Ginger Beer Plant

Ginger Beer Plant

This is for Patrick. Thursday Mary used to tend our Ginger Beer Plant, kept in the cupboard in the corner of the kitchen, with the fuse box. I recall it was a particularly tangy beer, nice and sparky.

Patrick – I hope you can follow this recipe. Can you let us know how your propagation goes? And I hope there’s not a sticky explosion, as per the Elderflower Cordial incident.

If anyone has any tips on how to start and maintain a ginger beer plant, please comment below. Especially, if you have troubleshooting tips and a recipe using fresh ginger.


UPDATE: 11 December 2016

Thanks to the callout via Facebook, Di Ingelse recommended the CWA (Country Women’s Association) recipe via Burke’s Backyard. This looks like a goer to me. I recommend reading some of the comments, and as my sister-in-law says, “Take cover” when you store and bottle this – it can be quite explosive!
Let me know how it works (or not) for you.


Turmeric cake – variations on a theme

Turmeric cake – variations on a theme

Cake is delicious with natural yoghurt and a cup of tea or coffee!A T-cake, with a difference.

I really amazed myself with this one. Honestly didn’t think it would work.

Combining a recent penchant for all things turmeric and my inveterate tendency to adapt recipes this cake at the outset possibly had a 50/50 chance of success.

Having just made another batch of Jamu (turmeric health tonic), I couldn’t bear to throw out the mulch of turmeric, ginger and lemon. I recalled a recipe JB had given me for ‘turmeric tea cake’ but could not find it, so another adaptation of the ‘Cut & Come Again’ cake has emerged.

I will say upfront that I think almond meal might be better than flour, but that experiment will have to wait for another day.

First up – make the Jamu.

This is a wonderful ‘tea’ that dear friend Annie introduced me to, and which is known in Indonesia as a daily, trusted, health tonic – best drunk first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Turmeric has been used for centuries in foods and many believe it has a multitude of health benefits (e.g. anti cancer due to its anti-inflammatory, detox and anti-bacterial properties); some of which have been evidenced in medical research. Curcumin is the active ingredient but by using the whole natural form, you gain from the other properties too. Google it!

I like the idea of drinking this as an anti-inflammatory treatment, instead of taking ibuprofen regularly – I think it works, but possibly in a placebo sense?

Waiver: I have taken to throwing this together (measuring by eye and adjusted to my taste), so these quantities are rough estimates – you will find plenty other recipes that differ from my version, online. It really is delicious; not ghastly as you might expect. Adapt to your own tastes and make it as sweet as you like.


  • 1 cup fresh organic turmeric root – roughly chopped
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, preferably organic – grated
  • half a lemon – the zest and the juice (alt. lime is good too, but stronger flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 cups water


I have done this in two different ways. Both seem to work equally well, but result in a different consistency of ‘tonic’. I’m not sure which is better for retaining the healthy properties.  A) By simmering the fresh ingredients first and then mulching them results in a creamy paste. B) By mulching the fresh ingredients first and then simmering, you will have a more liquid concentrate.

Here’s the A version.

  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  2. Then use a hand blender or place everything in your blitzer/food processor, until as smooth as you can get it.
  3. Pour the mixture through a sieve or a cloth bag into a jug or jar, to remove all the fibres. (Don’t throw these away, you need them for the cake!)
  4. Store in the fridge for up to a week. (This should be just enough for one cup of tea, every day for a week).
  5. To make your refreshing wake-up tea – simply stir a tablespoon of the ‘tonic’ in a cup of hot water. Add extra honey to taste.

Wee note: turmeric stains everything yellow – just saying.

Turmeric Cake (variations on a theme)

Heat oven to 170 degrees centigrade. Grease and line a regular cake or loaf tin.

Mix together dry ingredients:

  • 140g wholemeal flour
  • 50g coconut flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Mix together the wet ingredients:

  • the leftover turmeric, ginger, lemon mulch
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 175ml light olive oil or vegetable oil

Combine the wet & the dry ingredients. Pour into the cake or loaf tin. Decorate with raw almonds and bake for 30-35 minutes.

