Alison May of Brocante Home has put out a challenge to her readers! How can we resist? She wants us to select one (sigh...) of her "Puttery Treats" from a generously vast collection and... well... blog about it. The difficulty is; how can we select just one? They are all so tantalising and seducing....
I have chosen a few of Alison's Puttery Treats, because I couldn't make my mind up about just one. It is late spring here in Australia, but because I ADORE harvest time, I simply could not refrain from reminiscing Autumns past...
Thanks for the memories, Alison!
"Spend baking day this week filling your freezer with warming soups. Nothing is more homely than having a big vat of chunky vegetable soup on the go: the smell alone is enough to make you never want to leave the house. Serve with heavy multigrained homemade bread and lunch in the glow of candlelight".
This is where the ladies do all their cooking and baking. The Machinist made the stainless steel benches and they are wonderful to use. He bought the steel from a local second hand dealer, and was absolutely thrilled at the price! (Much less than he would have had to pay from a stainless steel supplier). The stove you can see holds at least five massive pots and the whole kitchen starts to look like a Turkish sauna when the soups and stews are bubbling away. In fact, it is quite risky business when any attempts to stir the soups are made, as the juices sometimes erupt up and onto the ladies' faces.
All scraps from the peeled and tipped veg-a-buls go into the galvanised chicken bucket under the bench, and the hens love to peck and scratch these offerings (we're careful not to put any garlic / onion skins in there, as they are not good for hens). The puppies just know they're in for a treat when they smell the aroma of smoked bacon, and don't seem to mind a few appendages of burned mushy pea clumps stuck to the bones. Nothing goes to waste.
The Machinist and Favourite Son often comment that they can detect the smell of the soups from the workshop, and that it calls them home....
If a large portion of time has been spent on preparing and cooking the soups and stews, home-made bread is mixed and allowed to rise in the trusty bread making machine. But....it is one of life's simple pleasures, and so satisfying to hand knead and drop the raw, stretchy dough into old and somewhat rusty bread tins and watch the (oddly shaped) loaves rise in the oven.
"Harvest the apples on your trees and spend an afternoon making puree, chutneys and pies. Leave a basket in the garden for collecting the fruit".
When mam comes over to visit, she insists on taking a basket of apples home with her. She seldom takes the unblemished apples, but prefers those with nodules or tiny cankers, as they are "more tart" for her concoctions. It's the same with the plums, as she has her 'favourite' plum tree and persists that although it's branches are sparsely endowed, the tiny fruits still reign as palate champions.
This picture shows jars of apple sauce (for pork), cinnamon apple butter (for custard or when we fancy something sweet, straight from the pot), spicy apple chutney (delicious with bread and cheese) and curried apple chutney (no particular partner/s needed - it goes with everything). There's also jars of locally grown honey, transferred from huge tubs; ~ gifts from the Village Bee Keeper.
The fruit and vegetables are always collected in baskets, as we have many, and there is something so very 'country' about collecting a harvest in a basket. Sometimes, in really busy periods, we leave the fresh produce in the baskets, but later regret it when we discover that some of the fruits have matured too quickly and spread their aging juices - liberally - on the other varieties.
"Start squirrelling away some groceries for the times later on in the season when it is just too cosy to leave your house and face the flourescent horror of the supermarket. Add gingham tops to jars full of homemade jams and display on your counter tops. Autumn is all about abundance..."
"Come ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest-home; All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin; God our maker doth provide, For our wants to be supplied; Come to God's own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest-home"
It seems that the Autumn harvest and gathering of food is synonymous with this poem by Henry Alford. The ripened produce. The Housekeeper stocking the larder with non perishable foods. The preparation of the house for winter.....
These jars were about to be sent to the tip, but we salvaged them. (They once contained sun-dried tomatoes, olives and artichokes). In cooler months, country mice tend to visit the kitchen and are always destructively hungry. The jars prove most effective in keeping dried foods uncontaminated from mousy antics! The ladies made green gingham toppers for the jars, but because they are used so often, the ties for the toppers became a mennace. Not only the ties, but the toppers themselves tended to become grotty very quickly. Fortunately, the lids to the jars are all the same colour - green, so they look uniform, but the ladies are still 'thinking' about grinding the paint off the lids and polishing them, so that they will have the appearance of stainless steel.
"To match the rest of the kitchen..." declare the young ladies
At the moment, this is just a 'thought' - along with many others....