… it’s quite incredible how both life-sustaining and life-threatening fire can be… we return home to the cottage after two weeks in the big city and the house is so cold the very air itself hurts my head like an ice-cream headache on the outside. When we first moved to the cottage over ten years ago now we were never sure if it was going to be a weekend holiday cottage or a permanent residence, I guess it’s become something in-between over the years but way back then we decided not to install an oil-fired central heating system like the rest of the village preferring the romantic notion that the one fireplace would sustain us through the cold winter months… bollocks to that. To be fair we have installed a wood-burning stove with a back-boiler which sends hot water to radiators around the house to keep it nice and cosy but you have to light a fire for this to work and when your hands are blocks of ice and you’d rather stay in the car to keep warm it’s not so fun.
Plus our wood-burner seems to have given up the ghost. Time for a new heat-source at Belleau Cottage…
blueberry, star anise and beetroot leather
not being a mum i’ve never had an issue with little ones nagging me for sweets that I know are not particularly healthy for them, not that I particularly worry about candy and sugar when the evils of McDonalds still exists but I get it… i’m also not the ‘craftiest’ person in the blogoshphere but The Viking and I have been trying to eat more superfoods recently but then I read this interesting article about the nonsense that is ‘detox’ which kind of puts the kibosh on all that too… so what are you gonna do? Well we’re not going to do anything, we’re going to try to eat more green things more regularly, reduce our calorie intake if we can help it and get off our arses for perhaps more than it takes to walk from the computer to the kettle each day… oh and snack on these truly natural beauties…
i’ve used some lovely Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup in this fruit leather to add a little sweetness… you could use sugar but this stuff is made from fruit sugars and so I suppose it’s less toxic than regular sugar… the stuff is great for sweetening tea and coffee too.
i’m under the impression you can use any fruit and spices for this as long as you weights are roughly as laid out below (for one tray of fruit leather)… the added beetroot and star anise makes this more adult-friendly than most and they were the perfect balance of sharp, sweet and earthy… we loved them.
1 small raw beetroot (roughly 75g) – finely grated
2 small cox apples – peeled, cored and chopped
two tablespoons water
the juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon carob fruit syrup (not essential)
line a shallow baking tin with microwave-safe cling film… my tin is 23cm x 32cm and worked well as a good size
pre-heat the oven to 50C or its lowest setting with the fan on
place the berries, apples, star anise and grated beetroot into a pan, add the water and let it gently bubble away for about 10 minutes until soft – use the back of a fork to burst the blueberries
add the lemon juice, stir and carefully taste… if you feel it needs a little sugar or carob syrup then add it, then let it bubble away for another few minutes then take it off the heat and let it cool slightly before whizzing with a hand blender until thoroughly pulped
pass it through a sieve to remove those pesky bits of skin and pips and then pour into the lined baking tray
bake for 8 to 12 hours but check it regularly… if it’s still sticky to the touch then it’s not ready
once ready take it out of the oven and carefully peel off the cling film, it should come away really easily but if you’re struggling then cut the leather into a neater rectangle using scissors and then find the corner of the cling film and peel back
roll the whole sheet up in some greaseproof paper and cut into strips – should keep for at least a week in an air-tight container
eat and of course, enjoy!