I think there can only be two topics of conversation today... Wimbers and strawberries.
So did you watch??
Wimbledon Men's Final that is, for anyone who has been on Mars.
Bookhound felt it was an honour and he had to, I just couldnt bear it, so I cooked up tennis-watching lap-eating fodder in the morning (quiche and cake) and then 'watched' from the garden and ran in every time I heard a big shout, until victory felt within Andy Murray's grasp, but even then it was nail-bitingly tense.
'His mum will be crying,' I said as my voice cracked, but what a moment. Thank goodness we no longer have that Fred Perry thing going on (magnificent though I am sure it must have been in 1936, when he was wearing long trousers, and 'cars on the road looked like this'...bless the BBC and their trailers) but imagine in seventy-seven year's time when they are waiting here in Britain to win it again... 'and can you believe it, in 2013 computers looked like this,' etc.
But well done Andy, you absolutely deserved that.
And on the subject of strawberries, I went to the picking fields last week...
It's not a prolific year in my humble opinion, or maybe the strawberries are very late and I went too soon, but Wimbledon's over, we should have been knee deep in them, but I had to work very hard, in the drizzle, to fill my punnets. Clearly not enough sun and warmth up to last week, this week the things will be jumping off the stalks.
No matter, what I eventually picked looked fine...
and the strawberry jam-setting nightmare has been and gone, and is now but a distant memory.
You'd think I would have learned my lesson last time, (Quick Jell added in desperation at 11pm) and I almost had.
Firstly, make the jam before the hot weather, we now seem to have the predicted heat wave.
Start making it earlier in the day to allow for inevitable crises, not 8pm.
Use the gas hob by the back door for the cooling breeze, not the Aga, which is switched off the for the summer now anyway.
I just failed miserably on the pectin yet again, taking the W.I. recipe's word for the addition of the juice of three lemons as sufficient to set 6lbs of strawberries.
Bless Bookhound who dashed into town for Certo (liquid pectin) as I stared into my rolling boil, with the thermometer stuck at the Jam mark, but no sign of solidifying, and only to find that the supermarket had sold out. Clearly everyone has been to the strawberry fields and we were all sweating over the pucker-on-the-saucer moment. Sod's law that Bookhound, his arms full of powdered pectin, would then bump into the best jam-maker in the village who wanted to know what on earth we were using that rubbish for, when cooking apples were perfectly good.
Anyway, add powdered pectin late on and you are asking for trouble. It's a little lumpy and runny combined, in other words a bit of a mess that may merit a quick reboil, but the jars of Strawberry and Vanilla jam made separately seem passable. I found a recipe in The Lady magazine, in a coffee shop, and copied it out ... yes, honestly, I really didn't tear the page out. It involved steeping the strawberries overnight in a sugar and vanilla pod-laden concoction that would have sent any passing diabetic into a coma with a glance. Then boiled up the next day with possibly more belt-and-braces pectin than was called for, so when it reached setting point I had about ten seconds to get it in the jars, and it will probably need a drill to get it out.
But anyway, that's the strawberry duties done, now I must move onto the elderflowers.
I'm going to try a different recipe this year, having made some indifferent cordial in the past, and am hoping this one, from the BBC website, may succeed where others haven't, unless anyone out there has a better one.
Any preserving going on over your way??