Lemon and ginger tea (concentrated jelly)

I’ve seen a few variations of this in recent months, from no-cook, to fresh-but-doesn’t-keep-long, to liquid, and none of the ones I’ve seen seemed to match my own little version that I started making a number of years ago, so here’s my take on it!

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You’ll only need about a teaspoon to make a nice, strong cuppa. I personally love it with a bit of cinnamon and a chamomile teabag thrown in, though I’m told it’s really nice with black or green tea as well.
I’ve been asked why I use a jelly rather than a syrup and it’s simple: it’s less messy. I find that syrups require twisting of spoons, frequent wiping of the jar and any sides or surfaces it happens to touch, and somehow I’ll still end up making a mess. By adding a jelling agent, the chances of making such a mess get reduced significantly. I make it into a very firm jelly, but obviously go with whatever you prefer!
  • 4-6″ root ginger, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3-4 lemons, cut into slices
  • 150-200ml lemon juice concentrate
  • 2-3 heaped tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 jar honey (I usually use 250g, but just go with whatever you happen to have)
  • Setting agent (gelatin, or there’s vegan alternatives like agar)

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Have one or a few containers ready, large enough to contain however much you’re making (my last batch I added an extra two lemons and made up a 1 litre jar). Don’t worry about using enormously precise quantities or timings, most of what I’ve written here, as with most of my recipes, is just a rough guide and frankly you just can just wing it. I know I do.

Place the ginger cubes, lemon juice concentrate, dark muscovado sugar, and 1/4 of the honey into a saucepan and bring it to the boil, mixing frequently.
Once boiling, fold in the lemon slices and turn down to a medium-low heat. Keep them simmering for ~15 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and thoroughly mix in the remaining 3/4 jar of honey. Follow the instructions for whichever setting agent it is you’re using and add that to the mixture. Pour the mixture into your prepared jars and leave to cool down before sticking it in the fridge.

It can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 months. When you want to use it, just take a teaspoon of jelly and mix it with hot water, herbal tea, or how ever else you fancy it.15233301196_f8ebf01090_h

Cooling banana & peanut butter dog treats

As the temperature is once again rising, and I’ve already covered banana and peanut butter milkshakes for the humans, I figure it’s only right I share a similar cooling treat for the dogs!

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  • 1 bunch of bananas (you can sometimes get them reduced to clear, which are then super cheap and would be fine for this!)
  • 200ml water
  • 1 pot of peanut butter (I use a pot of tesco value as it’s super cheap and the dogs seem to love it all the same)

Get a tray suitable for freezing that’s roughly 6″ x 8″ (and obviously ensure you have the space in thefreezer for it!), line the base of the tray with greaseproof paper.

Take the bananas and, along with the 200ml water, either mash up them up with a fork/potato masher or place them in a blender/food processor. Depending on what you feel like, you can leave it a little lumpy or carry on until it’s completely smooth. It doesn’t make a difference which.

Pour the squished up banana into the prepared tray and place it in the freezer, leaving it there until completely frozen through. Once the banana is frozen, and still leaving it in the freezer for the moment, it’s time to move on to the peanut butter layer.

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Empty the jar of peanut butter into a heat-safe bowl and place it into a larger bowl or a saucepan filled with hot water. Once the peanut butter has warmed up a good amount, melting into a consistency that would be ideal for spreading, take the banana layer out of the freezer.

Have a spoon in your hand ready, as the peanut butter will only stay spreadable for a short time!

Pour it over the banana layer and immediately spread it out using the back of the spoon. Once it’s been spread out, place it back in the freezer to cool the peanut butter layer, and refreeze the banana one.

When it’s frozen through you can remove it and, using a hot knife, scour lines into the top which will make it easier to snap pieces off. If you’d prefer (and this is what I do), cut it into cubes and put back in the freezer in a storage container. This way they’re fumble free and ready to use whenever!

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Fishy ice cubes
Method one:

Another that my dogs, as well as rats, absolutely love is ice cubes with a hint of fish. If you use tinned tuna chunks or steaks, be sure to get them in spring water (it costs about the same in most brands). Drain off the water from the tin into a jug and also mix in 1 small forkful of the tuna itself. Top the jug up with water to whatever level you think you might want (it only needs a little hint of fish, so you can get up to as much as 1 1/2 litres). Pour the tuna/water mix into ice tube trays and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, just take them out whenever you want to give your dog, cat, or rat a little treat to cool them off.

Method two:

At most supermarkets you can get some really cheap, frozen ‘white fish’ steaks (usually pollock). When you want to make up some cubes, simmer one of the steaks in water on the hob for a short while, before mushing it up with a fork or placing it in a blender. Top the water up to the amount you want to use, and just like with the tuna cubes, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

Cheese, spinach and chilli omelette

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 Serves 2.

  • 4 large eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 sliced tomato, or a few halved baby tomatoes
  • 4-5 slices of bell pepper
  • 1 hot chilli, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced and boiled for 5 minutes
  • broken up slices of red leicester
  • 1/2 tin kidney beans

14980966167_21a92627dc_kUsing a blender, mix the eggs, milk and spinach together. Heat some oil in a pan and pour in the mixture into it, turn the heat down low
and lay the other ingredients into the egg mix, leaving the cheese and tomatoes until last.

After 10 minutes remove the pan from the hob and place it under the grill, on a medium heat, for a further 4-6 minutes to cook the top side. Make sure to keep an eye on it as it may not take so long, the times are based on my perpetually useless cooker and the omelette being about an inch thick.