Last night I indulged. I poured myself a whiskey, sat down at my kitchen table and gingerly cued Frank Sinatra’s Christmas carols. Whilst I awaited the protests of my flatmates (which strangely enough never came) I spent the evening sketching. I sketched with purpose, in the hope that from the collection of scribbles on the gridded pages before me an idea or two would emerge and happily materialise into a Christmas present or two (with a little bit of organisation and elbow grease of course).
Whilst I sketched I found my mind wandered. It wove its way through the year, through the days and weeks which for me defined 2011. As summer became autumn and autumn winter, the pictures which formed revealed a year overflowing. Overflowing with the company of the people I love the most, of growth and change, of guitars and ukuleles, of beautiful food and celebration, of exercise and conversely of inactivity(!), of photography and exhibitions, of travel abroad and travel closer to home and of things exciting and new and full of promise.
But before bidding farewell to 2011 we celebrate Christmas, which with a bit of luck equates to an overflow of more good food and good company and a serious dose of Christmas carols (out come the ukuleles, guitars and champagne-laced singing voices!). And when the time comes for Santa to do his rounds, this year my gifts will come mostly from my toils in the kitchen. This orange chutney will have its place under our tree and is perfect accompanied with some good cheese and a glass or two of wine.
So here’s to another year ending, and to a new one beginning. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one!
Makes approx 10 jars--
8 apples, cored and finely diced
5 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
400g ginger, peeled and grated
½ cup currants
2 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
5 bay leaves
1.4kg brown sugar
2 litres malt vinegar
1. Peel the oranges with a peeler so that the pith is left behind. Slice the peel finely – I ended up with fine strips which looked as though they had been julienned. Peel the pith from the oranges, cut them in half then slice them finely.
2. Place all the ingredients into a large pot (I used two pots) and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for several hours until the mixture reduces and becomes thick.
3. Sterilise the jars in the oven at 100ºC for half and hour and pour boiling water over the lids.
4. Spoon the mixture into jars and seal. The longer you leave the chutney the more the flavours develop and mature. Leave it for at least a month before opening and store in the fridge once opened.