Tag Archives: how to make

DIY Candied Orange Peel


chocolate dipped candied peel

My husband is from California – where Oranges grow on trees! I remember his 80 year-old grandmother giving me some of her home-made candied peel one Thanksgiving.  It was just wonderful and I was so impressed.   Last year I bought Mechanic Man some locally made, dark chocolate dipped, candied peel for Christmas – he adored it.

This year, I tried a sample from the same vendor and although the Belgian chocolate was delicious, the orange just wasn’t zingy enough.  Remembering Grandma Grace, I thought I’d have a go at the peels myself.  I found this great recipe with lovely photos on a  blog called bright eyed baker.  I used her recipe but scaled it up as I had four oranges.

This quantity makes a dinner plate of peel and filled two jam jars before I dipped some of them in chocolate. You could probably fill four jam jars if they were all choc dipped.  I elected to only dip half of each peel in chocolate as I thought they’d look prettier.

  • 4 Navel Oranges
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  1. Wash the oranges and cut the top and bottom off.
  2. Score into quarters (along lines of longitude) through the skin and pith (orange and white bit).
  3. Peel off the skin/pith “quarters”.  I put the “waste” orange on a plate and left it on the kitchen table – it all disappeared within minutes.
  4. Cut these quarters into thin strips lengthwise about 1/4 inch or 5 mm wide.
  5. Place strips in a pan of water and bring to the boil, boil for a few minutes.
  6. Drain and repeat step 5, TWO times more to reduce bitterness of the pith.
  7. Add the measured water and sugar to a pan and stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
  8. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add the peel and simmer gently for another 45 minutes DO NOT STIR.  Stirring will cause the sugar to crystallize.  You can occasionally rotate the peels gently if you feel they are not all getting equally “candied.” DO NOT let the pan boil dry.
  10. When the peels are translucent, drain the excess liquid (there won’t be much) and keep this it for another culinary use.
  11. Place the peels on drying racks and dry in the oven for about an hour at 90C.
  12. Put the peels in a ziploc bag with a little extra sugar and shake the bag to coat them (they look prettier this way and are less sticky to handle/wrap).
  13. Store them in an airtight container.

candied orange peel

You can dip some peels in melted chocolate to be extra decadent or eat them as they are (very zingy). The photo above is the jar I made for Hubby. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and lay the chocolatey peels to harden on a silicon baking mat.

I plan to use some in my holiday baking, in place of “shop” peel.  I also made little cones out of cellophane and gave some to my baking friends as little pre-Christmas gifts. (Sorry Lizzie I made yours before I raided my “bling” box and found the holly and mini bells)!

candied peel pretty packaging

Pear, Apple and Date Chutney


pear, apple and date chutney

I picked the rest of our pears, we have around 50 BIG pears.  They are hard but my kids like their pears extra crunchy.  But, my kids don’t reckon they can eat them all before they get too soft which would still be rock hard to everyone else.  So, I am cooking them up.  Last night at midnight, I decided to make some chutney, I finished around one a.m. which is why I mislabelled the jars (can you spot the deliberate mistake?)  I didn’t want to make too much as I’m working my way through a massive jar of plum chutney a friend gave me last Christmas.

When I was small, my granny kept our family supplied in “granny pickle.”  When she died, when I was 15, I was upset that there would be no more granny pickle.  My Mum reassured me that it was actually apple and raisin chutney and that she would make it for us – which she did, until she died, in 2012.  This is my first stab at chutney since then.  The pear tree is actually in my Mum’s old garden, right outside her kitchen window, and It makes me sad that the pears continue to live while she doesn’t – still, she would go mad if a single one of them was wasted!

So, first the pear crumble, now the chutney, and I have plans for pear/custard tarts and wine poached pears –  watch this space.

I used:

  • 2 chopped onions
  • 4 large pears, cored and chopped
  • about 20 dates chopped (you could about 3/4 cup raisins)
  • 12 fluid ounces vinegar (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup apple sauce (or two large raw cooking apples, chopped)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (very approximate)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

I threw everything (except the apple sauce) into a pot and simmered away until it was thick.  I wasn’t planning on using any apple; but, because it wasn’t thickening, I reckoned I hadn’t used enough pears, so I added some of the stewed apple I have sitting in my fridge.  The sugar, I added a bit at a time until it tasted right, so I’m just estimating the 3/4 cup.  The dates, which I chopped small, disintegrated a bit so if I was making this again, I would add them later in the cooking time.  I would say this took around an hour to make from start to finish.

