Saturday, 21 June 2008

Back to the future and making do . . .

Home made crab apple wine which I bottled recently.

I am mindful of the title of this posting, as several times in recent days I have had to rethink the ingrained habits of a lifetime!

The first occasion was when my blender broke. In fact, I had a fey moment as I was carrying it across the kitchen, as I thought, gosh I'd be stuck for making caster sugar (I always blend the granulated which saves the premium on buying caster sugar) if anything happened to this. Then it did - I plugged it into the adaptor (which was of course live), caught the pulse button with my arm as I leaned across, there was one hell of a rattle and bang, no more blender! I had foolishly not noticed that the little plug for the lid was by the blades, the pulse had jammed it in and when I took the jug off the blender to sort it, it had sheared off . . . My instant reaction was oh bloddy hell . . . Then I had to make my brain do some work and came up with the idea of reducing the sugar by hand with my pestle and mortar, which worked a treat. Fortunately the sugar was already quite a fine one - not like the great big granules I remember from childhood sugar in the blue sugar-paper bags.

Then yesterday I decided that my well-used pastry brush for greasing pans had really reached the end of the line. The new one I had was shedding hairs like it was moulting. I cast my mind back 40 years and reached for a butter wrapper. I can remember being told to save these at school, put them in a tin, and then you could use the very last little bits of butter on it to grease tins (hmmm - probably rancid by then!) Anyway, I had to unwrap a new slab of butter anyway, so . . . problem solved. Then I needed to brush milk on top of scones - I used the back of a spoon, which actually worked very well. I don't think I shall be reaching for that Lake District catalogue just yet . . .

With all the price rises in fuel and food recently, we have been adapting, and adding to our store cupboard too. It pays to buy in bulk (flour, rice etc) and it also pays to buy extra because the price will have almost certainly gone up in a month - if not a week. My husband is going to build me a pantry in the room which was a sort of utility down in what was my mum's flat. This "room" is built into the side of the hill, so below the main part of the house, a bit like an undercroft. It is always cool, and has a quarry tiled floor. Currently we have two old fridges sitting there, switched off, and a small freezer. We are loathe to get rid of the fridges as although they are probably 50 or more years old, they are so efficient that they will freeze cucumbers rigid and do the same for milk too. They have excellent insulation. The one which was my mum's was converted from gas by my dad, when it was traded into the family shop in Romsey, back in the early 60s. Anyway, my husband is going to put up a slate shelf above these fridges - in fact, we even have the length of slate slab leaning against the front of the house as we were going to use it as a replacement worktop, but it is not quite long enough. It cost us just £10 at auction a couple of years ago, along with another shorter piece which will also get utilised. Then I will be able to store home made bottled stuff, preserves, wine etc, and use the slab for keeping cheese, butter, etc cool. Handy if we get the power cuts they are threatening in future because of the tardiness of the Govt. in replacing ageing power stations. We will have sturdy wooden shelves for storage on the wall above the shelf. I'm really excited about this (like a big kid I am!)

This week I have put some Sloes in the wine bucket, and hope to make another lot of Elderflower Champagne too, and some Elderflower wine as well. No peace for the wicked.


Anonymous said...

My mum bought me my jam pan from the Lakeland catalogue and I got a pressure cooker from it, so it's not entirely useless! Although she still gets the bloomin catalogue sent out every few weeks and we have a good laugh at all the rubbish in there!! :D

Mam said...

I can't believe you had time to blog! I'm still wondering what caster sugar is. Sorry about the blender! What a nuisance. And the timing couldn't have been worse.

Persuaded said...

i must admit to deep envy for your storeroom... it sounds so charmingly efficient- and full of good things:)

i am feeling the pull to store up food as well, but need to come up with some type of storage system/area. my house is big enough, but it sadly has almost no storage space.

btw... i'm wondering what "sloes" are?

Bovey Belle said...

Persuaded - my darling husband hasn't actually started "work" on the larder yet - it has to wait until his current project (glueing chairs) is finished. Sloes are the small black wild plums, fruit of the Blackthorn. They are far too tart to eat, but make wonderful wine, and Sloe Gin is amazing. I make chutney and jam with them too.

Nancy - caster sugar is a finer sugar than granulated, but not as fine as your confectioner's sugar.

Mara - I have my mum's old jam pan, and a lovely solid brass one we bought from auction. Lakeland have some lovely stuff, but also a lot of "things" which no-one really "needs".

Persuaded said...

thanks for the interpretation;)