Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas and Willies in Scotland

We are now home after an extremely busy Christmas period where we drove a total of 900 miles. The weather forecast on Christmas Eve said not to travel unless absolutely necessary; there were multiple accidents in Lincolnshire (where we had to drive through) and snow was forecast for Yorkshire (ditto). It was very stressful making the decision to carry on with our plans, but I'm glad we did because the roads were fine (the BBC travel advice must've scared others off) and it was so nice to see our family and friends. The worst part of the travel was driving from home to the cattery, half an hour's drive, to drop off Meg. The country roads and our driveway were icy. 

These photos were taken at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh when we stayed with our friends Pete and Lyns and their kids. JJ always attaches himself to me from the moment I turn up to the moment we leave and he is the sweetest little person. One of the best conversations I had on the trip was when JJ and I were sitting in one of the rooms at the gallery while our friends milled around looking at the art. Instigated by JJ we discussed which of our friends had willies, and which didn't. These things are important when you're three years old. It was established that Haggis, Pete, Ian, Kevin, Paul, JJ and Nate all had willies. Paula, Lynsey, Connie, Isobel and Sam were declared willy-free.

So, now we are home. I drove from Edinburgh to Wetherby (the halfway point where we change drivers, get Costa coffee and food from M&S) and as soon as I stopped driving my body started shaking with flu. This used to happen to me when I toured with Hagos's band. No matter how long the tour: two weeks or two months - as soon as I got home I got a cold. My body had managed to hold out for as long as it needed to, and then it collapsed.

I spent most of yesterday in bed and am feeling better all the time. I had just completely exhausted myself before we even left, and with all the driving, socialising, and sleeping in strange beds on top of it all my body had just had enough.

So, now we're glad to be home and settled and calm and I'm looking forward to getting back to my own work, though I still wish we lived near our family and friends and could see them more easily and frequently.  

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow; Snow; Snow; Snow; SNOW

This is the view outside my kitchen window this morning. Poor Meg is (literally) climbing the walls because she can't get out hunting and exercising. She goes out for seconds at a time and often comes CRASHING back through the cat flap.  

These are her footprints early this morning. Sometimes you just have to go out in the snow, even if you'd rather not.

And these are the bitesize Christmas Cakes I brought back from Diane's Pantry yesterday. I couldn't resist them when I got to the till.

I've been trying to finish Christmas jumpers for Nate and JJ, but this morning I have admitted defeat. I reckon, realistically, there is 12 hours' work to go. And I could knit all day today and have them both finished but I would be completely exhausted. So I will buy them a shop bought present instead, to go with the game I am making for the whole family. The jumpers will be sent in the new year, when I've had the leisure to finish them. Common sense MUST prevail, because I want to have the energy and relaxed-ness to enjoy my wedding anniversary on the 23rd December, and Christmas with our families. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Tree

We bought our Christmas Tree today. I like short, dumpy trees and we found the perfect one. We decided not to put tinsel on it this year. It looked so good with just the white lights. So we left the tinsel off and just put the ornaments on instead. Now we just have to add the chocolate :) 

It's so nice having Hagos home - a real treat. I love it when we're both knocking about the house doing our own thing, and then come together later to watch a film, or earlier to go out for the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

An almost-finished Winter Skirt, and a new Walking Foot!

The above photo isn't great. I decided to take the photo after I'd unplugged the machine so it didn't have its light anymore! Anyway - it's my new walking foot, which I only discovered because I bought stretch cord to make my skirt with, and when I tried to sew the front to the back it stretched big time. I tried about three times and had to unpick it each time. So, a trip to John Lewis saved the skirt. I was very excited first time I used the walking foot. I also used a concealed zip attachment for the first time, which made a huge difference. I've been struggling to make my favourite Amy Butler A-line skirt with the wrong zip attachment all this time. It's a revelation to use the right materials. 

So this is the skirt, almost finished. I just need to slip stitch the lining around the zip, then hem the outer and the lining and that's it! I can see myself ending up in the fabric shop during my lunch breaks on Thursday and Friday! There are some tweeds I like. I could make these skirts in different materials indefinitely. 

I think the lining has worked out very well. Always - contrasting linings.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blue-and-orange is the new purple-and-green

Last night I cut out the winter A-line skirt I've been meaning to make for ages. I got the material from Anglian Fashion Fabrics, the shop near my work. When I was buying the material I almost chose a blue lining, then I thought, why should I? I love contrasting linings - it seems to add a secret luxury to a garment. So I chose orange. It was only when I laid it on the table last night that I realised I'd chosen the same colours as my TV jumper I'm currently knitting. Perhaps blue and orange is the new purple and green.

