Hooray for FriYay!

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Thank goodness it’s Friday!

How has your week been?  Mine has been super busy, and now I am ready to put my slippers on and spend some quality time on the couch with a nice glass of wine.  Of course, that’ll happen after I’ve done the netball training drop off and pick up, the pick up from the train station, the school movie night drop off and pick up (four runs in total, due to two kids having two different session times)….but once that’s all done…the couch and I will be spending some time together (perhaps with a bit of sneaky Netflix thrown in!).  I know. Party animal!

There is so much that’s been happening over the past few weeks.  Actually, probably the last few months!  Where has this year gone already?  Last weekend it was all about this…

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My little girl is 11!  So not ready for her to be that big.

In other news, we’ve been for a family holiday to Port Douglas, hubby and I spend a week in Spain (by ourselves!), and then there is the fact that the biggest kid has hit secondary school this year.  Oh man, is that another world! So, lots to fill you in on, but they deserve their own posts, so I’ll fill you in a little later down the track!

But for now, hooray for FriYay!  I hope you have a fabulous weekend.  We have a Saturday of netball, Auskick and footy.  I’m hoping Sunday will be a little more relaxed, perhaps a nice roast for dinner and some family time.

What are you up to this weekend? Any thing fun? Do tell!

School Fete – Warming Up

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Hello!

It’s the school fete in a few weeks.  For our little school, it’s a BIG deal.  With only a small school community, the fete is run every 2nd year.  The amount of planning, organising, sorting, sourcing, pleading and bargaining that goes into putting on an event like this is enormous.  The small but dedicated team that band together to put this event on work tirelessly to make sure the fete is not only successful financially, but that it’s a day the whole community enjoy.
For the past 4 years I have run the cake stall.  It’s so much fun…but so much work!  I organise (bribe) people to help man the stall, ask (plead) for volunteers to bake, and for about 4 days before the fete, spend around 10 hours a day in my kitchen baking my heart out to provide enough stock to last the full 5 hours of the fete.  There is nothing worse than turning up to a fete after a morning of kids sport only to find the cake stall sold out!

Then on the morning of the fete, I get to stand at my stall with my volunteers and watch with delight as people peruse the cakes and choose just the right one to take to Grandma’s this afternoon, or use for lunch boxes next week.  My absolute favourite thing though, is watching kids with their money from their money box held tightly in their hand, debate over whether to get a cupcake and a toffee, or perhaps two toffees and a biscuit….it takes them forever to decide, and as I always tell them…there is no wrong decision!

This year, due to work commitments, my bake-a-thon will be limited to a few nights after work and as much as I can do on the day before (around setting up the stall, netball training and cricket semi-finals).  I’m hoping that we’ll have enough to last the day, but it may be disappointment for those at hubby’s work who usually buy any excess stock.

To limber up and get in the spirit, I knocked out two of these apple cakes.  One of the girls at work bought some apples back from Clunes that she picked from roadside apple trees.  One cake for lunch boxes, one for work.  And because it was #sundaybakingsunday I also used up the 3 sad bananas in the fruit bowl and made BabyMac’s banana bread

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So if you’re around on Saturday 13th March, pop in and visit me at the cake stall at St Catherine’s Primary School Fete in Moorabbin.  I’d love to see you!

Hmm…might have to add these Jam cupcakes to my “to bake” list

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I’ll be back soon with Fete day updates!

Bye🙂

 

Australia Day

Hello!

I hope you are having a nice, relaxing Australia Day.  Perhaps you are having a bbq with some friends or family?  We are planning a fairly relaxing day….however I’m not sure that’s the way it’s going to end up!  I head back to work tomorrow, so I’m attempting to get the house into some sort of shape in readiness the school/work/after school activity madness to begin.

As I write this post, I’m waiting for my chocolate to cool.  Look how glossy it is!

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Then I’m going to roll some ice cream bars in it and coat them in coconut.  Ta da! Ice cream lamingtons!  It’s a take on Donna Hay’s version which you can find here.  I’ve just cheated a bit and bought the ready made ice cream bars…it may be cheating only one step, but it’s saving me a couple of hours in time!

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One hour later, this is what it looks like.

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We’ve got a birthday afternoon tea to go to later on (Happy 13th Ruby!) and then some good friends are coming over for an early dinner.  Home made burgers are on the menu with the ice cream lamingtons for dessert.  Yum!

Over the past week I’ve had a few wins in the kitchen, with almost everyone loving the pasta pesto, garlic & rosemary chicken from Jamie’s 15 minute meals book.  Quick, easy and delicious!

