and cocktails, smoothies, breakfast dishes, sweets, breads, pizza, soups, even poultry and seafood. It was becoming apparent to me that this matcha was proving to be both useful and versatile but I was hungry for more… I wanted to know what else I could create with matcha…

I’ve searched the wondrous internet for more inspiration on how to use it. I came across some wonderful recipes which will keep me going all day long.

As it ended up matcha is indeed very versatile and it would seem it can be used in or with almost anything. Currently I am perfecting my breakfast matcha pancake recipe, which I want to make gluten free… it isn’t ready for publishing or even viewing as yet but hopefully it will be very soon… in the meantime I’ve decided to create a recipe round up… just in case you have or are going to discover matcha and end up stuck for some matcha inspiration too.

White Chocolate Matcha LatteWhite Chocolate Matcha Latte
White Hot MatchocolateWhite Hot MatchocolateMatcha Green Tea LatteMatcha Green Tea LatteMatcha Smoothie with pineapple, kale and coconutMatcha Green Tea and Pineapple SmoothieBurmese Steamed Coconut Buns with MatchaBurmese Steamed Coconut Buns with MatchaHomemade Lemon-Matcha Pasta with PistachiosHomemade Lemon-Matcha Pasta with Pistachios
Dippy Egg with Matcha Toast SoldiersDippy Egg with Matcha Toast Soldiers
Green Tea Soup NoodlesGreen Tea Soup Noodles
Lemon Matcha MintsLemon Matcha Mints
Matcha Shortbread CookiesMatcha Shortbread Cookies
Strawberry Oat Matcha MuffinsStrawberry Oat Matcha Muffins
Matcha Macarons with Red Bean FillingMatcha Macarons with Red Bean Filling

Have you discover the wonderfulness of matcha yet?

Have you ever tried to cook with it?

If so, what is your favourite matcha recipe?