Sunday, 31 August 2014

Was August a winning month?


My first win made me smile - a Hooch moustache bottle topper. Not sure how useul that will be !


Staying on the novelty alcohol theme, I won a can of alcoholic whipped cream - interesting idea ! Pumpkin Pie flavour sounds a bit strange but we'll give it a try !


I love the sound of this cookery book that I won from Kyle Books, featuring recipes from the American South - yum !



I came home from Turkey to news of two wins - firstly a set of  Spice Drops from Holy Lama from Bangers & Mash's Summer Spice challenge.


And secondly a copy of the book The Baby's Coming from TIPS.

What about you? Did you win anything nice this month?

You may like to try your luck at my giveaways :

Giveaway #414 : Win 1 of 2 Lubber the Whale Moshlings - closing date 1/9

Book review : UFOs Above PA and Midwest UFOs and Beyond


Do you believe in UFO's? I'm still on the fence, to be honest. It's like ghosts and mediums and crop circles ... I'm sure that 99% of them are all hoaxes but some of them just seem totally strange and inexplicable. Even if just 1% can't be explained away, that's still a lot of incidents that still have no rational explanation. When I saw that there were two UFO books up for review, I decided to request them to see if they'd help me make my mind up either way.


First up was Midwest UFOs and Beyond by Tom Baker (does it make it extra freaky that he shares his name with one of the Dr Who actors ?!). Tom Baker is a believer, but he is also very objective and says from the off that many UFO stories aren't true - they may be deliberate hoaxes or hallucinations or genuine mistakes. But even these non-stories make interesting reading so he includes some of them in his book.

What seemed a bit strange to me was that for the first six chapters, there is no focus at all on the Midwest. The author takes a look at UFOs in ancient history and the very dawn of tales of aliens. This got a bit heavy-going in parts and I would have preferred to jump straight in with the "tales of the unexpected" from the Midwest that I was looking forward to discovering. From Chapter 6 onwards, he does deliver though, and a large catalogue of unexplainable incidents, from strange flashing lights to full on encounters and even alien abductions, follows. They're presented in a very concise, factual manner, reading almost like police reports or "in brief" newspaper articles, all with dates and places. Some are only a short paragraph, others extend over a couple of pages, but we are given the bare bones - there is no story-telling and scene-setting, so it's up to you to take the facts and decide what you want to believe. I did feel that I would have liked a bit more fleshing out and atmospheric descriptions to get me in the right mood and mindset, maybe even a few photos. If you live in the Midwest, it's probably more interesting because you would know some of the place names, but I did start to lose interest towards the end.


By contrast, UFOs Above PA by Gerard J. Medvec and Mark Sarro goes more the other way. We get the photos (not of anything even vaguely extraterrestrial but the locations they reportedly took place in) and longer stories, covering a few pages each, adding atmospheric descriptions of feelings and personal background. The authors take us by the hand and bring us into their world of believers, rather than leaving us at the door to decide whether or not to enter. I would have liked more precise detail about when and where the different incidents took place though. In this book, the authors clearly state that they present nothing but the true UFO stories that they believe in, anything that seems like a hoax is filtered out. They do have an interesting point too - as they say, UFO's, as the term is properly intended, DEFINITELY do exist, there is absolutely no doubt that certain flying objects remain unidentified, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are in the slightest other-worldly or extra-terrestrial.

So there you have it. Do I believe any more now than when I started? In a word, no. Some of the stories seem so bizarre that they're almost laughable, resembling a low budget 1950's sci-fi movie. But others, often the less impressive, more discreet ones, do give you food for thought. I think you definitely need to be at least an open-minded sceptic to really appreciate the books.

MIDWEST UFOS & BEYOND Paperback – 28 Jul 2013 - by Tom Baker (Author)
ISBN-10: 0764343904
ISBN-13: 978-0764343902
RRP : £13.99

UFOS ABOVE PA Paperback – 28 Jun 2013 - by Gerard J. Medvec (Author), Mark Sarro (Author)
ISBN-10: 0764342924
ISBN-13: 978-0764342929
RRP : £13.99

Available from all good booksellers, or direct from Gazelle, email sales@gazellebooks.co.uk.



Disclosure : I received the books in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Book review : Written in the Stars - Ali Harris

Karcher FP 303 Floor Polisher review


In between visiting the in-laws in Brittany, the Madhouse grandparents and then jetting off to Turkey for a fortnight, I haven't had much time for product testing and I certainly haven't been cleaning the house because we haven't been here ! I couldn't resist having a play as soon as the latest product from Kärcher arrived though - the FP 303 Floor Polisher.


