Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mulled Wine Recipe

Halloween signals the start of the winter season in our home. Curtains are drawn, the wood-burner is lit and I always make a batch of mulled wine, it fills the house with lovely fruity, spicy scent.

Below is my basic mulled wine recipe - I hope you enjoy it!
I've popped my spiced apple juice recipe too

mulled wine recipe - our handmade home

Mulled Wine

  • 750ml bottle of cheap red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (or small handful cassia bark)

I also added

  • A star anise
  • A few slices of lemon

mulled wine ingredients - our handmade home

Stick the whole lot in a pot and heat to dissolve the sugar giving a bit of a stir along the way.

mulled wine in a pot - our handmade home

Strain into glasses or mugs (I like to ladle it out through a tea strainer) You can leave it on a very low heat for an hour or so- the longer you leave the spices in, the stronger the flavour.

Alternative, kiddie friendly, non-alcoholic version (follow the same instructions)

Spiced Apple Juice
  • A litre carton of apple juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

I recommend you buy spices in an asian food shop (we go to a chinese supermarket) The prices are so much lower than the ordinary supermarkets.

Optional extras - Once you have the basic recipe you can easily adjust it for flavour or for looks (I love a few lemon slices and a star anise, as I think it just looks like something from Mr Fezzywig's Christmas Party)

  • Lemon slices
  • Orange slices
  • A star anise
  • Grated Nutmeg
  • Knob of ginger
lemon - Our Handmade Home

mulled wine recipe - our handmade home

Enjoy :)

Monday, 27 October 2014

Our Kitchen Blackboard Door

When we began designing our new home (oh so many moons ago) we had written on our wish list for the kitchen 'a blackboard door' and we love how it works for us.

The door is between our Kitchen and our Utility room. It is a sliding 'pocket' door (meaning that it slides neatly into the wall), it is an amazing space saver and makes the room more flexible than if it was a normal opening door.

All it took was a couple of coats of blackboard paint and it brightens up the whole kitchen... yes... despite the fact that it is black...

It changes all the time, depending who is feeling in an artistic mood. Just now it is our 'Kitchen Cafe Menu' and we take turns writing up what we are eating for meals.

We also use our Blackboard door for:
  • Shopping lists
  • Memos
  • To do lists
  • School work
  • Motivational messages

I like the old-skool style of our blackboard - we use normal chalk sticks to write on it. (top tip - dampen the chalk tip before writing, it makes for a bolder colour)

I'd love to try chalk pens but I've heard they don't readily wipe off and need painted over? If you know differently please let me know.

A few motivational messages, snapped on my camera phone

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Door is a standard hollow flat door. It was the cheapest option and suited our needs perfectly
  • The system for hanging a pocket door is sold as a kit (It is pricey and needs installing when you are building the stud wall) I can't remember the brand we used now but if you google 'pocket door kit' you should find them for sale.
  • Blackboard paint is B & Qs own brand - it needs re-painting about every 6 months or so.
  • Our minimalist door handle is a hook from IKEA, it just screws onto the surface and doesn't obstruct the door too much.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Quick and Easy Weaning : Book Review

I was sent a copy of Quick and Easy Weaning by Annabel Karmel (Ebury Press, hardback £9.99) for review. I did not receive any payment for the review but I do get to keep the book. All opinions and photos are my own.

Quick & Easy Weaning Review- Annabel Karmel - Our Handmade Home

'Quick & Easy Weaning' is a great wee book full of advice and tips about weaning. It is crammed with 100 recipes; from simple veg purées to more exciting mini beefburgers. The recipes I have tried have been easy to follow and, on the whole, have been a hit with everyone in the family.

I have really enjoyed the book and would recommend it for anyone with babies or toddlers.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for a quick and easy recipe from the book.

Small (now aged 8 1/4) ate practically nothing but apple and sweet potato purée for what seemed like years. When you have a hungry and fussy baby in your arms it can be so tricky to think of new things to try so I was grateful to have this book as a bit of inspiration while I've been weaning Teeny.

Teeny is now 11 months old and I try to include him in our family meals, but he can be fussy and we don't always eat appropriate food (like my spicy nine-veg-chilli ) I always have a selection of homemade baby foods in little tubs in the freezer ready to grab.

The recipes in 'Quick and Easy Weaning' are a mix of foods to serve to the whole family and great little freezer fillers ready for another day.

Lentil Puree with tomato and cheese - Annabel karmel - Our Handmade Home

Here are the recipes we have tried, with a mini-review of each one:
  • Tuna and Sweetcorn Fishcakes - Yummy! This made enough for all 4 of us for a light lunch, and were delicious.
  • Sweet potato Wedges - Delicious oven roasted sweet potato, omnomnomnom
  • Chicken, Apricot and Butternut squash - Somehow this did not go down well, the recipe looked so lovely, a light curry I thought, but it didn't look at all appetising when it was cooked up and Teeny simply refused to eat it. :(
  • Lentil Purée with Tomato and cheese - This was a winner, as anything with cheese usually is.
  • Butternut squash, Carrot and Sweetcorn - A simple purée in and unusual combination, this got a thumbs up from our little chub (scroll down to find the recipe)

Here's a few other delicious looking recipes in the book ... I am planning on making them when I get around to it...
  • Tender beef Casserole with Parsnip and Thyme
  • Sticky Meatballs
  • Mini turkey burgers

Beside the point: My thoughts on weaning in general:

Organic foods - Babies are teeny tiny, with teeny tiny body parts and they eat an immense amount of food for their body weight. I personally worry about the amount of toxins sprayed onto most food stuffs and try to buy organic for Teeny as much as possible.

Baby rice - The University of Surrey did a study into weaning and  found a young baby's under-developed gut may struggle to cope with fruit or vegetables and recommends that a baby's first food should be baby rice. This is the guidance I followed and weaned my children on pure organic baby rice for the first weeks of solid food.

Age of weaning - Both of my children were weaned around 5 months as they were ready and in need of the sustenance. W.H.O recommends nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of life, this is the advice given to mothers all around the world and does not take into account the availibility of sterilising equipment, refrigeration or indeed formula feeding - I used my own judgement. But NEVER wean before 17 weeks as the baby's innards just aren't ready and it could cause serious problems.

Baby led weaning - I wouldn't have known how to even if I tried. My babies were both spoon fed with purées, which works for us.

quick and easy weaning review - our handmade home

Here is one of the recipes that the book's publishers have kindly allowed me to reproduce for my readers.

Butternut squash, carrot and sweetcorn
Extracted from Quick and Easy Weaning by Annabel Karmel 
(Ebury Press, hardback £9.99)


300g butternutsquash
1 medium carrot (approx 75g)
40g Sweetcorn

Put the butternut squash and carrot into a saucepan and cover with 150ml boiling water. 
Cover and cook for 10 minutes. 

Add the sweetcorn and continue to cook for 3 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. 
Blend to a puree using an electric hand blender.

* Suitable for freezing.
* Suitable from 6 months.
* Makes 4 portions.

Book Review - Quick & Easy Weaning - Our Handmade Home

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