Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cooking with Flowers - part 1

Just before Christmas my roses were flowering like crazy. They're just outside my back door, and stepping into the garden I was immediately surrounded by their heavenly perfume.  It was simply delightful!

The roses were so bountiful I decided to make some Rose Petal Jam. Its really easy and I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Rose Petal Jam
60 roses (petals removed from the stalk)
1kg sugar
1 litre water
1 ts citric acid

Place the rose petals, sugar and water in a large pan and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 20 minutes

Add citric acid and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.

Whilst warm, pour the jam into sterilised jars and seal. (The easiest way is to put them through a dishwasher, or you can wash them in warm soapy water, rinse, and place upside down on a baking tray in a 150 degrees C oven for 30 minutes. The jars should be hot when the jam is ready to pour)

Makes about 6 small jars.

Whilst writing this I remembered that its not always easy to tell when the jam has set. There are a couple of ways to check this. 
  1. Keep a small saucer in the freezer and when you think the jam is ready, drop a little bit on the saucer. If the drop gets a skin on it, you know the jam is ready.
  2. Another trick is to use a thermometer. When the temperature reaches 105 degrees C the jam is ready.
  3. Another trick is to omit the citric acid and replace with Jamsetta (available from supermarkets) this takes the guess work out of it and you get great jam, every time.
The great thing with rose petal jam, is that if it doesnt quite set you've got rose water, which you can also use in cooking.

A great recipe to use Rose Petal Jam is Rose and Almond Shortbread. I found this recipe on 

Rose and Almond Shortbread

  • 180g soft butter
  • 125g (3/4 cup) icing sugar mixture, sifted
  • 1 x 100g pkt almond meal
  • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 45g (1/4 cup) white rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbs rosewater essence (I use rose petal jam watered down)
  • 125g (3/4 cup) icing sugar mixture, extra, to dust

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush 2 baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease. Use an electric beater to beat together the butter and icing sugar mixture in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the almond meal and sift over the flours and ground cloves. Stir until well combined.
  2. Use your hands to roll heaped tablespoonsful of mixture into 8cm long logs. Shape into crescents and place on prepared trays, about 3cm apart. Bake in preheated oven, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 25 minutes or until cooked through and light golden. Remove from oven.
  3. Lightly brush shortbreads with rosewater essence and set aside on trays for 30 minutes to cool and firm.
  4. Dust shortbreads with extra icing sugar, turning to evenly coat in the sugar. Set aside for a further 30 minutes or until completely cool.
Enjoy! x

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Raku with Kevin Boyd

Hello and Happy New Year to you all! 

I hope you had a lovely holiday break. Over the holidays I had the pleasure of attending a week long Raku Firing course with Kevin Boyd at the Canberra Potters Society. Kevin has over 20 years experience in Ceramics and specialises in Naked Raku!

Whilst I found parts of the course challenging (I haven't quite mastered creating forms on the wheel -  the clay is still boss!) I also enjoyed learning new techniques and meeting new people.

The first day we made forms for the raku firing. This was the first time I had attempted to make a bottle shape. 

On the second day, once the bottle forms were 'leather hard' we applied a terra sig (Terra Sigillata) slip which was then burnished using a soft plastic bag (like the ones from the fruit and veg section in Woolies). Terra Sig is a smooth, lustrous coating of clay which resembles a glaze and is virtually waterproof.  

The ceramic forms were bisqued in preparation for the raku firing. 

Then they were glazed using the glazes specially formulated for raku. We had the choice of using a crackling glaze, blue or green copper glazes.

Kevin demonstrating the glaze application techniques.

David stoking the raku kiln.

When the ceramic form is pulled hot from the raku kiln, it is then cooled down quickly (by blowing on it). This creates cracks in the glaze and allows the smoke to create black lines on the clay. 

The ceramic form is then placed in a garbage bin full of news papers, which ignite from the heat of the ceramics. The bin is sealed with wet news papers. Its the smoke from the fire which creates the black lines on the ceramics.

Pots that have been removed from the garbage bin are cooled with water. This helps the crackled glazed to simply drop off. 

My bottle forms emerge from the flames. You can see the different copper glazes on the necks of the bottles, the black is caused by flame and the black lines is where the crackle glaze was applied.

Bits of glaze still stuck to the bottle and were scraped off using a knife. It was a little like peeling eggs.

The finished raku bottles were polished with a bit of bees wax.

Lunch that day was wood fired pizzas cooked by Chris.

And assembled by Marika.

Whilst we were learning Raku and wheel forming, on the other side of the court yard another ceramic course was being taught by Bev Hogg who was demonstrating how to create expressive 3D figurative forms.  The results from that class were fabulous (sorry I forgot to take photos). It looks like I might have to participate in Bevs workshop next year :) 


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