I do love jars. Vintage jars in particular. And making so much jam and preserves I'm always on the look out for interesting new jars. I do like the Fowlers but have had two shatter in the preserving process this season so I'm dubious about buying more second hand ones.
I found a great source for jars here. Anything that I can order in the mail and get delivered to my door works for me. I bought some Weck jars that I have coveted for some time, and Ball wide mouth mason jars and sweet little jam jars.
I've also been using the Bormioli that Steve recommend, which are by far the easiest to use. You can find those at any local hardware or kitchen store.
I'm yet to find proper instructions for the Ball jars, as the lid comes apart, and I'm not sure why. But I gave it a go and it appears to have worked. But it's the Weck jars, oh my, with their lovely simple shape and glass lids, that I love. Straight out of a Toast catalogue. A bit scary to use. Not for the preserving novice.
I've put tomato passata in each one. They seem okay but we'll see how we go. If I ever suddenly drop off the blogosphere, you'll know it's likely to be due to botulism and preserving gone wrong!
I'm slowly working my way through boxes of produce. Pears, peaches, plums and tomatoes. Hopefully there will be room on the table real soon. Just need to find somewhere to keep all those jars.
It's a not a matter of if, but when. That's the advice given to me on possums eating my fruit trees. We built a a fairly make-shift fence, but as predicted, last night the orchard was apparently the scene of the latest pop up restaurant for possums.
Today I had to pick what's left, they're not quite ripe (so I think there may be a few possums with a sore tum today.) They didn't touch the big sour bramleys, but they did love the sweet ones like geeveston fanny and cox's pippin.
I'm still pretty happy with this harvest though. Not bad for the first effort of my three year old trees. I'll cook these up for apple sauce to bottle in gorgeous new jars I ordered, due any day now. (I can't wait to show you!)
At least in jars I reckon the apples should be possum proof.
P.S. If you want to get your hands on some lovely heirloom apple trees - head over to Woodbridge Fruit Trees pronto.
Three hours a day. That is how long we spend in the car each day driving Elsa to and from school. About 200km. So today, when a friend offered to do the school run both ways it felt like a gift. A most precious gift of three hours and half a tank of petrol.
It's only lunch time and already Hugo and I seem to have done so much. But a walk in the paddock with Mabel* in the early autumn sunshine was a highlight. Hugo found an enormous pine cone and hauled it home to decorate.
Now, tomatoes are simmering for pasta sauce, the bread dough is rising, child and puppy are sleeping. And I still have all afternoon to do things. I think we'll bake some biscuits. To give to my friend when she drops off Elsa. To say thanks for the gift.
What would you do with an extra three hours in your day?
* despite graduating from puppy school last night, shall now be known as Cujo
I have to admit that around this time of year I start to get a little tired of tomatoes and zucchinis. After summer's bumper crop it’s tempting to leave them to whither on the vine while I search for autumn’s first parsnip or cauliflower. I couldn’t take any more gazpacho, pasta sauce or zucchini soup. I want something different. It is not a moment too soon that I remember the Turks.
Can it really be more than ten years ago, a week before the Sydney Olympics kicked off, a group of friends skipped town and headed for the Turkish coast. We chartered one of these and spent two idyllic weeks eating, drinking and cruising our way along the rugged Mediterranean coastline.
My memories of ottoman ruins, azure waters and grand mosques are pretty hazy. However the food memories are as vivid and fresh as if it were yesterday. I smile remembering simple sunny breakfasts of cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, yoghurt and olives. The long outdoor lunches of smokey grilled kebabs served with piles of fresh greens and wrapped in flat breads, the gozleme :: a huge flat pancake filled with delicious morsels, the most incredible tasting baklava at the famous Pandeli restaurant and the perfectly chewy fragrant lokum (Turkish delight). All washed down with plenty of Efes.
It was in Istanbul where fish, cooked over an open fire aboard a fishing boat moored on the Bosporus, then stuffed into half a loaf bread, created a culinary memory that I’ll never forget. For a kid brought up on fish finger sandwiches, the crispy grilled mackerel served between soft Turkish bread, brought a tasty ottoman twist to a childhood favourite.
But back to tomatoes and zucchinis. If one vegetable could sum up Turkey it would have to be the eggplant, but for us there was no shortage of zucchinis and tomatoes either. I loved the zucchini and feta fritters, bursting with dill, parsley and mint, a mezze we ate almost daily. And those tomatoes. Oh my. Whether in a fresh shepherd’s salad or sautéed with onion, garlic and eggplant to make a simple Turks version of moussakka, those tomatoes were the finest I have ever tasted. They were so red and so fragrant, you could smell them from across the street. Never had I tasted tomatoes such as those. Sigh.
Fast forward ten years to southern Tasmania. Today, I take my huge Turkish platter off the wall, grateful that I made the effort to lug it home all those years ago, and carefully arrange the day’s harvest of tomatoes. Then I pull out my Turkish cookbooks and flick through the recipes for eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini. Whether simple rustic dishes or elaborate favourites from the sultan’s kitchen, they are all full of flavour, and I have enough inspiration to keep me happily eating tomatoes and zucchinis for a while yet.
Well, until that first cauliflower appears anyway.
Lots of people have told me that beagles love food. Well, um, Mabel loves strawberries. I found her today actually chomping on them in the strawberry patch. Racing Hugo to find the ripe ones. I can say that she's fitting in very well with this family.
It is with a mixed sense of pride, relief and fear that I find this view on the kitchen table.
Pride for the several varieties of tomatoes from the garden :: from sweet tiny broad ripple currants to large juicy mortgage lifters, there they sit, patiently waiting to be made into sauce, dried or eaten just as they are, sliced onto toasted sourdough. There's still a lot left in the garden too, and after last year's sad effort, I'm so pleased to have something to tuck away for the winter. We're okay for sauce.
Relief that I scored the motherload of plums. Zeiglers, damsons and sloes. Enough stone fruit to make preserves, jam and gin after a pretty average season here Tasmania. The damsons are still on the branches, pruned from the tree and straight into the groaning basket. We're okay for jam.
And here's where the fear comes in. Fear of the overwhelming task of ahead me. To get this lot cooked, pureed, bottled or dried and packed away before it ends up on the compost heap. However, with my schmick new toy, it should be a little easier. Not sure quite what I'm doing here, snoring puppy on my lap!
Yes, this plum job will keep me busy for a while. Might put the kettle on before I get started. We're okay for procrastination.
Another successful day at the cupcake factory baking for tomorrow's market. Inspired by the abundant fruit available, I'm just loving the new flavours we baked today. A fragrant lemon cake filled with plump juicy blackberries and a very special vanilla bean cake filled with rhubarb. We tinted the the vanilla bean frosting with cassis then topped them with a piece of rosy pink dried rhubarb.
So pretty, they're the sweetest thing.
The damson's been pureed and spiced then filled in this cupcake. So not really distressed. A chocolate cupcake filled with damson plums with a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.
A sneak peak of the menu for Sunday's Market.
Do you like the polaroid? It's my new iphone app - shake it photo. You have to shake your phone to develop the picture. Lots of fun.