Tag Archives: cooking

How to make lemoncurd

There’s just something so comforting about lemoncurd. Creamy yet sharp it cheers up even the most basic toasted cheap bread. I have quite clear early- childhood memories of my mum whipping up a batch at weekends for Sunday teas in the winter. Lemon curd on crumpets in front of the Muppets. Bliss.

I’ve always thought it might be a bit hard. Because of the egg curdling possibilities but with the aid of my beautiful shiny new double boiler my dad bought me it is easy. Even easy peasy.

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You’ll need;

Zest and juice of 4 un-waxed lemons

200g sugar

100g cubed butter

3 eggs and one egg yolk

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Put lemon juice, zest, sugar and butter into a double boiler and stir with a whisk from time to time until the butter has melted.

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Stir the eggs together with a fork and add to the pan cautiously. Whisk regularly over medium heat for about ten minutes until the mixture is thick and custardy.

Remove from the heat and whisk a little every now and again as it cools. Spoon while still warm into sterilized jars.

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It will keep a couple of weeks in the fridge. Although chance would be a fine thing around here…

It tastes amazing on anything toasted. Also stirred into whipped cream and sprinkled with crushed meringue (perfect to use up those extra whites) for a citrusy Eton mess. Or if you mix that up then freeze for a parfait. We like it a lot in little pastry cases as lemon curd tarts. Or as a filling in a split lemon cake with mascarpone instead of cream.

The very, very best way is on a teaspoon straight from the jar, hidden behind the fridge door at fraught moments.

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Hello

 

The sun is shining today. For once I’m sat here with my fingers on the keys and actually feel as though it may be possible to say something.

Anyone who reads this – and I am astonished/abashed/amazed/gratified at how many of you still seem to despite my perfidy – may have noticed the poems. Sorry if it was all a bit much and thank you to those who read and commented.

I bleedin’ love poetry in a very joyful, uneducated way. In that I read a lot and write a lot but have studied very little. NaPoWriMo seemed, in the early hours, a wonderful way to structure some of the free writing I do and attempt to break my sick-stomach aversion to my blog.

I know its been too long – and I don’t want to do all that justifying apologising stuff which I know is tiresome but I am sorry for not coming on and saying I was taking a break. So if you wondered – I am, wholeheartedly, sorry.

I’m hardly shy of spilling all on here and have given ample evidence of that in the past but this one isn’t really all my story so suffice to say; I am older  -hard to deny given our attachment to the linear nature of time – and wiser – I can now make custard without curdling it and in equal measures,  disillusioned with our legal system and still glad for it being there.

Some real world shenanigans left me mute here. I hated it – I couldn’t even bear to look at the site. The fracturing of my old hard disc gave me ample excuse to truant indefinitely but it was a constant small ache behind my ribs. An insistant sharp corner that wouldn’t let me rest easy and I hoped a bit of exposure could clean the place out for me.

Which it must have – because here I sit.

 

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The kids are, as always, amazing. There have been festivals, celebrations, cooking, days out, new experiences, tantrums, daydreaming, quite a lot of cake and change- embraced change – between a gazillion beautiful things.

I’d really like to start sharing some of them again.

Making easy Baklava with children (helping, not IN them)

I loved this post from Round the World in Eighty Bakes and am still in awe at Lauren for making filo pastry from SCRATCH.  We’ve made this cheatin’baklava before and it’s the closest to actual mud pie cooking with kids I’ve come across.

There were a few barriers to the smooth running I was hoping for but we soldiered on, dripping in butter, stuck up with syrup, pistachios adorning our eyebrows.

I could have sworn I had a bag of shelled pistachio nuts… well I didn’t so Zeph kindly set to shelling. My poor old (about 15 yrs) food processor choked at the grinding. A bit of experimentation showed it could manage about 10 nuts a time…so some of the prep took slightly longer than I expected.

We took about 400 g of nuts. We chose walnuts, almonds and pistachios. We left some out, whole and some chopped for decoration and to vary the texture.  

