Saturday, 31 July 2010

2010.07.31 My Day

Well its been a busy one and I was up early whether I wanted to be or not as a little dog decided that she was going to lick me to death to make me get up.  What ever happened to a lay in!  Seems to be a thing of the past since Missy moved in.

I have been doing housework trying to get tidy but failing miserably as usual.  I haven't been to the veg shop today though as I have lots of stuff already and I want to get it all used up, so I can stock up fresh again next week.  There are some things I want to get sorted in the next few weeks predominantly to do with bottling and sauces and cordials n things and I need bottles and sauce bottles as I am running low.

I sorted out the cherry plums this morning and have a load in the pan cooking gently then they are to be put through a jelly bag left overnight and then made up into wild cherry plum jelly sometime tomorrow. With the remnants I intend to make some wild plum cheese.  I also have some more wild cherry plum jam to do as well.  They are all prepped up ready in the kitchen.

I picked a load of blackberries today out of the garden and have made up into Blackberry and Apple jam - see separate post. I now have another four jars of bounty for the pantry.

We took Missy for a run later this afternoon and I picked some more cherry plums.  Nearly gone from the tree we have been picking but there are other trees there where the trees a different variety are just coming good so will have continuation in the next few weeks.

Topped up the Rhumptopf with another layer of fruit and sugar now consists of cherries, blueberries, cherry plums, redcurrants and smells delish.  The jar I am using I cannot get a small saucer into to hold the fruit down so I have folded some greaseproof and scrunched it up and put it on top of the fruit. It helps keep the fruit submerged.

Well must get on with the jam I have to remove the stones before I put the sugar in a tedious job at the best of times.

Catch you when I can.



Apple and Blackberry Jam

I love foraging the hedgerows near to where we live when we take Missy for a walk and the hedgerows are burgeoning with bounty to come.  There will be a lot of elderberries and black gold, blackberries to gather in the coming weeks. In fact the elderberries will not be long they are already starting to turn black.

Thats all good news for me as I intend to make the best of this bounty - I have agreed to gather a load for my mum to put in her freezer.  Every so often she does puddings  or baking for my brother and his family or for myself; which is very welcome as I personally always enjoy something that has been cooked for me.

Since I found blackberries in the garden every two days or so I have been going into the garden and I am managing to pick this amount  (about 1/2 lb - so I am not doing too bad espcially as they are freebies.  I had just enough to make some blackberry and apple jam and this has been bubbling away in the jam pan It tastes scrummy and will be lovely with warmed croissants for breakfast on top of yogurt or in rice pudding as well as a lovely filling for a sponge cake or for a Mille Feuille Slice.

I was a bit worried that I didn't have enough blackberries so I checked with The Basic Basics Jams Preserves and Chutneys Handbook by Marguerite Patten and I only needed 1lb of apples and 1lb of blackberries and 2lb sugar with just enough water to cover the fruit.


1lb blackberries
1lb apples (recipe said cooking apples but I used some dessert apples that I have)
2lb sugar
water to cover fruit

Make sure fruit is sound and get rid of any bruised damaged or mouldy fruit this applies to both the blackberries and the apples.  Slice the apples into small pieces then add to the blackberries in the pan.  Cook until nice and soft the add the sugar.  Carry on cooking until jam achieves a set.

Bottle into nice hot jars.

I now have four jars of purple bounty to add to "The Put Down 2010", the first of many I hope.  I have lined up a few different recipes that I want to try in the coming weeks, some of them old friends some of them completely new to me, but one thing I have promised myself is that I am going to put a few bottles of compote up variations on the fruits yet to come combined with apples and pears giving more scope for different puddings and meals.  And there are still the pickles, home made mincemeat, curds etc to come as well as the wine making, beer making ginger beer and cider.

Theres lots to do and so little time to do it.

Catch up soon



Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Spiced Wild Plum Vinegar

I still have loads of Wild Cherry plums to use up.  I have run out of preserving bottles the freezer is full so I have been scouring my books to see what else I can find.  I am rather partial to flavoured vinegars especially fruit ones served with goats cheese and salad.  I have found this recipe which is taken from Country Harvest by Linda Burgess and Rosamond Richardson ISBN 0-85223-891-6.  (If you haven't got this cookery book it is well worth looking out for it.  It has some cracking recipes in using much of what is available in the hedgerows).

Anyway back to the recipe - the only reservation I have about this recipe is that it might be too highly spiced, the only way I will find out is to try it, and it might have to be adjusted a bit but it appears to be a versatile recipe utilising either the yellow/pinky plums (the ones that I have) or the purple bullace so you can choose your colour variation so to speak.


1lb wild plums (bullaces or damsons) halved and stoned

For the spiced vinegar

50g/2 oz whole mixed spices such as cinnamon stick; mace; cloves; allspice; peppercorns fresh root ginger; mustard seeds etc.

1.1 litres/2 pints/5 cups of vinegar

To make the spiced vinegar:

Tie all the spices in a muslin bag and put into the pan wit the vinegar.

Simmer gently but do not boil then remove from the heat.  Cover and leave to cool for two hours.  Decant into a large jar still with the spices and leave for 2 weeks to marinate.  Put the bullaces or damsons or cherry plums into a wide necked bottle then cover the fruit with the strained vinegar and seal.  Shake daily for a week then leave for three weeks before using.

Makes approximately 1.4 litres (2 1/2 pints/ 6 1/4 cups)

White Currant and Nectarine Jelly

You don't often see Whitecurrants these days, but I was very lucky enough to pick up a batch of Whitecurrants and Redcurrants at the weekend.  What to do with them now I had got them.  So I went searching through my recipe books and found this recipe in Sloe Gin and Beeswax by Jane Newdick. ISBN 1-85238-333-X.

