Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Apple Butter

We have a great old apple tree growing in our garden, it produces hundreds of apples every year, so many in fact, we cant keep up! We try to use as many as possible and give away bags full too....but still each year, lots head to the compost heap, mostly damaged wind falls that have been attacked by birds, wasps, squirrels and hegdehogs. 

At the end of the season, the very last of our apples are used for making a huge batch of Apple Butter. 
I first discovered this on a trip to The Ulster American Folk Park in Gortin, about 15 years ago.  There is a lovely lady called Maisie (we have chatted since then and introduced our own maisie to her!) who was using some apple butter on freshly made scones in the plantation house in the 'New World'.  Back then, you could purchase recipe cards in the visitors centre for 50p each....for soda bread, colcannon and there was even one for Apple Butter!

There is nothing quite like the smell of spiced apple cooking, it encapsulates the season, not to mention, leaving the entire house smelling amazing..

I follow the basics of the 'New World Recipe' above, I use less apple juice though.

This is how I make it


5 lbs APPLES
2 lbs SUGAR


Boil the apple juice for half an hour, to reduce the liquid
Meanwhile, peel, core and chop the apples 
Add the apples and cook down until tender

Add the cinnammon, cloves, all spice and sugar and cook for a further 30 mins
Allow to cool a little
Using a handheld blender, blitz the mixture to a thick, smooth puree

Spoon into glass jars and allow to fully cool before sealing
The apple butter will keep in your refridgerator for up to one year 

So now that you've made all that apple butter ...what are you going to use it for?

I gift most of ours each year, but what I keep, I like to use as a spread on scones and pancakes.  One of my sisters uses hers as a spread on toast.
There are endless uses for Apple Butter, it can be baked in a sweet pie, with creamy pumpkin, used as a glaze for your ribs, added to cakes, cinammon rolls, served as a spread with your cheese board, served with pork chops, added to turkey sandwiches....

It is also amazing swirled into hot porridge or, my favourite, added to Greek yoghurt and fruit!


But if you are looking to make the ultimate Autumn Cocktail, then you must go and check out The Half Baked Harvest recipe for this Apple Butter Old Fashioned...cheers now, enjoy!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Autumn Crowns

After a lovely walk in the park, collecting twigs, berries, seeds and leaves, I made simple Autumn Crowns with the kids.  We started with a simple card strip, an old cereal box or scrap packaging is perfect.  It was cut approximately 7cms deep and 30cms long.  Using a strip of double sided tape (we used that really thick width 'carpet to floor' tape, which you can pick up in the pound shop!) we applied it to the card and let the kids loose to create their own crowns.  A hole punch to either end of the card, was then threaded with twine or you could use pretty ribbon, can then be tied to fit the head....
Autumn Crowns, fit for any garden fairy

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ok, so since Ive been made housebound due to High Blood Pressure Ive had my baking head on...and yesterday I just fancied some lemon drizzle cake, leaves the most amazing smell in your kitchen and makes a pregnant lady very happy!

  • 225g unsalted butter , softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 225g self-raising flour

For the drizzle:
  • juice 11⁄2 lemon
  • 85g caster sugar

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy

Sift in the flour

then add the lemon zest and mix until well combined

add the eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through

Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper or a paper liner, then
spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.
I had enough mix left to fill a few muffin cases too!

Bake for 45-50 mins until a thin skewer inserted
into the centre of the cake comes out clean

While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together
the lemon juice and sugar to make the drizzle

Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle
 the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping.
Leave in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve...yummie :)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

FADGE (Irish Potato Bread)

No traditional Ulster Fry is complete without this delicious little thing. Fadge is also known as a potato “farl” from the Gaelic word “fardel” meaning “four parts”... it's also a great way to use up your left over mashed potato!!


  • 1 lb freshly cooked potato
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (margarine)
  • 3/4-1 cup flour  


Mash the potatoes (make sure there are no lumps)

 Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the butter.

Knead in enough flour to make a pliable dough (usually 3/4 cup is enough)

Roll out to about 1/2" thick and cut into quarters.

Heat a non stick skillet and brown on each side 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with butter.
  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

God Save McQueen

His designs were beautiful, brutal and bold. Dubbed 'enfant terrible' by the snooty fash pack, Alexander McQueen was never two feet away from controversy. However, love him or hate him no-one could deny that Alexander McQueen was indeed a true fashion genius and in my opinion the greatest British tailor.  McQueen made a huge impact on me whilst studying my Fashion Degree from '96 - '99.

'What attracted me to Alexander was the way he takes ideas from the past and sabotages them with his cut to make them thoroughly new and in the context of today. It is the complexity and severity of his approach to cut that makes him so modern. He is like a Peeping Tom in the way he slits and stabs at fabric to explore all the erogenous 
zones of the body'   
 - Isabella blow

Alexander McQueen tragically took his life this time last year and it is only fitting that a documentary paying tribute to him and his legacy should be aired in the midst of Fashion Week. You cannot talk about McQueen without mentioning the late Isabella Blow, the eccentric stylist who committed suicide herself  in 2007.  McQueen and I  is a retrospective look at McQueen and his relationship with Blow who made a massive impact on his life from the day he showed his graduate collection from Central Saint Martins, which Blow immediately snapped up. Since then she became his personal champion by guiding and nurturing his talents as well as  her muse.  McQueen and I contains some very interesting footage of Alexander and Isabella together and we get an insight into the deterioration of their relationship.

McQueen and I
  was aired last night but is available to view here on 4oD 


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Scallop Invasion

On a recent wee jaunt down the coast we decided to stop off in Portavogie for a nice seafood lunch in the Quays Bar & Restaurant (i had the scallops! delish)... at the edge of the car park there's a little trail that takes you to the beach, the trail itself is covered in scallop shells, fair enough i thought, until we got to the beach! What a surreal sight, there were scallop shells everywhere, all crammed in between the rocks and encrusting the remains of an old shipwreck like a jewelled treasure trove... 

the pictures paint a better image than i could ever describe...