75g of sugar

25g butter

couple of cardamom seeds, crushed.

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

I usually put half the nuts and all the rest and whizz until it’s really really fine then add the rest of the nuts and grind until they’re rubble. This is much easier when your processor works. We also did just the walnuts and almonds first and made the flat baklava then did the pistachios after and added them to the rest of the mix so we could get different tastes. This is the mud pie element as you can mix it up and experiment to your heart content. I usually put out the big bowl of nut mix then some smaller plastic bowls for the addition of; rose syrup, orange oil, citrus zest dried cranberries, whole nuts, vanilla extract, stem ginger, ginger wine,rum – the moon’s your limit…

 We used two packets of ready rolled filo pastry with six sheets in each packet. The first packet got entirely used up in the flat cakes. I simply cut the six sheets in half which fitted my square tin and put six layers on the bottom – all liberally daubed with a mixture of melted butter and sunflower oil by my willing helper, I did put a square of substantial parchment paper on the bottom, mainly to aid with extraction

 

Then we pressed a generous layer of the walnut and almond mixture all over it and topped with another six layers of filo.  I carefully cut into squares before popping into a medium oven for  30/40 minutes. (Until golden brown)

 Secure in the knowledge that there was a tray of delicious cakes already cooking the next pastry packet was given over to experimentation. Much butter was spread, drops added, shapes rolled, pinched and packaged then sliced and adorned with nuts and fruit. Some methods work better than others – the very best I think was the cylinder/sausage roll approach but everything was ultimately edible… 

 

When this tray went into the oven I put the syrup on to cook. To make the dark syrup that looks best you need to caramelise some sugar first. For my own peace of mind this bit is utterly child free. Hot sugar is  a fearsome thing but not particularly difficult.

I put 100g of white sugar and 50ml of water in my very best thick bottomed pan and put it on high heat. DO NOT STIR (I have no reason for this but my granny’s advice…I think it makes it grainy) Do not do anything else, surrender a few minutes for this, it doesn’t take long but does need your attention. It will boil ferociously, wait for it to turn a gorgeous reddish brown and to smell of fairgrounds then add CAREFULLY 300ml of cold water (make some of the 300ml up with some lemon juice for a citrusy twist) and another 100 ml of sugar and a generous swirl of honey. Again do NOT stir and wait for the lump of caramel to dissolve into the boiling mass.

As the pastries come out of the oven spoon the hot syrup over and leave to soak up.

Serve with strong coffee and an insulin producing pancreas.

Things to do with spaghetti and sausages

I refuse to slope off to bed yet again without managing a post.

There’s lots of stuff jumbling around in my head but it never seems to make it to the blank white screen. And, just as in the morning you’re left with a few tattered fragments of a hard nights dreaming,  now I’m here – the pithy and witty thoughts have fled.

It matters not as I’ve something really special to share from a lunchtime adventure. Weeks ago on a vomiting tour of Bristol I bought Ida a magazine from the Arnolfini bookshop. It’s called Okido and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It has held her attention much longer than many other things and I was charmed by the style and quality of it. Each edition is themed and this particular one was habitat – a word which I presently hear quite a lot of. Don’t get me wrong – I am glad, just a little weary…

Anyway one of the pages had this suggestion for construction play and I have been nagged to the edge of my, already perilous, sanity. Today I succumbed.

 

Try not to notice the playdough fingernails. We did wash our hands, honest to Mab.

Yes  – what we’re looking at here is building things with frankfurters and raw spaghetti. You can use vege sausages, they need to be hotdog style ones, whichever you pick.

 

 

I mean, I knew she’d enjoy it but who knew I’d get such a kick out of it as well?  

 They did end up more like odd DNA models than anything an architect would recognise..unless they’d trained at the Dr Seuss academy.

 It was the most joyful hour I can remember for a while. Turns out Ida knows what a tripod is and can construct one, how did that happen?