The Whitecurrants themselves taste delicious but teamed with Nectarines I think this is going to be one yummy recipe.

You Need

1.8 kg/4lb Whitecurrants
150ml/5 fl oz water
Preserving Sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
3 Nectarines

Put the Whitecurrants into a large pan with the water, there is no need to strip them off their stems.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently until soft.  Tip the mixture into a jelly bag and leave to drain overnight.  Next day measure the juice.  To each 570ml/1 pint liquid measure 350g/12 oz preserving sugar and put this with the juice in a preserving pan.  Add the lemon juice.  Skin, stone and slice the Nectarines and keep them in slightly acidulated water to stop them turning brown.  Boil the jelly until a set is reached.  Take off heat and leave to cool a little then add the nectarines.  Pot up just as it is setting to keep fruit suspended in jelly.  Seal while hot.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Dried Apricot Jam (For Anne - Silver Sewer)


1 1/2lb dried apricots
4 pints water
4lb granulated or preserving sugar
2oz almonds (blanched and halved)


Wash the apricots and leave to soak in 4 pints of water for 48 hours. (I would be inclined to cut into little pieces)

Turn apricots and soaking liquor into a preserving pan then bring slowly to the boil; then add the warmed sugar.  Stir gently until the sugar has completely dissolved then boil hard for about an hour.   Test for set as per usual.  Add the almonds to the pan 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

Pour into warm dry jars cover and tiedown when cold.

Recipe taken from Cordon Bleu Preserving

Hope this helps



Sunday, 25 July 2010

2010.07.25 My Day

I have had a good day today.  It started early with the constitutional walk which when OH is about we usually do to let Missy help get rid of some pent up energy and steam and also to help supplement the pantry with all the wild offerings.  We gathered a few more plums today.  I seem to have been bitten by every insect going whilst picking the plums.  It seems I was lunch!  There are loads more to come on other trees near to where we pick but they are sour at the moment despite their flesh being tinged pink, we think they will be ready in a week or two.  We picked about 4lbs today and there are still lots more left on the tree we have been picking.

We then came back I made a blackberry and Apple crumble in readiness to take to my Mum's to have as pudding, making the crumble by hand.   I then washed my extremely long hair and let it dry naturally before getting ready to go out.

So I took my basket with the fruit crumble in, a big bunch of fresh sage, a bag of cherry plums.  (Have promised mum to get her some for the freezer for use in puddings during the winter months and some blackverries too).  A tin of red salmon, and some fresh cooked beetroot as mum is rather partial to this and I got into trouble for taking some bits. 

My mum bless her heart had done a lovely lunch Roast Pork, apple sauce, new runner beans (grown in her garden), carrots, cauliflower, leeks, gravy and home made stuffing with Rhubarb Crumble and custard for afters.  Mum was grateful for my efforts but asked me to bring it back with me as she wouldn't be able to eat it on her own.  So home it has come will have that tomorrow evening with custard.  Needless to say my darling mum has not lost her touch with the cooking it was absolutely delicious.

Have had the most pleasant of afternoons, have pottered around at my mum's helping with things, doing the washing and drying up and not letting her do it but making her sit down and relax.

We also pottered in the garden I am now the proud owner of an Aloe Vera plant.  Mum has rooted it for me and it will be very helpful as I am when cooking a dab hand at burning myself, so keeping this on the kitchen window, should mean I will be able to use a leaf or two straight away on any burns.

It was really good to spend some quality time with her; I do love her very much but it is nice to just "be" with her and do things together without reams and reams of questions or explanations, just mutual love and trust.  She thinks the world of Missy and makes a great fuss of her anway.

We also paid a visit to my father's grave. In life, I used to trim him up every so often (unfortunately he used to have hairs that grew in his ears which used to irritate him and I always used to sort these out for him).  Today I have given him a peripheral hair cut using the garden shears to cut down the grass that is growing around the grave and giving the headstone a wash and brush up too with mum putting in fresh flowers and having a few words as you do.

We then came back and had tea, cheese and tomato buns (fresh baked) and then strawberries and cream, with sausage rolls and chocolate cake for afters.  Washing up again and then we have come home.  It has been a delightful and charming day.

I am currently on the lap top sitting on the settee. I have a very sleepy dog sat cuddled up on the settee with me.  She is flat out and sprawled, fast asleep on her crotchet blanket but she has to be touching you or snuggled right up into you as otherwise her little world is not right.

Here's hoping that all of you are keeping well and that this week is a good one for you wherever you may be.

Take care



Pickled Beetroot

I found some nice new beetroot at the veg shop yesterday so I bought a couple of bunches back with me.  Some of it will have as is but the rest this time round I am going to just pickle with some vinegar.

Its very simple to prepare.  I was always taught to cut the leaves off but leave a good 3 inches of the stem on the beetroot as if you take this off the beetroot will "bleed" all its colour from the beetroot itself and will be a very pale comparison to what it should be. 
You then pop into a saucepan fill with cold water making sure the beetroot is submerged and then leave to cook on a low heat until the beetroot is cooked - I usually leave mine about an hour or so.  I then leave to cool in the saucepan.  Whilst the beetroot is cooling I put on another pan and put in some spiced vinegar.  I boil this up and then leave it to cool.  When cool I put in a colander and rub off all the excess skin (If you don't want pink hands at this point it might be wise to put on some gloves of some sort).  I then chop into slices or chunks and fill a couple of sterilised jars.  I top off with vinegar proof lids and leave to "mature" on the pantry shelf

I always keep a small supply of pickled beetroot in or a beetroot preserve of some sort as during the winter months it adds a nice dash of colour to the winter plate whether you are having a ploughmans or a proper salad or whether you are just serving some simple leaves with a goats cheese, the striking colour always adds impact.  The experts reckon we eat with our eyes first and if something is attractive it pushes all the buttons and makes us want to eat.

