Monday, June 15, 2009

Not so much preserving, per se, as cooking WITH preserves.

OK. So I'm a bit of a slap-dash cook. I'm not really organised enough to have things like measuring spoons, cups, sifters and mixing bowls all easily accessible. Nor do I have metres upon metres of empty benchspace in which to do things.

I also have hordes of hungry children.

Normally the two of these things result in home-brand milk arrowroot biscuits. BUT NOT ANY MORE!!!!

With the onset of a DECREASING amount of hours spent at work outside of the home, (starting today YAY!) I decided to stepford things up a little in my home. And I baked muffins.

I know I've baked before, but it's been a long time.

Tomorrow is playgroup day, and I was conscious that there is a little lass at our playgroup who can't have eggs at all due to allergies. I also remembered the upteen jars of plum butter that I had preserved and bottled the year before last that STILL hadn't been opened, sitting in my newly organised preserving cupboard.

So I put the two things together in a some-what haphazard manner and came up with these little gems, mostly allergy safe (unless you happen to be gluten intolerant, in which case use a gluten-free SR flour substitute - or avoiding salicylates, in which case you might not want to make these at all - sorry!!!). They are dairy and egg free however.

Please excuse the measurements. I kinda didn't make any. LOL

Grab yourself a largish bowl, and tip into it a 250 mL jar of plum butter. (oh. haven't blogged the plum butter instructions. Will do so ASAP!)

Add about 3 heaped teaspoons of brown sugar (leave out if you added sugar in your plum butter in the first place!)

Throw in a handful or two of dried cranberries (my fav. dried fruit of all time!)

Then add approx. 7 heaped tablespoons of self raising flour (can you tell I did this a little bit at a time??) and about half a cup of rice milk. Stir lots. Ask small children to stir even more.

Take back the bowl, add more rice milk and stir until you have a general muffin-like consistancy. Smells good already!!!

Now, after the kids have filled your mini muffin trays with mini muffin paper cases (this is actually very important - with no butter the muffins will tend to stick and you kinda have to eat them out of the cases, rather than peel them out first!), drop a heaped teaspoon of mix into each muffin case.

Stick in a pre=heated oven (180deg C) and cook for around 10 minutes.

If you are using BIG muffin tins and cases, I reckon about 25 mins would be fine.

They come out very nice, not as sweet as one might expect. If you have a sweet tooth, you will need to ice them - but my kids are loving them, and there might even be enough left for playgroup tomorrow.

I'd love to add photos but I've had a huge camera disaster, so that won't be happening. But they are little muffins that have met with my kids approval, and are a great use for the plum butter (or apple butter, peach butter, whatever really!) that you might have lying in your preserving cupboard, after being inspired by a random forum post, a slow cooker and a visit from our local "plum man" who trots over every year selling us bags of his cherry plums for practically nix.


ETA: Plum Butter. OK I'm probably not going to have a lot of time to blog it up nicely, so here goes.

There is no butter in it. There is no butter in any of the fruit butters I have preserved. And they are REALLY easy to make.

Get out your slow cooker. Fill it with fruit (pips and skins included, just halve them or whatever is comfortable!) Turn it on to low heat. Add about an inch of water or fruit juice in the bottom of the slow cooker to stop things burning. Leave it going for a good 12 hours. If you like, and your fruit is really juicy, leave the lid slightly askew during the last 4 hours to let some of the liquid evaporate out again. You can add whatever you like to it - I did some apple butter with a hint of cinnamon and cloves, and a little bit of sugar. I did some peach butter too. It's all good.

Once it's all cooked into mush, scoop it out and push it through a fine sieve. Messy, but effective. Throw out the seeds/pips/skins (or feed em to the chooks once they've cooled down, or hurl into the compost) then ladel the resultant gloop into sterilised hot glass jars, wip rims, put on lids and waterbath for 10 minutes.

You're done. And it's good in muffins. *grin*

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