It is that time of year again, when cooler days make a few hours working in a warm kitchen seem like quite a good option. So this week I have been busy.
I started off by making some Piccalilli. This is not something I have bought very often, though Jonathan used to like the spreadable version in his lunch-box sandwiches, but when a friend posted a recipe on her blog, and said how good it was, I thought I'd give it a try.
It took quite a long time to cut all the vegetables up, but I did want to make them smaller than usual, so the pickle could be used in sandwiches if we wanted it to. They looked very pretty all mixed together in the pan, and they kept their colours, even after they had been cooked in the sauce.
I was rather taken back by the quantity of spices in it, but it smelled lovely when it was cooking, and the little taste I had was not too strong. It is supposed to be left unopened for a month for the flavours to mature, but at least it will be ready for the cold meats at Christmas. I am also hoping to sell some at the Gallarte sale in a week or two.
Here is what I made. Now I need to print some labels for it, and try to work out a list of ingredients in Spanish which is obligatory for food sold over here. I have to do it for all my jams too but that is relatively easy as they don't have much in them, - fruit, sugar and water is about it.
My next job was to bake a small Christmas cake, so I left the fruit steeping in brandy all night, and then let it cook slowly the next day. We don't eat a lot of it, but I like to have some in, to offer visitors etc.
Yesterday was the first day of my mince-pie marathon. I made three pack of pastry on Friday afternoon and left them resting in the fridge overnight. Yesterday something more important kept cropping up, but at around 11.00 I finally got started.
The table was raised up on bricks again for a few weeks to save my back. It is too low to work at all day. By tea-time I had made twelve dozen.
I have orders already, and that's without me actually telling anyone I am making them again this year, plus I have promised to make five dozen for our church carol service, so I need at least sixty dozen, and I know others will ask for them when they see me bring some in that friends have ordered. Last year I made eighty dozen but I would really rather stop at the sixty this year. That is five full days of baking which is really enough. I have been asked to take some to sell at my friends 'fat club' next Thursday. (That's an odd combination. They may be very yummy, but low in fat they are not!!). I also have the Gallarte (our local arts and crafts group) sale the week after, so it really depends on how many I sell at those two events, what the final score will be.
Once again the garden is growing well, due mainly to all the rain and now some sunshine again. It looks as though there will be an excellent crop of oranges this year. This lovely bunch are hanging over the fence into our garden, from a tree next door. I am keeping an eye on them and I shall be picking them as soon as they are ripe enough. The house is empty most of the year, though they do come to pick some of the fruit early in the new year. I am sure they won't mind us having these few. Their trees are weighted down this season.
In the front garden we have beautiful roses out again. The autumn flowering always make me think of mum. When I inherited her desk to do my homework, inside the lid she had a pull-off from her calendar that said "God gave us our memories that we might have roses in December". It is not quite December yet but I don't think I will need my memory to remember these. They will still be blooming in a week or so, as we move into the new month.
And finally, here's a photo of a big black nasty that had the temerity to come into our bedroom during the night. Mum always used to say "If you want to live and thrive, let the spiders run alive", and I have worked hard at conquering my fear of them.
My turning point was when I managed to hold a tarantula for the 'Animal man' who I invited to the annual Science day at my nursery. I just couldn't let my fear show in front of the children, though I did tell the man to keep his hands under mine in case I 'freaked' and dropped it! So these days I am quite good at catching them and putting them outside, but when they go above head level, they are making a big mistake, and they have to go.
My hero husband came to the rescue. He climbed onto our bed and sprayed it until it fell to the floor where I was able to deal with it. I know it was only looking for a winter home, but I am not up for sharing mine with him!
And on that happy note I will leave you until next week's ramblings. Hasta luego.