I'll be honest - it isn't a product that I would have bought myself, but as all the other products up for review this month were geared towards big gardens, I went for this as a last resort. I was impressed, though, when I saw the number of different surfaces it can be used on - basically all hard floors, whether they're laminate, parquet, PVC or lino.


Getting it out of the box, it looked quite complicated to put together but it was actually really easy and only took a few minutes, using just the quick instruction sheet rather than the big manual.


It's very user-friendly - the polishing pads just press on with a velcro-type backing. I thought they'd come straight off when I started using it but they didn't - they stayed firmly in place.


The box contains three universal polishing pads but you can also buy specialised pads for waxed parquet, sealed parquet/laminate and stone/linoleum/PVC. You can also buy floor care products to use with the polisher


It's got a built-in vacuum device to suck up any dust from the polishing (particularly useful on a stone floor, I would think) but it isn't designed to be a full-blown vacuum cleaner so you should really hoover first, before using the polisher. I skipped this stage and it didn't pick up most of the dust bunnies or dog hair that was on the floor.


I thought it would clean the floor but it wasn't totally successful - I think I'd use this after the steam cleaner rather than instead of, but I think it would be much more effective on a smoother, shinier floor. Using the specific floor care products may well give a better finish too.

video

Here's a quick video to show how easy it is to use - you just push the button with your foot for it to start, use both hands to push it around then stand it up until it clicks for it to switch off. It's very light and easy to manoeuver. The triangle shape is great for getting into corners and it is small enough to fit under most furniture. The Madhouse kids thought it was cool because it reminded them of the floor polishers you see janitors and late night cleaners using in hospitals and offices on American TV shows !

I'm not sure it's something I'll be using all that regularly because I'd have to hoover, then use the steam cleaner, then use the polisher, which seems superfluous, but if I had laminate, wooden or marble floors all through the house, I could see it being a much more useful piece of equipment, to give it a lovely shine.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £189.99



Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Sunday weigh-in : All BAD things come to an end !


Every year, I stop weighing in over the summer, enjoy the time off with the kids, spend a week with the in-laws in Brittany (with everything cooked in butter - Sophie even discovered the joys of chips topped with butter, I kid you not !), a week in England with my family (rediscovering all the (naughty) foodie things I can't get in France like fish & chips and KFC) then spend a fortnight on holiday (this year in Kusadasi in Turkey) with all-inclusive cocktails, ice creams and tempting buffets 24/7. And every year I put on about a stone, which takes me back to where I started in January with my new year's resolution.

And guess what - this year is not much different ! I was actually pretty good on holiday, opting for diet cokes over cocktails and consuming my entire body weight in freshly grilled fish (with the heads still on, much to the kids' horror/fascination !) so I only put on 1kg in a fortnight which is better than usual, but overall I still put on 3.4kg.

But I'm back in the saddle, totally determined to get back into the groove, with my trusty new friend, the Fitbug Orb, to keep me on the straight and narrow. I'm not going to dwell on the pounds I've piled back on, I'm just focusing on the ones I'm going to lose. 

How about you? Has your summer been a dieting disaster or have you been good ?!


Positives of the week

- I have motivation in buckets and after all the over-indulging of the past month, I'm actually looking forward to munching on soup and salads!

- This year's timetable gives me Wednesday off and Friday afternoon off so I'll actually get some me-time to schedule in some Wii-fit regularly - something I haven't had for years !

- We brought back a Mini Disco CD from Turkey that will be great for a fun regular "workout" with the kids ! I also plan on hitting the Wii-Fit again and may also dust off my fitness DVDs.

Current targets 

Last week's target : Enjoy the summer (DONE !)

This week's targets : Use the Fitbug every day to track everything - calories, activity, sleep ... I'm actually really keen to kick off on upping the exercise and reducing calories but I'm supposed to do a normal week first to help set targets. I guess one week won't make much difference ! 

Short-term targets 21kg to lose sounds a lot but breaking it down, aiming for 1kg a week, that's only about 5 months - first target, get my "weight to lose" badge down into the 40's (it's currently on 51lb) by next week, second goal - get back to 85.6kg, my pre-holiday weight, by the end of September.

Longer-term targets :  Hit my target weight of 68kg. 

