25 Jun 2015


Lovely sweet slightly chilli mango hot jelly that goes great with everything!  Cheese and biscuits, curries, salads, sausages just to start with.  Simple to make and keeps for up to a year once canned, fabulously fresh ingredients full of sunshine and no nasties, there simply is no reason for mass produced companies to add preservatives that you just don't need!

Prep time 10 minutes / Cooking time 20 minutes / Canning time 30 minutes

(makes approx 9 8oz jars)

2 ripe mangoes peeled and chopped
200ml water
600g jam sugar
2 red chillies finely sliced
9 8oz quilted ball mason jars washed and dried

Info On Sterilising Your Jars
Stage one to sterilise the jars run them through the dishwasher on a hot wash or wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse well and leave to dry thoroughly.  Stage two sterilising will take place by placing your jars and lids in a pre-heated 180 degree oven for five minutes just before the mango jelly is ready to can, hot jars and hot jelly equal successful canning.

Making The Mango Jelly
In a thick bottomed pan place the water, chopped mango and chilli, bring to a gentle simmer and cook until you have some soft rounded mango chunks, not pulp.  Take off the heat and add the sugar, stir until dissolved, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, then place the saucepan back on the heat and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, this will ensure that you reach jam/jelly making temperature of 105 degrees.  If you boil for longer you will make the jelly a firmer stiffer thickness rather than a wobbly jelly consistency.  Take off the heat and place on your worktop ready to decant.

While the mango jelly is boiling, place the dry jars and lids on a baking tray in the oven for five minutes, this will further sterilise the jars.  Remove from the oven and place on your work top ready to fill.

Place a wide mouth funnel in one of the jars and ladle in the mango jelly, leave 1" head space gap at the top of each jar, firmly screw the lids on.  

Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil and place the jars in to the boiling water, the water should cover the jars, simmer for 30 minutes, then remove the jars, tighten the lids if needed.  Leave to cool on the side and wait to hear the most magical sound of canning, Ping, Ping, Ping!  I love this sound of the depressing lids confirming a secure and safe seal, it is a canners symphony!  

Leave to cool and store until needed, once opened keep refrigerated and use withing two weeks, if your jar of mango jelly will even last that long!

24 Jun 2015


Theses gorgeous fresh one mouthful mini tostada disks are a sumptuous delight, loaded with fresh guacamole, crisp ice berg shards, spicy zesty pico de gallo, mexi mex shredded cheese, red jalapenos and spring onions.  Great as a snack or served as an accompaniment to a spicy fajitas instead of flour tortillas, you can load these with your favourite nacho toppings, like pulled pork, chilli con carne or lime and coriander chicken.

Prep time 20 minutes
This is a lovely quick assembly of ingredients, no cooking required! 

(Serves 4)

20 small corn disks
1 iceberg lettuce finely sliced
2 red jalapeño sliced
2 spring onions finely sliced
400g mexi mex shredded cheese
300g sour cream

2 avocados ripe
4 garlic cloves grated
1/2 red pepper finely diced
1 spring onion finely chopped
1 pinch sea salt and black pepper

Pico de gallo
2 beef tomatoes deseeded and finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander chopped
1/2 lime juiced
1 pinch sea salt and black pepper

Set the corn disks out on a large platter then simple assemble, start with a dollop of guacamole then the ice berg lettuce, followed with the cheese, piled high, top with the pico de gallo, sliced jalapenos and spring onions, serve with a side of sour cream.

I love these as a light lunch, but I also really enjoy loading these up with chicken fajitas, chilli con carne, pulled pork and zesty spicy lime and coriander chicken.

21 Jun 2015


Gorgeously sumptuous curry spiced moorish onion pakoras, bursting with an abundance of fresh sliced onions, coriander, zesty lemon and toasted curry spices.  So simple and so quick to make, a great snack on their own with a sweet chilli dip or as an accompaniment to your curry dinner.

Prep time 5 mins / Cooking time 5 minutes

(makes 12)

1 large Spanish onions finely sliced
2 red chillies finely sliced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 lrg pinch sea salt
1 lrg pinch fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
1 cup approx chic pea (gram) flour
50-100ml water
500ml ground nut oil for frying

Place all the ingredients except the water in a large bowl and mix evenly, add enough water to form a medium thick batter consistency.

Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan and using a desert spoon, spoon a generous dollop of the onion batter into the hot oil, I cook four at a time, turn only once after a couple of minutes once you have a light brown crust, cook the other side for a couple of minutes, remove and drain on kitchen towel.  Repeat until you have used all the onion batter mix, serve with a sweet chilli or fruity mango dip.

Watch out these are really moorish and you may want to make extra to save any squabbling !

