Monday, 29 September 2014

"Here Be Dragons"

There are often Dragons on Medieval Maps, do you doubt their veracity? Here are some that were lurking in Woking's Adult Education pottery studio.

The first is a practice one, the next the start of a set depicting Water, Earth Air & Fire. The last two are waiting to be discovered. The eyes are fused dichroic glass, I think they work quite well.

Lazy! Yummy, Random, Size?

I've got really lazy about this blog, and like cleaning, the longer you leave it the easier it is to put it off, so no more faffing!
I have been really busy, and not getting better, don't let anyone tell you retirement is restful. The garden's looking better, I have dozens of jars of various jams, jellies and chutneys, our local garden club is having a tasting session soon as we've all used each other's produce.
One of the most successful discoveries has been fruit vinegar, inspired by a raspberry balsamic glaze L brought from Bologna. My variety is elderberry:
4 oz elderberries leave stalks, but remove spiders)
1 pint vinegar (if you use white you end up with a wonderful claret colour)
   soak for 4-7 days, mashing occasionally.
   strain through a jelly bag (unlike jellies, it's OK to squeeze it to speed it up)
4 oz sugar, dissolve then boil until about 1/2 the volume.
   Brilliant on salad, cheese or vegetables, Use in dressings or even on fruit or ice-cream.

I can't go too long without a flower photo, this zinnia was in I&T's garden, with tutu and OTT hairstyle

For anyone immature enough to find these things amusing, I might collect a few more!

No L, you can't have it! I came across these while waiting for a bronze DofE group, they all wanted the little one too.

The biggest I've seen, I never quite believed in Edmund Blunden's Giant Puffball until now.

And so I gathered mightiness and grew 
With this one dream kindling in me, that I 
Should never cease from conquering light and dew 
Till my white splendour touched the trembling sky. 

It would have been interesting to watch it for a few days to see whether it did touch the sky, I suspect only as millions of spores.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Having made jams and jellies for years , and given almost all the jam away as we rarely eat it, I thought it was time to try chutney, it's such a treat to be given some of someone else's home made. Why haven't I done it before? it's so much easier than jam. It's been quite popular, so here are my recipes, modified from various recipes. I'm of the Jamie Oliver "slop a bit of this and handful of that school) I've made lots of different ones, my excuse for not posting for so long.
Feel free to pinch and enjoy them.

      Cinnamon and Cranberry, something between jam and jelly, not really a chutney as no vinegar.
      It's brilliant with Brie.
                2 lb cranberries (frozen is fine)
                scant 1 oz cinnamon bark (big chunks, to be removed)
                1/2 pint water boil until soft
                 add 2 pints apple/grape juice (boil skin&cores of apples you've frozen for crumble and                                                                         grapes if you have a free source, the colour's wonderful in                                                                       1pint/pound of water then strain overnight through a                                                                               jellybag)
                add 3lb sugar and boil until it sets (get a jam thermometer!)

        Tomato Chutney 
                2-3lb tomatoes, any sort/colour, peeled and chopped. Leave the seeds in.
                1lb very finely chopped onions
                8oz very finely chopped apple
                8oz sultanas
                1/2 pint vinegar
                10oz sugar
                1 teaspoon salt
                 spices1:1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, 4 cloves,2 tsp fennel seeds, 2tsp coriander seeds,
                      2 tsp mustard seeds, 2tsp ginger powder and 2 tsp peppercorns, (crush solid ones)
                      spices2: 2tsp each cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cumin and coriander
              boil onion and spices (1 for spice, 2 for mild) with a little of the vinegar and the salt, when
              it's soft add apple, tomatoes and sultanas. When this is soft add the sugar and the rest of the
             vinegar then boil until it thickens, not as hot as jam but still take 1/2 an hour or so.