DIY shower jellies

I have two daughters and they LOVE a certain shop full of multicoloured bath bombs, shower jellies and candy flavoured lotions – you know the one I mean.

I can see the appeal, I really can and there are MUCH worse cosmetics out there but there are still ingredients in their products that i’m not happy about my girls using. Ingredients that have been linked to fertility issues and cancer. In reading a lot of their ingredients lists it occured to me I could make these products quite easily at home and so without further waffle from me I give you DIY shower jellies.

Ingredients

240ml water

120ml Neal’s Yard Create hair and body wash (£6.50 for 250ml)

1 sachet Gelatine or Aggar if you prefer a vegan option

Essential oils of your choice (again I choose Neal’s Yard for their quality)

Food colouring (optional)

Silicone moulds/clean plastic container/jam jar

In a ban Marie begin to warm your water when it is just starting to bubble add the create wash and stir.

Add a few drops of your chosen essential oils (I recommend you do a little research about these super oils, their properties and dilution guides this book is extremely helpful).

Stir well and then add a tiny amount of food colouring – don’t use too much or you’ll colour yourself in the shower. The soap will cloud slightly this is normal.

Stir well whilst continuing to warm gently.

When your ingredients are well mixed and heated but not boiling remove from the heat, pour into a measuring jug and sprinkle in the gelatine (follow the instructions the pack).

Mix well and pour into your chosen moulds.

Allow to cool to room temperature and then put in fridge to fully set.

Turn out of the moulds and store in a jam jar or similar container. You may want to avoid keeping your jellies in a warm room such a the bathroom in case they melt before you want them to. Enjoy!

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September favourites

September is a funny month I like to keep telling myself it’s still summer for as long as possible (summer is my favourite season) but as the nights draw in and the mornings become chillier it becomes harder and harder to keep kidding myself. By the end of the month autumn has properly arrived and there is no denying it.

This September was a blur of frenzied activity. My daughters returned to school and one short week later their brother (my baby) joined them.

He and I made the most of this last week just the two of us and visited Wimpole hall and garden. My son adores gardening and has developed a real enthusiasm for walled gardens so that’s what we checked out first. I won’t lie my heart felt heavy at the prospect of sending him to school just 1 week later. It marks the end of an era for me of having a small person at home with me for over a decade. It’s been hard work, always busy, never a moment to myself but genuinely some of the best years of my life. I always feel like I’ve lost a limb when I send one of them off to school for the first time.

As the weather cools it always sends me into a frenzy of squirreling away winter provisions. This month I made Dumpsy Dearie jam a lovely jam made of Victoria plums, pears and apples that’s proven very popular over the years. We’ve been baking too and made our first batch of pumpkin spiced doghnuts and this trusty peanut butter cookie recipe that’s quick easy and gluten free.

  • 150g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180’C and line your trays with baking paper.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form a sticky dough.

Drop 1 tbsp of the mixture into your prepared baking trays and press down with the back of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the trays and allow to cool on a wire baking rack.

Not the most elegant or pretty cookies in my repetorire but tasty, satisfying and very easy to make.

Next month I have plans to begin to make our own natural cleaning products in a bid to have less nasty chemicals in the house and reduce our plastic use too. I hope to be able to share some successes with you in October.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Doughnuts

Those of you who follow me on social media will know pumpkins have slightly taken over my life (and my kitchen) lately.  I do think pumpkins are the most magical vegetables and I enjoy collecting them in all shapes, colours and sizes throughout October.  Come November they need eating though and this year I had quite a collection, thanks to some kind neighbours who gave us a couple of whoppers! I’ve always been fascinated by the American “pumpkin patch” and infamous pumpkin pie, a favourite at Thanksgiving.  I confess that until this year I had never eaten it and hadn’t understood that pumpkin pie was a sweet, not savoury affair. Well now that we are better acquainted pumpkin pie and I are firm friends and I’ve been experimenting with this magical vegetable and pumpkin pie spice A LOT!  So without further ramblings from me I bring you my recipe for pumpkin spiced doughnuts.  Oh, and because I’m gluten intolerant these little nuggets of gorgeousness are gluten free too, yay!

