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Chutneys with windfall Apples

My neighbour presented me with several kilos of small, some unripe, some windfall and some deliberately taken from her apple tree whose roots have become somewhat dislodged in the rain and wind we have had. She picked them from the overladen branches. I still have some chutneys to make but these two worked fine.
Chutneys, I thought plus some unusable apples left in the garden for my new visitor – a Hedgehog. More of that later.

So I have so far made three different chutneys. The first one was a bit too sweet and was mixed with tomatoes and onion. It was okay. It did a lot to teach me about chutney making though. I have been scouring the internet for chutneys that I think I will like – a lot of them use way too much sugar so I have doctored the amount down. They also add raisins, sultanas and date, prunes etc. Not to my taste so out they went.

These two recipes (so far) are fine. The first one has no onions in deference to my husband and the second one has no tomatoes. Apples and onions, spices and some chilli heat! As I tasted it while it was cooking, I found I had to add various spices etc. It tasted better. Spicy Apple and Tomato Chutney

Apple and Tomato spicy Chutney – no onions

  • 300gms ripe tomatoes (or equivalent tinned)
  • 300gms apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper – yellow, green or red
  • 50gms brown sugar
  • ¾ cup vinegar (apple cider or other)
  • ½ cup oil (olive or canola/rapeseed)
  • 15-20gms garlic paste
  • 15-20gms ginger paste
  • 20gms curry powder (Madras or other favourite)
  • ¼tsp gr. cardamom
  • 1tsp Nando Sweet Chilli
  • ½tsp gr. black pepper
  • 1tsp Garam masala
  • 1tsp gr. cumin
  • salt to taste

Chop the tomatoes, apples and pepper or use a food processor. Heat the oil in a big pan. Fry the curry powder for ½ minute and add the chopped tomatoes, peppers and apples. Fry for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, cover and let simmer for approx. an hour until most of the liquid has evaporated – remove lid if necessary. Keep stirring at regular intervals to prevent the chutney from getting burnt at the bottom. The consistency should be like that of porridge. Salt to taste. Let cool completely before storing the chutney in sterilized jars. Will keep for months – so I understand!

The second one is more to my taste – it has onions and garlic, both of which I love.

Hot Indian Chutney

300gms cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
190gms onions, finely chopped
50gms light brown soft sugar use maybe 100gms if using green apples. I am not fond of sweet condiments so I have already reduced the amount I found in the original recipe.
¾cup malt vinegar
20gms garlic paste
20gms ginger paste
1 or more tsp salt
15ml crushed mustard seeds
1tsp paprika
1½tsp coriander seeds crushed
2 tbsp oil
I also added a small jar of apple chutney I had in the fridge that hadn’t ever been opened. It was made with some ale. It certainly added to the flavour!!

Place all ingredients in large pan and stir over gentle heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil then simmer gently for about 2 hours until chutney is thick. Pour into warmed jars, cover and store for 2-3 months before serving. It’s not that hot in flavour – next time I may add some fresh, chopped chillies.

Hot Indian Apple Chutney


Meatballs, Mushrooms & Sun-dried Tomatoes

I have difficulty finding food dishes that will suit this household. However, beef always works so I decided that meatballs cooked with our own cherry tomatoes and a mixture of commercial lasagne sauce and sun-dried tomato, garlic and basil sauce plus some sliced sun-dried tomatoes and some basil-infused oil sounded really tasty.
Side dish of steamed cauliflower and another of steamed baby Brussels sprouts smothered in a cheese sauce and browned under the grill tickled my taste buds.

12 (350g) minced beef meatballs
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups chopped red and yellow capsicum
125 chestnut mushrooms medium sliced
4-6 sliced sun-dried tomatoes
5 tbsp commercial tomato lasagne/pasta sauce
3 tbsp tomato, garlic and basil sauce
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 pot Knorr paprika flavour pot
Several large dollops soured cream

Ingredients with my cherry-wood pepper grinder

Ingredients with my cherry-wood pepper grinder

I discovered these Knorr Flavour Pots a while ago and find them easy and very useful. A lot of other people must do as well because Knorr has increased the flavour range over the past months. Now Oxo has started its own range of flavours. Great! The more the merrier. I think what I find so good about them is that it doesn’t matter what I have decided to cook and what sort of sauce I am using, there will be a flavour pot to add a soupçon of flavour to the cooking. Anyway, I had some pots of paprika and added one to this tomato type dish. The caraway seeds are usually associated with a goulash but they worked well with this.  Meatball & tomato, mushroom mix

I used a mixture of basil-infused oil and groundnut oil to gently fry the meatballs. Then added all other ingredients except the cream, plus a knob of butter, seasoned and put the lid on. I came in here to write this up and the dish is cooking very gently for about an hour. When finished, I will need to thicken the sauce with some cornflower and add the soured cream.

Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts & Cheese sauce

The other part of this is the vegetables. I steamed enough cauliflower and Brussels sprouts to fill two smallish dishes; sprouts for me and cauliflower for Himself. The small pot of leek and cibouli, I micro waved for me. I like all manner of onion. Otherwise cook the onions first before adding the meatballs. Use however much onion you like.

