It’s June.

It’s sunny (on and off)

So there must be

Freshly picked,  sunwarmed strawberries

Freshly picked, sunwarmed strawberries

Which transform nicely into

Gently heated,  lemon infused,  strawberry scented kitchens

Gently heated, lemon infused, strawberry scented kitchens

Which stack up perfectly into

Homemade strawberry jam

Homemade strawberry jam

Which of course just perfectly lends itself to

Oven warm homemades scones with jam and clotted cream

Oven warm homemades scones with jam and clotted cream

Mmm mmm mmm.  🙂


The Scent of Summer

I think it could be official.
We’ve had four, four, days on the trot when the sun has made an appearance for at least part of the day.

Yay, summer is here!

And with summer comes



I did the annual trip to our local Pick Your Own, The Malt Kiln Farm Shop, with youngest child and her friend.


The sun shone, the bees buzzed, all was right with the world.


And we came away with about 3 kg of strawberries.

So we may have got a leeetttle bit carried away.

I’m not counting the several kilograms of strawberries we ate whilst we were filling the baskets.

Until you’ve tasted a freshly picked strawberry, warm from the summer sun, you have not really tasted a strawberry my friend!

Once we got home (the mini doing wheelies due to the weight of strawberries in the boot) it was time to try and do something useful with the fruit.


And what better than strawberry jam?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to make.

Wipe, or wash, your strawberries and de-hull them.

Weigh your fruit.

Chop the berries into smaller chunks and place in a large saucepan or jam pan.

Heat for 10 minutes or so to release the juices and then mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon.

Heat for a further 5 or 10 mins until the fruit has really cooked down into a pulpy mash.

Add the same weight of jam sugar as you have of fruit, plus the juice of a lemon as strawberries have little pectin.

Bring to a rolling boil


When the jam has reached the setting point (either pop a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes then remove and drop a splodge of jam on it, pushing to see if skin forms on the surface, or see if the jam forms globular droplets that cling to the back of a spoon when it is lifted out of the mixture) take off the boil and decant into clean, sterilised jars.

Now make yourself a quick batch of scones and enjoy warm homemade, intensely strawberry jam on warm, homemade, melt in the mouth scones


It really is the taste of summer. Mmmmm.

Shoo fly

This weekend saw the start of the great deconstruction.

This my friends is where a dividing wall and a reassuringly large bookcase used to be


At some point in the not too distant future it will be a lovely open plan kitchen/diner with island unit and range cooker, butler sink and new, French style, painted cupboards.

That’s the plan, anyway.

So this weekend we had a welcome visit from the in-laws to help with the deconstructing.

And extended family came for Sunday lunch. Because obviously that was a good idea when I suggested it several weeks ago, not quite appreciating how, um, challenging it can be trying to cook a traditional Sunday lunch when there are bits of plaster and wood flying everywhere and half of your kitchen has disappeared.

So of course I thought a good thing to do would be to try baking a pie for pudding.

A pie that involves my arch nemesis, pastry (gasp, horror).

A pie, moreover that I have never attempted before and chose simply because I liked the name.

And it happened to be one of the few recipes that I actually had all the ingredients for.

No pressure then…

Shoo Fly Pie

This is a recipe that has it’s roots in the Pennsylvanian Dutch community. Of course to most Brits, the mention of fly in conjunction with pie would bring to mind Garibaldi aka “squashed fly” biscuits and the liberal use of currants and raisins. I am happy to report that not a single dried fruit is harmed in the making of this recipe.

Much to the family’s delight.

I was working from this little American book that I found on Amazon, but as it works in cups, and includes ingredients that aren’t so easy to find in the UK I did a little tweaking.

tweaking that is, by the way. Nothing Miley Cyrus related here. Dear me no.


For the pie crust you will need:

110g cold butter, cubed rubbed into 110g plain flour to resemble breadcrumbs.


Add 80g caster sugar and mix well.Stir in 1large egg and mix to form a dough. Do not over mix. Put in the fridge to rest for 30 mins. After the dough has rested, roll it out and line your chosen pie dish with it. Rest in the fridge for another 20 mins. Feel free to knock down a few bits of wall whilst waiting if the urge so takes you.

Preheat the oven to Gas 3. Line the crust with baking parchment and fill the dish with baking beans. Bake blind for 10 mins then remove the beans and parchment and bake for another 20 mins till lightly golden.


Yes it does look a little homely, I know. But believe me, for someone who is pastryly challenged, this is a pie crust of triumph.

Now get on with the crumbs.
Mix 30g of butter with 150g plain flour. Stir in 110g brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ginger and a pinch of salt. Combine all to resemble breadcrumbs.

For the filling you will need
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda which you mix with 190ml of boiling water. If you can get it, the American recipe calls for 1/2cup of molasses, I have never owned such a thing in the past and as, for some reason, the sound of it brings back memories of a malt and cod liver oil health supplement I was fed as a child, I suspect I will never own such a thing in the future either. Anyway, I used a mixture of golden syrup and black treacle, making the combined weight up to 200g. Mix this in with the bicarbonate and water and then add 1 large egg and 1tsp of vanilla extract. Mix well.

Add most of the crumbs to the liquid and mix well.

Pour into the, now slightly cooled, pie shell. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top of the mixture. Bake for 40-45 mins.


Serve to rousing chorus of “Shoo fly, don’t bother me”

Or perhaps not. 🙂

It is something akin to a treacle tart, but not so tooth-curlingly sweet. A mix between that and gingerbread perhaps? Whatever. It is yummy. Add cream or custard as desired. Or just hack off a slice and chomp. Whatever works for you 🙂