Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bramble vodka, damson gin and other yummy booze

Today was warm and sunny and perfect for hedgerow harvesting. Here's my haul from my locality. There's blackberries, haws, wild plums and elderberries.

There were also some sloes:
Some of these things are going to be turned into a hedgerow jelly (with the help of some crab apples that aren't in the photos) but the rest will be yummy drinks by Christmas. Here's how to make bramble vodka.
Bramble, for those who don't know, is a country name for blackberry.

Start by washing a big jar that can be sealed. Rinse some blackberries and put them in the jar.
Add enough sugar to cover them well. About like this:

Now chuck in a bottle of cheap vodka. The cheaper the better. You really don't need posh stuff for this recipe.
Now give the jar a good shake until the sugar has all dissolved. Leave it somewhere cool and dark. It will need a good shake once a day for a week, once a week for a month, then whenever you think about it for another couple of months. In three months or so you can decant it into fancy bottles. Just in time for Christmas.
The same method works with gin and sloes, or (as in the photo) gin and damsons.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Comfort food

There's something about the food you remember from your childhood.  It can be very comforting to return to it as an adult. One of my favourites was what used to be called 'spuds and onions in the pan' because it didn't need a fancier name.

Start by slicing up some potatoes and onions. New potatoes won't work in this dish. Wash the spuds well and slice them. Don't bother to peel. Slice the onions into rings.
Put about two teaspoons of cooking oil in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Layer the onions and potatoes, starting with onions. Season it well with salt and pepper and add about 200ml of water. Put a lid on the pan.
If you don't have a lid - use a plate! Put the pan on a medium heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Check regularly to make sure it hasn't boiled dry. Test the potatoes from time to time to see if they're cooked.  It'll take about 10-15 minutes depending on how thickly you've sliced the spuds.

When the spuds are cooked, take the lid off and boil it rapidly to reduce the liquid. It's done as soon as the onions start to stick. See the picture at the top to see how they should look.

Goes well with a thick slice of corned beef, or a couple of rashers of bacon.