Tag Archives: jam

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worms, Cookery and Bread

For tea on Wednesday we had chicken, mushroom and bacon pie with tarragon. Yes, we’re in “tea” territory here, and even if we weren’t I spent my early years in Lancashire, so it will be “tea” wherever I go. On the side we had baked potato and sauteed kale. (It’s stir fried really but people always seem to call it sauteed). Of course, those people know how to access the French accents on their keyboard; I don’t and on my screen the word is underlined in red. We had a proper meal because we left work as early as we could and got home in time to do some proper cooking.

That’s what we’ve been missing recently, time.

We did a bit of easy cooking with the group -jam tarts using ready-made pastry and the jam we made on Tuesday from the blackberries we picked on  Monday. It’s known as Any Berry Jam. I would include a link, but I can’t find it. I’ll try later. There was very little washing up and we had very little inclination to stay longer, so we went home, where I cooked again.

Joy.

Tonight, we will be having soup and a sandwich because we tested sausage rolls for the food blog. I am putting weight on in my capacity of pie tester.

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Quick blackberry jam tarts

It was a very pleasant day, and there were several butterflies on the wing as I drove down the lane. I snapped the two Red Admirals just behind the centre and the very tatty white on the verbena is by the polytunnel.

The marigolds are having one last hurrah, whilst the Cape Gooseberries (or physalis, ground cherries or Inca berries if you prefer) are still struggling to ripen. The ones that were left from the vicious attack last year are a little behind the ones we grew from seed.

The last wheatsheaf loaf broke. This year they all seem to have deformed as they dried out and have actually broken instead of cracking as they normally do. I think it may be because I should let the dough rest more before use.

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Sad fate for Wheatsheaf Loaf

The wormery is going well, though we will probably release them after tomorrow’s session. They have produced tunnels, they have dragged bits of grass down and they have even moved a paper triangle, though not as impressively as in Darwin’s original experiment. In their defence, my worms are smaller. 😉

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Wormery, with paper triangle showing

 

 

School visit

It was an intensive session today – the underground world, cheese scones, soup (using potatoes from the school garden), apple pressing and microwave jam making.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so help yourself to a few thousand. 😉

Yes, it’s a lazy blog today…

The Care Farm Experience

 

It’s been a lazy day today. I’ve tried to be enthusiastic but I didn’t get back from Leeds until 1am this morning and when I tried to go to sleep all I could see was motorway traffic on the back of my eyelids. It was around 3am before I got to sleep, then I woke up at 5…

It wasn’t the best of starts.

At least I know I have done my duty as a father (the one that involves passing cash across and acting as a taxi driver, rather than the bit where you impart moral education and the Laws of Rugby).To make things worse I didn’t write a list of jobs to do, which always leads to wasted time.

It was a strange day for butterflies. We had the usual suspects (whites and small tortoiseshells) but managed a Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Comma. We haven’t seen a Comma or Red Admiral for months.

Julia has been industrious, trying out crafts for Flintham Ploughing Match. She has decided, after a somewhat fraught session, that straw weaving won’t make the cut – it just takes too much time and concentration. We will just take some corn dollies and information sheets.

We have had to revert to using paper art straws because modern wheat straw just isn’t long enough. In 1815 the Brigade of Guards concealed themselves in a field of wheat before leaping out to rout the advancing French. If they’d tried that in 2015 it would not have been so much of a surprise.

 

I’ve finished the McDonald’s Breakfast post on Pies and Prejudice, got the recipes together for the scone post I’m planning and sorted the cutters ready for making the saltdough poppies (part of the Big Autumn Project).

Finally we had home made blackberry jam and, after washing the outside of the jars (which seemed to have got very sticky in the filling process), divided last week’s jam between the group. It was a microwavable recipe – very quick and easy. It produces a slightly soft jam that tastes very fruity.

We spread it on some crackers left over from butter making. Everyone seemed to like it, including a few late summer wasps that were cruising around up to no good.

Currently we are waiting for the taxi. It’s twenty five minutes late already and we’ve been told it will be at least another 20 minutes. The original car, it seems, has broken down and they have been having trouble with the phones, because they always lose reception out here (though strangely enough, I don’t.)

They have several breakdowns every year and never seem to have phones that work.

I detect a slightly unlikely excuse.

I also detect the sort of service you get when the council puts a service out to the lowest bidder.