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I also re rolled out another meal from Jamie’s 15 minute book the fish baps, mushy peas & tartare sauce. I’ve done it a couple of times before and even the youngest gives it the thumbs up.  The recipe is on his website here.

Last night we had a family meal with one of hubby’s brothers and his family (hubby is one of six, so there are a lot of them!).  My nieces and nephew are now young adults and it was lovely to sit around the table and chat with them.  I rolled out Gourmet Girlfriends pulled pork and slaw.  The recipe is here.  It’s a great crowd pleaser and best of all, can be done ahead of time.  Of course we had to have dessert, so it was chocolate meringues, cream, berries and caramel sauce.  The recipe is an old Delicious one.  It’s also on the Taste.com website here.

With all the food that’s been prepared over the past few days, I’m hoping there’ll be enough leftovers for dinner tomorrow night! Then it’ll be getting organised for Thursday when the kids all head back to school.  This year my big boy heading to secondary school (gulp!).  Don’t tell him, but his mum is as nervous as anything!

I hope your week is a good one!  Good luck to all those who have kids heading back to school!

It’s been so long….!!

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Hello! Have you missed me? I have missed you…a lot!  How have you been?

It has been so long since I’ve been here.  I had so many good intentions in setting up this blog.  And, for a few months at the beginning of the year, it was all going so well.  Then, well, life happened.  I went back to work part time.  After being a stay at home mum for pretty much 10 years, that was a big adjustment.  Not just for me, but for the whole household.  Then, well, we had a few challenges that came along.  So, we hunkered down as a family, did what had to be done and kept life pretty basic (well, as basic as it gets with 3 kids!).  Slowly, things became a little more “normal” around the end of the year, and then whirlwind that is December hit.    Needless to say, it took until the new year for us all to come back up and breathe.  2014, what a big year you were, so much happened and yet, you seemed to go so quickly.  How does that happen???

In amongst it all, this blog has been at the back of my mind. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that I’m not ready to let it go.  I’m not sure how it’s all going to look, how much time I’ll have to post, or what the posts are going to look like.  All I know, is that I need to keep blogging for the creative enjoyment it gives me.  Now I am not a writer, in fact, it’s the writing I struggle with the most!  For me it’s about the creativity that comes with putting together a post.  A photo or moment, that sparks the initial thought, through to how the finished post looks on the blog.  That’s what makes me happy!  And doing things that make you happy, well, that’s what life is all about.  Isn’t it?!

So here I am.  Who knows how it will all go?  Undoubtedly it’ll be pretty crazy at times, but then so is life!

Tell me…are you ok?  What’s been happening with you?

See you next time x

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea – Apple Custard Crumble Cake

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Today is Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea!  Are you participating?  We held a morning tea on Tuesday at work. What’s not to love, fundraising for a great cause (Cancer Council), and lots and lots of cake!

I was the organiser, and I have to say it was really easy.  I got all the information from the Cancer Council’s website, registered our workplace and then they sent me out a pack.  It had all the information I needed along with a money-box for people to put their donations into and a deposit slip so that we could deposit the money straight into the Cancer Council’s bank account.  Too easy!

I then sent an email to staff members, got a few people to volunteer to bake and it was all done.  We raised $111.15 which I think was pretty good for 23 people!  The array of cakes and slices was pretty tempting.  For those who couldn’t bake they bought something along from the local bakery….it’s not supposed to be difficult!

So, of course the question you are asking is what did I make?  I made an Apple Custard Crumble Cake.  It was from my stash of recipes pulled out from magazines.  I’d never made it before, and I have to say, it was easy really to make and tasted delicious!  It’ll definitely be made again!

If you didn’t participate this year, why not have a go next year?  You can hold a morning tea anywhere, at the local park, at home, at work…the possibilities are endless!  Go on, just do it!  Ohh…and don’t forget to let me know what type of cake/slice/biscuit you made!

Apple Custard Crumble Cake

3 large pink lady apples, peeled, cored and sliced thickly

2 eggs

1 cup caster sugar

150g butter, softened

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour

2 tablespoons custard powder

2/3 cup milk

Crumble Top

3/4 cup plain flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup shredded coconut

100g butter, softened

Preheat oven to 170 degrees (150 degrees fan forced). Grease and line a 23cm springform pan

Lightly stew the apples by placing them in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water, cover and simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes until just tender.  Drain excess liquid and cool to room temperature.

Crumble top:  Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Remove from processor and set aside.

Put eggs and sugar into the food processor and process for 2 minutes, or until light and creamy.  Add 150g softened butter and process for a further 2 minutes

Add flour, custard powder and milk and process until just combined.

