Decluttering / Cherries / Change
I woke up yesterday with an irresistible need to declutter the kitchen cupboards.
Marie Kondo ( Magic-Tidying ) and William Morris ( william morris ) would have got on famously. A hundred years apart, both push the idea that we should surround ourselves only with what is both useful and beautiful. (To Marie, it must spark joy!!!)
I realised there was not much joy in my store cupboard. In particular the olives had gone soft as had the pickled walnuts. The walnuts were old because I don’t use them because I’ve never liked them so why would I ever eat them? Can’t imagine a relish or “tapenade” made with them. (Mashed with cream cheese? No.) I have chutneys dating back to 2006, jams to 2007. I’d had a lot of plums that year, obviously. They’d become dark and thick. Not dangerous but not appetising. In the fridge there was some pickled eggplant, pure vinegar. On and on and on it went and so dear reader, I dumped the lot, ruthlessly.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any old jars of pickled cherries and so I offer these observations. Make jams and chutneys you think are delicious rather than because someone has dumped a bucket full of something on your doorstep. Don’t let fruit bully you.
I learn’t a lot from my sister-in –law’s mother. She was a sensible no-nonsense cook who had no time for fancy foreign stuff. Her jams and chutneys were sublime, beyond reproach. Her secret was small batch production – small so that you could watch over and care. Make stuff you are proud to give away or stuff of which you will be sorry to see the last jar. Extend the pride and label them clearly and nicely.
Furthermore, give out and inevitably, you will receive. I've never received a jar I didn't appreciate.
Now, it’s that annual, short cherry season. Pickle some cherries. They look fetching and there’s no chance of any jars still being around after May, I assure you.
For every 1 kilo of cherries, prepare a pickling liquid of...
The aromatics are forgiving and very much up to you. I suggest 1 tsp each of whole peppercorns, coriander and 1/2 tsp cloves plus a small whole dry chilli - (just enough to give a little bite). Bring the pickling mix up to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and pour over the cherries. You may wish to discard the aromatics but keep the chilli tucked down into the jar.
Seal and keep for 3 weeks before eating.
But there's change afoot in the kitchen. It's time for my Frigidaire De Luxe Cookmaster (see above) to retire. It was installed when the house was built in 1959 and is in perfect harmony with the mid-century- modern kitchen. The clock stopped last year with no-one around to fix to it. With this went it's timer and its ability to turn on, cook a roast while you were away, turn off, ready for when you came home from the movies.
The new "foreign" stove will arrive next week and its obsidian and brushed stainless steel will be a clash against the white and gold-flecked Formica of the cupboards. (White Goods are no longer white.) On the plus side, I will now work in degrees celsius, I can be sure the temperature will stay constant and the top glass plate will wipe clean with one swish. Sad, none the less.