Adventures in Cooking – Rosehip Syrup


Do you have a favourite foodstuff you remember from childhood that is no longer available but that you’d love to magically taste again?


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For me that foodstuff was something you may not even have heard of – rosehip syrup.  During the war citrus fruits were extremely scarce in the UK and a cottage industry grew up picking homegrown rosehips and preserving them as syrup, as they are apparently astonishingly high in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants.

Even into the 70s rosehip syrup was available at the ‘chemists’ and we always had a bottle in the house, either drinking it diluted as a cordial or eating it spooned neat over tinned rice pudding or stirred into ice cream.  Because, you see, even though it was born out of austerity, rosehip syrup is extremely very delicious indeed.  Imagine a complex but delicate sugar syrup redolent with tastes of tangerine and apple and perhaps the odd echo of something tropical, mango perhaps, in the background, and you’ll see where I’m coming from.  Unfortunately for me, the manufacturers Delrosa stopped selling rosehip syrup in the UK some time in the 70s, though it is apparently still available in some developing countries.

So it happened that I was out blackberrying in Seattle one day in September and came across a row of rosa rugosa bushes, complete with fat, juicy sunset-coloured hips. Would it be possible to recreate my childhood memories? I decided to pick some and find out.




It seems I’m not the only person trying to recreate their British childhood and if you search there are a number of recipes online. I decided to follow the instructions given in this blog as they seemed very thorough.

The process is, however, surprisingly easy.

I had around 1/2 lb of rosehips which I ground to a pulp in the food processor.  Did you know that rosehips are full to bursting with hundreds of tiny seeds?


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The next step is to add the rosehip pulp to 3/4 pint of boiling water, turn off the heat and leave it to stand and infuse for 15 minutes. Filter the pulp through muslin or cheesecloth set in a sieve, until fully strained, about 10 minutes.   Take the pulp left in the muslin, place it back into the saucepan and this time add 1/2 pint of boiling water and repeat the whole process.  It’s important to make sure that the little itchy hairs which are apparently inside some rosehips (I didn’t see any in mine) don’t get into your final infusion.




When the infused liquid has fully filtered through, tip it back into the saucepan and reduce it down to half a pint.  Add 5 oz of sugar, boil it all up together until a syrup forms, about 5 minutes, and then pour your finished syrup into sterilised jars or bottles.

I served it to the Minx poured over Greek yogurt and fresh berries, or you could add it to sparkling wine to make an elegant cocktail, soak it into a rich, dense almondy cake, use it in place of maple syrup on pancakes or waffles or swirl it into ice cream or whipped cream.




Or you could do as I did.  Take a dessertspoonful, add some chilled sparkling water and travel thirty odd years back in time.

If you could, which foodstuff would you make magically reappear?  Have you ever tried to recreate it from scratch? Am I weird that I like eating roses?  Talk to me!


Adventures in Knitting–Clues 4 and 5


I finished my shawl.

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I’ve been knitting this as part of a ‘Mystery Knit Along’ on Ravelry with a different ‘clue’ released every ten days or so. To be perfectly honest I don’t think I would have knitted this if I’d known what it looked like beforehand , it’s a bit too baroque and lacy for me, though I do like how it works with the coral and turquoise beads. I would have at least gone with a smaller needle or thicker yarn as it’s definitely too loose and webby.

Still, I did learn that it’s possible to knit up something rather fast, if, instead of just playing with it in desultory fashion in front of the TV, you REALLY focus on progressing from step to step.

Clue 1.

Clue 2.

Clue 3.

Here’s the final pattern, if you’d like to knit this. The design is called Polaris and is inspired by a starry night which is rather lovely.

I think that’s me done with mystery knit alongs for the time being.  It was far too terrifying not knowing where this was going.


Teensy Wee Chairs


Now that we’ve got Halloween out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas.


Ha! April Fool! (Or whatever the November equivalent is).  I refuse to even think about Christmas until the beginning of December.  However I was waylaid on my Facebook by these cute chair ornaments from CB2 and I was wondering how I could justify buying some.

They’re a bit too modern to go with our other tree decorations and to be perfectly honest don’t really say ‘Christmas’ to me at all, which might be a good thing as they can be used in other ways.  But how? Nicole at Making It Lovely is going to use them as porch furniture in the dollshouse she’s decorating.

I think they look great, if a little random, used here for table decorations.  I might get a couple just to sit on our living room shelves. redreedchairrarednrXMBH11

Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Here I am at 10pm on a Friday night writing a blog post.  NaBloPoMo is not getting off to a particularly auspicious start.  And I’m apparently supposed to be blogging over the weekend too. Whose silly idea was this?


How the Dukan Diet Worked for Me


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       November 2009 
            (at around 175lbs)

           November 2011 
                (at around 144lbs)


Remember how I’ve tried to lose weight before on this blog? With very little success?

I’d been trucking along at around 175lbs for the previous couple of years and the arthritis pain in my knee was getting worse and worse.  So on June 1st this year I started yet another diet. This time a friend in the UK recommended a regime called the Dukan Diet, a French diet which had recently become very popular in the UK, as it was reportedly used by Carole Middleton (mother of Kate). 