I've had a lazy morning so far. Now I plan to do a little bit of housework, then have lunch, then sew my skirt. I really hope it turns out well because I'd like to make a few.

I also want to make some knitting bags and a bread bag from my Oxford Green material. We have a little padded seat next to the fire, recessed, that is covered in my knitting projects, music books, my iPod and camera live there too, and I'd like to tidy it up a bit. I thought if I made knitting bags for each project, just a simple rectangle with a pull-cord and stopper, with a tiny photocopy of the item I'm making attached to the cord, it would all look organised and would make it easier for me to pick up projects to work on. Apart from the current project, which is Nate's jumper, all other projects are buried in various types of bags. It's such a jumble. But it's another of those projects I've been meaning to do for months. 

Hagos arrives home about 4pm from Munich, hopefully avec chicken.  

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Delight: Finding interesting articles in the paper while making sticks for the fire

I save our newspapers through spring and summer so I can make them into sticks to light our Parkray fire in autumn and winter. And one of the delights of doing this is coming across stories or items I missed in the papes first time round.

Today, for example, I saw this beautiful coat.

And something that appealed to  me greatly: a reading holiday, where all you do is read!

Making sticks can take up to an hour, depending on what I find. The end result is then used on top of firelighters, in place of real sticks, which cost a fortune.

I was awake at half three this morning, making Hagos breakfast before he drove to Stansted, then flew to Munich. I went back to bed, of course, and eventually got up at half nine. I've had a really lovely day, sorting the house out, reading, shopping, and early afternoon I had an urge to make bread.

The finished loaf is lovely, but I had a bit of a scare very soon after putting it in the oven. I was in the bathroom handwashing my mittens, scarf and hat, when I heard a bang. I came through to find smoke oozing from the cooker! I turned it off immediately and opened the front door, as there was an obvious electrical-burning smell. I was really upset as I'd put so much love into making my loaf I thought it would be ruined. But then I got brave, once I trusted the cooker wasn't going to go on fire. I turned the oven back on and believe the bang was something to do with the fan, and nothing else. Anyway, Hagos is back tomorrow and I'm sure will be able to figure out exactly what's happened. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas in Reepham

When I drove through the village tonight, after being at the gym, I saw that the main road was closed off, which could only mean one thing: Santa would be switching on the Christmas Tree lights!

It's become an annual event. Little stalls line the street, with a heavy St Johns Ambulance presence (tonight there was even a fire engine at-the-ready). There is a hog roast, lots of mulled wine, tombolas etc. You get the picture.

I was sorry that Hagos is in Birmingham today for one gig, as last year we had fun attending. Anyway, in my pyjamas, covered up with Hagos's jogging trousers, I headed into the square to buy some mistletoe, only to find no one was selling it this year. Anyway, the tree was nice, though I missed seeing Santa himself. Hopefully he'll be round on Sunday, passing all the houses on his sleigh being pulled by a tractor.

When I came home I downloaded Delia's Christmas programme from yesterday onto my computer and sat on the couch under a blanket and a cat in front of a roaring fire watching it. I would've liked some mulled wine to go with it but hadn't managed to find any.

I had been planning to test-drive my Chocolate Yule Log tonight (I'm making Christmas dessert this year: Chocolate Yule Log and Raspberry Pavlova. I want to make them both before the actual day to make sure I don't encounter any problems when I make them for Christmas dinner!), but I didn't quite feel in the mood for that much effort (it has to be made over two days), so instead I scoured my cook books for chocolate chip cookies and Mrs Beeton didn't let me down, et voila, half an hour later they were made. I'll take most of them into work tomorrow, and leave a few at home for Hagos when he returns.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I finished one beady bed sock. I really like it, but it took me much longer to knit than I expected. When I bought the wool I chose the colours because I liked them for myself, but I also had half a mind on a friend who might like them too. So, depending on my other knitting and sewing commitments, I may or may not give them as part of a Christmas present to a friend. It's a shame they don't knock up much more quickly because otherwise they could be my thing to make and give this year! 

The colour in the top photo is truer, but I like this close-up shot.

