Fresh Mint Sauce!

We’re having roast lamb for dinner tonight.

Wednesday nights are usually lasagne nights in this house as it works well with our late finishing after-school activity. I have time to make it during the day, then pop it in the oven at 5pm before I leave to collect my son and it’s ready to serve at 6pm shortly after we get home.

But it’s school holidays at the moment – yay! So I have a break from making lasagne and decided to do a roast.

I had noticed my mint was growing reasonably well, so thought I would add fresh mint sauce to our meal. I knew 2 out of the three of us would enjoy it 😉

mint leaves

Mint sauce is not something I make regularly, but I knew if I rang mum for the recipe she would say “Oh, Fiona! You know it’s just mint, boiling water, sugar and vinegar!” Of course it is. We often helped make it when we were younger. But I didn’t really know how much of each ingredient to make it work. So I looked up a recipe for you (and me) to follow. Even though I am not very exact with ingredients when I am in the kitchen…in case you hadn’t noticed!

I find a good place to start looking for recipes, especially simple ones like this. I went with this basic one which uses the same ingredients as I’m used to:

3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

2 teaspoons caster sugar

60mls (1/4 cup) boiling water

125mls (1/2 cup) white wine vinegar

Put the mint leaves and sugar in a small bowl, and pour over the boiling water. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add the vinegar and stir. Let stand so flavours can develop – at least 15 mins, but an hour is better.

Of course, I didn’t measure any of my ingredients, I was just after a rough guide.

And if you don’t have castor sugar available, you can substitute any sugar. Same with the vinegar. You will get a slightly different flavour, but it’s still mint sauce. Experiment!

I used apple cider vinegar, and plain white sugar.

mint sauce

The longer you leave it, the more the colour and flavour develops. But here it is just made

Fresh mint sauce

So there’s no need to panic if you don’t have a bottle of mint sauce on hand. If you’ve got mint growing in your garden, and a few basics in your pantry, you can still make your meal taste spectacular!

Do you have a trusted recipe for mint sauce?

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Table and Hearth – Think and Make Thursdays

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Julie’s Lifestyle – Cooking and Crafting with J and J

Lemon Magic Cake, as good as everyone says??

Magic Cake, it’s all over social media. Surely you’ve seen it! One batter gives you a cake with 3 distinct layers – spongy on top, custardy in the middle, and cakey on the bottom. First it was a plain vanilla cake, then there was chocolate, and lately I’ve seen many more variations.

Quite a while ago I make the chocolate variation. Let’s just say the family didn’t request to have it made again!

But recently I came across a lemon version from Jo Cooks and thought it was worth trying.

I read through the comments on her post and took some of them on board. Jo also gives some good tips in her post. And you know what I like most about Jo’s recipes? She gives the ingredient measurements in metric and imperial 🙂 But I still had to convert the oven temperature and the size of the baking dish.

So, to save you the trouble of working out conversions, I have added a new page to my blog – Cooking Conversion Chart – which you can find on the menu across the top of the page. I found this chart on Simply Delicious.

Here is the slightly adjusted recipe that I used:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • icing (powdered) sugar for dusting the cake

Preheat the oven to 165C degrees, and line a 20x20cm baking dish with baking paper.You could grease the dish, but the paper makes it easier to get out.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light. Add butter and vanilla extract and continue beating for another minute or two after which you can add the flour and mix it in until fully incorporated.

Add lemon juice and lemon zest then slowly start adding the milk and beat until everything is well mixed together. Add the stiffly beaten egg whites, a third at a time and gently fold them in using a spatula or a whisk, repeat until all egg whites are folded in, but there should still be white bits of egg whites floating in the batter.

Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 40 to 70 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the cake is firm to the touch. The baking time could vary greatly depending on the oven, so take a peek at around 40 minutes and see how it looks.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

As suggested, I checked my cake after 40 minutes, but it was still a little jiggly. Jo says that jiggly is not what you want with this cake 😉 So I cooked it for another 15 minutes. I also moved it to a lower shelf in my oven as it was already golden on top. It should probably have been on the lower shelf from the start.

Lemon Magic Cake

It’s a bit more golden than Jo’s.

Of course, I couldn’t wait for it to cool completely, but I did give it a bit of cooling time before serving some up

Lemon Magic Cake .