So, If you are using pre-cooked apples, add them towards the end of the cooking with the chopped dates; but, if you are using raw apple, add them at the beginning with the pear.

Needless to say, it is delicious and I am looking forward to our next batch of sourdough bread (tomorrow) so I can have bread, cheese and chutney.  My kids hate the stuff though and came down from their rooms last night complaining about the awful eye watering smell.  I remember I used to complain when my Mum made chutney but at least I liked eating the stuff when it was made.

Crochet Daisy Chain – Free Pattern


crochet daisy chain on tunisian crochet dishcloth

My Mum’s headstone was installed this week – it is hand carved local salvaged red sandstone see earlier post.  I had the idea of crocheting a daisy chain to wrap around it for Mother’s day which is coming up soon here in the UK.  I searched around the web for a suitable pattern but didn’t like any I found – they were either for big daisies or small white flowers that didn’t look like daisies. So, I made up a pattern, there are probably similar ones out there, but this one I figured out myself.

I am going to make 43 daisies, one for each Mother’s Day my twin and I had the pleasure of sharing with our lovely Mum.  They are a wee bit fiddly but so very cute and versatile. My first daisy (above) is sitting on my second ever piece of Tunisian crochet – a cotton dishcloth but more on that later.

crochet daisy chain free pattern

My crochet daisy uses the magic loop method to start so you don’t get a hole in the centre of your flower. If you don’t know how to do this there are many excellent video tutorials on You tube.  For my daisies I am using…..

  • 4mm crochet hook
  • Double knit yarn (light worsted USA and 8-ply AUS) in green, white and yellow.
  1. Crochet a chain in green yarn as long as you like.
  2. In yellow, work 12 dc (sc USA) into the magic loop and join with a slip stitch.
  3. Tighten the magic loop until the hole has disappeared.
  4. Change to white, join yarn with a slip stitch.
  5. Chain 4, slip stitch in the next dc (sc USA) of the previous yellow round.
  6. Continue around until you have worked 12 petals,join with a ss.
  7. Weave in your loose ends.
  8. I used the tail from my magic loop to sew each daisy to my pre-made chain.
  9. Keep going until you get bored – sit on the grass and pretend you are 6 again!

How to Make a Crochet Seaside Stripes Blanket


seaside stripes crochet 100% cotton blanket  One of my bestest pals is having a significant Birthday soon so I wanted to make her something special.  Unfortunately, she’s allergic to wool, my yarn of choice; but, when I saw some lovely teal-coloured cotton yarn in a local store I immediately thought of her – just her colour.   She loves stripes and seaside colours so I thought I’d make her a little crochet cotton blanket to keep her cozy while watching TV or reading – she feels the cold!

I selected the five colours that were most “her.” I would have liked a brown or yellow sand-coloured yarn to add a a bit of warmth to the overall scheme but they didn’t have one.  I chose to make it random stripes so that I could enjoy “choosing” which colour would look good next  – I thought I’d get bored with a pre-determined sequence.  It was fun to make,  it’s so soft, and, I know she’ll love it.

crochet beach blanket on antique teak garden bench

Here’s How I Made it….I hope this passes as a Pattern!

My finished blanket is 32 x 46 inches approx – so it could easily be a large baby blanket or a toddler-sized blanket; or used as a “throw” for the back of a sofa.

  • 4 mm crochet hook for main body and 3.5mm hook for border.
  • 10 x 50g balls of 100% cotton dk weight yarn (3 x silver, 2 x blue, 2 x teal, 1 x cream, 1 x putty, 1 x sage green).
  • Chain 120 sts to start.
  • I worked 103 random colour rows of treble crochet (UK) double crochet (USA). Leave at least 6 inches tail when you join new colours for weaving in later (I used the method advocated by blogger CraftyMinx.  It will try your patience but is sooo much better that just lying the old tail along the top of the previous row – ‘cos they pull out easily – especially with cotton ‘cos it’s so slippery)!  I mostly changed colour every row but I occasionally worked two rows in the same colour to keep things extra random.

stripey crochet picnic blanket - silver, sage, blue, taupe and teal

  • For the border – I used a 3.5mm hook and, for the first round, I worked three stitches for every two rows of (treble UK)/(double USA) crochet on the sides.  This was to tighten up the sides and help stop the sides getting stretched out in use.  I worked the stitches into the actual stitches of the treble crochets rather than the spaces – this was fiddly but much neater.  Where the sides were indented I used a treble instead of a double to even it out.  For the second round, I worked all double crochets (single USA).

Let me know how you get on with yours!