A lot of people malign the poor pickled beetroot  as they cannot cope with the vinegar hit but if you don't like it pickled there are lots of alternatives. Last Year I changed my recipe and preserved the vinegar in jelly.  That has been very nice and very different.

2010.07.23 My Day

Saturday morning started off with a nice leisurely stroll down by the river with Missy to let her run some steam off and for me to go and pick some more plums.  There are still loads left and hopefully will be able to get some more in the next few weeks in order that I can make some wild plum jelly, some spiced wild plum vinegar, some wild plum ketchup, wild plum butter,wild plum wine, some membrillo, wild plum cheese, some wild plum cordial.  I would also like to be able to put some of these fantastic little plums down in the freezer for plum pies and crumbles.  Today we picked 9lb of them. 

I also noted that the wild blackberries are starting to darken - certainly round this area - still early but if this weather keeps up it won't be long before they are cropping.  I have lots of nice recipes for these as well.

This evening I have started the Plum Cordial the juice retrieved is a lovely rosy red colour and it has sharp accent on the flavour.  Its very satisfying to stock the pantry shelves up in this way.

When I got home I picked these blackberries from the garden - not bad eh.  They are going to go into a blackberry and apple crumble  - we are at my mum's for lunch tomorrow so am taking this for pudding.

 I also have a recipe for a Hedgerow Jam so I am hoping that will be able to locate some purple bullace specifically for this recipe; there is also a spiced Hedgerow jelly recipe that I would like to try. I would also like to try and locate some damsons and walnuts.

Whilst out we met another elderly couple who also go foraging they were also walking their dog and they saw we had the plums and we got into conversation.

I also paid a visit to the veg shop today. Have white currants, and red currants. Intend to make a nectarine and white currant jam and also some reducurrant jam. Also found some Apricots that were reduced so no doubt will find something interesting to do with them.

Catch you all later



Thursday, 22 July 2010

Cucumber Pickle

I usually make a scuttle full of this every year as it is a good pickle to put into sarnies etc.  OH eats a lot of it put it that way. 

Very simply the ingredients are:


Before starting boil up vinegar of your choice or whatever you have available, you can use a cider vinegar; a wine vinegar a malt vinegar whatever takes your fancy. Sometimes if I haven't got enough cider vinegar I top up with wine vinegar and visa versa.

Boil up this vinegar in a small pan and then leave to go cold covered with some cling film. You can add spices of your choice or you can buy it already spiced.  Yet again the choice is yours.  I am using a spiced Sarsons  Malt vinegar; or a clear malt spirit vinegar (white vinegar to show the cucumber off to best effect and to amplify the prettiness of the colour.

First of all wash your cucumbers and then chop in nice sized slices not too thin and not too thick.

Place into a bowl a few slices at a time and sprinkle with salt layering up in this way with cucumber and salt until all your cucumber is used up.

Leave overnight in a cool place such as a fridge covered in cling film.

The next day you will have a bowl of cucumber with a liquid in the bottom, This is the excess moisture from the cucumber which the salt has drawn out.

Drain off this liquid and discard.

Rinse the excess salt off the cucumber with cold water. I use at least three lots of water to get rid of the salt (if you don't do this it is rank and spoils the preserve) If you are not sure you have got rid of the salt taste a piece of the cucumber - if you can still taste the salt rinse it again.  Leave to drain after the final rinse for about half an hour.  I then using a clean dry tea towel decant the cucumber into the tea towel and remove any excess moisture.

I then decant the cucumber slices into sterilsed jars and then add the cold spiced vinegar.  Add vinegar proof lids. Seal and store on the pantry shelf.  Allow two to three weeks before using.

Can be served with fish, as part of a home made ploughmans chutney, with salads, burgers etc.etc.

A good way of using up cucumber or making use of cheap cucumbers at your local veg shop/supermarket.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wild Plum Preserve

Being as the wild plums have such a delicate flavour and being as I am experimenting with the jam pan for this recipe I decided to do as little as possible with them letting the natural flavours shine through.  Who would have thought that my plums which were bright yellow when picked would go to such a lovely colour  all with the aid of a banana.

1 kg of fruit
300ml of water or a little more just to cover the plums in the pan
700g of sugar (normally I use equal weight for fruit but I didn't want to overpower this on the sugar front) and lose the flavour.

  1. Weigh out the required amount in plums
  2. Put in pan  or jam maker and add 300ml water
  3. Switch on machine and let the plums cook in the liquid until soft and starting to break up about 15 to 20 minutes stirring frequently.  Let the plum stones rise to the top and then skim off with a slotted spoon. I then go through the bowl spooning out the mixture and taking the stones out and then run the stones through a sieve to remove as much of the fruit pulp as possible.  You will always get the odd stone in no matter how careful you are.  Return the pulp and liquid to the pan.
  4. Add sugar carry on cooking still stirring all the time
  5. Cook until setting point is achieved
  6. Bottle in sterilised jars with lids.
  7. Enjoy

Apple n Blackberry Gin/Vodka

I didn't have many blackberries to play with so I have put what few I had into a sterilised preserving jar (I might add a few more tomorrow if there are any more ripe) and then  added about 1 oz of sugar then bunged in one eating apple and a cooking apple peeled and finely chopped up and topped all this up with a bottle of gin.  It is now standing on the shelf and the dark purple colour of the blackberries is now starting to seep into the gin.  All very organic and experimental at the moment; I haven't used apple in the macerating process of liqueur type drinks before so it is all very "suck it and see" at the moment.  But we all love the flavour of blackberry and apple the flavours compliment each other so well that far be it for me to interfere with this classic combination.  I hope it turns out well - it might need a little more sugar, but I would rather err on the side of caution with the sugar as you can always add it but can't always take it away.

