Summer days ……


This year, the summer holidays started very early in our household. We collected our youngest from university in mid-June and our eldest arrived home from working in Spain at the beginning of July. As no one had any holiday plans, I hastily arranged a family break in Portugal (warm, sunny and very relaxing) but this has meant we were back home at the end of July, having already had our break, with most other people still with their holidays to look forward to. Never mind, we thought. August at home can be lovely – warm, sunny, places to go. However, this has not been the case. 

After the deluge on Wednesday, Thursday had a distinctly autumnal feel to it. The plants in the garden look washed out and battered, as they tend to look in October just before the end of the season. The tomatoes on the plant on my patio are just not ripening. 

I have had a busy time baking cakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom – eight cakes and some flapjacks since our return from holiday. As these are freshly baked to order, there is no problem with having leftover cakes to sell. I have also started making more chutney as I delivered another order to Southborough Butchers last week which used up my stock. The autumn fruits are ripening much earlier than the last few years so I ordered two more huge boxes of jam jars ready to be filled with various chutneys – rhubarb & coriander made this week, plum apple & chilli, pear & apple, apricot apple & hazelnut and other flavours to follow over the next couple of weeks and spiced redcurrant jelly, apple & chilli and apple & mint jelly to follow. I have seen cobnuts, rosehips, elderberries, sloes and blackberries already waiting to be picked on my walks in the area. This must be at least 3 weeks earlier than the last few years. I even made a blackberry and apple crumble at the weekend with fruit picked that morning.

When I started ‘Too busy to make’, I hoped it would give me a chance to make foods that I enjoyed making and to sell them to people who would enjoy eating them. Since I have had the regular outlets, this has certainly proved to be the case. I am looking forward to a busy late summer and autumn, making foods to sell at Penshurst, at the Country Fair and Christmas Market at Chiddingstone, at Southborough Butchers and other local outlets.

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Redcurrants


When you are getting ready to go on holiday, there are all the normal things to do such as washing, packing, tidying up, taking the animals to kennels, emptying the fridge, turning off lights …… and picking redcurrants!

Having had a busy week or two, I realised I had not had time to pick redcurrants and as the season is so short, by the time we get home, they would be finished. So, it had to be done. At least we will be able to have redcurrants jelly with our roast lamb over the next few months.

Enjoy your summer!

Stock clearance

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In order to make space for new chutneys and other preserves, I am having a stock clearance sale . All items are available on a first come first served basis, so if there is something you particularly want, please contact me as soon as possible.

Stock available : 300g jars

1 x Apple and sultana chutney  £2.50

1 x Pumpkin and raisin chutney  £2.50

1 x Apricot apple and hazelnut chutney  £2.50

5 x Victoria plum jam  £2.00 each

5 x Raspberry jam  £2.00 each

7 x Luxury apricot and brandy mincemeat  £2.00 each

4 x Seville orange marmalade  £2.00 each

8 x Dark Seville orange marmalade  £2.00 each

 

Stock available : 200g/190g jars

18 x Spiced Damson chutney  £1.50 each

12 x Blackberry jelly  £1.50 each

4 x Cranberry and orange compôte  £2.00 each

1 x Spiced redcurrant jelly  £1.50

Please email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com or message me via my Facebook page Too busy to make

 

 

 

 

Other uses for marmalade


The Seville orange season is short, so in January or February when they make their brief appearance in our shops, I buy some to make marmalade and a couple of family favourite puddings.

However, like many, I don’t usually eat toast in the mornings so jars of marmalade accumulate! This year, I decided to try using marmalade in other recipes to see whether they would taste good.

First, I made a bread and butter pudding by spreading marmalade on panettone that was left over from Christmas, and baking with a mixture of eggs and cream. It was so delicious that it was eaten before I could photograph it! I made a second and the same thing happened. The fruit in the panettone meant I didn’t add any extra but I chopped the strips of orange peel in the marmalade into small pieces before adding them to the pudding.

Second, I tried a marmalade drizzle cake, using my normal lemon drizzle cake recipe and replacing the lemon zest in the sponge with Seville orange zest and spreading a mixture of marmalade and Seville orange juice over the top of the cake as soon as it came out of the oven. I think the cake works very well – the bitter orange tang comes through the sponge making a delicious variation on drizzle cakes.

I usually freeze the zest and juice of Seville oranges to use later in the year and will report back on future experiments with marmalade and the zest and juice.

Restocking the larder


The beginning of the new year has been a good time to do a thorough stock take and to start making more chutney.

Thank you to everyone who bought food from me in the run up to Christmas. I lost count of the number of Panforte and biscuits I made! Thank you also for the lovely comments – it is pleasing to hear that you enjoy eating the foods I have made as much as I have enjoyed making them.

I have made three chutneys so far this year

Apricot, apple and hazelnut which has cardamom seeds, ginger and mixed spice giving a crunchy texture and spicy fruit flavour

Plum, pear and apple with chilli and pepper giving a hot flavour

Pear and apple which is a classic chutney flavoured with cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

All three chutneys are maturing and will soon be ready to purchase. Those of you who are local to Southborough can buy a selection of my chutneys and jellies from Southborough Butchers on London Road. They all go well with cold meats and cheeses and can also be used to enrich casseroles and gravies.

 

Open house 

 

I am holding two ‘Open House’ sessions before Christmas so if you would like to try before you buy, then please come along to 72 Prospect Road, Southborough on

Friday 9 December between 4pm and 8pm or on

Wednesday 14 December between 11am and 1pm or between 4pm and 8pm.

I will have a number of chutneys, jellies, jams and marmalades open for tasting as well as some biscuits and cakes. Most will be available to take away but I can make more Panforte or biscuits to order.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Some of my chutneys and jellies are also available to buy at Southborough Butchers on London Road, Southborough.

Try before you buy

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On Wednesday 16 November, I will have a stall at the Nizels Golf and Country Club ‘Christmas Beauty Evening’, near Hildenborough in Kent.

I am planning to take along a selection of preserves, biscuits, cakes and savoury nibbles which can be given as Christmas gifts and many will be available for tasting on the night. I will also be taking orders if you would rather wait until nearer Christmas to receive your foods.

I am also hoping to sell my foods at other locations in the run up to Christmas so watch this space for further information.

Email me at toobusytomake@btinternet.com or call me on 07787 963896 if you want to place an order or find out more.

 

 

Damson cheese

 

According to Sara Paston-Williams, Damson Cheese is one of the oldest traditional country dishes, always found piled up on the shelves of a country store cupboard.

I have tried a couple of recipes but prefer one that uses slightly less sugar. It still produces a sugar crust and will keep almost indefinitely! We love to eat it with cheese such as a mature cheddar or crumbly Lancashire, but it is also good added to enrich a venison casserole or gravy to accompany beef or game.

The damsons are cooked until soft, then pressed through a sieve. After adding sugar, the pulp is cooked again until thick and then stored in a cool place to mature.

 

 

Spiced Damson Chutney

 

September has been a busy month in the kitchen which has meant not enough time to write about what I have been making! I went fruit picking at the end of August, not sure whether the damsons would be ripe yet. They were – and I ended up picking quite a few. I love the dark purple skin with the dusky bloom – quite unlike other plums. They are quite tart raw, but when cooked with the other chutney ingredients, they produce a deep, concentrated flavour.

Since then, I have made three batches of Spiced Damson Chutney which is a firm family favourite – made with allspice berries, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. The chutney goes well with cheese or cold meats and can also be used as a sauce for duck.