Friday, 24 June 2016

Tate & Lyle: Just because the words don't say so.......

As a enthusiastic preserver of fruits and other lovely things, a baker of meringues and other sweet things, I know that Cane Sugar is the only one that really works.  I was dismayed when earlier this week I bought a couple of bags of Tate & Lyle Granulated Sugar.

The old design in the nearly empty bag says it all CANE SUGAR, and someone cutting the canes.  Well maybe most sugar cane is cut with a combine harvester these days, and for this I am pleased, as I know from observation that this is a horrible job.  It also had an English Address, and said Produced in the UK.  What they meant by produced I do not know, well maybe bagged only, since the sugar is imported mainly from countries such as Mauritius, and maybe other members of the old British Commonwealth.

Recently the market has been sourcing its granulated sugar from sugar beet, well this may be OK for sweetening tea and coffee, but I much prefer the Cane type of Sugar.  Even Waitrose stopped stocking Tate & Lyle Granulated sugar in favour of the beet variety.  I contacted them and had no satisfactory reply, with the lady on the help desk said that other customers were happy with this.  I would much rather import sugar from countries, where they not only grow, but process the sugar, and come up with a lovely range from the deepest darkest moscavado sugars, large crystalled demerara to white refined icing sugar and caster sugar, than send aid!

The New Bag does not mention Sugar Cane at all, and says "Packed in the EU".  I was really pleased to be assured by Tate & Lyle that the sugar is still cane sugar.  This is the answer I received:

Tate & Lyle sugar is cane sugar. We recently undertook research with some of our consumers which revealed the need for a simple and engaging design to help consumers understand Tate & Lyle’s different sugar types and their functions. As a result, we reviewed the full range of our products and decided to change some of the product packaging, which included removing the word ‘cane’ to make room for other information on the pack. For example, we now call our caster sugar “caster baking sugar” so that we know it is appropriate to use for baking. We are grateful for your feedback regarding the confusion that removing the word ‘cane’ from the pack has caused, and re-instating it on the pack is something the marketing team are now looking in to.
Secondly, we label our products ‘Packed in the EU’ as we have three cane sugar refineries in Europe – the Thames refinery in East London, Sidul refinery in Lisbon, Portugal and a refinery in Brindisi in Italy. The majority of our products available to buy in the UK are packed at our Thames refinery. Very occasionally it might be necessary to move the packing of a product to a different refinery, and the ‘Packed in the EU’ label allows us this flexibility. 

I hope that very nealy all the produce Tate and Lyle market in the UK is produced at the Thames Refinery.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Garden Visits

June is the month where many gardens are at their best.  We had several gardens open in Kenilworth, and it was nice to see that three members of the Horticultural had open gardens.  I did a little stint in Bob and Liz Watson's garden, and hopefully we will have attracted some new visitors to our meetings.  I enjoyed all the gardens I visited, and was impressed by the Bomb Shelter in one of the open gardens which was built during the second World War for residents of Field Gate Lane.

In Liz's garden I was impressed by this little succulent like plant with yellow flowers, which seemed to seek out the shade.  How strange: one would expect plants with succulent type leaves to enjoy the sun.  It is called Chiastophyllum oppositifolium.

Liz and Bob's garden is full of interesting plants and every little space be it in full sun or shade has just the right plant growing.  The pale lemon flowers of this plant brought light to a shady corner.

Recently, at the Horticultural club, we have been racking our brains on how to increase our revenue to help meet the increasing costs of speakers and their travelling expenses.  We have of course been inviting rather good speakers and this has been thanks to the generosity of some of our members.  Some of us have started to open our gardens to club members, with invites to our garden on a specific date, with tea and cake included!  One of our members even opened her garden recently where were celebrated the Queen's 90th Birthday with a special tea.  These events have been very popular and a good way of sharing gardening knowledge, and also getting to know other members whilst admiring the gardens and chatting.  I have picked up many ideas I would love to put into practice for all the visits

This week at Barbara and Mervyn's garden we had a wonderful tour and were enchanted by the wonderful selection of herbaceous plants, with roses and shrubs, and even a little chamomile lawn.  Geraniums are to the fore at this time of the year, and this one: Elke, in their front garden, was a clear winner for me on the day.  The foliage is attractive, and for a geranium that keeps on flowering for weeks when dead headed, this was well admired and also photographed by several of us.  With a white margin on the petals and strong pink veining, the  blooms really stand out.  Barbara and Mervyn have many excellent geraniums, and I think she may be asked to give a club a talk one of these days!

