Tuesday, 27 February 2007


There is a forbidden word. It became forbidden when the 6 tonne digger arrived. When the person most likely to use it was a novice. When there was lots of opportunity for mistaken demolition. And where the excitement of a full size Tonka toy could overcome spatial awareness. It was agreed that "oops" was entirely disallowed, binned, banned and canned. As in "Oops, I've just knocked down the side of the barn", or "Oops, do you remember where that wall used to be?", and "Oops, I was just using the digger when.....". So wary are we of the previously beloved "oops" that it has vanished from normal conversation as if the saying of it might result in rubble, ruin and wrecking.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Tomato and Chilli Relish and the wonder of Google archives

Last week we opened the first jar of tomato and chilli relish that I'd made last September from the polytunnel-grown glut of beefsteak tomatoes, and that first small pot has all been snaffled (mostly by me) before the week was out. It was utterly fantastic - sweet, warming, no vinegary sourness at all. I hunted around the cookery books for the recipe to mark it up for repeating this year, and then remembered that it has been an on-line find. Googling to find it again didnt work at first - none of the recipes that popped up sounded familiar - and then I started to look at my Google desktop history for "tomato relish" and there it was, posted by Libby on the Delia on-line messageboard, secured from a distant New Zealander. So here is the posting, and here is the recipe:

6 lbs ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
4 oz salt
4 apples, peeled and chopped
8 large onions, chopped
3 lbs sugar
4 small tablespoons mustard powder
1 pint cider vinegar
5 small fresh chillies
2 tablespoons cornflour and a little vinegar to mix it

Mix the mustard powder with a little of the cold vinegar. Add to other ingredients in a large pot and boil for at least an hour. Thicken with 2 tablespoons of cornflour in a little vinegar and bottle in sterilized jars.

Chopped liver

4 chicken livers
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 medium onion
chicken schmaltz (or duck/goose fat)

When I was a child, more than thirty years ago, my mother usually did a chicken for Sunday lunch. If it was a boiling fowl we had the neck skin stuffed with dumpling ingredients, stitched at both ends into a large sausage shape and boiled alongside the fowl to eat greedily in slices with the chicken soup first course.

More usually my mother roasted the chicken and would save every scrap of chicken fat (schmaltz) from the roasting pan to make chopped liver for supper. The butcher was always happy to throw in a few extra chicken livers; most of his customers didn’t seem to want the giblets.

Once lunch things were put away I had the job of chopping the onion and boiling the eggs. My mother fried the onion in plenty of schmaltz until it softened and then added the livers. When the livers were cooked they were left to cool a little in the pan. She then tipped the pan on to a board and chopped the mix with the hard-boiled eggs until she had a coarse pate–like texture. Every little bit was scraped carefully into a bowl, including any fat still lingering in the pan.

Eaten slightly warm with toast turned Sunday evenings into something more than the lull before Monday morning school. I still make chopped liver occasionally and each time I wonder why I don’t make it every week; it tastes of childhood and is simply delicious.