Pour cake mix into cake pan and spread out evenly.  Place the slices of apple over the top of the batter, ensuring to cover all the mixture.  Sprinkle the crumble top over the apples

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Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.  Stand cake for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Serves 8-10.

If it hadn’t been demolished so quickly, I would’ve taken a photo of what it looked on the inside!  It’s a lovely moist cake that’s got a lovely custard yellow colour.  The sliced apples on top look great when the cake is sliced and the crumble on top gives it a lovely crunchy texture.  It was delicious!

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Easter Biscuits

In order to balance out the chocolate consumption over the next few days, I’ve baked a batch of one of my favourite biscuits.  They’re called Easter biscuits and the recipe comes from an old copy of Delicious magazine.  You can find the recipe over here at taste.com.au.

These biscuits are a favourite as they’re buttery, the currants work really well (don’t be tempted to use sultanas!) and they have lemon zest, which cuts through the sweetness.  Perfect with a cuppa after a day of wrangling kids who are high on sugar!

You need:

450g plain flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

225g butter, at room temperature

1 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

2 eggs

110g currants

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Sift the flour and spices into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until thick and pale.  Add eggs 1 at a time.  Fold in the flour mixture in 2 batches and then add currants and zest.

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Shape into a disc, wrap  in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.  *I sometimes halve the dough and leave one portion in the fridge until I need it, or you could pop it in the freezer at this stage and use it at a later date*

Roll out dough (I do it between 2 sheets of baking paper) to 4-5mm thick, then cut with a 6cm fluted cutter.  It’s important to keep any unused dough in the fridge until you are ready to roll it out!

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Place on baking trays lined with baking paper and chill for 15 mins.

Preheat oven at 180 degrees. Sprinkle the biscuits with sugar.

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Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through baking.  The biscuits will be pale but firm to touch when cooked.

Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The recipe makes 40 biscuits.  When making this batch, I’ve left half the dough in the fridge.  I’ll take it with me to the farm this weekend and bake them there.  But for the half batch I’ve just made…well, I get to enjoy them now!

I hope you have a fabulous Easter!

Hot Cross Buns

I love Easter.  Chocolate,  holidays, (usually) good weather…what’s not to love? We’re heading to my parents farm for a few days, which we do most years.  There’s usually a crowd, whether it’s just my brother and his family and my sister, or a few added aunts/uncles/cousins.  It makes for a fun few days.  The difference this year is that mum and my sister are currently overseas.  Mum turns 70 soon, and as a present, my sister has taken her on a trip for 10 days (nice, huh!).   But the down side is, that without mum, there is no hot cross buns.

I’m one of those people who will not buy/eat a hot cross bun until Good Friday.  So by the time I hit the farm on Good Friday I am more than ready to inhale a few of mum’s home made hot cross buns (preferably slathered with her home made blackberry jam).  By the end of the weekend I’ve had so many, that I’m quite happy to wait another 12 months before my next hit.  Sheesh…looks like if I want to eat hot cross buns this weekend, I’ll have to make my own.

The recipe I used was from taste.com.au.  I used this recipe for the standard buns, and this recipe for the chocolate ones.

First up, ingredients went into the bowl and were mixed through.

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I got the kids in on the kneading action.

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Then the dough was left to double in size.

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I’d left making these a little late in the day, so my standard practice of putting the dough in the car to rise wasn’t going to work.  I have a dough option on my oven, so I used that instead.    The car trick is great for dough proving.  Just park the car in the sun, put your bowl with the dough inside and then leave it until it has doubled in size.

After an hour or so, the dough got punched down and then divided up into 12 portions.  I use mum’s tip of weighing each portion of dough to ensure the buns all come out roughly the same size.

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Then a little knead, and put into the baking tray and back in the oven/car to prove.

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Once they’ve risen again, the crosses are piped on and then it’s back into a hot oven for 20 minutes.

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When they come out of the oven, mix some sugar and water to make a syrup and brush over the buns for that glossy look.

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I’m pretty happy with how my first ever hot cross buns came out!

Would I change anything?  Not with the traditional ones.  With the chocolate ones, next time I’d substitute the cup of sultanas for a cup of choc chips.  I also forgot to add the piece of chocolate on the inside of each chocolate bun, which would’ve given them a molten centre.  It would’ve been good, but I think by substituting in the choc chips, it really wouldn’t need the chocolate centre anyway.

Are you getting ready for Easter?  Done some baking or crafting?  Emma over at Frog Goose and Bear has been doing some pretty terrific Easter craft activities…I love the finger print bunny mug!

