Monday, 19 September 2016

Getting Ready











Home life has taken a distinctly autumnal turn lately. After the heat of last week the temperatures have dropped and the air feels colder, smells different in the morning and last thing at night. Suddenly, the light moves and falls in different spots in the early evening.

I've been in a whirl of preserving lately, which is pretty much my favourite way to spend a weekend, tucked away in the kitchen, radio on, pans bubbling. My mum's neighbour had more tomatoes than she could use and some were passed my way. Four pounds or almost two kilos of fruit were turned into pasta sauce and ketchup. The passata-type sauce, infused with basil and garlic, came out well and I've frozen portions of it. But the ketchup was less successful. The recipe said to cook the mixture of tomatoes, onions, pepper and apple, then strain it, then and add the sugar, vinegar and spices. Then you simmered it down till it thickened, except mine never did, and I simmered it for ages. Other recipes I've looked at since suggest pureeing some or all of the vegetables with a stick blender to thicken the sauce. Mine was like water and I ended up reboiling it with cornflour to thicken it. It tastes really good - much spicier and more vinegary than anything I've bought - but I'm not sure if it was worth the hassle. I'd appreciate any tips on making homemade ketchup. Much more successful was my annual bramble jelly making session, made with blackberries picked wild a few weeks ago and a few apples. I love this on toast, stirred into yogurt, or on top of rice pudding. Especially on top of rice pudding. With cream.

As predicted, I am completely in love with yarn and crochet again. I think it's linked to when I start wearing socks or slippers in the house. Cold toes = crochet love. I bought some very indulgent merino/silk/cashmere blend yarn at the weekend to make some bed socks. I'm pretty excited about this. I've never crocheted socks before but I think I can do it. I've also been using up all the Drops Nepal yarn left over from my poncho to make a very chunky granny squares scarf. I'm doubling up the yarn and using the biggest hook I have so it's really got some weight. (Also, I am pretty excited at the thought of it being cold enough to wear my poncho!)

We spent yesterday afternoon walking in the woods around one of my favourite nearby villages on the Hampshire/West Sussex border. The little church there is just amazing; tiny but so full of history. I love looking around the inside, at the old pews with doors on the end of each row to keep out the cold and the riff raff. (They have a floor plan framed on the wall from sometime in the 1700s; wealthy families in their reserved spaces at the front, farm workers and labourers at the back on benches.) It was still warm outside yesterday but some of the leaves were starting to turn and the hedgerows are full of rosehips. I was looking for sloes to make sloe gin. Am I right in thinking they come much later, like late October/early November? I've never picked sloes before.

Less happily, I have had a niggley sore throat and achy feeling in my sinuses over the last few days, the kind I get before I come down with a cold. I am hoping it will go away if I ignore it and get a few early nights. John just came in and said "It smells like autumn out there now." We are having blackberry and apple crumble for pudding tonight, with custard. That seems fitting.

23 comments:

Cheryl mylittlepieceofengland said...

Blackberry and apple crumble is my favourite, hope it makes you feel better xx

Jill Mcmullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill Mcmullen said...

Hi. Sloes are out now but around my area its not been a very good year.They say you should pick them after the first frost, but you can speed up the process up by freezing them. This softens them up and helps them burst open. I,m off hunting for them again this weekend. Good luck, hope you feel better soon

CJ said...

Scrumptious yarn colours. Well done on all the preserving, and lucky you having some home grown tomatoes come your way. Manna indeed. I do love getting out a tub of tomato sauce in the depths of winter. All that concentrated sunshine. I shall look forward to seeing yarny things here soon! Have a good week Gillian. CJ xx

VeggieMummy said...

It's definitely feeling a bit autumnal here too. Lovely yarn and preserves - sadly, we didn't have a big enough tomato crop to do anything except eat them fresh. Sounds like you have the start of term lurgy! I hope you're feeling better soon. xx

Librarian said...

I've been wearing woolly jumpers all weekend - we were in the Austrian mountains where it was several degrees colder than where I live. Home life definitely has a stronger appeal now than it does during summer!
Hopefully you'll manage to fight off the cold before it hits you properly.

Kerry said...

Inspired by your poncho, I’ve nearly finished one for myself - and yes, I’m looking forward to it being cold enough to wear it too!

