Rosy Jam

I’m being pampered with a guest post from Jacky (and so are you)

I am a home edding mum who loves all things of a foraging/self sufficiency nature.  Actually, my love borders on obsessional!
Recently, my foraging adventures have combined 3 of my favourite things: roses, foraging and preserve making!
I took the sprogs with me on a little excursion (along with my field guide, Richard Mabey: Food For Free handbook!) to a nearby public right of way footpath that is festooned with wild rose bushes.
We collected a quantity of pretty rose petals (about 2 mugs full when packed in) … leaving the rose centres intact for the future hips, of course!
We brought them home and sorted them out, liberating any critters that had the misfortune of hitching a ride home in the bag.
Then we, or rather I, as the sprogs had now taken up electronic devices, dissolved 2 cups of sugar in half a cup of water and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  The rose petals were then tumbled inside the liquid and stirred for 30 mins.
Cool slightly then pour into sterile jars.
As you can see from the picture, you may either leave the petals in or remove them.
If you leave them in, they float to the top and look pretty as a picture!
All you need to do now is either drizzle the rosy gorgeous loveliness over fresh pancakes, ice-cream or hot, buttered toast!  It is the most delightful jam I have made to date.
Hope this inspires some of you to try nature’s bounty that is both fresh and free!
JJ x

Let The Fermentation Begin! – Elderflower Champagne, A Tutorial.

This is so simple and cheap, each year I make three batches and pop it into up to eighteen plus, previously drained (gulp, gulp, gulp) clean (I use sterilising tablets on them because it’s so easy) wine bottles. Store it upright, to prevent pressurised leaking, and feel free to start glugging it back chilled, anytime after six weeks. It’s delicious. Thanks to Angela and Sandra for passing it on.

1. Put one and a half pounds of sugar in a big bowl and drench with two pints of boiling water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add six pints of cold water.

2. Add the rind and juice of two large lemons. Don’t worry if the pips fall in, you’ll be straining it later. (Yes, that is a potato peeler)

3. Add two tablespoons on white wine vinegar (I’ve used cider and even malt at a push)

4. Add four large flower heads or six small (after slicing off the chunkier bits of stem) I can never resist chucking in a couple more. See those thunder flies? Technically, this wine is not vegetarian.

5. Stir well and leave covered for 48 hours stirring occasionally.

6. Strain (I use an old muslin resting in a plastic sieve) and pour into bottles leaving an inch gap at the top. Screw down well. Leave in a cool place. You’re done. Well done.

Something to drink whilst you’re ringing out your bobble hat.

Several water authorities announced drought conditions and imposed hosepipe bans. Like a spell, this has presaged in daily downpours of monsoon intensity. Time for “Anna Rock Punch”. Ukrainian Anna wore her immaculately coiffered grey waves pinned up. She embroidered her own exquisite folk blouses, smiled all the time and made interesting things to eat.

She put a rose hip tea bag in a cup with a spoon of honey and a small splash of cider/wine vinegar. She poured on boiling water and stirred. It’s so easy and so comforting, I make it when I want to cosset myself but can’t be bother to grind beans and rinse out cafetieres.

Never ring out a woollen bobble hat. Blot with a towel and reshape flat.

Never Mind Smilla’s Feelings

Everyday the snow looked different. First, the sugary glitter of crushed diamonds, then shards of glass. Lastly, the papery surface of flakey skin.

Like a film exposed for hours, it’s ribboned lines revealed what happened in my absence. Lone walkers and dog walkers. The crazy quilting of little birds, a double machine stitch in the white wadding. A tractor taking hay to three white horses, it’s tires leaving a liquorice all sort track of snow and mud.

Sparrow Snacks

Large birds of prey are a common sight, it’s most often buzzards. The hedges are their lavishly stocked larders. From at least 100 yards away you can hear the squeaks and whistles of the bird metropolis. As I approach, a patch falls silent, I picture the little side turned faces, bright eyes watching me, then, as they see my back, they pick up their conversations and the ruckus continues. A mexican wave of silence follows me along the road.

It’s subzero now. I love walking the fields to come home with clean boots.

 Sweet chestnut groves are planted in strict formation. The trees glide into alignment repeatedly as we drive by. They are uniform, fine boned, geometric, resembling giant heads of cow’s parsley. Beneath each tree is a squarish russet rug of last years leaves.