Then, once our creating thirst was quenched, we tipped the lot into a pan of boiling water.

 Do avert your eyes from the squalor. My kitchen floor is a flylady hotspot of ginormous proportions.

A scant eight minutes in the pan and DA DAAAAA

 I really feel I can’t fully convey the satisfaction in eating the deconstructed structures. I’m laughing to myself again at how much I enjoyed that bowlful. I can only urge you, with the zeal of a new convert, to go forth and build then eat your own sausage spaghetti wonder.

 

We Can Cook! Tomato & Cheese Pinwheels

Katy is a BIG hit in this house. I’m actually quite fond of this particular kids programme, for a start they actually cook real food rather than a series of ever odder food art/sculpture and I’ve also really seen the benefits of the way they help the children perform tasks by describing the kind of movement they need to do. Parroty pinchy fingers and grr-y claw hands have helped with the frustrating preschool tasks of button doing up, green pepper ripping and egg cracking in this house.

Anyway these were inspired by a recent episode.

Tomato and Cheese Spirally Pinwheels

We started with a packet of ready-made puff pastry. You may make your own pastry if you wish – this VERY simple recipe already took about 3 hours to do because everything takes a long time when you’re three so it’s packet all the way for me…

We also assembled; flour for dusting, tomato purée, cheese, basil and black pepper. We added to the basic recipe; olive oil, paprika, fruit vinegar and the scrapings of old tapenade in the bottom of the jar.

First we rolled out a rectangle of pastry. More challenging than it sounds. Especially when one of us is dead set on eating most of the pastry raw…

Then squeeze tomato purée onto the surface – making a smily face with it is purely optional. Then I swerved from the recipe adding some paprika, a dash of sweet vinegar (I use one from a local shop which is vinegar mixed with fig must but any will do including balsamic) and a drop of olive oil and  a smear of tapenade. (None of this is essential..) Then mix it all together with the back of a spoon and spread it out over the pastry.

A bit of pepper – and what kind of face? She’s having a lovely time people, really.

Then grate a light snow of cheese over the top. (All over the surrounding floor and table is entirely optional)

This is a good bit.. pick and rip basil leaves, strewing them artistically over your rectangle. The basil is sadly not homegrown, I just can’t keep them going over the winter. My mum manages it on her windowsills but she has virulently green thumbs and house that doesn’t reach my dank and mould levels. It’s 60p supermarket pot of basil which did the job admirably then ended its short stalky life enlivening a pot of soup.

Now for the tricky bit, rolling it up. Not the easiest tasks for small hands but she managed it. The idea of doing the same thing side by side is I will resist the temptation to lean over and do harder bits for her and she can watch my hands and copy. It’s a technique that works well in coaching with children and I’d recommend it. This was the hardest bit to keep my hands to myself in though.     

Or maybe this bit, the chopping up…  Still the roll is quite robust though they benefit from a small reshaping squeeze as you place them, spiral up, on a baking sheet. Ida managed perfectly well with her small knife and we talked about the saw-saw-saw movement she needed to use and why she needed to be careful with her fingers.

Then into the oven for about 15 minutes baking and…   Ta Daaaa!!!

They taste great and have worked brilliantly kept in a airtight box and reheating a couple at a time for snacks. Zeph’s had them in his sandwich box as well.

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the bowl of eggwash on the table. It didn’t get used in these but in the sausage rolls we made next and to paint what felt like the entire room which I mentioned before…

I’m not going to bore you with the sausage rolls but we grated two apples in with the sausagemeat which was a resounding, scrumptious success. I’m always going to do it from now on.

And on that bombshell revelation I shall leave you, wiser in the wisdom of leaving small people alone with beaten egg and with a small daughter who has expanded her knife skill repertoire.

A good afternoons work.

Festering political disillusion and Carrotcake Muffins. Whoo hoo.

