Wednesday, 2 September 2009

This is an indication of how bad the weather is. When I come in the back porch and find 3 pairs of keepers' wellies, I know even the guys had to concede to the wind and rain. A cup of tea will warm them up while they wait for the squall to pass through. I think they were grateful for the bread and butter pudding I made yesterday too!
Just after we dropped the trout off to the Puzeys, I drove home to find Danny the fisherman waiting to give us a fresh crab. His boat came in before this weather could catch them out at sea, but they had to leave some of their lobster traps set, and we hope they won't lose too many in the storm.

Lobsters are selling for 3 times the money that crabs are at the moment, so crabs are almost considered a by-catch. They are delicious nonetheless, and easy to prepare. The back of a hatchet is a great tool for breaking into the shell, and the pincers on the ends of the legs are perfect for removing meat. If I haven't said it before, a good hatchet is invaluable.

Aside from doing a few hours' work in the village cafe, I took the opportunity to do some 'inside jobs'. And although the house doesn't look much cleaner than when I started, I did manage to finish these jars of apple and cranberry chutney using a simple recipe I found online.

Chutneys are not a huge part of American cooking; the term is Anglo-Indian and refers to any condiment made from contrasting spices and vegetables to accompany a main meal. The British developed a taste for it from their 'involvement' with the Indian sub continent. Our palate tends to favour the fruit/sugar/vinegar recipes, which are also easy to store and use fruits we have gluts of like apples and green tomatoes. And it looks prettier in front of the window than the view outside does.

The chutney is forming part of our preparations for Christmas. I know it's still 3 months or so away but we're making a concentrated effort to cook a Christmas meal composed wholly from what we can put away this harvest season. Chutney needs a few months to 'improve' and allow the flavors to develop. Mike loves cold meats on Boxing Day (Dec 26th) and this will be a welcome addition, although until I shoot it or harvest it, I'm not yet sure what meat that will be!

I hope this storm doesn't blow the last of my cooking apples off the tree before the travelling cider press comes in a couple of weeks.

6 comments:

Poppy Cottage said...

I hear that chutney goes really well with packet Mac' cheese!!

Now I just need a nice pair of wellies then I am set!

Pomona said...

I have just been making spicy plum chutney for Christmas. We are also trying madly to keep up with preserving, freezing, etc - we have already run out of freezer space and jars, and this is the nub of self-sufficiency, isn't it - how to preserve some of that glut for the lean months? But the latest pigs should be ready by Christmas so there should be sausages, ham and bacon!

Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

You said it Pomona. I've got half a dozen jars left, the weather is uncooperative for harvesting, the freezer is getting full, and time is limited. I look at the preserves shelf in the pantry and it looks promising, but you forget how long a year is and all those reserves will go. You just hope they hold out til the next harvest comes good.

I envy you your sausages and bacon. Our lambs should be ready by Christmas but if they're too fat I'll need to leave them til spring and have hoggett instead. Pigs will definitely be our next venture - any suggestions on a good easy breed for beginners?

Pomona said...

Ours are Saddleback/Large White cross - very easy. Saddlebacks or Gloucs Old Spots would be good - tough outdoor pigs - I'm presuming you would keep them outside. They fatten up quicker if you pen them up, but it rather defeats the purpose of what we are doing, so we keep ours outside (with an ark for shelter), with an electric wire fence to keep them where we want them. If they are small when they first encounter the fence (we have 3 wires) then it will always keep them in. Pigs are not a lot of hassle - and don't need shutting up like hens, nor do they seem to have the death wish that sheep have!

Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

I only noticed this evening that one of our sheep seems to have an abscess under its chin! Your explanation of pig keeping sounds exactly what we're trying to do. Do you buy in weiners or keep a breeding sow & boar? (am told AI is not hugely successful for pigs)

Pomona said...

We buy in weaners and fatten them up - all pretty straightforward - a means to an end. And always remembering that no one makes money from pigs! We sell sausages and bacon and a few joints to friends, so we get our meat for minimal if any cost, but we don't make a profit. The way we do it, we would have to charge more than most people would want to pay - to see what I mean, compare Riverford prices with supermarket ones! But apparently the taste of ours is beyond compare - I have to admit that I am a vegetarian (I know, far too fluffy for a farmer's daughter) but family and friends are avid meat eaters!

Pomona x