Thursday, 24 June 2010

Hawthorn Brandy and Solstice Elderflower champagne...

Over the last couple of months, my husband and I have been walking along our local hedgerows and it inspired us to try out making some 'brews'!

During the end of May, we collected some hawthorn blossoms and made hawthorn brandy.  Ideally we should have collected the flowers earlier as they were just about to go over.  I think we caught them in time though.

We collected enough to fill one large kilner jar and poured in some cheap and nasty brandy:
Filling the jar with the blossoms

Pouring in the brandy

We then added some sugar...

 The brew with the sugar settled on the top

We the sealed it up, gave it a good shake and now it's time to leave it for 3 months, giving it a shake once a day...

I'm looking forward to opening it and trying it for the first time (I hope its nice and not like paint stripper!)  I'll post another blog when it's been tested to let you know how it turned out!

For Litha, we tried making some elderflower champagne.  We got the following recipe from

Elderflower Champagne

A traditional favourite, Elderflowers peak at Midsummer. Pick them in the fullness of a sunny day, ideally on Midsummer's Day. The Elder is sacred to the Mother Goddess and is often called the Witch's Tree, the Elder Mother, or Queen of the Trees. It is protective with wonderful healing properties. It aids transformation, change and renewal, and we are at a major turning point in the Wheel of the Year, so the gift of Elderflowers is welcome.


8 litres water

1.25 kg sugar

8 large elderflower heads

4 lemons

4 tablespoons mild white wine vinegar

Do use screw top bottles - large plastic bottles used for squash etc are perfect. This stuff will fizz and if not bottled tightly it can explode! I keep mine in the garden so should the worst occur it isn't going to make a mess all over the kitchen or larder... Before you begin make sure the elderflowers are clean - no little wandering insects or bugs.

Boil the water and dissolve the sugar into it (Fairtrade is good)

When the water is cool, add the elderflowers, juice of two of the lemons and slices of the other two, plus the vinegar.

Cover with a clean cloth and leave for a day.

Strain through a fine sieve or piece of muslin, carefully squeezing the flowers to extract as much flavour as possible.

Store in clean screw top bottles.

Leave well alone for 10 days or so. Drink within a month. Enjoy and give thanks to the Spirit of Elder.

Well, our bottles are currently hidden in a shady part of the garden and will be opened in 10 days.  I'm really REALLY looking forward to trying the finished product because it tasted beautiful after just a day of brewing in the pans!  It's so easy to make, so if you hurry, you might be able to catch the elderflowers before they go over to make your own champagne! 

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

National Breastfeeding Awareness Week

This week in the UK it's National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.  It's not about guilt-tripping anyone or being holier-than-thou.  It's all about raising awareness, providing up to date and relevant information and support, and NORMALISING breastfeeding. Here are a few links with helpful information:

To show my support, here is a collection of photos of me feeding my daughter.  Hopefully by doing this I will demonstrate that it's nothing to be embarrassed about, or hidden and that you don't have to expose your entire breast in order to do it!
 A day old

 Mathilda 6 weeks old here.  This was taken while snuggling in bed :)

10 weeks old, feeding in her sleep

4 months old

5 months old

5 months and very sleepy!

6 months

10 months, enjoying solids and still going strong on breast milk

 A year old...

And with no intention of stopping any time soon!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Happy Birthday Mathilda! (and carrot cake recipe)

My last post about my C-Section kind of put a  downer on my blog, hence why I think I haven't posted for a while.  So, it's a bit late, but Mathilda turned 1 nearly a month ago (19th May).  Such a huge milestone for us!  And how much she's changed and blossomed in 12 months.  This post is to celebrate her birthday.

Here's a few photos from her special day (we went to Bristol Zoo)...


I made her a carrot cake for her birthday cake.  I wanted to make something vaguely healthy as she's still very little and has the rest of her life to eat junk food.  I thought I'd share the recipe, as it turned out to be a very delicious cake and was quite easy to make!


180g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
180g light muscovado sugar
150ml sunflower oil
2 large eggs
200g carrots, coarsley grated
85g raisins

For the Frosting: 
1 lime
200g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter, softened
85-100g unrefined icing sugar

1. For the cake: preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line one deep 20cm cake tin.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk together the sugar, sunflower oil and eggs until smooth.

4. With a large metal spoon, fold in the carrots and raisins, then fold in the flour and spice mixture until well combined.

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, place on baking tray and bake until the cake is golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For me it took about an hour.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

5. For the frosting: squeeze the juice from the lime.

6. Beat the cream cheese in a bowl with the softened butter, icing sugar. Add the lime juice slowly, beating the mixture continuously to prevent it from curdling. Add to taste.

7. ISpread the frosting over the top.

8. Serve chilled.