christmas gifts

Mulling Syrup Receipe – An easy edible gift for Christmas

It’s the time of the year again where it’s all festive. People are getting all excited about almost everything. Our team in the office has planned like ten Christmas lunches. Organizing secret Santa, Christmas lunches, decorating the desks, shopping for Christmas jumpers is what comprises of the December calendar. We never celebrated Christmas in the true sense till we moved to UK. In India, as one can expect it used to be more traditional back in the day. While it did involve some decorations and good food, it was more about going to the mass, visiting family and friends. It makes sense considering the Christian population in India is just above 2%. But, I do enjoy the festive season and me being me I want to do it all and be  part of everything, so we have a tree, visit markets , exchange gifts and of course eat to our hearts content on the day – – ok well during the month J . We will be in India this year and I am hoping the globalisation has done good in terms of getting people out a bit more to celebrate Christmas irrespective of their faith.

For me, personally, it’s still a bit low profile at the moment because of the extremely challenging deadlines and work load. I am not even excited about gifts ‘yet’. My son gave me his letter to Santa where he requested toys for his cousin’s as well …how sweet no? When I appreciated him for that, he liked the idea and wants to update his letter and wants to add a whole lot of things to the list for his loved ones. I am like ….yeah…You get them those things not just ask Father Christmas  🙂 . Buying gifts is getting more and more difficult and challenging starting from gauging the person’s likes and dislikes, cost, shopping around for gifts. I personally love the idea of handmade gifts. Especially, if they are edible gifts then all the gifts are sorted in one go and you will definitely have happy receivers because who doesn’t like a bit of a Christmas treat? I have attempted edible gifts before and made chilli chocolate brownies along with few other things, which was very successful with the colleagues, friends and family. This year the whole thing became even more exciting because a bunch of  my lovely girl friends decided we would exchange handmade gifts over a brunch as a christmas tradition.I have taken a ginormous task of making a hamper of edible goodies for friends. I was up against the time but managed to pull it off in the end. It looked something like this.

Christmas Hamper

hamper

Hamper1

My friends on the other hand were so organised and all of their gifts were filled with good wishes and love. Receiving gifts is one thing but knowing that the person has put in so much hard work for you, just to bring a smile on your face, that’s really something to be thankful about. Also everyone has been so kind and posted how they made their DIY gifts in their blogs. Do visit their blogs and take a look at how they went about making their friends happy.

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From Top clock wise : Nisha, Vinee,Me, Suchi

So on this occasion S presented us with these super cute, personalised jar of body scrub and a lip balm

Suchi's Bath Scrub specially made for me

Suchi’s Bath Scrub specially made for me 🙂

V made these gorgeous rocky road and oh boy! were they delicious. the family completely enjoyed chomping on them.

Rocky road

N made candles in a lovely vintage tea cup candles and fizzy bath bombs. Don’t they look just pretty?

Nisha's  Rose scented Candles and Fizzy bath bombs !! (Nisha's picture)

Nisha’s Rose scented Candles and Fizzy bath bombs !! (Nisha’s picture)

I have started with these lovely bottles of Mulling syrup. I was so impressed with the idea, but was debating the recipe for some time. When I finally made up my mind, I decided I would go about it just as I would do with my regular mulled wine which is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe and I am quite happy with the results.

So, the idea is to give someone a no-nonsense mulled wine. An easy way to whip up a glass of warm wine for themselves or those unexpected guests. Usually, mulled wine does involve little amounts of a lot of ingredients, which can be tedious to shop around for. And shopping for the spices is a separate story, especially if someone who is not into cooking will not have all the spices and you don’t want your loved ones to have a store-bought, ready-made mulled wine do you? That is where this fabulous idea of mulling syrup comes and once you have bottled it, all they have to do is warm up some nice fruity red wine and mix the syrup which is infused of all the necessary action. Isn’t that even a handy thing to keep at home to welcome you on those chilly nights after work? So, to get started with making this infused concentrated potion.

This recipe will make four ml bottles of Mulling syrup.