I enjoyed this with natural yoghurt but I’m guessing it would be good with cream or ricotta too with a drizzle of honey.

Note: The cake is delicious eaten warm from the oven; equally the next day, when it will be more moist.


  • If you substitute the flour for almond meal, use 3 eggs, separated. Mix the yolks with the wet ingredients and then into the dry ones. Whisk the eggs whites until stiff and fold into the mixture.
  • Warm lemon and honey together and drizzle over the cake.

Please let me know if you try this and how it worked out for you. Comments very very welcome.

2016-10-09-t-cake1 2016-10-09-t-cake2


In homage to Pamela and Ross: both adored ginger, particularly Ross who felt it was good for the heart and arthuritis. Pamela also enjoyed a bit of turmeric in her scrambled egg, courtesy of Patrick’s insistence, in her last days. Pamela always advocated for organic, fresh ingredients, free range eggs, wild honey and fresh-from-the-cow dairy.

Cut and Come Again – easy and flexible cake recipe

Cut and Come Again – easy and flexible cake recipe

I try, but don’t always manage it, to make a cake on a Sunday for afternoon tea but also to pad out the school lunch boxes during the week. I think this recipe may have come out of a Country Living magazine way back when. It’s so easy to remember (175g is the main amount) and is super quick to make. It’s not a gourmet cake by any means – just an everyday cake!

The basic recipe is for a plain cake using olive oil with some lemon zest & juice for flavouring. You could use a regular sunflower oil if you prefer. I have adapted the recipe many times – adding cocoa, seasonal fruit, coconut, muesli, bananas – whatever takes my fancy really or whatever needs using up. Recently I’ve taken to making it as an upside down cake. Yes, it’s more butter and sugar – but this adds an extra richness – and makes the cake a perfect pudding too.

I call this cake ‘Cut and come again’ – just because it’s easy to keep cutting another slice to have with another cup of tea, but also because it’s so quick and easy to make. Traditionally it may have been the name of a fruit cake – but I also like to think of The Magic Pudding – who really was a cut-and-come-again puddingy cake of a fellow!

Olive Oil Cut and Come Again Cake

2016-05-01 12.32.53 2016-04-23 16.44.14 2016-04-23 16.42.05









For the basic recipe…

Whizz together:
3 large eggs
175ml light olive oil
175g caster sugar
(1 tsp vanilla)

Mix in:
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Juice + zest of a lemon.

Pour batter into a greased 9 inch round cake tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees C.

When warm you could  pour a mixture of dissolved sugar in lemon on top (as per a regular lemon cake) or just sprinkle with icing sugar.

Adaptations I have tried (& which actually worked out ok!):

  • Fruit: simple cut some fruit (I’ve used apples, cherres, plums, tinned peaches) and place on top of the batter before putting in oven.
  • Upside down version: cream together approx 75g butter and half a cup of brown sugar and spread this on the bottom of your already greased tin. Place cut fruit on top (I’ve used plums, apples, pineapple). And then pour the batter over the top. In the picture above left, I have also added 2 tbsp cocoa powder as part of the 175g flour. If you want a deeper toffee-type topping, just cream more butter and sugar!
  • Banana & Muesli: I usually have quite a lot of black bananas piling up in the freezer, so I add 4 squishy bananas to the wet mixture and after adding the usual dry ingredients, I add about a cup of muesli, which absorbs the extra moisture from the bananas. If this isn’t enough, I add a handful of shredded coconut or half a cup of coconut flour. (NB coconut flour is amazingly absorbent and will densify any pudding or cake, or so I’ve found anyway.)
  • Coconut: I haven’t tried this yet – using coconut oil instead of olive oil or maybe half and half.

Please let me know how your experiments go with this recipe. Comment below and post your photos too 🙂

[Health warning: many of the recipes on this site contain flour & sugar. I always recommend organic, single origin ingredients, preferably unbleached, and will endeavour to offer alternatives. As we so very painfully know, cancer cells love sugar – so please moderate your sweet treats.]