The Dukan diet is sort of Atkins on steroids and has four phases.

First you ‘Attack’ which lasts for 3-7days (depending on how overweight you are) and where you eat NOTHING but lean protein (0% dairy, chicken, fish, eggs, seafood, lean beef etc.) and two tablespoons of oatbran to keep things moving.  This is HARD, does horrible things to your blood sugar and bowels and has I’m sure contributed to the diet’s reputation for unhealthiness.  However it was effective, I lost 6lbs in 5 days.

Then you ‘Cruise’, alternating 1 day of lean protein +oatbran with 1 day of lean protein + all the low carb vegetables you can eat +oatbran. And you’re supposed to do this until you reach your target weight. I’ve been cruising since June and have lost a total of 31lbs, with a 11lbs to go until I reach my target weight and a normal BMI. 

If and when you hit your target there are two more phases, ‘Consolidation’ and ‘Stabilization’ but I’ll talk about those when I get there.

I’m finding the diet comparatively easy as it doesn’t involved any weighing and measuring and counting, you’re allowed as much as you want of the permitted foods. Also, and interestingly, it seems that my tastes are changing, my carb cravings have gone right down, I feel nauseous if I eat too much fat and things like cakes and biscuits seem much too sweet (you’re allowed Splenda on the diet but that’s it).

I also feel really well in myself – my skin is good, I have loads of energy and the arthritis pain in my knee has GONE, which is incredible, as I was almost crippled with it back in April on our trip to San Diego.  I’ve also been upping the exercise, either doing a Jillian Michaels DVD every day or walking as the diet suggests, and doing lots of swimming over the summer. Nothing too crazy though.

Unfortunately recent weeks have been a struggle and it’s only going to get harder as we get closer to December, but I am DETERMINED to knock this on the head once and for all and get rid of those last 11lbs if it kills me.

Let me know if you’re interested in finding out more, and I’ll blog about some of my menus and stuff in the upcoming weeks.

In the meantime on the left is a picture I had taken in May 2010 wearing a sweater I’d just knitted and on the right, as I am today, wearing the same sweater.


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I thought I might try NaBloPoMo, where I commit to posting every single day for a month,, as a way of getting back into blogging again.  Of course, I’m two days late even starting, so we’ll go to December 3rd. ‘K?


She’s Off to See the Wizard!


I FINALLY managed to persuade the Minx not to dress as a Disney Princess.  Oh happy day!

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I always get very curmudgeonly about Halloween as I hate getting dressed up myself (and believe me Halloween provides lots of opportunities to humiliate the parents of six year olds).  But the people of our neighbourhood put on the most fabulous display of Halloween decorations yet again and there was something very fun about skipping through the autumn leaves in the dark singing ‘We’re Off To See the Wizard’.

Hope you all had fun.


Desperate Housewife


As an often frustrated stay at home mum who loves colourful things, this gorgeous editorial from Vogue Italia spoke to me at a visceral level.  After all I do spend an awful lot of my time hiding under the sink wearing killer stilettos and a cocktail dress.

Welcome to my world.







Thanks to the ever fabulous Tom and Lorenzo for this dose of pretty.


Things I Am Loving – Stripey Kenwood Stand Mixers


After the the Husband, the Minx and the wedding album, I do believe my Kitchen Aid stand mixer would be the next thing I’d rescue in a fire.


However, that’s not to say that I can’t still admire these Kenwood Stand Mixers from afar and be grateful that someone is having a little fun with kitchen design.




Would you have one in your kitchen?  Or am I just succumbing to my inner five year old again?



 The Firecracker colourway is also available from John Lewis. Unfortunately I don’t think Kenwood has arrived in the US. 


Adventures in Knitting – Missoni for Me Scarf




If you’re still feeling battered and bruised from the whole Missoni for Target experience, you may want to take solace in a nice soothing knitting project.  This is delightfully simple but an incredibly satisfying knit which I think ended up being a little Missoni-esque in flavour.


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As with so many other knitting projects, I have Ravelry to thank for this. Someone organised a swap whereby twenty-two of us sent in one skein of gorgeous Sundara sock yarn and then received back twenty- two little mini skeins in different Sundara colours. I mixed these colours in with my own sock yarn leftovers to create a random pool of about thirty colours. You don’t need so many though. Others on Ravelry have created the scarf with a much more restricted colour set and it still looks fab – you just need leftovers in the same weight of yarn throughout.


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After that came the really fun bit. I then just wallowed in the colours choosing one colour per row and combining them using a stitch called ‘linen stitch’ which is not hard and ‘weaves’ and mixes the colours together ending up with an approximation of woven fabric.  It was fascinating to see how the colours changed and interacted and looked so different depending on the other colours near them.

I knit through the back loops on the first and last rows and then pulled the ends tightly to create a self fringe.

Take that Target!

Full details here on my Ravelry page. Come and be my friend.