Hello and welcome to I’m a wife, mom, granny and maker.  I started this blog in 2011 in order to complete my huge pile of UFPs (Unfinished Projects).  I finished many of them but also started a lot and the pile hasn’t really diminished. Join me and follow my progress or get in touch with the stories about your own UFPs.

No Fat Tea Bread – Bara Brith

My mum made this the other day – it is really delicious.

For conversion to cups please click here

350g mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried apricot, mango, mixed peel whatever you have)

140g light muscovado sugar

300ml hot black tea

300g self raising (all purpose) flour

1 egg

Put all the mixed fruit and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir in the hot tea.

Cover and leave for 24 hours.

Next day: Heat oven to /150c/300 f/gas mark 2

Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking parchment.

Beat the egg and stir it and the flour into the fruit and tea.

Pour into tin and bake for 90 – 100 mins.  It is ready when it is well risen.(If you put a skewer into the centre it will come out clean.)

Allow to cool slightly then remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

50. Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake

Make number 50 already!  I can’t believe the year has gone so fast.

This week I’ve made Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake.  I don’t remember where the recipe came from originally but I’ve been making this version for at least 10 years.

It serves 10-12 and you will need a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. (Or as I’ve done this year, 2 x 20cm regular cake tins)

  • 450g of nuts (I use hazelnuts and walnuts.  This year I didn’t have quite enough so made up the balance with pecans)
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 5 drops of vanilla essence
  • 65ml brandy
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 large orange
  • Unsalted butter and breadcrumbs to prepare the tin/s.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.  Line the cake tin with greaseproof or baking parchment, then lightly grease this with a little unsalted butter.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Like this:

Whiz nuts and chocolate in a food processor or liquidiser until they are finely chopped but not ground. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, butter and sugar.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and then blend them in a little at a time to the mixture.

Add the finely chopped orange zest.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff peaks and then fold these into the mixture gently a little at a time.

Pour mixture into one or two already prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins for two tins or around 75 mins for one tin.  Test the cake by sticking a cocktail stick in the centre.  If it comes out without cake mix on it, the cakes are ready. (It will likely have melted chocolate on it, that is ok).

Rest the cakes for a five minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can either store the well wrapped cakes in the fridge for 2 weeks or freeze them.

Dust with icing sugar and its ready.

48. The Best Fudge Ever

I think all the makes from now until the end will be suitable as gifts as I’m busy, busy, busy making things for friends and family for Christmas.

This week I’ve made fudge.

This recipe uses:

  • 125g butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk (410g)
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

1. Heat butter, milk and cream together in a large, heavy saucepan until it just starts to boil.

2. Turn the heat right down while you stir in the two sugars.

3. Turn the heat up again and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Keep stirring or it will stick and burn to the pan.  Boil it for about 25 minutes until it is roughly this colour:

4. You can test if it is ready to set in two ways.  (There may be more but these are the ones I use.) Either pull the spoon across the bottom of the pan and if it makes the mixture part so you can see the bottom of the pan it is done. Or, drop a small amount into a dish of cold water.  If it forms a soft ball that, if you push with your finger and it wrinkles, it is ready.  I’ve tried to take some pictures of this below.

Sorry, the second one is a little out of focus.

5. When it is ready, take it off the heat and beat in the vanilla essence.

6. Pour into the baking tray and leave to set.

7. After about 30 mins, cut the fudge into small squares – this is easy done when the fudge is still not completely set.

8. When it is set, remove from the tray, place into small cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon.

43. Nanaimo Chocolate Bar

Our lovely niece discovered the most amazing chocolate bars when she lived in Canada last year.  More about Nanaimo bars and links to recipes here. Of course, as you might expect, I haven’t stuck to the recipe.  As a special treat, I made these yesterday on the first day of National Novel Writing Month, I’ve named this variation ‘NaNoWriMo Bars’.

There are 3 layers to both Nanaimo and NaNoWriMo bars.  For this recipe I used a 18cmx28cm baking pan, that I lined with baking parchment.