Colin’s pudding

Colin’s pudding

Lynne Lowrie from Blegbie in Humbie has sent through this recipe for a quick pudding option.

Quite often Pamela and Ross would team up for casual dinner with neighbours Colin and Lynne. There were always plenty of cooking apples from the small garden orchard to be used up and Pamela liked to indulge Colin’s penchant for puddings. A hard working farmer can certainly be allowed to partake in as much cake and pudding as he likes!

The derivation of this recipe is a bit iffy, but our guess is that it is another Ida Wilkie / Pamela Flockhart ‘throw it altogether and bung it in the oven’ type of affair.

Apple and Almond Cake
Serves 4

12oz apples, peeled and chopped
6oz sugar
5oz butter or marg
2 eggs
½ tsp almond essence
8oz S.R flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
Milk for consistency (Lynne to confirm?)
Sprinkling of flaked almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon

Turn on the oven and heat to 325°F or 160°C. Grease a 9 inch tin.

You pretty much mix everything together, but I find this sequence the most efficient unless of course you have a super dooper food mixer.

  1. Cream the sugar and butter (or margarine).
  2. Beat in the eggs and the almond essence.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (flour and BP) spoon by spoon and mix,
  4. Add some milk until the mixture is a heavy batter. (Is that right, Lynne? Other
    wise the mixture is very thick.)

Place half the mixture in a 9 inch tin or baking dish, cover with apples and top with remaining mixture. Sprinkle with the almond, cinnamon and sugar topping.

Bake for 1 ½ hours at 325°F or 160°C. Serve with ice-cream or natural Greek yoghurt.

To make this recipe for 6 people just use one and a half times the ingredients.

My photos aren’t the best but hopefully you get the giste.

[Health warning: many of the recipes on this site contain flour & sugar. I always recommend organic, single origin ingredients, preferably unbleached, and will endeavour to offer alternatives. As we so very painfully know, cancer cells love sugar – so please moderate your sweet treats.]

Quick Apple and Almond Cake in a bowl

Colin’s Pudding


The Lowrie Family

Thank you Lynne!

Pam Flockhart’s Carrot Cake

It was great to hear from the Bolton family this week (both here in Perth and in Humbie).

Nicola has sent through one of Mum’s recipes which she says is, “Fantastic! A firm favourite with our family.” Indeed, it could be the recipe that was used for our wedding cake!

I haven’t had a chance to bake it yet in order to take photos for this post. If you do – please send me your photos.

It’s traditional to top a carrot cake with sweet lemony cheese topping, however we usually eat it without. If you are making this for guests, the local fete or school fundraiser, it’s probably nicer to add the topping. (Make sure you label the cake with the ingredients, so folks with food allergies are forewarned – you could leave out the nuts and add sultanas instead).

The method looks super easy – all the best!

Prep: Heat oven to 350 F (180 C) and line 2 x 8” square or  2 x 9” round or 2 x 2lb loaf tins with greaseproof baking paper.

Method: Cream sugar and oil. Beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients, then carrots and nuts. Bake 350 F (180 C) for about 50 mins.

12 oz (350g) soft brown sugar
12 oz (400 mls) corn oil
4 eggs
1 lb (454g) sifted plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
12 oz (350g) grated carrots
8 oz (227g) chopped walnuts or pecans or mixed nuts.

8 oz (227g) cream cheese ( e.g. Light Philly)
4 oz (115g) unsalted butter
1 lb (454g) sifted icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice.

Method: Cream together cream cheese and butter.  Beat in sugar. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Spread over cooled cake.

I’d love to hear if you have made this and how it worked out for you. Please use the comments box below.

Rose Hip Jelly

Longwood Crab Apples Dear Linda,

It’s great to hear that the Longwood garden is producing abundantly this autumn and that the crab apples are plentiful. Please send some photos.

