Monday, 17 October 2011

Hot Jelly for Chilly Weather

One of my favourite shopping expeditions is to visit nearby Olney Market on a Thursday early afternoon, browse the plant stall and visit one of the fruit and vegetable stalls.

My recent quest was red peppers with which to make a spicy preserve reminding me of a tasty jelly I ate thirty years ago made by friends in Hampshire. I can still remember the experience and the joy!

I also loved the very much hotter version which my son Jonathan made at home last year by raiding my chilli hanging baskets. One small part of a jar still remains so that I can try to recreate its sweet but fiery taste. His blog Around Britain with a Paunch is overflowing with exciting cookery experiences.

Over the weekend I made two versions one with red peppers and tomatoes, one with red peppers and chillies. Both were based on strained apple juice made from stewing apples. It is so rich in natural pectin that it makes the jelly easier to set. Besides we still have so many apples that it is a simple way of using them. Sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cider vinegar were also added.

The result is a stunning red jelly. The one with chillies certainly has an extra kick, good for those crisp autumnal days that are just around the corner and when winter really starts then every jar provides a clever form of central heating. Both are perfect to accompany game birds or simply delicious with crusty bread and cheese.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Green Olympics

I was so lucky to join a coach party of the Garden Media Guild last week who were invited to tour inside the Olmypic Park to see the new planting which has been achieved ahead of the London Olympic Games next year. The transformation is breathtaking in terms of the NEW green landscape complete with prairie meadows as well as bogland plantings all played out with the painterly touch of Sarah Price and others. On the banks in front of the Olympic Village the wafting grasses and asters seem to rise up like the buildings themselves.

My favourite building was the wonderful velodrome shown in the photo above. Although I wish the trees had not been planted to obscure the distinctively beautiful cedar wood cladding, but maybe it was just the view from where our coach was parked.

When you see how clear the new waterways are, but then see how the dredging of the River Lee still continues, then you realise just what a mammoth exercise this all is......from dirty, polluted, sludgy to glistening, sparkly and truly exciting. It is a huge achievement which will benefit thousands of city dwellers and out of town visitors (Westfields is next door) for decades to come.