7 Jun 2015


Fabulous way to enjoy taco's without the taco!  Crispy salad leaves stuffed with pan fired hot chilli chorizo chicken and crispy butter fried courgettes, loaded with a zesty pico de gallo and finished off with a drizzle of home made sweet mango chilli jelly, with such great flavours and still being able to eat with your hands this is a winner dinner all round.

Prep time 15 minutes / Cooking time 7 minutes

(serves 4)

2 Romanian lettuce or Icebergs levels separated 
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 cooking chorizo sliced
6 skinless boneless chicken thighs diced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 red chillies sliced
1 courgette finely sliced

Finishing Touches
1 sliced chilli
1 tbsp coriander chopped
1 handful rocket
1 lime 

Pico de gallo
2 large tomatoes finely diced
1 small onion finely diced
1/2 red pepper finely diced
1 clove of garlic finely diced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
1/2 lime juiced

Home Made Sweet Mango Chilli Jelly
(Only takes a few minutes to make)
Put every thing in a sauce pan and simmer for five minutes until thick and pulpy, that's it!

1 ripe mango chopped
50ml water
1/2 cup preserving sugar
6 red chillies finely chopped

This comes together quite quickly, so first make your pico de gallo salsa, just mix all the ingredients together, next make the sweet mango chilli jelly.  Prep the finishing touches and place the lettuce tacos on each dinner plate ready to stuff.

In a medium hot saucepan melt the coconut oil, gently pan fry the chorizo and chicken until cooked, and all that gorgeous paprika infused oil has been released from the chorizo adding great flavour to the chicken.  In a separate pan melt the butter and pan fry the courgette until crispy, this adds a lovely nutty flavour from the butter.

To serve fill the lettuce tacos with the salsa then the chicken and chorizo, top with some of the courgette and finish off with a drizzle of mango jelly, sprinkling of chillies, coriander and a squeeze of lime.

4 Jun 2015


Fabulous for the shelf for any self sufficient family.  Gorgeous canned tomatoes ready to go straight from the shelf infused with wet garlic, onions, celery, leeks, herbs and a generous glug of red wine makes this base sauce great for napolitana, ragu, chilli con carne and moussaka.

Makes 12 (1 pint) jars / Prep time 30 mins / Cooking time 3 hrs / Canning time 40 mins

(makes 12 jars)

20lb ripe red heirloom tomatoes
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
2 large onions finely chopped
1 bulb of garlic grated
1 leek finely chopped
2 sticks celery finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano
2 tbsp fresh thyme 
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
500ml good quality red wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 tbsp sugar

12 (1 pint) ball mason jars sterilised
(run the jars and lids through a hot wash in your dishwasher & dry thoroughly)
1 deep canning saucepan

In a large deep saucepan melt the coconut oil, gently soften the onions, garlic, leek and celery for ten minutes, add the red wine and reduce by half, next add the tomatoes and sugar, cook these for couple of hours, as the tomatoes melt they will create more sauce, stir occasionally, while stirring remove any tomatoes skins you see, I do it this way so as not to have to scald and peel hundreds of tomatoes before hand, I kinda figure if I am going to be standing over a pot I can remove the skins then.

When your tomato sauce is pulpy, season with the sea salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and lemon juice taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  When you are happy with the flavour and consistency of your tomatoes then you are ready to can them.
Pre heat your oven 180 degrees and bring your canning saucepan of water up to a rolling simmer, meanwhile take the clean sterilised ball mason jars remove the lids and place both lids and jars on baking trays and pop in the oven for 5 minutes, no longer.  

Remove from the oven and place next to your tomato sauce, hot sauce in to hot jars, leaving one inch head space at the top of the jar, using a chop stick stir each jar to remove any air bubbles, screw on the lids and then lower using your canning tongs in to the simmering water, the jars need to be covered by a few inches of water at all times, simmer for 40 minutes, topping up the water with more boiling water as needed to keep the jars covered.

Remove when cooking time is done and leave on the side to cool, this is my most favourite time, waiting to hear the ping ping ping of self sufficient lids sealing, brings a smile to my face every time.  Once cooled check lids and tighten the outer rings if needed, store in your larder and leave for at least a week to improve before using, these will last up to a year.  

Any jars that have not ping sealed, pop in the fridge and use within a week.

3 Jun 2015


So simple just three ingredients...

 Outstandingly fabulous super sudding natural scented hair cleansing shampoo bar recipe that delivers everything I asked for, gorgeous hair, organic, natural and sustainable ingredients, simple to make, I am never going back to store bought !!!  

 I confess I have been avoiding making my own soaps for a quite a while, with a few failed attempts under my belt and a few Christmas presents that may have been a lovingly wrapped bar of soap when I gave them only to end up a gooey pile of fat on a friends wash basin the following morning had not inspired me to hurry back and try again.  What I needed was not to be afraid of using lye and the saponification process, turns out it is incredibly simple and no more dangerous than boiling an egg!

