Thursday, March 17, 2011

Under the rainbow

Straight from the Digger's Catalogue

There are many ways to celebrate St Patrick's Day but for this lady gardener, it's never been about drinking copious amounts of green beer. I like to speak to my grandmother as it's her birthday and then follow up with a sweet pea planting extravaganza. For some reason, St Patrick's Day is the traditional day to plant peas in the Southern Hemisphere, though apparently you have until Anzac Day to get your seeds in place. I've tried to find out why St Pat's is the day but to no avail. I wonder if it might be as simple as tying the reminder to an actual 'day' is a good way to get it into people's consciousness. However, today is a drizzly delight and not so conducive to planting with my 3 and a half year old helper in tow plus the seeds I've ordered ('Painted Lady' and 'Matcuana' from the Digger's Club catalogue) haven't arrived yet. This is no fault of the Digger's, my deliberations took an overly long time. I'll use the seeds I saved from this summer's flowers as well but I'd like to introduce more reds and pinks this time round and start moving away from quite so much purple.

With a quiet day planned, only so much lego can be built and fairy snap played so I needed to come up with an alternate St Pat's Day plan fast. I've been meaning to make a batch of green tomato chutney for weeks now and today proved to be perfect. Serendipity at its finest! I collected a good 2 kilos of green tomatoes while Miss E was sleeping and Miss C was busy with Play School. Half an hour later, we were in business. The beauty of of this chutney is two-fold; by removing some of the green fruit, it frees up the plant's energy to ripen up the remainder. This is specially helpful if your summer hasn't been consistently hot and let's you utilise fruit that may have spilt due to too much rain following intense heat. This year, the mountains seem to have had every possible permutation. The second advantage is that green tomato chutney is quite simply and totally delicious, well worth stock piling. I find it really hard to get the keep/give away ratio right and by the time I've run out, I'm cursing my largess. If only there wasa reliable way to estimate how much chutney I'll need to last through to next year...

The littlest sous chef in action - love that motion blur!

The recipe I use is very simple and based onthe one in the Australian Women's Weekly's 'Book of Perserves.' I'm not sure if this treasure is still in print but it's a fabulous resource so snap it up if you come across it on ebay or at a garage sale. AWW say to use dry mustard powder but I prefer to use freshly roasted mustard seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle.

You'll need:

1 kilo of green tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
- feel free to throw in some ripe ones if you can't quite make up the full kilo
1 large onion, red or brown, whatever's in the pantry
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp freshly ground mustard seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour

Throw all the ingredients, except for the last tbsp of vinegar and cornflour.
Bring to the boil and then simmer covered for 40 mins until the mixture is pulpy.
Then ass the remaining vinegar and cornflour and stir until the mixture boils again and thickens.

Quite the tub ring in this shot...

While the mixture is still hot, pour into hot sterilised jars and then seal once cold. For more infomation on sterilisation, check Google. I cheat and use the baby's steriliser in the microwave.

All that's missing from this picture are the gingham lids tied with apron strings of love!

Whilst this chutney doesn't look the prettiest, it is super tasty and loves to served with any type of pork product, a sharp cheddar or the vegetable and lentil pie from Hominy bakery in Katoomba.

Please note: I am the queen of not necessarily following recipes to the letter. this batch, I forgot to 'cover and simmer for 40 mins' and instead I just let it simmer for hours on end. As the pot I used was extremely heavy, this took hours. If dancing you're own steps here like moi, take to keep stirring as you don't want the mix to burn and catch on the bottom. This recipe should make approx. 3 cups but I did a double batch and that's why there are so many more jars in the final shot above. Such a bounty, I'm well pleased with myself.

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