36 days ago
It’s another hard night cooking at the Welsh hovel as you can see below. First up is a creamed pumpkin and bacon soup with the insides of the carved Halloween pumpkin. Throw in a sprinkling of cumin seeds and it was delicious. Now that the kids are in bed it is time for marrow and ginger jam as I try to cope with the marrow glut. What you see below is the flesh of one very large and one small marrow together weighing 3.8 kg. That has been cubed and, as I write to you now, is being cooked on a low heat with some of the juice of eight lemons.
168 days ago
My pal Chris came aroud to pick a stack of our glut of strawberries. He, and his daughter, took a trug home with a couple of lettuces after supper but we still have stacks more to pick. Meanwhile on the production line:
169 days ago
You can, of course ,just eat them and this attraction has prompted that rare spectacle, the Mrs and Joshua heading into the garden of their own volition. But faced with a glut, even that is not enough. I pushed a few through the blender to make the first strawberry ice cream of the year on Sunday and it is generally agreed that it was utterly amazing. If I sound conceited, anyone who has tasted my home made ice cream knows that I have every reason to be conceited. What you see below was picked in just 20 minutes by myself with Joshua and Jaya supervising ( i.e. picking to eat).
190 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.
420 days ago
It has been a busy year for jams, chutney and relishes and so, as I pot my last jam, I am forced to use recycled Lloyd Grossman sauces jars. It is that time of the year again.
438 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…
447 days ago
Yesterday, as my Oxford contemporaries discovered whether they were moving up or down the slippery pole at Westminster, my five year old son Joshua and I celebrated getting a sex pest suspended from his work, by going blackberry picking. It is horses for courses I guess. But boy was it fun as we discovered two new spots where nobody seems to have been and which were dripping with blackberries. Joshua’s motive is that if we picked enough I could make more cordial which then becomes ice cream. His birthday party looms and he is keen that his friends have his favourite ice cream. Meanwhile…
474 days ago
We have one damson tree here at the Welsh hovel up in the vegetable patch. It overhangs the road down to the hovel and you know when the fruit are ripe as they spatter onto the road and your car crunches over them as you drive in or out. There was a second tree alongside it but the gales took it and I have planted a cherry tree in its stead. For there is already a second source of damsons. My neighbours have a tree which leans over into our garden so we are allowed to pick its fruit too. Our neighbours are in their nineties and their needs are not that great.
770 days ago
It being half term, Joshua and I killed time at the local garden scentre buying more gooseberry bushes for reasons I shall explain later and also a pumpkin. He, the Mrs and Jayarani are away with the mother-in-law this weekend but when he returns on Halloween I shall have it carved and a pumpkin soup ready for him. The light is deceptive. It is bright orange. Pumpkin cuisine can wait. Last night was another cooking night, as the family snored and slumbered I stayed up late, turning the last of the windfall cooking apples into jam.
813 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.
829 days ago
So what to do with the other half of the smaller of the two ginormous marrows from Joshua’s garden? My mother-in-law thinks I am joking but the answer is marrow and ginger jam.
832 days ago
Half of the smaller of the two ginormous marrows from the garden now sits in the fridge. I hope to make marrow and ginger jam later which should be ready to eat in late November either with bread and butter in the morning or with cheese or to use as a glaze on pork. The other half we ate last night as you can see below.
833 days ago
What you see below is the smaller of the two marrows produced from the garden at the Welsh Hovel this year. The plan is to make half into stuffed marrow rings tonight but what to do with the rest?
835 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.
1046 days ago
Today’s arrival is a new addition to the new orchard, that is to say a Nottingham Medlar or Dog’s Arse, or Open Arse fruit tree. These were apparently popular with both the Greeks and Romans and again in Victorian times and what follows may disgust you and explain why they are now rather rare.
1074 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.
1200 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.
1201 days ago
I have used most fruit known to man in my cooking over the years but never, until now, damsons. I just viewed them as small, not very pleasant to eat, and altogether rather pointless. We have a tree in the area formerly known as the jungle but which is slowly becoming a large vegetable garden and which runs alongside the lane down to the hovel so I had pondered what to do with its fruit. I stumbled across a recipe for jam which refers to windfall damsons but, in this case, my fruit arrived thanks to lightning.