As you can see, there are certainly not 3 distinct layers to my cake. Maybe it needed less cooking time? But it still looks very appetising.

And how does it taste? Well, I thought it was a little too eggy. I am very pleased that I increased the original recipe’s lemon amount, though. Even with 1/2 cup of lemon juice it’s only just lemony for me.

Lemon Magic Cake

I did eat both of these pieces of cake to make sure of my findings. This cake research is a tough job 😉

Will I make any Magic Cake versions again? I think not. The two I have cooked have not made me say “wow!” If I was somehow tempted to make any more magic cake versions, I would try a slightly lower temperature, use the lower shelf of the oven from the start of cooking, and use 1 less egg to see if that made a difference to the ‘eggy’ taste.

In fact, this lemon version is similar to my grandmother’s Lemon Delicious Pudding which was my favourite growing up, and I still make it regularly now. And we like that better. Next time I make it, I’ll share the recipe with you and you can decide.

Has Magic Cake worked for you?

Linking up with:

*Table and Hearth                  * I Should be Mopping the Floor – Inspiration Monday

*The Pin Junkie                        *Create With Joy – Inspire Me Monday

*Great Idea Thursdays             * Kitchen Fun With my 3 Sons – Crafty Friday

*Betty Cozy Corner                    *It’s Overflowing – Share Your Creativity

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*Share Your Cup Thursday          *Rustic and Refined – Table It Link Party

*Natasha in Oz                             *Sew Crafty Angel – Wake up Wednesday

*A Tray of Bliss

Julie’s Lifestyle – Cooking and Crafting with J and J

No more pests!

A few weeks ago, when the weather really started warming up, I had a good look around the garden. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to do that!

First up, I had a look at my new (but still under construction) rose garden. I was pleased to see some new growth coming. These roses weren’t even in the garden this time last year, so I am looking forward to seeing how they go. However, I was less than happy to see aphids crawling all over them ;(

Aphids on my roses ;(

Next, I had seen that some of my Pink Lady Lilies weren’t looking very good. These are along the fence, next to the carport, and not something I take a lot of notice of. But they were bad enough that I did take notice:

Caterpillars in my garden (

They were covered in horrible big caterpillars, who had eaten practically all of the leaves. I know this doesn’t happen every year, so not quite sure what brought attracted them this year. But they are certainly very ugly (both the caterpillars and the plants).

So, what to do?

Check out Pinterest, of course!

I added a couple of ideas to my Garden board. First, I tried the easiest ‘recipe’ of water with a bit of detergent in it. I sprayed several times over 2 days, but all the bugs were just as happy as before.

As I continued searching, I found several options of using salt and/or vinegar as weed and bug sprays. As far as I am concerned, salt and vinegar belong on chips, not on the garden! From what I have read, these ingredients not only kill your weeds and pests, they also kill worms and other beneficial bugs. And salt will change the ph of your soil so you may have difficulty growing anything there. If you use salt and/or vinegar on your garden, you might like to research that.

Then I upped the ante by adding chilli and garlic to the detergent and water mix.

I didn’t follow the chilli/garlic recipe from the link very precisely. I crushed a couple of fresh garlic cloves, added a good shake of dried chilli flakes and covered with hot water. I left that to steep for a day, than I strained it off and poured it into a spray bottle. A good squirt of detergent finished it off.

I sprayed that on both the aphids and caterpillars over a couple of days. Shortly after I did that we had some pretty heavy rain, but it has been fine for a week or two.

Here are my roses now:

No aphids now!

Look at all that new growth with absolutely no aphids!

Of course, the lilies haven’t recovered quite so easily so I won’t subject you to another photo of horrible nibbled leaves. But there are hardly any caterpillars on them now. I still spray every so often, and will continue to do so.

I read that chilli may also deter possums and other native animals that think our plants are there just for them!

Since that top pot has a chilli plant in it, I’m not so sure! But both the chilli and the lemon were stripped of their leaves within a day of planting. I’m hoping a combination of this spray, and hanging CDs will give my plants a chance!

Have you found a homemade way to successfully get rid of pests from your garden? Please share!

Linking up with:

Table and Hearth

Great Idea Thursdays

The Pin Junkie

A Tray of Bliss

Betty Cozy Corner

The Interior Frugalista

Natasha in Oz