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Archive for the ‘Preserving’ Category

I always prefer using homemade stock in recipes but it’s not always practical to make or easy to store. Freezer real estate is valuable stuff and I have to be very selective about what I choose to keep; there’s just no room for bags of vegetable flavoured ice. Especially since you can get some pretty good stock powders. But even the best of powders don’t allow you to match the ingredients to your tastes or the seasons.

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I suspect this harvest of late tomatoes is my garden’s last hurrah as it dies down for winter. I’m holding out for a few more warm, sunny days to ripen some of the abundant green tomatoes before I start thinking about making chutney and hopefully we’ll have a few pickings from the rainbow chard from the window box. This year was such a mish mash of buying young plants and growing from seed that I’ve forgotten which varieties I have. There are certainly some small Marmandes and Gardener’s Delight, maybe a Shirely or two, but I’ve no idea what the little yellow ones are. They certainly look pretty sitting on my worktop. (more…)

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I’ve decided that it is now time to proceed to phase two of the marrow rum project and, unlike the underpants gnomes*, I sort of know what I’m doing. I’ve been feeling up my marrows every few days and for the last week or so they’ve been making the spare room smell a little boozy. Once the marrows were very, very soft – to the point that I though the skins were going to give out at the slightest movement – I cut them out of the tights and pierced the bottoms to drain the liquid. Once I’d caught all the juice I mashed the softened flesh through a sieve and strained it through a jelly bag to remove any bits. I stirred in the juice of an orange, soft brown sugar and some more yeast  before decanting it all into my home-made demijohn.

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So, after a few sweet posts I’m back to trying to use up courgettes and have taken to trawling back issues of BBC Good Food magazine for inspiration. I spotted this recipe and immediately knew I had to try it given my fondness for anything pickled. The amount of pickled beetroot, gherkins and onions I get through – often straight from the jar – anyone would think I was having weird pregnancy cravings. Maybe I have a vinegar deficiency? Since making my first batch, I’ve been piling bright yellow, sweet and sour courgette rounds onto practically everything I eat: cheese, sandwiches, chilli, pulled pork, salads… everything’s better with pickles! I am officially addicted to the stuff. I’m actually willing my courgettes to grow just so I can have an excuse to make more. (more…)

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Since investing in a snazzy little cooking thermometer and being smack bang in the middle of summer I’ve been busy playing with lot of jam and preserve recipes which I never had the confidence to make before. I’m just itching to start making sweets now, maybe some caramels or fudge and I’m going to have a go at making Italian meringue method macarons too. If any of these endeavours come out well you might be hearing about them in the coming months but for now I’m busy jamming.

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Further to the courgette insurgency, I discovered these two giants hiding under a leaf the other day. Given that we’re starting to get rather tired of courgette (except some great pickled ones… nom nom!) there was no way I was going to persuade, cajole or otherwise force my OH to eat marrow be it stuffed, roasted or soup. Enter please the bizarre-sounding recipe for marrow rum via The Cottage Smallholder. Never one to turn down a recipe for homemade booze, especially one that involves a trip to a brewing supplier and a pair of tights, I knew I had to give this a go. (Oh, and just to clarify, I didn’t use the tights for looting the brewing shop!) Don’t be put off by the necessity of a brewing supplier, you can order what you need over the internet or even make your own and, from what I understand, you can get away with using plain old baking yeast which has always worked well in my elderflower champagne.

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I’m not a huge jam eater, it tends to make my blood sugars go a bit wacky, but the one jam I find hard to resist is apricot. Especially when there are crunchy apricot kernels hiding amongst big chunks of fruit lending the jam a delicious almondy taste. Apricots and almonds are both part of the Prunus family which explains their affinity for each other in cooking. It’s a combination I really enjoy so I though it might be nice to up the ante and splash in some Amaretto which happens to be made from apricot kernels. (more…)

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