Tag Archives: chutney

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.