Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Pre-Christmas Catch-up 2


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We might have been heading into December but this rose decided to bloom; a lovely find to cheer the dank dark days waiting for shortest day.

Now stuff I couldn’t post at the time:  In general I find I’m getting more and more disenchanted with the commercialisation of Christmas – I’m sure age is a factor and the fact that my children have all grown up.  However it is a lovely time to thank those who have helped you over the year.

I stared off with straining the liqueurs I’ve been preparing over the year; sour cherry vodka, sloe gin, and walnut wine.  The walnut wine definitely needs much longer to mature and the lack of sloes this year means the sloe gin is for me but this year’s cherry vodka is lovely.

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I also had a go at some sweet treats, these are marrons glace and an attempt at candied satsumas inspired by all the fuss over the Heston Blumenthal Christmas pudding this year.

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I say attempt, in fact they were delicious but even though the sugar solution was strong enough to form jelly, unfortunately the oranges went mouldy.  Not sure why but I will be making them again next year, upping the sugar content and storing them in the fridge.  I also made stuffed dates and vanilla fudge too.

It’s funny how often kitchen disasters can suddenly turn into something good.  Somewhere a couple of years back I had a go at making some cider.  At the time I thought I’d failed and in disgust put the containers to one side to “deal with later”.  As you may have guessed, it was a case of out of sight, out of mind, I totally forgot about them, the airlocks dried out and they were left in the corner of the room.  In a fit of tidying I decided to clean them out ready for another attempt this summer.  As I poured the remaining liquid out,  this came out.

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A Mother of Vinegar

I tried unsuccessfully to grow one of these a few years ago.  Above is only part of the mother, I’ve used a portion to convert over to making red wine vinegar and another portion I’ve stored in the freezer until I make some more cider.  But it shows that I was actually successful in my cider making since vinegar can only be made from alcohol.  Cider making is back on the to-do list for this year.

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This time of year I get through a lot of satsumas and therefore generate a lot of peel.  I usually dry the peel on the back of the cooker, grind it and use it as an anti-ant powder but when I was candying the whole satsumas I added some of the peel too. The resulting candied peel is pretty good so I’m freeing all the peel at the moment and will make another batch of candied peel when I have enough peel.  Waste not, want not as my mother would say.

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Getting back to the thank you’s, the cider vinegar and the cherry vodka looked lovely in the small bottles and I also included for the ladies a lavender wand that I’d made at the end of summer.  Along with the vodka cherries left over from making the cherry vodka and some of the preserves I’ve made over the year I was able to make up some nice thank-you baskets.


The Squirrel Family said...

Great to see you posting again

The gifts are all lovely , the recipients must have been impressed

I freeze satsuma skins until i have a lot, then use for marmalade .


dND said...

Hi Shaz, Satsuma marmalade sounds wonderful - the jelly I was left with after candying the satsumas tasted good.