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30 January 2016

I love reading blogs. Blogging, in it's very nature, is such a personal way of writing. Read a blog, and you are privy to the kind of intimacy which is lacking from many friendships: you know the writer's favourite ingredients, their pet peeves, their go-to sayings, their stories. And yet, in real life, they have no idea you even exist. Isn't that strange?

I want to caveat that these musings are not meant as a critique of the blogisphere. I cannot say enough good things about blogging - the chance to share your passions with people you'd never have met otherwise is incredibly special. I have little doubt that had they been born in a different time, the likes of Oscar Wilde, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf would have jumped at the change to share their talent, anguish and politics with the world at the click of a button.

I suppose, for me, the real question here is who it is that I speak to when I sit down at my kitchen table to blog. Of course, I write to you - I cannot tell you enough times how happy (and surprised!) I am that you are still stopping by, still baking my recipes, still reading.

Do I write to my wonderful friends and family, who championed this blog in its infancy and dutifully shared each new post on Facebook? Yes! Do I write to my granny, who has taught herself to use a computer in her eighties and sends me feedback via email after testing each recipe? Yes! And yes, she really does do that.

And of course, I also write to myself. To my present day self - often stressed, often without make up, often running for the 94 bus with limbs and bags flailing - I write as a reminder that these precious pockets of time spent baking and writing are my sanity and my therapy. And to the thirteen year old girl who I remember so well - desperate to grow up, and ever so worried about so many things - I write in the hope that she knew things would turn out ok. Albeit with much less glamour and poise than she might have had in mind for her twenties.

This recipe for homemade pomegranate fruit pastilles is a little homage to her. She may have been shopping at Topshop and reading Grazia, but she was (and is still) rather partial to fruit pastilles.
150g bramley apples
150g raspberries
100g pomegranate seeds
50ml water
50ml lemon juice
125g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting

Begin by lining a deep-sided baking dish with parchment, and set aside. Peel your apples, and finely chop the flesh. Blitz the pomegranate seeds in a food processor. Transfer both to a large, heavy based saucepan and add the raspberries,  lemon juice and water. Slowly bring the pan to the boil, then reduce the heat and allow the fruit to simmer until it is mushy and cooked through.

Remove the pan from the heat, and push the contents through a sieve. Use a spoon to push through as much pulp as you can, so that it is just the seeds that are left in the sieve. Wash the pan, the return the puree to the pan, and stir in the sugar.

Return the pan to the heat and bring it back to the boil for a few minutes, then reduce the heat and cook the mixture until it has reduced by two thirds and is very thick. Stir constantly to prevent it from catching as it reduces - it will take at least 30 minutes for it to reduce enough.

Once you have a very thick, gelatinous mixture, pour into the lined baking dish. Allow it to cool completely, then turn out onto another piece of baking paper. Cut into small pieces using a knife or a pizza cutter, and finish by pressing each fruit pastille into caster sugar.

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