Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thought it might be fun to grow a kitchen garden and cook all things yummy from my harvest. Firstly, I am no gardener, just an enthusiastic amateur. However armed with some books on the subject and a willing help in my husband, I planned and plotted and eventually planted. Beautiful rows of onions, sweet potatoes, beets, a few eggplant plants, tomato plants and pepper plants. Then we watched as the wind and rain took their toll on my new garden. For days they were blown and rained upon and we feared the worst. Everything was looking sad. Still I was not to be discouraged, and I scoured my books looking for recipes for jams and chutneys. I remained optimistic and looked forward to the fruits, or should I say vegetables of my labour. I had also planted pots of herbs and put a few tomato and pepper plants in pots on the deck. These did really well and I was rewarded with fresh herbs and an abundance of chilli peppers of varying types. Delighted I pulled out a recipe for chilli jam, I had made it a long time ago and had always meant to do so again. The time had come. The recipe is simple and delicious, and is as follows:


2 medium red chillis, deseeded and roughly chopped.
1lb ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1" pieced of chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fish sauce
8ozs demarara sugar
2fl oz red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Add half the tomatoes, chillis, garlic and fish sauce into a blender and blend to a fine puree. Pour into a large saucepan.
Pulse remaining tomatoes until chopped but not pureed.
Add these to the saucepan with the remainder of the ingredients.
Bring to a boil and skim off any scum which rises to the surface.
Turn down to a simmer, cook for 45 mins stirring regularly to stop it sticking.
Meanwhile have a sterilised jar ready and waiting.
Jam will reduce to half and at this point will have no liquid in the bottom.
Pour into jar and seal.
It will keep unopened for 3 months. Keep in fridge after opening.

I am sure if you try this you will be making more before long. It is delicious and rarely lasts for long.
Try it with shrimp or fish or even on a cheese and ham sandwich. I love it on a toasted ham and cheese.
I would love to hear from anyone who decides to try out this recipe and would love to hear of any other uses.

Now back to the rest of the produce. Some tomato plants survived, the rabbits ate the beets, we managed to pick and eat several eggplants and we had lots and lots of onions. We have to wait another few weeks until we know what has happened to the sweet potatoes. I also transplanted rhubarb from a friend's garden and look forward tonext summer to when, I hope, I'll be making rhubarb jam, with the rhubarb picked fresh from the garden. So all was not lost and at least for next year I have more knowledge and I now have all winter to plan and plot it for next year.
I now have to deal with a lot of green tomatoes. Green tomato chutney for one, and maybe I will dish up some fried green tomatoes for supper one night. There is so many recipes out there and so little time to cook them all.
Happy cooking.

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