Will be back soon with some Easter biscuits.  The dough is currently resting in the fridge ready to be rolled out.  They’re one of my favourite biscuits, so I can’t wait to share them with you!

See you soon!

 

Taking Stock – April 2014

I can’t believe it’s April already.  Where has the first part of the year gone??!!

We’re in the middle of school holidays here in Victoria, and for the first time in around 10 years, I’ve gone back to work part time.   With all 3 kids in school, it was time to head back into the paid workforce (and perhaps the fact the eldest heads to Secondary School next year and it’s going to mean a new lot of school fees, had a little to do with it!)

This week I did my first 3 days.  It was good!  My brain may have had information overload on day one, but I learnt new things, I talked to other adults and I got to go to the toilet by myself.   Oh…and I’m going to get paid for it…..winning!

With so much going on, it seemed a good time to get my head around where I’m at.  So I thought I’d play along with  Pip and do a taking stock list.

Here we go…

Making :      Caramel Brownies & Anzac biscuits
Drinking :     Soda water (and given it’s school holidays, a few glasses of sav blanc!)
Reading:     The book thief
Wanting:     To make the salted chocolate and caramel tarts on the front cover of the latest issue of Delicious magazine
Looking:      At the hole in my back yard dug by the dog (thanks Murphy!)
Playing:      Netball with my U11 team
Deciding:    What to make for dinner
Wishing:      For a little holiday (just a few days!)
Enjoying:     Watching the biggest play his cricket grand final
Waiting:       For Easter….hot x buns and chocolate…mmmmm!
Liking:         Visiting friends who we haven’t seen for years.  So nice!
Wondering:  How I’m going to juggle work and home??
Loving:        Pyjama days with the kids
Pondering:   How I’m going to make it through the rest of holidays in one piece (the kid’s have almost 3 weeks off due to Easter & student free days)
Considering: How often I can really post on my blog
Watching:     Dr Blake
Hoping:        I can keep all the balls in the air when I head back to work
Marvelling:   At how good the sliding doors look now I’ve cleaned them!
Needing:     New work clothes…it’s been a while since I’ve needed them (like 10 years or so!)
Smelling:     Weird smells from Miss 9’s make your own perfume kit
Wearing:     My new light, but soft jumper from Sportsgirl
Following:   Under 11c Omega Storm netball team (I maybe a bit biased as the coach!) & the new season of U12’s Football (go Highett Doggies!)
Noticing:    The rain!
Knowing:   That the warm days will become fewer and fewer!
Thinking:   How am I going to keep the kids occupied over the holidays (without spending a fortune)??  The rain is not helping!  Suggestions anyone??
Feeling:     Pretty good!
Admiring:  How well the Under 12 North c Cricket Premiers (Highett Bulldogs!), conducted themselves on winning the premiership.  Very proud boys!
Sorting:     My old work clothes.  I kept a few suits.  Oh how times have changed!

Buying:     Clothes
Getting:    The Easter Bunny organised…shhhh!

Bookmarking: Knitting patterns on Ravelry
Disliking:   That it’s already April!
Opening:   The latest issues of cooking magazines…mmmm…chocolate!
Giggling:   At how the youngest says ‘hilarious’ – ‘I-hairy-ass’!!!
Snacking: On new season apples
Coveting:  New shoes
Wishing:   Good thoughts to friends who’s lives have been going through some major changes
Helping:   Collect eggs for the school Easter raffle
Hearing:   The song from the Lego Movie (really, really annoying!).  One kid has seen it and the other two haven’t….they’re desperate to see it!

 

So, that’s me.  Are you going to Take Stock?  Let me know if you do, won’t you?

Bye!

 

 

Caramel Brownies & Anzacs

 

It’s been a little while since my last baking session.  We’ve just had a few weeks where there has been a lot on.  It seems to go in waves doesn’t it?  There are weeks where it all seems to be manageable, then a few extra things get thrown into the mix and all of a sudden, it all get’s a little out of control for a while.  We had a couple of hours “lull” on Saturday afternoon, no parties to go to, no kids sport or plays to drive to, just a couple of hours at home…bliss!  So  I dusted off the baking gear and got myself organised.

Around the lead up to Easter, the food magazine issues always have some terrific recipes.  In the past week I’ve picked up the latest issues of both Donna Hay magazine and Delicious magazine.  It could’ve had something to do with the chocolate delights on their covers!  I’ve tagged lots of recipes in each magazine to try at a later date, but I needed to focus on lunchbox treats (or perhaps a sneaky late night treat with a cup of tea!).  Delicious magazine had a recipe for dulce de leche brownies….hello sneaky treat!

