Its been a while since I last posted. Life was tremendously busy in the run up to the end of school term & I also had the heaviest cold I've ever had and broke my toe. There just didn't seem to be enough hours in my day. But now the school holidays are in full swing and I wanted to share with you what we have been up to in the kitchen.
Do you remember a couple of months back I reminded you to start saving your jam jars well I am working my way through my stash already. Those of you who live in the countryside may be familiar with the scenario of coming home to find punnets of fruit or fresh vegetables left on your door step by kind friends and neighbours who have more produce than they know what to do with. I think the strangest thing I have ever found on my doorstep was a large crate of fuzzy quinces and a handful of runner beans. Lately I have been given a punnet of redcurrants and a punnet of blackcurrants. Another way to get hold of inexpensive fruit and veg is to visit your local market or farm shop or even the supermarket at closing time. If the weather has been especially cool or wet - which it has been for months here - this technique of bargain hunting works particularly well. Last week I also picked up some raspberries very inexpensively. I made a raspberry and redcurrant jam and a blackcurrant one too.
With my eldest off to school in September my thoughts are also turning to cheap and nutritious packed lunches (school dinners at our local primary are schockingly unhealthy). I have made several batches of cordial to pep up her water bottle. Whilst I try to encourage my children to drink water as much as possible we all like something a little fruity. I won't buy squash I either dilute pure fruit juice or give my girls home made cordials that way I know exactly what's in them. Another great idea for school lunches and snacks is to make fruit leathers. Fruit leathers are like those fruit winders you can buy. You can use any fruit but soft fruits and berries work particularly well. Stew them with as little added liquid as possible. Strain the fruit through a sieve to remove stones or pips. If you wish to add sugar now is the time to do this use icing sugar as it dissolves easily. Now spread this mixture thinly directly onto a baking sheet and put into the oven on the coolest temperature your oven can do and cook until you have a flexible sheet, this will probably take several hours. Cut into strips and store in an airtight container. So easy and so much cheaper than anything you can buy in the shops!
At this time of year it feels as though there is always something happening in my kitchen. The area I live in is famous for its orchards so in late summer and Autumn there is an abundance of orchard fruits to preserve in all manner of ways. I hope to bring you more on this topic and a wonderful high dumpsey deary jam recipe.