Since we’ve been out of the smallest cottage in the world ™ for the longest renovation in the world ™ I’ve not been doing a great deal of ‘proper’ cooking so I put that right this weekend and had day in the kitchen yesterday making pickle, roasting ham and baking jam tarts and quiche.
We’ve been really fortunate that during the longest renovation in the world ™ we’ve not had to go very far. We had a month in my parents house while they selflessly headed off to stay with friends in France, and then lovely, lovely friends have leant us their holiday cottage which has made life a lot easier.
I did not appreciate though just how much I love the tiniest kitchen in the world and how I’ve got everything just *exactly* right in there, until I was cooking elsewhere. As a result Science boy and SmallLovely had been deprived of the jams and pickles I’d normally start during the summer.
As moving back date approaches though I’m starting to get excited and feel like nesting – I could express this by actually making the curtains that need making for the apex window but frankly I’m a bit scared of that :) I could also start getting ready to do the painting as the whole house needs re-painting when it’s done. Although that would leave ScienceBoy with less to do. So, I’ll start cooking again.
I usually roast our own ham because home roasted ham is critical for the full appreciation of home made pickles, the recipe is the definition of ‘simple’ and always tastes better than anything I can buy.
I get a lump of gammon, rinse it in cold water, bring it to the boil. cover it in a marinade – something sweet mixed with something spicy like marmalade and mustard… then roast it for about 40 mins at around 160. If you think roasting ham is hard, really do try it, I was amazed at how straightforward it is and I love not having that ‘hammy’ smell of the packaged stuff
I never get through the summer without running into a glut of some fruit or veg and pickling is my perfect answer – once I found out it’s not a legal requirement to put sultanas in them.
We’d been given some rather woody pears so they formed the pickle base with some slightly tired beetroot, over-sour apples that even SmallLovely had turned down and fennel. All tipped into the pan and boiled for a while with yellow mustard seeds, cardamom and fennel seeds. It was still fairly chunky though and in true ‘what happens if…?’ form, Scienceboy suggest I experiment with the texture. Blitzing it turned it to a fabulous spreadable consistency, though I left some chunky bits in as I need to keep us both happy.
The result – apart from being this fabulous deep pink colour which is going to cheer up many a winter dining table is utterly delish. For me, the smoother texture means I’m not reminded that I’m eating fruit with vinegar which to be fair has always been the problem with pickle, bit for Scienceboy the combination of the chunks of pear and fennel in sweet, tart mustardy coating is the part he likes the most. Pickle, another addition to the ‘list of things I will always make at home in future’