Saturday, 27 September 2014

Stuff in jars for the Winter

Now bear in mind a chutney has some staple ingredients: vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, that I shan't bother listing again for each.  I also tend to include bay leaves and chilli flakes in all my chutneys.

Rear, from left to right: 

  • Pickled shallots with apples, peppercorns, beet stalks and juniper berries.  
  • Pickled garlic with red peppers, basil, lemon thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns.  
  • Dried, home-grown sage.  
Middle, left to right: 
  • Dried, home-grown rosemary.  
  • Beetroot, onion and plum chutney.  
  • Tomato, red pepper, red onion and garlic chutney with home-grown oregano.  
  • Mango, green pepper, carrot and onion chutney.  
  • "Rhubramble" jam.  There's eight jars that size rather than one big jar in order to combat Bready Knife Syndrome.  
That should be me and mine set up for the Xmas period.  Our Sophie lives down in Reading so she's got an 0.25L jar of each chutney and one of the wee jam jars as cupboard-fillers for the Winter.  

Saturday, 13 September 2014


It's been a while, to say the least.  My first year as an undergrad was mayhem mayhem, so I've cashed out for an HNC.  I had the grades, no problems there.  It was pretty much straight Distinctions in everything, but the politics got to me.  Suffice it to say I've been busy.

My first niece, Ellie, was born in December.  She's adorable.  I shan't blog photos though because internet.

Got away over the Summer.  When you're part of the many worlds that I inhabit you tend not to have a circle of friends so much as a diaspora, so I arranged a list of couches to crash on, got myself a Golden Ticket - *sings the line* - and went off to see, well, the UK I guess.  England and Scotland at any rate.

I ended up staying in Aberdeen, Northampton, Dundee, Inverkeithing, Manchester, and Leamington, with stops in Stonehaven, London, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and Coventry, before ending the Summer in Brighton with Julia from Stages of Succession where I picked up an award!  

In all, I probably racked up 3,000 miles in three weeks.  It was awesome!  This map by @scattermoon doesn't show the Brighton leg but other than that the lines taken are accurate, it should give you some idea.

Muchly recommended!  If you get the chance to put in a fortnight city-hopping then do so.  I saw more museums and galleries in that short space of time than I do in the average year.  I went on the RRS Discovery, stood inside a mock-up of the Large Hadron Collider, finally saw Body Worlds, and got to stand on the footplate of a very handsome steam engine.  Ain't stopped grinning since :)

So the garden then.  The garden has changed considerably.  The buddleia got cut down, so I put in fruit trees, thornless brambles and rosemary.  I've also painted the railings British racing green so's they don't make the place look like a doctors' surgery any more.  Alas, with the shade from the departed buddleia having gone away I'm having weeds come up out of the ramp faster than I can pull them out, but once the trees get a little bigger that'll sort itself out.  

On the left along the fence line are three cherries: morello, dessert, and another morello.  Visible on the right, between ramp sections, is a family-grafted apple and behind that, near to the taller fence is a family-grafted pear.  

As you can see I'm training thornless bramble to wind around the railings.  This year's growth will turn woody next year, providing a broad and steady platform for next year's growth.  In time the railings will all be covered in blackberries, I may even put in an arch with bamboo and have blackberries cascading above the ramp.  Yum!  Ellie's been picking blackberries all Summer, she loves them.  

My new bay project - Stan - is coming along nicely.  Here he is next to the entry out front.  

That's all thyme in there.  The two in front are orange thyme, then three lemon thyme in the middle, Stan in back.  Oh you should smell that planter after a storm!  

Out back, meanwhile, I've had a little change of heart.  My veg beds will never grow anything like enough veg to feed my lot, but they can grow enough herbs.  They're now my herb beds.  The little ones that were my herb beds are now my odd-job beds.  The fruit bed is mostly planted, save for raspberries which aren't even stocked until October.  

From the left we have rose, thorned bramble, three kinds of blueberry, a fig, and loganberry on the right.  The roses and brambles are to discourage a cat from sitting on the Strawbrary because it pisses George off, who then runs around the garden frantically, and my flower beds get trashed.  No cat, no crazy dog, no destruction.  

This being Autumn now I'm drying rosemary for storage, where it'll keep us in home-grown herbs until the Spring.  

And meanwhile we've got enough fresh in the kitchen to last us a while.  

Rosemary - Sage - Thyme - Bay

Looks kinda Skyrimesque.  Ah well, until next time :)