I deviated from the recipe with two ingredients.  Instead of using dulce de leche, I substituted a tin of top ‘n’ fill caramel.  It was an ok substitute as I was time poor and using what I could get my hands on easily.  However, when I do make these again, I will use dulce de leche.  As pure coincidence, the latest issue of Donna Hay had a recipe for making dulce de leche inside….. next time I’ll be making sure I have the time to make it!  The other substitution was made with Haigh’s drinking chocolate.  I’d run out of cocoa, and had the drinking chocolate in the cupboard (it was a little past it’s used by date…otherwise I wouldn’t have used it and would’ve saved it for hot chocolates instead!)

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The brownies were delicious!  Fudgy on the inside and a bit crunchy on the outer layer, with caramel swirled through them.  The caramel was a little tasteless due to my substitution.   I don’t think the drinking chocolate made much of a difference, although probably made the brownies a little sweeter than usual.  There have been no complaints from the family and I may have had a square with a scoop of ice cream (yum!).

For the second part of my baking afternoon I rolled out some Anzac biscuits.  I’ve been following the multi talented Kate Berry for a while now.  I like what she says and how she says it.  She’s also a beautiful photographer.  Her Lunchlady blog is another arrow to her bow.  Terrific food, made from fresh ingredients.  She’s all about knowing what is in your food and where it comes from.  Good stuff.   Currently she’s having a bake off with White Wings packet mixes.  You know she’ll win every time, but it’s soooo nice to see that the real stuff actually does look and taste so much better.  They were chewy, golden and delicious.  As they should be.  Thanks Kate!

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So, lunch boxes and sneaky desserts for the week are now under control.  Suppose I should now concentrate on what’s for dinner!

Have a great week!

Getting Saucy – Part 2 Tomato Sauce

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Ok, so now that we are on a tomato roll….let’s keep the momentum going!

The box of tomatoes that I purchased weighed 16kg.  6.3kg went into the tomato soup in yesterday’s post.  The remaining is going to make tomato sauce.

So, the recipe.  It’s on the back of this bottle.

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Yup, Ezy-Sauce.  The name says it all.  I purchased mine at the local Ritchie’s supermarket.  I couldn’t find it at Woolworths, so your local independent grocer is probably your best bet.

The recipe is printed on the back.  So, lets get back to chopping tomatoes.  Ohh and I forgot to add yesterday…before you start either of the recipes, don’t forget to give your tomatoes a quick wash before you start chopping

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Add the onions (I use the attachment on my blender and chop them in that…less tears!)

Then the garlic and ginger.

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Simmer for 5 hours.  I know, it takes ages, but stay with me, the end result is worth it!

The recipe at this point says to strain through a coarse sieve.  I use my trusty stick mixer again to puree it.  Then run it through a mouli that I purchased for around $20. Another tip, purchase a cheap plastic bucket that you only use for food.  Put your mouli or sieve on this and use it to catch the tomato sauce.  Then tip it back into  your pot once it’s empty (you’ll need to give the pot a quick wash first).

Put the sauce in the pot back onto the stove and add sugar, salt, apple puree and this is where I go for option 2 on the back of the label,  I add the whole bottle of Ezy-Sauce, not 1 cup as the main recipe states.

Simmer for 1 hour until it’s of a thick pouring consistency.

Fill in hot sterilised bottles and seal.

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It makes approximately 9 1/2 bottles of sauce.

Ok…just going back on a few points.  The apple puree. I do this while waiting the 5 hours.  Peel, core and chop the apples (granny smith are best).  Add a bit of lemon peel, a little sugar and water to cover the bottom of the pot and simmer until apples are soft.  Take out the lemon and puree.

Also, buy yourself a funnel.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, mine are just cheap plastic ones.  But it makes getting the sauce into the bottles so much easier.  I use a Pyrex measuring jug to scoop the hot sauce out of the pot, then pour it into the bottle via the funnel.

A word on bottles.  This sauce is quite thick, so bottles with wider necks are good.  The only reason I use smaller necked bottles is otherwise my kids would end up with half a plate of tomato sauce every time they tipped up the bottle.  My bottles are old mineral water bottles.  Use whatever you can recycle.  They just need to be glass with metal lids.  To sterilise them, wash thoroughly in soapy water.  Put in an oven at 110 degrees to dry and heat.  I usually put my bottles in the oven when the sauce kicks into its last hour so that they’re ready to go when I need them.

I’m now off to rearrange my pantry to fit my new bottles of sauce in.  Do you make sauce? Are you tempted to try it?

Bye!