Chutney. That’s it.

Few weeks back, we went to a friend’s house in the middle of the beautiful English countryside. In his garden, big apple trees were giving away the sure sign that summer was ending, offering big, green cooking apples.

My little one – who gave his first steps in this same garden – found many apples on the ground and spotted many others hanging from the tree. He went on collecting the windfalls and I picked many from the tree. They were all big and juicy. We had so many! Hence, the only thing that felt right to do was to convert them into chutney. I posted some pictures of the chutney on social media and many people asked for the recipe.

The recipe I got comes from a lady whom I used to travel with on the same bus at the same time for many years. She gave it to me once we met and I was with a bag full of apples and I was not sure what to do…and I did not want to waste them!

Without further ado, here it goes. Enjoy!

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You will need:

Equipment:

Kitchen scale

Jars

Heavy based pan (the biggest one you can find)

Muslin cloth

With regards of the quantities, you can slash the recipe in half. Times may not have to be shortened…you may need to keep an eye and follow your common sense. The first time I did it I had to do it with only half the quantities mainly because I did not have a big enough pan. The result was great…which lead me to make an investment and buy the pan I have now.

Ingredients:

1 kg cooking apples, peeled and cored *900 grams is the weight of the apples once peeled, cored and chopped.

250 gr onions, peeled and chopped *same as the apples, 250 grams of the onions once peeled and chopped.

250 gr raisins

1 teaspoon salt

900 ml white vinegar (distilled malt)

60 gr mixed pickling spice (I used “Barts”)

3 teaspoons ground ginger

500 gr soft brown sugar

 

 

Time:

About 2 hours. You need patience…and if you can rope someone in to help you with the peeling and coring and chopping, the better!

 

Yield:

With this quantities,  I get about 4 / 5 jars. (Kilner jars follow the link to give you an idea)

 

Method:

 

Turn the oven on at 120/140 (fan). Wash with hot soapy water your jars and give them a good rinse. Stick them in the oven and take them out when you are about to pot the chutney.

For the rubber seals and / or lids, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse them and put them in a pan with enough water to cover them completely. Bring to the boil and boil the rubber seals / lids for 10 minutes. Turn the hob off, cover the pan with a lid and leave the rubber seals in the pan until you are ready to use them.

Now that the sterilising is done, prepare the spices. Weight in a kitchen scale 60 grs and put it in a muslin. I think you can buy the bags but if you do not have any, a clean non-coloured (white) piece of muslin will do. Put the spices and tie up the muslin making a bag.

Put in the pan in a medium to high with the chopped apples, onions, raisins, and the salt. Add the vinegar.  Add the spices bag and give it a good stir. Bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until tender. Remove the spice bag and add the ground ginger.

Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Continue to simmer until the chutney is thick. Stir occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Once it is done to your liking, take the jars from the oven, and put them on top of a wooden table or marble and pot the chutney. Take the rubber seals / lids and close the pots. Leave them to cool completely. Add a label with the date.

Now. The chutney must mature, so hide them in a dark, cool place for two or three months.

You may ask how long it lasts. That depends a lot on the hygiene procedures of sterilisation. I will say to use your common sense on this one: if you open it and the smell or texture is not right, discard it.

Other wise….Enjoy!!!WP_20170830_005

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Reflection

One day, two parents turn to their rabbi for advice, because of serious problems they are having in raising their child.

They ask this wise man to suggest something they could do to help their son overcome his problems.

The rabbi thinks for a moment and then looks at the parents in some surprise and says,

“It is not your child who needs to change, but you who must change first.”

 

Armin Krenz (Ed.) Handbuch fur Erzieherinnen (loose-leaf periodical) 06/2005 issue

Everybody is wearing pyjamas

Few weeks back at the nursery my son goes to it was dress up day and the theme was “Super Heroes”. The children were to go dressed up as their favourite Super Heroes. In our household, “heroes” is a subject taught by father since I cannot recall a hero in the same way he does.

Hence it was my partners job to think on which Super Hero our little one was going to be dress like since I never put too much of a thought on heroes to be honest. Heroes for me were Gandalf; in an awkward sort of way the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland and whilst in my twenties and doing all-nighters for uni with the television as companion I discovered amongst the cartoons two “Superheroes”: “Dangermouse” and “Speedracer”.

Only when I got older – and I got to read more books – I got to know some real women who did amazing things, real heroines (not to be confused with heroin!) like Hypatia, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, and many others – I could be all day trying to draw a rough list! – and these women gave me the inspiration I needed at the time. They did not chase white rabbits, speak with dragons, climb walls using webs or destroy any villains with powerful glances. On second thought: they did: in the real world, giving hard stares, chasing their dreams and speaking their mind.

Although it does not escape to me the magic of the superheroes represented by cartoons: imposing justice left right and centre, smashing evils and restoring peace and order after all the chaos, with a glimmering smile and a shining outfit. And for the cartoon heroines, those as well, pose a fabulous figure enrobed with a shining outfit and the perfect smile – not to mention no hair out of place (not even one!) after imprisoning a villain and rerouting a convoy of trucks to avoid a family of ducks crossing the road at that exact time.

I am unsure how these superheroes and superheroines may affect the child and the adult it will become in the future and I am unsure if children realise that superheroes are human beings – take Wonder Woman for example – who transform themselves into something extraordinarily powerful to fight injustice. I am sure though there are many studies about this subject all going for it or all against it.

