Posts Tagged ‘autumn’


There really is no such thing. Even when a friend has kindly given me 3kg of apples, and I have all the jars, vinegar, sugar and raisins to make chutney right here in my cupboards, the actual process of preserving always takes so much longer than I think it will. Even with the aid of my apple master, an ingenious contraption that peels, cores and slices even the tiniest of apples with a few twirls of the handle, I got a bit fed up after 2kg and endless jars of chutney.

So I used some of the remaining apples with rosehips to make a jelly, which meant only rough chopping and no peeling or coring.


Even this took longer than expected, with the picking of the hips, boiling, overnight straining and then boiling again with sugar. As much of a faff as this all is, the resulting jars of chutney, jams and jellies is more than worth it. Just- not quick.



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My summertime bare feet are feeling the chill all of a sudden but I’m not ready to break out the Padraigs just yet, and my old Moroccan leather slippers were fast falling apart: so I made a wee pair of felt slippers! I used some left over 100% wool felt from Solomon’s stocking, and an accidentally felted lambswool jumper from my mother in law.

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I bought the chamois for the soles from a sheepskin tannery nearby. The pattern is from Claire Youngs’ Scandinavian Needlecraft, and is really easy- I had very little of that petrol blue thread though so I used a different design for the embroidery. One of the circles is slightly wonky, and there are some things that are better on Slipper Number Two than Number One (always the way) but all in all they should see me into the chilly, full-on-woolly-socks-and-boot-style-slipper months nicely.

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I’m on to my second ball of gold merino yarn now, and the little baby cardigan (lovely free pattern here) is shaping up not too badly! After puzzling over several in-the-round patterns, I decided to play it safe for my first garment and knit something flat, to sew up once finished. I love using this merino DK from Drops, it is so squishy and easy to use. And what a colour. I have finished the tricky lacey bit now and am on the interminable body of the cardigan, monotony broken up only by the occasional buttonhole. I think I actually prefer the crazed frustration of lace!

A busy bank holiday weekend on the cottage front, too: Oli and his brother Tom were hard at work building the bench seating for the sun porch.

Help was always at hand from various little ones, and the lidless frame turned out to be a very good row boat.

It would appear that all you really need to build anything is a hand made mallet, a survival bush saw, and a cordless drill (oh, and a mitre saw…)

Next up for me, apart from ongoing knitting (always important to have ongoing knitting, I’m finding) is a quilt commission, for a baby with a tree middle name, like my own Otis Ash. One of this little girl’s middle names is Sycamore, so the quilt is quite a simple appliquéd tree with leaves and sycamore seeds, or keys as I now know them to be called. In order to get the keys in, the tree is in autumn colours, which are just lovely to work with, all those reds, oranges, and muted greens. I have chosen a very retro 70s-style mushroom print for the back and borders. I just couldn’t resist it, really!

I’ll keep you updated…

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Ah, the Reader’s Digest Cookery Year. Published in the late 1970’s, it is filled with sepia tinted, misty photographs of sacks of potatoes and plaited onions. It also fetches a mighty fine price on ebay, for such an outdated cookbook,  if you’re interested- it seems that The Cookery Year, now out of print, is a bit of a classic. It is also the only cookbook my in laws use, and my mother in law gave me this copy, acquired in her local charity shop, last week.

When her own copy was shiny and new, and my parents in law lived in Yorkshire, as they slept one night the house was burgled. Creepy enough, you might think, but said burglar not only helped himself to The Cookery Year and their kitchen knives, he made himself mushrooms on toast first, which he ate by candlelight. When the police finally apprehended him, after a considerable number of burglaries had been racked up, The Cookery Year was returned to my mother in law, binding intact but pages slashed with the stolen knives. Perhaps the mushroom on toast recipe was substandard.

Going to my in laws’ house is feast or famine. After a breakfast, at breakfast time, of some slightly suspect cereal, we are usually at around lunchtime treated to a gigantic fry-up breakfast of hotelier proportions: tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, bacon, two types of sausage, eggs of your choice, toast and honey. Then you are left scrabbling around in the fridge, looking dubiously at some Stilton from last Christmas and a few floppy carrots, until about 10pm at which point another gourmet meal is mustered up out of seemingly nothing. They are the original Ready Steady Cook cooks, able to create mouth watering stews and roasts from a scrap of beef, three parsnips and an ancient spring onion. It is owing to their hotel training and simple love of good grub that my husband is such a good cook himself. And perhaps also explains his adherence to use by dates!

So I was rather pleased to receive my own copy of The Cookery Year, especially since we are trying to cook more seasonally, for reasons not only of price but also taste. I am already heeding its advice concerning storage of apples, as we have found an apple tree laden with tiny, sweet Cox-like fruit:

Combined with some brambles (hidden from Sol and his voracious ‘bambul’ appetite) and some ground almonds I made a cobbler, a slight departure from the usual crumble but a worthy one. And delicious cold as well (autumn is a fine time for greed!)

Here is is, the second time round and before I drowned it in double cream:

We’ll pick some more of the wee apples later today, drizzle permitting.

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Spurred on by my mother in law’s comment after my ‘Harvest’ post, today we made our rosehip syrup. Sadly we are a bit late for the large wild rose rosehips at the top of the field, which have mostly been claimed by insects, and a bit early for the tiny ones along the farm track! So my basket isn’t as bountiful as I would have liked. My basket, by the way, is my beloved one bought last year at a Christmas fair for the Waldorf and Camphill Community Schools here in Aberdeenshire.

What started as a small basketful soon dwindled to a very small panful as I discovered several of the fruits were inhabited by maggots… mmmm! I had to break up the rosehips to inspect them- as the seeds are rather maggot-esque in appearance. I don’t doubt 30 minutes of boiling would kill off even the hardiest of maggots, and the syrup is strained, but I don’t really fancy jus de maggot to be honest!

Once the fruits are crushed a bit, they are covered in water and then I added a few cloves and a cinnamon stick. It was simmered for 30 minutes and then strained. I returned it to the pan and added the same volume in sugar (the rosehip water was about 2 cupfuls, so I added the same in sugar) Then I boiled it for about 15 minutes before transferring it to a sterilised jar.

It is like a sweet taste of winter early, very high in vitamin C apparently. And sugar!

Only one precious jar that will probably be scoffed rather quickly…

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Harvest time

Solomon in the combine harvester

According to the lady we bought our insulation from, September is when everyone starts thinking about winter. And although the air is not yet nippy, I have spotted a few red and golding leaves amongst the green, and the swallows are definately fewer in number as they swoop above the derelict steading.

There are bales in the fields and our farmer is looking busy and tired, not stopping to chat until the harvest is in. My sister’s boyfriend is also a farmer and took this photo of our little toddler a few weeks ago, tucked into the wheel of a combine harvester.

I love the autumn and all its preparatory work. This year we are thinking of making rosehip syrup and I’ll update on its success or failure…

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