Thursday, September 18, 2008

Status: Worried

Hilary is glad the Big Yellow Sky god has gone away, but fears it will return in the morning. Where, O where is Greyroof? Has the god Greyroof forsaken us? Is he angry with us for having gone outside and squinted up at his rival, the Big Scary Yellow Thing?

I've heard that the Big Yellow Thing makes you turn a funny colour if you stay outside too long when it appears. I know what others say, that it makes the crops grow and brings happiness and delight at the beach...Some even make burnt animal sacrifices to it when it appears.

But I am not led astray. Lo! Greyroof is our friend. He maketh the waters to come down and the green to remain, yea, even unto the very month of August. He keepeth the brolly-makers in business and inspireth the English with stoicism and furnisheth the English poets with gloom and a marvellous melancholy. Verily, he giveth us something to talk about with our neighbours at the bus stop and doth wondrously distract our minds from the Labour party.

* ~ * ~ *

I put on some x-tra strength sunblock today, and with big floppy hat firmly on head and ratty old bag on shoulder, went out collecting.

Everything looked very bright and sparkly. Even the sheep.

Crab apples.

Apart from the no-sun-all-summer thing, the fruit trees are having a bumper year. Now if only they will ripen.

Hops, growing wild on a hedge.

If you dry the flower heads and combine them with chamomile, it makes a nice soothing tea that helps you sleep.

Most of the rosehips are still orange, but there are a few that are ready. I ended up with about three pounds worth. Enough to put together with some crab apples for another attempt at jelly.


Dad29 said...

In Milwaukee, WI., USA, we have a MUCH better use for hops.

Zach said...

I disbelieve. Sheep never sparkle.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Zach, roll under four.

John said...

The rain it raineth every day,
Upon the just and unjust fella.
But more upon the just because,
The unjust hath the just's umbrella.


California arida et inaquosa

Anonymous said...

Hops - to ask the obvious question (usally a good idea), are you going to brew some beer?

M. Alexander said...

What do you do with crabapples? I have been putting mine on the compost heap.

Anonymous said...

Oh my dear lady, what you are missing out!

Crab apples make the most fantastic jelly, a delicate and slightly tart apply flavour, and a gorgeous clear coral colour.

You cut them in half and take out the bits the bugs have bored into. Boil them with some water until there's nothing left but mush, then boil them some more.

Strain the lot through a jelly bag overnight (resist the temptation to squeeze the bag, since that will make the juice cloudy). Collect the juice in a heavy bottomed pot (I use a pressure cooker) and boil with sugar. I think I did four pints of juice to six pounds of sugar. Boil and boil and boil until it reaches the setting point. Crab apples have lots of pectin in them so you don't need to add any.

The jelly is exquisite and is good on both toast and as a condiment with roast fowl.

The pectin content of crab apples is so good that they can be mixed with other fruits that don't have any to make jam. Their flavour is not strong enough by itself to overwhelm the taste of something like blackberries, so you can put them to boil together and make blackberry jam (or jelly, if you must) without any added store-bought pectin.

Crab apple and rosehips make a thick syrup that is extremely high in vitamin C and absolutely heavenly with yogurt or ice cream. I did a dinner a few weeks ago in which I made a rhubarb and apple cake and accompanied it with a dollop of creme anglaise (custard) and an equal dollop of the last of my rosehip and crab apple syrup from last year.

It keeps extremely well in a dark cupboard.

Don't throw crab apples away!

There's probably lots more, but the jelly is treat enough to make me look forward eagerly to the appearance of the crab apples every year.

Anonymous said...

I wax enthusiastic, by the way, because as I am typing this, the smell of the first batch of crab apple and rosehips boiling merrily in the pressure cooker is filling the cottage.

My only problem is that I am about to run out of jars. I started with 33 jars but I've done ten of blackberry and six more of apple chutney last night.

I'm thinking of putting a notice up in the village newsagent's window asking for jars.