START WEIGHT :93.7kg
TARGET WEIGHT : 67.8kg
WEIGHT LAST WEEK  : 85.6kg (in the middle of July)
WEIGHT TODAY : 89.0kg
WEIGHT LOST SO FAR :  4.7kg
STILL TO GO : 21.0kg
CHANGE THIS WEEK : +3.4kg



Feel free to add your weightloss posts to my weekly linkie - it's great to see how everyone else has been getting on and give each other support and encouragement. You can even grab the linkie code and add it to your own blog if you like. :)







Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

 MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Calling all Chuggington fans !

Just a quick heads-up if you have a little Chuggington fan in your midst ... 

***********************************


Chuggington, the much-loved CBeebies TV series, has teamed up with the UK’s favourite toy shop, The Entertainer to provide hours of action-packed fun for children this Summer across a number of UK shopping centres. Chuggington fans will be able to discover a world of traintastic adventures at the Chuggington StackTrack Play Zone, created by Chuggington Master Toy partner, TOMY.

The Play Zone will tour the following shopping centres:

30th August - Harlow 
6th September – Newbury
13th September – Barnsley
20th September – Bexleyheath
27th September – Cardiff
4th October - Uxbridge 
11th October - Livingston   

The Play Zone will run for the duration of each shopping centre’s opening hours within a close proximity to The Entertainer store and children will have the chance to engage with the huge range of Chuggington StackTrack™ toys stocked by the store. Families will also have the chance to win fantastic prizes and get scribbling with Chuggington themed activity and colouring sheets.

Families will be able to discover brand new Chuggington StackTrack sets, plus collect their free Chuggington Collector Poster from The Entertainer store when they hand in their voucher obtained at the Play Zone. Parents can also take advantage of two exclusive offers running in-store on the day of the event - spend £10 and get a free Leaf Covered Brewster engine and receive 25% off the Koko Safari Adventure Playset, RRP £23.99.



Keep an eye out in The Entertainer stores near you for brand new Chuggington StackTrack playsets and engines coming soon!

For more information about the Chuggington StackTrack Play Zone events please visit https://www.facebook.com/tomy.toy.uk/events

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Go Create eco craft kits review

#alphabetphoto : P is for ... paradox


If you're looking for cheap counterfeit copies of big brands, the Turkish markets are the place to go. They have stall after stall of identical rip-off clothes, bags and shoes and the stallholders are very insistent, trying to get you to buy their wares. They do have a sense of humour though, yelling everything from "cheap as chips" to "cheaper than Tesco, cheaper than Primark" or even, on one occasion, "cheaper than shoplifting" ! This sign made me giggle too - cheeky !


My #alphabetproject so far :

To see what everyone else found for this week's letter or to join in yourself, head over to PODcast

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Fab freebies of the week 30/8


Apologies for the lack of freebie round-up last weekend - I was having a fab time soaking up the sun in Turkey ! I only got back last night but I've managed to cobble together a quick round-up for all you freebie-lovers !

SoPost are giving you the chance to send a free Fish hair styling product to a friend (via facebook or twitter)

on twitter --> No.1 Superfood ‏@CurranzHealth Do you know someone who trains as hard as you do, with lactate and DOMS challenges? We have #free samples - email fleur@healthcurrancy.co.uk

I have to admit, I have no idea what this is !! Also on twitter --> ‏@Greentrader24 Get your free S:FLEX sample kit today email sales@greentrader24.co.uk pic.twitter.com/eQwaR3fh8P

Sweden's alternative to Botox has landed in the UK. Pick up your FREE sample @3D_Lifting cream: http://www.3dliftingcream.co.uk/

on twitter --> ‏@PoochAndCo If you're thinking about changing your dog food, then email us for a free sample at sales@poochandcompany.co.uk http://ow.ly/yMiOd #dogs

Sign up for the NIVEA newsletter and we’ll treat you to a super-soothing gift: a handbag-size NIVEA Soft

McDonalds are giving away loads of free food if you share a memory with them (all gone)


You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my giveaways :

Giveaway #414 : Win 1 of 2 Lubber the Whale Moshlings - closing date 1/9

Friday, 29 August 2014

Nerd Block Jr Mystery Box review


A few weeks ago, I was contacted about a new subscription scheme that really caught my imagination - Nerd Block Jr, "the first subscription service of its kind that is dedicated specifically to junior nerds" ! In the email, they explained : "Our classic Nerd Block is a mystery subscription box for geeks and nerds founded in 2013. We operate by sending each subscriber a box filled with toys, collectibles and a custom t-shirt every month. Since our launch in 2013 we have gained worldwide critical acclaim and a subscriber base in the tens of thousands. Similar to our classic Nerd Block subscription, Nerd Block Jr. is geared for children aged 6 to 11 and is offered as two different options containing age appropriate toys and collectibles. As parents ourselves, we’re well versed in what junior nerds (or junior nerds at heart!) will want to receive, and Nerd Block Jr. definitely delivers!" I was intrigued to say the least !