Here and there in the garden were lovely clumps of Erigeron karvinskianus...and guess what?  I came home with a little plant.  Mr S has always admired this one, so I just had to get it didn't I?  Barbara and Mike had propagated some of their plants, and had a little sale, and I believe all of them went home to other members' gardens, with quite a tidy sum going to the gardening club.  When I go out and see this one also flourishing in garden I shall remember this lovely afternoon, and Barbara and Mervyn's garden.

Khorasan Breakfast Buns

Its quite some time since my recipe for Khorasan Breakfast buns was first published on Shipton Mill's site.  Today I just felt like baking them again...but I had to cycle out to Mick Smith's to get half a dozen jars of honey.  The buns don't need that much, its just that I like to have a little stash in my cupboard, as we have a little each day, and we did not have any runny honey left.

I had another set back when making these...I ran out of fennel seeds so had to go out and get some more.  For the final trial, I was faced with having to throw out all the ingredients as I cracked an egg over the whole of the ingredients including the honey, and the egg was off!  

Usually I crack the eggs one at a time into a dish, then decant them or separate them as required by the recipe.  Recently I had been watching all the chefs and Mary Berry just crack the eggs straight in, and was beginning to think I was far behind the times.  I shall go back to my old ways again.  The free range eggs were bought from Sainsbury's and were well within date...but I guess one bad egg over many years isn't too bad.  The whole lot went into the recycling bin, and everything washed down thoroughly..with a little bleach before I started up again.

Here are the buns cooling on my new cooling rack...its larger than my very old ones, has a finer grid, and cost just £3 from Sainsbury's this week.

Apricot and Pistachio Conserve

Was I inspired by the pretty apricot roses and greenery in the garden....maybe!  Several jars of my Apricot and Pistachio conserve are waiting to have their labels stuck on.  If you want the recipe just go over to my other blog: Mrs Mace Preserves.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

In a Vase

I used to love joining in with Cathy for in a Vase on Monday...but then things got hectic, and it was easier to just look at the flowers in the garden, maybe cut for the odd vase, without taking pictures and posting.  I have, when time has permitted looked at what others have come up with.  This week Cathy's vase was very cool and calm.

Last week I visited a Friend's Open Studio event, and when she said how much she loved my vases which I put up on my facebook page,  this revived my spirits, and yesterday when I went out to deadhead the flowers, I came in with some, perhaps too many.

The apricot coloured rose Grace is doing beautifully, as is the very dark red rose Munstead Wood.  I've had many blooms on the climbing Etoile de Hollande, and now fully deadheaded and fed, I hope it gathers itself for another good show in a few weeks time.

As well as blooms I am also really attracted to the seed heads.  This year the self seeded acquligia have performed beautifully, so I thought to include their seed heads, and one from the Patty Plum poppy,

This has been the first year in which this poppy has bloomed, but I am not sure I like the colour of the bloom, or it may be better moved to another part of the garden with different coloured plants around it.

Then I spied that the love in the mist was going to seed, and its red stripe picked up the red of the rose.

I had been working hard at dead heading the centaurea, but must have missed some, as in the evening, we had gold finches visit and eat the seeds.  It was a delightful sight, so I may leave a clump just for them.  Also in the vase is alchemilla mollis, and a stem of yet to flower sedum, a clump of which was subjected to a late Chelsea Chop.

The astrantia continue to delight me, and the bees and hover flies too!

I realise that by making up a vase on a regular basis one does develop a certain elegant style.  After a break, looking at the pictures now, I realise that I picked too much, and could have done better.  However better to do than not do at all!