To gather blackberries you must be prepared for scratches and nettle stings. Lime flowers are usually within reach, though wild cherries are not. Sweet little hedgerow plums also come with nettles and sloes grow on the blackthorn.
Walnuts, once you’ve found them, are often in easy reach of the upright human, but the trouble comes later. To prepare them for pickling, the unripe nuts in their green shells – as seen in our last post – must be pricked all over with a fork before steeping in brine for five days. Pricking the nuts releases the juice, which is a very effective fake tan, or rather a fake 50 a day smoker’s tan, such as is rarely seen today. I could wear gloves, if I could find XXXXL size that would not split as I pulled them on. So I’ll go with the deeply unfashionable nicotine addict look.
And I shall join Mrs Turnstone, who gathered walnuts with me, and others who did not, in enjoying the nuts in due season. (Happy Christmas in advance!)
Life has been too busy to harvest these container grown spuds until today, in time for Hallowe’en supper, baked in the oven with either ratatouille or pumpkin soup. But the rather fussy grandson will have to be told they are ‘jacket potatoes’, not ‘baked’.
You can’t make cole slaw without cabbage, so to the local supermarket or the local farmers’ market at the Goods Shed? Almost equidistant, and on this occasion I had to pass the shed first, and before it got too busy with out-of-towners.
This cabbage’s stalk had not dried out, it was not wrapped to death in plastic, and had most of its rosette of outer leaves. Beautiful. Worth buying, worth a snap, and worth sharing.
Dessert apple and grated ginger lift the cole slaw, but the best start is a good cabbage!
It was an evening to dine in the garden, a leisurely tete-a-tete meal with Mrs T. Mrs T has been fretting about the frogs who seem to have abandoned the pond this summer, but as we dug into the home-made blackberry ice-cream (thanks to Abel for the picking he did) there came a croak from the woodpile, a definite, assertive, bass note. A few seconds later, a tenor croak replied from under the holly bush.
Mrs T could go to bed happy. May the frogs be with her!
Yes, the power tools are out in force, forcing Mrs M and me to retreat indoors; there a more homely modern technology could be heard: click, click, click at irregular intervals. Jar lids closing on a vacuum as they cool down.
Not, sadly, apricot jam; this year’s crop was appreciated for its scarcity. The glut was of cucumbers and runner beans, so I dug out my favourite piccalilli recipe and adjusted quantities accordingly.
This lacks the day-glow of commercial varieties, but just needs to be introduced to a couple of rashers of bacon to feel fulfilled in life!
A warm October evening, and Mrs T and I felt lethargic. Time for a walk? Indeed there was, so up Abbot’s Hill we went. Autumn colours showing themselves, but what about the sloes? Mrs T made sloe gin last year, and the family enjoyed it, Mrs T excepted.
There they were on the old hedge, and I had a bag in my pocket. In a quarter of an hour we culled sufficient to our need – and I was delegated to make the gin this year. We slightly overshot our target of 1 lb or 450gm.
On the way down we gathered in the first dozen or so chestnuts: there’s a little squash waiting to be stuffed; a few mushrooms will help. Mists and mellow fruitfulness anyone?
As I walked along Canterbury’s Saint Peter’s Street on Saturday I saw a sure sign of Summer. Not the gaggles of French and Dutch teenagers squeezing into the pound shops, nor the obedient American and Japanese tourists following their guides’ uplifted, unopened, umbrellas.
No, It was the cherry lady from Faversham, but selling gooseberries this time. She promised ‘cherries next week’.
I bought gooseberries.
That afternoon as I was cycling home from visiting friends, I sought out the elder flowers needed to make the best gooseberry fool and gooseberry jam. Along the Crab and Winkle cycle path they were as unpolluted as anywhere.
Mrs T made the fool, and froze some puree to make more when summer is mere memory. It all went. Polish friends could not get enough of it, nor could I. Maybe the spare puree won’t make it till Christmas!