From Berry to Jelly

Jen H has chosen transition for this weeks photo challenge, and invites us to show and image or series. This is quite a tough one to be original with at least. I hope that you think my choice demonstrates transition.

There was an abundance of fruit this year, both cultivated and wild and home made jam and jelly is way better than mass produced.

The crab apple tree gave generously.

crab apples

One day went to buy some jam jars at Lakeland and got chatting to the lady there, she asked what I was planning to make. I said the next thing was crab apple jelly.’Ooo lovely’ she said, ‘but have you tried crab apple and hawthorn? it’s even better’. Hawthorn grows in practically every hedgerow in England and even the hungriest of birds can’t eat it all, and I do love a forage.
Being so tiny they take forever to pick.
There was enough to make a few jars. This is the gunge left behind after straining through a jelly bag.
This is the lovely jewel like juice produced.
Best of all, the Lakeland lady was right, the mix of Crab apple and hawthorn makes a delicious sweet jelly,

jellySee the colour difference, the hawthorn and crab together is at the back. Both are a delicious transition !

The Inspirational African Chef

On Saturday I met up with Malcolm, the African Chef . He and his lovely wife have gained a third beautiful child since I last saw him, a 3 month old baby boy. His delicious products are doing well and he’s added new and tempting things to the range, as well as the original favourites. We talked about social media, and he was really inspirational,  encouraging me to get on with my novel, thanks Malcolm, I’ll see what I can do!

Of course we talked about food and a recipe on his website that includes two of my favourite things, coconut and butternut squash, he kindly said that it’s okay to share it with you.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 Large Butternut (1.2KG) diced with skin on.
1/2 Small Lemon
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Inch fresh ginger
1 Tbs Organic coconut Oil (or any other oil you may have)
1 x Tin Organic coconut milk – we like Biona organic as it contains 50% organic coconut and water
Dried Pumpkin leaves (optional)
Handful of watercress
Drizzle of The African Chef – Fire Water 

I just love the squashes, they are so versatile, easy to grow, have a wonderful flavour can be made into so many healthy dishes and have a long shelf life, so can be stored for a few months before being eaten. This recipe is healthy, delicious, rich, creamy and 100% Vegan ! 

Method and Cooking time (35 – 45 mins)

Wash and slice the butternut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Chop the butternut into large cubes (approx 1 – 2 inches). Lightly grease a baking tray with coconut oil. Slice the lemon into rings, peel the garlic and leave the cloves whole. Slice the ginger and add all the ingredients to the baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until cooked.

Next add roasted butternut to a large sauce pan on a very low heat with the coconut milk, dried pumpkin leaves and blend until smooth. If the mixture  is a little thick add a little warm water until you get a lovely smooth texture, finally add the watercress and blend again and serve.
Garnish with a little watercress and drizzle with firewater. Copyright Malcolm Riley, The African Chef.

If you visit Malcolm here, he shares some really interesting information about the properties of butternut squash and coconut oil, as well as some more recipes,  like the best way to use leftover turkey, very timely. You can also visit the online shop, a treasure trove of unusual  flavours, check out the alcoholic chillies! From the website, I was delighted to learn the name of a mystery fruit, that I tried in Nigeria many years ago, safou.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

This week the challenge is to share a photo or several that express ‘fresh’, and I’ve found it really difficult. I’ve seen lots of gorgeous images of flowers and food and I thought I would do the same. At last I came across this shot of a recently ploughed field, fresh and ready for seed.

So then I was able to make a link to the earth, with these colourful plants in the garden centre, ready for the soil.
And lastly, a tasty harvest from the earth.
You can join in and see lots more entries here.

A gathering summer evening

Since June I’ve been regularly checking on a tree when I walk the dogs. At first it had tiny green berries and by early July they looked like small green olives. Excitement mounted as they began to colour, just tinges of purple at first, but they didn’t seem to grow any bigger because of the relentless heat we had. Busyness meant I didn’t take that route for a while and then last week I jumped with joy, they were starting to ripen. I had a bag with me intending to pick blackberries but instead I picked windfalls. Have you guessed what they are yet?
Who needs blackberries when there are damsons? Last year there were so few that they weren’t worth picking, but now they are all over the ground under the tree. I don’t think that anyone else picks them, can you believe that? They are in a public place that has a good number of walkers and yet they just fall and go to waste, except for the birds and squirrels. Perhaps because its in a city rather than the country, people don’t know what they are or what to do with them. Doesn’t anyone else like damson jam or blackberry and apple pie? Surely one of the joys of summer is going to pick blackberries? I love to get free food, and spreading damson jelly on my toast through the dark winter helps to make it tolerable.
What do you gather? Or am I the last of a dying breed of hedgerow raiders?
Why not go hunting in your area and see what you can find? If you’re not sure what to pick, ask an old woman like me or of course just do an image search on the internet. Foraging is the perfect way to spend a summer evening.