Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Busman's Holiday

This week I'm on leave from work ( and realised that the last time we had more than a couple of days off together was a year ago! ) so of course we've managed to fill nearly every day with catching up on jobs and seeing people we haven't had a chance to; we've done all the formal meetings pre-wedding - registrars, venue nitty gritty and photo-shoot, been or have yet to visit relatives in London and on the south coast, and have walked the dog probably further than she's ever been walked in one go in her life! 



During one of our voyages we stopped at a farm shop where we bought some smoked bacon scotch eggs, and where the lady serving was desperately trying to dissuade a young couple from buying two slices of topside of beef which they wanted to barbecue. In amongst the packets of pasta and shortbread there was a shelf full of jars of pickles and chutneys labelled 'home-made' and this initially caught my eye because that's one of the phrases which we're not allowed to use at work. Trading Standards occasionally will do spot checks and are like limpets when they see something that they don't like. I fully understand that you can't sell produce as 'organic' if it's not certified as such, nor 'free-range' if it isn't, and the phrase 'gluten-free' has been replaced by 'made with non-gluten-containing ingredients'. But we're also not supposed to use the descriptions 'hand-made' or 'traditional' or indeed 'home-made' so seeing these jars professionally packaged prompted me to have a squint at the flyer which was tucked behind a jar of plum jam. 

But sure enough, they were all made by someone who had given over their kitchen to run a small business (as I will once I find a niche market) and funnily enough they were based in a street maybe fifty yards from where we live.  

There are of course strict laws concerning what you have to include on food labelling. Traffic lights and nutritional information aside, you have to state the ingredients, including any of the 13 allergens recently prescribed as essential knowledge (I still remember a bag of doughnuts I bought from a petrol station which had a label saying 'these doughnuts may contain traces of nuts, crustaceans, molluscs and lupins'), plus things like a use by date.  We make a chutney at work which is very popular, and pretty much every week someone will ask whether they can buy it in the the shop and the answer is 'no' because it's not cooked. And they shake their heads and mutter about health and safety and I explain that we can sell it for immediate consumption but not if there's any chance of someone keeping it for weeks.....(it's a pickle, it keeps for weeks....)

And then I say 'would you like the recipe?' and their faces light up a bit. I usually have to convert it into Imperial, but here's the metric version.


900 grams each of
Apples, peeled, cored and chopped 
Pitted dates, chopped
Sultanas, chopped,
light brown soft sugar
White wine vinegar 

1 tsp each of ground:
Cumin
Coriander
Ginger
Paprika 

Salt and pepper 

Mix all together and leave for 24 hours. 

As with my approach to all cooking, if you want to tweak the ingredients, add, remove, increase etc. please do.

Ps this goes really well with cheese and black pepper scones.......