Ripening Your Wild Plums

We picked a load of wild plums the other day which were yellow with hardly any pink on them.  Shouldn't have picked them because they were not quite ripe - I beg to differ as you can easily ripen them off with the aid of a couple of bananas on a covered tray as per the photos below.
They are now nearly all a lovely pink colour.  I think the jam pan is going on shortly to process some of natures bounty into home made wild plum preserve.  You can use the same method with ordinary plums, or to get tomatoes to ripen.

And the fruit its absolutely delicious a completely underrated fruit.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Put Down 2010

Just a list of some of the things I have "Put Down" in the Pantry
For the Winter Pantry and for Christmas and some ideas and outlines
of what I would like to make - money allowing
And what has been completed to date

Items completed for this year's pantry, predominantly for Christmas are:-

For the Pantry and Cellar (Not that I have a Cellar but metaphorically speaking)

Bottled Fruit in Syrup
  1. 12 Bottles of "Stella" Cherries bottled in Syrup [completed]
  2. Bottled Mixed Fruit Salad /Compote- Red Fruits[completed]
  3. Bottled Mixed Fruit Salad - White Fruits
  4. Bottled Black Cherries
  5. Bottled Strawberries
  6. Bottled Apricots
  7. Bottled Peaches
  8. Bottled Pears [completed]
  9. Bottled Apples [completed]
  10. Bottled Pineapple
  11. Bottled Blueberries
  12. Bottled Wild Plums
  13. Bottled Blackberries [4 jars so far]
  14. Bottled Hedgepick fruits
  15. Bottled Raspberries
Fruits in Spirit

  1. Rumptopf So far Cherries, Blueberries, Wild Cherry Plums, Redcurrants(WIP)
  2. 1 Large Preserving Jar of Cherry Brandy [completed]
  3. Apricot Brandy [completed]
  4. Toffee Vodka [completed]
  5. Lemoncello
  6. Dried Apricot Liqueur
  7. Fruits of the Forest Vodka
  8. Fruits of the Forest Rum
  9. Wild Plum Vodka [completed]
  10. Apple and Blackberry Gin [completed]
  11. Wild Cherry Vodka [completed]
  12. Folie of Fall fruits (Batchelors Brandy) - eat the fruits drink the spirit (soaked in brandy)
  13. Bramble Whisky (this is nice doesn't taste like whisky at all but is very warming)
  14. Quince Vodka
Cordials/Syrup/Other Drinks
  1. 18 Bottles of Elderflower Cordial [completed]
  2. 4 bottles Strawberry Syrup [completed]
  3. Gingerette Syrup
  4. Citrodone Syrup
  5. Mint Syrup
  6. Wild Plum Cordial [done - 3 bottles]
  7. Lemon Squash
  8. Orange Squash
  9. Lavender Syrup

Christmas Cake

Three Christmas Puddings

Plum Bread

Alcoholic Drinks
  1. 18 Bottles of Elderflower Fizz (Elderflower Champagne)[completed]
  2. Apple Pop
  3. Ginger Beer
  4. Lager
  5. Cider
  6. Bitter
  7. Stout
  1. Orange Wine
  2. Plum Wine
  3. Dried Elderflower Wine
  4. Lemon Wine
  5. Grapefruit Wine
  6. Ginger Wine
  7. Green Ginger Wine

Jams and Preserves
  1. Home Made Mincemeat [completed]
  2. Rose Petal Conserve 5 jars [completed]
  3. Apricot Jam [completed 8lb so far]
  4. Strawberry Jam [10lb so far. ]
  5. Whole Cherry Jam [4lb so far]
  6. Wild Plum preserve[4 lb]
  7. Raspberry and Apple Jam
  8. Blueberry jam
  9. Grapefruit Jelly
  10. Tangerine Jelly
  11. Orange Jelly
  12. Lemon Jelly
  13. Lemon Marmalade
  14. Orange Marmalade
  15. Grapefruit Marmalade
  16. Crab Apple Jelly
  17. Bramble and Apple Jelly
  18. Elderberry Jelly
  19. Haw Jelly
  20. Rosehip Jelly
  21. Rowan Jelly
  22. Apricot and Amaretti jam [3 jars]
  23. Pomegranate Jelly
  24. Home made mixed peel [started]
  25. Candied Grapefruit peel
  26. Candied Orange peel
  27. Lavender jelly
  28. Sweet Geranium jelly (rose)
  29. Whitecurrant and Nectarine jelly
  30. Blackberry and apple jam 4 jars [completed]
  31. Wild Cherry Plum Preserve batch 2
  32. Wild Cherry Plum jelly.
  33. Grape Jam [3 jars]
  34. Apricot and Amaretto Conserve [3 jars]
  1. Elderflower Curd [completed]
  2. Orange Curd [completed]
  3. Lemon Curd [completed]
  4. Ginger Curd
  5. Tangerine Curd
  6. Grapefruit Curd
  7. Lime Curd
  8. Wild Fruits Curd