There was much excitement when our box was delivered. The Madhouse kids gathered round to see what would be inside.


The first thing I took out was the ChickaDEE magazine.


It's very appealing and colourful with lots of illustrations and short texts.


There are puzzles to do and stories and jokes to read.


There are also competitions but it's geared to American readers.


Pierre was most impressed with the squishy, light up Captain American Wibbly Buddy.


While Juliette was over the moon to discover a 3d nail frame - the Madhouse grandparents used to have one of these and she loved sticking her face in it so she thought this was great !

There were also two mini construction kits, one for Playmobil and one for Mega Bloks which the kids ran straight off with to put them together. (I forgot to take a picture but they are a bit like the toys in the jumbo-sized Kinder eggs, they make a little figure.)

The kids were very impressed, so I went to look at the price. A Nerd Block Jr subscription costs $13.99 per month plus shipping. You always get a random selection but they promise that each item is  "Geek Tested, Nerd Approved"!

Disclosure : We received a Nerd Block Jr box in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Miffy book review & news of a competition

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Dr. Sarah’s Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School

The summer is drawing to a close so thoughts are turning back to school. *Boo hiss* ! I've just reviewed Nurture immune-boosting drinks, which may be one way to help stave off the back-to-school germs, but Dr Sarah Brewer has also provided some other Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School.


Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School 


When kids go back to school they will inevitably come into contact with a new batch of common cold viruses. These annoying infections spread rapidly from child to child and amongst family members. When children are in the peak of health, they can fight off infections with few, if any, symptoms, but when they are under par, they may develop one cold after another. And cold viruses are involved in 40% of asthma episodes in school children.

Boosting children’s immunity is not something that can be done overnight. But good nutrition can enhance their immune health, preparing them for the cold and ‘flu season ahead.

1.       Fruit and vegetables are important sources of vitamins, minerals and immune boosting substances which protect against infections. Encourage them to get their five servings of fresh fruit, vegetables or salad stuff per day.
-  Hide puréed vegetables in soups, stews, pasta sauces and swirled into mashed potato
-  Grate carrot into sandwiches and salads
-  Give raw veggie sticks with healthy dips (guacamole, humus) as a snack
- If your children won’t eat many vegetables, give them a multivitamin supplement designed for their age group.

A fruity drink made from unsweetened fruit juice and water, with no added sugar, preservatives or artificial sweeteners, is great for quenching thirst. I give my kids I Mune Nurture which includes key vitamins and minerals that contribute to immune function, plus betaglucans which reduce susceptibility to respiratory infections in young children. 

2.      Oily fish (eg salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards) contain essential fatty acids that help to maintain healthy, flexible cell membranes. This is especially important for helping immune cells respond to incoming signals.

3.      Vitamin D Kids with good vitamin D levels are less likely to experience a cold than those with low levels. Vitamin D levels tend to fall in autumn and winter when sunlight is too ‘weak’ to stimulate vitamin D production in the skin. Ensure their levels are topped up over summer with some sensible sun exposure – 15 minutes a day is all that’s needed. After that, ensure they’re protected by sunscreen (SPF 16+), covering up and staying in the shade. Avoid the hottest sun between 1am and 3pm.

4.      Probiotic bacteria help to stimulate immunity against both bacterial and viral infections, and can reduce the severity and duration of a cold if one should develop. These effects appear to be due to increased activity of T-lymphocyte cells which regulate immune responses. Kids love fermented milk drinks and live Bio yoghurts, so this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve!

5.      Moderate exercise enhances immune function and decreases the chance of developing upper respiratory tract infections. Encourage your kids to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. Running around playing with friends, ball games, cycling, dancing and swimming are ideal.

6.      Good hygiene is vital to limit the transmission of respiratory infections. Teach youngsters to:
-   use a tissue to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
-  use each tissue only once, then bin it.
-  wash hands regularly, before eating and after blowing their nose; using cold water and soap is fine but it’s essential to dry hands properly.

