Friday, August 20, 2010

Wet and windy.

It's wet and windy outside and I am tucked up here in bed. The nights are getting longer, where a little while ago it would have been bright and sunny by now it is still very dark. I am having trouble finding the motivation to get up as early as I would like. To do as much as I want to do each day. Is this a bad thing or is it's natures way? 

The garden and the allotment are showing signs of winding down. These beautiful seed heads of the lantern  clematis look like little old men with scruff haircuts. The wild form of clematis, in the UK, is called old man's beard. 

The pears are ripening, it going to be a bumper crop this year, enough to make pear chutney. I'm really enjoying the preserving, always on the look out for something to bottle. Pampa is now getting paranoid about what to do with any jar or bottle as it is emptied. Should he put it in the re-cycling bin or do I want to fill it with something else. 

The pears aren't the only autumn bounty the garden has to offer, these sweetcorn promise a good feed as do the butternut squash. We actually eat one of these in the week but I don't think it was as nice as a fully mature one. I did pick the first ever melon I have grown but we are ripening it off on the kitchen windowsill for a while yet. 

There is still a fair bit of summer still around, like these beautiful calendula. I really must read up on making balm for sprains and bruises.

It's light at last and I must be up and away. The washing needs hang on the rack indoors today, we need bread and a cake for weekend tea. I have beetroot to bottle and a shopping list to make. I also have a parcel to post but no address as yet to send it. I might do a little sewing this afternoon as I don't think it is going to be allotment weather.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Using up the tomatoes.

Today we started our preserving. Benjy was doing the cooking, I was his sou chef and KP. I love when we cook together, even when he tips a bottle of fish sauce over me. Pooh, I did smell for a while.

We started with good old Hugh and his Glutney Chutney. This is a recipe that can be changed to suit what you have to preserve. We had courgettes, onion, apples, marrow and loads of tomatoes. With sultanas, sugar, vinegar, a touch of chilli and a little bag of spices, you have a very yummy chutney.

When everything is added to the pan I always have a moment of thinking " Oh dear, there is far too much" but as it slowly cooks away done it goes.

Next on the list, chilli jam from this Marie Claire book, I love this name. Chillies, more tomatoes and long slow cooking produced a hhhhhot spicey relish. Much too hot for me but the boys love it. It's also ready to eat immediately. It does improve, apparently, with keeping but very nice fresh.

I'm afraid I'm in the bad books as I let it catch on the bottom of the pan but not enough to ruin it. Just transferred it to a clean pan and went on cooking. 

This version of Glutney Chutney is quite pale but very tasty. It needs time to mature and I will be putting this in the store room for a few weeks. 

Here is the Chilli jam, there was more but the boys and Pampa ate it with there burgers at supper.

I was out yesterday gleaning blackberries from the allotment hedge rows. Managed to pick about two pounds in twenty minutes. I've cooked them down with lemon juice and tomorrow they will be turned into bramble jelly. Pampa is not keen on blackberry pips and so I'm being nice to him.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Having the glums.

I so needed to see this little face this morning. One or two things yesterday made me feel sad and I needed to lift the mood. The last straw was as I was coming home from the supermarket I was very close to a car accident. A poor man lost control of his car and crashed into large sign. The sign was between his car and mine, if it hadn't been there he would have hit my passenger side at speed. Although my car and I were both unscathed it was still a terrible shock. The poor man was injured and his lovely car was completely smashed up. I could not stop thinking about what might have been.
Pampa made me sit and he cooked our supper, not curry as I was going to do but lovely hot crispy chips with loads of salt and vinegar and a perfect fried egg. Sometimes you just need comfort food such as these.

Other things during the day had upset me to some degree, extended family who can't comprehend the way we wish to live.

I so thankful that I am who I am at this time. I'm thankful I can be who I am. I'm thankful for my good friends who understand me and I'm thankful for the ones who don't understand me but except me for who I am.

While I was sitting going over the events of the day a friend from the knit club phoned to ask if I would like her to pick up some toy stuffing, as she was going to the shop today and it would be no trouble. She'd remembered I had said I need some to finish a teddy. A kind thought so appreciated.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beans and a casserole.

When the beans start to come in I have to be ready because there is no let up. This is todays pickings, runners, borlotti, french and navy beans. They are now prepared, blanched and tucked up in the freezer, well some of them anyway. The borlotti went into a beef and bean casserole.

I have been buying my meat from a local butcher and the quality is superb. He knows so much and is so generous with his knowledge. It will a sad day when we can't ask the butcher for his advice and have a little bit of a chat.
I like my beef marbled through with fat. I think it has more flavour and cooks better but that is only my opinion.

I've never grown borlotti beans before and was a little nervous at cooking them fresh. The pods are so pretty with their pink and white stripes, the beans are supposed to be pink and white as well but mine all seemed pale green. I'm going to leave most on the vines to dry so I can store them for winter use. Another new experience, drying pulse.

Soft rolls with polenta topping, I did make a dozen but they didn't last very long. The dough made in the bread maker and then knocked back, shaped, left to rise for 1/2 hour and then popped in the oven for 10 minutes.

I missed taking a photo of the finished casserole, it didn't last long enough. I did manage to save enough for lunch tomorrow. The beans added a lovely nutty flavour, cooked until soft but not mushy. Much better than the dried variety.