Dried Goods
  1. Rose Leaf Tea [completed]
  2. 1 Large Preserving jar half way full of dried sage [still filling but nearly to the top]
  3. 1 Large Preserving jar of Home Dried Apples [completed and part filled jar]
  4. Zahter Seasoning to give as part of Christmas hampers
  1. 1 Large Preserving jar of Sage Oil. [completed]

  1. Wild Plum Vinegar
  2. Lime Vinegar
  3. Mint Vinegar
  4. Raspberry vinegar
  5. Strawberry vinegar
  6. Blueberry vinegar
  7. Elderberry vinegar
  8. Bramble vinegar
  9. Tarragon Vinegar

  1. 5 Jars Bumble Bee Honey Beer Mustard [completed]
  2. 5 jars Cider Wholegrain mustard
Other Preserves
  1. Tomato Passata 7 jars completed so far
  2. Fruit Coulis: Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, Redcurrant
Dried Goods

  1. Dried Elderflowers [completed]
  2. Dried Rose Petals [completed]
  3. Dried Mint [completed]
  4. Home Made Sage Stuffing
  5. Home Made Thyme Stuffing
  1. Pickled Cucumber [completed 5 jars]
  2. Spiced Cherry Pickle
  3. Pickled beetroot [3 jars completed]
  4. Cherry Tomatoes semi dried and stored in Oil
  5. Pickled Gherkins 2 large jars [completed]
  6. Piccallili [17 jars] 
  7. Pickled Onions completed
  8. Pickled Shallots completed
  9. Pickled Orange Slices completed


  1. Beetroot and Ginger Chutney
  2. Green Tomato Chutney
  3. Apple Chutney

  1.  Onion and Garlic Marmalade

For the Freezer
  1. 2 Punnets of Cherry Plum Tomatoes. [completed]
  2. 22lb Cherries (Stella) [completed]
  3. Home Made Basil Pesto
  4. Home Made Walnut Pesto
  5. Wine Cubes for adding to casseroles

Dried Flowers/Materials to Collect for decorating

  1. Fir Cones
  2. Flower heads (for pot pourri)
  3. Dried Orange and Lemon peels
  4. Dried Orange and Lemon slices
  5. Dried Angelica Seed Heads (If allowed to dry naturally and then painted in silver gold or white these seed heads can look absolutely stunning as a table or side decoration during the winter months.
  6. Bunches of Everlasting flowers to be made into garlands
  7. Bunches of Statice

Meat Products

  1. Salami
  2. Bacon
  3. Ham

  1. Potted shrimp
  2. Potted prawn 
If I can get hold of some Quince would like to make:

  1. Quince jelly
  2. Quince in vanilla syrup
  3. Spiced Quince


Inhale - breathe in fill your lungs to the limit
Then slowly and gently exhale in a measured fashion
Counting slowly, holding as long as you can and then
Breathe in; fill your body and your  aura with your intake of breath
Explore, play, stretch those lungs as far as they go but overall
please let me breathe - let me be me
Do not dictate or restrict this restless soul
Who quietly and passively complies with requests
But do not assume that she is a passive child, far from it
You may not think it - she hides it well, but sometimes, just sometimes
She is fit to bust and explode like a catherine wheel in full pelt
Because she feels breathless and strangled - you have stepped in her space
You are trying to breathe for her - she needs to do this for herself
Back off - keep your distance
Let her BREATHE.......
Naturally, unfettered as free as the wind; to breathe is to enjoy a gentleness
A natural rythm - it stills us it consoles us encompasses and empowers us
It animates us; so please BREATHE
It lets us live

pattypan July 2010


Its been hot and sticky here today and I don't do hot and I don't do cold.  . I have been very headachey today as well as the arthritis playing up quite severely today. Because it is too warm in the house I have been wandering round the gaden and  ventured down to  the jungle at the bottom of the garden this evening and found some ripe blackberries.  They are not set plants, but ones that have sowed themselves.  So I think the start of autumn may be nearer than we think. I know that there would appear to be a lot of fruit sets on the plants.  So I have picked what few there are to put up until I have a few more.  If we are lucky and I manage to find some more wild fruits might make a summer/autumn pudding later in the week with some of the fruits I have already acquired.  So it might be worth keeping your eyes open, just in case there are some coming through in the wild, although I think we may be a little while yet from what I saw yesterday, but you never know.  Nature has her own time-table and we all dance to her tune.

Wild Plum Vodka

Well I got the wild plums so now I need to use them to best effect and I think this is one recipe where the ingredients really do shine through.


Small wild plums
1 litre bottle of vodka
Sugar for sweetening


Choose a large glass jar with a sealable lid which will take a litre of vodka
A quantity of wild plums

  1. Sterilise your chosen jar.
  2. To each wild plum using a cocktail stick pierce a couple of times per plum at least preferably more.
  3. Pop into your jar.
  4. Pour over spirit.
  5. You can at this point add sugar as well but I an conscious that I don't want anything too sweet with this mixture to start with as the plums are very sweet, so I thought I would let the plums steep and then taste after a couple of months steeping and then add the sugar.  Use the fruit drained and served with some ice cream or cream or coat in chocolate and eat as a sweetmeat.

