Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Bread, TED and Elderberry Juice

image of spider web glistening with rain drops

Wow what a fab lot you are!! Thank you so much for your lovely comments about my beach hut bunting. It was a pleasure to create and share them with you. It really was. x

Autumn has well and truly arrived. The butterflies have more or less disappeared and the spiders, oh boy the spiders, are everywhere! They are setting up home in the car, the garden, the garage and in every room, window and doorway in my house. They take great pleasure in abseiling onto my head when I'm just about to get into the shower of a morning. Good job I don't get freaked out by them and will happily scoop them up out of harms way (thankfully no Black Widow's or Tarantulas in this country!). I do freak out though when I see people take leave of their senses to squish and kill them - get a grip people, be cool... leave them alone!

Speaking of which the one thing, no two things I've managed to kill off in recent years has been my much loved bread makers. They were completely knackered from over use...and I still haven't got round to buying a new one. There really isn't any comparison to home-made bread - the shop bought, mass produced sliced stuff is of poor quality and completely tasteless. I also miss the breakfast time scrum to get to the plate of hot buttered toast in the morning - it really was a case of 'if you snooze you lose'. No sooner had I put it on the plate it was snatched up and gobbled like they hadn't eaten in days. Now it's a different story - we go through a lot of cereal, there is no fight for the cardboard looking toast, which sits unappealingly on the plate which is why we now have very fat pigeons lurking around outside the kitchen window every morning!
So when I saw this recipe for Easy bread made by the lovely Marie over at The English Kitchen I just had to give it a whirl. I'm not used to baking bread by hand so was a tad sceptical it would work out for me. There is no kneading involved - liked the sound of that, and only a few basic ingredients are needed - liked the sound of that too. First stage is to add the ingredients together, mix, cover and leave overnight for 12-15 hours, easy-peasy. 

image of easy bread dough

Then comes the messy fun part. You have to somehow get this sloppy slimy dough out of the bowl onto the work surface where it needs to rest for a further 30 minutes (word of advice:- DON'T cover with clingfilm like I did, it's a pain to remove and a lot of dough adhered itself to it so cover with a large bowl instead). Next it's slip slap slop into a casserole pot then bake. It was at this point the doubt set in. I was used to making bread with oil or butter and sugar - none added here - won't it be tasteless? How was this sludgy heap going to turn into bread? I've called this my Miracle Bread because that's simply what happened when it was baking in the oven. I was gobsmacked when I opened the oven door to see a perfectly baked, rustic loaf.

image of home made bread

It smells and tastes like REAL bread should. A perfect companion to go with home made soup this Autumn. Definitely be baking this again as it's great comfort food now that the nights are drawing in and we'll soon be cosied up in front of the fire watching T.V. Actually I don't watch much T.V. nowadays, but I do have nights when I just want to veg out in front of the box and watch something interesting after a long busy day. I usually end up switching it off - disappointed with what's on so I pootle around blog-land, Pinterest, and Ravelry - far more interesting and informative. I would like to add another recent find to that list which I must share with you - it's TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. In their words..

TED conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

On, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free.
Our mission: Spreading ideas.
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. So we're building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

Some of these talks are completely amazing and inspiring. Here are my top three favourite talks -
A magical, inspirational, unique and emotional musical experience. Eric (a very cool hip Californian composer) unites the world through his virtual choir. (Chrissie you'd love this!)
Great speaker, powerful and educational talk. A must see.
We all need to see this! So informative, a fantastic talk.

If you have any personal favourites then please let me know! 

O.k back to the home made stuff...

image of harvested elderberries

I was so disappointed I hadn't made any Elderflower cordial this year. No excuse really as the bushes grow in abundance in my locality. So it was when I saw this  that I knew it wasn't too late to make use of this wonderful plant and all the benefits it has to offer. The berries are ripe at this time of year and can be harvested to make juice, syrup or wine. I thought I'd have a go at making the juice this year. It's said to be an amazing treatment for warding off winter colds and flu - you'll find much more info about this, and all about  harvesting and preparing the berries if you click on the link above. Make sure it's the black berries, not the red or green ones that you harvest - there are some very informative clips on YouTube on how to harvest and clean the berries (wish I had seen this BEFORE picking the berries. I didn't realise I had a lot of red ones too so had to pick them out one by one - tedious! I didn't like the smell of them so had my doubts as to how it was going to taste. Apparently you can eat the berries raw but seeing as they lack sweetness I gave it a miss!

image of ripe elderberries

That was the hard part over the rest is pretty straight forward. Pop them into a pan, bring to the boil (smelled like rhubarb at this point - a huge improvement) then let them steep overnight. Sieve the juice, discard the berries et voila a home made remedy to ward off the winter sneezes and snuffles. It should be mixed with lemon juice and honey, and can be drunk cold or warm. I prefer it warmed and diluted a little. It tastes very much like a mixture of prune and cranberry juice. I think next year I'll be a bit more adventurous (and prepared) to make both the juice and the syrup to last me right through the winter months.

image of home made Elderberry juice

The juice is a beautiful rich plummy red colour - packed full of antioxidant flavonoids which stimulate the immune system. Just what I need at this time of year.

Phew! Each one of these topics deserved a whole separate post of their own really, but I wanted to pack it all in together so I can carry on with my Autumnal bunting which I will share with you soon. X


  1. That bread looks AAAAmAzing! I love making bread but erhem use a bread maker - so bit of a cheat, think I will have give this a try!

  2. Wow, what a fantastic post! I've made elderberry tonic in the past, terrific for winter colds, and I'm going to check out your link and try your method! The bread, oh the bread...that's on the list for weekend treats now! And thank you for giving me the head's-up on the Eric Whitacre talk! Though I'd probably sit and watch him even if he was rattling of his shopping list...phwoar! ;-) Thanks for sharing all of this! Chrissie x

  3. Me again...we made the bread this weekend and it was fantastic! Perfect to soothe the virus-ridden kiddies and myself...though I ate far more than a sensible person should, it's just so tasty! I'm going to blog about it today, thank you for the link! Cx

  4. Helloo. Just found your blog via Chrissie and will be trying this fab bread recipe this weekend for the family, it looks great! Your blog looks really lovely, where about in the north west are you?? xo


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