 

 

Men in Sheds, eating scones

Bob brought some of his store of plum jam and Julia provided the scones. Really we should have made scones but we haven’t been able to get into the kitchen much this week (due to the preparations for the run) so it was off to the shop.

Everyone seemed to enjoy them, anyway and we will be making more jam in a fortnight when he is going to bring us some plums.

Next Tuesday we are going to visit a permaculture project. It’s not that Men in Sheds are particularly interested in permaculture, but the Farmer is interested in using them as free labour to build a permaculture project in the allotments. Presumably that means another year when we can’t plan anything for the allotment.

With any luck it will be something like the one we planned two years ago but weren’t allowed to do.

Planning is not a strong point of this project…

Can you add your own version of a heart-rending sigh here please.

Anyway, I enjoyed the scones and some chicks have hatched so it’s been a good day. In a moment I’m hoping to take Julia away for lunch and have an afternoon off.

 

Bottles and the art of Business management

The damsons are nearly ready and the plums won’t be far behind. Indeed we have had some plums on the anonymous tree that produces yellow plums, though only two. One is still in the tree and one was on the floor been eaten by wasps until I shifted them. The remaining parts were very juicy, though if the best it can do is two plums it will be having an appointment with a wood-burning stove in the next few years. I’m sure that I can encourage it to fruit in the next couple of years as it’s been neglected recently.

I’m doing the pruning this year, and with the old orchard, the new orchard, the agroforestry trees and the odds and ends it’s over 500 trees, so I’m going to have plenty to do.

We need 250 ml drinks bottles because we’re going to try selling more of the apple juice through the cafe this year, and we need 1 lb jam jars for the jam because people haven’t been bringing old jars in fast enough this year. We are still allowed to reuse jars, despite various scare stories in the press, but we just can’t get enough. It won’t be a surprise to anyone in the UK that the situation is so ambiguous, because we’re used to it. After all, if you read the last paragraph you will see I am buying bottles and jars in two different measuring systems.

Now, each seller has their own idea of what numbers to sell in, whether to include lids, what to charge for shipping and what to stock. The jars from one, for instance, were far cheaper than anyone else but they don’t sell 1 lb jars. Their shipping is so high that if you aren’t buying the jars that we ended up buying slightly more costly bottles from a company with lower shipping costs. One of the companies sells in dozens, one in 25s, 50s, and 100s. The calculator on my phone is a bit fiddly in the area of the small button/big finger interface but fortunately I had long division beaten into me as a kid so I was equal to the challenge.

As an aside, did you realise that long division is In “a standard division algorithm suitable for dividing multidigit numbers”.Strange stuff this long division, I’ve been doing it all my life but I hardly recognise it when I have to read the definition!

I suppose this is the definition of management – when you spend more time buying the bottles than making the juice.

Porridge

World Porridge day has been and gone. We ate Likuni Phala to get into the swing of things. That’s Malawian porridge – four cups of maize kernels and a cup of soya beans with 15 cups of water. TESCO provided maize meal, which was a useful short-cut, and textured soya protein, also known as soya mince. I had intended reducing the soya to a more meal-like consistency in a blender, but I forgot to pack it . First I tried a rolling pin but still ended up with some recognisable pieces of mince. That was when the stick blender came into play.

Next time I’m going to seal the top of the jug with cling film. It wasn’t as bad as when the courgette soup went wrong, but having said that we’re still finding crumbs of soya twenty four hours later.

The day was supposed to be about comparing ourselves with other countries, so I also made oatmeal porridge to compare with the Likuni Phala. Unfortunately, given a choice kids always go for the familiar. Eight out of twelve refused to try the foreign porridge and even the ones who did try it covered it in sugar. From the point of view of comparison, and nutrition, I have delivered better education sessions.

On the other hand we did make sure everyone had plenty of porridge. As many of the group had free school lunches (which always seems to feature a plain grated cheese sandwich in white bread) this was probably a good thing.

After looking at the animals and learning more about how we grow and use wheat (what we refer to as our Seed to Sandwich presentation) it as time for the kitchen session. I’ve been working on a simple scone recipe because it gives us something to spread our home-made jam on. It also, being Hedgerow Jam, allows us to talk about foraging and alternative foods. People who wouldn’t think of trying something new when offered porridge seem happy to eat anything if it’s in the form of jam. The amount of sugar probably helps.

The first time we tried the recipe the mix turned out a bit dry. This time it was a little too soft. A bit of extra flour soon cleared that up. Next time I may get it right.

Next time, I will get something else wrong.