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.

The power of the Gesture

I have been thinking about this simple yet powerful phrase for days – if not weeks. Last weekend I was talking to a dear friend on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean who is a teacher as well and we were talking about children and education (as you inevitably do once all the exchange of gossip is done) and we started to talk about it, and she had few stories about it.

Let me give you a quick picture about my friend. She is a gentle soul, with goodness exuding from each pore. She knows her stuff and children just get glued to her as if she is a magnet. I suppose 20 years + of experience in the field of education for a wide range of ages gives her authority to have a critical eye. Also, she comes from a family where all of them are involved with education; be it schools, universities, and private tuition.

In the other hand, I am a newbie. I have seen a lot in a brief period, but then again – as my friend says – I have seen so many different settings and educational approaches that the experience I am gaining is from a different perspective – let alone a different country – I can form an opinion having the advantage if you want to call it as such of my “innocence” in this profession and the heaps of life experience.

Before I carry on digressing let’s get back to the subject of “Gesture”.

You may wonder what is it about the gesture that it is so important? It is just a simple physical movement, a simple action.

It is indeed, a VERY powerful movement, a VERY powerful action. I think sometimes we undervalue the true worth of this noun.

Imagine that now there are courses to learn how to manage the gesture and how to read gestures. Feels that we are losing sight of the primeval instinct that tell us when a person is aggressive, just by the simple gesture of clinching the jaw or closing the hand as a fist.

Whilst I was doing my training, I was told, almost drilled into my brain the power of the gesture with children. Did you know that a child can feel the emotional status of the adult who cares for him? Did you know that the small child can read the adult like a book, just looking at the gestures? And did you know that the child copy and imitate these gestures from the adult and takes them as the norm, hence forth will do these gestures because is what they have learnt from the adult and it will be imprinted into their brains until adulthood?

What I am saying is that if an adult slams the doors (for example) for no good reason, rest assured: the child will slam doors, as soon as he can. If an adult washes dishes as if it was a labour of love, yes, you got it. The child will do the same.

Which takes me to what my friend was telling me about the gesture. She was commenting about “helpers” in a setting she happened to be accompanying a friend to do an inspection. Two young girls in their 20’s, both capacitated as early years educators – one of them studying to qualify as a teacher for reception – and both very sweet and funny, engaging children with activities and all the rest.

All was nice and dandy until lunchtime came. The children where all seated at their places, and these girls gave to the children the names of the children, written with biro in white pieces of paper. The logic behind it was to get the children to sit where their name was, and to swap paper for plate with food.

At this point I did ask how many children were in the room seated at the table. She said there were 4 tables, and 4 children per table. Is this “plate for paper” necessary? I wonder. Surely the carer(s) should know the names of the children in her care.

Then she mentioned how the lunch time developed. The carer(s) wore aprons, and did not put the food directly for children to help themselves (best way to not waste food if you ask me; children will eat what they really can eat) but served food directly on each individual plate. Spooning the food from the bowl, throwing it on the plate; tearing the bread apart and flinging the slices on each plate.

As she was telling me, I felt my jaw dropping. How could they be so careless with such a single gesture…And then I remembered that I should not be surprised. I have seen this not particularly with food…but with homework books, notebooks, and many other daily objects you could find in a classroom. Or with toys and equipment in nurseries when tidy up time. And then we wonder why children throw things up in the air…

“Oh” I managed to mutter. “But it does not end up there!!!” she said with a sigh…She told me how the children where prompted to eat and immediately afterwards a toothbrush already with paste and a wet towel were presented to them so they could brush their teeth.

Yes, fine, it is good because it does promote good hygiene habits. But then again, that pause, that space in time where you finish eating, you share that time of nothingness whist you wait for the rest to finish the food on their plates and then you go to the toilet to wash your hands, your face and brush your teeth, perhaps with your peers, it makes it more fun. More learning opportunities, more social interaction opportunities.

She finished telling me her experience and we started to talk about timings, about “acceleration – ism” and of course how everything was intertwined with the gesture and how powerful it was and as I wrote at the beginning how we diminish the immense power of this noun on a day to day basis.

Work…

Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.

Studs Terkel

As usual, big thanks to Goodreads quotes that arrive to my inbox in a daily fashion.

I do not know up to what point I find this phrase depressive or actually very much real. As I work in different schools and settings on a daily basis, I feel very close to the words search for meaning; but more than that I search and I work really hard to be present for those children who are full of absence and they just do not know how to say it – although they are asked to write stories-.