Bottom Layer:

½ cup Butter

½ cup Sugar

5 tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1 egg

1¼ cup Digestive Biscuit Crumbs

¾ cup Porridge Oats

  • Melt butter, sugar and cocoa powder together
  • Add beaten egg and cook for a further 3 minutes
  • Take off heat and mix in other ingredients
  • Press into pan

Middle Layer

½ cup Butter

2 tablespoons Custard Powder

2½ tablespoons Milk

2 cups Icing Sugar

  • Beat ingredients together until light and fluffy
  • Spread over biscuit base

Top Layer

100g chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

  • Melt chocolate and butter together over a pan of hot water
  • Spread over top of cream layer
  • Place in fridge overnight

And here they are:

37. Tomato Ketchup

We had a glut of tomatoes this week.  I love tomatoes so it is unusual that I would ever have enough left over to make ketchup but mum-in-law brought us some of her crop too so, yippee, ketchup it was.

I used a Jamie Oliver recipe from ‘Jamie at Home’.  For copyright reasons, I can’t reproduce the recipe but you can  find it online at the Food Network.

It took much longer than I expected but the results, surprisingly, yielded 2 makes.

Here are the steps:

1. All ingredients cooked together in a large pan:

2. Whiz cooked ingredients in a liquidiser:

3. Sieve (Jamie says to sieve twice but I’d already spent much longer than I expected to on this so only sieved it once)

4. Boil and simmer then pour into sterilised jars:

And here is where the second make comes in.  After the juice was sieved out the remaining vegetables looked too good to waste so, as I was planning on making meatballs anyway, I mixed it all up with some minced steak, an egg and some fresh breadcrumbs.  They were delicious and made enough meatballs for 2 meals.

33. Pear and Cinnamon Muffins

This summer has brought us a fantastic glut of fruit in the garden.  This week it is pears.  The trees can barely hold them all and I’m wondering how to best use them.

Today I thought I’d make a start and do some baking.  I’ve only used 3 pears in this recipe which has made absolutely no difference to the basket full but luckily we’ve had a few visitors who have taken a bag or two each.

This muffin recipe is tried, tested and very easy. It is also perfect to adapt to whatever you happen to have at hand.  In the past I’ve used apples, walnuts, blueberries, blackberries, pecans, coffee  (not all at once, of course.)

You will need:

3 cups of plain flour

1 cup soft brown sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

3 medium pears – skinned and chopped small

2 eggs – beaten

1 cup yoghurt (I use home made low fat yoghurt)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Topping –  a mixture of rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts

Oven: Gas 4 / 175 / 350

12 – 18 muffin cases and muffin pan/s

Sift first 6 ingredients together and stir in the chopped pear.

In another bowl or jug, whisk eggs, yoghurt, oil, and vanilla.

Lightly stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.  It will be lumpy with some streaks of flour.

Fill the muffin cases about 2/3 full.

Mix together whatever topping ingredients you are using and sprinkle over the muffins.For these muffins I used a very small amount of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

28. Peach Chutney

It is peach season at our house this week.  We’ve had more peaches this year than ever before.  Several of the branches of the tree had broken under the weight of the fruit.   So after collecting several bags full the search for what to do with them started.

I’ve never made chutney before so thought I’d have a go at that. The only thing is that I’m not very keen on chutney with raisins so went on the search for  a recipe that didn’t require them.  As usual, I ended up merging recipes and added an idea of my own. I planted some chilli seeds in the spring and now have a beautiful plant laden with shiny, red chilli peppers. It seemed a shame not to include at least one in this recipe.

While you are cooking the chutney, put some clean, empty glass jars in a very low oven to sterilise them.

I’ve put rough amounts in here but I didn’t really measure anything out.


25g butter

3-4 cloves of garlic – chopped

1 onion – chopped

1  chilli – chopped

1kg peaches- roughly chopped

Half a cup of light brown sugar

Half a cup of cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of Cointreau (should have been brandy but we didn’t have much left in the bottle)

1 teaspoon ground pepper

Crank or two of sea salt

Melt the butter and add the garlic, onion and chilli.  Cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the peaches, cook for another few minutes, stirring now and again.

Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook until the peaches are soft and mushy.

Add the liqueur and stir through.

Remove from the heat.

Spoon the chutney into the sterilised jars. I vaguely remember from high school domestic science that it isn’t a good idea to let the lids come in direct contact with the chutney as the vinegar can cause the lids to rust. Whether that is still the case, I don’t know, but thought I wouldn’t take any chances and covered the jars with greaseproof paper before putting the lids on.

I probably should have used that brandy – it might have turned out a more appetising colour.

