Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

A year ago when I got together with my boyfriend he asked to make Elderflower cordial. Unfortunately we never got round to making it, but promised each other that we wouldn’t miss the season next year. So this year, once all the rain had cleared up we took our Smudge puppy on our favourite nature walk and picked the flowers we needed for the recipe. 

 
If you have a family, or just like Elderflower cordial, this recipe is so simple that everyone can get involved. Just plan ahead of when you are going to want to have it as it needs some time to infuse. Hope you have as much fun as we did! 


Ingredients 

20 (or more if you like it stronger) x heads of freshly picked Elderflower

2.5kg x white granulated sugar
1.5lt x water

2 x lemons

85g x citric acid (this is hard to find, I found the best place was Amazon.com)

Method

1.Get the largest pan you can (we used an 8lt jam pan which was plenty big enough) and add the sugar and the water. Heat the pan until the all the sugar dissolves without boiling it. 

A watched pot never boils….

    2.Rinse the flowers in cold water to remove any dirt (or creepy crawlies, eeek!). Use a peeler to take the zest off the lemon and then cut the lemons into slices.

    3.Once all the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Now add the clean flowers, the lemon zest and slices and the citric acid. Give a stir and allow to infuse for at least 24 hours (we left ours for two days which gave it a stronger taste).​ 

         
    4. Strain the syrup through a colander which has a clean towel in it to catch all the loose bits so that the syrup comes through clear. Ladle the syrup into the colander and let it dip through slowly.

    5.Whilst that’s filtering, sterilise the bottles. This is where doing a biology degree comes in handy; to sterilise, wash the bottles in hot water and soap (or the dishwasher) and then dry in them in the oven on a low heat. Best to do the lids as well if you’re using screw tops like we did. To ensure the cordial lasts as long as possible though it is best to use a bottle that is  tightly sealed with something like a cork.    

               

    6.Using a funnel, put the syrup in the bottles and store in the fridge. It should keep for 6 weeks, or freeze for future use.

    I found that the recipe makes about 4 wine bottles of cordial. If you’re not happy with it just with water, there’s nothing wrong with adding it to a gin and tonic! 

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    A week on the beach

    A week on the beach

    This week I’ve been back to my home town of Folkestone. Whilst I couldn’t take the chickens with me, I did take my other half and our new puppy, Smudge. Even though she gets on with the chickens and we could have left the chooks to babysit Smudge, we figured we’d give the hens a break from being terrorised by a puppy. Plus, Smudge had to see the beach.

    Being in the middle of the countryside and busy with jobs and chickens, I don’t often get to go home and see my family so this week has been rather special to me. As well as showing the puppy the sea and watching her wind herself up over the sand being too soft to walk on, it was also my nan’s 70th Birthday so it was nice to celebrate that with her and the rest of my family.​

     A natural water baby: Smudges first swim!

    Beach babe: Smudge posing on the beach
    Happy Birthday Granny, hope you had a great day!

    Everyone got to have a cuddle with Smudge and a taste of a few homemade cakes that I made special for the occasion. The Victoria sponge turned out great, but the coffee cake was a little flat (I put in too much coffee!) but still tasted like coffee cake so I was pretty happy with the outcome 🙂 

    Victoria sponge: a yummy success
    Coffee cake: a little flat but no flop on taste
    It’s been a great week with everyone and now that it’s rained all the time since we’ve been back, it’s a shame that it’s all over. Still it’s good to the chickens again 🙂

    Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

    Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

    As promised, here’s a recipe involving our fresh chicken eggs . 2016-05-13 22.19.24

    As a great lover of gin, I couldn’t help myself from adding it to one of my foodie loves, cupcakes! These fabulous little wonders are a great evening treat that goes with a well deserved  G&T, and that doesn’t have to just be at the weekends 😉 . Whilst enjoyable any time of the week, with this weekend being a bank holiday, what better time to treat yourself. If these have caught your eye, here’s how you can make them. I’ve adapted the recipe from Bake It Instinct:

    Ingredients

    The cupcakes:2016-05-13 20.04.30

    • 175g unsalted butter softened
    • 175g golden caster sugar
    • 175g self raising flour
    • 3 medium eggs
    • 4 tbsp tonic water
    • 2tbsp gin

    The icing:

    • 250g unsalted butter softened
    • 500g icing sugar
    • Juice of one lime
    • 4tbsp gin

    The decorations:

