Interestingly, although not surprisingly, the outdoor sown basil has yet to make an appearance – unlike the spinach-beet, the spring onions, and coriander – which are all showing strong early growth. Also outside, I have a good crop of rhubarb. The surplus of which, I intend to cut and freeze while the storks are still tender.
A real sign that summer is on it’s way to this part of Scotland is the arrival of bluebells and other wild flowers in the banking around the cottage.
The hens are enjoying the warm damp weather and spend all their day in the field, grazing on juicy worms and succulent grasses. They are always on alert for the sound of the back door, however, and the real possibility of a tasty morsel from kitchen.
The social highlights this month have been plentiful. First, midmonth, we had our Scottish Writers group meeting at nearby Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate. We had a fabulous lunch followed by a guided tour of the castle. It was a wonderful day to catch up with all my writerly buddies. On the last weekend of May, the weather was sizzling – and not only was it Mr Country Cottage and I's wedding anniversary - but it was also a very dear friend’s special birthday. We certainly celebrated in style with fantastic friends, a munificent barbeque, and rather too much champagne!
Before I go on to the May recipe, I’d like to tell you that this month I received an email from Debbie Attewell, editor of Candis Magazine. I had entered their Blog Competition in April, and she was writing to tell me that, although I hadn’t won - out of over three hundred entries - my blog had been short-listed and judged as ‘highly commended’. I was absolutely delighted! Check out Candis for yourselves.
May Recipe – Easy Rhubarb Jam
500g of jam sugar – this sugar has pectin added for a sure set!
200ml of orange juice.
Method: In a large pan, combine the three ingredients: rhubarb, jam sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a slow rolling boil. Carefully skim off any foam (this will ensure a clear jam). Cook for 45 minutes. In the meantime, wash your jars and lids, and place the jars in a warm oven to sterilise them (about 120 C deg/ 250 F/ Gas 2). Take out after 30 minutes and place (carefully) onto a wooden board to cool. Don’t put onto a cold surface or the glass jars will crack (as has happened to me loads of times!) Once the rhubarb is cooked and the jam looks ready, take it off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes. Ladle while still warm into the slightly warm jars and fill to the brim. Seal with lids tightly. Enjoy with your morning toast instead of the usual marmalade. Delicious!
More cottage chat next month. In June I hope to be growing tomatoes, peppers, and other goodies in the greenhouse. See you then!