Sunday, 27 September 2009

One thing leads to another...

Since starting bread-making in earnest, I have a strange urge to make chutney. After the recommendation of a bread making book by a good friend (River Cottage handbook: Bread), I ordered it from Amazon, along with River Cottage Handbook: Preserves. Both are fascinating reads and have taught me a great deal about the basic processes of bread making and preserving all kinds of foods. There are some very tempting jam recipes.. but we don't actually eat much jam... although maybe I will progress to this in time....

So I ordered some jam jars, and a maslin pan, some muslin, a huge long wooden spoon and a funnel. L thought the maslin pan was the best thing ever and spent a good hour banging out a rhythm with the huge wooden spoon on the aluminium pan! I have to recommend this lovely little company for all things to do with preserve making: Jam Jar Shop , I have had an excellent service from them, they are reasonably priced and have a very informative blog!

One of the first chutney recipes in the book, was for rhubarb relish, and we have a fair amount of rhubarb left in the garden which is only surviving because of this lovely warm, late September sunshine.

Rhubarb Relish:
In a 20cm square of muslin, place 50g of bruised root ginger, 2 snapped cinammon sticks and 6 cloves. Put 500g sugar in the pan, with 100ml cider vinegar, 100 mls water and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Leave on the side for 20 minutes to allow the spices to infuse.
Chop a kilo of rhubarb into 2cm chunks and add, along with 125g of raisins to the syrup. Cook gently for 20-25 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still holds it's shape. Pour into sterilised jars. And Voila! My first attempt at preserving!

Tonight for tea, we had Quorn steaks, topped with the relish, along with roast potatoes, sweet potato, babycorn, Savoy cabbage and Yorkshire puddings. It was delicious and the relish went really well.

So I am now planning a proper chutney. We are going to Leeds Farmer's Market next Sunday and I hope to buy some of the ingredients there. I have also ordered some more jars! I plan to make an onion marmalade and some mincemeat ready for Christmas.

On the bread front, I have made two loaves worthy of a mention this week. Courgette and Country Grain Loaf and Ciabatta-Style Garlic Loaf. We had the garlic loaf with spaghetti bolognaise and it made a nice alternative to the usual shop-bought garlic bread.

Dylan has just measured the pumpkin and it is now 23cm, so it has had a growth spurt this week.. despite the plant seemingly dying!

I didn't make it to the gym again this week. I cancelled both the Spinning class and an aerobics class after coming down with a head cold, but hopefully I will be back on track this week (although I have to be excused from healthy eating on the 2nd as I will be celebrating getting another year older).

And today we went 'camping' window shopping. We have a few vouchers which were received as wedding gifts and we want to start buying bits and pieces to allow us to go camping as a family. So we went to Go Outdoors in Wakefield and we left truly overwhelmed by the choices we have.

We are struggling to decide what to sleep on. Traditional blow up air beds? If so, how many? Two doubles? Three? One double and two singles ... surely might be fine for our family while the children are so small..... Or alternatively we are looking at the self-inflating mats, such as Therm-a-rest. I have to say, if I was camping on hard ground for weeks at a time, as we intend to, I don't expect they are hugely comfortable, although Dylan disagrees. And again we have the dilemma of how many... a double for Dylan and I... or two singles? And what about the children? We also puzzled over sleeping bags.... double sleeping bags seem easy to come by now, so this seems a good option as no doubt L will still be sleeping with us, so this seems to mean there will be more room for 3/4 etc in a bed!

We also looked at tables and chairs, fridges/cool boxes, tents, trailers and cookers. We bought nothing today but agreed we needed to do a little more research before parting with cash/vouchers.

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