Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Leftovers jam

Most years, gooseberries have such a short season in the supermarkets that they need to be snapped up, even if they aren't always used up: which means there are usually some lurking in the freezer waiting to be turned into jam - when I get around to it. And last week, the round tuit arrived.

It occurred to me this might be a useful occasion to make use of some items from the back of the cupboard, relics of past Christmas goody gifts. The last couple of chunks of some preserved ginger seemed a good match for gooseberries, even after sitting in their syrup for a couple of years; and then there was a jar of black figs with some brandy in the syrup. Figs have never been much of a favourite on their own, or even in a fruit salad (the only other idea I'd had for them), but chopped up they might add something to the gooseberries, even if it's only some extra pectin to set the jam.

The result may look a bit murky, but tastes good (still not keen on figs, though).

It's taken a few days' wait after eating some to be sure it's a modest success because, as I was putting the fig jar into the recycling, I noticed the date on it was...... some time in 2008.

Sunday 1 January 2017


No, not some long-forgotten variety act*, but (at the risk of bringing brassicaphobes out in spots) the offspring of an arranged marriage between kale and Brussels sprouts.

There was a brief glimpse of them in the BBC's Countryfile programme a few weeks ago, which sounded intriguing through the soporific haze of a Sunday evening's viewing. It seems they have actually been out on the market for quite a while, but it wasn't till this weekend that they turned up in my "selected retailer".

They're claimed to be a "fresh fusion of sweet and nutty". Well.. they're a pleasant enough variation, with neither of the potential disadvantages of either parent (but then, so are they, if they're cooked properly).

*They are, however. showbiz enough to have had their name changed from the more .prosaic "Flower sprouts", which would suggest a more down-to-earth sort of show.