Sunday, April 13, 2008

MISS MARTIN (UNFORTUNATELY) - SCALE INSECTS AND JAM

Bright start to the day. Rain falling straight down in silver lines through the sunshine. (Instead of being pushed earthwards and shoved to the side by the wind.)

* * * * *
Miss Martin phoned.

She asked if Ming would be at the M.O.D. for work tomorrow.

I said this is unlikely because he's still in prison.

She said "Oh yes!", paused, and rang off.

(She's good at pauses.)

It strikes me that she takes an unusually close interest in her cleaning staff.

INVENTORY OF PLANTS GROWING OUTSIDE MY LIVING ROOM WINDOW CONT.
(Further!)

CONDITIONS
Done them!

Today:-
PLANTS WHICH ARE OUTSIDE MY HOUSE BECAUSE I PUT THEM THERE AND BECAUSE I LIKE THEM AND BECAUSE I THINK THEY LOOK GOOD IN THAT SITUATION AND WHICH ARE STILL THERE BECAUSE NO-ONE HAS TRODDEN ON THEM (YET):-

One hollyhock - over-wintered in situ. - home to scale insects. (It doesn't seem to ming - I mean mind.)

Daffodils - there are two pretty ones still in bloom (four, pale, double-blooms to a stem).

(I think Robert, Ceres and Caddis saw me talking to their mum after they'd pulled the heads off the last lot - and their apprehension protected my flowers.)

I was asking her why she'd called Ceres 'Ceres'.

Answer - 'She was pink and round when she was born'.

Eh?

* * * * *

I've been looking through jam books.

Lucy says it's a waste of time making jam when you can buy it.

I say it's a waste of time eating - if it's shop bought jam.

Lucy tells me it comes from the W.I. market.

- Well, that's different. She should have said so in the first place!

(Sometimes, people simply don't make the effort to be clear.)

_____

9 comments:

tina said...

Love homemade jam!

Barbee' said...

The most wonderful jelly in the world was my mother's wild plum jelly. Store bought regular plum jelly can't hold a candle to it.

Can't hold a candle to it? Hmmmm, wonder how that idiom got started.

Frances, said...

What is W.I.? I hope your hollyhock gives you some flowers.

Melanie said...

Esther, I tried to answer your question about the white sage on my blog. If you'd like, I found it in the garden today and I could post a photo so you see what it looks like in early spring.

MELISSA MANNON said...

I aim to learn to can this year. Making jam sounds like another wonderful idea. Why buy when you can do it yourself? That way you know exactly what is in it

Esther Montgomery said...

re. Jam . . . . !

Shop-bought jam isn't a patch on homemade.

Mostly, I make blackberry and apple. (Both picked from the wild.)

I also make Damson jam. (Damsons also picked from the wild.)

For those not familiar with them - Damsons are a small, intensely flavoured plum with a very large stone in relation to the flesh.

The strength of flavour in damson jam can almost knock your head off!

Esther

p.s. I used to make strawberry jam too. And raspberry is probably my favourite. However, if you don't grow your own - you need to go to a farm and 'pick your own' - and we don't have a car, so that's not practical for us.

Using shop bought fruit is an option. But getting good quality, well flavoured soft fruit is difficult.

Esther Montgomery said...

Melissa - I've never canned - though I do 'bottle'.

But this is becoming more difficult.

'Kilner' jars were brilliant but they aren't made any more.

I switched to a French version with a metal lever that pulled forward to create the seal. (They looked really stylish.) The trouble was, the seal was too good. I simply couldn't get the lid open to get at the fruit. I smashed the tops off a couple, just trying to force my way 'in' to the fruit.

Now, I use a German make - but, for this, you need new metal plates under the ring every time you use them - and the shop which sells the plates has closed.

(All our decent, non-chain-store shops are closing!)

Esther

Esther Montgomery said...

Melanie - I read your comment on your blog yesterday but have been a bit busy to respond - but thank you!

I think I know what's what now.

It's the international nature of the internet that is both interesting and confusing.

People in separate parts of the world happily use the same name for different plants without confusion.

It's only when we go through google images (which is what I did) that it gets muddling.

My sage is common-or-garden Salvia Officinalis in the white (as opposed to purple version). It's totally unexceptional and everyone who grows perennial herbs here has it.

I would have stuck with that if typing 'white sage' into google (to check the spelling!) hadn't turned up the Californian version.

Then, I found 'white sage' being used in an extaodinary garden in Kent - where they were splashing 'white sage' against north american totem poles which had been carved in Bali. (!?!?)

At this point, I got very confused. They've got Ayers Rock in their garden too. (Open to the public). And a model cobra. And they wear feathered head-dresses.

(!)

So - I think Salvia Azurra is the Californian White Sage (which seems to be used as a hallucinogin as well as medicinally) and Salvia Officinalis - which is the white sage I have (and which Ming likes to put in stews but I think it is too strong and food with it in tastes horrid!)

(It doesn't even look good in the garden - so I don't recommend it!)

Phew!

Esther

Esther Montgomery said...

Frances - 'W.I.' stands for The Women's Institute. It is famous for the jam-making abilities of its members.

Theoretically, it is a fiercely non-political organisation but it campaigns on issues like climate change and food quality and violence against women.

(So, I'm not clear what 'political' means in this context!)

My confusion is shared. In 2000, Tony Blair (who was our then Prime Minister) addressed the W.I. national conference. He was booed and slow-handclapped because his audience thought his address was too political.

(Well - he is a politician!)

He was bewildered - one of the rare occasions when he didn't seem to know what to do or say next.

(He was talking about things like benefits and whether rural post-offices should be closed and things like that.)

Where I live, the W.I. has its own building, runs a home produce market, has an excellent choir, a country dance class, and a craft afternoon - something almost every day.

By its nature, it tends to be older women who have the time to take part.

And their jam is excellent.

(So are their cakes!)

Esther