a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sorting peas

I decided this year to have a go at growing marrowfat peas with the intention of drying them. The dull and very labour-intensive part is sorting them - into 'nice to eat', 'might be ok' and 'only fit for seed'. I wonder whether anyone growing a larger amount would bother to sort by hand or maybe just do it by a quick check before cooking.

Lunch from the Lottie #3

It doesn't really feel like the weather for salad lunch but I found radishes and salad leaves at the allotment so thought I should eat them!

"Green soup" made with runner beans, broad beans from the freezer, potatoes and parsnips in gammon stock.

another similar salad - red cabbage, beetroot, onion and cucumber mixed to make pink coleslaw.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Creative twigs

Following a tree-pruning session last week, I decided to try making something useful from all the off-cuts. 

Most ended up trimmed for pea and bean sticks but the smaller, more pliable ones I've twisted into wreath-shapes. I now have them hanging to dry and if they don't distort totally I hope to decorate them for Christmas.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Jam and leather

Frustrating weather that couldn't decide to rain or not meant I decided to stay in, guard the washing blowing on the line and use some of the fruit up out of the freezer. Searching in the depths I find some almost ancient redcurrants and blackberries - a strange mix but we have too many redcurrants (which is why they get to be so old) and not enough other fruit.

The jam version of my efforts

The main downside to this fruit mix for jam is that either the jam has lots and lots of seed or I have to sieve it. Tedious as it is, I prefer the sieved version which is technically a butter.
At this ppint, I decided instead of making jam with all the purée, I'd have a go at making fruit leather - a sort of fruity chewy toffee-thing.
testing the consistency
Now somewhere I have a recipe - but I couldn't find it quickly enough so just went on guesswork. I've talked to Tudor re-enacters  about fruit leather - it was a popular way of preserving soft fruit back in Tudor times - and been assured that it doesn't require a lot of sugar - so, to half pint of purée I added an ounce of sugar, boiled it up till I thought it was stiff enough

and poured it into a paper-lined dish to set - hopefully.

It didn't quite set as I'd hoped so I popped in back in the oven after baking when it was still warm but cooling and after a while it was ready to peel off the backing paper.

It still seems a little moist and I can't imagine it will keep any length of time. So I've cut it into strips, laid them on clean baking paper and I'm now leaving it to dry further. So far so good, but I'm suspecting that like dried apple it won't last long enough to test its keeping abilities!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Lunch from the Lottie #2

 Early in the week it still felt warm enough to eat salad for lunch - though I'm now running out of radishes and having to bulk up lunch with pickled red cabbage and home made gooseberry chutney.

 Mid week the weather took a serious downturn, so now soups are back in season.
We have lots of slightly damaged potatoes that need to be eaten as soon as possible and the first leeks are just coming ready so Potato and Leek Soup seemed like an obvious choice.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Drying for winter

We seem to have the back porch filled with veg for winter use. It catches the late afternoon sun so can get quite warm in there making it ideal for drying. I don't quite trust the freezer to NOT fail because of power cuts or something so like to  have some of our veg stored in 'old-fashioned' ways.

After a while the onions will be moved into the darkness of the garage....

...and the broad beans and peas podded and jarred. The beans are just normal broad beans left to dry on the plants but the peas are a type, Maro, best suited to drying. I think I may have picked them a little early and not all have dried with a nice green colour - any odd ones can be sown again next year. Some had even started to send out shoots - proves I haven't mastered drying them - and these I've re-sown straight away in a large pot which can be dragged into the greenhouse when the weather drops cooler. I might even have fresh peas for Christmas!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Home grown, home pickled.

Some of the home-grown onions are far too small for anything but pickling - so in the jar they go!
I prefer my home-pickled onions as I put more chilli into the spiced vinegar than is found in the shop-bought variety.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

More autumnal activity

It's a sure sign that the weather is turning colder when I decide to make stock again. Over Summer it never gets used - who wants soup if it's hot? - but now it's time to stock the freezer again. 
This week, chicken from Sunday dinner leftovers.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Lunch from the Lottie #1

 This is picking up from something I've started on Facebook - posting photos of my home-grown lunches.

 For starters here are some from this week Salads for now as the weather is still warm-ish. I expect that before long, I'll be eating soups and beans dishes instead.

 a basic salad of red lettuce and american land cress leaves with cucumber, tomatoes and radishes

a coleslaw salad of red cabbage, apple, cucumber, onion and radish

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Pickling time

It's definitely Autumn now so time to start laying down a store-cupboard of pickles and chutney. 

First up - red cabbage!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Autumn already?

The weather has turned Autumnal this week with cold nights and crisp mornings.
Inside seems to be following the same pattern as the round of Autumnal preserving gets under way trying to make good use of fruit and veg that will 'go off' if left. So often my cooking hinges around what I have available - no where more so than when it comes to making chutneys and marmalades.

I started with green tomatoes that had to be cleared from blight-stricken plants. They had no hope of ripening and were best used quickly. They were all shapes and sizes - 'normal' moneymakers, cherry tomatoes, large Roma plum-shaped and small Poire Jaunes - all mixed together with chillies and ginger for Green Tomato Chutney from Hilaire Walden's Sensational Preserves.

Green Tomato Chutney - quite hot!

Next for the pot was an overgrown courgette. My courgette marmalade recipe is loosely based on one for pumpkin and has become something I make most years.
The chopped courgette is cooked slightly then soaked overnight with lemon husks and skins, frozen leftovers from baking and such.

Nest morning comes the slow task of cutting the lemons into strips..

...then boiling up.

courgette and lemon marmalade

Lastly (for now) I turned my attention to the ripe tomatoes coming mainly from my parents' greenhouse plants. These could have been frozen quite easily but my freezer is starting to feel full. Last year I had my first real success with making and keeping passata so I thought I'd try again. For this first batch I decided to add some chillies for a bit of heat.
The tomatoes are cooked, sieved and bottled. Then the bottles are heated up for 10 mins and left to cool - at this point the lids should seal with a popping sound. One bottle worked properly first time; the other took several attempts and eventually I had to change the lid to be sure of a seal!