Thursday, 24 September 2009

The Ample Cook is 50

I was a happy baby
(The photographer must have been waving a pie)

That's me in the front and no, I've never grown into those ears.
Apparently I sneezed when I was just born and out they flapped.

Flares & platforms the first time round.
This was the year that I was planning my wedding to David Cassidy.

Make-up by Dulux
A scary perm at some point in your life is compulsory

Well I can honestly say that I can't believe I'm 50 as I just don't feel it (that doesn't mean to say I don't look it mind!) In my head I don't feel older than 30. Age, as they say is just a state of mind.

In reality of course I know that just around the corner lurk the things that 'women of a certain age' will inevitably have to suffer - hot flushes, a hairy chin, grumpiness, varicose veins, control pants, unexpected flatulence and 'easy-fit' polyester trousers*.

I won't go down without a fight though.

*Husband informs me that most of these things have already started.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Jam packed

From mid August to the beginning of September my house alternates between smelling of boiling fruit and sugar to the acrid pong of hot vinegar. Yes, it's jam and chutney season. As soon as the fruit trees start producing I'm like a blur in my kitchen. Everything seems to come at once and with fruit you need to turn it into jam as soon as it's picked as that's when the pectin levels are at their greatest which means the difference between jam that you spread and jam that you pour. Add to this, the end of the courgettes and tomatoes ripening by the minute it's been manic.

This year I've been very lucky as a couple of friends have given me bucket loads of plums and pears. Plums are wonderful and very versatile, they make fantastic jam and chutney. The rest of the fruit I've either picked or bought. Over at the farm I managed to pick loads of blackberries and was given some damsons, and from a local orchard I bought Bramleys and greengages.

Unfortunately, as you can imagine all of this fruit attracts those evil little critters in brown and yellow jumpers. I have therefore become very skilled in thwacking them with an oven glove. The score currently stands at Ample Cook 17 - Wasps nil (ha ha!)

Damsons & greengages

The fruits of my labour

(actually this is the tip of the iceberg)

I know you can buy good quality jams and chutneys these days, but I promise you, nothing tastes like homemade. Just 1 lb of fruit and the same quantity of sugar will make a couple of jars of jam and takes very little time and effort to do. Chutney made now will be ready to eat at Christmas, making a really thoughtful gift.
Go on, give it a go.