It seemed like a good idea at the time

Have you ever looked at an illustration in a recipe book and thought, that looks easy, that looks yummy I’ll give that a go? Have you ever been seduced by the name of a recipe. If so, then may I introduce you to Tessa Kiros Rosehip jam…If you go down this road then please learn from my mistakes.

One of the joys of this time of year is the potential for foraging. If you are that way inclined then there are all sorts of ingredients hiding in hedgerows waiting to be used.

I have been desperate to do something with rosehips for over 12 months now, since reading in our village’s monthly news letter some reminiscences about life in the early 20th century when village children would get paid for collecting rosehips from the hedges.

I was not brought up on rosehip syrup but I love the images it conjures up. Sweet smelling and decadent, memories of Turkish delight and syrup drenched baklava. I couldn’t think of a use for rosehip syrup in our house but Jam, well that’s a different matter. The Toddler would live on jam sandwiches given the choice.

The illustration of the Rosehip Jam in “Apples for Jam” is delightfully old fashioned and the jam itself shines out from the page like rubies (if they’d been crushed and marinaded in twice their weight in sugar). The recipe is straightforward enough rosehips, water, lemon juice and sugar. Pick 200g of rosehips, freeze them if you are not going to use them immediately. When you are ready, cut the rosehips in half and scoop out the seeds…simple

If you try and cut a frozen rosehip the knife has a tendency to slide off the hip cutting a sliver of rosehip off, alternatively either the knife bounces off completely or the hip pings away from the knife and to the otherside of the kitchen. If you leave the hip to defrost then ease of cutting is sacrificed to loosing some of the rosehip pulp whilst extracting the seeds. Whichever method you choose, removing the seeds is a very sticky experience and you end up with itchy seeds everywhere. Best result was obtained from freshly picked rosehips, prepared as soon as you get them home.

Before I was halfway through I’d had enough. You are talking some 40-50 hips total, it gets quite tedious all that scooping. So I simply smashed the rosehips (well it works for Hugh Fearlesslyeatsitall !) and left them to soak in the pan. If you opt for this method then you need to put your cooked pulp through a jelly bag, otherwise you end up with teeny tiny bits of seed hair in your jam…something I didn’t find out until much much later.

The smell in the pan however almost makes up for the hassle, it has a lovely general fruity smell, similar to rhubarb cooked with sugar. The resulting jam is very very sweet and as yet I haven’t been able to persuade anyone else to try it. Toddler is suspicious of things that don’t come from the supermarket and admittedly he does have reason to be suspicious as Mummy has form for weird combinations aka the minty cream cheese pea pop…(from The Toddler Cafe).

The honey cake that wasn’t…

I am informed, by the cake eaters in this house that it is the jewish new year about now, Rosh Hashana. As I have been known in the past to use the excuse of other people’s feast days to cook, I took this as meaning “Mummy, please can you bake something”. Said cake eaters also advised that THE cake for Rosh Hashana is a honey cake. Now I have a lovely recipe from Tessa Kiros “Apples for Jam” for honey cake but I wasn’t sure it was the right sort of cake, so after a bit of research I decided on Macy Goldman’s majestic and moist honey cake

. However for this I was missing one vital ingredient…

Last week, I had a cold and sore throat and bought a new jar of honey to go with the lemons I always seem to have in the kitchen. Unfortunately I forgot to tell my husband that it was in the shopping bag, and it managed to slip from the kitchen counter and on to the floor… honey and glass is NOT a nice or easy mixture to clear up off the floor.

So I did the honey cake from Nigella Lawson’s “Feast” instead, which is remarkable for its complete lack of honey, substituting a light muscavardo for soft brown sugar, a mixture of cloves,

cinnamon and nutmeg for the allspice and accidently using baking powder instead of bicarbonate… I also halved the mixture as Nigella always seems to cook for legions, and I cook for a teenager and a toddler and the occasional visitor.

It didn’t sink as I’d expected and as advised by Nigella, I put this down to my mistake with the bicarb, it wasn’t, as stated a bit moist in the middle… my husband, who is the only one who has tried it so far said “the problem is, its too good, I mean your sponge is too light, it needs to be heavier and stickier” – so next year I guess I do the majestic and moist one, and find an excuse during the year to try Tessa Kiros’ version.

Postscript: Came home today to find half the cake missing, husband and toddler had decided it was nice, so there’s a vote of confidence then !