Following a considerable amount of lamenting, pontificating and some might say downright moaning my pumpkin search has come to a happy conclusion.
Dramatic pause for drum roll please…..
I am now the proud and happy owner of two tins of canned pumpkin.
A product which appears to be in such short supply in England that if I were prone to exaggeration and hyperbole (which of course I am), I would indeed be bold enough to suggest is the Holy Grail of canned products!
Now my most pressing dilemma of course is whether to begin with muffins, cookies or pie?
Should you wish to read about my previously fruitless efforts to track down pumpkin you can do so here.
Christmas is coming and will be here before we know it…..you may have spotted the ever so tasteful countdown Santa I have added to my sidebar!
As Santa counts down, I have been making Apple Chutney. Since this chutney needs about 3 months to mature, making it now will mean it is just about ready for Christmas.
Although if I were to be a little more honest, my seemingly hyper-organised culinary preparations were not so much driven by critical timing as by the fruit bowl being full of far too many apples – a number of them just ever so slightly past their best!
* I used eating apples from the fruit bowl, but you could use cooking apples if you prefer.
Wash peel, core and chop the apples into (smallish) cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
Finely chop the onions and add to the apples.
Measure all of the remaining ingredients into the bowl, cover with a tea cloth and leave to stand for a couple of hours.
Transfer into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer uncovered for approximately 45 minutes, until the mixture has reduced, thickened and turned brown. Remember to stir frequently or it may stick to the bottom of the pan.
Leave in the saucepan to cool slightly then pour into sterilised jars.
Store the chutney in a cool dark place for 3 months to allow the flavours to mature.
But putting the Equinox aside, we all know that the start of Autumn is not really signalled by the movement of the sun, but by the TV premier this evening of Downton Abbey. For nothing really marks the onset of winter and the drawing in of evenings better than a proper winter period drama.
Series 4 of Downton Abbey starts this evening (sorry, I know if you are not in England you will have to wait until the New Year), picking up the story six months after the breath-stopping finale of Series 3 which saw Matthew killed as his car veered off the road.
Will Mary, as her Grandmother so succinctly puts it, choose life or death?
You have a straightforward choice
You must choose either death or life
Should there be any area for doubt, yes, box of chocolates in one hand (and probably a box of tissues at the ready too) and glass of wine in the other, I will be sitting toes up on the sofa watching tonight. Quite possibly I will also be unplugging the phone, just in case there is anyone who would be bold enough to call whilst Downton Abbey is on!
Unfortunately my efforts to bake along were thwarted this week as my kitchen was overrun by a team of workmen fixing up the numerous snags left behind by the house builder. Without access to the oven and with a counter-top covered in sawdust baking a batch of biscuits or a tray bake just wasn’t possible.
So instead, and with an optimistic nod in the direction of the challenge, I have picked out and linked below a couple of previously posted recipes which are, if you squint just a little, more in or less in keeping with the Week 5 theme.
My Mum has always maintained that I am the only person she knows who doesn’t just want a new skirt, pair of boots or sweater, but that I NEED them. And, I still “strong-arm” her into escorting me around the shops in my quest for whatever my object of choice (and just for clarification sakes, dire need) might be!
Recently though I have begun to see my Mum’s point.
My daughter, has morphed from a reluctant foot shuffling, let’s just buy it so we can get home, shopper into a girl on a mission. She doesn’t just want a new pair of shoes for Autumn, she NEEDS them – how can this be possible when the house is littered with discarded shoes and boots! She NEEDS a new sweater – yes she has more than you can count on both hands, but not one in that shade or fit…..
Perhaps I shouldn’t say it, since I know she will be truly horrified and quite traumatised, should she read this, but it does now seem that there are two of us!
It is quite shocking how much you can forget in two years!
Given that we were only in Canada for just under two years, you wouldn’t really have thought it was long enough for me to have forgotten anything. But the time away has definitely dulled my memory, particularly when it comes to the weather. Quite simply I had forgotten how damp it is – or possibly truth be told, had erased this less than perfect image from the rose tinted perspective I maintained of England whilst not living here.
As we arrived back at the start of an exceptionally warm and dry summer, now that September and a very gusty wet Autumn has arrived, it really has come as a rather unexpected shock.
With the damp has come a rapid and unwelcome drop in temperature. My daughter, rather hilariously given how well she braced minus 30 last winter in Canada, was seen sporting a fleece lined hat complete with ear flaps and an over-sized bobble on Sunday – and this was in the house! And, my son lounging in his faux fur onesie just about threatened to tip my husband well and truly over the edge.
All weekend my husband had tinkered with thermostat (believing me to be looking in the opposite direction), trying to persuade the heating to come on. I resolutely (and surreptitiously) turned it back down, whilst secretly putting on another sweater and trying to convince my less than hardy family that the house was indeed sauna-like.
September is simply too early to put the heating on…..isn’t it?
However, by Sunday evening I had to admit defeat and gave in (something I do not do lightly). My stunned family turned to me, open-mouthed as I announced, nonchalantly (or so I hoped, although I suspect I may have failed to carry this pose off!) that it was indeed very cold and damp, damp, damp…..
So that is that really. And with this shocking lack of stiff upper lip and “British” resolve, I have wimped out and the heating is on!
But this timely reminder popped up on Facebook this week, and having double checked the facts on my calendar, it does seem that the unstoppable roller-coaster which is Christmas will be here before we know it…..