Local Show Baking results

Some of you may already be aware from my previous posts that I have been baking in an attempt to perfect cakes and recipes for entry into the local show. Well, the show has been and gone and I can tell you that even with all my practice, the day before was still a chaotic blur day of baking, making mistakes and frantically trying to get everything done on time for the Saturday. Entries had to be at the show and exhibited before 9am, so really Friday was the day to get it all done. There could be no last minute baking or amendments on the Saturday morning, hence why I had dutifully practised my recipes. But to be honest, no matter how much practice you put in, things can inevitably go wrong, as I found out.

1 jar of Strawberry Jam class

I haven’t made jam very often, but I inherited my Nannies Jam pans and wanted to continue her tradition of jam making. I made the Jam a couple of days before, but to be honest this could have made weeks before.

There’s not much to strawberry jam, but here’s the recipe anyway……

Ingredients

1kg of British Strawberries, now I was told to not use overly ripe strawberries however I saw punnets reduced to £1.30 each in the local supermarket  due to them reaching there use by date and thought, sod it I’ll just use those or it would have cost me £8. 96 otherwise.

750 grams of Jam Sugar  which also has pectin in it and it really good for using with fruits that have little pectin in them. The Pectin helps the jam to set better.

The juice of 1 lemon

A knob of butter ( optional)

Place some small side plates into your freezer.

I washed the strawberries using a damp cloth to try and not get too much moisture into them and them hulled and halved them. Fortunately half way through I got a phonecall so I forced my hubbie to take over this bit!

Put the Strawberries, Sugar and lemon juice into a pan and place on the stove at a low heat. You basically want all the sugar to dissolve. Make sure it does not boil at this point! To test if all the sugar has been dissolved I place a spoon in the mix and take it back out and check for granules on the back of the spoon. Also the sugar will stick to the sides of the pan, so occasionally get a brush dipped in warm water and brush the sides of the pan with it to help dissolve all the sugar.

Once all the sugar has been dissolved bring the mix to a boil and boil rapidly for between 5- 10 minutes until the mix is set.  I don’t use a thermometer  ( nether did my Nannie) so what I do is get a plate from the freezer and place a dob of jam on it, leave it for a few seconds and then press the jam with your finger. If the jam wrinkles and doesn’t move to fill the gap, then the jam has set. I do, however know that my hubbie’s gran made her jam runnier and missed out this stage!

If there is any scum on the top, skim this off and you can also put a knob of butter in the jam to help get rid of any scum. Leave the Jam in the pan for a wee while maybe 8-10 minutes. Its usually during this time I sterilise my jars. I put them in a preheated oven, 130° C for 8-10 mins and I usually put the lids in a basin of boiling water and pat dry with a clean cloth.

Then once jars are sterilised, fill the jars up with jam, not quite to the top and then I usually put in a wax disc on top of the jam, then add the lid.

Given that I had not made jam that often and the number of entries in this class on the day, I didn’t have high expectations, but I actually won 1st Prize! Apparently the judges, according to my mother in law, look for a really vibrant red jam. I have no idea how I managed it, but my jam was the brightest out of the bunch.

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I also entered home made lemonade, brownies, lemon drizzle cake and Naniamo bars in their respective classes.

Glass of homemade lemonade class

For homemade lemonade, I used the recipe I had posted about previously but without the strawberries. I was surprised that I was the only entry in this class, so I ended up getting 1st Prize and a Highly Commended for my lemonade.  But given the lack of competition this doesn’t count!

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4 pieces of brownie class

My brownies were a slight problem given that after making the Naniamo bars, I did not have enough chocolate to use the recipe I wanted to. So much for forward planning! However, good old Delia stepped in with her classic brownie recipe that only used 50 grams of chocolate! I must admit though that the Brownies looked quite ugly, as they sank a bit in the middle, leaving big high crusty ends. I almost did not enter these, but thought I may as well since, despite their looks, they still tasted yummy. I dusted them with icing sugar and called them good. Surprisingly, I got 3rd place with them!!

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See how ugly they are!!

 

My lemon drizzle cake and Naniamo bars did not place, but all in all I was well chuffed with getting prizes for my jam and brownies as I had not expected to get anything at all. I had been watching a cooking programme where professional chefs travel around Britain entering classes in the Local shows and it has shown me that even professionals can get it wrong and don’t always meet the criteria set by the judges!

P.s I will post the recipe for Brownies and Naniamo bars at a later date.

 

 

Stocking the Pantry- Beetroots

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Now beetroot has been one of the vegetables that I’ve never really known what to do with. This could be because they look kinda odd with there purpley [ is that even a word??] skin and are very very messy. Have you ever tried to clean your hands after cutting beetroot? Or clean chopping boards and counter tops? My kitchen looks like a crime scene on NCIS. I wouldn’t mind this if Mark Harmon was going to pop round and investigate, but sadly I don’t think this will happen.

