A few weeks ago we endured a very wet weekend. We think we had over 100ml of rain because some buckets that were outdoors had more than 10cm in them! We spent the whole day on Sunday, cooking on our beautiful wood stove. It was such a productive day, albeit completlely exhausting. We loved it.

We made a few litres blackberry and apple jam, using half of our frozen blackberries that were picked a month ago. It worked, and I was so pleased. The jam making course I did at GeCo paid off. We made more zucchini chutney – actually, Monte made it, and he can’t tell me the precise recipe, but it is the nicest relish I’ve ever had. We made muffins, of course, for the week of school lunches. Apple and choc-chip this time, spiced with cinnamon. We made a large quantity of pureed pumpkin for our youngest family member, as well as a large pot of soup (zucchini, of course). And to end the day of cooking art and mess that went on, we roasted a chook and ate it with some veges from our garden, namely carrots and beetroot. Following that meal, we made a pot of stock which would become a good base for a soup and a risotto.

It was fun cooking. The wood stove was cranking and there were mixed aromas in the house, causing a sensory uproar! Our tummies were rumbling with these good smells, knowing that good food would be making its way to our bellies in good time.

10/4/11: Making jam. Fantastic.

Zucchini soup

Pickled beetroot

Zucchini chutney

Bottled zucchini chutney

Zucchini soup

Our friend Linda is a great cook and she introduced us to zucchini soup.

Heat onions and garlic in the soup pot. You can add some bacon for flavour if you like. Sometimes we might also add mushrooms. Sautee the lot. Add several large, cubed zucchinis (we leave the skins on). They will cook and soften. When they are cooked through, add 1/2 a cup of cream and a cup of chicken stock. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, blend to a smooth consistency, then serve. Or, if you are like us, freeze for winter. It’s a good way to preserve the zucchinis.

Blackberry and Apple Jam

Cook 1/2 lb (200g) apples in a large pot. When the apples are cooked right through, add 2 kg of blackberries and 2 kg of sugar. Boil until it is at setting point (!?) – for us, it took about 20 minutes of boiling before a blob of jam on a frozen saucer did not dribble when we held the saucer vertically. Pour into hot, sterilised jars whilst hot and seal.

I think it will take a while before I am a really confident jam person. The recipe I was vaguely following said to boil it for 7-10 minutes, but that was not enough for our jam. I suppose it all has something to do with the liquid and pectin in the fruit. Nevertheless, we have another 2kg of blackberries in our freezer, so next wet weekend is jam day! It is excellent jam!

Apple and choc-chip spiced muffins

Mix 2 cups of SRF and 3/4 cup sugar in a big bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of grated apple and enough choc-chips to take your fancy (I don’t use a lot when the muffins are for school lunches; just enough to encourage them to be eaten!).

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk 1 egg and blend with 2 Tbsp oil or butter and 1 cup of milk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix together, but only just enough to combine. Place into greased muffin tin, sprinkle with cinnamon (or even cinnamon sugar) and bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees (depending on the oven).