Enoy the liqueur and enjoy the fruit however you wish to serve it

Sunday, 18 July 2010

2010.07.18 My Day

I have had quite a busy day today.  It started off we took Missy Walkies and she met a new friend, another miniature Jack Russell called Daisy.  It was quite funny watching her little legs spin round in overdrive but a lovely little dog all the same.  Her owner was a bit nervous as there are a lot of rabbit holes where we take Missy  (and Daisy's owner takes her) for a good old run around, but being as she was playing nicely with Missy she let her off.  Unfortunately Daisy went down a rabbit hole and didn't come out.  I ended up in the bushes under the brambles as I could hear a little dog wuffing as though she was stuck.  She eventually came out saw me and went back in again but with a little gentle coaxing was able to get her out  and carried her and then returned her to her mum who by this time was extremly upset, but very relieved to see her little friend. I came out of the bushes slightly black.   We left her to go on with our walk which was quite a lengthy one today.

We managed to get some more of the little plums, more had ripened and so have enough now to do some wild plum vodka and some have gone into bottled red fruit salad consisting of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, wild plums, and yellow plums and I have processed 9 bottles of this for the pantry shelf.  Am well chuffed but I do need some more preserving jars and some more sauce bottles so will have to start saving the pennies again.  I think I may have a few more but I cannot get at them easily.  I also have enough plums to do some wild plum jam and a chutney/relish, but would like to get a few more to bottle them, just in a syrup as they are extremely scrummy.

On the way back we located some sour wild cherries.  May get a few of these to put in some vodka as another liqeueur type drink. I also noticed that there are some very tiny cones (not fir ones) that will be ideal for using in Christmas decorations so may well snaffle some of those next weekend.  I also have my eye on some teasels which are in flower at the moment just need for them to dry out somewhat

I also found some wild poppies which have formed seed pods so I shall keep my eye on them and then harvest the pods a little later on for poppy seeds to put on breads etc.

The roast beef was lovely and cooked on the Roasting spit.  It came up very well and was delicious.  I served with new potatoes, fresh garden peas, broccoli, carrots, and finely shredded cabbage and lashings of gravy.

And finally, our little friend - hasn't she grown.  She has been hugging her blanket the past few days she doesn't like the cold.  She is very funny though we put the blanket down for her and she takes it in her mouth and re-arranges it so that she is nice and comfy.  If you do it for her she always rearranges it.

We are well chuffed with her she is very affectionate.

Better get on catch you all soon.

Pattypan (aka Tricia)

Alternative Ways of Shopping

Since my OH has been out of work (and I know we are not the only ones) I have had to make adjustments to the way I shop and what I shop for. Gone are the days when I used to go to the supermarket once a month and stock up on stuff, just taking what I fancied with no real regard to cost.  In fact it is a rare occurence if I go to the supermarket these days at all for a proper shop.  I have more of an eye these days as to costs.  In fact it has bee a steep learning curve of a different kind and I don't think that I could go back to the way I used to do things even if I had the money, which I don't.  I have enjoyed the challenge of making the pennies stretch as far as I can and getting the best deal  I can for my money.  Taking advantage of bog-offs, Wilkinsons, pound stores, special offers, markets and smaller shops as well as cheaper stores like Lidl and Aldi and of course the market and my local veg shop. And above all I try and make as much as I can from the basic ingredients as I have found that investing a little time and energy in making things means that I get a lot more for my money, and I also have some modicum of control as to what ingredients are in there ie. no hidden surprises.

To start with when I go shopping these days I tend to go to the cheaper stores first.They have a lot of good quality items at much cheaper prices so I go and look there see what they have and do the bulk of the stock up from there. Plus the fact cheaper stores like Lidl and Aldi tend to have some of the more exotic ingredients that you can really end up paying through the nose with.  Salami and bacon bits etc just a couple of items that we use and every so often they have specials like Greek or Italian ingredients at greatly reduced prices. I tend to stock up on the basics in these stores such as tinned goods i.e. Tuna, sweetcorn, tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes fruits, corned beef, fruit juice, soft drinks, sweeties, etc etc.

I try and write a list of the items I really need i.e. have a look at what should be in season so if I know blackberries are coming in will buy more sugar etc in order that I can put good basic foods up for the winter months.  I particularly do this if I am going to be making something new.  For the same reason I try and ensure that I have enough preserving jars and jam jars in my store.

I haven't been shy of trying alernative products especially if they are on offer.  Its like a recognisance mission really as if I find that the product is more acceptable I tend to go on and use it again and again. Equally though if it is not up to muster it doesn't get used again.

Although I use bog off offers I always weigh up whether or not it is cheaper to buy a couple of smaller packs of the same item or the actual bog off item.  Be careful to consider this as you could be paying more and the shops are quite crafty when it comes to this so please do your calculations and do a comparison before you buy.

I also have a tinned pantry items like fruit in juice/syrup Corned Beef Tuna Salmon, Condensed Milk, Nestle Tinned Cream, tinned soup for when in a hurry, baked beans, tomatoes both whole and crushed, pilchards, sild etc in tomato sauce, anchovies, sweet corn, tinned veggies for emergencies, sauces, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, etc etc.  The tinned pantry is really my back up store and is in constant use.  .I also keep in tinned goose fat if I can get it and tinned chestnuts and pureed chestnutsys a meal to be had somewhere from this store as a result of items that are there or with the addition of other items.  This store I tend to top up on making sure that the date stamps on the bottom of the tins are quite a way forward and then I don't top it up for ages and just use what is in store.  As soon as the store diminishes I go tin shopping again.  Having this store of basic foods also means we can eat even when we don't always have the money without having to expend further funds.  We just top up when we have the pennies. And I mix and match tinned products with fresh products as well.