Meg and I are very happy that Hagos is home. I picked him up from the airport on Friday morning, dropped him at home, then went back to work. It was very hard going back to work, but I know from loooonnnng experience that the first day back off tour is given over to decompressing: vagueness, distractedness, sleeping, bewilderment, so I was better off at work letting him go through all that himself. We had a lovely Saturday of going up town, having lunch in one of our favourite cafe-bars, then home to light a fire and potter around it all day. Bliss.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

New Beady Bed Socks

Inspired by Anna's Secret Santa present to Mia last week, I decided to treat myself to a new pair of beady bed socks, as my old pair are looking well worn (though I still love them, and they're still my socks of preference when I'm in my pyjamas).

I don't usually like socks that are flat-knitted on two needles, rather than knitted-in-the-round on four needles. I don't see the point of not knitting them on four needles. But this pattern works due to the rib hiding the seam once they're sewn together.

The pattern is from the Rowan Home book, and I'm using Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply. This wool appeared at the same time as the Jaeger 4-ply disappeared, and I assume one was supposed to replace the other, but this new 4-ply doesn't quite have the softness or elasticity of the Jaeger.

Anyway, it seems to soften when steam pressed (through a damp tea towel).

I was BOUNCED awake this morning at 7.30am by my sweet little cat Meg. We always open the bedroom window during the night. The window is Velux and is positioned right above our heads and Meg very cleverly stands on the window and jumps up and down so it makes a noise. She also miaows along to the bouncing, just in case the bouncing isn't loud enough (it is). I hasten to add, she has a perfectly servicable cat flap that she uses quite happily to come in and out of the rest of the time. I had already been miaowed awake at 5.30am for breakfast (I know, I'm far too soft). It used to be 6.30am, which wasn't so bad but cats don't know about British Summer Time and Greenwich Mean Time, so it's now 5.30am.

So, I have stayed up, hung out two lots of washing, had breakfast, etc. And what do you think Meg is doing now?

Yep, she's snuggled down to sleep for a good 14 hours. Isn't she cute though? That's how she gets away with being so cheeky. As soon as I look at her I'm so stunned by her beauty and attitude I give her whatever she wants.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Make-it-Yourself Secret Santa

It has become a tradition that the crown court team does a Make-It-Yourself Secret Santa sometime in autumn. I think we first did it four or five years ago, when only Anna and I took part, making a present for each other. We have since recruited more members, though with colleagues coming and going the mix is always different. The only condition for taking part is that you have to make the present yourself. ANYTHING that is home-made is allowed. What I really love is the inventiveness of what people come up with, particularly colleagues whose first reaction when asked if they want to take part is, "But I can't make anything."

The photos I can show are: above, Mia holding up her Beady Bed Socks, knitted by Anna (pattern from the Rowan 'Home' book).

Mia made Katie this delicious bread (we all tried it), with her name lovingly spelled out on top. No need for a gift tag.

Katie made Anna the most delicious, soft oaty, choc chip biscuits.

Jo made me chocolate and syrup cornflake cakes.

And I made Jo this Postcard Pouch! It's a fairly simple design, inspired by Amanda Soule's Gratitude Wrap. Jo LOVED the Go Elephant exhibition that was spread all over Norwich last summer. I was struggling to decide what to make her when I had a lightbulb moment as my sister was paying for her Christmas shopping; the postcards of the Go Elephant elephants were displayed next to the till. I was originally planning to put recycled envelopes in one of the pockets in the pouch, but I couldn't find any envelopes the right size, so I defaulted to postcards in both pockets and added the stamp pocket and a pen holder in the middle. It took me a bit longer than anticipated (I was finally able to go to bed about half eleven last night!) but I was pleased with the result.

I love the outer Amy Butler material, and the velvet green ribbon just finishes it off beautifully.

I also made, for the first time ever, Treacle Toffee! I've wanted to make it for years and never got round to it. When I was a child one of my neighbours made Treacle Toffee every Halloween, and it was a race to go round all the neighbours who made the good stuff first (one did Treacle Toffee, another did Toffee Apples, another did Fudge), before going round the rest of the neighbours who gave out monkey nuts and fruit and shop-bought sweets. The home-made stuff always got snaffled up first.

The Treacle Toffee was the best I've ever tasted, though I did take it off the boil perhaps a little early. I ended up having to roll each piece in baking parchment as it all stuck together when left in a tub. A definite winner. The recipe was Mrs Beeton's

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Delight: Gardening

I was encouraged to start gardening by two friends, Janie and Ba, who are gardeners extraordinaire. Last year they gave me a tub of potatoes, which I pretty much just left to look after itself, until the day Janie and Ba said it was time to dig them up, and then I was astounded at all the potatoes that appeared as Hagos tipped the tub upside down over some newspaper and I scooped the Anya potatoes into a blue bowl.

