Sunday, 12 January 2014

I Made Some Fudge! But I Eated It :(


I love to have a little dabble in the kitchen, especially on Christmas Day as the Christmas Lunch is my domain! I really like the whole prepping and cooking of it all and trying to time it all so its all hot when served and not had to be reheated or Gods forbid (All seven of them) have to be put in the microwave!

Yesterday I finally made good on the threat I had been making over the last few weeks that I wanted to make some fudge.  I remember my Mum making fudge when I was a kid and the smell when she was making it was simply divine! My mum used to love making it but I always remember it being a bit of a hit and miss thing, sometimes it was fudge, sometimes it turned into toffee instead, either way it was always delicious. In fact Mum even preferred it when it turned to toffee.

After reading up on some fudge recipes online, i found out that the difference between fudge and toffee is about 5° Celsius in what I call the "Setting Process". The idea is you have to get your mixture to between 115°C - 118°C. A few degrees under , the Sugar doesn't dissolve properly, and you end up with fudge that has a very gritty texture and a sugary taste. A few Degrees too hot and it will turn your fudge into a hard toffee mixture.

The ingredients are really simple for just your ordinary vanilla flavoured fudge but you can add little bits or change things as you see fit. The recipe I used is as follows :

397g tin of Condensed Milk
115g-125g of Salted Butter (or unsalted if you prefer)
350g of Caster Sugar
100g of Barbados Cane Sugar
150ml of Milk (Semi skimmed or full fat)
1/2 - 1 Tbsp Vanilla essence or flavouring

Its fine to use just 450g of caster sugar in the recipe but i decided I would use up the rest of a packet of the Barbados sugar I had lying around, as long as the total amount of sugar is 450g.

and that's it! really simple but the trick is in the cooking. If you can get hold of a food thermometer it will make the set a lot easier.

Step 1 - The Mix

Take a large nonstick saucepan and add the butter and melt over a low heat until liquid, then add the milk and condensed milk and mix until smooth. Once smooth add the sugar and the vanilla essence and increase the heat to a medium and continue to stir until all the sugar is dissolved, this should take about 5 minutes.

Step 2 - The Set

Now this bit is the trickiest part of the recipe. On a high heat you need to heat the mixture to between 115°C-118°C, this will take 10-15 minutes stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon or spatula, scraping the bottom and sides as you do so so no sugar sticks to the base and side of the pan. If you have the thermometer then ans soon as the mixture hits the temperature mark then immediately remove from the heat and continue to beat the mixture as it cools.

Step 3 - The Pour

Continue to beat the mixture until it starts to bind together and not stick to the side of the pan. it will start to take on a bit of a glossy look to it, when this happens its ready to pour into a lightly greased brownie tin to set.

it should take about 60-90 minutes to set properly, once set upturn the pan and gently tap the bottom of the tin, the cut into pieces.

This is how mine turned out. Yummy!


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Result : Its A...........


Thats right folks! The new Webster is a boy!  I was so convinced it was going to be a girl I was a little stunned to see a rather prominent set of boys "tools" floating on the screen this afternoon.

Having said that I shouldnt have been too surprised as my Dad is one of 8 boys, before my Granddad got his little girl!

Anomaly scan
The Anomaly scan is primarily a scan to identify any problems that might be present with our growing baby. It is able to identify a whole host of physical abnormalities from Spina Bifida, which is a condition where the Spinal chord of the baby is protruding out of the space between two vertebrae to the malformation of the abdominal wall where the intestines are going to be outside the stomach wall. Early identification of heart defects is also possible at this scan and all are checked routinely during this scan.
Some of the other things detectable in this scan are:
  • absence of the top of the head (anencephaly)
  • cleft lip
  • defect of the abdominal wall, where the bowel and liver protrude (exomphalos)
  • defect of the abdominal wall, where the intestines protrude (gastroschisis)
  • missing or very short limbs
  • major kidney problems (missing or abnormal kidneys)
  • hole in the muscle separating chest and abdomen (diaphragmatic hernia)
  • excess fluid within the brain (hydrocephalus)
  • Edwards' syndrome or Patau's syndrome (chromosomal abnormalities)
  • major heart problems (defects of chambers, valves or vessels)

Some of the conditions detectable are minor and some life threatening for mother and baby, so this scan can be cause for stress and worry.

Thankfully the Sonographer found nothing to be concerned about during our scan today which means we can rest a little easier knowing that everything is growing nicely and all in the right place.

All in all today has been a good day and we can now get busy buying trousers instead of skirts, pyjamas instead of nighties and babys first Scalextric, and of course the monumental task of choosing a name!

Any suggestions?


Happy 2014 people!

Just a little post to wish all and sundry a happy new year and a prosperous 2014.

Today is the day of my Wifes 20 week pregnancy ultrasound later today and we hope to find out the sex of the baby today. I am really excited, as is my oldest son Christopher-Jack who lives in scotland with his mum, despite constantly reminding him that the scan wasnt until january, roughly every week or so I have had facebook messages, texts, skype and phone calls asking if we know if the baby is a boy or a girl yet. The impatience of youth eh? Needless to say I will be posting later to let you know what happens at the scan.

2013 has been an eventful year for my family and I, good and bad. 2014 is already proving to be just as eventful, but that is for another time.

For now I am looking forward to todays scan and posting about it later today.

So for now, Happy New Year to all my family and friends and to anyone bored enough to read my little postcards sent into the electronic ether.