Chai Syrup

 

Pepper

I am marginally obsessed with chai syrup. I put it in milk, on porridge, or just drink it neat (cue blush-faced emoji). There is a brand made by a company in Bath called Henny and Joe’s, which was pretty life-changing for me. I first discovered it at my local Sunday market, and, to add to the tantalising excitement of my love affair with this stuff, they weren’t always there every week, meaning that some weeks I was left bereft. So given the unreliability of access to my next fix, I decided that the only thing to do was have a bash at making some myself.

Spices

Recipes seem to include a vast variety of spices, some with star anise, some ginger, some cloves. However, I decided to just make it up as I go along (as per usual), which involved the prominence of the things I love – vanilla and ginger – and the omission of those I don’t – cloves and star anise. Cloves I have a particular aversion to, as they are apparently a home remedy for toothache, so since childhood I have associated the taste with acute dental pain. Recipes vary between using honey and sugar, I used both –  some honey that my Mum bought back from Greece, along with muscovado sugar (my insatiable sweet tooth being the culprit that resulted in the aforementioned trips to the dentist).

In pan

This syrup is less aniseed-y than some would like, so feel free to add a few cloves or a star anise if that’s what floats your boat. I also used loose leaf tea flavoured with chocolate, as that was the only one I had, but any loose leaf tea (or a normal tea-bag) will work fine. Keep tasting it as you go along, and adjust the levels of spices to taste. For me it’s that magical balance between sweet from the honey and cinnamon, and spicy from the pepper or star anise that makes this syrup so addictive. I imagine the syrup would keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few weeks, but it’ll never lasts that long if I’ve got anything to do with it.

In glass

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Rhubarb and Ginger Gin

gin

I am an obsessive reader of food blogs. I have about 20 of my favourites bookmarked on my computer, and consider it a good use of a few hours to go through them all on a regular basis. Some people put up new entries with astonishing regularity – I consider anything over the one post a week that I manage as pretty superhuman.

rhubarb cordial

Every blog contains in it the promise of inspiration- whether it be a new recipe, an interesting way of styling a shot or simply a well written post. The best blogs, in my opinion, have to have good photographs- that’s why most of the blogs I follow are by food photographers. The attention to detail and the quality of the photographs always inspires me to push myself in my own photography.

ginger

I’m always excited when I discover a new blog. Usually, this comes about via Instagram, which is my new Facebook, although that rather seems like replacing heroin with cocaine.  Lately I discovered not one but two new blogs – Call Me Cupcake (don’t be put off by the twee name) by the Swedish photographer Linda Lomelino, and Nordljus, by the Japanese photographer Keiko Oikawa. Both of these blogs contain photographs that make me want to weep with how beautiful they are.

glasses

One of the things that inspired me about the photography in both of these blogs in their attention to how each shot is set up – creating a balanced composition and filling the frame. Each item is placed with such precision, yet looks very natural. So I tried to emulate this in my photos for this post. I used a vase of flowers and a chequered cloth as props, to add visual interest. I also thought carefully about how I positioned each item, and how the colours would work together. And after all that, I fancied a bit of gin.

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