Monday, 1 September 2008

Absence makes the heart shrink and Spicy Green Tomato Chutney

So much going on... lots of posts written, blogging legs lost, inability to hit the publish button. How do you start blogging again when you've been absent for so long? Feelings of inadequacy, in limbo, gone off taking pictures of food all the time. Need to lose weight but continue to feed the children great food, can this work alongside food blogging??? Quandries, quandries...

Little starts back at school this week. During the school holidays he's learned to swim unaided, has been allowed to start cooking HOT things (it's okay we had the emergency services on standby) he's even had a few golf lessons with a pro. I know, I know, how to ruin a good walk, the shame of it...

Small starts school for the first time this month too. I cried and cried when Little started school. I'm guessing there'll be a few tears this time too. Does every mum feel like that? I always feel like I've lost part of me when the holidays end. The end of an era, both children will be at school. There's possibilities of me working - this will be an immense shock to the system. There's still the possibility of a dog too, though I'm realising that this could be a mistake if I am going to be working....

Veg Patch News: We're still getting strawberries every day. The blueberries had all gone by the time we returned from an extended trip to Spain. We got one apple from the little fledgling tree that was planted earlier in the year - we shared it between the four of us! The carrots are delicious! The potatoes are great, though they've all got something called scab. Sounds and looks disgusting but it's only on the skin and once you peel them they're superb. Definitely a case of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We threw away over 5 kilos of green tomatoes yesterday - they'd all succumbed to blight. This was after darling hubs had made copious amounts of delicious green tomato chutney. It's such a horrible feeling when so much hard work and effort has gone into planting your own veg to have it fail. Still I'm hoping the pumpkins are going to be a winner and that the corn grows a tiny bit more. We've also put some radishes and lettuce in which germinated within 4 days, the lettuce should be ready within the week.

Spicy Green Tomato Chutney (makes approx 8 or 9 x 250g jars).

1 kilo Green Tomatoes, washed and chopped
500g Dark Brown Soft Sugar
1 kilo Onions, peeled and finely sliced.
250g Raisins
250g Sultanas
Handful of dried apricots, chopped
1 litre Malt Vinegar
1 inch Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated
Seeds from 10 Green Cardamon Pods (gently crush the pods and remove the seeds)
2 teaspoons Mild Chilli Powder
2 piri piri chillis, finely sliced
2 tablespoons of salt

We placed all the ingredients in a very large, heavy based Le Creuset saucepan, brought it up to the boil and then turned down to simmer for 1.5 hours. It still seemed a little runny so we let it simmer for a further 30 minutes. On tasting Hubs also felt it needed a little more sugar, so he added some light brown soft sugar (approx 3 tablespoons) and a little more chilli powder. Decant into sterlised jars, we did this by putting them in a warm oven for about an hour (we forgot about them), best to look up how to sterilise jars properly as we're no experts here and botulism is a serious thing, cover and leave to cool before putting a lid on.
You can play with the seasonings. Add cumin maybe, or more chilli or don't put the chilli in. We like things with a kick, hence adding more part way through cooking. It's excellent served with a mature cheddar & wholemeal crusty bread - speaking from immediate experience...

Getting tomato blight feels like the dementors from Harry Potter have arrived, slowly seeping into your thoughts, sucking the happiness and soul out of you. Should you get tomato blight , google it and learn all sorts of horrible crabby facts. My lovely friend Fiona is always good for these sorts of things, try her post here, which has some links to other sites too.. Ensure you dispose of the infected plants using special chemical biohazard suits, do not under any circumstances touch it with your real human hands as touching other things could then spread the disease. Dispose of the soil they were grown in, again carefully and without infecting the land around you, you could try calling some bio-hazard company or possibly the goverment. Do this as quickly possible and then hit the gin. It's the only cure to restore happy thoughts or soul after having a very large cry that is!

Tomato blight looks like this!


Trig said...

Welcome back, Oh absent one.

Joanna said...

Hey Amanda - sounds like you had a good summer, and I hope you're better now. Return to work + dog at the same time - probably not a great idea (and I'm not thinking about the dog at this point). Hope the first day of school goes well - for both of you


Baking Soda said...

It's not my native language but...doesn't it make the heart grow fonder? True for me because I missed you! Glad to have you back, go on and hit that publish button girl!

Make sure you have a nice cup of coffee at hand, some sweets, a hankie and a good friend to enjoy those lonely lovely hours when the kids are at school. As in chutney: it will get better over time..

Margaret said...

Welcome back, Little Foodies!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Trig, thank you. So funny but getting these comments really made my day. I thought everyone would have stopped reading... but of course you're clever and not just at cooking you have one of those feed things... Wouldn't have a clue how to do it but will now have some time to learn...

Hi Joanna, thank you, we've had a fantastic summer. Spain and then the North East of England. Both places very dear to my heart.

Hi Karin, thank you, now I've hit publish once again I've realised how much I missed it. I'll make really good coffee, I'll even grind the beans myself. I'll take my time making it and drinking it. I'll try to enjoy the moment and I'll definitely make sure I have a good friend here on the day.

Hi Margaret, thank you!!

Thanks for your comments! Lovely to get them.
Amanda x

Cottage Smallholder said...

Welcome back Amanda. I've missed you.

Poor you, getting tomato blight. I's so disheartening. Thanks so much for the link.

Good luck to you and Small - I can still remeber my first day at school.

Cheryl A said...

If we don't get some more sun and an old-fashioned Indian Summer we'll be making a lot of green tomatoe chutney.
PS Was I just offensive using the term Indian Summer? One never knows anymore.

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Oh, it's good to hear from you again. Sorry about the garden losses...although I am happy that you have salvaged some chutney out of it :)

I do hope you find the blogging mojo again. I've missed reading your posts.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh these first days of school Amanda! But Karen's right As in chutney: it gets better with time. And you really do want them to grow up.
Chutney looks divine.
Keep hitting publish.

ames said...

Welcome back!

Jenny said...

Welcome back!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Fiona, thank you and you're welcome.

Hi Cheryl,I never know either. I don't think it's offensive.

Hi CC, thank you, I've missed it too.

Hi Tanna, thank you, you're right as always we do want them to grow up. It's that old Peter Pan element again though - if only for freezing time, just sometimes.

Hi Ames, thank you!!

Hi Jenny, thank you!!

Thank you all for your comments.
Amanda x

Deborah said...

Welcome back! I hope you're back for good this time - I've missed reading your blog!

Gemma said...

It's nice to have you back. I know how hard it is to know what to say after an extended absence but you seem to be doing just fine!

Gemma x

David Hall said...

And about time Amanda! Far too long my dear. Gutted about missing you the other week, thats the problem with emails. Now if you had called me! Hope to finally see you soon.

Dave x

Cynthia said...

Ah, such a spicy, sweet and tangy come back :) You are missed!

ChichaJo said...

Glad to see you back and to hear that you had a nice summer :) Good luck with the start of school and the veg patch...despite the scab and the blight it is sounding good to this city-girl's ears!

Sylvie said...

Lovely to have you back, Amanda!


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