Well, another month has started, may as well try to get back into the swing of things a bit. Last weekend was the first weekend for a long while where I felt able to do much of anything (apart from things which were absolutely necessary, which, thankfully, I mostly manage to get by with doing more or less sufficiently). I went to the garden on Saturday morning and spent the morning peeling and chopping windfall apples for the juicer. Fantastic yoke - I had seen photos online before but couldn't get my head around how it worked so it was great to see one in action. When I think of juicer normally I think of an electric machine that takes up way too much space and is a pain in the neck to wash. Over here though, it's more like a steamer that you just use on top of your cooker with a small amount of water in the bottom and that steams the juice out of the fruit and you decant it as you're going out of a small tube in the side.
I brought home two large jars of that juice to make apple jelly with. I also badly needed to finally use up the two kilos of tomatoes and one kilo of plums that I had bought two weeks earlier. Yes, the first week after I got paid and finally had some money again I went to the market to hopefully get enough tomatoes to make some salsa for over the winter and to dry some. And then sank back into depression and apart from one dehydrator load a week later managed no more than to remember to put them into the fridge so that they at least wouldn't dissolve into a smelly mush on the kitchen floor.
So this week I have had some food waste as, even being in the fridge, I still needed to get rid of a few tomaotes and bits of tomatoes that were starting to mould. The small bunch of coriander I had gotten was also long gone past usable. So I decided to make chutney using could be rescued of the plums (nearly three quarters going by weight, which also includes the stones so not too bad - wouldn't have eaten them fresh though!), topped up to a kilo with tomatoes and the hokkaido pumpkin I had also bought at the same time. I even took my time to make sure and chop the pumpkin up into really small pieces, something I generally don't have the patience for. And then the bloody chutney burnt. After only about two hours cooking. Aaagh. So in a couple of months I may potentially have a lot of food waste. Yes, I did. Trying not to stir any of the burnt stuff back into the bulk of the mixture, I got it all into jars (20 x 230ml). But it's hard to tell how badly affected most of it is. Very frustrating as until it started to burn badly the smell had been absolutely divine.
Otherwise I also had to dump a couple of peaches. Bought a couple from the greengrocer's on the corner as well as a pineapple (pineapple was on special offer at 99c each so I decided to get one to dry and then I misread the sign on the peaches and nectarines and thought I was getting a great offer at 1.49 per kilo but it was 1.49 per pound so really just a very average price) but despite processing them the day after I bought them, a few had already started to rot (at bruised places) and one or two were quite simply rotten through. I'm less and less impressed with the fruit I get at that place and think I will stick to lemons and limes when I need them from now on.
From what I did get from the peaches and nectarines I used some to fill up the dehydrator and the rest to make jam. Added the juice of a lemon and used 1:1 jam sugar but not at a 1:1 ratio as that makes it far too sweet (but it was the only sugar I had on hand and it needs to be used up anyway). I thought it had set fairly well but unlike strawberry jam, rather than getting firmer as it cooled, it seems to have gotten a bit runnier. Oh well. At least it tastes nice.
I used the same sugar, again at a slightly less than 1:1 ratio to make the apple jelly as well. That really stayed runny but I got fed up waiting for it to set so just gave up and potted it up anyway. I had one half-jar of peach jam which I topped up with apple jelly and put some into a very small jar as well for myself. Then I added a shot of brandy and put the rest into very big jars. They're for the garden and they are very fond of their jam 'mit Schuss'.
And my biggest achievement this week has been to actually use up the pak choi and chinese cabbage that I brought home from the garden on Saturday as well. I chopped up the pak choi and sauteed it briefly before putting it into three large freezer bag portions and into the freezer. I'm really not convinced about freezing it since I've generally used very small pak choi leaves in salads or stirfries before. But this thing was massive and everyone else in the garden seemed to think freezing it would be okay. And there was a recipe in my Good Housekeeping book for sauteed pak choi too so it's worth a try and will be something handy to grab and dump into a soup or sauce. I also used up the last of the tomatoes, which had been chopped and put back into the fridge by making a quick tomato sauce and added the chopped chinese cabbage to it. I probably wouldn't have thought of doing that myself but it was one of the recipes in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book and I have to say it was really delicious. Had a big helping of it today in work for lunch. I heated it up this morning and cooked some wheat to go with it and put the whole lot into the wide-necked flask I bought at the beginning of sumer. That thing is definitely going to earn its keep now that the weather is getting cooler!
Apart from what I've mentioned about I also threw out a really, really rotten apple which managed to be hiding underneath an envelope underneath a piece of paper (of the important type - left out so that I would remember to deal with it at the end of the month, but I forgot/didn't realise there was an apple under it and was somewhat surprised when I tried to pick that piece of paper up and it basically dissolved in my hand - yuck). And a small carton of creme fraiche which was a couple of weeks past it's use by date. At the beginning of the month I obviously thought I was going to do a lot of cooking but my mood wasn't able to match up to my expectations.
I do also need to get rid of some yoghurt too but am waiting until I feel a bit more up to it. It's three or four small jars of yoghurt from the last batch I made myself but as I know I haven't made yoghurt for over a month, the thought of the smell is putting me off dealing with it. Maybe tomorrow. Yoghurt can be surprising sometimes, it doesn't really go off, just gets more and more tart I suppose.
It's a new month but it going to be a very expensive one. I ran out of money well before the end of the week and instead of just holding out for the last few days, some busy evenings and lack of organisation until yesterday mean that I've already spent most of next weeks money. I have ten euro in my purse and I'm going to try and head to the market tomorrow and see if there are a few last tomatoes up for grabs and get that salsa made for the winter. I do still have ten other euro for this week still in the bank but I want to try and hold out until Wednedsay before taking that out as I am due to go for lunch with people from work then. We'll see. The lure of chocolate might be too much for me before then! But it's better for me to have one more week of little or nothing to spend and then have enough for the rest of the month than end up borrowing from next week every week, which just ends up being stressful. Here's to a slightly closer to keeping on budget month of October!