Tales from Nutts Bottom

I have recently moved house, something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time! The country has always been somewhere I would choose to live but having been in a small market town for the past 25 years the need for piece and tranquility was overwhelming. However, much to my friends delight we find a house called Nutts Bottom! This may not seem to be a problem to most people but I I soon realised I was going to have a few issues with the name when I tired ordering a fridge from John Lewis and the assistant struggled to contain his amusement! My next encounter was with the doctors surgery where the receptionist found it difficult to communicate with me because she was laughing so much!

So I decided that as a change of name was out of the question I would just have to run with it.

The house sits on a large plot and for the first time in my life I decided to grow vegetables and fruit! So far I have a managed martian lettuce and copious amounts of tomatoes which if not picked at the optimum time go straight to pulp! No one advised me that I would need a degree in horticulture to manage my new hobbie!

One success however, has been my Rhubarb and Vanilla jam. (See BBC recipe below) Jam is another first to stretch my culinary skills, if I say so myself it tastes surprisingly good!

I have decided to make a range of Rhubarb coloured cushions inspired from my pursuits in the garden! Watch this space as goodness knows what inspiration I will get from the onions and potatoes!

The ingredients:

1kg rhubarb, weighed after trimming, cut into 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin – we used Tate & Lyle)
2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
juice 1 lemon

The method:

Put a small plate in the freezer. Put the rhubarb into a preserving pan or your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.
Boil for about 10 mins, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft). Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 mins, push your finger through the jam – if the surface wrinkles it is ready, if not, keep cooking for 2-min intervals, testing in between. (Or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 105C)
Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 mins before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.