So this year my crop has been well-documented here (pretty much every single tomato has been catalogued), and I had a whale of a time growing tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes, chillies, and parsley. The potatoes and courgette plant were given to me by em, Janie and Ba, but I went to the garden centre mysef and bought the tomato and chilli plants and potted them all up.

Encouraged by my roaring success, I decided to go to the garden centre and see what else they had on offer. This was in mid-August. I found seeds for everything hanging up on a display, and finally bought carrot seeds and beetroot seeds. I ignored the instructions on the back of the packet for how many seeds to pop into each hole in the compost because I didn't really believe anything would come of them.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the carrots above are the result of those seeds I planted three months ago. I can't describe the amazement and wonder I feel that the seeds turned into carrots. And I know that that is how all vegetables grow all over the world, but growing them myself makes me much more appreciative of the process, and grateful for the product.

My beetroot, on the other hand, failed miserably. I don't know what I did wrong.

But I'm not despondent. It's all a learning process. I have GRAND plans for next year's crop.

I also became appreciative of finding ways to preserve my produce. My Tomato Relish is delicious, and the Plum and Apple Jam (with plums from my friend Sophie's tree) was also a Delight.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Delight: and rediscovering JB Priestley

I first discovered JB Priestley during secondary school, when we studied Time and the Conways, and, An Inspector Calls. Both plays made a big impression on me. I loved the messing around with Time and Narrative Structure and Chronology.

I was lucky to have a great English teacher for four years. He totally ignited my passion and love for literature and writing and poetry. His enthusiasm was palpable and he carefully explained the meaning of everything very clearly.

So I was delighted to discover that a book JB Priestley wrote in 1949 was being reissued.

The book is called Delight, and is a collection of snippets that made JB Priestley happy.

Some of the titles of the pieces include: "Detective stories in bed", "Trying new blends of tobacco", "Gin and tonic, 1940", "New box of matches", "Long trousers", "Suddenly doing nothing", "Departing guests", and "Timeless mornings". Each piece is evocative and concentrates on taking deep pleasure in very small and simple things. Something I prescribe to myself.

So I thought for the next wee while I might blog about the very small things that give me great delight, and the back story to them.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sylvia Quinn's Pancakes

I decided, at 9pm, to make pancakes. Not the thin French pancakes, but the thick pancakes I had as a child, when we visited our neighbours the Quinns.

Sylvia Quinn made these pancakes, and I loved them. Though I have to say hers looked much better than my first ever attempt. I think my next attempt will be better timed, and I'll reduce the temperature by a notch.

But still, they were extremely nice, and just what I was in the mood for. I had them with my very own Plum and Apple Jam. The recipe came from Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer and the pancake recipe was inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books. Very apt as I'm watching the DVD at the mo.

I had a very good day today. I had a home day, got up at 7am, did some housework, had breakfast, did some work, went to the gym, had lunch, read for a while, did some more work, lit the first fire of the season, watched Strictly, played piano, worked some more, then made pancakes. Now I'm on the couch being cuddled by a warm cat, about to watch some telly.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Honour of Orange-Striped Friends

After buying my Indigo Cashsoft 4-ply to knit my new TV jumper, I wanted to find the correct hazy stripe to complement it and my imagination fixed on a vibrant yellow-jelly colour. I marched to John Lewis at lunchtime during work on Thursday, only to find they didn't have the colour of Kidsilk Haze I wanted. I checked the Rowan shade cards and lo and behold, I had made the colour up. I then pulled out all the balls of Kidsilk Haze in the display and held them against a ball of Indigo Cashsoft. There were a few colours that I really liked: a midnight blue, a toned-down corny-yellow, but I couldn't quite reject this bright orange, even though I wasn't sure it was the best colour for the project. But being partial to orange/ginger striped things, I bought the ball and it's now incorporated into my jumper. I like it. 

Kidsilk Haze is the most amazing wool. I could easily buy every colour just for its beauty.

Hagos has gone on tour for six weeks. I found it very hard seeing him off this time. Not sure why. And I'll see him once a week for the first four weeks, which is good. And I have plenty to occupy myself with while he's away. I think we were having good fun while he was at home for three weeks, and we wanted the fun to continue.

I have a few nice projects to look forward to in the autumnal months. I got two gardening books out of the library recently and have discovered from them that I can plant garlic and onions to grow over the winter months, which I'm very excited about because I thought gardening was over for the year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My New TV Jumper

I can barely believe I'm knitting another TV jumper. After TV jumper number four I swore I never would again, but with winter coming on, and having just finished knitting JJ's Christmas jumper I really felt the need for an easy, but beautiful, jumper for myself. In 4 ply.

