Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Another kind of transition.

We have had some fine days since our return and they have been spent in battle with the weeds since the garden needs to be fairly under control so that on future fine days, if we get any, attention can be paid to house repairs and painting which two wet summers have delayed. 

On a couple of wet days I set to tidying up some of the clutter round the house. I have to admit that being born into a bombed out city after the second world war where everything had to be repaired or recycled, there was no choice, affected me. My parents built a single story home using about half recycled materials, weeks were spent chipping old mortar off bricks or bitumen off oak flooring blocks. My play pen was the building site, often the foundations or half walled rooms. Watching the process obviously imprinted on my brain that materials have worth and cannot be casually thrown away and much of this house has been repaired with other people's throw outs. Yesterday I was pressure washing my friend's fancy teak garden furniture so that it can be smartened up and be ready when one of them is recuperating after a gall stone operation, they had a solid hardwood worktop and a teak draining board ready to be skipped sitting in the drive! They are now in the back of the van...

Whilst sorting through my treasure I came across a box of jam jars, my favourite Bonne Maman, which unlike the standard british jars, allow you to get at all the contents. These jars had been missing for ages and with luck the very next day strawberries were on offer at the lowest price seen for years, I bought fourteen boxes...

Naturally we ate as many as we could but covered over nine pounds with sugar overnight, would have been ten but Julie was watching me hull the fruit and sorted out the ripest... Well, slightly unripe are best for jam, these were slightly more ripe than if I had picked them myself but that has now become too expensive if all you want to do is make jam.

This load was just about an ideal batch for our jam cauldron. Once I was sure that the sugar was all dissolved in went the juice from six lemons and the heat went up and a frothy rolling boil set.

This is foodie p*********y, the house smelt heavenly... A lump of butter at the end settles the froth while the mix is allowed to cool for quarter of an hour so that the fruit pieces do not just settle on the top of the pots.

It has been a long time since we made strawberry jam, plenty of others from our own fruit but apart from tiny wild strawberries which grow like weeds here I have never had much luck with growing them myself. The result is delicious and will require willpower to resist...



  1. It all sounds lovely and delicious. I love strawberry jam but my waistline hates it! So do my teeth! Why are all the nice things in life not so good for you? That lot could last you a very long time but I suppose if you love it so much perhaps not.

    Shirley Anne

  2. Some seriously lovely looking photos ......


  3. I seem to remember reading some years ago that there were female hormones in liquorice, maybe that's why I liked it so much too!

    Shirley Anne x

  4. what an enviable collection of jars! -my Bonne Mamams get pressed into service for all sorts of useful things, so I'm hard pushed to find enough for preserves.

    There's an odd thing going on with liquorice- lots of young people don't like it, so the liquorice ones in Sports Mixture are no longer put in. World's going to hell in a handbasket I tells ya. Fortunately, our local sweet shop has half a dozen different types of liquorice, with varying degrees of sweetness and saltiness.


  5. Dru, "sweetshop" is a word which I thought had been dropped from the language and as for choice! Close to jealousy.

    Liquorice and ginger seemed to be the only things available when I was young and sugar rationing still in force so they were my "treats" or adictions as I have to call them now...

    I am occasionally tempted by liquorice allsorts which also seems to have less actual liquorice than I remember and all those wasteful sugary bits too!


Many thanks to all who ever joined in the conversation and to those who took the time to follow my zig zag to a new life..

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