I mix leek & cibouli with chilli oil. Cauli & sprouts in their own serving dishes

I mix leek & cibouli with chilli oil. Cauli & sprouts in their own serving dishes

Cheese sauce – what can I say. Home-made with flour, butter seasoning and milk with cheese added. Or packet or supermarket wet sauce pots. Doesn’t matter. Do whatever you like. But do use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and if you have a bit of blue cheese, add that in as well. Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables and brown under the grill. Some toasted sesame seeds would be a welcome addition, especially to the sprouts – or breadcrumbs.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

The reason there is no carbohydrate except the thickening is that we are dropping our carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 20g (more or less) a day and increasing our fat (butter and natural fats) intake. This reduces blood sugar levels and drops body weight. All good.

Outdoor Cherry Tomatoes in Fife!

The colours, the colours. I love plant geneticists

The colours, the colours. I love plant geneticists

I guess it is the beautiful summer we have had. Warm with rain and a fair bit of sun. My desire to grow cherry tomatoes surfaced with a passion. I had planted butterhead lettuce seedlings on 2nd May and everything was looking good. I did succession planting so there is always lettuce to eat, though it’s nearly finished now.
I grew all manner of lettuce in the 1990s on a farm in Mullum and there are two varieties I love. The butterhead – of which there are many varieties and the Mini Cos because of its crisp, small leaf on a strong central vein. It has a terrific shelf life. Lettuce in the sub tropics produce about 9 crops per year.

The easiest and best way to grow non-hearting lettuce.

The easiest and best way to grow non-hearting lettuce.

In Mullumbimby, cherry tomato plants are simply gorgeous and prolific – they grow all the year around. Birds get some fruit, some fall to the ground and self seed. The seeds sprout and I end up with a riot of tangled vines all over the fences and ground. However I was never short of tomatoes. Neither was anyone in the ‘hood.

I had been trying for the 6 years I have been here to grow tomatoes of some sort or another. In the ground, in a green house, in the summer house and this year all things conspired at the right time to produce tomatoes! I had bought two Tumbling Tom cherry tomato plants that I potted into hanging baskets. I was a little worried that they would dry out and they have on occasion. They were ready to flower when I potted them so it didn’t take long. Lots of watering though and liquid feed. I have been using Doff Tomato Feed with an NPK of 5:5:10 My brother-in-law uses that and it is certainly good for fruiting. They are starting to fruit now – they took longer than the Sungold.

Tumbling Tom cherry tomato hanging in a basket

Tumbling Tom cherry tomato hanging in a basket

On the last day in May I also bought an advanced Sungold cherry tomato seedling and transplanted it into a larger pot with some home grown compost from the first bin and some Growmore pelleted fertiliser. The corner of the house that has the back of the conservatory is ideal. The back of the house faces south which is ideal as a sun trap. The brick wall where the tomato plant was housed is perfect for relatively quick growth. The wind mostly isn’t a problem though middle August brought unseasonal winds and the plant had to be really secured against the down pipe and trellises.

 I repotted into a large pot so that watering wasn’t a necessity twice a day. Liquid Tomato feed, water and sun and voila, sweet orange coloured cherry tomatoes.

These are very sweet, golden cherry tomatoes

These are very sweet, golden cherry tomatoes

Meanwhile the butterhead lettuce have grown beautifully and been mostly consumed by us and our neighbours. Salads are the go for the moment. Now this is what I call a salad. I constructed this for my brunch today. Yummy.

A great salad seasoned from the WW's hand made cruet set

A great salad seasoned from the WW’s hand made cruet set

The butterhead lettuce and the tomatoes are from our garden. The cucumber isn’t and neither is the spring onion – but there’s next year isn’t there? Some sun-dried tomatoes sliced, shredded ham from a ham shank, a slice of prosciutto torn up plus a torn up slice of Maasdam cheese. Dress with pepper and lo salt. My other half made this cruet set and has several others. He is a good wood worker.  I used basil flavoured olive oil. I could have used lemon and dill flavoured. Add two heavily buttered oatcakes (because I like them and I love butter). Al fresco dining on the lower deck. Who could ask for more?


What an exquisite photograph of an Iris flower. This is really stunning!

leaf and twig

All the colors
of the ocean and sky
reside in an iris bloom.

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Gardening is not far off

I am looking forward to getting out into the rather messy gardens I left at the end of last year. I had planted the bulbs in September/October and had forgotten the others. I did do a bulk planting in December and tried to get every bulb that had been bought with willful disregard for the planting regime but I missed some – they are now sprouting in places where I never intended they should.

The western garden – on Carmen’s fence (our west side neighbour) – looks a bit bedraggled although the Muscari shoots are on their way and I can see the hyacinth shoots pushing their determined way through the top soil. It will be a purple garden because I can see the purple flowers of Vinca minora  (The lesser periwinkle) starting to spread across the landscape. The two horizontal Ceonanthus have recovered from their being transplanted. They have new and shiny deep green leaves that smack of adaptation. And good on them!! I planted a dozen or so snowdrops and there are three flowers up already. The purple hyacinth bulb shoots are pushing determinedly up through the soil and I can’t wait for their colour.

I mentioned earlier that I had transplanted several dozen Ajuga reptans given to me by a friend last year. They seem to have taken well and should provide a good ground cover with their deep red/purple leaves, and in summer, their soldier like purple flower spikes. I am hoping this colour themed garden will be a success. Still looking bare but ...

Gardening is going to become more difficult because I am one year older and I am starting to feel a wee difficulty squatting down to weed and to plant. I am sure I will be able to continue, albeit with careful consideration.

I will post some salubrious photos in the next month. I can only post a bedraggled one now. Sob!

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