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.