What a summer and the weather been terrible?? So everyone keeps telling me, personally I thought it was fine! A typical English summer, it has been a little windy and maybe the last few days a little too wet. But to be honest at least the grass looks green.
But without the weather what would we talk about?
Has it been challenging well yes, my vegetable plot has rather lost the plot, and on top of that my produce has been either too early and lots of it, or its started too late, with little results. But isn’t the case? The very idea that the seasons change, each year and the weather is slightly different is well a welcome challenge. Each day can and is a surprise and isn’t it wicked how we cope how we change how we adapt (and by we, I mean the inhabitants of this green isle we live on). Aren’t we fortunate are we not to wake up every day to wall to wall sunshine or wall to wall rain? How boring would that be?
Well I guess for a week it would be rather nice and picnics could be planed and events schedule in without the fear for cancellation? But how boring would that be? Seriously how exciting is it when the tent still standing after a few days of rain. This morning I heard Chris Hughes on radio 2 (Still owe you a beer I haven’t forgotten) off Brand Events talking to Chris Evans on how Carfest was shaping up, in the mud, his pride and excitement of overcoming such a challenge sent tingles down my spine, he was loving it! Something he and his staff could get their teeth into, and in months to come they will be reliving laughing reminiscing how they managed in the mud the rain and what a success it has all been.
My mind wondered back to the Darren at the Chewton Glen his a gardener down and his beautiful lawn after a good soaking has had 12 cars parked on it! His challenge to restore it is going to be interesting this year and I can’t wait to hear about it! With that in mind, I shall take on the challenge of my rather bedraggled vegetable plot. Although I have no idea what I’ll be cooking today at least the jam pan does it knows no matter what the weather brings there be fruit in the pan and the challenge will be for it to set it in this damp weather! Life is never dull in the jam world; in the meantime I bring in the fairies to help with the garden!
Cocktails and Jam
Need to know more about how I make this wonderful product then join me for a Hedgerow tour and a cocktail lunch at the Chewton Glen , or for those keen to learn more and get a more hands on experience book a full day at Lainston House new cooking school for a hands on class with me Jennifer that focuses on the taste and flavour of fresh products that will help you understand and transform your preserve understanding to a new level. Click on the links below to book.
Recipes from BBC Radio Solent chat with Katie Martin
Mixed Garden and Hedgerow Fruit.
Mixed Garden Fruit Jam (naked jam garden mixed fruit Available at the Chewton Glen Hotel).
A mixture of all your berries, from the garden or your nearest pick your own. I used the following from the Garden.
Soft Fruit Jam
1 kg of Gooseberries( topped and tailed)
200g of Blackcurrants
200g of Cherries (de stoned)
200g of Red Currants
200g of White Currants
2kg of Sugar.
200ml of water.
I used slightly less sugar than the normal ratio of a kilo for a kilo, but i feel for those who may not be fully confident in the kitchen stick to the rule of a kilo of fruit for a kilo of sugar.
Sterilized your jars by washing them and popping them into the oven. (for about 15 mins temp 150)
pop a small plate and spoon into the fridge to use for setting point.
Place the fruit in a large malsin pan add the water and slowly start to warm the fruit through, try not to overcook your fruit, after about 15mins or just when the fruit starts to break up slowly add your sugar. Sprinkling in the sugar ensures it dissolves quickly.
As soon as you are sure all the sugar has dissolved slowly bring the pan to a gentle boil stirring all the time, this process last about 25-35 mins. But if your fruit very fresh it can be as quick as 15mins so be watchful of the pan. You will be able to feel the jam begin to thinkin with your spoon. Remove from the heat and check for setting point. (test with a cold spoon and a plate that has been cooled in the fridge). Once the jam has set to your desired consistency pour into your sterilized jars seal with a wax paper seal and lid. label and store in a cool dark place upto 12 months. You can use Gooseberry or use any other soft fruit.
1 kg of soft Fruit.
1 liter of vodka
5 tablespoons of raw white sugar
If using large fruit such as gooseberries prick and place in a large clean “kilner style” jar shake and leave for about 6 weeks. The add the sugar over a few weeks (about 2) adding a small amount at time (about half of tablespoon, each time) Every time you add the sugar shake the jar, to help it dissolve.
