So season’s sprung early, the pan went on and the next time I look up, it’s September ! So for a very, very quick catch up on the last few months, here goes:
Spring started with a hop and a skip into the Marmalade Awards and I was very lucky to win a Silver Award for my Organic Marmalade at this wonderful festival. This world class award is not only open to working marmalade makers, it’s open to everyone so please take a look and support it by entering it’s great fun so go on and give it a go http://www.dalemainmarmaladeawards.co.uk/
Sad times were then to follow, the world’s greatest cook, my inspiration, my mom passed away in my arms. A difficult, and very heart breaking time. It all happened around the time I was filmed for Home Comforts with James Martin, sadly she missed it by just two days! She loved watching James Martin and I am only hoping that she got to see it from above! If you haven’t seen it check it out here /www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Qar-zphvc. I sat and watched it when it was aired on TV drinking champagne from jam jars with friends
I filled the rest of the days making Jam and fitted in a few other activities which included a jam cocktail master class at The White Buck in Burley along with Conker Gin and Belinda Clarke marshmallows. I also spent a delightful afternoon at Sparsholt food festival giving a jam workshop and managed to fit in the New Forest Show and Carfest as well. To Round off nicely, I was lucky enough to be invited on a fascinating garden tour of the Chewton Glen with Darren and Anne-some of the best gardener’s I know www.chewtonglen.com
So, what’s next? Lunch on the 12th September with the wonderful Dining Divas at the Captains Club Hotel all in aid of a very special charity Oakhaven Hospice www.oakhavenhospice.co.uk
I only found out only recently it belongs to the Brassica family and although not a cauliflower, it does belong in the leaf vegetable section of plants! Alongside asparagus, seakale, and even bamboo shoots.
It’s believed to be derived from a wild Siberian species and it is documented that it may even be a hybrid origin. (So my dad tells me) Although a vegetable it is used like a fruit. It’s almost always cooked with sugar especially used in pies, crumbles and even made into wine. But best of all it makes great tasting jam.
It’s February and it feels the like the winter is still set on making it hard and difficult for us warm up! But the rhubarb has other ideas! Fresh from the garden with their bright pink stems it has brought a breath of early spring into the kitchen. Oranges are fresh in from Spain and they cast a warm glow of meditation sunshine across the fruit bowl. As the days are starting to linger I have time to think about cooking these tactile fruits and I wonder how to bring them together in marriage that will last (well at least 12 mouthfuls!) Bingo a jam is born!
- 2kg of Rhubarb (chopped into 1inch chunks)
- Take two medium oranges, zest peel and chop add the zest and fruit (not the pith) to the Rhubarb.
- Layer the fruit in a bowl with 2 kg of sugar cover with cling film and leave in a cool place overnight.
- The following day your see the sugar has started to dissolve and the rhubarb is bathing in pink sugar syrup, it smells like heaven and is starting to make me think of all the wonder things it will go with, from tarts to toast! I can hardly wait.
- I place the fruit into a jam pan and warm it slowly through until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and check every so often for setting point (pop a small amount onto a saucer and check for wrinkling) It’s not a hard set so don’t be tempted to overcook it.
- Pour into sterilised clean jars and seal with a new lid. Keeps up to 12 months.