Monthly Archives

September 2018

Ate, Cook, Food, Recipe

A Recipe For Plum & Star Anise Jam

Plum Jam Recipe

Growing up we had two trees at the bottom of our garden: an apple tree that brought us small, bitter fruit and a plum tree that delivered nothing short of a tonne of plums every single year. Each year my mum would take the plums, stew them and turn them into a simple crumble. There was a lot of fruit and not so much crumble, not the kind of ratio I enjoy. Stewed fruit isn’t for me at the best of times, let alone when it’s the only desert available for the foreseeable future. Our freezer would be piled high every September. Up until last month I hadn’t touched a plum since, now there’s jars and jars of plum jam stacked on my shelves.

Whilst reading the Observer Food Monthly I came across a recipe for a plum and star anise frangipani from Gill Meller’s latest book. It seemed like the perfect thing to use up the plums that arrived with my latest Abel & Cole box; an originally unwelcome result of having not selected plums on my ‘never send’ list. It changed my opinion on the plums, so props to Gill. The combination of the plums with the aniseed-like flavour of the star anise (again not a flavour I would have enjoyed previously) works so well. You can find the recipe for the tart here.

 

Gill Meller Plum & Star Anise Tart

 

Warm and comforting, the deep purple plums are completely brought alive by the Star Anise.. I decided to combine both flavours into a plum jam, spiking it with a hint of ginger along the way to really deliver the most comforting of winter jams. Spread liberally on crumpets or freshly toasted sourdough, or better yet, swirl through a cosy bowl of porridge on a lazy winter morning.

I’ve made this plum jam twice now and both times it yielded four large jars. I always like to ensure I’ve got six sterilised and ready to go however. You never know. The hexagonal jars used here are from Wilko and are always my jam jar of choice!

 

Plum Jam Recipe

 

A note on sterilising jars.

Nigella says she considered jars fresh from the dishwasher as sterilised and ready to use, so I’m inclined to agree. She knows her stuff. If you don’t have a dishwasher however, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and leave to dry fully. Pop your oven on to a medium heat (150 C or so) and place the dried jars onto a baking tray and pop in the oven for ten minutes or so. For the final few minutes add in a second baking tray with the lids spread out on also. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. This will keep the jars warm until you’re ready to fill them with your jam.

 

Plum Jam Recipe

Ingredients 

1kg of de-stoned and quartered firm plums
850g caster sugar
3 star anise
1sp ground ginger
120ml fresh lemon juice (around 3 medium lemons)

Method

Pop a side plate into the fridge to chill.

To a large heavy bottomed pan add the plums, sugar, ground ginger, lemon juice and 100ml of water.

Place the star anise (use just 2 if you’d like the flavour to be a little more subtle) into a pestle and motor and grind to a powder. You can also pop them into a sandwich bag and thoroughly bash with a rolling pin.

Before adding the ground star anise to the pan with the other ingredients tip them into a sieve to remove any of the larger chunks. You can grind these down again and repeat.

Bring everything to a boil before turning the heat down to maintain a slow simmer. Stir regularly until the sugar is fully dissolved and then intermittently for 40-50 minutes to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan. The fruit should break down but not become entirely liquid, as well reducing quite significantly in volume to be thick and treacle-like.

At the 40 minute mark take your plate from the fridge and grab a teaspoon of the jam and pour the plum jam onto the plate. Leave to set for a minute or so. Push your finger through the jam, if it wrinkles and moves away from your finger, it’s ready. If sliding your finger through the jam doesn’t meet any resistance and it remains still very much a liquid, keep it on the heat for a little while longer, clean the plate and return to the fridge, trying the process again in a few minutes.

When you’re happy tip the jam into a jug, remove the jars from the oven and distribute the mixture evenly between the jars, filling them up to just below the neck. Don’t fill them right up the top, there needs to be a gap. Pop the lids on immediately and tightly close.

The jam should keep for quite some time, so if you’re making it now, feel free to stash it away for impromptu Christmas gifts!

 

Plum Jam Recipe

Leave a comment
Interiors, Shop

The Scented Candle Edit. My Four All Time Favourites.

The White Company Autumn Candle

 

When I last did an ‘Ask Me Anything’ Story on Instagram the most commonly asked questions were all about scented candles; ‘What’s my favourite scent?’,  ‘Which brand is the best?’ and ‘Is it worth paying a little bit extra?’. I’ve talked about how important I think smell is in our homes on the blog before but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put it all in one place.

On an evening, whether we’re in the middle of summer or the deepest, darkest depths of winter, there is always at least one candle burning in my flat. There are baskets and boxes filled with different options and I’m lucky enough to be sent some beautiful candles as gifts, which is mostly how I end up discovering new brands and exploring new scents.

 

Jo Malone London Incense & Embers Candle

 

I’m a big believer in buying in quality pretty much across the board. It isn’t always the case that you get what you pay for, but with candles I genuinely think it’s worth it. They contain a higher level of perfume and oils and generally only improve upon being lit. My problem with a lot of the cheaper candles from say H&M for example is that they may well smell amazing in the vessel, but light them and that’s it. They don’t scent the room, they don’t linger in the air. It’s a cheaper, synthetic scent that has been added.

