Friday, February 17, 2012

Herbal honey, plum jam, and a purple cake.

What do you like to do best when you have the house to yourself? I hope that you do get some alone time at home, even if it's only once in a while.

This year I'm blessed with two child free days per week, a luxury indeed. Most of the time I'm cramming in all of those errands that no-one wants to do with kids and catching up on house work. But what I really like to do with my free time is to put on some music, slip on my funny 1950s apron, and potter about in the kitchen.

I've had a bit of a head cold this week and that sore raspy throat reminded me to get some herb honey made ready for when the autumn and winter colds hit. It couldn't be simpler to make. I picked some lemon balm and thyme from the garden, then washed and chopped it roughly. Then I layered it in a jar with some local Blue Mountains honey - starting and finishing with a layer of honey so that the herbs are completely covered. Leave it for at least 2 weeks but it will keep for months in a cold dark place or your fridge. When a sore throat threatens mix a tablespoon in hot water or eat it on its own. If you make this yourself try and buy some local honey, preferably from the beekeeper (there are usually a couple of beekeepers at farmers markets). This is so you can ask about how they treat mites in the hives and make sure your honey is completely natural.

Jemima has been asking me to make some jam lately. I love that when she wants something she's started to ask me to make it for her rather than buy it. I found some black plums at the green grocer for $2 per kilo yesterday so I bought a big bag and made them into jam this morning. I like making my own jam because I can control the amount of sugar in it, and I know it doesn't have any other flavourings or colours mixed in. Plum jam is easy to make because it has a good level of natural pectin (setting agent) in it, my batch took me about 20 minutes. We have three nice jars ready for the pantry - lets see how long they last!

And finally a few days ago we made a carrot cake with a twist. I found some purple carrots at the shops and decided to make a purple carrot cake with them.  The cooked cake retained most of the colour and it was a bit sweeter than a typical carrot cake. The kids thought it was fun too.

Have a great day!

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