Friday, 4 February 2011

hello February - where did January go?

I can't believe it's so long since I last posted on this blog!  It's been a busy time and January seems to have flown past.  We have been involved in several Burns Suppers over the last few weeks which is always fun.  I usually do the reply to the Toast to the Lasses or, sometimes I address the haggis.  We also organise our own Burns Supper which is yet to come, so we haven't seen the last of the haggis yet!

I have also been making the 2011 supply of marmalade and it's lovely to have lots of jars stored away in the jam cupboard again.  When we ran out of marmalade last December, I made some Mamade marmalade which was good, but there's nothing quite like sharp, tangy, marmalade made from fresh, seasonal, Seville oranges.  The wonderful, orange aroma permeated the whole house for days  -  a real January smell!

I also mean to make some lime marmalade for special treats, and Katie (Vintage Squirrel) very kindly wrote out Diana Henry's recipe which she swears by.  

This is the time of year when I really appreciate having a deep freeze.  We grow a lot of soft fruit but when it's ready in the summer, I'm often too busy to make jams and jellies, but at this time of year when life is a bit quieter,  I usually get a chance to catch up with these jobs.  I will make a supply of redurrant jelly which is  one of the most useful jellies you can have.  We use it in all sorts of gravies and sauces and it's especially good with pheasant and partridge.  We also have a lot of frozen blackcurrants and I've just noticed that we're completely out of blackcurrant jam, so that's also on the list.  Then of course there are odd punnets of rasps, Worcester berries, gooseberries and brambles so I usually make a "mixed fruit" jam which is always fun as it's never the same twice and it's a great way of using up a variety of small quantities.  

We're still working  through our store of apples.  There are always a few which are starting to deteriorate but at this time of year the birds love them and the other day I strung some together and hung them from a tree and in no time at all the bullfinches and yellowhammers had found them and were  pecking away while clinging precariously  to the swinging garland!

When we had our little farm shop, we were always looking for new ways to use up fruit and veg that were getting a bit wrinkly or that just hadn't sold and that's when we bought a juicer.  It's a Magimix le duo and it's a truly wonderful machine.  Our favourite winter juice is carrot, apple and ginger which is unbelievably delicious.  The carrot and apple  can be a bit bland, but the addition of some root ginger totally transforms it into something very special.  Other combinations which have worked well are beetroot / apple / lemon,  apple / celery / cucumber and in the summer, all sorts of soft fruits with cucumber or celery.  The most unlikely sounding combinations often turn out to be the most delicious and it's easy to experiment with small quantities.  Some people are put off buying a juicer because they think it'll be a palaver to clean it, but I have to say that our model is easily cleaned provided you do it straight away while the components are still wet.  The rule in our house is that no juice may be drunk until the juicer parts are washed, dried and reassembled! 

Another reason for blog-neglect is the arrival of our new puppy.  He has been here for almost two weeks now and is settling in well.  He's a very endearing little chap and very entertaining although our other two dogs ( his father and his aunt! ) are still getting used to his exuberant antics.  They are both almost nine years old and probably a bit set in their ways so this bouncy little intruder  has rather disrupted their peaceful little world.  A friend in the village has his litter sister and the two puppies spent most of yesterday morning chasing each other around the garden in the snow  until they were completely exhausted. 

planning his next attack!

asleep with his father


  1. it is very comforting having a groaning store cupboard!

  2. Groaning store cupboard be damned - I want a puppy!

  3. As long as the puppy doesn't get into the groaning storecupboard - that would cause a major housetraining setback!!!!

  4. Awwwwww! I love that last photo - has he a name yet?

  5. We finally settled on TOUSIE - meaning tousled or untidy. The word comes into Tam O'Shanter and The Twa Dogs and I'm sure he already knows his name. In some Burns books it's spelled Towzy, but we prefer the other spelling.