The Hallow – Fawkes Party

All pumpkin’d out after these last few days! I am now listening to Bach in the kitchen! It’s Saturday morning. The earlier noise has finally subsided now that the littler three of the not so famous five have left for Charlie’s Birthday Party (a friend from school). The girls and I are going to enjoy some treats in their absence, as I always do with those not invited to any of the numerous Birthday Parties that are on the family agenda. Last nights ‘Hallow – Fawkes’ Party went down well. Things went smoothly, though I spent rather too much time in the kitchen. I believe everyone had a great time. Thank you Sindy and sister Sally who helped out – Sally’s spooky cupcakes were well received. Sleepy Hollow was a big success and the 4 litres of hot chocolate that were consumed whilst toasting marshmallows on the bonfire also went down extremely well.

It’s now 3pm and the he little ones have been maraudering around the house from their sugar highs from the earlier party. Thor has been shouting louder than usual and has just collapsed with sheer exhaustion from his ballistic behaviours!

The girls and I had chapatti and pea curry for our lunch, but not before chocolate coins were consumed and a toffee apple to boot. More sweets were had to rival the sweetie bags that returned with John and the little ones from the party.

I just snook upstairs in order to finish this. The volume is subsiding slightly downstairs. Everyone loved the dogs last night, though the rapscallion pair retired upstairs and onto Dadda and Daddy’s bed for a snooze after stealing several of the children’s hotdogs – rolls and all. The Puttanesca was enjoyed as were all of the other Italian dishes.

Did I say thank you to all that made it. Well, if not – A very big thank you…

Yesterday’s Mid Week Roundup

I thank Worldpress for the delay in today’s (yesterday’s) update. I advise you to never use bullet points on your blog if you have one – I’ve been back a thousand times to try and rectify every paragraph post bullet points…

Enough of the dwelling on yesterday. And here’s to today! It was late when I crawled into bed last night. In fact, 1pm. John and I had been to the cinema and we weren’t back until late, then some food, a glass of wine etc. Bubble and squeak, that was the the late dinner, not the movie title! We haven’t enjoyed that for some time. Home made cauliflower cheese too!

Well, so far this week I have mentioned preparation for tomorrow’s ‘Hallow – Fawkes’ party, done a little Jammin’ and compiled a video of some of our Instagram favourites.

The not so famous five are presently pacified besides the television watching ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ for the umpteenth time. I am now sat at the kitchen table finding the time to write this, in between making a potato and watercress soup (for lunch) and two lots of devilled wings for tomorrow’s party. Home made barbecue sauce of course! Chinese five spice and a garlic and chilli one. Have you ever made your own? It’s so simple. It’s basically making your own tomato ketchup! A mixture of vinegar, sugar and tomato purée will make the basic ketchup with a little seasoning. Okay at this point you could of course just use shop purchased ketchup and add soy sauce and a teaspoon of five spice mix to half the sauce and Garlic, chilli sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the other half. Just roast the wings (or drumsticks) with your sauce as you would normally.

Wow, five paragraphs in and I have barely mentioned the children. And they’ve been on half term since last Friday! And we’ve done lots! They’ve been on outings, eaten more than a battalion of troopers, I do like cooking a main meal for them again daily and we’ve had a good old sprinkling of fun too. Plus the occasional outbursts from the little ones. Damn I think I am going to get a whiteboard for the kitchen and note memorable moments. That way when I do an update after a few days – I can give it to you in a time orderly fashion.

The sound of the track ‘The Old Bamboo’ is wafting through the air. I takes me back. Lol

Did I say we’ve been preparing for a party tomorrow? I did? More on that later then…

Ginger and Pumpkin Jam

Are you a fan of ginger? I wasn’t so much a few years ago. I loved it in my marinades for curries, alongside garlic and chilli, but on its own as a flavouring? Well, I converted and I guess, I’m thinking, so could you perhaps.

At this time of the year, it’s all about pumpkins nowadays! But does this humble ‘Squash’ have much flavour? To be honest, I don’t think so! But then again, as I say to the children, always give it a go – there’s no harm in that!

Like most things, a Jam needs perfecting. Last years ‘Spiced Pumpkin’ Jam went down well. But then I got to thinking that ginger is the way forward. It’s flavour is specific – it has aromas that are both intense and at the same time delicate. There is a little flavouring to the Pumpkin, of course, but the addition of the dried ginger transcends it into an all together delight.

In the recipes that follow, I am going to use metric, but our American cousins can carry on using measurements by the cup. So there are no conflicting arguments about weight. I am now going to do a small experiment…

Okay, I just zero’d my electronic scales (cancelled out mug weight) and the average sized mug weighed, whilst filled with water (the height of a cup of tea), 250g. So that’s the agreed weight ratio for ‘a cup’. Now, you might remember that one kilogram is made up from one thousand milligrams and that one litre of fluid is made up of one thousand millilitres! I think that we can comfortably say that 250g will hence equate to 250ml of liquid.

Did you know that Josiah Wedgwood was a prolific experimenter! How else do you think he perfected his porcelain, both in composition and design! Like him, we will experiment when the need takes, or if I have a ‘Top Tip’ that I have found out due to earlier experimentation, I will gladly share.

