Christmas and Cooking… Again
Remember how I told you about making Christmas hampers? Well, I thought I would share my excitement!
I’ve never made jam, chutney or curd before. I always thought there was some kind of complicated process involved that included muslin cloths and stirring the pot three times clockwise at midnight whilst whistling My Old Man backwards. Which is why when I looked up the recipes, I was ever so slightly suspicious.
They were definitely too easy.
First up was Hemsley & Hemsley’s festive chutney. Mine looks a lot darker than their picture, but I prefer to call it “rustic and homemade with love”. This apple chutney is low in sugar too! With turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and cloves in the mix, this is going to be a chutney with a kick. I have yet to try it because it needs some resting time so it’s not so vinegary. I’ll be cracking it out for Boxing Day leftovers.
Then I moved on to jam. The original plan was plum jam and blackberry jam (and toffee apple jam, but that’s going to be made later as it uses fresh cream). This soon morphed in to black forest jam when I spotted a tub of blackberries, blueberries, black cherries and all manner of forest fruits. I used the Red Online blackberry jam recipe I previously mentioned and simply added the forest fruits instead of just blackberries.
Despite making a horrendous mess (a “rolling boil” means jam throwing itself all over the hob), the jam began to set almost as soon as I put it in the jars. I lucked out and made far too much, so have lots left over to eat now (I’ve already tried it on gluten free teacakes). It’s a tart jam, as opposed to those sickly sweet shop-bought ones, which is extra good on a sweet bread like teacakes or in a peanut butter and jam sandwich.
Then it was the curd. I’ll admit that I put a touch extra lemon in than the BBC recipe recommends because I like my curd really sharp. This was even easier than before – and tidier. It’s made in a glass bowl over hot water (much like how I used to melt chocolate as a kid), and although it mentions half an hour of cooking, it’s much better to check as you go. Which meant that I, of course, had to taste test it every few minutes…
If you don’t like lemon, you’re really not going to like this (obviously). But if you do like lemon, and like lemon as much as me, add extra juice and zest (about half a lemon’s worth). Trust me.
I was genuinely surprised at how easy it was to make jam and curd and chutney.
One thing my homemade week taught me was that reliance on convenience food is just out of laziness and not lack of ability. Most recipes are simple to mix up, and I really do love to cook and bake and create. I’m lucky with my big kitchen and snazzy oven that I can really go to town with and cook and bake and roast to my heart’s content. Why would I want to buy jams when I can easily make my own, to my own taste and as much as I want? Why would I want to buy a microwave lasagne when I can make my own gluten free version, with more meat stuffed in and enough left over for lunch the next day?
These Christmas hampers might have started off as a money-saving idea, but they’ve since evolved in to the opportunity to indulge my culinary urges. Watching fresh ingredients come together to make YUMMY, simple food is fantastically satisfying.
Although I do have a confession – the Christmas pudding has had to be abandoned. I couldn’t track down gluten free suet in time, and a non-soaked Christmas pud is no pud at all. Instead, I have other treats in mind!