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This recipe uses my own pumpkin spice mix, which I have devised from reading various recipes online and adapted to suit my own tastes. Mix all the spices together and store in a Tupperware or jam jar and add to all your pumpkin recipes. 4tsp ground cinnamon, 2tsp ground ginger, 2tsp ground nutmeg, 1tsp ground all spice, 1/2tsp ground cloves

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For the Pumpkin Doughnuts

  • 100g Doves Farm plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp of pumpkin spice mix (see above)
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g very soft butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4tbsp sour cream
  • 9 table spoon of pumpkin puree (either make your own or buy it canned)
For the coating
  • 50g sugar
  • 2tsp pumpkin spice mix
Measure all the dry ingredients and place in a large bowl.  Add the butter, eggs, sour cream and pumpkin puree & mix until you have a smooth batter.
Lightly butter your doughnut tin (ah yes should have mentioned this before you’ll need to make a small investment in a doughnut tin to make doughnuts, but trust me worth every penny.  I have this adorable mini doughnut tin  and this recipe makes 3 dozen mini doughnuts). Using a teaspoon place the mixture into the tin, fill about two thirds full. Avoid covering the little divet so you get a nice doughnut shape. Bake at 180’C for 10mins.
Whilst your pumpkin doughnuts are cooking put the sugar and spice mix for the coating onto a plate or shallow oven dish and mix to combine.
As soon as your doughnuts are cooked, remove them from the tin and toss them in the coating.  Serve immediately.

Rose Hip Syrup Recipe

Rose Hips are packed full of vitamin C and other amazing vital-mins.  Forget Baobab berries or what ever the latest trendy fruit is rose hips have been used for centuries to help ward off colds and flu during the winter.  Around this time of year I try to make a batch and frequently give a spoonful of it to each of the children (& myself) through autumn and winter.  I have found the years where I take the time to make it we have far fewer coughs, colds and illness over the winter.  Further more its delicious and can be added to cakes, drizzled over ice cream or just taken as is – hooray!

Rose Hip Syrup

Recipe

Makes approx. 2.5 litres

  • 3 litters of water
  • 1kg rose hips
  • 450g granulated white sugar
First you will need to clean and sterilize some jars or bottles although if you plan on keeping your syrup in the freezer you don’t need to sterilize the jars.
Boil 2 litres of water in a large pan.  Remove the stalks and any dead flower heads from the rose hips and mince them in a food processor.  Add the rose hips to the boiling water, return to the boil and then take off the heat.  Leave to infuse for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes strain the mixture through a jelly bag and set aside the juice.  Return the pulp to the pan with 1 litre of boiling water.  Bring back to the boil, leave for 15 minutes and the strain through a jelly bag again. The pulp can now be discarded.

Pour the juice you have collected into a clean pan (I find a preserving pan with measures up the side very useful for this next stage.  If your preserving pan doesn’t have measures pour 1 litre of water into your pan before you begin and take note of the water mark) reduce the liquid until you have 1 litre left in the pan.  Now add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.  Using a funnel pour your syrup into your jars or bottles and seal.  If you are storing in the freezer you may want to use Tupperware, freezer bags (in which case wait for your mixture to cool) or ice cube trays.

Elderflower Cordial

I always feel the preserving season is really underway when the elderflower come out & I make Cordial.  I use this same recipe, below, every year.  I am afraid I don’t know it’s original source as it was given to me but it is a good recipe and makes a fragrant and delectable syrup which you dilute to drink or that you can pour over ice cream for a wonderful summer treat.  It keeps for months and months as long as your bottles are well sterilised but can also be frozen.  This recipe makes about 1.5litres.
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You will need…
20 large elderflower heads
1.8kg Granulated sugar
1 Litre of water
75g Citric acid (you will need to buy this from a chemist – tell them you want it for cordial)
2 lemons
Place the elderflowers in a large bowl.  In a pan mix the sugar and water and bring to a gentle boil, stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Pour this mixture over the elderflower and stir in the citric acid.  Grate in the zest of both lemons and then slice the lemons and add the slices to the bowl.  Cover and leave for 24 hours before straining through a double muslin.  Decant into sterilised bottles and store in a cool dark place.
You can drink this cordial almost instantly once it has been decanted however after a couple of weeks the flavour develops a little more.  I can never resist a little taste when it’s first made – it has a lovely freshness at this stage.
Please be careful Elderflower is a tree or large shrub with sprays of white flowers that later turn to deep purple berries, it has a distinctive smell.  Be certain that what you are picking is Elderflower!  Some people have mistakenly picked cow parsley as the flowers are similar but this grows up from the ground on tall stems.  Cow parsley is poisonous!  However, after a little familiarisation elderflower is very easy to identify so don’t be put off, give it a go!

Nutella ice lollies

My kids are crazy about Nutella they’d eat it for breakfast, lunch and tea if I let them.  I very much doubt they are alone in this.  I saw a recipe for grown up Nutella ice lollies using baileys and I tried making them with just milk instead of baileys but they needed a little punch.  So this is my very own tweaked (child approved) Nutella ice lollies recipe.

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Nutella ice lollies (makes 4)

  • You will need 225ml milk,
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 heaped tbsp of Nutella

Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth, pour into your lolly moulds and freeze for at least 24hours.  When you want to eat your ice lollies dip the moulds in some hot water to release the ice lollies.