A good recipe (385)

by Max Akroyd

This work has many perks. From seeing a beautiful May dawn to the weary but happy dusk-end of another day spent outside, it can be a real privilege.

The best bit is the ability to get priorities in the right order: family, animals, then fruit and vegetable growing. Sometimes they get into conflict, a hen escapes and unmulches your raspberry beds, the kids’ idea of planting delicate seedlings maybe on the heavy-handed side … but generally everything falls into place in a natural and strangely familiar arrangement.

Sometimes the animals provide an education to their human keepers, particularly when it comes to parenting. You can only be impressed by the dedication of a mother pig to her piglets.  A goose lacking thermal insulation for her nest plucks out a few of her own feathers to make it just so. In this way, the animals enhance understanding of ourselves.

So, despite misgivings about the work I’ll be overloading the rest of the week with, I’m taking the day off. Our youngest is four today and I’m lucky enough to share this time with him. Follow him around on his new bike in that uncomfortable crooked way, and try and soothe him when it all gets a bit much later on!



In the absence of any gardening news, I thought I’d share this recipe instead. It’s nothing glamourous but it captures the same alchemy which occurs when you take some simple ingredients and apply a little care and attention.

This, then, is Rhubarb and Raisin chutney:

900 g rhubarb, cut into 5cm chunks (important detail, to retain texture)
450 g onions, chopped
115 g raisins
300 ml water
300 ml cider vinegar
450 g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if want to make a mango chutney substitute)

Just chuck all that in a pan and simmer it down until there’s no liquid obvious. That makes just over two 0.5 litre jars-full.

We’re enjoying it so much that any suggestion of letting it mature for a month or two would be absurd. And I’m going to make to double quantaties on the next baking day.