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

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Green and red don't always make brown

 It's soft fruit season again so time to re-stock the jam cupboard. We have lots of raspberries and redcurrants ripening on the allotment and in the garden ....but... I don't like too many pips in my jam... and I don't like having to sieve it all.

So when I realised my parents' gooseberries were ready to pick, I helped myself to some. I didn't have quite enough raspberries picked so used some redcurrants with them - I always have spare redcurrants!

The recipe I have for gooseberry and raspberry jam suggest boiling all the fruit and then sieving it all but (see above) I don't like sieving! I've never found gooseberries too bitty in marmalade or chutney, so I thought I'd cook and sieve just the red fruit.

I collected the juice and started cooking the gooseberries in it while I got on with sieving.

 At this point I remembered that when mixing paint red and green usually make brown, so started to worry what colour the jam would turn out....

Fortunately, it's a rather lovely shade of pink. It probably won't taste as 'raspberry' as plain raspberry jam but after months of only marmalades it makes a pleasant change.

Free Lunch - and a breakfast - 22nd June

Lots of 'free' salads this week - and actually with a bit of variety to them. The worst thing about trying to eat only home produced veg with lunch is the monotony of salad leaves and pickle every day. At last with summer here, there's actually a choice of what to eat.
Green and red lettuce, spinach, winter leaves which are spicy. We've lifted the first of the salad potatoes so for a couple of days I had them cooked and cooled with lunch. There are broad beans,'normal' peas and mangetout,all of which I eat raw. Even cucumber! and strawberries which I've decided go really well with feta cheese.

and raspberries to add to breakfast

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Free lunch - 15th June

Getting back into the swing of 'free lunches' ie all the veg to come from the allotment or garden.

Lots of variety of salad leaves this week - red and green lettuce, the last spinach, spicy 'winter salad' that's very mustardy in taste, and some bits of rocket.

Radishes and spring onions from the allotment,

mangetout peas from the garden, some baby broad beans (eaten raw) and lots and lots of strawberries putting in an unexpected appearance

Monday, 16 June 2014

Strawberries with everything...

I've got an awkward amount of strawberries ripening at the moment - too many to just scoff down with yogurt, too few for jam - and not enough sunshine to try last year's air-drying idea

So, I'm looking for different ways to eat them up..

My favourite accompanying yogurt is peach and apricot - somehow it brings the taste of the strawberries out better than plain or strawberry-flavoured. Blueberry can be good too but sometimes it's a little overwhelming.

Breakfast - nothing improves my morning cornflakes like strawberries!

..well, unless there's a couple of mini croissants and some leftover whipped cream going spare....
But this is where most of my strawberries are going - into salads.  At first I added feta cheese - not too heavy or spicy - but I've since discovered they go surprisingly well with chorizo.
I thought this seemed a strange idea when I first encountered it but having tried them in a variety of combinations it works well. Blander salad leaves like spinach go better than hotter mustard-y ones, though a bit of rocket or basil is good.
Mangetout peas are a better mix than sharp allotment radishes,and I've decided onion should definitely be avoided.

Anyone got any more ideas to share?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Elderflower time

It's elderflower time - so for the past few weeks I've been making elderflower fizz.

  I'm always amazed how the basic everyday ingredients - flowers, lemon peel + juice, sugar and water - turn into magical bubbly with so little effort; 24 hours in a bowl followed by a fortnight hidden in a cupboard - and it's ready to drink!

I was worried at first that for some reason the elders weren't flowering in the local wood - I'd seen plenty of people on line talking about picking  flowers and making 'champagne' or cordial, I'd seen bushes in flower down town but too near to busy roads to be tempting to pick, but none in 'our' wood.

At last I found some, so I started with a small batch made in a mixing bowl, then a week later a larger amount in the jam pan and a few days later another smallish batch - so the kitchen has looked rather like a home brewery with funnels balanced precariously as the liquid strained into bottles.

Sadly I've run up against a bottle-shortage problem now. I thought I had plenty of bottles saved up but despite using anything I could find - glass bottles from Lambrusco and shop-bought elderflower bubbly, 2 litre plastic ones that held lemonade (never the old coke bottles as they leave a funny taste) and smaller fruit juice drink bottles - I've run out. Fortunately the first batch is ready to drink so I might re-use those bottles.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Free lunch - June 8th

 I'm still trying to keep up with my 'Free Lunch' plan but with holidays and other disturbances it seems to be getting harder. Also as the year progresses I'm finding less to eat fresh at the allotment, and no enthusiasm for a cooked meal with last year's frozen veg.

I've had lots of spinach and red lettuce to be adding to salads, wraps and sandwiches but apart from occasional radishes not a lot else
for breakfast though, I have something exciting - home grown strawberries to add.