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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Leasing life…

Yesterday afternoon I spend time with my little one outside on the patio. As the weather forecast was notifying us about rainy days ahead, I decided it was a great idea to make the most of the rainy days approaching and re pot / re plant all the small seedlings from tomatoes, butternut squash and verbenas I had wandering around growing silly in rather tiny pots.

All this “let’s plant seeds” started back in March, when I thought it would be a really good idea to get more flowers, but my purse was extremely light due to the lack of coins inside to purchase ready-to-pot plants.

Also, why not make the most of what I already had? I had seeds left from an old petunia which died during winter leaving me plenty of seeds to experiment with and a packet of flower seeds – verbenas in this case – that came with a magazine quite some time ago.

Tomato seedlings (the cherry variety) and butternut squash seedlings came from…yes, a tomato and a butternut squash bought in the supermarket. Since we were well advanced with our planting frenzy why not plant the seeds left?

The small inconvenience was that there were not enough pots to replant in. Since the verbenas were planted in a plastic eggbox and the butternut squash were growing inside an old plastic container (the tomatoes were the lucky ones planted in individual reasonable sized pots) I was puzzled as to how I was going to do it. I looked around and already most of the pots/containers were taken.

And there came my son, bringing with him an old yogurt pot from his sand box. “Eureka!” I said followed by a “thank you” to my son. I was going to use old yogurt pots. My son got the idea and promptly he came with more empty pots and before I could say anything he started to fill the pots with soil. When we run out of yogurt pots, I went rummaging in the plastic recycling box where I rescued a couple of plastic boxes where fruit such as plums, grapes, and peaches came.

So, with a little help he replanted the seedlings.  And thanks to him we recycled the old yogurt pots and boxes, we leased life to these new seedlings leasing life to these pots and boxes we unleashed life, helping these seedlings to expand and to fulfil their existence so to say.

It felt good.

Be present.

It is nearly three months since we moved to a new house. We run away from the city into the “countryside“ and I say it like this because it is a town surrounded by countryside with no airports ambulance corridors police cars wailing away screaming neighbours or the usual weekend drunks. So, it is countryside!

Although I feel somehow I may miss our locals – the guy who sang so loud you could hear him 50 yards away, my neighbour with his dog and his sick uncle, the security guy at the supermarket who knows my son since he was born (or even earlier than that!) the guys at the gates of the underground station…and that’s the beginning of a long list which was forged over six years.

I got to know the inhabitants of the gardens, saw many cubs become foxes how the parrots took over the trees and how the squirrels grew countless families and how each generation managed to munch through the kitchen window frame unsuccessfully and how my cats use to chase them when not laying down enjoying the sun on the window sills. I repaired and restored the patio and the front flowerbed to their former glory and tendered to the roses whom after a year of intensive care greeted me with beautifully full scented roses summer after summer.

I planted oaks from kernels, grew many holly trees and planted countless bluebells and I even have a yew tree which I grew from seed – which by the way is sitting in the patio on the new house.

That small flat was the silent witness of many sleepless nights when my son was born and the last resting place of one of my cats who finished her days in a cosmopolitan city just to follow her super cosmopolitan style.

Yes: the flat was small; half – if not all – of my stuff was on a storage space which cost me a small fortune every month not to mention how things were stacked up in the kitchen or how going outside to the patio was more of an expedition than a simple “open the door and go” like it is now, which in turn means endless hours outside enjoying the good weather and the liberty to say “let’s have dinner outside” with everything within 10 steps away from the kitchen.

This new house is big and spacious. It does have a patio with easy access and all the bedrooms are big and airy. The kitchen is simply BIG and it is so big there is a small table there where we had our meals every day until I managed to compose the dining room – that is, clear it from boxes and remnants from the move. We have again plants inside the house – almost one in every room! – and everything seems to be in place, seamless.

Today, as I am cleaning my computer archives – forced by the desperate need to find a document which remains elusive – I found many videos made in the old flat, and it felt like when you find a treasure because those memories are there somewhere in my brain but seeing them today was like “wow! Look at that” kind of thing.

The funny thing is that my son saw a frame of one video made in the old house. And he said “Home! Look, mummy, home!” and I did explain to him that now this was our new house and that was our old house. He kept saying that there was “home”. After put my son to bed and whilst doing the tidying up and leaving everything ready for the morning – whilst still cleaning my computer of course – I could not stop thinking on my little one thoughts and feelings about “home” mainly expressed by his facial expressions and his eyes together with words who only he understood.

And left me wondering if although we are well settled in this new house and everything is working “like clockwork” if we are really present in this house and we really took ownership of it – despite the fact that it is rented – as we did with the flat. Perhaps he feels the flat was home because he was born in it. Perhaps because we were living there for two years prior to his arrival we made that flat ours.

The flat – as this house – was technically a transitional place, where we would stay until we settled with our wandering lifestyle (travelling suitcases used to live outside the wardrobe and close to the door combined with very demanding jobs) so we did not consciously adopt the flat as ours. Then life happened and our son came along and of course we made the flat home – but always with that back thought that now more than ever we must settle somewhere we could call ours.

The question is – now that I re read the paragraph above – did we really made the flat home or did our son made the flat home? As soon as he started to crawl and leave a trail of toys, putting toys amongst books and arranging the kitchen cupboards to his liking – the ones at his level – he made the flat a home on his own particular way. And inevitably, we followed.

And yes, we were crammed…. but we made a home together as a family. Maybe it is time this time to give it a go, forget the fact that we may not be here next year and be more present, and enjoy every day and every inch of this new house as if it was always ours and make it home, pour the heart and *do* live in it.