Friday, 2 September 2011

Lady Macbeth Was Here

It’s my own silly fault, I start these projects with gay abandon [are we still allowed to say that?] without considering where they might lead. Froogs put up a Thrifty Thursday post all about Delia’s Spiced Chutney, and Sue has a great thread running through September all about using up the food you have in store.

windfallsAnd my neighbour put out his annual “Free Windfalls - Help Yourself” sign again. And I remembered that large box of church-car-park-plums ,in the freezer, frozen 5 weeks ago.

Now the ear infection hasn’t gone yet. The antibiotics must be doing something – but I am still deaf on the left. My balance is off kilter, and listening to the radio [my usual occupation whilst working in the kitchen] gives me a headache. However, I am not giving in, and decided that I would spend today in the Practice of Preservation [apart from attending a funeral at midday] I printed off Delia’s recipe [find it here] and studied it with care. I had enough fruit for 1½ times the recipe. Not quite enough soft brown sugar [substitute more demerara and some regular granulated] and not seedless raisins [use sultanas] but everything else was on hand. I decided to weigh out and prepare all the ingredients, then after the the funeral, I would cook the chutney [recipe says 2-3 hours]

The Part Where The Pastor’s Wife Gets Stoned 

All those wretched cherry plums have stones. If I had thought about it, I’d have stoned them when fresh, with my MILs cherry stoner, before I froze them. But 5 weeks ago, I was thinking about holiday Bible Club, and so I just washed and ‘open froze’ them as they were. No problem, says St Delia. Stew them in a little of the vinegar, don a pair of rubber gloves, and then you can [I quote] “remove the stones as they separate themselves from the flesh…it will only take 25 minutes, but I promise you it is well worth it” So, whilst plums stewed, I prepared apples, onions and spices. Then on with the gloves. I calculated that I’d need about 40 minutes [1½times recipe, remember] I needed to leave for church at 11.30, so ideally stop work at 11 to go and change. It was 10.15am. I began stoning. Lack of Radio playing meant that the only sounds were the squealys and squelchings of my gloves against the squidgy plums, and my sniffling [onions make me cry] Bob came in, all smart in his suit, and stood on the opposite side of the kitchen waving a CD. “Can you switch this music on at the end of the service?” “Give me clear hand signals and I will” I said. He left [10.45]

Acceleration Is Sometimes A Mistake

Started Panicking. Decided I would not get it all done in time. Speeded up, squeezing, squidging, and squelching the fruit, fishing out stones with a spoon, there were plum stones, plum juice, plum skins going in random directions. Everything was a General Crimson [which is even worse than Captain Scarlett, if you remember 1960’s Kids TV] There was more blood splatter in my kitchen than in a normal episode of CSI Miami


At 11.15, I pulled off the gloves, washed my hands, and dashed upstairs, and changed into Posh Suit, brushed hair whilst slipping into smart high heels. Decided against putting on make-up. However Divine Intervention caused me to check my face in the bathroom mirror. SO glad I did – my face was liberally besplattered with plum juice! Washed face thoroughly and skipped up the road to church by 11.35. “Before you say anything, I apologise about the state of the kitchen” I said to Bob as he greeted me with a kiss at the church door. He smiled, knowingly!

The funeral went well and we all went down to the Royal Oak afterwards. Returned home, changed out of suit, and went back to the kitchen. Just explain to me how, within 5 minutes of this, I had plum juice on my face again? And why Delia, Nigella and Mary Berry all manage to cook without any apparent spills or stains about their persons? Then another problem arose – ‘wrap the spices in muslin or gauze’ What to use? Inspiration struck…


I cut a couple of lengths of this gauze and made two little bags to hold the cinnamon, allspice and cloves.


Simmering Away Nicely, Thankyou

And now I have two large pans bubbling away on the stove – which should be done by teatime, and some jars all cleaned and sterile and waiting to be heated up in the oven for filling. I am glad I bought that jam funnel last month. It has already earned its keep. The kitchen is cleaned up, mostly - the stove top will need a good wipe down later when all is cooled. And I will soon have still more jars to put on my preserves shelf. I trust the blessed St Delia is right when she says

“There are chutneys and chutneys, but this one is simply the best of all. It is something I couldn't live without, having it permanently on my shelf. I love it with cold cuts, with cheese, but best of all, sausages and jacket potatoes - dipping crisp, crunchy potato skins into this dark, spicy, deeply flavoursome preserve is one of life's great pleasures.”

And I trust Froogs – if she makes this stuff, so can I! Pictures of chutney in jars to follow…


  1. Imagine the scene...Neighbour pops round, knocks the answer...goes round the back "Angela has an ear infection, she can't hear the front door, I'll peep through the kitchen window". Neighbour looks in to find a bloodbath....
    Angela, have you checked on your neighbour?
    Is she OK?
    Jane x

  2. Hi Angela - I put the mush into my jelly bag and let it drain whilst I took my daughter home, i came home to a solid fruit pulp and it was cold, so it was easy to take a handful at a time and fiddle about to get rid of all the stone. we tried some today and it is lovely. I must glean some more jars and make more, this is a real winner.

  3. Neighbour OK, thank you, Jane

    Froogs - what about the 'wait three months till it is mature' instruction at the end of the recipe? I was going to keep mine till around December!

  4. Phew, I'm exhausted just reading it, let alone making it!

  5. Gave me a good chuckle :-) Think I'll stick to Lemon Drizzle Cake and scones.

  6. I make similar messes prepping tomatoes for canning. The counter, the appliances, me--we're all covered with tomato sauce, no matter how tidy I try to be ...


  7. Been there, done that! Now you know why I nearly always make jelly instead of jam LOL!Swap you a jar of Mirabelle plum jelly ????

    Sandie xx

  8. Thanks for the link (and the laugh) son would have loved your 'crime scene', he has a degree in Forensic Science and it looks like something straight out of CSI.

    I'll link to you on Thursdays throughout September if you don't mind, and add a couple of my day to day tips for saving money to the Blog. It's something I've been meaning to do for ages.

    I've shamelessy 'lifted' the Thrifty Thursday badge for my sidebar, I hope you don't mind.

    Sue xx

  9. Glad to know I am not alone in my kitchen messiness
    RB I would happily swap jar of my chutney for one of your cakes, but Scotland's a long way
    Sandie, you live just round the corner, it's a deal!
    Thanks for joining us Sue.

  10. I made this chutney from GF mag when our neighbour gave us a couple of kilos of plums (never one to say no to good fruit!) - but didn't have any chilli flakes, so instead I put two whole red chillies in. I tasted it half way through the stewing and it nearly blew my head off! Fortunately it mellowed as it stewed and cooled, so now I have a nicely spicy chutney which does taste great with a lump of cheese and chunk of bread.


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