Monday, 24 January 2011

marmalade

Now I love preserving, I make jams and chutneys all the time, but I've never made marmalade. The main reason for this is because it tastes like the most bitter orange minced up into a paste with chewy bits in. But my wife likes it and she was given a large bag of Seville oranges at work so I thought it was best to try my hand at making some - at worst it would make the house smell nicer than boiling vinegar for a chutney! I found a recipe on the Internet and loosely followed it (as usual). This involved poaching the oranges for a couple of hours, then cutting them in half and scooping out the insides and pith into a separate saucepan. This pith, flesh and seeds then gets simmered for a while before getting poured into muslin cloth and suspended (precariously) over the rest of the liquid.
The peal is then cut into thin strips and added to this liquid as well. As I had about 4 lbs of oranges I added about 6lbs of sugar and after squeezing the last bits of juice from the cloth into the pan I boiled it rapidly until setting point was reached. This took f-o-r-e-v-e-r, I must buy some petin when I see it!
In the end I made 12 jars of marmalade and Claire said it was lovely (I think it smells nice and keep trying it, but every time it taste terrible and leaves a bitter taste at the back of my throat - I don't think I'll ever be a fan!). Bad photo at the end sorry!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Allotment HQ

A phone call the Thursday before last from my mothering law told me that one of her friends had a shed going spare, but it had to be gone by Sunday.
I got dad to meet me there on the Saturday with a trailer (I'd already taken it down) and we drove it up to the allotment. The shed is in great condition but it was quite heavy to carry across a very muddy field - I'm fairly sure my arms were 2 inches long by the time we'd taken the final load across.
This Saturday (with the help of my friend Terry) I managed to put up the shed at its new home down on the allotment. I've re-felted the roof but I've still got to board up the window and give it a lick of paint to make it look a bit nicer. It already feels like a nice base on the allotment - I'm looking forward to putting our little ball bearing lawn mower and car boot tools down there.
I'm really pleased with our freebie - Thanks to my mothering law!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Wassail!

Drink Hail!
I was a bit heavy headed this morning as last night we had to scare the evil spirits away from the orchard and drink a fair amount of cider in the process.
It was a bit of a random night, we went to the Flease Inn in Bretforton (the next village over from ours to join in on the Wassail. When we first got there I could see that my friend Terry was unconvinced as there were Morris dancers everywhere and "black" woman (faces painted, dressed as witches) all dancing and singing in the courtyard of this national trust Inn. We battled our way to the bar, got some "proper" cider (flat and rough - just how I like it) and after the first pint we were loving it. Toast was dipped in cider and hung from the branches and cider poured at its roots, then more singing and dancing.

I think at these sorts of events you have to just jump right in and get involved, we were all enjoying the dancing and the folk singing by the end of the night.

We met three lads who had just the right attitude, (randomly they were from Shrewsbury, where Terry used to live and they knew him) every month they pick one random event somewhere and just go along and get involved. Last year the one chap broke his leg cheese rolling and next month they're off to run with the bulls in Spain. What really struck me was how even though they'd never been to this pub before they were the first to get up and dance and get the locals up and involved, I thought that was great and I think I need to take a leaf out of their book and not stand at the side so much.
Really great night, I'm smiling just thinking about it.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Not a football fan

To anyone that knows me this will not come as a shock. I don't like football.
But today I got guilted into going to watch a match at the pub. The trouble was its the first time I've seen the sun this year and I was going to waste two hours of daylight, I wasn't happy!
In the end we came to a compromise, I would watch the football with Terry if he gave me an hour digging on the allotment. He agreed and I think we made real headway on turning the soil over on the newer half of the allotment ready for the spring. A few more Sundays like this and I'll be ready for the planting season!