Sunday, 14 September 2014

Foraging and Bottling

I know this is titled up foraging but I'm making a short deviation from the heading to tell you about my little brother's amazing cycle across Britain.  This picture was taken last sunday evening in Bath at the end of the second day's ride.  We went along to cheer the 800 riders over that day's finish line.  And one of them was my bro.
The next morning's route took them all through our small village as they headed north and I was there again with my camera.  It's a grueling challenge. On the road by 8am and over 100 miles each day for 9 days.  There's little time for aching muscles to rest and recover.  So to complete this has been an impressive and fabulous achievement.  Well done Walt!  I prefer poking around my favourite kitchen ware shop where, this weekend I found a very appropriate biscuit cutter.  Biscuits were baked in my bro's honour and eaten on his behalf too!  (Cornwall kept breaking off which was a shame 'cos that was the best bit.)

It's late summer in our corner of the world.  The tractors have been harvesting and baling in the field opposite our cottage.  The weather has been glorious.  So dry and warm you feel as if the long lazy days are going to go on and on.
But the ripening apples and hedgerows full of blackberries, elderberries and cob nuts mean autumn is on the way and it's timer to gather what you can.
There's a small woodland behind our lane where we go for all things fruity and will return later for sloes which are growing in abundance this year.
 We've even got a special foraging bag!  Cob nuts are so expensive in the shops, we're lucky to have a ready supply.
Although we don't grow our own plums or pears, they're plentiful and cheap just now and there are lots of recipes I want to try.  This was my first go at bottling fruits.  The plums with a brandy syrup and the pears with a cider syrup.
They need to sit in a bath of hot water for a while.
Then they can be labelled and put in a cool dark place and left to let the flavours get to work. 
 And preserved lemons looked easy (lemons and salt) so I gave that a go too. 
We took a trip to a local wood recycling project because part of the plan for the big shed is to make a bench down one side - it's officially my potting bench and in my head will look very nice with neat rows of seedlings but I fear it will get used as a dumping ground and there will be limited potting.  We found all the wood we needed and got it much cheaper than we had expected.

This is where Himself really excels.  We picked up the wood on Saturday and by Sunday afternoon he had made this fabby potting bench!  There's a little more work to do so I've only taken a photo of the completed section.  It has to be sanded down but once that's done it's going to look great. The bars on the window are a necessity and were fitted by Himself as extra security because a couple of weeks ago our shed was broken into. Somewhere, someone is enjoying a very nice bike and some good camping gear.  There were three other break ins that we know of round the village that same night and all lost something.  
 The weekend was rounded off with some seriously naughty fudge.  This was made in the thermomix with a googled recipe and is a proper gorgeous fudgy squishy texture.  I better keep on with my running programme!

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