Did you know…

Using antibacterial hand wipes, gels or sprays will provide extra protection.
Wipe down door handles and light switches regularly - germs can survive on plastics and stainless steel for many hours.

Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir,RNutr, MBANT, CNHN is a GP, a Registered Nutritionist, a Registered Nutritional Therapist and the author of 60 popular health books, including the Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements (Right Way)

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Elastoplast Aqua Protect plasters review

Nurture Immune-boosting Kids' Drinks review


 Nurture is a newly launched children’s drink, whose unique selling point is that it is a drink designed to boost children's immune systems. Each 200ml pouch is packed with the optimum daily amount of vitamins for children aged two to five years. We received two packs to try out, with each box containing four pouches, in two fruity flavours - Strawberry/Cherry and Orange/Pineapple. 


I popped some in Pierre's backpack on our recent trip to Bodiam Castle and he gave them a try. Described as "fruity water", they are half fruit juice and half water, with no added sugar. I wasn't sure if they would be sweet enough to appeal but Pierre thought they were lovely and, after having had a taste, I agree with him.


As do his big sisters, even if they're out of the target age range ! The drinks provide vitamins B3, B5, B9, B12, C, D, calcium and zinc and they should help to strengthen the immune systems of children ages 2-5.


Flavour and concept-wise, they get a resounding thumbs up. We thought the 200ml pouches were quite big, especially given the target age range, but they are resealable so you don't have to drink it all in one go. The only thing that let them down slightly was the packaging - I don't know if some of the spouts are faulty or if they're just very hard to drink out of (you need to squeeze them with your teeth to get the drink to come out - while this prevents leaks and spillages, could a 2-year-old manage this?) but Juliette had great difficulty drinking from one of them, while the others were easier.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £2.99 for a pack of four 200ml pouches

available at more than 450 Tesco stores

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

National Trust "50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4" campaign

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Go Create eco craft kits review


Tesco recently sent us through a couple of the eco-friendly craft kits available in their newly-launched Go Create range. The fun kits contain everything you need, except for common household items that would otherwise probably end up thrown away or recycled. They have been designed to be simple enough for kids of all ages to get involved in and they only cost £3.50 so they're great for keeping in the cupboard for a wet weekend. 


We received two kits, one for a Snack Tube Princess Desk Tidy which has been put aside for now because we didn't have any empty snack tubes, and this one for Milk Bottle Jumbos, which upcycles empty plastic milk bottles.


The kits contain a variety of crafting materials so, even if you don't have a well-stocked crafting cupboard, you can still come up with a creation that Mister Maker would be proud of.


I couldn't see how a milk bottle would be turned into an elephant but as soon as Sophie cut the top off the bottle, I could instantly see an elephant shape. I'd never have thought of it by myself and we thought it was ingenious.


I left Sophie to get on with it and after lots of sticking, here is what her jumbo looked like.


She was very proud of it and I can see why - it looks great !

Sophie has actually followed in my footsteps and started her own blog (a bilingual one no less !) so if you want to see more step-by-step photos of how she made her milk bottle jumbo, head on over to her blogpost here. I'm sure she'd be over the moon if you left her some comments.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £3.50

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

DO play with your food ! - Weetabix Faces

We've been making Elmers ! #Elmer25

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Summertime Jam Recipes from Tate & Lyle


Jam making is fun and simple to do – and what you make now will last you through to winter, so be a little jammy and get making it early!


Mango & Passion Fruit Jam


A delectable tropical jam, delicious in cakes, on toast, spooned over natural yoghurt and served as a compôte with a crisp buttery biscuit. Use as a filling for the lovely coconut-lime cake recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2kg (4½lbs) ripe mangoes, about 6 medium
500g (1lb2oz) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Jam Sugar
225ml (8floz) passion fruit pulp, about 10 passion fruit
4 tbsp lime juice
You will also need some lidded jam jars and labels.

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

Peel the mangoes, slice off the ‘cheeks’ and remove the rest of the flesh from the cores then cut into 1cm (½”) dice. Put them in a plastic bowl, sprinkle over the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar, cover and leave at room temperature for 2 hours or overnight to allow the mangoes to release their juice.

Put 2 small plates in the fridge or freezer in readiness for testing the jam.

