Sunday, 5 July 2009

I've had a little holiday

......but only from writing the blog. Sometimes I have words in my head which are suitable to be given to you, other times there seems to be a vacant space with no words available to share.

But I have not been idle. Life continues on here, with photo shoots (of weeds), jam-making (from Sara's plums), looking after Hubs (always ongoing), final polishing of Psychic Virgin (waiting for final proof to be sent from Lulu which is the print on demand publishers) and then it is sent out into the World which is a huge place for a little book so it will need lots of luck to be even noticed let alone purchased, format editing on My Psychic Toolbox which takes yards and yards of patience and time (this is the second book in the series), and afternoon naps and You Tubing and reading the online newspapers and continuing on with the garden.

Also, I have been inspired (?) to make another blog called Jumbly Gardening, and another one called Foody-ing. This is to clear out the clutter on this blog, and make the whole thing tidier. What I am doing is building a catalogue of blogs which will eventually be used as the content for Labartere.com.


Phew!

So, I haven't been idle.


For Foody-ing I did these pictures on the joyful stickiness of jam making.

This one is the bit on 'how to tell if your jam is at setting point'.

I can't be bothered with putting saucers in a cold fridge and then putting a blob of jam on one of the saucers (after taking it out of the fridge of course) to see if the surface of the jam wrinkles when prodded.
For one thing, my fridge is not cold because it is a caravan fridge so is a fridge in name only and does not have the ability to keep things particularly cold. And secondly, when I made an experiment to see if it was a viable means of testing for setting point, I burnt the tip of my finger because the jam was too hot.


So: my answer to testing for the setting point is to put a large metal spoon into the jam, making sure I have a fairly
good dollop, but not a huge dollop, of runny jam on it then pop outside and wave the spoon in the air to cool it down a bit, Then turn the spoon sideways and see at what speed the jam falls off the spoon.

If it all tumbles onto the ground, then back to the pan of jam for another boil-up, but if some if falls off the spoon but a glob forms at the edge of the spoon, then the jam is set.
Waiting for the glob can be quite a nail-biting experience: will it fall off? Or will it stay on the spoon in a nicely formed tear-drop?

I thought this picture was OK as a photo-shot. Shame about the background! Oh and my slightly wavering hand: holding the camera with one hand whilst holding a hot spoon of jam in the other was a bit tricky!


Now this one here is to show what an abysmal mess I make when I am jamming.

I could blame the confines of the caravan, but I think that even in the biggest of kitchens that I would probably still make a mess.


I think these is a child in me somewhere that loves to get messy!


Another Foody-ing subject, and that is wild food. I am trying to be brave about eating stuff which does not come from a seed packet, a market stall, or a supermarket shelf.

Anyway, this is my Docks Project. We have loads of them out in the back field, which Hubs / Head Gardener is trying to kill off by mowing. Only they refuse to die, letting him take the tops off but then quickly putting up a new sprouting of growth within days.

This exasperates him no end, so I looked on the Internet to see what info there was about docks and how to kill them off.

Well actually you can't very easily. So the next best thing is to see what we can do with them.
Apparently the seeds can be used as flour if they are ground down into a powder.
Thought I would have a try. Picked some. No grinder.

Tried my electric blender but the seeds just whizzed round the top and didn't go anywhere near the cutting blades at the bottom.


Tried my pestle and mortar, well I would have done but only have the mortar bit and not the pestle which is somewhere else and couldn't be found.


Tried hammering the seeds as they lay on newspaper, but all they did was went everywhere.
Gave up.

Was baking a quiche, so used the left over pastry as a trial run to see if the seeds were actually edible. Sprinkled seeds onto pastry, and squashed them down. Into oven.

Dinner time. Artfully arranged plate of food for Hubs, including a nice portion of quiche, salad, sweetcorn and sundry other veggies, plus a nicely positioned portion of the dock biscuit. "Mmmmmm" Hubs said, as he munched his way through his plate of food.
"This is nice" he said as he partook of another mouthful of quiche. "You've excelled yourself here" he continued as he munched his way towards the end of his piece of dock biscuit.


I monitored him for the rest of the day to see if there was any adverse effects from the dock seeds. So far, so good. I am now considering harvesting the remaining dock seed heads from the back field before Hubs / HG can mow the rest of them down, and buying a coffee grinder to grind the seeds into flour.

So, lots to do with the blogs. All I have to do is sort out the graphics for the other two, learn how to use the posher camera which is so complicated that neither Hubs / Super Tech Team Guy or myself can understand how to use it, but it does have an anti-shake device which is supposed to correct any hand wobble one might have when one is trying to take pictures with one hand.


And in case you were not entirely clear about the setting point of jam, here is a close-up of the jam globs as they set.







Please forgive the included hosepipes. They didn't seem relevant when trying to take this shot!

And I will let you know when the other blogs are sorted out. They might inspire you to go and pick some docks yourself and cook them up, or even go wave a spoon of jam around your back garden.

Things I have learnt today: that life can be fun if you don't take yourself too seriously.