    • 1 lime halved and thinly sliced

    Method:

    1. Pre-heat your oven to 170c and place 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tin
    2. Add the sugar and butter into a bowl and beat together until light and creamy. Make sure to clean down the sides to get all the sugar2016-05-13 20.13.39
    3. To this, add the eggs in one at a time and whisking in, making sure each one is fully combined before adding the next2016-05-13 20.27.54
    4. Next, sift the flour in, being careful to fold it in and not to over stir it, then stir in the tonic water
    5. Fill the 12 cases about 2/3 full with the mixture, then bake for approximately 20 mins.They should come out golden, springy and a skewer should come out clean2016-05-13 20.52.03
    6. Once cooked, remove from tins and place on cooling rack
    7. Whilst still hot, pierce each one with a skewer 6 times evenly across the tops and brush as much gin as you like (I went a bit crazy with this step!)2016-05-13 21.18.53
    8. To make the icing, soften the butter with a whisk, slowly adding in the icing sugar and whisking until fully combined
    9. Add to that the juice of lime and the gin into the icing, whipping again until light
    10. Once the cakes are room temperature, pipe the icing on to the cakes using a piping bag and add the slice of lime on top to decorate

      If you have any spare icing, it’s very yummy just to eat on it’s own. Be careful though, it can get you pretty tipsy without you realising it! Happy Bank Holiday from all the chickens. Enjoy 🙂

    Thank you Followers!

    Thank you Followers!

    After a big stint to hand in my Masters project, I’m finally back to writing about the chickens! Yay, I’ve missed being able to be expressive and fun rather than scientific and factual.

    So whilst I’ve been otherwise distracted, the chooks have been a bit quiet on the old social media. But that hasn’t stopped people from following them and the girls and myself can’t thank you all enough for the support!

    Instagram has exploded, there are now 129 followers keeping up with the girls and their pictures on their account @hannahshens . Their live clucking has also attracted a lot of attention, with 70 followers on their Twitter account @HannahsHens . The slowest grower has been this blog with only 9 followers 😦 .

    It’s so easy to follow the girls on any social media, there are links Twitter and Instagram on the side menu here or search for HannahsHens on the app!

    And following the blog is super easy too: if you’re on WordPress there’s a button at the very top of the side menu that adds the blog to your Reader. If you’re not on WordPress you can still follow the blog and have an email sent to you whenever a new post is added. To do that, at the top of the side menu there’s a box to enter your email into and WordPress will send you an automatic email to confirm that you want to follow the blog, it’s that simple!

    Again thanks to everyone already following. It means so much to all of us at Hannah’s Hens that you’ve taken the time to be part of our little gang and we hope that you are enjoying hearing about the girls!

    Eggy madness

    Eggy madness

    This week I’ve been trying to use up the eggs that we’ve been getting from the girls. It seems that we’re getting about 4-5 eggs per day now so the fridge fills up faster than you think. So to get through them, for the first time in my life I’ve been cooking with eggs!

    Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting up the recipes on how to make these scrummy yummy eggy so you can make these too and whatever else I get to making with the eggs.

    Here’s a sample of what I’ve been making:

    Brownies

    2016-04-21 09.52.53-2

    Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce

    2016-04-21 21.35.26

    Victoria Sponge

    2016-04-21 21.35.35

    Bacon Egg Cups

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    But because I still had loads of eggs left I’ve started to sell them at £1 for 6 eggs! Already had some good feedback about them so I’m looking forward to more satisfied customers!

    2016-04-24 11.40.17

    Don’t forget to get all the up-to-date news on the hen’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. To follow just click the links in the right hand menu. Happy clucking!

    The Ladies have Names!

    The Ladies have Names!

    The ladies have been with us for nearly two weeks now and we finally have names for them! Took us long enough but we wanted to make sure they would suit the girls. Here we go, the official introduction:

    The Black Rocks Brian and Shaniqua

    These girls were named by our friend. We have a girl with quite a boy looking face so she has been nick-named Brian, her full official name is Briany though. The other Black Rock has been named Shaniqua because she is fierce like the female WWE wrestler!

    2016-04-05 18.31.32 (2)
    Briany at the front and Shaniqua at the back, standing with their buddy Snowflake.
    The Mottled Leghorns Ginger and Babs

    A group of chickens wouldn’t be complete without a few named after the chickens in “Chicken Run”! I thought that the Mottled Leghorns deserved these prestigious names as they have the personalities for Ginger and Babs. The larger and bossier girl will obviously be Ginger. The other one is a little more clumsy and dippy so I thought that she was a perfect Babs.