My garden is very frosty and in some desperate need of attention.  This morning I wandered around it with a cup of tea putting off the washing up which recently, despite the purple bowl, has assumed Sisyphus status with me.

It doesn’t help that the paved bit by the house is covered with stuff. Stuff that needs a skip. Or some kind of organising. Like the defunct fridge freezer adding that whitegoods trash atmosphere to the air.

I was full of good intentions this autumn about gathering up the fallen leaves to bag up for future leaf mould but have instead left it to do its moulding all over the path, plants and minipond. I think I’m in a slight grey slough after a very happy christmas and birthday season.

 Now begins the uphill slog to my birthday. Wasn’t it blue monday yesterday? The statistical low point of the year. Yay…. 

*shuffles feet, has another drag of tea*

I see plenty of loveliness among the clutter. Bare branches reaching into the pale sky makes my heart soar and ache with the patterned architectural beauty. The birds are clearly visible perching and twisting like acrobatic baubles, squabbling over berries .  There is a gang of rowdy tits shoving each other around our bird feeder, fascinating Ida and Mittens who  crouches by the back door lashing her tail ferociously.

The frost has blackened even the bindweed. I know that a mornings red-cheeked work will clear all the wizened overgrowth into my green bin leaving a clear canvas for my bulbs and this year’s garden dreaming.

I admire the uneven patio area under the pergola. Progress is like the tide coming in isn’t it? Three steps forward, two back, two forward, one back. On and on, creeping along.

 It fits with my experience of living with depression as well. Sometimes walking, sometimes crawling. Some nights giving all you  have to cling to the rock face. To stay still. Then other times letting yourself drift back with the swell, taking a breath, biding your time to start swimming upstream again.

I also think all the recent washing up has exposed me to too many politicians on Radio4. I feel incensed and kind of powerless. Never a good combination. Most recently I’ve been internally turmoiling over all the Worrell Thompson media coverage and comparing his celebrity caution with some of the sentencing handed out to teenagers shoplifting during the summers rioting.

Yes, yes – I know it’s not the same – taking a bottle of water during a riot is a different proposition but once again I reflect on how sentencing data would look pushed through a class filter. This ties in with a deeper rage against Cameron’s proposal dealing with “problem families” the language of which physically turned my stomach.

May I humbly suggest, tugging my fucking cap and all that, that he could lift his blinkered gaze to the system that has grown these “problem families.” Although the money thrown at this problem will surely be welcomed by the agencies and charities on the frontline applying pressure on the critical wounds, it’s like spending a fortune on the rash and not curing the virus that’s causing it. Or feeding the starving then sending them back to the ravished homelands. I could go on.

Above all it was the emotive, media spun, them and not us, disgustingly elitist and evidently ignorant language that truly turned my stomach. My feeling of dislocation from the etonesque boys who govern me grows ever stronger. Like a splinter in my hand it festers.

So I made some cakes.

I’d recommend these, they’re lovely. Do-able with a small helper as well.

Carrotcake muffins.

You need..

100g of sugar. Brown is best, I use whatever I have, today; muscovado.

175ml sunflower oil.

220g flour (plain)

2 eggs

tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice, sometimes I add ground ginger as well)

citrus fruit zest. Lemon or orange – or both

150g grated carrot (about 2)

something else. About 100g. Walnuts, mixed peel, sultanas etc

Mix the sugar and oil together.

Add the eggs.

Add the flour, spices and bi-carb and baking powder.

Fold in the grated carrot, zest and whatever you’re adding that’s extra. In this case, left over mixed peel.

Slop Spoon generously into muffin cases.

Cook in a medium oven until golden and a knife comes clean. About 20 minutes.

I iced these with a lime icing. Just icing sugar mixed with lime juice.

They definitely soothed the savage beast. That and tea with friends and a couple of chapters of the Snow Spider on the sofa with Zeph.

