Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kitchen Sunday

After what seems like ages of feeling under the weather I'm finally myself again, though the appearance of Christmas in all the shops whilst I was lying low and taking antibiotics for a week is a bit disconcerting. Where has the time gone? How on earth is it half way through October? And isn't it getting dark early now!

It is however undoubtedly mid October, I've seen the schedule for wine related events at work for the next few months so it's clear there's no escaping Christmas, and the dark nights are another hint to get organised. To that end I've spent my day going through cupboards, cooking, and generally tidying.

I'm trying to be more restrained on the preserving front this year (I might have overdone it the last couple of years) but it's quince season and quince jelly is R's favourite so not making it would be just wrong - that and I love making jelly. With the quince and star anise (from Diana Henry's brilliant  'Salt, Sugar, Smoke') I particularly like the way a pale pink cloudy liquid turns into a crystal clear jelly with a colour somewhere between russet and copper.

I had left over quinces so I roast them with a vanilla pod, myrtle, sugar, lemon juice, and orange blossom water. I'm not overly convinced by the texture of quinces so knowing what to do with left over ones is always a bit of a quandary. I found lots of packets of ground almonds though and I think I'll like them together in a cake. The syrup tasted lovely so I've earmarked that for a semolina cake.

There was also bread baking, the first stages of making a rye sourdough starter, and a stew. It's been a while since I really spent a day pottering in the kitchen, I'd been missing it and it feels good to have made the effort. It'll be Christmas cakes and puddings next, which will just possibly reconcile me to the passing of the year, it'll certainly get me back in the cooking habit.
Quinces - hopefully on their way to being delicious...


  1. Very nice. I've been making roasted plum butter (Pflaumenmus) here this weekend, laying it in for winter. But I've been eating apricot and lavender jam, which tastes like summer even though outside it is storming and dark. A nice contrast.

    1. I looked up the plum butter - sounds amazing. Apricot and lavender is my favourite jam - close your eyes and it is still summer when you're eating it.

  2. I was on holiday last week and had a bit of time to go shopping (in non-chain-stores). Christmas was all about, much to my dismay. I think here in Canada, retailers wait until after Thanksgiving - but that was last Monday, so I guess it's the beginning of that annual orgy of consumerism.

    On another note, I'm not sure I've ever had quinces, and I'm not crazy about making jelly, but I'd do it just to see "the way a pale pink cloudy liquid turns into a crystal clear jelly with a colour somewhere between russet and copper." Lovely!

  3. I don't know why it feels to early for Christmas this year, but it does. I quite like making jelly, and quince is a glorious one just for the colour. They're not the easiest fruit to find unless you have, or know someone with, a tree. They appear in some high end supermarkets and grocers here, as well as good farmers markets, but take a bit of tracking down. I get mine from a farmers market. They're golden yellow, rock hard, and need to be cooked to soften up. The texture is something like a fibrous pear - a little grainy - but the scent of them Is wonderful, hence the jelly.

  4. I used to be able to buy them in Waitrose many years ago and always bought just one to perfume my apartment. I haven't seen a single one for sale in a long time though I think places like Abel & Cole and Riverford might include them in their veg boxes.

  5. You can still get them in Waitrose but the size is very variable. The ones in my local store are tiny, Turkish, and a pound each. By tiny I mean the size of a small Apple. But I found much bigger ones in a London branch last week, same price, so hauled 2 kilos of them back on the train. I'd like to see English quinces for sale in supermarkets as the season is the same, and with the premium price they attract I'd hope it would be worth growing them here. There is a tree in the museum garden near where I live but it got pruned last year and now all the fruit are tantalisingly out of reach. It's most frustrating.