Tag Archives: chutney

Cheese, Chutney and Cholesterol

I’ve reached the balance phase of my extended Christmas holiday. After five days doing very little, whilst wearing layers of flannelette I am now bored. Tomorrow I will dress and go out. It’s now feeling like I need to do something in preparation for going back to work. By “something” I mean something other than watching TV, napping or checking eBay.

It’s time to start work on the book of poetry, catalogue my collection and declutter the house. To be fair, I often say it’s that time, so don’t expect too much in the way of actual action. The only difference this year is that we are within two years of retirement and moving.

I have about 18 months to go and Julia has two years longer than that – she’s younger than me, and because of that we fell on different sides of the divide as the government raised the retirement age. I can draw my pension at 66, she has to wait until she’s 67. As the retirement age for women was 60 when we married (compared to 65 for men) she already nurses a grudge against the government, even without the additional year. That is why I will now remain tactfully silent over the matter and not remind people seeking equality to be careful what they wish for.

We just had cheese and biscuits so I can now report that the Onion and Date Chutney I mentioned in the last post was as good as the Sweet Root chutney, and both go well with Lancashire cheese. They also go well with garlic and herb soft cheese, though I don’t want you to think I’m showing off about my cheese supply with all this name dropping.

We actually don’t have much variety compared to previous years, as I always used to buy Camembert or Brie and at least one variety we’d never had before, plus Stilton, something else blue, cheddar, Wensleydale with fruit, and some of those Xmas novelty truckles. This year we have Stilton, Red Leicester, Lancashire, a truckle of Chilli Cheddar and the soft garlic and herb cheese. We still have enough cheese to block a major artery, but we have less variety, which makes it easier to use in an orderly fashion. I try my best, but we have found a few furry surprises at the back of the fridge in our time. One year I actually developed a semi-soft blue Cheddar, which was very good, though possibly poisonous. I’m still here so it was probably OK, but according to the internet you need to be careful with mould. On the other hand, I can’t help noting that Alexander Fleming got a knighthood and a Nobel Prize from messing about with mould.

The Big Reveal

I was just looking over a post from a couple of days ago and really must apologise for the quality of my proof-reading and typing.

The title refers, in case you are concerned, to a discussion of the chutney I was given for Christmas, rather than a malfunction of my outfit. I am still ding my impression of a plaid mountain, though tomorrow I must dress properly as I need to use the car.

Before the countdown I will just mention that I have had a complaint from a reader. She has asked me to point out that she cooked plenty of stuffing and that the reason for the stuffing deficiency is that I eat too much. I off course replied that we always had plenty when I did the cooking, and that if I was unhappy I could cook the Christmas Dinner myself.

I am too experienced at the ways of husbandship to fall for that one, so muttered and left the argument. Thirty-three years of avoiding housework helps you develop an instinct about that sort of thing.

Anyway, back to the countdown.

At three we have onion and date chutney, a thoughtful general purpose chutney which I haven’t opened yet as we have a number of similar chutneys on the go.

At two, we have sweet root chutney. It’s the colour of piccalilli but with a sweeter taste, and, according to the contents, contains celeriac.It was excellent with pork pie and I am looking forward to using more of it. I suspect it will be good with cheese too.

Finally, in first p[ace for oddity we have Brussels Sprout Ketchup. I confess, the more I thought about it, the more I delayed. We had it on Boxing day and, despite the fears and the primeval green glow it gave off (like the scrapings of a an ancient swampland) it was really good. It doesn’t taste sulphurous, as I expected, and doesn’t produce any digestive upsets, so I have to give it 9/10. It’s tangy, spicy, hot and just about perfect, but if you have to eat it with your eyes closed (due to the threatening green colour) it can’t have 10/10. It comes from Nottingham and they plant a tree for every order they get, so if you need an excellent ketchup from a great city and want to plant a tree, this is the one for you!

Pictures are from past pickles and produce, as I’m too lazy to take new photos.

The Old Farm Shop


Once bitten…

I have just been watching Dracula on TV. It has been, to put it mildly, a patchy experience. The story has been spread over three nights, which is one of its weak points as there was only enough story, I felt, to fill half that time. Or less.

The first episode was drawn out and dull. The second episode was tedious and lacked grip. It finally came to life in the closing moments. The third episode was quite good and I could have watched more of it. So, could do better, and if anything similar comes along I’ll probably give it a miss.

Once bitten, twice shy.

Just a short post tonight, as I’ve got to go and make tomorrow’s sandwiches.