At the thought of it, I can almost taste the lovely jelly that Mum used to make to go with Sunday roasts, in particular game, but really with any roast meat. Crab apple was the usual, but also small jars of jelly made from hedgerow booty.

However, I have not yet found the Crab Apple Jelly Recipe but here is one for Rose Hip. (Have you found the jelly bag yet? It’s looks a bit like an upside down Gandalf felt hat – but a yellowy brown colour.)

All the best – let us know if the jams and preserves are a hit at the Humbie Hub. Carola x


(BTW folks, when I say/write ‘jelly’ I am not referring to ‘jello’ or the dessert type of jelly, it’s a clear jam-like condiment – similar to cranberry sauce that complements baked ham at Christmas.)


Read more about the Healing Power of Rose Hips.

2lbs rose hips
2lbs apples
2 pints (5 cups) water
Juice of 1 lemon
White sugar

Wash hips and apples and chop roughly. Place fruit in separate pans & add half of the water to each.  Add lemon juice to the hips. Bring both pans to the boil and simmer till fruit is soft. Place juice and pulp together in the jelly bag and hang over a large pot or clean container. Do not squeeze. Measure juice and allow 1lb (2 cups) sugar to each pint of juice (2 and 1/2 cups). Bring to boil and boil rapidly when sugar is dissolved. Skim and bottle in clear small jars. (Jellies can develop a bit of a furry surface mould – which is harmless – but that’s why I recommend small jars – because they are eaten up faster!)


Sloe Gin (or damson or plum)

Whilst rummaging for the crab apple and rose hip jelly recipes in Mum’s compendium of recipes, I came across the Sloe Gin, as previously mentioned in the Cumquat Gin recipe post.

SLOE GIN or Damson or Plum

sloes-11-10-09An equal weight of sloes, plums or damsons.
& Sugar
& Gin
(about 1.5 pints to 1lb fruit = that’s equivalent 1litre to 600g fruit, I think)

Prick fruit all over with a needle and place in a wide necked jar with an equal weight of sugar.

Fill jar within an inch of the top with gin. Seal tightly.

Shake every few days till sugar is dissolved. Then leave for at least 3 months before drinking. (I suggest about 6-12 months minimum.)

Strain & bottle & use fruit for flavouring ice-cream, a dessert mousse or topping a cheesecake.

If you live in Australia – and have no idea what I’m talking about re ‘sloes’ – you can buy a commercial version made by Sipsmith. And for those of you making your own (always better and ‘healthier’ to do so), you will raise the bar of your Sloe Gin if you use a good quality gin like Hendricks or Sipsmith, but it’s likely that Tesco’s best will do.Sloe Gin


[Photo of sloes courtesy of a great post by war time housewife ]

Quick Marmalade

I found this recipe in my Mum’s recipe book but, as with the majority of them, I know not where it originated, so apologies for the lack of acknowledgement. If you know from whence it came, please let me know.

2015-Sep-Grapefruit001Some people cut up the fruit first and soak it overnight in the water, but it is much easier to cut after it is cooked.
1.5lbs (700g) Seville oranges (well washed)
4 pints (1.8 litres) water, plus half pint for pips
1 lemon
3 lbs (1.4kg) sugar

Bring the whole oranges and the lemon to the boil in the 4 pints of water. Simmer in a closely covered pan, until very tender (approx 1 hour or more.)

Remove from cooker. When cool enough to handle, take out the fruit and chop it up, remove the pips, and return fruit to the pan. Boil the pips for 10 minutes in half a pint of water and then strain onto the fruit and water in the big pan. [The pips contain natural pectin, which helps the marmalade to set.]

2015-Sep-Grapefruit002Boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes. Add the 3lbs of sugar and continue to boil rapidly until the sugar is dissolved and the marmalade is at setting point (about 20-25 minutes).

To test for ‘setting’, place a couple of saucers in the freezer for about 5 minutes until chilled. Pour a teaspoon of the marmalade onto the cold saucer and return to freezer for a minute. The marmalade is ready to set if when you push it with your finger it wrinkles. (The 2nd saucer is there, if you need another go!)

