Saturday, August 26, 2006
Recently, I sometimes I feel like Barbara from The Good Life. Moving out of the city has definitely changed our life - in some ways it has slowed down, but in other ways it has made us very busy indeed. There always seems to be something to do, and I'm not talking the never-ending DIY either!
Last week, we came back from our trip to the old nest, and thought we'd take a look at our little orchard. We'd been watching the fruit grow and change colour for quite some time, and in particular the plums had started to gain in size. As they were still green, though, we thought that they weren't quite ripe, a mistake on our part, as when D picked one he discovered that our yet-to-turn-red non-ripe plums were in fact Greengages, and more than just a little bit ripe!
That evening we picked 5 buckets full of Greengages, all deliciously sweet, and I am not even trying to reconstruct how many we ate there and then. Not that it even made a dent in the amount of fruit piled up on our kitchen counter.
Obviously, we had to come up with a quick solution to that much fruit or we'd have a fruit fly invasion on our hands, and we spontaneously decided to make Greengage jam. I wasn't able to find a recipe for this online (most plum jam seems to be made from Damsons, which we also have but which are not quite ripe yet), so I decided to just make it up. I used several kilos of Greengages (as much as would fit in the pot), some jam-making sugar (about 600g), cloves, a stick of cinnamon, and some ginger. I really wanted to add a bit of Rum, but we didn't have any (still in the old house), so I made do without it. The resulting jam did not quite thicken, at least not through the Pectin, but to make up for it I cooked it for long enough to get rid of excess liquid and removed the foamy residue at the top. This is what we got:
We ran out of jam jars, so had to use one pint glass and a bowl. I have no idea how long the jam will last, so we are trying to work out way though the open glasses as quickly as we can. The taste is delicious - sweet, but not too sweet, with a hint of acidity and just the merest hint of cinnamon and clove.
I hadn't made jam for at least 10 years, so I seriously need to brush up on my jam-making skills. There are still 2 more plum trees, so there is definitely more to come. Also, what do you do with 4 different varieties of apples (there is some kind of bug in them, so I don't think they will store for very long), and 2 varieties of pears?! Any ideas?
This whole self-sufficiency episode has spurred me on to finally do some sewing, and what better way to start than with an apron? Sherrill at BaaBonnyBelle was sewing aprons a while back and is also hosting an Apron KAL. The apron I made is inspired by her basic design, although I changed it a little:
I look huge in this picture! Not having any floor-length mirrors in this house (all this is still in the old house) means that I haven't seen the size of my belly in quite some time - it's enormous!!
But anyway, the apron - it's made from Amy Butler fabric and the design is quite basic. I added a big double pocket at the front, two long bits of fabric to tie the apron, and the tie around the neck is construced with one piece of fabric that is threaded through a button-hole on the other side and then knotted.
I have also started sewing some bags - an Amy Butler Nappy Bag, which is still not quite finished because I ran out of fabric and had to order some more, and a Swing Bag, which I finished last Saturday and which I have already been using all week. Here it is, photographed in our dusty hall:
I love the design. It's simple, neat, and very sturdy, and it can even be turned inside out if I get tired of the blue patterned fabric and want a plain brown bag.
And that is it for today. In case anyone is wondering, I have been knitting, but right now there I don't have much to show for. Maybe in a few days time!
Update on the Fabric Swap tomorrow!