Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Autumn is in the air

The weather may have remained summery for the last few weeks but the shortening days (it's the equinox next week) and the constant danger of being hit by a falling conker on my way to and from work tells me it's autumn. If I had any lingering doubts about the turning of the year there are other indications in the way of seasonal fruits, an overwhelming desire to make jam, and book releases. A new River Cottage offering has become a sure sign of autumn in recent years - the latest picked up very reasonably in W H Smith's (they're a great place to look for bargains on big name titles) for a mere £10. It's 'River Cottage Light and Easy' healthy recipes for everyday - I've only had a quick look so far but if I was buying only one book about healthy eating this year it would be Diana Henry's 'A Change of Appetite', as it is I'll buy any number of books about all sorts of things and I have a soft spot for River Cottage books so I'm very happy with to have this one (though I'm not sure I'd have paid full price for it).

There seems to be a trend in cookbooks at the moment to fill pages with either lavish pictures of things which aren't food (I want a cookbook, not a coffee table book full of slightly out of focus pictures of market stalls and shabby chic table dressings with a few recipes thrown in - though judging by the number of such books around I might not be in the majority) or with things that don't in my view count as a recipe - in this case I don't think grapefruit with a sprinkle of black pepper and an optional tiny pinch of salt truly deserves a double page spread, and carpaccio of bananas with lime  - or limey bananas - is pushing it's luck too. On the other hand for the modest sum of £10 there are a lot of nice ideas in there.

Otherwise it's been all about the jam and jelly this week. After a bit of investigation online I decided to buy a big box of jam jars (48) this year instead of recycling a collection of old jars and lids, of which an ever decreasing number seem to match, and all of which have the remains of impossible to remove sticky labels. I am ridiculously excited by the new jars - far more excited than you might reasonably assume a person should be - but there's something so nice about not scraping them down, worrying about lingering pickle smells from previous contents, or conducting an exhaustive search for lids. I've been so excited by them that on Monday I made 7 jars of rowan jelly (just in time, fruit is ridiculously early this year) and 10 jars of fig and pomegranate jam. Tuesday I was at work, today I have mostly been removing jam from odd corners of the kitchen (ably helped by my friends dog who did me the favour of licking it off the floor before I mopped it). The jam recipe comes from Diana Henry's (can you tell how big a fan I am?) brilliant 'Salt, Sugar, Smoke', opening it again has filled me with enthusiasm for preserving things - it is such a good book, and once again there are so many things in it I want to make. This evening prunes are doing there thing, well on the way to becoming prunes in armagnac. Autumn is most definitely her - all I want for now is a source of quinces. 


  1. I'm still laughing about carpaccio of bananas. I mean, *really*!
    I don't think I've ever seen a rowan in the flesh - they produce the most glorious coloured jelly. I have jam envy now.

  2. These were quite squishy, and I had to evict a couple of spiders. Rowan's are pretty - and the tree is meant to protect your house from evil spirits!