Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Chilli Jelly and Bacon Wrapped Mussels

My Fabulous Chilli Jam
5 - 1/2 Small Jars

I first tried Chilli Jelly a couple of years ago when I was in Arkansas USA and that got me hooked. Chilli Sauce is readily available in New Zealand, but I have not yet come upon a comparable chilli jelly, that has that unique flavour. I tried making it myself last year, and while the flavour was there, the jelly didn't set.
We still used it, even though it was a bit runny (friends loved it too). I also tried everywhere to source liquid Certo, which is this fabulous pectin liquid stuff, that makes the mixture set into a jelly. Its available in America..but no-one stocks it here !!!. So this year when I go back to the States, you can be sure I am stocking up big time!!!
Anyway today I tried a slightly different recipe with no added water, and incresed the Jam Set Mix to 2 packets...and it looks as though I've cracked it (somewhat). The texture is still not 'jellyish' though..more like an apple jelly sort of texture,...runny/thick toffee perhaps? One thing about me, I will persevere until I get a recipe right !!..which reminds me of when I began baking bread. (but that's another story), for another blog lol. But watch this summer, we may well see 'real set JELLY' !!! lol.
.... ok here's the recipe:

You will need:

7 Chillies (preferably home grown..I used mild banana chillies)
1 x Red & Green Capsicum
1 1/2 Cups White Vinegar
6 Cups of White Sugar
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Red Food Colouring (optional)
2 x packets of Hansells Jam Setting Mix
Disposable latex gloves
Small Preserving Jars
Lids and Seals
Wooden Board & Teatowel


1. Put your gloves on !!!, otherwise the oils in the chillies work their way into the pores of your skin and are very hard to get rid off..believe me, even after many washes !!
2. Turn the oven on to medium. Place the cleaned jars in the centre of the oven to get them warm. Place the rings and seals in a small saucepan and cover with water. bring to the boil, hold for a few minutes, then remove from the heat.
3. Prepare the chillies and peppers. I remove and discard the seeds and pith from all and then dice everything very small. Some people put it through a food processor, but it turns to mush and mpre scum rises then as its its up to you to choose here.
4. In a large saucepan, add the vinegar, salt and sugar. Add the finely diced peppers, chillies and 3 pkts of Jam Set. Bring this mixture to a rolling boil and hold at this point for 6 minutes.
5.  Remove the peppers and chilllies with a slotted spoon after 5 minutes and any scum that rises to the top. 6. Remove from the heat, still in 1/ 2 - 1 teaspoon of food colouring (optional)
7. Prepare to bottle - Cover the board with the teatowell. Place the warmed jars on the board and carefully pour the hot jelly/jam into the jars. I leave a 1 cm space at the top of the jar. Cover with a clean seal and a ring. Screw down firmly. Jars are sealed when the lid sucks down and makes a pop sound.

 Ways to serve: Chilli jelly is lovely on crackers, with cream cheese or a sharp cheddar. Its also nice with a slice of pizza. I also discovered its fabulous drizzled over bacon wrapped mussels..recipe follows:

Fabulous BBQ'd Bacon Wrapped Marinated Mussels

I made these last summer and took them to be cooked at a friends BBQ. All the 'mussel lovers' gobbled them up....(including me). I hope you'll try them :)

You will need:

1 x container of Marinated Mussels
Streaky Bacon Rashers (I cut one rasher in half for each mussel)
1/2 a small Lemon & 1 Lime
Chilli Jelly (to serve)


1. Even if you purchase marinated mussels (as I do), in this recipe it works to still marinate them a little longer in some lemon and lime juice (gives a tang to them), just for about 5-10 minutes. Use 1/2 a small lemon and 1 lime. Place the marinated mussels in a small bowl and squeeze the juices over. Let it stand for 5 - 10 minues, stirring after 5.
2. Wrap each mussel in 1/2 a rasher of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
3. Cook on a hot grill/Barbecue..until the bacon is lovely and crispy.
4. To serve - Pile the bacony mussels in a little bowl and serve a small bowl of chilli jelly on the side, for people to help themselves.
'Moreish and Delicious'

My Preserved Pears (Overflow Method)

Bottled pears are one of my favourite fruits..lovley with breakfast muesli, or as a crumble pudding in winter..YUM.
Last year I raided a friends tree, and preserved about a dozen jars, only using the final jar not so long ago. Then about a month back, my daughter Katie, and grandaughter Lily set of to Julie's for a visit and to pick the lovely Pakham and Winter Nells pears once again. But on this occasion, the pears warn't quite ripe.....but undeterred, Katie still climbed the ladder (like a good daughter) and filled a large bucket full, plus 2 buckets of apples, (which I still havn't done anything with !!!) lol.
It took several weeks for all of them to ripen, soI had to bottle them in 2 different batches. This last lot were almost over-ripe, hence the final product looking a little cloudy in the jar.... but the taste will still be divine :)

Heres the simple method I use:

1 x Large Saucepan with lid
Preserving Jars, Lids(Rings) and Seals
Large Bowl and Peeler
Lemons x 2
White Sugar

Half fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze in the lemon juice (to prevent discolouration of the peeled fruit). Peel and core the pears and cut into quarters. Work quickly as the fruit still seems to discolour if its left too long in the lemon water.

Turn the oven on to a medium heat and place the clean jars in their to warm. I also boil the seals and rings in a saucepan to steralize them, then everything is hot, the pears, jars etc.

In the large saucepan, make a syrup: 1 cup of sugar to every 2 cups of water. I think for the quantity of pears I had, which was about 4lbs (1 1/2 - 2 Kilos), I used 3 cups sugar and 6-7 cups of water.
Bring this mixture to the boil (covered).

Add the prepared fruit, bring back to the boil and then reduce slightly. Stir gently and cook until fruit is soft. As my fruit was quite ripe, it only took about 8 minutes.

Cover a chopping board with a tea-towel and Remove one of the jars from the oven. Ladle hot fruit in to fill the jar. Pour over enough hot syrup to come right up to the top of the jar. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth. Place a steralized seal and ring on top and screw down firmly. Wipe the jars and place in a draught free spot. The jars are sealed when the seals have sucked down. When the jars are cold, carefully remove the rims. Do ths gently, so the seal is not disturbed. Wipe the jars with a damp cloth to remove any residual syrup and store in a dark enjoy during the winter months :o)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

* Ginger Crunch *

This is a recipe my mum made when I was little, one I baked when my children were growing up and I still love making it. Its from my old crusty, stained Edmonds of my favs, which I brought when I was first going flatting..many moons back. I've even doubled the recipe and it still turns out great..some people double the icing, if they want it really thick..mmm
I use a med size rectangular low side pan to bake it in, so the base browns evenly and is nice and thick. Its easy to make, fancy without trying and great with a cup of tea or coffee. I hope you'll try it !


Ingredients: (Base)
125g butter (4 ounces)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter and sugar and pale and creamy.
Add the sifted flour, BP and ginger..mix well and press into a paper lined tin. 

Bake 20-25 minutes at 170 Celcius

Prepare the icing after the base is cooked :

Ingredients: (Icing)
10 Tablesooons of Icing Sugar
5 tablespoons of Butter
4 teaspoons of golden syrup
2 teaspoons of ground ginger

Melt all together in a pan, stirring.

 Pour over the hot base.

Cut the slice while still warm.

 Cool completely and store in an airtight container.. enjoy :o)

a cuppa to enjoy with it, in my Cath Kidston cup, Katie got me for my birthday..:))

Living Simply

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