Thoughtful stirring

Where are the days going? They are slipping through my fingers like quicksilver. Everyday I think of something I want to blog about it yet before I realise I’m laying my head down on the pillow thinking of the stuff I need to get up early and do before the next day begins in earnest.

Aside from the slightly raised adrenaline I love it. My last craft fair before christmas is done and all my orders are collected or safely posted off. I have earnt enough to fill a hole in my bank account and pay for a beautiful christmas tree and a duck to roast for Xmas day.

 Small things but deeply satisfying.

Now I need to get down to making our festive presents and all the usual christmas flim flam.

Recently I’ve been turning that quote – I think it’s  Einstein – about doing the same things and expecting different results – over in my head. Relating to christmas obviously.

I do love christmas, as a child we ticked between christmas proper and a more wicca solstice. There is always room in my heart for family being together, feasting and shiny things. Ritual warms my heart but over the years I have learnt it’s important to follow the ones that mean something to you. Empty rote with nothing behind it is soul sapping and draining.

I’m lucky in that my mum and dad never put pressure on us over where Christmas is spent. I can’t bear that over one fleeting day. We have lots planned for this year – some here and there, a special early Christmas dinner, a festive Eve gathering, happy firework and champagne filled New Year’s Eve date.

My Dad’s 60th falls on the 22nd, we’re having a tea party and Zeph and I are slowly filling the freezer with bits and pieces. I have a master plan pinned on the wall of foods to be baked, cooked, frozen and bought. Occasionally I feel a wave of stress begin in the pit of my stomach. This year I’m trying to choose to squooshe it. .. because that choice is mine to make.  Honestly it’s going quite well.

My years resolution of embracing the now has made a definite difference to my psyche. When you’re busy noticing the moment you see that you’re moving through a bountiful ocean of them and Christmas is just another one that will be followed by another. This does seem obvious but there’s something all engulfing about all that busy preparation for a day of static perfection that usually fails to live up to the weighty expectations.  

Stirring the pudding today with Ida I mentally fingered thoughts about christmas. The midwinter aspect of a festival full of light, brightness and love to push back the dark, celebrating the birth of a baby,  green man or christ child. Rejoicing in new starts and beginnings.

Odd then that lots of the woes I hear are about the stuff nor conforming to old patterns. People tug of warring about where it’ll be family wise, the country eating the same menu, nativities breaking from tradition, new fangled carols. Things changing.

Mind you here’s one of my namesake dichotomy’s because you could put some of the blame on our overwhelming consumerist world. The mighty power of advertising selling us all the stuff we need to be happy. Fancy puddings, bigger turkeys, pinescented mince pies, lavish gifts, perfume, the perfect party dress, bucks fizz, smoked salmon, themed decorations….

Ooops – my heart just leapt in joy, rack after rack of magazines filled with aspirational shots of unachievable glamour and gorgeousness? Although not naturally a squeeee -er and more of an inappropriate curser my heart gives and internal Attic24 style squeeeee of happiness. Let me at them! I loves a bit of fairy lights me…

I suppose the trick is to enjoy them, take what you like and understand that you can still be happy without a prescribed tick list style experience.

And notice the moment.

So with that in mind right this minute I see;

A pile of stuff to wrap – I love wrapping. We have brown paper and string and a bag of ludicrous tags cut last year from old cards. We also have a very exciting new sellotape dispenser, a gift from my mum, exasperated by our old homemade version. Ida is flexing her fingers in anticipation.

The house smells steamy and fruity. The pudding is steaming away ratting the saucer in the stovetop pot. It has to steam for four hours and should have been done weeks ago. It’ll still taste great though. I’ve made it on xmas eve before now. Written out in hand the instruction are terse consisting of a list of ingredients, the words mix thoughtfully and steam for four hours. It’s Great Grandmother Driffields recipe, although I’m not precisely sure whose great grandmother she actually is – I have a warm sense of continuity that reassures.

