Flat Ruthie Ventures Up the Mountain – Strawberry Jam & Coffee and Baileys Ice Cream

For any eagle eyed readers out there, you may remember that Flat Ruthie of Cardboard Me Travels sneaked into my suitcase on a recent trip back from the UK.

Stowaway on Board!

While she was here she took the opportunity to do some sightseeing, so we didn´t see her for a while. However, it´s strawberry time here and as soon as she heard I had bought a few kilos of local strawberries, she finally joined me again.

Obviously, as we were going to be cooking, she insisted on a little apron, so I obliged.

We weighed out a kilo of washed, chopped strawberries then simmered them until slightly soft. Then we added a kilo of sugar, a sachet of pectin and the juice of half a lemon and boiled until setting point.

Ruthie stood back for a while as burning jam can be pretty dangerous but she was pleased to see how well it all turned out.

The next morning the sun shone brightly and I called her to join me for breakfast in the garden.

I think all her sightseeing must have worn her out as she stayed in bed and missed breakfast completely.

When she did eventually get up she decided she needed a good strong coffee to get her going.

No decaf in this house!

As I was making ice cream from Chgo John´s amazing recipe, she had the bright idea of replacing the pistachios I had wanted to use (but couldn´t find) with a shot of coffee.  I didn´t have half and half either so she explained to me that I could substitute a mix of both half whipping cream with half full fat milk for this part of the recipe.

Just as we were about to pour the ice cream mix into the machine she decided that about 100ml of Baileys would also be a good idea, so we put that in too.

After a little churning and a couple of hours in the freezer it was time to taste the ice cream. She took her pinny off to eat and her verdict was….mmmm, we´ll definitely make this again!

Finally I can take my pinny off and have a little break!

Thanks for the visit Ruthie, it was fun. Do keep the pinny, it suited you and it definitely won´t fit me!

Summer Cherry Jam

Ready to wing their way to the UK!

Yes, it´s back to jam again today.  You may, or may not, recall that a nearby village is famed for its cherries. We had a very, very long and wet winter which meant that a lot of the blossom this year was lost from the cherry trees. Such a shame for those whose livelihoods depends greatly on selling their crop, a shame for the cherry fiesta which is coming up next weekend, and a shame for all the customers who were hoping for a bumper crop.

We were very lucky in that a friend gave us a kilo the other day.  We tried a few and they were delicious, but I wanted to make my first cherries into jam, to capture a special moment at the start of summer.  Cherries are quite hard to get to set (at least, these were!), so in this jam I used a sachet of pectin powder, the setting agent which occurs naturally in some fruit like apples and citrus fruits.  If you can´t get hold of it (or the liquid pectin) don´t worry, a little grated apple or the pith of a lemon plus a few minutes extra boiling should do the trick.

After pitting the cherries (that´s a messy job!) I ended up with 600g of fruit to which I added 400g of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons.  Feel free to vary these quantities a little if you like your jam less tart and more sugary.

As with most recipes for jam, start it off at a low temperature until the sugar has dissolved. This is when I added the pectin powder and then turned the heat up and got it bubbling

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Keep it bubbling away for about 10 minutes.  Don´t get distracted or walk away!  If you have a jam thermometer, do use it, it saves having to reboil the jam later if it doesn´t set.  Otherwise you can drop a spoonful of jam onto a saucer which you have previously placed in the freezer.  When the jam cools on the saucer you push it slightly – if it wrinkles, it´s at setting point.  If not, boil a little longer then repeat.

Leave the jam to cool down a little for 5-10 minutes so that when you pour it into still warm, sterilized jars (I run mine through the dishwasher to do this), the fruit will not float to the top.

Seal the jars while they are still hot and this will keep for at least a year.  It´s delicious on bread but also fantastic on ice cream, especially if you warm it a little first.

Sorry, I only took a photo of it in the jars, and they are already earmarked to wing their way back to the UK with my friends!  Luckily Big Man came home with several cartons of cherries this morning, so tomorrow I´ll be busy stoning cherries again for the next batch.