I chose Rowan Cashsoft because it feels so good, and the colour Indigo because I really suit blue.

This time I bought an extra three balls of wool and plan to knit long sleeves, and if there's any wool left over I will make winter mittens. I have it all planned!

And then of course I want to make my winter coat, and am currently veering towards a deep blue, plain tweed. With a matching blue tweed skirt. Mmmmmm.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My First Carrot! and Other Things

My carrots and beetroot won't be ready for another month, but my gardening guru advised me to thin out my carrots once they were established to give the ones left behind a chance of growing well, so I watered them, then pulled one out to see what it looked like, and this is it!

I must say (as I always do) I'm very impressed. It's an actual carrot! The wonder of it never ceases to amaze me. After the carrot's photo shoot, I washed and ate it and it was extremely delicious. I've since decided not to thin them out after all as I think they'll be fine.
It is the teeniest, tiniest carrot in the world.

I then decided to pull up my potatoes as all the stalks had long-since died off. It wasn't such a good crop as last year, about a third I'd say, but I'm sure they'll be very tasty nonetheless.
In other news: I had an accident on Monday whereby I twisted one foot as I stepped outside my front door, and scalded my other foot as I collapsed to the ground! I had been on my way to the coal bunker with freshly boiled water in the kettle to kill some ants that have nested there. As I was dropping to the ground in agony from the twist I had that slow motion thing kick in where I was suddenly aware of pouring the boiling water on my other foot and could do nothing to stop it happening. I was wearing crocs, which offered no protection and were probably partly responsible for me falling in the first place. My feet slide around in them. Anyway I've been house-bound for five days now. My twisted foot has almost healed, just little niggles if I stand on it the wrong way, and my burned foot looks much better than it did, but still has a large blister and deeply reddened and slightly blackened skin approximately 3 inches by 5 inches. I was so glad Hagos was at home at the time and got my foot under cold running water and went to the chemist for advice on how to treat it. I still can't get shoes on without them rubbing the blister, but tonight Hagos and I are going out for a Mexican so I will bandage it up and put on some slipper-shoes I just found in my shoe cupboard that I forgot I had. I'm so looking forward to going out. I miss out!

Monday, September 14, 2009

On Holiday

We went up to Edinburgh last week for four days as a little holiday during Hagos's break from work. We stayed with our friends and their children, and managed to persuade Pete to take Friday off work to go adventuring.
We all like exploring ruined castles so Dirleton Castle was a great place to go. It was a wee bit hairy when the kids raced ahead through the maze of ruined rooms - keeping up with them, and making sure they didn't go over the edge! The grounds of the castle were vast and beautiful though, and the kids enjoyed running free round them.
This photo was taken in the dovecot. Very funny trying to get the kids to stand still long enough to be in the shot!On Saturday we went to Peter's Yard for brunch. It's a Swedish place, very lovely, Scandinavian, great bread and fresh food.
The whole four days were great fun. It's so good to be with friends who enjoy adventure and fun, and there were a few times we all laughed till we ached. My little friend J and I above. He is the sweetest little person. Both kids have a good sense of humour. The holiday did me a lot of good.
On Sunday Hagos had a gig at Jimmy's Farm. He was doing sound for Tunng. It's the first time I've seen them live, though I love their music. I really enjoyed being at a little festival. It was a combined food and music festival. The food was all hog roast type stuff. I was bewildered by the crowd though. They all seemed to have brought their own foldaway chairs. At first I thought the organisers must have put them out for people to sit on, a bit like deck chairs, because there was a sea of them in front of the stage. Everyone seemed to have one. Then I saw people carrying them over their shoulders as they walked around and realised they had all brought their own! A rather particular bunch of festival-goers. I've been to many, many festivals all over the world and have never seen anything like it. I wandered about by myself while Hagos and the band were getting ready for the show. I used to tour with Hagos about 15 years ago, and I really love that inbetween time, before the show. It's really good space-and-thinking time. A good day. And Tunng were all lovely people.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Plum and Apple Jam

I am Preserving Queen at the moment! My friend Sophie gave me a bag of plums from her tree and I turned them into Plum and Apple Jam. I could look at the deep red colour all day. It really is gorgeous. The jam tastes delicious too. I used Mrs Beeton's recipe.
It was messier to make than the Bramble Jam. I don't have a preserving pan, so use an ordinary large pot to make everything in. And the quantities, when it came to the rolling boil stage, started spilling over the sides so I quickly had to decant some of it into another pot. And then the fun at the end, once setting point was reached, of trying to fish out all the plum stones. I think I should've left it another couple of minutes boiling though. It is jammy, but rather runny jam. I'm usually good at judging setting point. And actually I could tell as I was pouring it into the jars that it could've done with a wee bit longer. Next time.

