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

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Testing - The Country Preserves Companion #1 - Pickled Turnips

Now, pickling isn't the first thought that springs to mind when faced with too many turnips but I have a surplus of small ones from thinning the turnip row, alongside some larger ones pulled for dinner. It's not really the weather for turnips in my opinion (far too hot) so, knowing I'd seen a recipe for pickling them in one of my books, I decided to give it a go.
The book in question is a The Country Preserves Companion by Jocasta Innes - and, although small in size (4 x 6 ins) it's big on ideas and inspiration. 
Today for a change I'm following the recipe exactly as given in the book.
Basically the turnips are quartered and packed into a jar with sliced beetroot and celery leaves.

And very pretty it looks too at this stage!
The jar is filled with a mix of brine and white wine vinegar, but then came the tricky bit.
With the lid screwed on lightly, the jar was placed in a saucepan of water and boiled for 15 mins to sterilise.
Then the lid is screwed on tightly. As the jar cools the lid should seal, keeping the contents free from germs - but it didn't!
I've done this before when bottling tomato puree and in that case when the seal doesn't hold and reboil the bottle but I didn't want to keep cooking the contents so I'm risking it and hoping everything is ok.
I now should keep the jar for 10 days in a warm spot - the recipe suggests next to a radiator but I think it's warm enough at the moment to not worry with that. 
After that it should be stored in a cool place and eaten within 6 weeks.
Hopefully it will taste good.

For the actual taste test see here

Friday, 19 July 2013

A quick sewing project for the heatwave.

 It's such a long while since we've had a hot summer that I don't seem to have any hot weather clothes! I DO however have cupboards stocked with 'useful' bits of material.

 I thought this would make a nice short skirt.
Once, a long time ago, it was a padded shouldered, drop-waisted, ankle length dress of mine. 
Then it was cut and became a wide twirling dress for my toddler-daughter. 
Now it's maybe on its last lease of life before becoming scraps for patchwork.
 The piece above is wide enough for what I need but not long enough..

.. fortunately I discovered the peplum section of the original dress. 
This is enough to make a frill for the hem and will give it the necessary extra few inches.

More posts to follow as I continue.....

Now finished 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Experimenting with the strawberry surplus

 This is the first time that I've had more strawberries than I could easily eat so I was wondering what to do with them all. The obvious thought with any fruit is 'make jam'. Well, any jam I make is more likely to be eaten by Hubby, and I like those breakfast cereals with dried fruity bits....so.... here's my attempt at dried strawberry pieces.

 First I tried them on the grill, as I've done with apple pieces - but with the hot weather this week, the main oven underneath hasn't been used much.

So, here's my new idea.
Spread the strawberries out on a baking tray and leave out in the scorching sun to dry.
This is, after all, how it's done in warmer places. Hopefully this week it will work here.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Autumnal kitchen

Today, instead of the scents of summer soft fruits wafting through the kitchen, there's been an autumnal smell in the air - vinegar boiling with spices ready to pickle onions later this week. It's a smell that always reminds me of the vast amount of chutney making that goes on at the end of Summer when I'm trying to use up green tomatoes and supersized marrows. Coupled with a drizzly afternoon, today could be a day in September.