I finished the Christmas Chutney today. It has been very good, and reminded me of the Christmas Chutney I used to make in my farm kitchen days. It’s good and fruity and packing plenty of Christmas spice. Mine used to have cranberries in but was much the same flavour.

All went well until I chewed down on my final cheese sandwich and found half a plum stone. They clearly hadn’t skimmed it properly, which was one of the reasons I preferred to de-stone the fruit before using it. It’s quicker to boil and skim, but there’s always the risk of a broken tooth. Fortunately there was no dental damage from this episode, just a bit of a shock.

Piccalilli, preserves and plum jam

Phew, just managed the three P’s. Was just bemoaning the fact that we hadn’t done any pickles when I realised we did have preserves. I say “we” but I gave it a wide berth and spent most of my day pressing apples and tarting up a grant application (yes, the same one we’ve been doing for the last two months – it just came back with lots of nit-picking queries and suggestions). If you want the money, you do the work.

Anyway, it was preferable to working in a kitchen with two women in full preserving mode. Jam making does not bring out the best in my beloved, and as she was trying a new recipe I thought it was a good idea to stay out of the way.

The picture shows Julia and Angela with an array of jars – piccalilli, plum jam, apple and mint jelly, apple chutney and blackberry jam. There are also jelly bags of hedgerow fruits (blackberry, elderberry, crab apple and hawthorn) draining out of shot. They, I’m told, are my project. We could have used sloes and rose hips too but ran out of time to pick more.

We don’t use rowan, despite having them in good numbers, because they are rather sharp. Sometimes we make rowan jelly (a traditional tracklement to accompany game) but there isn’t a great demand for it so we don’t bother these days. Rowan berries host the largest number of insects I’ve ever seen in hedgerow fruit – mainly earwigs and long-legged spiders.


Angela and Julia with a selection of produce

Just looked up tracklement, as it’s an unusual word and I wanted to be certain I was using it correctly, and find that it’s a word only from the 1950s, albeit based on older words. I first came across it in the 1970s in a translation of Flaubert’s “Saint Julian the Hospitalier”.

It’s strange how things can trigger memories. I’ve seen the word tracklement since then, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it. The first time I do, over 40 years since I learned it, I’m transported back to a story I haven’t thought of in all that time.

The magic of the internet is such that I was able to put Flaubert, mediaeval and hunting into Google and it brought the correct story up.

I’ve also been able to order a copy.








As you may have noticed, we are slowly adding new subjects to the site. We already have a section on the Ecocentre and a selection of photographs and yesterday added a book review page. I’m going to add some food and recipe pages soon but there’s a problem I need to overcome first.

I meant to do some food blogging while we were on holiday in the Lake District last year but I ran into two problems. One is that I’m embarrassed by my own odd behavior in taking pictures of my food, particularly when the flash goes off or a small child points out what I’m doing. The second is that I often eat the subject of the blog before taking the picture. The pies at Tebay services on the M6, for instance, are really good (though they are possibly kept in the warming cabinet a little too long). We had them twice, and both times I found myself looking down at the biodegradable packaging and a few crumbs. What was worse is that on the second occasion I had gone there with the intention of getting a photograph.

The same applies to cookery – there’s no embarrassment but I do still tend to eat things before remembering to take a photograph. There’s the additional problem of having no flair for food photography, but it can’t be that hard compared to some branches of photography. It doesn’t explode and it doesn’t bite so how hard can it be? I will just have to try harder.


That’s a cheese and home-made soda bread cob made from wheat that was harvested in the morning and eaten at lunchtime. It’s quite a good shot, but unfortunately it isn’t one of mine.


This is one of mine. It’s home-made piccalilli. The red bits are chillis because somebody told me it wasn’t spicy enough last year. Nobody has said that this year.

You’ll eventually find that paperwork is a recurring theme with me. Or, to be more precise, my ineptitude with paperwork is a recurring theme.

We made quite a lot of chutney at the end of summer and put it to one side to mature. Now it needs labels. And there is the problem. Somewhere over the last six weeks the collection of paper scraps and diary notes that represent my recipe collection have been scrambled. I have all the information I need to do the ingredients lists for the eight different sorts of chutney, but not all in the same place. It’s a bit of an Eric Morecambe situation – I have all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.

Fortunately I know that the “x2 mustard, 30g fresh ginger, 2 red chillies no seeds 100g honey instead of sugar” scribbled in the last week of August relates to the extra hot piccalilli and needs adding to the printout that contains the standard piccalilli recipe.

Two down, six to go.