You will need : 4 Bottles sterilised (Wash them in hot water or a dish washer and dry them completely)

Mulled wine in preparation

Mulled wine in preparation

Ingredients : 

15 Cloves

6-8 Bay Leaves

4 Tsp Nutmeg powder

3 Clementines

2 lemons

1 Lime

5 Cinnamon sticks

2 Vanilla pods

6 Star Anise

1 Kg sugar

Mulled Wine

Method : 

Halve the clementines, lemons and lime. Mix all the ingredients in a deep pan and add 3 liters of water. Boil the mixture for about an hour . Keep the lid on for the first 20 minutes so the aroma, and flavours are infused to some extent and then for the rest of the duration you can keep the lid off. This only makes the process quicker and within an hour you should have concentrated, sweet and infused syrup.

Let the syrup cool. Once cooled, filter the syrup and fill the bottles.

To make Mulled wine from this syrup :

Add 500 ml syrup in one ltr of a good fruity red wine and bring it to boil. Serve warm mulled wine and enjoy the instant warmth that it provides.

Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New year!!

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Plum Jam

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Hey hey my lovely readers. I hope you all had a great summer. Mine has been amazing because I took a break from work, from blogging, from even house keeping 🙂 to spend the summer holidays with my son. I have had so many instances l couldn’t be around for him. Although, my gorgeous little boy (ok lets call him GLB) never complained, it does hurt when you have to miss a christmas production at school, or a concert because of work. So, to compensate all that, this summer was filled with multiple visits to various museums, lots of tennis, park visits, visits to ice cream parlours and numerous sleepovers with his cousins and friends. Ofcourse, I kept out of sleepover’s …err most of the time :). This super indulgence has gone so far, that now my GLB suggested that I should go back to work and also thought it would be good if the work hours are longer so he can spend some time with his friends. Oh well, kids are kids, they don’t understand the sacrifice we parents make. Staying at home and trying to be with them 24 hrs is not easy Hehe 😛 …(actually it is fun !!) . Ok so one of our summer outing was pick your farm. Now, kids love picking fruit an veg. Even the one, they don’t enjoy eating. It is a fun excercise for them and then the real test is when we are back home, you have plan all your meals for the next 20 days around the fruit and veg you brought home. Something like that happened to us. We picked huge quantities of plums. 3 Kilos to be precise. Now for first 1 kilo, I have managed to stuff it up my husband in the form of fruit and smoothies. He is our food disposal system most of the time. The rest of the plums, are going too ripe, so I had decided to go Jamming …which of course was a lot of Jam but everyone loved it.

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Now for the part of making the jam. I have used the most easy method I know. My mum’s mantra for Jam is equal amounts of sugar and fruit. But, if she was making this Jam she would have pealed the plums, but I didn’t bother. They were too many of them. But trust me, it is just fine…if you don’t have the time or patience, just leave the skin on.

And for the sugar, normal sugar is ok to use but it is easy to find Sugar with pectin in the super markets these days. It speeds up the process and thickens the Jam quickly. Pectin is a jelling agent that is found is citrus fruits. So, if you can’t find sugar with pectin, just add a little extra lemon juice to compensate. Now for the procedure :

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Ingredients : 

1 kg Plums (Yield will be  close to 1.5 kG)

1 Kg Sugar with pectin  (if you don’t have pectin – then add about 1 TBsp. lemon juice)

25 grams unsalted butter

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Method: 

Halve  the plums and remove the seed. Put them in a deep pan on medium heat to cook slowly. Once they release all the liquids in them and start to cook completely, add the sugar and lemon juice. Let the mixture cook again on medium heat untill all the sugar is dissolved.

Keep stirring occasionally making sure the jam at the bottom is not getting burnt. After about 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and leave it to cook again for 10 min. The jam should start to thicken at this point. Leave it to cool and repeat the process two more times of bringing the jam to boil on medium heat and cooling it down.

I do not use the thermometer to check the setting point etc. I don’t have the tools and everyone has their own preferences when it comes to how think or runny Jam should be. I check the consistency of the jam when it gets to room temperature. It should be obviously start to look like …’Jam’, and when you run your finger through it should form a definite line. If you are in a hurry to do this test, then just pop a spoon of the mixture in a bowl, put it in the freezer for a min and check the consistency. If you are not happy with the consistency, just place the Jam back on heat and bring to boil again untill you get the desired thickness.

I hope you like my a little tedious but easy peesy summer fruit Jam recipe and I really would like if you try it and share your thoughts on this post.

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