Thursday 19 May 2016

What do you do if you cant go boating?

The Captain dons the chefs hat
May 2016

Given our sudden change of plans you may be wondering what I am doing to keep myself out of mischief.

Well, while we may not be out and about with The Jam Butty, it did stretch its legs last week on the BCNS Explorer Cruise and, with our horizons limited, we have focused the Wild Side activity on events which are within striking distance of home - which basically means the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Levels.

Medlar and Apple Chutney before labeling

Wild Side will therefore operate at a lower ebb than usual, but we will still need some stock, particularly later in the season. And then there are the freezers, three of them groaning with last seasons bounty - that cant be left to go to waste, can it?

So, encouraged by the success of my dabble into marmalade making last year the understudy has stepped into thew spotlight and, under Helen's excellent tutelage, I have expanded to Jams and Chutneys. We soon exhausted our reserve of blackberries which converted into Blackberry and Red Wine Jam and then the Fruits of the Forest was made up adding more to our reserves. Sticking to a red theme I processed a mountain of Damsons into some very yummy Damson, Ginger and Green Tea Jam.

With some Rhubarb and Ginger Jam as well...

Satisfied that I had got to grips with the principles of jam I progressed to chutney, a much slower process but one which has started to make inroads into the Medlar pulp we have stored. We now have an extra 50 jars of Medlar and Apple Chutney which will be mature by the end of the summer. Not content with Medlar, I have today rattled off a batch of Gooseberry Chutney plus the third of four batches of Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.

 Rhubarb and Ginger at the softening stage - and then the scary time as the setting point approaches

The pile of completed product is building up in the store room and I have learned loads about how you make preserves. Don't worry about Helen in all this - she is the creative brains and I just follow her instructions very closely. If I had to create a new jam I wouldn't know where to start!

I am now starting to have a look at vinegars. There is a batch of sweet Raspberry and Lavender waiting to be bottled and then something like 25 litres of the hugely popular Wild Garlic Vinegar maturing out in the shed.

What with the decoration and DIY needed in the house and my expanded Wild Side activities I havn't had a moment to miss work!  You may have also noticed the blog coming back to life now I have a bit more time on my hands.

Next week we fly off to St Lucia for a week with friends after which we embark on the cycle of chemotharapy and all that entails. Looks like I will have to fit a bit more caring into my schedule, especially during the six "chemo weeks".

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