52 weeks of happy weeks 34 and 35/52

If you follow me on instagram you will have seen most of these pictures already.

IMG_8046A family trip up Roseberry Topping. A first for all the children and a very proud moment as Babykins did the whole walk under his own steam.

IMG_8058Digging up potatoes at the allotment. The older two complain a bit about being taken there but they really do enjoy harvesting. Much fun was had searching for spuds.

IMG_8064Picking must lead inevitably to preserving. I have been freezing our redcurrants for the last few years. We had a bumper crop this year so I thought it was about time to turn them into jelly. A large portion of the strained juice is also being turned into currant ‘shrub’ a kind of fruity liqueur.

IMG_8104Adding the last pieces to my sleeveless cardigan. It was originally going to be a blanket so I hope it’s going to work as a garment.

IMG_8113Birthday cake for The Middle Miss. We had a great time making this. It started out looking a bit ropey in places but the addition of copious amounts of pink icing and edible glitter soon improved matters. When you are six, you can not have enough hearts and flowers.
IMG_8142Some surprise new additions to the family. The stick insects went to Grandma’s for their holidays and when they came back there were babies!

IMG_8152This is what happens if you don’t harvest your globe artichokes. Honestly, they are such a faff to prepare that I think it’s worth leaving them to flower and the bees absolutely love them.

IMG_8159The tomato crop is in full swing and I am loving eating them. This was a light supper of grilled tomatoes and poached egg on toast. The tomatoes are so sweet, flavoursome and juicy that they need very little doing to them.

Eight happy summer memories.

Tomatoes in November

The pumpkin soup was a hit. We had it today with some ‘roman bread’ (spelt and honey). The weather was horrible so it felt like a good, warm, comforting lunch.Last night, whilst I was busy making the soup, I was also (finally) getting to grips with our tomato harvest. It seems strange to be dealing with tomatoes in November. Considering the terrible summer we’ve had, our tomatoes have done quite well. I think we had six plants. Three were in a mini greenhouse and three were outside. All were against a south facing wall so they got as much sunlight and warmth as they could

This picture must have been taken back in September. As you can see, there was plenty of fruit but not much of it was ripe. We left it as long as we could but finally picked everything about two weeks ago. We were also trying to stay ahead of Babykins. He liked picking tomatoes (enough said I think).I really hadn’t expected the green fruits to ripen up but they did. We kept them all together in a big bowl in a sunny place and gradually they started to turn. Of course they have to be preserved sooner or later or they just rot. When I weighed what remained of the crop there were 3.5kg of ripe tomatoes. I was torn between making passata, chutney or dried tomatoes to preserve in oil. My kilner jars still have gooseberries in them so passata was out, I have tons of rhubarb chutney already, so the latter option won. I preserved tomatoes like this a couple of years ago and they were delicious. As usual, I used my trusty River Cottage Preserves book. There isn’t much to the process…

First chop up your tomatoes and remove the seeds.Add a little salt and sugar, allow to rest for a while and then turn the tomatoes over. Cook them on wire racks in a very cool oven for about 6 to 10 hours.

I was persuaded by The Husband that I could do this over night. I put them in the oven at about 10.30 and turned it off at about 5 am, when Babykins woke me up. Alas, they were a bit too well done. Think tomato crisps, rather than shrivelled but still slightly plump. I probably could have gone on with the next stage in the process, which involves vinegar, oil and sterilised jars but they are very tasty just as they are. They would probably keep for quite a long time in an air-tight jar.However we will be playing host to some friends tomorrow night so I don’t think they’ll last that long. These tomato ‘crisps’ will be really tasty with some creamy, yoghurty dip.

I still have some green tomatoes to process so perhaps some chutney is in order as well. You can never have too much.

In the interests of not completely stealing someone else’s recipe, you may note that I have kept the instructions for how to dry tomatoes very brief. If you want to do this yourself, I suggest getting a proper recipe that might point out the pitfalls (other than leaving them in the oven too long of course).