DIY teabags. Dead simple.

Homemade teabags

A handful of materials = awesome homemade DIY teabags!

My boyfriend never used to drink tea…ever…then he met me…converted! So what better than some homemade teabags to go along with his birthday presents.

Easy peasy DIY teabags

Materials – coffee filters, loose leaf tea, thread (sewing machine), embroidery thread/string and card.
Take you coffee filters and cut them into whatever shape you like and big enough to hald 1 1/2tsp loose tea. I chose some classic rectangles and some extra large circles. Leave one side of the shape sealed to keep the two sides together while sewing. Giving around 0.5cm as a seam allowance, pick your (or his) favourite colour and sew up the three open ages. Cut the remaining sealed edge and you have a pocket just asking for some filling!

Coffee fillter tea bags

For a normal cup size I used one and a half tsp of loose leaf tea, I doubled this for my extra large circle teabags, I have a special mug in mind for those! Spoon the mix into the pockets you’ve just created.

Full pockets

If using a rectangle, fold the two corners into the middle and the point it forms down. Under the point place one end of a piece of embroydery thread/string. Either using your machine or by hand, sew the fold down to secure the thread and close the pocket. If you have decided on a more adventurous shape, sew up the gap the with the same stitching.

All wrapped up and ready to brew

As an added extra make your own lables to stick onto the loose of the string. Simply, cut a rectangle out of some medium gsm card and decrate. Fold it around the end of the string using prit stick to attached the two sides together. You can be really creative here, I opted to print my face onto card – he’s not forgetting who made him those awesome teabags!

It's my face on a teabag!

Milk and Ginger African Tea

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No need to peel the ginger

This is a great recipe for a creamy sweet tea with a little kick. I love it all the time, come rain or shine. It is good for a winter comfort drink as well as having health benefits if you’re feeling under weather with a cold.

My first taste of this creamy and delightful African tea was in Rwanda in January 2014. We (a team of 20 strong young Brits) had just landed in Kigali the day before and mustered the courage and strength to go into town. We found a rather Western looking coffee shop and sought refuge and a friend brought a cup of tea. Her face when she took the first sip was priceless – no home comfort was found in it as she tasted a steamed milk and ginger concoction! She wasn’t a fan, but me, I was hooked from that first stolen cup!P1010722

From Kigali 8 of us drifted down to Rwamagana to work with the African Evangelical Enterprise and The Centre for Champions. The co-ordinator of the Centre for Champions, passed me her recipe and with a little twisting so that it works with things we have here in the UK I formed this fantastic recipe. If you want it to be more like the real deal you need to swap out the water for whole milk. Because the milk is processed differently in Africa you still don’t get quite the same taste!

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P1010731If you really don’t have a sweet tooth you can cut down the sugar but be warned, as the sugar decreases the kick from the ginger gets less noticeable and I’m a ginger addict so that didn’t work so well for me. The best way to find your perfect fit is to make a couple with different sugar levels and then settle on your favourite. I halve the sugar for my mum and then add another spoon after I have poured her mug out of the batch.

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Recipe for African Tea (makes 2 mugs)

Ingredients:                                             The making implements:
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger                 Small Saucepan
4 tsp granulated sugar                           Spoon for stirring
1 mug of milk                                          Mugs
1 mug of boiling water
2 tea bags

One. In your saucepan put the ginger and teabag and cover with boiling water. Allow this this to simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes (mmmm flavour time).
Two. Remove the teabag. Add the milk and sugar. Stir occasionally and turn the heat up a little but not the boil.
Three. After a minute using a sieve/strainer pour the tea from the pan straight into your mug or teapot and drink.

P.S. you can also enjoy this African tea iced. Add the sugar and when dissolved add the milk then strain and pop in the fridge. When ready to drink drop in an ice cube or two and enjoy.P1010749

 

Mulled cider

Mulled apple ciderOn the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me….NINE MUGS OF MULLED CIDER!

Mmmmm nothing beats some warm mulled cider now that the winter has set in. Whenever I go to a Christmas market I always have to get some. I’m not that into wine, so it is a great alternative to mulled wine and still has the same christmasy flavour. I never really thought of making it myself but turned out that it is so easy to make and a real crowd please too (as long as you don’t drop the lid off the cinnamon).