My cooker top, my kitchen table, and the sink were all COVERED in plum jam.

I'm very excited by all this growing, making, and preserving business. Sophie has asked me if I want to go to a fruit farm with her. We're thinking of making preserves as Christmas presents this year. I will need to buy some decent jars for that though. I think it would detract somewhat from the gift if it came in a Nescafe or Bisto jar. (I must just point out that I didn't buy the Nescafe, it was bought by a friend who was staying here who didn't like fresh coffee.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Tomato Relish

I just made Tomato Relish, using tomatoes I've grown myself!

Those four tomato plants have given me a lot of fruit; we managed to eat salads every day with last weekend's crop, but this weekend there is only me and Meg at home and I can't bear to waste anything I've grown or made myself so I went searching, originally, for a Tomato Chutney recipe. I couldn't find a satisfactory one in either Mrs Beeton's or online and I was just beginning to think of making and freezing tomato sauces for pasta when I came across Mrs Beeton's Tomato Relish recipe. I immediately liked it as the first line of instructions were: 'Put everything into the pot and heat gently'. I love those kinds of recipes. My favourite chocolate cake is made in much the same way.

So, three jars of Tomato Relish for winter. I tasted the last wee bits out of the pan and it is extremely delicious and, er, rather hot. Mrs Beeton's tip says to leave the chilli seeds in if you like stuff a bit hotter, so I did. Eek. :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Winter's Day Project (Runway)

If I could, I'd like to spend all day, every day, making things for my home, from clothes and meals through to furniture and wallpaper etc - everything.

For the past three years or so I've been on the lookout for a coat pattern to make, and today I finally found one! Actually I found it online last night, and bought it today during my weekly John Lewis trip.

I like the first and middle coats best and will probably make the first coat but extend it to the length of the second coat. But I think it's the kind of project for a winter's day, when Hagos is on tour, and I can shut the door, light the fire, put Pride and Prejudice on the TV and take over the whole of the living room and kitchen and spend two whole days making it.

Now I just have to source some lovely material to make it in. I really like well-made tweeds with shots of brilliant colour.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bramble Jam!

Here it is!!! My Bramble Jam. It's only taken me ten years of intending to make it to actually get round to making it.

I eventually found a really simple recipe online. Basically equal weights of brambles to sugar, with a bit of water thrown in. It only took about 20 minutes from start to finish.
I just tasted some on a piece of toast and it was definitely the best jam I've ever tasted.

I'm tempted to skirt the country lanes over the next few days to get some more brambles to make more jam. But realistically I don't actually need any more jam, I just like making it and having it.

I am very impressed by how well it set. I used sugar pectin and that obviously helped. Very happy with my jam :)

Hagos says we should call it Bramble and Maggot Jam, but only three maggots appeared when I thoroughly washed the blackberries, then put lights on them to try to drive the maggots out :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blackberry (Jam)

These are the blackberries I picked today to make my (in)famous Bramble Jam.

Every year since I've lived in Norfolk I've promised to make Bramble Jam, inspired by the amount of blackberries that line the back lane near my house. And today, ten years after moving here, I finally picked enough blackberries to make what I expect will be a modest amount of jam. I'm anticipating two jars.

I picked a small bowl of blackberries from the bush at the bottom of my shared driveway. We share a driveway with our next door neighbours, and last week I saw my neighbour picking some blackberries. So this week my neighbours are on holiday and the blackberries are all mine. Unfortunately there weren't enough, but luck was on my side when I was driving back from my mechanic's today. The country lane was FULL of blackberries. I parked up and snaffled as many as would fit into my hastily-constructed paper tray.

So tomorrow I will buy sugar pectin (or jam-making sugar) and make up a small batch. I don't eat much jam anyway so a couple of jars will be plenty. Perhaps I'll give the second jar to a lucky friend or relative.

My first port of call for a recipe was Mrs Beeton's, but she only had a recipe for blackberry and apple jam. After a bit of research online I realised it's because blackberries are low in natural pectin, so adding the apples helps the jam set. Hence the need to buy sugar pectin.