Bottled sunshine

September 8, 2008 at 3:35 pm 3 comments

“It is all very well to talk about ‘the fruits of the earth in their season’, and very nice too; but it is nice to be able to eat tomatoes in April, or pork in August. Of course if you buy these things from a shop you can eat anything at any time of the year, but then you find you have to catch the eight-thirty every morning and go and sit all day in a stuffy ofice to be able to afford to do so.

If you do not want to catch the eight-thirty what you do is you grow these things for yourself and preserve them.”

(John Seymour, The Fat of the Land, ch 8)

“Jams, chutneys and pickles embrace the seasons, but they also, in an elegant and entirely positive manner, defy them. They do so by stretching the bounty of more abundant months into the sparser ones. We shouldn’t underestimate this achievement. Over the centuries, wizards and alchemists have used all the power and magic they can muster to try and catch rainbows, spin straw into gold, and even bring the dead back to lift. They’ve failed of course. Yet all the while, humble peasants and ordinary housewives have got on with the simple business of bottling sunshine, so that it may spread a little joy in the leaner seasons… They call it jam.”

(Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, introduction to River Cottage Handbook No. 2 – Preserves by Pam Corbin)

The weather is starting to feel distinctly autumnal. I even slept with a hot water bottle the night before last, admittedly mainly because I’d been curled up in bed hugging it for stomach cramps, but the sheets have that crisp chill about them when you first get into bed. Part of me is almost able to get excited about curried parsnip soup, but since the actual summer was moderately dreadful (I am slightly puzzled when at people going around saying, ‘This summer has been TERRIBLE/A TOTAL WASHOUT!’ (delete as applicable) – I find it hard to believe they can’t remember last summer, but I accept it hasn’t been superb) I wouldn’t mind an Indian one as well, just so I can wear that pretty pink dress again…

Scientist Boyfriend’s mum’s new house has a garden full of apple trees, rhubarb and brambles so we went over for Sunday lunch yesterday, on the pretence that we enjoyed their company, but really so we could plunder their garden for edible goodies. I wasn’t sure you were supposed to pick rhubarb this late, but I was under strict orders to the contrary and now have two huge bags of the stuff. I also have lots of green beans that I want to freeze. Right now, I’d be quite happy never to eat another French bean again. But I’m sure that in the middle of January I’ll get some out of the freezer and think, ‘Ooh, these are nice! Wouldn’t it be lovely to grow some beans again next year!’ and get the seed catalogues out and the whole process will begin again.

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Entry filed under: food, jam, victory garden. Tags: , , .

Garden successes and failures Weather, soup and socks

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dakota  |  September 8, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Oooooh… curried parsnip soup! Would you mind sharing that recipe? It sounds like something that would go over very well in my household.

    Reply
  • 2. Jon in France  |  September 8, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I suppose you could turn the rhubarb into a compote if you wanted to save space in the freezer. Another season passes. Ah me.

    Reply
  • 3. sproutingbroccoli  |  September 10, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Have just written another post with the curried parsnip soup recipe in it.

    Re the rhubarb, I’m currently torn between chutney and wine, but compote is another good suggestion.

    Reply

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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."

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