Posted in Cottage life, tagged apples, autumn, foraging, jam, jelly, local, preserving, rosehips, seasonal, slow food, wild good on September 3, 2014|
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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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Posted in Cottage life, Food, tagged foraging, hedgerow, jam, jelly, preserving, raspberry, seasons, summer, wild food on August 20, 2013|
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Last year was our first summer here and I was astonished at the sudden appearance of wild raspberry canes, popping out from brown, dead, snow-crushed nowhere in springtime. We watched as they flowered briefly and then started noticing the red berries as we drove past, resolving to return on foot with a basket or two. I made many sojourns out with Otis on my back and Sol on his balance bike, freezing the handful here and there that we picked. I made jelly with the resulting kilo and a bit, which converted into three precious jars. Last week, my visiting mum and I went out and in one session, picked the same weight as I managed for the whole of last year!
I boiled up the berries immediately this time, strained them overnight in a muslin bag (‘like a bloodied pendulum,’ according to my mother) and made the jelly the next morning. I used jam sugar, but not the one with added pectin, as that resulted in a very firm set previously. I haven’t cracked open a jar, but my mum took one back to my grandmother to enjoy on some of her scones, and am reliably informed of a good set and tasty jelly!
The thing about seasons, and seasonal living, is that you quickly become a creature of habit. Winter brings soups, gathering in logs as quickly as possible for the fire, and the smell of an unhappy clutch as I struggle to emerge from a snowy parking spot; then comes the time for a handful of wild garlic in an omelette; daffodils pop up; the trees start their soft, pure green growth that makes them look fresh and new; elders start blooming and I resolve to make elderflower champagne (scared of the explosions, next year, I promise); and the raspberries, in the same wind and snow-ravaged spot, grow completely unaided by human hand. As Sol and I picked by the roadside, a woman in her seventies pulled up her car and told us of how she had picked these same raspberry bushes with her children. It was a lovely moment: cyclical, seasonal, round and round.
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Posted in Food, Work in progress, tagged bird, jam, Loch Lomond Quilt Show, Pam Corbin, Preserves Handbook, quilt, rhubarb, rhubarb and ginger jam, River Cottage, swallow on May 15, 2012|
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Well I cracked open a jar of the potentially ill-fated rhubarb jam today. Pam ‘The Jam’ Corbin, whose recipe this is, describes it as a soft, dropping jam ideal for spooning into yoghurt. Well you could lay bricks with mine, I reckon; the pectin has taken its job very seriously indeed. It is also definitely too dark, from the slight caramelising (burning by another name) of the mixture at the very end. A bit chutney-esque. Having said all of that, it is still rather yummy, on toast, and squodged (not, sadly, spoooned) into some plain yoghurt. So, on balance, I think, a success. I would give a jar away (with mumbled provisos and apologies, naturally)- but I would not enter it into the local country show. I have made notes for next time…
This is meant to be, if not a purely craft blog, one with strong craft leanings, more specifically quilt leanings. And after some delays, I FINALLY went to start the sycamore tree quilt. And then realised I hadn’t pre-washed the fabrics. So dull, but also so important. I promise a quilty post or two soon, because this weekend I will be heading south to the Loch Lomond Quilt Show, where Rowan’s swallow quilt has been entered into one of the competitions. The words small, fish, big and pond are going round my head, but it’ll be a treat to see lots of lovely quilts all in one place and to meet other quilty folk!
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A quietish weekend after what has felt like a long week of colds, viruses and general malaise at Newbraes Cottage. All occupants are returning to full health today, so we took a little drive out to Mossat (‘the Moffat of the North’ according to a friend of mine) to an antiques shop there. It’s quite a treasure trove of bric a brac, furniture, old books, spinning wheels (inducing feelings of terrible spinning-guilt at my dusty Ashford upstairs), jam pans and bell jars of stuffed hummingbirds (not my thing, ugh). I resisted the urge to go crazy on a hand painted Royal Albert poppy flower tea set (£80) and only bought one tea tray cloth and a few handkerchiefs, all hand embroidered and very pretty, for £1. I know, I know. I don’t often serve tea on trays. It’s becoming a bit of an embroidery addiction.
The jam pans spurred me on to make some rhubarb and ginger jam with the wild rhubarb I was given yesterday. Here it is in its wild, roadside state:
And then jam pan-bound.
Call it impatience, call it having to cook dinner, or call it rubbish electric hobs, but sadly I managed to catch the jam slightly. I hope it isn’t ruined, (it’s certainly quite dark) but I’ll only be able to tell properly once it has cooled.
The window seat trundles on, and hopefully should be all faced in tongue and groove panels soon. And then everyone assures me I am quite capable of making cushions for it, although I do feel upholstery is not my forte. I am enjoying the prospect of knitting some scatter cushions for it, though…
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