The house is glimmery with a few extra strings of white lights. They hold back the grey day outside. The tree is being delivered on friday. Steve’s off on saturday and we’re planning to decorate it all together and make this years wreath. I chose not to do advent calendars this year and mark our own countdown studded with small preparations rather than Ben10 chocolates or my tearful time pressed hours trying to find 48 things small enough to fit in the drawers that aren’t chocolate.

Oh and to end I just glanced at my very cheap (allegedly the terrorist’s choice) digital watch to see it pleasingly lined up in 11:11:11. Undoubtedly an auspicious sign.

Frosty Morning

 Oh it’s a very cold day here today. This morning was more than usually hard due to a very patchy nights sleep. If it wasn’t Steve coughing and wheezing like some nightmarish germ-ridden steam-punk engine it was Ida who had a series of troubling dreams.

I’d sat up too late finishing some more wings so was pretty tired to begin with which meant I was even slower on the uptake in reassuring her about her dreams which seemed to centre around some sandwiches being stolen, a christmas tree walking around downstairs and The Number Taker (damn you numberjacks.)

Although I don’t love how upset she is I do love that her language skills have upped to the point were she can tell me what she’s wailing about. I also love when you can see where the dream has seeded from. I can’t identify the sandwich trauma but I do recognise the tree from Mog’s Christmas which is one of her current favourite picture books and who wouldn’t be unnerved by the Number Taker? In fact he got jumbled up in my dreams and I woke sweating at 5am from one that involved him, christmas shopping and not being able to open my eyes because they’d been sewn up. *shudder*

Getting in from a very cold walk to school has clearly triggered some kind of hibernating cooking instinct. As I write there’s a plum jam steamed pudding and lentil soup steaming and simmering  on the oven top. I might even put dumplings in the soup…

Steve even grudgingly agreed to put the heating on which means Ida and I don’t have to hang out round the sewing machine in coats.

 Last night Zeph helped me pack up these teacup pincushions. They’re now wrapped up in cellophane and looking very pretty piled on top of the piano. It helps ease the pain of breaking into my teacup collection. I can’t resist them in charity shops and jumble sales much to Steve’s disapproval. Finally the raggle-taggle collection under the bed has been put to a satisfying use.

They’re voting today in Egypt. I think of it hopefully. Thin ends of wedges, small steps on long journeys and all that. It’s my best BT of the day and I send optimism up into the air and blow it their way.

Pastry crocodiles on pumpkin pie

Recently Ida and I made an apple pie…actually it’s something we’ve cooked quite often, after all it is apple season and we are rich in windfalls. We did a post about one with pictures along the way. During the process pastry crocodiles were made and devoured before I could record them for posterity. Which is a shame…because they were rather scrumptious…

Some lovely fellow bloggers, Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things and Sharyn from The Kale Chronicles mentioned it was a shame not to see them and since then I’ve been thinking of making a pumpkin pie topped with some.

I’m not sure why exactly – they just seemed to go together….

Well yesterday we finally got around to it and I remembered the camera at crucial points. Most of the pictures look very familiar as most as the process was the same as the applepie but I was particularly charmed by Ida’s firm grasp on the process. She actually remembered independently most of the stages which leads me to dream about sending her into the kitchen to whip up a pie while I have a little lie down and read or something else equally indulgent. (Exploitation? How dare you…)

We also wilfully ignored any other recipe and it turned out exactly as I hoped, deliciously spicy and toffeeish so I’m going to give you the recipe (ha! there’s no measurements so I suppose method would be less misleading…)

First off, it was a butternut squash, not a pumpkin. Ho hum. I was going to steam it but I wanted that slight caramel flavour you get at the edges of roasted veg so diced and slung in the oven.

I then pureed the bits with one of those hand-held blenders. It did make a very smooth purée but next time I may try just mashing them with a fork. 

We added, I think amounts really depend on the amount of purée you have, so add to taste;

ground ginger.

cinnamon.

ground mixed spice.

nutmeg.

sugar, I used molasses sugar which really added to the lovely toffeeish flavour.

a splash of  double cream.