Mulling Cider

The first batch I did I tried to keep well to the recipe here though I didn’t have any pomegranate. When I made more I just winged it a little more as I was busy entertaining and it also turned out fab so as long as you have the basic ingredients don’t worry to much about it. There are loads of variations out there and I’m sure I will try making another batch on boxing day!

Mulled cider

Enjoy!

Christmas boozy Eggnog

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me ….

FOUR GLASSES OF EGGNOG!

Christmas Eggnog2

 

Now I have been dying to try Eggnog for a long time, looking at the recipe, well that put me off but I stayed true and gave it a shot. If one has low expectations the only way is up right! Plus its a boozy recipe so that should help! My mother took a bit more persuading to try it so as a wonderful negotiator I settled for an adapted recipe for the faint hearted (the old folk!) and a very raw eggy version for the brave new world (my brother and I).

Eggnog

 

I have taken the recipe directly from simple bites. I found a lot of recipes on Pinterest but I settled for Elizabeth’s since she gave so many variations and the ingredients were pretty standard. Making 2 cups of the original and then 2 cups of the cooked version given by Elizabeth seemed to please everybody. I also spiced up some milk so the 7 year old could feel included! I found that I don’t own 4 of the same glasses so please excuse the random brandy glass in all the photos!

Eggnog close up

 

My evaluation/tips?
– It is pretty delicious! I would cut down the sugar a fair amount as it is too sweet even for me.
– It is also really boozy – this isn’t a criticism just an observation.
– I switched out some of the whisky for cinnamon whisky which just gave a little more flavour.
– It really is quick and simple (especially the no cook version)
– You really have to mix it for the elements to combine keep at it.
– Don’t worry if it doesn’t look too yellow it should be a milky colour
– Good quality liquor? Nah I used Sainsbury’s basics whiskey!
– Wisk – I used an electric one for a couple of minutes who knows what you are supposed to do!
– Heavy cream = double cream

Christmas Eggnog

Homemade DIY Gin gift set

bannerMen are hard to shop for, it is a proven fact. Some are easier than others, when they have interests in sport or food or cars etc but what happens when that runs out? I remember buying my Dad Aresnel related presents long after he stopped giving two hoots about the football team. So for my boyfriend I kept coming back to the fact his is a GIN fanatic. I didn’t just want to buy him a bottle, even of something nice.

It is great when you can combine something a friend loves with some creativity and add a touch of homemade. So I had already started making some plum gin but wanted to add a little more. So as you can see by the pictures I also made gin maramalade (it was a bit of a lightbulb moment of “he likes marmalade too!”) and brought a small bottle of Hendrics (the internet said it was good, he affirmed) and 2 mini bottles of schwerz tonic.Crumpet Corner. Gin gift set collage

 

You can substitute the gin for a different neutral spirit of preference for the gift reciever (works perfectly with vodka). Click through for my recipie for plum gin and keep scrolling for the gin marmalade recipe.

The wrapping/packing is just another opportunity to use some creativity and  make it special! The boyfriend loves videogames, I know nothing about them. I printed some pictures of charaters from his favourite ones and glued (prit) them to a shoebox, writting some of the funny quotes from them in speech bubbles in Sharpie. Being a typical male he didn’t notice for AGES but when he did he loved it. I also used red and silver tissue paper as his favourite colours.

Gift shoebox decoration

 


Gin Marmalade Recipe


Ingredients                                                     Equipment
Seville Oranges                                                  Saucepan and wooden spoon
500g Granulated Sugar                                      Muslin bag or fabric
500ml Gin                                                           Sterelized jars (x3)
Water                                                                 cooled saucer

Makes around three jars


The how to bit:

One. Wash the oranges and put them with the water into a saucepan (covered), allow to boil until the fruit goes soft (easier to get the goop out!) should take around an hour then take out and allow to cool. Keep 750ml of the boiling water – carefully measure this out.

Two. Slice the oranges in half, scoop out the goop and put it into the muslin. I just used a square and fastened with an elastic band. Put this back into the pan of water. You want all the flavour and juices to come out but not make the marmalade really bitty.

