A mystery plant in the garden...?
Kylie, Britney, & Beyonce happily roam on the field and hill
In the vegetable garden, the runner beans are climbing up their bean poles and the little gem lettuce are all looking good. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing amazingly, displaying lots of lovely green tomatoes of differing sizes, which with care should start reddening up next month. The pumpkin is growing like a proverbial beanstalk and keeps flowering prolifically. I have to continually ‘nip them in the bud’ to make sure the plant's energy is directed towards the three biggest pumpkin buds to maximise potential for giant pumpkins come Autumn time!
Mid month, I attended a writer’s conference in Penrith, Cumbria. It was the Annual Romantic Novelist’s Association Conference and a wonderful opportunity for me to spend a whole weekend with fellow members and writer buddies. By day, I attended workshops and listened to talks from the industry professionals, top writers of women’s fiction, editors, agents, and publishers. In the evenings, I chatted to friends in the bar over a glass of wine and attended the late night kitchen parties afterwards. On the Saturday evening, I enjoyed the Annual Gala Dinner and on Sunday evening, I returned home to the cottage and to my family, having had an awful lot of fun, while learning much more about the craft of fiction writing. Hurray for the RNA!
While I was away in Penrith, Mr Country-Cottage was kept equally busy. As part of a champion Scottish axe-throwing team, he was booked to put on a demonstration of axe-throwing skills at the Village Gala, an important annual local event. I thought you might like to see a photo of the team, dressed in their tartan finery, and ready for action.
Ready for the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh
The recipe for July is in celebration of my blackcurrant bushes, which are ‘currently’ weighed down with fruity produce - please do pardon the punnet! I will of course be making lots of jam and freezing as much of the surplus as I can manage to harvest. It’s handy having the boys home for the holidays in times like these. Blackcurrants freeze very well, and I think there is always something very special about defrosting them in the middle of winter, for a cheesecake topping or sorbet, and experiencing all the scents and flavours of a July day that has long gone.
So, here is the recipe for this month. It’s the one I use to make my own blackcurrant ice-cream. It’s a real taste of summer – whatever the weather.
1lb (450g) fresh blackcurrants
6 oz (175g) sugar
5 fl oz (150 ml) water
10 fl oz (175ml) double cream
You will also need a freezer proof plastic box with a lid and a nylon sieve.
Pile the blackcurrants, about one third at a time, into the sieve set over a mixing bowl, and mash with a wooden spoon until you have extracted all the pulp and only the stalks, pips and skins are left in the sieve.
Now place the sugar and the water in a saucepan over a medium heat, stir until all the sugar has dissolved, then let it come to the boil, and boil for 3 minutes exactly.
Remove from the heat and stir into the blackcurrant pulp.
Whip the cream until it just begins to thicken.
Fold the cream into the fruit mixture until thoroughly blended.
Pour it into the plastic box, and freeze in a freezer or in the ice-making compartment of a fridge turned to its coldest setting. As soon as the mixture begins to set (after about 3 hours) turn it out into a bowl and beat thoroughly. Then, return it to the freezer (in the box) until set, which will take about another 3 hours. Remove to the main part of the fridge about an hour before serving. Serves approx 6.
Next month, I’m sowing salad leaves and spicy rocket, to enjoy with our late summer salads. I’m hoping to harvest ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse and use up all the basil I’ve grown to go with them. Socially, we have a wedding to attend in early August and a dinner engagement mid-month, with some good friends. So, until the month end, do let me know what you enjoy about the country cottage blog. As you can see, I’ve gone all high-tech by adding the visitor map, a followers listing, and opinion poll that I hope you will all consider voting on.