Saturday, 31 July 2010

John Barleycorn at Eastbourne Lammas Festival

I have snuck out of the kitchen where I have been cooking all day (8 hours so far!) in preparation for our feast with our friends tomorrow. This is from 2008, hoping that this years is just as good! Blessed Lammas/Lughnasadh to you all.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Lammas/Lughnasadh: Courgette (Zucchini) Chutney Recipe

Sorry it’s yet another recipe day...

I like to make things (just in case you hadn’t already noticed that!) and definitely enjoy cooking as it’s both a great thing to do for your health and for the family unit to be together. Apart from our crafty things food is a big part of our life, from the planting and growing to the wondering what on earth we will be doing with all the crops we have managed to get.

This year, as in previous, we have a mass of courgettes and tomatoes. So I have again decided to make a chutney, lasts a long time and is something most people like so makes great gifts. It will also go well for our Lammas feast as an alternative to the rhubarb relish for the cheeses.

To make the chutney you will need:
4 lb courgettes
2lb 8oz onions
2lb 8oz brown sugar
Large piece of fresh ginger
1/2 tspn pepper
2 pints malt vinegar
2 heads of garlic
2lb 8oz tomatoes
1 tspn cayenne pepper
2 tspn salt
6 1lb sterilised jars and vinegar proof lids or parfait/kilner

Chop all the vegetables, add vinegar, sugar and spices and bring slowly to the boil, stirring now and again. If the courgettes have a tough skin, you can peel them and compost the skins.
Simmer for about two hours (don't forget to stir as it will stick) until thick.
Pour into heated jars and seal.

Needs at least 3 months to mature, which is why I, Blue Peter style, am using one I made earlier!

4 days to go yippee...

Recipe from

Friday, 23 July 2010

Say hello, wave goodbye...

Well it is Littleuns last day at his nursery and there is mixed emotions from us all. Mr & Mrs H and the Ladies who work at the nursery have always been fun and friendly, helping that extra bit when we have had a problem or two and we shall miss them all greatly. There will be many stories to remember, fun days that were had; The Summer fayres and the Christmas party, the child covered in paint running for a hug as you arrive, the carnival floats made in secret then revealed on the big day triumphing as usual and the general laughter and joy so loud that you hear it through the windows that is always coming from the nursery. Not to forget the massive hello’s said with genuine feeling every time Littleun rang the doorbell and now our sad goodbye as we leave for “big” school. Thank you all!

But the prospect of starting his new school is very exciting for Littleun.

He had what they call a taster day a couple of weeks ago. It’s where the kids go in for a couple of hours and get shown their new surroundings. Littleun was understandably nervous by this on the morning but by the time I came to pick him up he didn’t want to leave and had already made a new friend! The new school is a community school and takes aspects from its surroundings to help teach the children. One part that appealed to us is the nature section. The school has built a bird hide so the kids can sit and watch. They have a nature area with ponds and wildlife, allotments for growing things and despite being in the middle of the town lovely big playing fields for fun to be had. We can’t wait: We have 7 weeks until he can start and he is counting them down already...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Lammas Lughnasadh: Altar-gether

He he please excuse the silly name for this post, just in one of those moods!

Right what I’m going to ramble on about in this post is our altar. I always try and involve Littleun in the making of our altar and we often start putting it together in the days leading up to the relevant celebration. Although it isn’t ever difficult to find something that Littleun wants to add, this particular celebration being for both Lammas and Lugh makes it easy for him to join in.

Last years small altar, got more space this year

There are so many little crafts that can be represented by him ranging from the corn dollies to drawings, berry bracelets, Apple candle holders or just candles made to look like apples, to name a few. This mixes both the arts and the harvest at the same time.

This year we have befriended a local famer who has been growing corn and wheat and has kindly given us some sheaths. We will start by making a horn for a cornucopia, then Littleun has said he would like to add the plastacine fruits we made (bunches of grapes) and some of the flowers from the allotment.

The colours for the altar are going to be golds, oranges, greens, representing the time of the year with the golden growth but that there is still more to come so the green for the continuous growing season.

If you would like to make your own apple candle holders it is very easy to do: (from

"Rinse and dry the fruit or vegetable thoroughly. Polish the outside with a soft cloth until the apple is shiny. Stand the apple up on its bottom, and use a knife or a corer to make a hole in the top where the stem is located. Go about halfway down into the apple so that the candle will have a sturdy base. Widen the hole until it’s the same diameter as your candle. Pour some lemon juice into the hole and allow it to sit for ten minutes. This will prevent the apple from browning and softening too quickly. Pour out the lemon juice, dry out the hole, and insert a sprig of rosemary, basil, or other fresh herb of your choice. Finally, add the taper candle. Use a little bit of dripped wax to secure the taper in place."

Right am off to find the maize maze with Littleun, more (if you aren’t bored yet) about our lammas celebrations later...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lughnasadh/Lammas: How do you celebrate yours?

Well we will be mixing with good company at Eastbourne’s Lammas Festival. In its 10th year they will be celebrating with good music, beer and lots of little craft and extras stalls. The best bit? Well all profit goes to the RNLI so a worthwhile event.

We went last year and apart from the horizontal rain (yes it was that bad) had a ball. The people were welcoming and willing to natter about anything. The music was great and Littleun loved dancing to it whilst taking lots of photos. This year we will be going with some family & friends and taking a picnic with us.

Food for celebrating this time of year is obviously important. Lammas is the first of the harvests and with that in mind we try to represent each part in our feast/picnic. We make our own bread and as we break the first loaf remember the hard work that has gone into the growing of the wheat, remembering also to keep some of the grain to sow in the New Year. This year we have been particularly lucky with the weather and we give thanks to our family deities. The other foods we take tend to be things like a jar of the strawberry jam, some of our first apples, this time abundant in the garden, quiches made with the veg and salads again grown by us. Oh and a jar of cidre made by a rather pickled but clever friend!