Christina said...

I never thought of making ketchup! I suppose if we grew tomatoes, maybe it would have crossed my mind. Soulemama made ketchup last week. Not sure if Amanda linked to a recipe but she usually does. Early autumn/late summer has been glorious so far, loving it. Apple and bramble crumble, yum! Happy preserving. x

Leanne Paxton said...

Hey Gillian,
So many of those pictures echo how I feel here. I simply adore the light cast across your wall hanging, highlighting the word 'home' That's what Autumn signifies to me; a return to the home. Home comforts, homely cooking, drawing the curtains and popping on a cardi. And you know how I feel about a good old crumble. Hope it was as good as it looks. Sloes are ripening apace here. Maybe a couple more weeks where you are?
Leanne xx

mrsrobinson said...

Things are looking beautifully autumnal at yours! I was chilly at the weekend so wore a chunky cardy for the first time in ages, and it made me happy. Maybe I should make some bed socks too! My crochet at the moment is attempting to finish a very long term blanket, so that is now lovely to snuggle under as I crochet. Do hope you are feeling better

Beverley said...

If you get no joy with the sloes, buy some damsons. We made Damson gin last year and it was wonderful. x

Angel Jem said...

Ooh, what an evocative post. I think it really does feel like Autumn is nearly here. I'm feeling a distinct chill in the mornings!

Gracie Saylor said...

Lovely tales you shared, Gillian. I have not tried making ketchup before and am interested in your experience. We were given some sad looking peaches and I tried to save them by cooking them into peach butter in a Crock Pot, but I evidently cooked them too long so they were an inedible tar consistency... dreadful. Thanks for the link to the church which is amazingly old with beautiful artwork. Wishing you and yours a good week! xx

AnnieOBTextiles said...

The days are feeling more Autumnal now and your lovely post makes me think of cosy evenings with delicious, warming food. We had our first blackberry and apple crumble this weekend - yummy! Hope your throat gets better soon, a good excuse for warm honey and lemon with a large slug if something in it.

Mereknits said...

You are getting ready for Autumn in a beautiful way, preparing food and crochet. Sounds perfect.
Meredith

Cecily Graham said...

Lovely post, Gillian. I've got no wool in my knitting basket and can't wait to go to Yarndale next weekend to stock up again - I need to knit now that the weather is turning! As for the sloes, don't leave it too late or there won't be any left. Pick them soon and put them in the freezer overnight or until you're ready to use them. Happy foraging!

The Creative Academic said...

I do so love this time of year. Hope that crumble was delicious. That's a shame about the ketchup - but fabulous other kitchen preserving 😀 Hope your scarf is super snugly! Ooh poncho time soon - I really need to consider a new coat!! Have a good week xx

Cyndy Regeling said...

You busy girl! Hope that cold passes you by. Can't wait to see your cozy winter makes. I have made slipper socks with a sole, but not slipper socks. The yarn colours are divine! I have the same along with a light steel blue that I am turning into Pink Milk's Sloppy Cowl. So far, I'm pleased...even though I did warble the join line a little on one of the stripes. There's always something!! Enjoy the pleasures of autumn...we are just seeing the leaves begin to go aflame with colour here!

Jo said...

Sloes - they can be nasty so wear gloves, I had terrible hand injuries one year all for sloe gin, actually it was worth it but my nan always waited until the first frosts which soften them up and the flavour is better by then. Ditto to putting them in the freezer so the skins split much better than picking with a needles (Boring!) Great post Gillian. Jo x

Countryside Tales said...

A lovely set of photos. We pick sloes after the first frost xx

driftwood said...

I hope the crumble staved off the cold xxx

Penny said...

Hope you dodged the cold virus. All your photographs are gorgeous, amd beautifully autumnal. I have never made ketchup, so I can't think why it didn't thicken, sounds like you rescued it anyway. Bedsocks- lve that idea! X

Jennifer Hays said...

I've never made ketchup. It's always so cheap in the store to buy a gigantic bottle of Heinz that it never occurred to me. I think it's a good idea though, there are a lot of different directions you can take it in. I used to enjoy mixing sriracha and ketchup together, and I've also had ketchup that was mixed with brown sugar, I think it was, which was nice.