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Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I have got recipes for all these jams and chutneys although I'm not allowed to post them. The Spiced Apple and Walnut is from an old Rick Stein recipe and I have adapted it slightly to add it little more spice to it. The Plum Jam recipe will go in the book also, but this is a very basic recipe which is pretty much the same as any plum jam recipe you'll get. It uses equal quantities of fruit per sugar. Don't bother to de-pip them as the pips all float to the surface and it's much easier to remove them that way. You just cut the fruit in half and throw it in.

One of my favourite recipes at the moment is for Blackberry Cordial which I made this week. It's thick and syrupy and is delicious with fizzy water (or Vodka - haven't tried that yet, but planning to soon).

Chutney and Jam craze

I can't seem to stop myself from making chutneys and jams. I've become obsessed.
I think it's a bit of diversion from the tasks that I really should be doing - my escapism from work, looking for somewhere to live, packing up my house, getting the family sorted and so on.
Luckily some of these recipes will be going in my new book.

I truly lost it the other night when, for no apparent reason I found myself crochet circles to go over the jars! 'Jar hats' as the girls called them, as they giggled and looked at me like I was a mad old woman. Needless to say we were all watching Jam & Jerusalem on the tv. I blame the WI.

Please someone save me or I'll be knitting loo roll holders next !!!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Crochet Scarf

I'm trying to get a few rows of my scarf done every now and then. I'm designing this for the magazine Yarn Forward. It will be in a different colour, and this is my sample to see if it comes out ok. It's an adjusted pattern from something I designed a while ago, but it's such a lovely pattern to crochet and in lovely yarn: Fyberspates Scrumptious. The colours are gorgeous and I'm really enjoying making this. I'd love to have more time to do it and I'm only managing such a little in the evenings. This isn't the greatest photo, but the best I have time for this morning. Got to finish the pigs and goats section .....


I have such a tight deadline at the moment - I've been writing about vegetables, herbs, fruits, how to store produce, bee keeping, goats and pigs and so much more. Still to go are all the intros and then on to the recipes and soap.

I had to wrap loads of apples for the storage photography, so now I have so many apples, I don't know what to do with them. Of course you're only supposed to wrap up perfect apples, but for the purposes of the photos we just just wrapped up what we could (with the help of neighbour's children, Indy and Jamie). So now I truley have a glut of apples. I spent last night making Spiced Apple and Walnut Chutney, which is absolutely delicious but it doesn't seem to have made any dip in the apples, they're taking over the house!

On top of that I also have a glut of plums. I've made some Plum Sauce, but there are still branches full of them. Working, working, working all day, so the only time to do it is in the evenings (late evenings!).

Plum Sauce recipe will be in the new book, but not the Spiced Apple Chutney.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Drying Onions

My onions have been drying out for a week and I strung them up yesterday. They look brilliant and I've found a very easy way of doing it. I've written it up for a step by step instruction for my new book, so not able to publish it here, but David is coming over to photograph them tomorrow and I will post a picture up.

I planted a whole bed of onions this year because I use so many of them in my cooking. It's one of the most satisfying parts of gardening to string the onions up ready for use for the rest of the year.

I also cooked the most delicious meal last night using all the cherry tomatoes picked fresh from the greenhouse. They are completely bursting with flavour and I added all of my home-grown produce: basil, garlic, onions - fried up a little olive oil, served with pasta and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. It was bursting with flavour and the best meal I've had for ages.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Hot, sunny days under the Rhubarb

This photo was taken by David Merewether who is the photographer on the book I'm currently working on. Here we are at Vivien's house photographing her fantastic vegetable garden. We just couldn't resist this photograph, the leaves are enormous. If anyone needs a good photographer - David is an absolute pleasure to work with. We frequently have to make little road trips to photograph some or the other and he is excellent at just taking a quick shot and making it look great. Have a look at my recommended website links for the link to his webpage.


I had a run in with the police the other day.

I was making blackcurrant jam, thick dark red liquid splashed over my arms, on my hands and dripping down my apron. I must've looked like I'd just butchered something large and messy. Then, a police car pulled up. Of course my heart fell to the floor because Camilla was out and I thought something terrible had happened. And I thought I might get arrested for looking like I'd committed a bloody murder.

As soon as the policeman got out of the car, I realised it wasn't to do with Camilla. He sort of had that 'you naughty girl, what have you done' sort of look on his face. He did the slow walk, past my car and then asked if it was my car. I said yes, and he asked me my name. Gave him my name. He then told me I had filled my car up with petrol yesterday and had driven off without paying.

All I could do was laugh in disbelief. After several exclamations, I apologised and asked him if he was going to press charges. He said that normally this would go down on the police records, so I promptly rushed into the kitchen and gave him a jar of strawberry jam.

Luckily, he said he loved jam on his toast in the morning and thank you very much.

Done. Policeman bribed with a jar of strawberry jam...... now there's a headline.

Wedding Blanket

At last! The wedding blanket is finished. Just a bit of embroidery on the edges to go.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Nought so queer as folk

Had a great time at the Cambridge Folk Festival. The weather was good most of the time, a few rainy spots, but what would a festival be without mud.

Saw some amazing acts. It's incredible to think that people still think folk music is finger-in-the-ear music, it's traditional but also strikingly contemporary and there was a good mix of young and old people there. My special moments were arriving at the 'Club Tent' at 9am on the first morning and coming across a fantastic man: Brian McNeill, teaching a fiddle workshop. We all became Brian fans from there on and followed him around his various performances throughout the festival. Needless to say I'm now determined to go out and learn how to folk fiddle (not fiddle with folk).

Other highlights were the at the singing workshop with Rachel Unthank on Saturday morning. We had just gone to see what was happening at the tent and as we approached heard the beautiful sound of the whole tent singing. The Scottish Showcase on Stage 2 was fab. Loved Bellohead and Jon Boden was mesmerising. But you can't beat having your own personal entertainment and Bobby (Maddy's boyfriend below) played us the most wonderful songs inside and outside our tent, which made early morning and late night camping more than bearable. He got a slot in the Club Tent too and was fantastic.