Finally, on the topic of composition and experimenting, I need to tell you that pumpkin has far too much water in it. The question is – how do you remove some of the liquid to leave a texture that is more conducive to making a Jam? It always comes back to the ‘Kitchen Science’. You can either boil the hell out of it for a couple of hours, leaving a pulp behind that is less flavoursome than you would have liked, or you can boil, drain and mash. Then you need to cool down and freeze the pulp in a polythene sandwich or freezer bag. The night before you get Jammin’ defrost overnight. I always do this using a saucepan I use for steaming and I place the frozen pulp in the slotted steamer part, but if you don’t have a steamer, a colander sat on a broad frying an will do. The next day you will find that much of the ice has thawed from the pulp and has been released through the plastic freezer bag! It seems that polythenes aren’t watertight after freezing. Voila, you are left with pumpkin pulp that is not watery and quite pithy. Perfect for Jammin’ with.

Ingredients: For 10 x 318ml jam Jars

Tip: get your Jam jars and lids in the dishwasher at this point to sterilise them.

1.5kg Pumpkin Pulp

500g Apple Pulp

2 Lemons (or juice from a bottle)

2kg Granulated Sugar

25g dry Ginger (1 small jar)

Please note that there is always some evaporation! Four kilograms should fill 12 jars, but go for 10. Also, why am I starting this entry with 10 Jars? Of course, you can scale down, but this is Halloween, so get practicing for Christmas please – give the extra jars away. It doesn’t hurt to give without looking to receive at anytime of year…

Method:

Place your pumpkin pulp in a large pan along with the apple pulp and the lemon juice.

Bring to the boil stirring occasionally.

Add the sugar and dry ginger. Mix until the sugar has dissolved.

Slowly bring back to the boil. you will notice the mixture looking more translucent.

If the phone rings, turn off the heat! I’ll explain this shortly!

Cook on a ‘rolling boil’ for around 20 minutes, until the contents hold together well whilst dripping from a wooden spoon.

Skim your Jam at this point. You should notice the mixture looking more silky and shiny. This is because your Jam should have stared to gel.

The final sterilisation can be done in a large pan or steamer. Carefully place as many filled jars in as the pan allows. Cover with water, being sure to submerge your jars beneath at least 2cm water. Alternatively place in a steamer and cover with the pan lid. Steam or boil for a minimum of 20 minutes.

The pan will burn if the heat is too high and the pulp has sunk to the bottom of the pan. You must stir every few minutes and not overheat your Jam. A rolling boil is not a light simmer. Equally it is not an erupting fountain of heat! To leave the room at this point could completely ruin your Jam – please note! If the phone rings, turn off the heat!

I will confess, I have burnt one or two jams in the past from nor paying 100% attention. You must pay attention as this aspiration to make your homemade Jam for everyone to enjoy, is a welcome aspiration, time well spent, to make the divine! Your friends and family will love you all the more for the gift of a homemade Jam…

if you are actually going to try this – go on! You might just consider buying a metal jam funnel and a ladle. It makes bottling your Jam so much easier.

…more on family life here in ‘The Shires’ later – thank you for reading.

Preparations for the Party

Whatever the party occasion, you have to prepare for it, don’t you? Well, our party isn’t a birthday party, rather a ‘Hallow – Fawkes’ celebration, to take place in our woodland and on our terrace, the day after ‘All Hallows Eve’ That’s pretty much the theme, one of fancy dress for the children and Dadda’s devilled wings for all, plus a few flappy, batty wings at dusk from our local bat population. Something to surprise everyone I hope.

We have a tiki torch lit, sleepy hollow in the woods with a bonfire and plenty of seating for marshmallow toasting and copious amounts of hot chocolate for all. I think that around 30 children plus 30 adults need to be catered for and aside the devilled chicken wings, the children’s menu will consist of hotdogs and home made crispy wedges. I believe Sally, our nanny Sindy’s sister, will be bringing her homemade Halloween cupcakes for dessert.

As for the grownups, three pasta sauces and two pasta choices, of course, all homemade, the sauces that is, not the pasta! And I think for the grownups, a dessert of pumpkin pie, made with Dadda’s ‘Ginger and Pumpkin’ Jam, of all things. Recipe to follow…

Dadda Gets Jammin’

Well, all projects have to start somewhere, don’t they? And here we are! The title would declare that the Dadda Gets Jammin‘ project is underway within the words that I am writing here and now. I thought long and hard about the format of this new recipe book and guess what? With all of my research done, looking at the various styles of possible structure for my book Dadda Gets Jammin’, I find myself back at the beginning. Wow, there are so many possible ways to entertain you guys when it comes to foodie inspirations and Jammy treats aren’t there?

I started to look for a formula by looking at the ‘Best Sellers’, Jamie, Nigella, that whole plethora of celebrity chefs, but it all began to look a bit formulaic. No I said, this is not where I want to take this project. Then I looked to the past – do you know, even Clement Freud had a best selling recipe book, with small witty doodles back in the seventies. I noted Pru Leith had reviewed it on the back. Didn’t she herself do so very well? Okay, I liked the paperback style of Freuds book. So, then I browsed a copy of Mrs Beeton’s Jam-Making and got just a little bit excited! Then I thought no, lots of information, but nothing at all about her – that’s what was missing! Bringing this bang up to date, I then decided to browse some of my fellow bloggers ‘foodie’ travel blogs and decided that that was my spoonful of sugar…

Dadda Gets Jammin‘ will be derived from this very platform, this here, my blog. That way I get to tell you as and when things evolve! I will be present all of the way through the book as will my thoughts, family (and their various antics) and most importantly, my recipes. But just jam I ask myself! Maybe I might just have to diversify. ‘Man can not live on bread alone’, even if it is smeared with one of Dadda’s delicious jammy combos! I won’t be travelling to a place, but I might just reminisce about a few places that I have encountered along the way. This has to be a broader recipe book, not exclusively Jam, but remaining under the umbrella title of Dadda Gets Jammin‘.

We have lift off!