We used my old shallow enamel dish so it was a shallow pie. Ida set to work buttering it.

We used short crust pastry and rolled out a disc for the bottom and smoothed it in.

Then filled it with the squash purée.

Then there was a lot of pleasurable flouring, rolling and crocodile cutting and shaping. This bit went on for a while…

and here they are

Ta da!

Then liberally brush with beaten egg,

 and finally and triumphantly –

Once again I meant to take a picture of a slice but we were all too busy eating and elbowing each other out of the way for seconds. Perfect autumn comfort eating.

Membrillo

It’s another making something post. Blame the season, it is fruitful and hence, so are we.

My Mum and Dad have the most beautiful quince tree in their garden. I’m quite jealous and keep looking round our titchy plot for a place to squeeze one in. In spring they’re covered in delicate tissue paper blossom and in autumn the branches are weighed down with the fragrant furry golden fruit.

There are lots of things you can do with them. At the very least put them in a bowl in your house and enjoy the perfume. I wanted to make better use of the ones my M&D kindly brought round though so thought I’d give membrillo another go.

Basically it’s a quince fruit cheese. I made some last year which despite a few technical difficulties was delicious. We ate it pretty quickly with cheese and cold meats mostly.

I found a different recipe this year to try so Ida and I set to.

First we scrubbed the quinces removing the fluff on them which gives them a slight flocked fruit feel. Then I just chopped them up and slung them in a pan pips, skin and all

Ida helped with the scrubbing but not the chopping as one of the special features of quinces is flesh as hard as iron. Really. Last year I assumed it would be quicker to peel and core the quinces than push the purée through a sieve. Reader – I was wrong. Having done it both ways it’s sieve all the way. Anything than attempt to peel another quince.

Anyway add water to your fruit, not too much, barely covering it and some lemon juice (I used half a lemon)  and simmer until mushy (technical term there) then mash  (I used a potato masher) and leave to cool.

Due to my various bad time planning and an unexpected toddler disasters I left the pulp overnight to cool which did it no harm at all. If you wanted to make jelly you’d leave it to strain overnight and boil up the liquid but I want all the fruit pulp so need to push it through a sieve with a wooden spoon.

I’d still take this over peeling any day but it does give your arm a workout. Ida was very eager but  ineffective. Zeph was pretty good at it but easily distracted. An hour’s stop-and-starting  resulted in this;

We measured it in a jug and it was just under two pints. My recipe said we should add 450g of granulated sugar for every 450ml of fruit pulp. I only had a bag so that’s what I added. I seemed to have got a lot more pulp than the recipe seemed to think I would have. Possible due to over vigorous sieving. Hmmm. The book also recommended using the sugar you can get with added pectin. I just added the juice from the other lemon half.

Then stir until the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for at least an hour.

This was slightly complicated by me trying to cook a roast chicken dinner around the process which involved the pot coming off the heat occasionally then going back on. You need the purée to darken and thicken considerably. You do need to keep an eye on it and keep stirring to check it’s not sticking at the bottom.

Eventually mine looked like this;

It still seemed a lot wetter than the photo in the book but I was just tired of the whole thing and wanted to get on. It coated my spoon really thickly and set on a saucer so I figured it might set okay.

I had sterilized some small bowls and an shallow dish in a warm oven and oiled them lightly. Then I ladled gloop everywhere – trying to be even-handed and tidy.

 Then leave it overnight to cool and set. This is another place this years recipe differed from last years where I left the trays of fruit cheese in a very low oven overnight.

The next day we tipped out the bowls and wrapped the gleaming jellies in parchment paper parcels.

 Now I’ve piled the packages into a shoebox and put it somewhere dry (essential this bit – in my mouldy house) where it’s supposed to mature for 6/8 weeks. If it works out okay I’m hoping to maybe use some as Christmas presents. Of course that does mean not eating it all.

We’ll see. It is a big hit in this house…