Bottle in clean, sterilised, screw top jars.

P.S. Judy adds some beer instead of part of the water. She also uses brown sugar to make a very dark marmalade.

Carola’s variations:
Well, typical me, when attempting this recipe for the first time I didn’t follow it verbatim. I had a basket of grapefruits not oranges (thank you Juliette at Media on Mars for the fruit). Also, I don’t like super sweet preserves, so I cut the sugar by 30% and used organic raw sugar. Additionally, I experimented with some spices – by adding chilli flakes, cardamon, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.

2015-Sep-Grapefruit003This approach meant a few challenges, as the mystery behind rich and well set marmalade making is the scientific and perfect balance of the acid, pectin and sugar, boiled at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Not to be put off – I went ahead anyway – and I can probably say that the results are an ‘acquired taste’! We like it, but you may not!

Le me know how you get on – comments welcome.



Cumquat Gin

This is so easy to make but the hard part is waiting for it to be ready – anywhere from 6 months to 16 years!

2015-Sep-Preserves021Wash cumquats. Prick with a fork and place in a Kilner jar or jam them into a clean gin or whisky bottle. Fill almost to top. Add sugar (raw organic) to fill approx one third of the container. Top up with gin. Secure lid. Shake rattle and roll to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

For the first couple of weeks, give the jar or bottle a roll to mix things up each day. (I’ve heard that some people put them in the boot of their car to roll about! Wouldn’t want them to break tho’!). After that, put away in a dark cupboard and forget about them for at least 6 months.


It may be possible to hasten the process by boiling the cumquats in sugar and water for about 15 minutes, cool and then add the gin. I haven’t tried this yet but I will when the next batch of windfalls arrive at my door.

Also, I’ve read that some people prefer to peel the rind from the cumquats, being careful to avoid the bitter pith as this makes a better, richer flavour. If you have the patience, give it a go. I prefer ‘quick and easy’.

I haven’t made sloe gin but I think similar approach probably works – prick with a cocktail stick, add sugar and gin. Mum also used to intoxicate plums in brandy.

As always let me know how you get on and if you have any other recipes and tips.




Forage and Preserve

Pamela loved to forage in hedgerows and to make use of seasonal ‘free’ produce. And, if there’s a glut, you preserve. That could mean jams, marmalades, chutneys, pickles and liqueurs (also the famous exploding elderflower cordial). Here, in Australia, it’s spring and there’s plenty of citrus about. In Scotland, I suspect there are late summer fruits and maybe brambles and sloes, ready for the picking in the hedgerows.


Cumquat’s from Annie’s garden.

I’ve been on an amateur adventure into the land of marmalades, pickles and liqueurs lately – channeling Mum, as I can’t bear to see lawn-fuls of fruit going to waste. Although I don’t have ample citrus trees, many of my friends do and I have always liked the idea of homemade goodies to give away at Christmas or to donate to a charity fundraising stall. So…


16 year old gin-soaked cumquats! (These will be going in this year’s Christmas Cake.)

On discovering a quick marmalade recipe in Pamela’s recipe book, I put a call out for fruit and I searched for jars to prepare. I came across two Kilner jars of fruit in the back of a cupboard. Mum had preserved cumquats in gin and plums in brandy about 16 years ago, when we lived in Greenwich, Sydney – and these were the very same jars with the same said fruit! Although the majority of the liquid had long been consumed, some gin still remained – and wow, it’s good stuff!

Perfect neat or mixed as a cocktail with a squeeze of lime and a slice or two of fresh cumquat. Cheers to Mum & Dad.

Recipes coming along in the next couple of posts for Quick Marmalade, Lime Pickle and Cumquat Gin.


Pamela and Ross, circa 1950. Cumquat gin, circa 1999 – served 2015.


Cumquat gin, with tonic, squeeze of fresh lime, slices of fresh cumquat.