I also keep lots of pasta and rice in as well as different flours and cereal products.  Porridge oats I keep in quantity as I use them for making flap jacks, for porridge, in home made Muesli, and in baking. I usually get these from the Co-op as they do big bags of them for around about £1 or so.  I also keep various flours as make my own bread and do my own baking.  There is nothing nicer than the smell of bread baking or cakes etc baking in the oven.

I keep plenty of butter and lard in as well as Stork margarine.  I buy the butter when it is on offer  though.  Sugar I do the same with and buy what I can when I can.  However I tend to buy for the best part in bulk bags from Sainsburys as this works out far cheaper although my local pound shop has had 1.5 kg bags of sugar at £1 a throw just recently.

Basically where I can I try and take advantage of any offers or "bargains" (as long as they are bargains) but generally we eat very well despite everything, so things aren't that bad and they certainly could be a lot worse than they are. 

That's why I would like the place in the country not far from the coast, but with a bit of land that has orchards or has room to plant one.  Producing some of your own food if not all of it has to be the way forward in the long run.  It would be nice to go shopping in the garden and get the best part of what I need from there rather than from the supermarket. !

Saturday, 17 July 2010

2010.07.17 My Day and plans to come

Well its been a non committal sort of day.  We walked the dog earlier on and had a lovely peaceful walk and got some cherry plums (see previous post).

When we came back I went to my weekly visit to the veg shop and came back with 8 trays of blueberries at £1 a tray, some fresh garden peas, bananas, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, plums raspberries pears, cucumber, beetroot.  I am trying to make the best of things that come my way at the moment, as well as hedgerow offering to offer variety as much as anything else, but not only that if extra is made can help with the Christmas present situation. I made some blackberry whisky last year and I must say it is particularly nice.

We have a small piece of beef for dinner tomorrow which is also going to be done on the Roasting Spit.  We have had chicken done this way today and it was done in an hour and a half and oh so succulent.  We just had it warm on plates with fresh bread and butter and I had crab apple jelly with and OH had sweet chilli sauce. Very tasty.  I thought that if there was enough meat left over from tomorrow I will slice it and pop it in the freezer either to bring out as meat for sandwiches or to put in gravy for a quick meal during the week. Am going to serve with the home made mustard. I made earlier. OH not keen on mustard but I am a fan.

Some of the blueberries have gone into the Rumptopf.  The rest I intend to make some blueberry jam with,  and maybe bottle a few in syrup for use on cheesecakes or on yogurt.  Will try and get some more of these as they are always a useful addition.  I am fond of them and they are good for you.

I also managed to get a few raspberries so the jam machine is on.  There weren't many so have put some apples in as well and am doing an apple and raspberry jam. 

I have also some strawberries, and more raspberries which I got from the Coop.  They have had an offer on of 3 packs of fruit for £5.   I intend to mix them with some blueberries, . apples, pear, cherries and plums mix them with syrup and then to put up as a red fruit compote for the winter months.  This should be lovely with some home made vanilla ice cream.  The reason for earmarking this one as a good one to do is that the likes of M & S sell this sort of thing on a regular basis but you do pay a lot for it and it is easily done if you have access to the basic ingredients plus you get more jars for your money and you know what's gone into things.

Next week will do some white fruit compote i.e. apricot, pineapple, pear, apple, kiwi fruit, compote.  Depends what they have on offer as to what selection I go for.  I normally pop to the market but this weekend haven't had time so hopefully will be able to get next week. 

I also need to make some more of the HFW vegetable stock from the preserves book which is good to use and adds a lot more flavour to gravies and stocks.  I would also like to have a go at making some mushroom ketchup, which is used as a basis for a lot of sauces that I would like to try.

I also have some pears to make Pears in Red Wine (as per previous post). Its not much but every little helps and it keeps the pantry full of enticing goodies.  I also intend to do bottled pears in syrup and also in saffron.

Ginger beer is also on the cards, not by the plant method this time, but a way in which I have not made before as I am eager to put up some different drinks and cordials etc as they are just as important as the food for The Pantry store.  Home made syrups can also be used as sauces on ice cream or with a fruit salad.

The cherries I prepared the other day (sugared cherries) are drying well and yet again should be something different to bring out at Christmas.  They will be going into a box to keep them for Christmas.  I also intend to do some crystallised ginger and other fruits as for a bit of time and effort could end up with some lovely old fashioned sweetmeats for the Christmas table

I have a spiced cherry pickle to make which should be delicious with cold ham etc. and I have come across a bramble chutney recipe which I am eager to have a go with.  I think that this will be particularly lovely with soft cheeses like brie or goats cheese. Would certainly liven up the plate along with some salad leaves.  Would look very colourful.

I also make a lot of cucumber pickle and today the cucumbers were in the cheapie box at 50 pence a bag and there are about 6 cucumbers in all for £1.  This is an ideal bread and butter pickle mix for either fish like salmon or trout and also ham.

I am hoping to get some plums next week as I want to have a go at making plum wine - this is one that my Nan always used to do and it was always slightly fizzy but extremely pleasant, it would be nice to get stuck in on the wine making again.  I have cider, lager, bitter and stout kits to make up as well as orange and lemon wine and apple and orange.   I also intend to have a go at home made cider as well just got to get my derriere into gear with the planning and manage to get everything else sorted as well.  I am on a mission watch this space.

Catch you all later

Pattypan (aka Tricia)

Pears in Red Wine

My local veg shop has had some very nice pears in recent weeks namely the Fiorelli pears and because I love mulled pears especially in the winter months  served with a touch of cinnamon.  Delish with some vanilla ice cream or thick whipped cream.  I thought I would put a few bottles of this up doing a little each week so that we have some lovely goodies to indulge in when the weather is cold.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can serve the pears warm or leave them cold. A simple indulgence but very rich.


