It’s been a while …

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Yes, it’s been a while. The last time I posted was 22 August … the following day wasn’t a great one in our world. We’ve had a lot going on since then too, along with more shocks (more information can be found on Words Worth Writing, so I shan’t bore anyone over here with the details again), but hopefully, once again, perhaps things will finally settle for us now.

We’ve not really been out. We’ve not really done much in the kitchen. We’ve not really had chance to do anything substantial to the garden.

A few loaves of bread have been made, along with a few pots of jam. We have more foraging to do. Our garden is resplendent with apples, plums, rhubarb, but we want to go and get some blackberries, some sloe berries and some elderberries from our old lane. There are more jams to be made, and chutneys, and ketchups, and sauces … It is, after all, that time of year.

I’ve been very busy re-publishing books. (Again, more information can be found over on the writing blog.) I’ve picked up a couple of old writing courses to complete, on top of the fiction writing course I’m already studying. I have more books to write, along with a few short stories. And I have several client books to edit too.

So I am very, very busy. And if I disappear again, you’ll know why.

I was going to give Baggins Bottom a bit of a sabbatical, but I realised that as soon as I do that, I’ll suddenly have lots to write about again. Therefore, please forgive and excuse any randomness or unreliability meanwhile. Ta. 🙂

Free food

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Blackberries and elderberries – free food. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We had a very tiring weekend with 2 gigs on the trot, but we were determined to do something for us as well, and so on Saturday we went shopping for jam jars, chutney jars, sloe gin bottles, jelly bags, jelly bag frames and labels.

We also bought a trug, extra ingredients for tomato and apple chutney, some art supplies, and some pet and bird food.

When we got back, we had a rest – shopping is soooo tiring – then the poet grabbed the trug and I grabbed the dog, and off we went for a walk down our lane. One of the neighbours was just pulling in, so the poet very quickly swapped his very unmanly trug for the dog and said hello to normal neighbour in one of his very manly deepest voices!

We walked for a mile, up to Little Owl Stop (our nickname for it), and filled the trug with just over a kilogram of blackberries (apx 2lb) and about half a kilo (apx 1lb) of elderberries. When the trug started to get heavy, he took control of it again, being a proper manly gentleman and all that. (The little owl was out, unfortunately.)

It was too late to do anything with any of it when we got back as he had to get ready for gig #2. But on Sunday, after a well-earned lie-in, he asked me to help him make the jam. We ended up with 3 x 500g jars of blackberry jam and 1 x 500g jar of blackberry and elderberry jam – and it looks like proper jam too, and everything. 😀

After a quick break, he then helped me make the chutney. I don’t like chutney and I’ve never made it before, so I needed him to tell me if it looked right. He did most of the chopping while I did most of the cooking and stirring, and when that was ready we got 5 jars out of it. He said it tastes right, so I presume it is.

For those interested, the recipe we used for the jam is here, adjusted to suit the amount of berries we had – but made with ordinary granulated sugar and no pectin – and the one we used for the chutney is here – but we only used 1.5kg of tomatoes and 2 of the chillies. For the blackberry and elderberry jam we just used the amount of blackberries that were left and the same again of elderberries. That jam caught a bit before the end, and almost ruined the pan (Mr Muscle to the rescue …), but it tastes all right.

We’re very proud of our produce this weekend, but still have lots of cooking apples left. I wanted to make a crumble and some pies, but we ran out of time and energy. So I’ll do those this week. We’re going to try adding some of the elderberries to the crumble.

The hedgerows were bursting with sloes and I wanted to pick those too, but the poet had heard that you’re supposed to either leave them until after the first frost, or pick them and freeze them. As we don’t have any experience with sloes just yet, we decided to leave them. But a friend assured us they’d be fine (waves towards Brum) if we picked them now and froze them, so we may go and get those this coming weekend.

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Five jars of tomato and apple chutney, 3 jars of blackberry jam, 1 jar of blackberry and elderberry jam. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Today the poet is working in the midlands, so he’s dropping in to see my parents on his way back.

I’m awaiting a bird food delivery, I have a particularly heavy edit to carry on with and another one to start ASAP. So I’ll be off for now.

Enjoy the pictures. 🙂