There are lots of things good about the Eastbourne celebration one of which is the ability to mingle with crafts and arty folk. You can sit and get shown how to make corn dolls, or see leather work going on. You can try your hand at wood turning, in my case making a rather wonky wood bowl, lovely to look at but useless as things will fall out of the side as I got the angles a bit wrong! I like to sew so it’s good to chat with the girls and find out how they did the turn that looks wonderful but impossible, or where to find the right material for the bodice I am making etc. And of course the music I mentioned earlier is an art too. We like music in this house, never far from the radio or instruments and Littleun is becoming rather good at drumming so a perfect excuse to get up and join in the ceilidh that will be going on.

Well that’s how we will be doing ours, how will you be doing yours, do leave a comment if you fancy sharing!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Strawberry Jam

Oh where has this week gone? I turn around intending to keep up a regular post and oops suddenly the joys of being outside has meant a whole week has passed!

One of the things we have done a fair bit of this last couple of weeks is make jams. Littleun is a strawberry addict, he enjoys everything to do with them from picking to munching as long as there can be a bit of cooking in between with them then happy days. As such, with the strawberry season in full flow, we headed off to the local PYO which is nicely hidden away so always has lots of juicy red gems.

Having picked our fruits we headed back home to dig out the jam boiler. You will need 1kg of sugar to every kilo of strawberries, Lemons and butter.

First you need to wash the strawberries and hull them, cutting out any overripe or bad/bruised parts. Then I like to cut them in half or quarters, put them in the pan with about half the sugar and leave them overnight. this gives them chance to break down a bit and seems to work better for me when starting the boiling process the next day.

Now this is something that obviously gets hot so if like me you have a littleun keen to help but also on the clumsy side you can get them drawing the labels whilst the boiling happens. You also need to sort out your jars and sterilize them. This can be done by washing them in hot soapy water and then rinsing thoroughly before putting them into the oven on a low temp for about ½ hour. Wash lids and boil.

Slowly bring to the boil so the sugar dissolves, then add the rest. You will also need to add pectin if you aren't using the pectin-added sugars but are using ordinary granulated. Pectin is something you can buy in jars (normally made in that case from apples) or you can use lemon juice. Once the sugar is completely dissolved bring to a roiling boil and stir to stop the bottom burning out. You can add a knob of butter to help reduce the frothing. Boil rapidly for 10-15 mins and then test for setting.

To test for setting you need to have put a plate in the chiller. Take the cold plate out and drop a bit of the jam onto it, if after a min or so you run your finger through it and it is wrinkly like a jelly then it is set, if it doesn't do that then you need to return to the boil for a bit longer, testing every few mins until reached.

When set, leave to cool for a few mins, stir a bit to mix any fruits evenly. Pour into warm sterilized jars and the add the wax disks leaving to cool. When cool use cellophane disks to seal tops and the lids.

Of course once you get going if you are like us you'll end up with tons of jams from all fruits. Looking forward to making some with the blackberries we currently have growing on the allotment.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Tis a sad one this

Ok will warn you, this isn't a happy post.

For the last 8 years, 11 months and 3½ weeks I have had the lovely company of Charlie. A moggie, re homed several times before joining us, with a skittish but loving disposition.

The sort that would know exactly when to leave you be or sneak in under the covers late at night to comfort after a long bad day. Who knew when you weren't looking to snatch that last bit of cheese or cake off your plate, who when Littleun came along didn't scratch or hurt him when over excited he grabbed too hard, who followed him around waiting for him to finally sit down so she could sit in his lap. Who didn't moan or question you when you were in a bad mood, but just sat there purring with the look on her face that says "I know, its a hard life but you should try catching mice some days..." Who sadly died this morning.

The following is a poem I found that kind of sums up how I am rather feeling now. So sorry for this depressing post, and yes I know she was "just" a cat, but she was my friend and comfort too.

I've changed my ways a little, I can no longer roam with you in the evenings along the shore, except in a kind of dream, and you, if you dream a little you see me there. So leave a while the paw marks on the front door, Where I used to scratch to come in or go out, and you'd soon answer, leave on the kitchen floor the marks of my drinking pan. I cannot lie by your fire all evening On the warm stone, nor yet at the foot of your bed no, all the night through, I lie alone. But your kind thought has laid me less than 6 feet outside your window, where firelight so often plays, and where you sit to read, and, I fear, often grieving for me--every night your lamplight lies on my place. You, Man and Woman, live so long, it is hard to think of you ever dying! A little cat would get tired, living so long. I hope that when you are lying under the ground like me, your lives will appear as good and joyful as mine. No, dears, that's too much have not been as well cared for as I have been, and never knew the passionate, undivided fidelities I knew. Your minds are perhaps too active, too many sided, but to me you were true. You were never Masters, but Friends. I was your Friend. Deep love endures to the end and long past the end...If this is my end, I am not lonely. I am not afraid.I am still yours. Anonymous

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Bet that made you all jump, hehe.

Right I haven't been ignoring you, or worse without computer, I have just been on Holiday and then working like mad to catch up when I got back!

As soon as I unpack the camera I'll load some photos showing you what we have been up to and the fun we have had in Normandy.

Allotment update: I lost the shed but gained the ground, so fair enough trade off. Have currently got loads growing, several pumpkins now showing as are the cucumbers and beans;

Have also been strawberry picking and jam making plus tried my hand at making marmalade, though no idea if its any good as I really don't like the stuff.

My friend has had her baby, a lovely little girl, so welcome into the world littlelass.

And lastly littleun has his taster day at his new school this week so nerves on my side and excitement on his.

Promise to do a better post soon.