7 days ago
I made a stack of jams last year: strawberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry, damson and marrow & ginger. And now we are down to the last jar. The fruit trees and bushes are looking good for this year and the strawberry crop is going to be absolutely enormous. But we are now down to our last pot of jam, as you can see below.
211 days ago
If I am a bit slow this morning it is because friends C & D led me astray last night after our bonfire party with the home made plum and damson vodka. The whole event went down well with much praise for my portuguese stew, damson and plum vodka crumble and ice cream for the kids and mulled wine and vodkas for ther grown ups. But as but as Joshua and I built the fire with a stack of old 1970s doors that were left lying in a barn, it just tipped it down with rain. He hid in the shed, I laboured on. I rather worried that it would not light.
242 days ago
As I waited for the pasteurisation of the juice to complete late last night, I threaded another 60 chillies and hung them up to dry. There are now about 140 threaded, 40 more waiting to be threaded and, I guess, 300 more in the garden turning redder by the day and awaiting harvesting. We are still working our way through last year’s dried chillies so I guess what I am producing now will make even more Christmas presents to go with surplus apple chutney and the usual Greek Hovel olive oil.
246 days ago
The bottle marked vodka contains, of course, apple juice. Producing at 6 litres a day, I am rapidly running out of glass bottles so if anyone locally has any spare I will happily swap eight empties – which you were going to bin anyway – for one full of apple juice. There is a suggestion that the next batch will be apple and damson juice. It is worth one experimental run.
255 days ago
There is just so much to do but my target is to harvest at least one crop a day and put it away for winter storage. Tomorrow is the official start of the apple harvest and, having jumped the gun by a week on the crabapples and edibles from the new top orchard I have created, work will, start on the old orchard by the river which is dripping with reddening apples begging to be scratted and crushed into juice. Meanwhile…
493 days ago
As I am on the Lucian Miers diet I cannot drink anything from the two bottles of damson vodka I decanted the other day. But I had a brief break in the diet, as I plan to step up the excercise part of it next week, as you can see below.
630 days ago
Joshua turns five tomorrow – exactly 100 days before Christmas day. On Saturday I have some of my family over to remember almost a year since my father died. On Sunday I shall be catering for the Pest’s little chums and their mums.
634 days ago
I was up at 5 AM working on another series of articles busting the Umuthi fraud and as a distraction I made some damson gin and also used 300 heads that Joshua and I picked yesterday and brewed up another 1.5 litres of lavender cordial which now sits in the fridge. It is great in prosecco or in water for Joshua and it is what i used to make lavender ice cream.
637 days ago
It is hoped that daughter Olaf, currently spending a term at the Sorbonne in Paris, will honour us with a visit at Christmas and, as you might have gathered, she is a thirsty young lady. As such, I have today been adding to the plum and damson vodka, gently becoming even more fruit flavoured on the larder shelf.
652 days ago
There are two damson trees available to us here. There were three but one at the top end of the vegetable patch just died and it is being chipped to make chippings to go around the fruit bushes with what is left over going onto a Guy Fawkes night bonfire we are starting to build. There is another in the vegetable patch where Joshua and I went collecting yesterday. A third is in our neighbour’s garden but hangs over the fence to our formal lawn so we are – with our neighbour’s agreement – abler to harvest half of it as well.
891 days ago
The day is looming when I must consider my New Year’s Resolutions. It is no great shock in that my top few are all to do with being a little bit, no a lot more, healthy. Spending those last couple of weeks with Dad and his death, covid, the second big lockdown here in Wales, the new baby and now Christmas have not been good for my health. The large Christmas jumper given to me by my mother in law is a little tight. I am all too aware of what needs doing. I am 53 in two weeks time and I have a one month old baby so I need to up my game in the healthy living department. It is all very well me considering plans for wind down and retirement but you have to live long enough to get to spend more time with your children and goats.
982 days ago
The two bigger jars were made earlier and already my damson and rhubarb gins are starting to take on a colour. The smaller, later batches of apple and pear are not colouring yet. In fact, I am not sure they ever will. The next steps: shake each jar once a day for a week so that all the sugar dissolves. Then store in a cold dark place, not hard to find here in Wales, until Advent when all four batches should be ready.
1017 days ago
After his rather minor contribution to the damson depitting, Joshua bowed out of the jam making process at this point. But we were left with two bowls: pips, to which I added 20 ml of water, and, on the right, flesh, to which I added 450 ml, putting both on a low heat and stirring for 20 minutes. As you can see below, the flesh started to turn an increasingly joyful purple.