Prep time 10 mins / Cooking time 45 minutes / Setting time 4 hrs / Rack drying time 3 weeks

Your shampoo bar is ready to use immediately but leaving the bars to condition for three weeks improves the quality of the shampoo.

(makes 12 bars)

Measure exactly
986g coconut oil
168g lye
340g filtered water in glass jug
28g grapefruit essential oil

1 saucepan and lid
1 metal spoon
1 ltr glass jug
small glass bowl
stick blender
glass mould (loaf tin)
parchment lining paper

Place the coconut oil in your saucepan and on a really low and heat melt, meanwhile preferable outside take the jug of water and add the lye to the water, stirring for a few minutes, it is important to do this in that order, more below why.  Leave to cool (not un-attended) for five minutes then slowly add to the coconut oil, using your stick blender blend until you have ribbons (trace).

Pop the lid on and leave to cook for 45 minutes, periodically have a peek, you will see that the sides are rolling up the side of the saucepan and folding back down a bit like a rolling wave, if your heat is to high you may find the rising wave push the lid off.

You will know when your soap has saponified and is ready either use a ph indicator strip and you are looking for a ph between 7 - 10, the other way is the consistency should look like vaseline and there will be no puddles of oil on the top of the soap.  It is important that the lye has been cooked out otherwise the soaps ph will be to high and will burn your skin, more information below on this.

Spoon your soap into your mould  and leave to cool, this soap is to hard to cut once set, so after a couple of hours turn the soap out and cut into your bars, place on a wire rack and leave to air for a few weeks to improve the condition of your shampoo.  Store for future use.

Why Not I Say!  Firstly it is great fun making your own products, it gives me a sense of pride knowing that I am being self sufficient and importantly knowing what is in the products my family uses, secondly for £5 I have over a years supply of excellent shampoo for my family, but lastly and most importantly for me it is made with natural ingredients there are no harsh petrochemicals and toxins in the shampoo soap which means it is greener for my family and the environment.  

Having said that, I was concerned about lye and assumed as the store brought lye comes with a bright orange toxic warning label it was a toxic chemical, something I would never use but then reading that the saponification process removes all trace of lye in the finished shampoo soap still left me concerned as I know with processing vegetable oils, companies use toxic chemicals that would otherwise kill you to separate the oil and then process off the toxic chemical so that the vegetable oil is fit for human consumption, this does not sit comfortably with me and I would never feed this to my family, so would I make and use soap with  method I whole heartily disagree with?

I did some further research on my lack of knowledge about lye and I discovered that unlike modern chemicals lye is a naturally occurring substance that has been used for thousands of years, this is a standard I am happy with, naturally occurring products, Nature vs Man Made.

Further research lead me to learn that that my great grandmother would have made her own lye by burning hardwood ashes, homemade lye allowed for the error of each batch being a little different, this meant that when adding the lye to a recipe there was the chance that too much lye could be added and during the cooking not all the lye would saponificate leaving some behind in the finished soap, this would mean the soap would cause skin irritations and mild burns.  By using store bought natural lye you will ensure quality control and safe soap making.

Well how dangerous is boiling an egg?  It really is a case of respect, when adding lye to water you create a reaction called saponification of heat and vapour, this stage is not rocket science but you do need to respect the lye, just as you would respect a pan of boiling water, you would not go splashing that around would you!  When mixing your lye always do so in a well ventilated areas, preferably outside and wear gloves and goggles, maybe even a ventilation mask, devote your full attention to the task in hand, don't leave the lye un-attended and certainly don't let any little people near this process, 

That is my my word of the week !  What exactly is saponification, apart from a fun word to say!  Saponification is  a process that produces soap.  Animal or vegetable fats are the main ingredients that are saponified, These fats, triesters called triglycerides, are a mixture derived from diverse fatty acids.  Triglycerides can be converted to soap.  In a traditional process like this one, the triglyceride is mixed with lye which under heat accelerates cleavage of the ester bond and releases the fatty acid salt and glycerol making soap.  Homemade soap keeps the glycerol and that gives the soap more moisturising and nourishing properties, commercial soaps have no glycerol, it is removed and sold as a separated product, lowering the quality of some store brought soaps.

1 Jun 2015


Another great successful recipe that is so quick and easy to make and works really efficiently, the feel good factor is not only in that my family now have a all natural daily hand soap, but we are lowering our carbon footprint and helping to reduce our effect on landfill, a winner all round!

This cost £0.30 pence and five minutes to make and lasts for approximately 125 uses.

(makes 800ml - filled 5 Jars)

15g Dr Bonner's Magic Soap
800ml distilled or filtered water

Bring the water to a boil and take off the heat, grate the magic soap and sprinkle in to the hot water, using a balloon whisk gently whisk the mixture until the soap has dissolved, leave in the pan to cool and every now and then when passing give another whisk, this is to help keep the mixture emulsified.  Once cooled decant into your hand soap container and that's it!