A Second Year In Photos: Instagrammers (Not So) Anonymous

One of this year’s regular features only started back at the end of April, but since then it’s happened almost every Friday; it is, of course, Instagrammers Anonymous. When I got my iPhone in April one of the first apps I downloaded was Instagram, and the addiction has flowed from that moment on. It’s slightly pathetic, I fully admit, but it’s so easy (and addictive) to take your phone out, take an average photo and make it look more fun with a simple filter. It’s certainly a lot quicker than using a camera and spending an age doing the same thing on photoshop! Over the last six months there have been pets and parties, cakes and castles, gin and *insert something beginning with G (excluding giraffe) here*. Basically, you name it, it’s been there. It seemed only right, therefore, to let Instagrammers Anonymous retain its usual Friday spot and make it day 3 of A Second Year In Photos.

Hello, my name’s Craig and I’m an Instagramming-aholic.

Following the success of the lime and chilli gin and other exciting home-flavoured alcohols I decided to refill my empty Raspberry Edinburgh Gin bottle with my own version of the scarlet nectar. Once bottled it… uhm… evaporated… very quickly…raspberry gin in a bottle with label

The following is one of the first photos I took with Instagram. And to this day remains one of my favourites (nothing like starting well and going downhill from there). It is, of course, of Keira, and until the delightful catastrophe that was me updating to iOS6 it was my phone’s background image.
Instagram, iPhone 4S, Keira

Tomorrow it’s time to celebrate the Jub-Olympic summer!


Alcoholic Adventure: The Next Generation

Lets face it, the vast majority of us like the odd tipple every now and then. And who doesn’t like baked-goods which have been enhanced with a little booze (apart from Paul Hollywood; we discovered on Tuesday night’s edition of the Great British Bake Off that he is under the misapprehension that there is such a thing as ‘too much alcohol’ when it comes to baking)?

Well, I quite like the make-your-own approach when it comes to interesting alcohol. And this means that anything you use is fair game for baking. Alcohol = Win. Alcohol + Cake = Double Win. Fact.

Summer Fruit Gin; Homemade Alcohol

In the past this has resulted in the creation of Chocolate-Orange-Cello (think Lemoncello – but with oranges & chocolate; not citrus fruit playing musical instruments), Mulled Gin (a great Christmas treat, but tragically I’ve lost the recipe), Summer Fruit Gin (think Ribena, but SO much better), and most recently Chilli and Lime Gin (a truly warming drink, which I happen to be having a little of right now – this post was written in advance, morning drinking is not something I’m in the habit of doing). But now I’m looking for the next big idea.Chocolate-Orange-Cello, Home made alcoholThe question of what to make next is something I’ve decided to put up for debate. I’m thinking that I should go for something seasonal, but given how long it usually takes me to get round to making whatever I go for it might not be the immediately obvious ‘seasonal’. I’m aiming for late autumn/early winter/bordering on Christmas (I’m super organised, what can I say…).Chilli and Lime GinI’ve had the following ideas, but I’m open to many, many more. Feel free to comment with an idea or find me at @contempclouds, (my telepathy is awaiting repair right now, so don’t try that one).

The ideas thus far:

Cinnamon and Apple Vodka
Christmas Cake Gin
Mulled ‘Wine’ Vodka
Pumpkin Vodka
Carrot and Orange Gin
Apple Crumble Vodka
Cranberry and Clementine Vodka (or gin)
Apple and Blackcurrant
Blackberry Gin
Sloe Gin

When I have all the ideas together I’ll see which one I want to try (first), or perhaps even put it out to a little poll. Oh, and one last thing – if you give me the idea that I finally end up on, I’ll do my best to make sure you get a taste of it!


Antidote to a Wet, Miserable Afternoon: Chilli Chocolate Brownies

Chilli and Lime GinIf you have missed the previous posts, I recently decided to make some Chilli and Lime flavoured gin (see the beginnings or the final product [edit: the recipe for Chilli and Lime Gin has now moved to The Usual Saucepans – sorry for any inconvenience]for further details). Doing something like this always leaves me with a slight dilemma: what do you do with the leftover fruit? Obviously just chucking it out is a massive waste, but what exactly would go with gin-soaked chillies and lime? My first response was muffins (I don’t know what this says about me), but after a quick consultation with the ever-helpful Mr Google I came across a recipe for White Chocolate Chilli Brownies from BBC Food, this I decided was a bit odd – I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, I find it a bit sickly – but easily altered to become chocolate and chilli brownies with lime. Dilemma solved.Chilli Chocolate BrowniesI’ll apologise here for the slightly dodgy photos in this post, they were taken on my phone (I was feeling too lazy to take the 20 or so second walk to go find a camera).

As with most brownies they were very easy to make, but I’m slightly sad that the taste of the lime isn’t particularly obvious (I didn’t have the lime zest, which certainly didn’t help). The fact that the gin didn’t come through is possibly a good thing (I’m not entirely sure gin and chocolate would be a great combination…).Chilli Chocolate BrowniesI would also be tempted to add a spoonful of cocoa powder in next time as well, to make the final outcome that little bit darker and more brownie-like. However, for something I tried on a whim, I don’t think they were at all bad. Chilli Chocolate BrowniesChilli and Lime Chocolate Brownies (Adapted from the original BBC Food recipe)

  • 160g butter
  • 225g good quality dark chocolate (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tbs good cocoa powder
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour (sifted)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Zest and (all the) juice of a lime
For the chillies, 2 de-seeded red chillies, 100g caster sugar, 150 ml water.
  1. Heat the oven to 180’C and line a 15×25 cm baking tin (or something roughly around that size).
  2. Slice the chillies on the diagonal and combine with sugar and water in a pot; bring to the boil gently and simmer for a few minutes (I would do it for less time if the chillies were in gin for a fortnight).
  3. Over a pot of simmering water, in a heatproof bowl, melt the butter and just over half the chocolate, whisking until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, sugar, lime (zest and juice) and vanilla together until pale. Beat in the chocolate mixture.
  5. Fold in the flower, cocoa and salt until a batter is formed, then add the remaining chocolate chunks. Drain the chillies (keeping about a tablespoon of the water) and add them to the batter (keeping a few to scatter on top), then mix in the chilli-water.
  6. Pour into the tray and scatter the remaining chillies on top.
  7. Bake in the oven for approx. 25 mins, or until the top is firm and the brownies are coming away from the edge a bit.
  8. Cut into whatever size you want and dust with icing sugar, if desired.
  9. Eat.
If, when you’re eating them, you find the chilli taste is not quite as powerful as you would like, warm them slightly.
They also go well as a dessert, with a little whipped cream and a couple of raspberries or with a cake shaped like a killer whale (it was a slightly bizarre weekend).

And so the Adventure Begins!

A while ago there was much talk here about Summer Berry Gin, Chocolate-Orange-Cello and lots of other home-flavoured alcohols (see also Mel’s Blueberry gin). Of late this front has been rather dry, but the wait is over. Or more precisely, the wait has begun.

Whilst visiting my Great Uncle recently (chronicled here), and remarking that the chillies in his greenhouse looked good, he said that he used some of them to make homemade chilli gin (for the church fair, no less). This, aside from confirming that it is definitely that area of my family that the ‘gin genes’ come from, gave me the idea to try it out. It has since evolved into Chilli and Lime Gin, but it has never quite been made. Tonight that has all changed and the base ingredient are in, now we just have to wait two weeks until it will knock your socks off* (hopefully in taste, not the literal sense…)

And so the Chilli and Lime Gin adventure begins!Chilli and Lime Gin!


*Denotes vastly under-used, but wonderful phrase.