23. Gooseberry and Elderflower Yogurt

I think a lot more of my makes over the coming months will be food based as we are fortunate enough to have a garden bursting with produce.

This week we picked the last of the elderflowers, the start of the gooseberries and some blackcurrants.

So, after starting the last batch of elderflower cordial  at the weekend, I got to thinking about what I could do with the gooseberries that would make a good Sunday lunch dessert.

Gooseberries go beautifully with the flavour of elderflowers and there are a lot of recipes around bringing the two together.

I had about 500g of gooseberries altogether:

The most time consuming part of this recipe is topping and tailing them!

Then I put them in a pan with a slug of elderflower cordial and a small squirt of golden syrup (the gooseberries were pretty tart to start with). You could use honey or soft brown sugar but be careful not to add too much – the aim here is to keep much of the tart taste.

Heat until the gooseberries start to burst giving them the occasional stir to help the process along. Leave to cool.

I divided the gooseberries into 6 stemmed glasses and as I usually have natural yoghurt in the fridge (no surprise, I make it!) I added several dollops to the top of the berries and decorated each with some toasted coconut flakes.

Some of those eating it, said it would be better topped with cream, some thought it was too tart and one ate 3 portions!

19. Elderflower Cordial

The observant amongst you may have noticed that I’ve skipped from number 17 to number 19 in the list of makes for this year.  That is because I made a mistake and have two number 17s – oops.

Elderflower cordial one of the best of the late spring/early summer drinks.  I made several versions of this last year using different recipes and am using the most successful for this post.  This cordial is a favourite of our family, especially when mixed with sparkling water and ice on a hot summer day.  The only downside is that the season for elderflowers is short and I find it nearly impossible to keep up production with the speed at which it is drunk in our house!

The elderflowers started appearing on the trees in our area last week so time to get to the shops to buy the rest of the ingredients: sugar (caster is best); lemons and citric acid.  The first 2 of these are easy to come by, citric acid not so much.  Last year it was scarce but this year it is even more difficult to get hold of.

My first stop to find some was the pharmacy section of our local Sainsburys. ‘No, we are out of stock. No, we won’t be getting more soon.  We only get what we are sent and can’t order more. Yes, we know there is a call for it at this time of year, lots of people have been asking for it.’

Second stop was a small branch of Boots in our village. ‘No, we don’t stock this anymore. It can be abused.’ I was curious and in answer to my query the assistant whispered, ‘bombs’. She suggested I try the health food store in the village when I reassured her that all I wanted to make was elderflower cordial.

Third time lucky, ‘Squirrels‘ our local health food store stocked it in its home brew section. I mentioned to the friendly assistant what Boots had said – she was surprised but also told me she had heard of other ways in which it was abused.  I had no idea that this simple ingredient would be in such demand.  I think I’ll stock up before it becomes a banned substance altogether!

On to the recipe.  This is what you will need:

20 heads of elderflowers

1.5 litres water

1.4 kg caster sugar

2 lemons- preferably unwaxed and sliced thinly

50g citric acid

Shake the elderflowers to remove any little bugs, rinse under the tap and place in a large bowl.

Add the sliced lemons to the bowl.

Now put the water into a large pan, add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.

Once boiled, remove from the heat and add the citric acid. It will fizz up a bit so make sure you are using a big enough pan.

Add the syrup mixture to the bowl of elderflowers and lemons.

Cover with a clean tea towel and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

The next day get ready to bottle the cordial.  We drink shop bought elderflower cordial during the rest of the year so I’ve been saving the bottles but you can use just about any screw top glass bottle.  You will also need a couple of jugs, a ladle, some muslin (I’ve heard some people use a J cloth – I use a jelly-making fine mesh bag) and a funnel.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 1/140C/275F/. Wash the bottles in hot soapy water, rinse and drain. Place the bottles in the oven for at least 30 minutes. (Use oven gloves to remove them from the oven.)

While the bottles are in the oven, boil a kettle and scald the jugs, funnel, ladle, muslin and bottle tops.

Once the bottles are sterilised, place the funnel inside the first one and the muslin inside one of the jugs. Ladle the elderflower mixture into the muslin and then when the jug is full, rest the muslin in the other jug and  transfer the cordial to the bottles, screwing the tops on as each is filled. (I say this as I’ve swiped a full but uncapped bottle off the counter with my arm before now).

The bottles will keep in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 months.  It will freeze too (but not in a glass bottle!).