Three. Depending how much you like slice the rind of the oranges into thin strips and add to the pan with all the sugar. Over a low heat stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the special ingredient – GIN!

Four. Skim off any scum the sits on the surface – there shouldn’t be much. Bring to a rolling boil for half an hour. It can take a lot longer to set. This is the tricky part!

Five. To test the setting point get the saucer out of the fridge and drop a little of the mixture onto it, leave for a couple of seconds then push the marmalade with your finger, it should wrinkle. A good second test to do is dip a spoon into the mixture and allow to cool slightly then hold the spoon holizontally above the pan. If it is at setting point the drips will run together to form a flake. If you are unsure there are loads of youtube videos that will give you a good idea what you are looking for. Test over 5 minutes, remembering that as it cools it firm up further.

Six. Once set pour or ladel the mixture into the jars, seal and allow to cool.

Wild plum gin with recipe

There have been an awful lot of food post going on. Not that there is anything wrong with food. It’s glorious. A rather great commodity. But home flavoured spirits? Yeah I thought that might get your attention! Plum gin is an awesome present to yourself and taking a mere 3 months could be a fantastic christmas present for that hard to buy/make for person. We all have one, if you don’t, it’s you, you know not our pain!

Plums for gin making

I love picking wild fruit, especially as we have a plum tree in the garden; and I love using it up this way as it takes away the time pressure of it going bad. If you have fruit trees you know the frustration of waiting with nothing and then all so suddenly getting buckets and buckets of fruit. Next year I think I might have to have a plum week to share with you my recipes for the left over plums! Recipes like plum and apple tarts, jam and chutney! For now stew the leftover fruit and pop it in the freezer to use in the less fresh fruity months.

plum gin ready for the cupboardThis is barely a recipe with only three ingredients!Plum gin bottled up

Fruit infused spirits are so simple thing to make I don’t know why I didn’t give it a go sooner. I already mentioned that I love giving these as presents, they are inexpensive but show someone that you have been thinking of them (for at least 3 months!) and suit all those boozy friends I am sure you have! I made a big batch and kept three bottles to myself and then made the other bottle into part of a gin themed gift basket (I’ll post up about that soon!).


Ingredients                          EquipmentPlum gin I Crumpet Corner
OK quality Gin                        Knife & chopping board
150-200g Caster Sugar          2 (1L) Kilner jars (air tight container)
600g Plums                            Bottles and funnel

Optional: add cinnamon sticks, cloves, extra/less sugar to your preference.

The how to bit:
One
.Collect your plums and wash (give a quick check for any rogue maggots) and finally prick them all over with a fork or cut them in half. This helps the juices release into the gin.
Two. Put your sugar and clean pricked/cut plums into the sterilised Kilner jars then top up with gin ensuring that all the fruit is thoroughly covered. This is really important as if there is any fruit poking out it will go mouldy and spoil your whole batch!
Three. Close lid tightly and make sure that it is air sealed! Now shake it! Yep that’s right shake the jar until the sugar has started to dissolve.
Four. Over the next few days whenever you get the chance go and give your jars a shake and after about a week all of the sugar should have dissolved. Put into dark cool space, if you leave in the light you will lose the rich colour. I renamed my cupboard under the stairs as the distillery.
Five. Leave for at least 3 months to allow the gin to get fruity and I would suggest a maximum of a year though it only managed to stick around for about 7 months before I had gobbled the last of it up. Using a funnel strain/pour the now purple gin into your choice of bottle and throw away the plum solids. n.b. I have tried using the gin soaked plums in cooking but I didn’t like how that turned out. Feel free to try to put them to good use and if you come up with anything please comment. I would love to try something.

Tricks:

  • Add a label to your jars with the quantities (gin/plum/sugar ratio) so you can compare and tweak in the future. You can see that I made one with half sugar and added spices while the keeping the other basic.
  • If you don’t have a dark corner (you also probably don’t live in England) you can wrap your jar in thick brown paper to help block out the light
  • Take a sip over month or two and top up on the sugar as you go. I like mine really fruity and sweet so I can sip it over ice!
  • There is no need to be limited to plums, I have post for blackberry and pear gin coming soon!