Wash the jam jars in soapy water, rinse and dry them in a low oven preheated to 150°C/Fan130°, 300°F, Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

Transfer the mango mixture into a preserving pan, place over a low heat and stir to dissolve the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the passion fruit, increase the heat to high, stirring from time to time to stop the fruit from sticking to the pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the jam starts to thicken, skimming off any froth. Test that it’s ready by putting a teaspoon of the mixture onto one of the chilled plates and allow it to cool. The jam is ready when it forms a skin that is firm enough to wrinkle when you push it with your fingertip. If it’s too liquid, continue boiling the jam and retest in a few minutes.

When the jam is ready, stir in the lime juice, turn off the heat and pour into the warm sterilised jars. Screw on the lids straightaway, leave to cool and label. Store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

To ring the changes and add some zing to the jam you can stir in: Finely chopped stem ginger, a splash of white or dark rum

Rhubarb & Vanilla Jam



Not only is this rhubarb jam perfect for toast and as a sponge cake filling, it’s also delicious added to an apple crumble or pie, folded into whipped cream to make a fool or spooned over ice cream for a simple pudding.

INGREDIENTS

2kg (4½lbs) rhubarb, washed, trimmed & cut into 2.5cm (1”) lengths
1.8kg (4lbs) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Jam Sugar
100ml (3½floz) lemon juice, about 2 lemons
200ml (7floz) orange juice, about 2 medium oranges
2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
You will also need some lidded jam jars and labels

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

In a large bowl layer the rhubarb and the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar together, finishing with a layer of sugar, then pour over the lemon and orange juice. Cover and leave for 2 hours or overnight at room temperature to draw out the rhubarb juices.

Put 2 small plates in the fridge or freezer in readiness for testing the jam.

Wash the jam jars in soapy water, rinse and dry them in a low oven preheated to 150°C/Fan130°, 300°F, Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

Transfer the rhubarb-sugar mixture to a preserving pan and put over a low heat for 10 minutes to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil, add the vanilla pods and boil rapidly for about 25-30 minutes stirring from time to time to stop the fruit from sticking to the pan until the jam starts to thicken, skimming off any froth. Test that it’s ready by putting a teaspoon of the mixture onto one of the chilled plates and allow it to cool. The jam is ready when it forms a skin that is firm enough to wrinkle when you push it with your fingertip. If it’s too liquid, continue boiling the jam and retest in a few minutes. This is a softly set jam.

When the jam is ready, turn off the heat and pour into the warm sterilised jars. Screw on the lids straightaway, leave to cool and label. Store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

To ring the changes and add some zing to the jam you can stir in: Finely chopped stem ginger instead of the vanilla pods, ground cinnamon or a generous grating of nutmeg instead of the vanilla pods, seville orange juice instead of orange and lemon juice, a splash of grenadine to enhance the colour, a splash of Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

Pomegranate Jelly



Terrific when combined with some extra virgin olive oil as a dressing for poultry, meat, feta or tabbouleh salads, it also makes a vibrant and beautiful topping for the pomegranate cheesecake recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1.2L (2pts) 100% pure pomegranate juice not from concentrate
1.15kg (2½lbs) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Jam Sugar
6 tbsp lemon juice, about 1½ lemons
350g (12oz) pomegranate seeds, about 2 pomegranates
splash of grenadine syrup, optional
You will also need some lidded jam jars and labels.

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

Put 2 small plates in the fridge or freezer in readiness for testing the jelly.

Wash the jam jars in soapy water, rinse and dry them in a low oven preheated to 150°C/Fan130°, 300°F, Gas 2 for 30 minutes.

Combine the pomegranate juice and the Tate & Lyle Jam Sugar in a preserving pan over a low heat for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally.

Continue cooking over a lowish heat for about 1¼ hours until reduced to a thick syrup. Don’t boil the mixture or you will lose the lovely colour of the juice. Add the lemon juice and pomegranate seeds and cook for a further 10 minutes. The jelly is ready when it forms a skin that is firm enough to wrinkle when you push it with your fingertip. If it’s too liquid, continue cooking the jelly and retest in a few minutes. This is a very softly set jelly.

When the jelly is ready, add a splash of grenadine, if using, to enhance the colour, turn off the heat and pour into the warm sterilised jars. Screw on the lids straightaway, leave to cool and label. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

To ring the changes and add some zing to the jelly you can stir in: a splash of vodka, a splash of rose water or orange flower water, pine nuts or peeled pistachios.


Other blogposts you may be interested in :

#SummerSorted Pitta Pizzas