Once you have added the all the sugar and it has all dissolved. Filter the drink through a muslin cloth or jelly bag. Decanter into a clean sterilized bottle and leave (if possible ) for about 4 months. Shake the bottle before serving over crushed ice.Now the fruit you have been soaking in vodka all this time is too good to throw away, so i suggest you use it for a layer in a trifle
1 liter of Water
400g of Sugar
Place the fruit in a large pan with the water and slowly bring to the boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 mins when the fruit starts to lose it colour and you can smell its wonderful aroma.
Strain the fruit through a sieve and place back in the pan with the sugar, once the sugar has dissolved gently bring to a soft boil, bottle in clean sterilized jars seal and store in a cool place.
This can be used in cakes, ice creams and of course with prosecco or a buck naked matin.
Buck naked Martin
A citrus flavor vodka works with this.
Vodka, Elderflower juice,
naked Strawberry syrup or Jam,
Place all ingredients into a large glass shake and strain into a martini glass
Cocktail glass add a Strawberry and enjoy
If for some reason this all seems to much pop along to the White Buck pub in Burley and ask them for there house cocktail buck naked.
I would like to apologies yet again, i’ve been so busy foraging & picking that I’ve not written about all the thoughts, times and moments I have witnessed this past spring & summer months.
Mainly due to the fact that I have just lost myself in the moment where the beauty can’t leave the eyes, and no words or photographs could never really capture the artistry unfolding around me.
So I can recommend that you stop and let the moment fill the eyes, let them absorb the world’s natural beauty. Then your understand, the reason I got lost when the spring turned into shades of new summer green and the fresh the new summer sun wrapped around me like a friendly arm, I simply just got lost in its beauty,letting myself observe and drink in the first sights of elderflowers trees with its delicate white flowers that pack a punch with its heady aroma. Then suddenly the first prickly gooseberries shouted out, reminding me of younger days picking them with my mum and one day inparticular when it was cold and each fruit seemed to attack me with a small nasty thorn. How I complained , and how I would do anything to be back in my garden with my mom.
It always surprises me just how things grow it’s so overwhelming, the redcurrants have given up their bounty and how the black and white currants have followed suit.
The harvest is in full swing and I have to be honest I don’t always make jam with the fruit I just eat them.
Then there’s the bee project and how they made me danced in the field while I watched the swarm, its exciting. Did I mention the new flavour combinations?
I have mostly been lost in new berries and new flavours. Each morning I have been getting up with the larks, relishing in just how wonderful the dawn chorus is. Did you know here in Barton -on -Sea they wake me up at times as early as 3:45am but on average its between 3:59 am and 4:09 am every morning and boy what a wonderful sound. I have started to recognise the birds themselves!
Did I mention the cherries? what a year for cherries, I almost crashed the car yesterday looking at the cherries in the hedgerows and then the plums they are early and it’s all coming at once, my poor pans are worked to death , they can’t stop and the kitchen is getting overcrowded with ideas about new jam recipes, jam related recipes and well jam.
So apologies I’ve just been capturing the moment and living the dream. Being inspired by nature. inspired by the growers and even the TV!! Especially one particular chap whose inspiration to date fills my every day, that is of course Nigel Slater, and his current TV programme Eating Together ( a family who eats together stays together!) has just exploded onto my plate and has really got to me and wow just wow, what an amazing chef, cook, person, he truly is very remarkable (Yes for all those who know me, I can now achieve turning on a TV set without the help of my children!)
So where have I been? breathing the air, laying under my window at night watching the stars appear in the night sky. Starting out as a turquoise blue deeping as the night moves into morning a colour only the summer sky can bring. Sometimes just watching the clouds filling the blue sky leaving no room for words. But mostly i’ve been climbing trees, I can recommend it! So if you can and you get a chance climb a tree and see my world, it is rather magical. (BE CAREFUL)
see you soon.
Learning all about Jam!
It’s getting busy as some of you know! I am currently in recipe development mode, which takes, time patience and lots of sampling! but whilst I have my head in a pan doesn’t mean I am not doing other things. I am as it happens doing a few events.
June is the launch of Hampshire food festival. For which I am running a number of master classes almost all of them are fully booked. However I am running a few other courses in September at the Chewton Glen Hotel and Lainston House. The demand for these course have surprised me somewhat so we have added a few dates click on the link below and book while there are still places.