    The Warrens Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup

    We have three Warrens so we needed a famous trio to name them after. There was the an idea of naming them after the three good fairies from Sleeping Beauty, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. However, this was just not good enough, so after a little more thinking I remembered one of my favourite shows from my childhood, the Powerpuff Girls and their names are chicken perfection! There is clearly leader and has darker tail feathers than the other girls so she is Blossom. There’s a girl who’s very airy-fairy and she’s a definite Bubbles. The last girl is very moody, she comes up to me clucking away and her feathers are quite darker than the other girls so she is Buttercup.

    2016-04-05 10.17.03
    The gorgeous Warrens, from front to back, Buttercup, Blossom and Bubbles
    The Araucana Snowflake

    This is the only name that just happened at of chance. As she’s the only white chicken she just landed with the name Snowflake. A bit funny as she seems to be the most aggressive to have a very girly name.

    2016-04-05 13.42.24
    Pure White Snowflake
    Other chicken news this week include the girls coming into the house for a little explore. I’d let them out of the enclosure for a bit of free-ranging and left the back doors open as it was a nice day. Next thing I know, the babies had hopped in through the door and wondered through to the kitchen! Then the rest of the gang followed shortly behind and I had a living room full of hens!

    The big step was last night where I thought I would try earning the girls trust a bit more by trying to get them to eat food that I’m holding. I took a scoop of mixed chicken feed in a box and held it out. To my surprise, after a week of trying with no success, the girls came up to me and started pecking straight out of the box with only a little bit of hesitation. I’m such a proud chicken mama!

    2016-04-13 11.49.01-1
    Another day, another treat!
    More chicken news to come, don’t forget to stay up-to-date with the hens with live clucking on Twitter and Instagram. To follow them just click on the links in the menu at the top of the page. Happy Clucking!

    Eggs and Bedtime

    Eggs and Bedtime

    The chucks have been here for four days now and already we have eggs! I’m genuinely surprised because I thought it would take them longer to settle in and de-stress enough to produce eggs. It seems though that they’re getting to know where home is quicker than I thought.

    About Wednesday lunchtime after their first night with us, I heard a lot of clucking from the coop. As this was the most noise I’d heard them make I thought I’d go and check out what was up and, lo and behold, I found our first egg in the nest box! I did a bit of Googling and I think that it came from one of the Black Rocks as they are the oldest and produce darker eggs with a few speckles on them.

    2016-04-06 14.43.53-2
    Our First Egg! From the Black Rock.

    This morning when we let them out we found another egg! This time it was a plain white one and considering the next oldest are the Mottled Leghorns we reckon it was one of them (and after another Google search I’m pretty confident it was one of them).

    2016-04-08 08.44.26-2
    Our second egg from the Leghorn.

    Egg number 3 arrived shortly after at lunchtime (another Black Rock dark speckled egg) and just before popping the chucks to bed we found egg number 4! This again was a plain white one but it was a bit misshapen and not formed very well. This is probably the first egg that one of the Mottled Leghorns had lain as, even though they are  second oldest, they are only 24 weeks old and have only just started laying so she has probably not quite got the hang of it yet. In a week or so though they should be perfectly formed though. They’ll still taste wonderful though!

    Speaking of getting the hang of things, we had to teach them when and where to go to bed. On the first night they needed a little persuading to go into the coop. In fact we had to herd them up and pop some of the younger ladies, our Warrens, in by hand because they didn’t like the ladder.

    We did that Wednesday and Thursday night too but tonight we made progress! We didn’t have to pick up any stragglers or even herd them into the corner by the coop. As soon as they saw us come into the enclosure, they knew it was bedtime and all went up one by one (despite the hold up at the entrance because they all wanted to sleep at that end but a bit of pushing past sorted that out!).

    Breakfast on the other hand is an easier affair, where all you have to do is open the coop door and everyone is out and ready for breakfast! Here’s some of them making their way out:

    Morning march for breakfast! #chickens #breakfast #happychickens

    A post shared by Hannah's Hens (@hannahshens) on

    So all is well in our little chicken haven, they’re settling in really well and seem really happy. The next steps are to get them used us and to being held so it makes health checks easier and most importantly, finalising names for our lovely ladies! Happy clucking all!!