As for my partner, Spiderman and Batman have a special place in his heart and he already gave our little one enough outfits branded with both characters. He cannot tell me why those two are so special to him. But they are. My partner always tells me how singular it was to sit down to watch the cartoon in the afternoons and enjoy every second of it.

As for me, I find Superheroes cartoons very graphic and violent – not to mention that nowadays the resolution on any device is simply amazing – and the path such characters embark upon to bring peace and justice is one of destruction galore which in my humble opinion, is just not good and sets a really bad example for a child and I find it very upsetting that all the good characteristics you want to find in a superhero are just obscured – if not obliterated – by the level of destruction caused to eradicate evil.

And it is my suspicion that obliteration is what remains in the memories of children today thanks to the high definition and fine detail (and extent) on the destruction, fights and damage provoked; the end message of good goes above evil, team work and good moral values are lost amidst ruins, fires, explosions, cars flying and kicks.

I am all up for good old costumes: a skirt that can be a tunic or a long dress; a blanket that can become a cape or a portable tent and a pair of swimming goggles that magically allows to see further away over the hills. Let’s not diminish the power of a stick and a cardboard box; or a belt (oversized) with a hat which transforms a mundane child into the most impervious pirate.

One word: magic. I feel the cartoons raid the magic and slash the imagination and feeds the child from a very early age with ideas – note, I am not saying ideals – situations and results which are far from real. If you think it is not socially acceptable to go around kicking and destroying to get something (although as a society we do. Look at all the wars and fighting going on as I type this) particularly if that behaviour comes from a child.

Yes, you got it. Most likely the child will be labelled. And those labels will damp the ideals we try so hard to imprint on them either from home or school.

How did the story of the costume ended, you may wonder? Well, my partner found a pyjama with “Batman” embodied. So, my little one wore his Batman pj’s over layers of thermals plus a Batman coat with a hoodie that worked as a mask.

No need to say that he never understood how could he possibly be wearing his pj’s to go to school (he tried to have a say on the matter) and when I went to pick him up and asked him how did his day go, he shrunk his shoulders and say “everybody was wearing pyjamas”.

 

Windows of wonder

Almost seventy years later I remember clearly how the magic of translating the words in books into images enriched my life, breaking the barriers of time and space… 

Mario Vargas Llosa

 

Thanks to Goodreads I found  this phrase in my inbox. It is beautiful, and one that I can relate very easy to.

Since I can remember, reading a book was a good way to escape from the moment and from reality; it could well mean learning something new about nature, seasons and the natural rhythm that surround us; how to bake or cook something which never ever turned to be as beautiful and perfect as in the pictures; how gazing at the night sky turned into staring at the moon trying to discover the spots the books were talking about; how travelling books fed my hunger for discovering new places.

I can remember clearly how my dad with all his patience taught me to read and make sense of the words with a famous book in Argentina called “Upa” well before I was ready for it and how important I felt when I asked my grandparents if I could borrow a dictionary which  had many pictures correlating with most of the definitions, to copy the words – hence, learn to write.

My whole life has been delicately intertwined with books; I’m no book hoarder but I can say that I do have a collection and within that collection a separate bookcase with the most special ones; those that remind me of a special moment, place, or person.

The few times I have had a book clearance I gave them to my local library and even then, with a heavy heart, only to be comforted by the fact that other people would enjoy them as I did.

My collection of books becomes known and the subject of heavy conversation every time I move to a new house. And when I say, “heavy conversation” this is not only because of the number of books and the weight of such boxes; it is as well because of the amount of swearing involved in the lifting and moving of said boxes and the unkind reminders of the amount of space and dust they gather.

Although I did inevitably catch up with the internet and the wonders of Google and Wikipedia where I am amazed and surprised at every click; I must confess at times this confuses me because of the amount of information given. It is too much and discerning, selecting and choosing takes a big chunk of time.

I remember when I found out I was pregnant, immediately I went to the local library to see what could I find. I explored for endless hours’ websites and more than once I simply shut up the laptop because there was too much to read, process and digest. At least in the library the books were few and I could easily flick through the pages and see if I could find something concise that would answer one question without uprooting a dozen more.

Which – you guess – was a futile quest. But at least two or three books could be something more manageable instead of 1,200,729 results in 0.06 seconds. With 2 or 3 books, I could make better choices. I felt I could choose!

This line of thinking does takes me inexorably to think on how children are being bombarded with 9,623,719 results in 0.40 seconds and the effects those results and the variety have on them. How they are bombarded with ready made things that do not provoke a thought or a sparkle for imagination.

Yes, I hear you say, cartoons do provoke imagination. Children are replaying what they see in their own way and of course they are using their imagination to do so. But have you ever tried to read to a child what he has seen on a screen? Have you ever tried to read to a child something that the child has not seen on a screen? If you give a child the choice to read a book from their favourite cartoon on screen and a book of a classic fairy tale, guess which one will win the contest? Yes, the one based on the cartoon.

My theory for this choosing is simple: because what you read has its foundations on a memory from the screen of something they have seen already. It is far easier to recall an image – or a series of them – rather than create an image built with words.

I for one try – almost desperately – to generate a world with words. I managed to shrink the amount of time in front of any electronic device. I try for my little one to spend more time outside in the patio rather than inside the house where he will test everybody’s patience to get hold of a screen.

I discovered that the time he spends soaking in the bath is perfect for me to read him a short story completely unrelated to his favourite cartoon. And to my surprise, he does enjoy that little time where words create a world.

I cannot avoid the reality we live in and I need my little one to learn about this fast paced world; but I most definitely can show him how to open the little windows of wonder every time he opens a book.