Sunday, 25 October 2015

Rhubarb and Orange Jam

I have a confession to make. Well, two actually. Here's the big one....

I used to have a fear of rhubarb (so far as I'm aware there is no scientific term for this). I was born in the late 1970s and anyone of a similar age or older may recall the early 1980s BBC adaptation of Day of the Triffids. They looked a bit (at least to my toddler eyes) like giant, terrifying, pieces of rhubarb. Enough said. I refused to touch the stuff or be anywhere near it. Once, back in the days before I was Mrs M, Mr M chased me around the fruit and veg section of Sainsbury's on Clapham High Street with a bunch of rhubarb.

Forward a few years and one of our good friends (who had forgotten about my crazy rhubarb terror) cooked us dinner and presented us with rhubarb for dessert. I reminded him of my fear but said I'd try it anyway, and guess what? It was gorgeous. Hmmmm.

It's taken me a while to get around to the position where I'm willing to have it in my kitchen but the fear has now gone (stick with me please - I can see you edging towards the door...) and I'm now looking for nice things to do with it.

The second confession isn't really as bad... I don't cook (as such, I'll try the odd cake or biscuit recipe and I cook the dinner when I have to). So, this fab recipe for rhubarb and orange jam is from my Mum. It started when I was looking for something to do with rhubarb in the summer and made a compote with orange (yes, I did cook that myself) - Mum's a keen jam maker, as they have heaps of fruit and veg growing in their garden, so she decided to give this a try. It's delish. Here's the recipe...

Rhubarb and Orange Jam

1.4 kg rhubarb (cut up)
1.4 kg sugar (I use granulated)
2 small lemons
2 large oranges

Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and put into a preserving pan with the
sugar. Heat slowly until the sugar is dissolved, stirring all the time.

Add the Lemon juice and finely grated rind, plus the finely grated rind of
the oranges. Boil until the mixture sets when tested, skimming if
necessary. Pour the jam into warm dry jars. Cover at once.

I use the wrinkle test to check that it is set. Teaspoon of mixture onto a
cold plate and check that it wrinkles when it has cooled a bit. Not very
scientific and I am sure there are other methods!

Once you've made the jam you'll be left with the insides of the oranges so why not squeeze them and treat yourself to a fresh orange juice (goes really well alongside the jam on toast too!). 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Spa Days

I've been a little run down in the last couple of weeks (I've been really busy, but it's also the time of year when all the bugs seem to come out - I have a cold as I type this), so when my friend suggested we have a day at a spa I jumped at the chance. This used to be something we did quite often (mostly in the pre-small boy days but also in the post-small boy, pre self employed days when I had more cash!) and I was in desperate need!

So I sorted out my monstrous feet, made myself spa ready and headed off last weekend. I can assure you that I didn't just lounge around - we spent some time in the gym (my physio has recommended the cross trainer for my bad back so I was straight on there - it worked a treat) and I realised just how much I miss going to the gym (being able to stretch to membership of a nice gym again, and having the time to go are goals which are currently high on my list!). We also swam in a lovely outdoor, heated, saltwater pool; I had my first ever Indian head massage - which was lovely, and then sat in the various steam rooms, lounged around etc until it was time to go home. It was so so nice...

In the treatment waiting area there was a magazine featuring international spas which obviously got me thinking about all the others I'd like to go to! Here are some which sound just wonderful/have been on my list for years.

1. Sandy Lane, Barbados - OK not just for the spa. Sandy Lane is pretty pricey and is somewhere I've always wanted to stay (it's even family friendly so once I get that lottery win, I'm there). We drove past when we went to Barbados but you couldn't see much from the road - the spa is apparently wonderful and, well it's also the Caribbean so what else is there to say?

2. Thalassa Spa, Anassa, Cyprus - this place just looks divine, and again it'll be warm (for most of the year at least). Also closer to home so the relaxation isn't completely undone by the jet lag...

3. Grayshott, Surrey - My friend doesn't want to go here as they don't do wine (not that she has a problem but she does think that a weekend away needs wine - for the most part I do agree!) - I'd like to go for their  7 day health regime programme - so like a detox and exercise and relaxation week - I'd be a new person. This will obviously never happen now that I have a child but a girl can dream!

4. Mandarin Oriental, London - Even closer to home than Grayshott and one for just a day (although I'd love to stay at the Mandarin it's probably a bit too extravagant when I can be home in less than an hour!). A relatively new hotel and a beautiful looking spa. My one Mandarin Oriental experience (in Tokyo) was amazing, so if that was anything to go by this place will be too. 

5. The Over Water Spa, Hilton, Maldives - I'll confess that I really really want to go to the Maldives, and this particular spa does look like paradise - so this might be the next holiday after Sandy Lane once I have that lottery win. Pretty sure I'd never want to leave...

Have you been to any fab spas you'd recommend? I can then add them to my wish list and you never know, I might make it in 20 years time! 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Sharing the Sloth love...

Happy Sunday folks! The problem with planning to be spontaneous with a blog is that you inevitably end up not blogging... So I've decided to be slightly less spontaneous and aim for a weekly post on a Sunday (as the name of my blog may suggest). Let's see how that goes!

This week I've decided to share my love for an animal which seems to divide people - sloths.

Here's a particularly beautiful example I met earlier this year. And here he is again...

I didn't realise that so many people find sloths a bit creepy (almost as many were put off when I shared my new friend on social media as liked him), but a little browse on Etsy shows that I am definitely not in the minority. Here are just a few sloth related products you can get over there (a search brings up thousands!).

Oh, and here's just one more shot of my friend...

I met my sloth at the Woodside Wildlife & Falconry Centre in Lincolnshire.