There should be photo's to go with this post but I'm having problems loading them so I'm afraid you will just have to imagine the sticky mess my kitchen was in during my jam making session, and the yummy muffins (although if I'm honest about that, the lack of muffin photo's has nothing to do with the problems I've been having with blogger, and everything to do with having eaten them long before I thought about getting the camera out).
If there is one thing I hate, it is throwing food away. It is vulgar and unnecessary, and an unfortunate bi-product of our culture of over-indulgence. I grew up in a home where money was tight, meals were simple and nothing was wasted. I'm sure my Mum worried herself about providing for my brother and I and us not having the things she would have liked to give us, but you know what? I'm glad of that. It taught us that there are more important things in life than spending money. It also taught me how to rustle up something for dinner from nothing and how to make sure every penny spent was put to good use. They are skills I am very glad to have.
And so the thought of throwing away the sloes after making delicious Sloe Gin, pained me. It seemed such a waste. So I topped up the bottle with cider and watched the sloes work their magic once more. The Slider it created was thoroughly enjoyable (even though we probably didn't leave it as long as we should. Patience may be a virtue, but it's one I don't posses) and far too easy to drink. Which once again left me with sloes I was reluctant to throw away. After going through the handful of options I found on line I plumped for Jam, especially as I also had a few apples going soft and wrinkly in the fruit bowl. Stewing up the sloes and apples was easy enough, but then what should have been a relatively simple task of straining the stew through a sieve to remove the stones and apple peel became somewhat harder (and messier) when I couldn't find my sieve. It took well over an hour to do by hand, during which I somehow managed to cover the worktop, floor and me with sloe gunk. Despite guessing at the required quantity of sugar, I now have several jars of Slider Jam in my fridge which will hopefully see us through the next few months at least. Jam on toast is elevated from a humble breakfast, to a wonderful treat when you've made the jam yourself, and even more satisfying when the bread and butter are homemade too.
It wasn't just the sloes I needed to use up however. If you read my Holy Supper post at new year you'll know I made Rum Nicky in honour of the grandmother I never knew. For this I needed 12o/z of dates but having left all my grocery shopping until the last minute could only get hold of a 2lb bag. Now I'm not a huge fan of dates, they are not something I would usually buy, but they do take me right back to my childhood. My grandma always bought a big box of dates every christmas and the taste of them transports me back instantly to her cosy living room with a tiny tinsel christmas tree and black and white T.V. They were good days. And so having over a pound of dates sitting in my kitchen cupboard was just too much of a temptation and I often found myself absent-mindedly dipping in. Great for the memories, not so good for my waist line! I wanted to use them up, fast.
Having looked through my cupboards and the contents of my fridge I knew I also had a half of a large pot of natural yogurt teetering on its 'use by' date and a couple of over ripe bananas. (I like my bananas barely ripe and simply can't eat them once they've gone over though I know lots of people like them that way). It's been a while since I made muffins, so out came the muffin trays. I adapted a recipe I had for pecan muffins to the point where it bore no resemblance to the original and kept my fingers crossed. As the Mad Druid fell on them like a one man plague of locusts I think I can say they were a success. In case you want to try them, here's the recipe.
6oz (175g) Self Raising Flour
2oz (50g) porridge oats
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 oz (50g) sugar
2 large tablespoons golden syrup (the original recipe called for 5 oz sugar but I was running low so used what sugar I had and topped up with syrup).
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil (recipe said 6 but I reduced that to account for the extra runniness of the syrup)
1/4 (150ml) pint natural yogurt (recipe called for buttermilk but I find yogurt works fine)
1 egg, beaten
2 mashed bananas
dates (I didn't weigh them, just used what I'd got left after snacking on them, I guess about 10 or 12 oz)
I prefer to use the old imperial measurements because that's how my grandma taught me, but I have included the metric for those more familiar with that system. I'm sorry, I couldn't give an equivalent in cups for my American readers as I've never managed to get my head around that system and am not sure how to convert. *slaps own wrist* must try harder!
Preheat oven to Gas 6/ 200 C
Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, oats, bicarbonate of soda, sugar) and mix well.
In a separate bowl mix egg, yogurt, sunflower oil and golden syrup, bananas and dates.
Lightly stir the egg mixture into the flour.
Divide between muffin tins, then bake for 20-25 mins until golden.
I made 12 generous sized muffins but would easily have been able to stretch that to 18, had I been able to find my extra muffin tray, for a less calorific treat. As I said, they didn't last long but if you're more restrained than we are they keep well in the freezer and make an excellent, high energy snack for long winter walks.