We moved house in June of this year and spent the whole summer and much of autumn sanding and scraping and painting, getting the interior of the house the way we wanted. Only now (just in time for the sleet and cold winds) are we turning our attention to the garden. I have plans for a raised vegetable patch (just one at first), my first greenhouse, a wider range of herbs than I’ve ever grown and both a plum and a damson tree. It’s going to be great.
Until all of this comes to fruition (ha!) I shall satisfy myself with the one food producing plant currently in the garden: the apple tree. And it’s a cracker with lots and lots of big shiny red globes hanging heavily. We have so far feasted on dozens of these lovelies just as they are, cooked them with pork and parsnips, grated them into porridge and sliced them onto cheese sandwiches. A few kilos have also gone into making the following spiced apple butter.
The basic recipe comes (again) from friends in Finland, Jan and Kaija, and is perfect on its own without the spices. With the cinnamon, cloves and allspice, however, it’ll make your kitchen smell like Christmas on an icy, grey afternoon.
Spiced Apple Butter
1 kg apples
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tspn allspice
200-400ml sugar (according to taste)
- wash apples, remove bad bits and cut in slices. Leave peel, pips etc in.
- boil water, add apples and let boil until soft. Stir often so apples don’t burn.
- mash apples then strain through sieve or food mill.
- add sugar a bit at a time and mix until taste is right.
- cool then store in sterilised jars or freeze.
And finally, the competition results! The winner and recipient of The Flavour Thesaurus is…. Ozarkhomesteader! He/she won me over with this story of a talented cat:
“Have you ever heard a screech owl? (If you’ve seen “My Cousin Vinny,” you may remember the screech owl in the movie.) I live in a rural area in the US, and until recently we didn’t have any close neighbors. What happened the first time my husband left town for a week? A screech owl parked itself in a tree right next to my porch and screamed every hour or so all night long. It was hilarious when it wasn’t terrifying.
Fast forward 5 years, to a day last week. The screech owl was back, but it was far enough away from the house that in our bedroom with the windows closed we couldn’t hear it. Our female cat could hear it, though, and every time it screeched, she screamed for a half hour afterwards. I finally figured out what was setting her off when I moved to her side of the house to try to comfort her. I seriously question her sanity. Nothing would calm her down either. She would seem to be relaxing, but then the owl would screech, and off she’d go again.
Of course, she’s pretty vocal and seems to like imitating area animals. She’s got a feline version of coyote howl. She does the rooster across the road. And when we had goat neighbors, she baaaaaaa’d. If you don’t believe me, we were headed out of town and had to tell our friends who were staying in the house to expect all sorts of bizarre sounds from her. When we got home, the friends said that they hoped we wouldn’t think they were crazy, but was it just possible that the cat was trying to sound like a goat? Yep, she was.
Too bad I can’t get her to do it on command.”