Fine, I’ll Make My Own Up! Experimenting With Green Tomatoes.

It’s been a busy couple of days on the cooking front. Today I finished off a batch of Green Tomato Pickles. Call outs for recipes didn’t actually present any, maybe my followers aren’t cooks. Nonetheless, I pulled together a recipe using my mother’s memory of her pickle triumph and an internet recipe (from the site called Gourmet Getaways) for some of the proportions.

Below is the recipe for your experimentation. I don’t like sweet pickles so the sugar in this recipe is quite low, for even more tartness use half the amount I’ve used. If you want sweeter you can go up to 900 gms sugar (too sweet for me).

2 kg green tomatoes (washed, de-stalked and dried)
400 gms onions
9 tbsp salt

Dice the tomatoes and onions to similar sizes but keep separate. In the pan you will later use to cook everything up, layer 1/3 tomatoes, 1/3 onions and sprinkle 1/3 salt evenly over, repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover and leave this to sit overnight to help remove the excess liquid.

Next day drain your tomato and onion mix. Boil 2 kettles of water. Pour one over the mixture and drain again. Repeat with the other kettle of water, this is to try to get all the saltiness out of your pickle base.

Return your thoroughly drained tomatoes and onions to their pan and add:
450 mls white vinegar

Put on to stove and bring to boil. Once boiling cook for 10 mins (put the timer on) with the lid on.

Meanwhile mix:
3/4 cup flour (can use rice flour for gluten free)
1 tbsp turmeric
3 tbsp curry powder
300 mls white vinegar (added to dry ingredients to form a paste) in a separate bowl.
My paste was quite runny, I think the rice flour didn’t absorb the liquid as readily but it still worked as a thickening agent.

Once your tomatoes etc have cooked add:
1 cup sugar and dissolve (this is where you can change the sugar proportions for sweeter or tarter pickles).

Remove from the heat and add the flour and spice paste slowly to the hot mixture, making sure it’s all mixed in, no lumps etc, and stirred through. Once it is all added put your mixture back on the stove on a low heat and simmer gently for 10 mins, stirring or until you have your desired thickness.

Turn off the heat and let it cool a little before putting it into your sterilised jars. These proportions make 6 jars.

I think you can eat this almost immediately but I would let it sit in the jar for about a month to let the flavours settle and mature. It’s perfect for roast beef and cheese sandwiches or as a condiment with some of my favourite winter warmers, corned beef or pickled pork. I’ve already dropped one off to my sister and I have to give one to my other sister, who grew the tomatoes.

I hope you have fun experimenting with this recipe. My mum said it used to be very popular at the school fete.

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In The Morning I Am Trapped By A Cat

My cat is laying on me. It is her favourite thing to do at this moment. She bleats plaintively at the closed door of the bedroom, like her life depends on coming through that door, until someone lets her in. Then she leaps up onto the bed and proceeds to stalk onto the nearest human, which is me. Well, really, she is only laying on me because ‘cushion human’ is not in the bed next to me, my wife is making coffee.

Once she is on you then there is a number of stages of laying. First is the settling in stomp, where she searches for the most comfortable part of you (usually the lower stomach) to lay on and then circles this part of your anatomy until the optimum position is found. Then she proceeds to pumping. For those of you who have never had a cat this peculiar action is when the cat kneads you with its front paws complete with claws, pushing its claws into your soft belly (thankfully covered by a thick doona), pulling them back with claws attached and repeating ad nauseum continually dribbling with the delight of it. I try very hard to discourage this stage, it is quite uncomfortable and it puts tiny holes in my doona covers. It can also be very disconcerting to have a wet patch on the doona from the dribble. The last stage is sleeping on you. She relaxes completely, stops pumping and usually curls into a ball on her side and flips her head into the upside down position. Purring then ensues.

At all stages of the laying, patting the cat can be fraught with danger. This cat only likes to be touched on the head and under the chin. The problem with this is that she has sleek, soft, black fur all over her and it is very tempting to pat all the way down her back. This can result in a sharp ‘mah’ and the sinking of teeth into your hand. Other patting dangers occur when you tap her paws to stop the pumping. You have to be quick or you could end up with her claws in your hand. This will certainly happen if you touch her on her stomach. Beware the flash of cat belly, it is not an invitation to feel the soft, fluffy fur, rather a trap for the foolish and unwary.

Ah, the coffee has arrived and my wife is slipping back into the bed. My cat abandons me and stalks onto her favourite cushion human. The process starts again and I am glad. It means I can reach my coffee without the possibility of disturbing the cat.

I Exorcise A Longing By Writing About Someone Else Doing It

Drawing breath, scanning the horizon, Sofie, reaches for her tobacco. At times like this she loves nothing better than the ritual of rolling a cigarette.

Sofie tears a paper out of its packet and places it in her left hand. She rummages in the bottom of the tobacco pouch for a filter, placing it in the corner of her mouth, hand then back in the pouch to metre out the tobacco, fingers testing the amount, separating it from the bulk and placing it on the paper.

She holds the paper with both hands, between thumb and middle finger, index fingers smoothing the tobacco along the paper with the occasional test roll to get it all even. Then the filter is placed in and the final roll committed to, a little tuck of the corners, her thumbs starting, tips pressed together, and the roll taking them out to the edges, the gum strip left, waiting for the lick that will seal the creation. Her tongue traces along the gum and the index fingers press it all into place.

Roll completed, the cigarette hangs from the right side of Sofie’s mouth, she tightens her lips to make sure of the seal and raises her lighter to ignite the tip. Drawing on the filter, the tip glows, a waft of smoke escapes and the first drawing in of breath takes the smoke down into her lungs and she exhales with satisfaction. Ritual completed, Sofie resumed her watch, searching for the headlights that would tell her that they were on their way home to her.