These jonquils were bravely showing their faces on the first day of winter. Today the garden is quiet and wet after a good gentle rain last night. The farm is looking green and after some warm winter days the feed has grown.
It has been pretty quiet in the kitchen lately as well, we have been away a bit and I'm afraid the vegetable garden is not providing the abundance that it possibly should. We have been replenishing the beds with compost mix so it is ready to go but not much can be planted at this time of year. And my new chooks have been decimating any new seedlings. Look what they did to the kale:
Tim is delighted...he hates kale and really cannot understand what all the fuss is about. I use it to make kale chips. He hates those too.
I was delighted to find the last of the granny smith apples that the birds had left behind...
So I picked them and have been making cakes and good old stewed apple with cinnamon and cloves....it is wonderful on porridge with yoghurt.
There's masses of rhubarb so I made a couple of batches of apple and rhubarb relish, which goes very well with cold meats and cheese. Based on a recipe from the CWA cookbook.
APPLE AND RHUBARB RELISH:
This relish has a lovely ruby colour. I also did a batch in the Aga overnight and it became a brown colour but is still delicious, reminiscent of Branston Pickle, and excellent with a sharp cheddar.
750g rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped
3 big or 4 small green apples, peeled, cored and chopped
300g onions, chopped
small knob of ginger, grated
2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped
150g sultanas (optional)
1 tblsp brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 3/4 cups white wine vinegar
Put all the ingredients into a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Pour into sterilised jars and store in a cool, dark place.
I have also been making Medlar Jelly:
The other thing I wanted to tell you about, and have been meaning to for ages, is pickled celery. It's probably more of a summer thing but it is such a good way of using up excess celery I make it all year. It is also really good with cheese.
I have used Herbie's pickling spice but if you can't get it, don't worry, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry.
Slice the celery to whatever size you like and put it in a jar.
In a saucepan put:
1/2 cup water
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 tblsp sugar
1 tblsp salt
2 teasp pickling spice
OR if you don't have the pickling spice:
2 teasp mustard seeds
1 teasp black peppercorns
1 teasp fennel seeds
1 teasp cloves
1/4 teasp chilli flakes
1 bay leaf
Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Take off the heat and cool slightly, have a taste and adjust if necessary. Pour over celery and allow to cool.
Keep in the fridge. It lasts for ages and is particularly delicious in egg sandwiches.
While I'm on the topic of eggs and because it seems to be so long between drinks for this blog I have to tell you about my latest thing: steamed eggs. I often make one for lunch to put on top of a salad that is looking a bit boring. You steam the egg for exactly six minutes then run it under a cold tap before peeling. So good sprinkled with za'atar.