Our internet connection has been broken for five days. No T.V., no Instagram, no Facebook, no Google and worst of all, no blog. It broke halfway through Coldplay at Glastonbury which was just what I deserved given how I have been scoffing at Coldplay’s dreadful diddly-fiddle recent single. Fortunately, Husband hit record on Adele at Glastonbury on Saturday night. We have, so far, watched that three times. It’s on YouTube here.
It’s amazing and quite frightening how much work one (I) can get done without online distractions.
We have had our first harvest of 2016. I passed the happiest of hours, perched on Small Girl’s tiny chair, picking this lot:
Our three gooseberry bushes are of three different varieties. One is small, viciously thorny and produced a scarce harvest of fierce sourness. The middle bush is exactly that, middling, and the third is an ideal specimen, bountiful and thorn free. It would be a marvellous thing if I could tell you the species details but, alas, I leave my organisational skills behind when I exit to the garden. That’s part of the point of it.
It has been a race between me and the blackbirds to get the redcurrants. They definitely robbed more than their fair share. A fruit cage is on the to-do list.
Aren’t they lovely though, like tiny shining jewels?
The topping and tailing proved a soothing occupation for my hands while I listened to the Brexit fallout unfolding. Did you hear that the Irish passport office has been inundated ? They are pleading with British residents to hold off their application unless they actually need the passport. It is surreal.
Back to the work: first up was Redcurrant Jelly. Redcurrants are very sour but this jelly is terrific with roast chicken or lamb and delicious with a wedge of Camembert cheese. I used this easy-peasy recipe from Darina Allen.
Next, Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam. I’m not a huge fan of jams but this is a good one. The elderflower gave it a fragrance that lifts the mood. A few petals and stems made their way into the pot but I think they will serve to remind me that I made this myself.
I used the recipe in my Forgotten Skills book but, like most of Darina Allen’s recipes, it is available on the Irish Examiner website, here. That link also features Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote which I made but failed to photograph. It was truly yummy on my morning muesli.
I had sent the children out for a walk with instructions to bring home a medium-sized bunch of elderflower. They returned with half a tree so I was obliged (oh, the hardship) to make Elderflower Cordial. Again, I refer you to Mrs Allen via The Examiner (a.k.a. de paper, in these parts).
The recipe involves steeping the flowers overnight with slices of lemon. The sweet and elderflower-scented lemon slices, a by-product, are on stand-by in the freezer ready to plunge into a G&T. Honest to God, the woman is a genius.
If you like to grow-your-own, forage-your-own or make-from-scratch-your-own food this book is an infallible and indispensable guide. It has taken up permanent residence on my counter-top.
It takes a massive quantity of gooseberries to make a crumble but only 350g to make this Gooseberry and Coconut Cake. I liked it so much I have frozen the remainder of my gooseberries in 350g batches. The recipe is from BBC Good Food, here. Several comments on the website claimed that the gooseberries sank and the cake took much longer to cook than expected. I increased the cooking temperature from 160°C to 170°C and had no problems. I suspect a typo as 160 seems unusually low. I also omitted the buttery coconut topping the second time I made the cake and sprinkled some extra sugar instead. I liked it better that way.
Some Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote on the side was almost, but not quite, overkill.
Last, but my no means least, I drained some excess syrup from the compote on to a glass of ice. A rare treat to be relished with glee.
PS. I may have added a splash of gin. (Gooseldertini?) Cheers.