Perhaps to some it could be a little excessive, but I have a rule that I should never be without my favourites. As soon as the last burn of one is done, I order another. So, to answer your question, here are my absolute favourite scents…

 

The White Company – Autumn
£20

Generally I lean towards a fruity scent, which is probably why I love this one so much. It’s sharp and crisp – pears, quince, musk and amber – and as the name probably suggests, perfect for the autumn. The White Company generally release the candle in August, before it removing it around November time, so stock up!

The standard candle is a little smaller than your average Jo Malone and so are available for less. At their price-point they’re amazing value for money, always burning perfectly and never tunnelling. (The odd technical name given to a candle when it burns down from the wick in a column, leaving unmelted wax up the sides!)

 

The White Company Autumn Candle

 

Jo Malone London – Incense & Embers
£47

Potentially my favourite candle, ever. It was created to evoke the feeling of a fire that’s about to go, with notes of nappa leather, black pepper and smoky incense. I think people often think this one if going to be really heady, almost church-like. It’s absolutely not. It’s the best candle for the winter night’s, especially if like me you aren’t lucky enough to have a open fire or log burner. It’s comforting and cosy.

 

Jo Malone London Incense & Embers Candle

 

 

Diptyque – Baies
£47

There is always a Baies candle in my home. It’s actually very similar in its scent to my favourite cologne, Jo Malone’s Blackberry & Bay. It’s floral without being overpowering or obnoxiously so, thanks to the sharp cut of the blackcurrant.

Brand wise, for me Diptyque come out on top for the level of scent they deliver. You don’t even need to light a Diptyque for it to have scented your room. In that sense they’re almost a diffuser, only intensifying when you do light them. Occasionally they can burn a little oddly, that’s one my gripe here. If it happens and you notice a wax build up unevenly to one side, light the candle and wrap it in tin foil, leaving enough foil to create a sort of cone above the vessel. It should help to distribute the heat better and melt the remaining wax. At this point you can also look to pull the wick back into the centre if it’s noticeably gone to one side.

 

Diptyque Baies Candle

 

Cire Trudon – Positano
£78

So, yes, it was the all-white design that first lead me to this candle, I won’t lie. It’s the product of a collaboration with Giambattista Valli and is absolutely the perfect candle for the summer. I don’t have a garden so when it’s a warm, balmy evening in July, this is what I light. Orange blossom, jasmine and magnolia. If you close your eyes and just sit there, wine in hand, you could mostly definitely be in Positano.

Fun fact for you, Cire Trudon have been making candles since 1643 and were responsible for creating the scented candle as we know it today. They supplied the court of Versailles, including Marie Antoinette herself. They actually produce a candle shaped to resemble her head should you find yourself in the market for a light-able bust of a highly unpopular monarch.

 

Cire Trudon Positano Candle

Leave a comment
Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

Making A Difference with Artha Collections

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

For a while now I’ve been exploring how possible it is to purchase products for the home that have a reduced effect on our environment and actively promote change. I believe we all have a responsibility to ensure we have as little impact on the planet as possible, along with an even more important responsibility to ensure we buy with our brains and support sustainable manufacturing.

At the same time I believe you shouldn’t need to sacrifice any element of style in order to do so.

Over the past few years our attitude towards conscientious homewares has definitely changed, there seems to be a much greater appetite for it now, something I’m incredibly happy about.

For the most part  the highstreet doesn’t seem to want to get behind the idea, either ignoring the issues entirely or hiding behind tiny capsule collections that come branded as being conscientious whilst really only making up 1% of their offering.

Finding the pieces and brands that do offer something more evolved isn’t easy, which is something I would like to try and assist with on millergrey. Perhaps it isn’t an issue that everyone concerns themselves with, but whilst I have a space like this blog I’d like to know it was helping in promoting those brands who are making a difference.

 

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to work with Artha Collections through Positive Luxury, an incredible collective of progressive brands who challenge the mass produced nature of the fashion, homeware and beauty industries and champion a selection of brands to trust.

Artha work with highly skilled artisans around the world to produce handmade homewares, offering women a chance to select their own working hours in order to ensure they can provide an income for their families without adversely affecting their home life.

The rug that now offers my feet a cosy place to land every morning was created by a single weaver, with its design adapted from traditional rugs in Ndbele tribal villages. When it arrived it seemed a shame to be relegating it to the floor, despite looking perfectly at home.

 

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of redoing my bedroom for some time and think the arrival of the Arrow Rug may just have confirmed that plan. As soon as I had unpacked it and rolled it out on the floor I knew it had to make it to a wall. Exactly how I turn it into a wall hanging is something I’ve been investigating via the medium of Pinterest ever since.

The plans for my bedroom makeover are something for another post (I might even moodboard, who knows), but for now the rug is making each day that little bit comfier in the room as it currently is.

If you’d like to find out a little bit more about Artha Collections and Positive Luxury you can visit their site.

 

Artha Collections

|1.| Arrow Rug |2.| Khullu Throw |3.| Petal Row Cushion |4.| Petal Row Cushion |5.| Storage Basket |6.| Karakul Rug

Leave a comment