1 pint/600ml red wine
1lb /450g sugar
4 1/2lb/2 kg pears
2 cinnamon sticks

  1. Place the red wine and the sugar into a preserving pan and stir over a low heat until sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Peel quarter and cored the pears and add to the pan with the cinnamon sticks. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the pears for 5 to 10 minutes or until they are just tender. Take care not to overcook.  Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and transfer the pears into sterilised jars to within 1 inch of the tops of the jars.
  3. Increase the heat and boil the syrup rapidly stirring for 5 minutes.  Strain the syrup into a measuring jug and make up to about 1- 1 1/4 pints (600 to 750ml) with brandy.  Pour the mixture into the jars to cover the pears by 1/2 inch.  Seal the jars and label. Keep in a cool dark place for at least 2 to 3 months to allow the flavours to develop before using.
  4. Fills two 750ml/ 1 1/4 pint jars.

Foraging the Wild Larder

Now we have Missy we are walking more and more  - me usually just at the weekends with her as during the week its a bit of a scramble with me getting tea ready when I come home etc.  However, when I am walking and thinking I always have half an eye as to what is in the hedgerow what is showing itself, what stage of growth it is at, where a particular specimen is etc and make a mental map in my minds eye to go back on and to check on.  Food is nearly always uppermost in my mind and I plot and plan and assemble things together so that I can take advantage of whatever it is I have seen at the most appropriate time.  But even I get things wrong.  A couple of months ago we spotted what we thought were bullace as they were hard and green.  OH went out with Missy this morning  and what we thought was a bullace is in fact a wild plum.  OH .came back with little plums this morning after a walk.  And they taste .wonderful and the fruits are a yellow to a pink blush colour and oh so sweet.  So he took me back out and I have about a 1lb of these fruits to do something with.  We are hoping to go back and see if we can get some more there were a lot of fruit on the tree but were not ripe so will have to see what we can get hold of and whatever we find it will be extra additions to the pantry shelf.  However there is a lot of wild fruits to come in the hedgerows, loads of elderberries and blackberries, rosehips and haw berries.  By the amount it would seem we may be in for another cold winter.  Haven't seen any sloes where we go but I know where I can get some from as well as crab apples.  I really would love a place with a proper fire place for the winter months, but I think will have to dream.

Once or twice this week I have thought that perhaps the wheel has moved on a little more a feeling of autumn even though it is only July and we were three weeks behind on the seasonal gluts in any event.  Must have caught up a tad

I had always thought that if ever I was lucky enought to move to the countryside with a bit of land attached I would always plant my own hedgerow of blackthorn, hawthorn, elder, and cherry plum etc.  Its still something I would love to do because it would provide a natural barrier, with the bonus of wild fruits etc which would benefit the wild life as well as the pantry shelf.  I went to the New Forest a few years back and one of the National Trust places we went to was actually bringing on saplings of these types of plants and selling them to the public.  I have some of these cherry plum stones and wondered if I would be able to grow some little bushes from the pips.  Does anyone know if you can do this or not as it would kind of be giving something back if I could as well as creating more fruit potential in the long run.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Being busy

Just a few photos showing what I have been up to recently and I have a lot more to do as well.  I now have the Elderflower Champagne all bottled up and fizzy.  Next year diary note to myself am going to make so much more with this wonderful freebie including Elderflower wine in quantity.  Will have to stockpile some essential ingredients over the winter months, including sugar so that I am really ready to take advantage next season.  But overall haven't done too bad at all and I am going to make Elderflower wine with the dried Elderflowers I put by.

Just have to find somwhere to store it all now - currently on top of the freezer!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Sunday Night Tea

The Rotisserie

Wow its been hot and for the best part of today it has be misserly and wet although Sunday was hot and humid.  We need the water for the crops, to survive so am grateful for the respite, but i am one of those awkward people who can't bear the cold and can't bear the heat.  Because it was far too hot at the weekend I couldn't be bothered to put the cooker on that would have been far too much to cope with.

Nevertheless not to be defeated I got out my Roasting Spit and set too and cooked chicken with a butter and honey glaze.  I used Borage honey from Marks and Spencers and it was terribly delicious. 

I first had a roasting spit in the cooker I had when I first got married.  It was a Jackson cooker with an individual top oven that incorporated a spit and I used it a lot.  When I repalaced the cooker I had a built in Belling Cooker yet again with a Roasting spit but this time it was in the large oven and had a rack for kebabs etc.  It was wonderful as the meat always came out so moist.

I don'thave my own main cooker here, but if I did I would try and get one with a roasting spit in it again.  I have a small electric free standing cooker with a roasting spit and I also have an individual unit spit which is what I used on Sunday evening.

I served the roasted chicken with boiled new potatoes in a chive and butter dressing, mushrooms, onions and garlic fried in butter, mixed salad leaves, spring onions, celery, beetroot, tomatoes and it was very enjoyable and I was particularly taken with the  apple relish for which the recipe is here on the blog. It was very refreshing and tasty and the mint certainly gave it a very definite lift.  It was Scrummy and even OH said he really liked the Apple Relish.

I shall be making use of this quite a lot in the future.  The plan being tha will buy a chicken once a week and cook it by this method.  It leaves the meat lovely and juicy and succulent, so it will be ideal for pack ups.  The chicken was done in about an hour and a half.

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)