What I usually do with Beetroot is cut them into wedges, cover with oil and roast to create yummy Beetroot wedges.  Brilliant alternative to chips or potatoes. My hubbie however suggested that I try pickling Beetroot instead. He thought that this would help use up some of the beets , so less wastage and they could be kept and stored for longer.

Interesting tidbits……Whilst researching Beetroot recipes I found out that beetroots are highly nutritious ,a good source of folic acid,  high in antioxidants ( including Betaine which has anti-inflammatory properties), vitamins and minerals. Apparently beets were used in the past for liver disorders to stimulate the livers detoxification processes. I found this really interesting given my health issues, that require daily folic acid tablets and auto immuno suppressant medication to prevent my immune system attacking my liver.*

I wonder if eating more beetroot would really help my health issues……??? I would be interested to hear other peoples opinion or experiences on this. Although not sure these benefits still apply to eating pickled beetroots. I would probably need to eat them raw or drink beetroot juice….. beleugh!  The butter, chocolate, whole milk and cheese addiction also may cancel out any health benefits.

Researching pickled beetroot recipes on the Internet, many of them seemed to call for cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves, sugar and a cornucopia of other ingredients however I decided to use my mother in laws recipe which basically used beetroots, salt, vinegar and water. Simples!

Hubby brought in a net ( yes, a net, he said he wasn’t sure how many I would need!) of beetroots, and by brought in I meant he came in the door and dumped them on the kitchen floor. The beetroots were all still covered with mud, which meant my floor was all covered in mud too. Given the smallness of my kitchen, I have often tripped over veg littering my floor and sometimes feel I’m on an obstacle assault course, between avoiding the veg and the wellies!

I gently washed the beetroot, about 6 of them of varying sizes ( some the size of a tennis ball, some much bigger, but not quite as big as a football, well a soccer ball as opposed to an American football!).

I then brought a pan of salted water to a simmer, and placed the beetroots in the pan. I simmered on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours and then tested with a knife to ensure the beets were soft. Although I have received conflicting information about using a knife to do this so I’m sure some of you are screaming “Noooo ….what did you do that for?”

I then drained the water and placed beets in a sieve and ran them under a cold tap, then left them aside to cool further.

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Whilst the beetroot was simmering, I placed some jars in the oven at 150° for about 20 minutes to sterilise and placed the lids in a basin of boiling water.

Once the beetroot cooled, and using rubber gloves so I didn’t get covered with beetroot juice ( I had learned my lesson the hard way! ) and also using a plastic chopping board, I gently rubbed the skin of the beetroot to remove skins and then sliced the beets into about 1/4 inch slices. These were then added to jars, which I filled about 3/4 full. I didn’t take any photos of this as that would have meant removing my beetroot covered gloves and knowing my luck my wee Samsung camera would have got all covered with beetroot juice! As well as covering myself with it too!

I used a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water and mixed. I started off with 2 cups of vinegar to 2 cups of water, however this will vary depending on how much you are making. You can also use all vinegar, but this may make it very vinegary but its personal preference. It is also easy to make up more of the mix if you run out. I then poured the vinegar/water mixture into the jars, covering the beetroot.

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I got 7 jars, of assorted sizes ( as you can see in the photo) but I also had some cooked beets left over that hubbie ate when he came in for work only because I had no sterilised jars left.

This was so easy to make, so please don’t be put off by the time it takes to simmer or by the possible mess. Use rubber gloves and a smooth plastic chopping board ( ones with groves or uneven surface  or wooden ones will absorb the juice and stain) as these can be easily cleaned, place newspapers under your chopping board to catch any juice or mess. I have heard that washing your hands in lemon juice can also help, but if you use gloves you won’t need to do this.

Whilst searching beetroot recipes I also came across chocolate cake using beetroot…. I think this is a recipe will be put on the list of things i want… NO need to bake!

Does anyone else have good recipes that use beetroot?? Or other recipes for pickling and preserving veg or making chutneys? We have access to lots of organic veg such as carrots, onions, cabbage, parsnips, leeks, kale, Kohlrabi, Celeriac, Turnips so would be good to know what else I could do with them. Please comment on this post or email me at weebluemixer@gmail.com

P.s Hubby has warned me that eating too many beets could result in purple coloured pee! Lovely. We best not eat the 7 jars too quickly then!

 

 *References: Information on the supposed health properties of Beetroot http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-beetroot, http://www.theautoimmunewellnessproject.com/, https://www.allnaturalsupplements.co.uk/health-benefits-of-beetroot/4/