Friday, November 16, 2012

Apple and Chilli Jelly

It sounds wrong: apple and chilli jelly, but the sweetness of a rotund, juicy, apple jelly spiked with a spine-tingling, hot chilli edge is just, pour moi, the perfect pairing with cheese.

I am currently in the throes of a love affair with Ossau Iraty a French Sheep's milk cheese that is delicate and nutty and sings high and long when saddled with this particular chilli jelly - which is akin to a sweet chilli jam but far, far more sophisticated.

Where would I be without my trusty jelly-making kit, a pan, a muslin and a wheelbarrow load of local Somerset Apples?

Apple & Chilli Jelly

2kg chopped local organic apples - core, peel and all
1lb of soft brown Demerara sugar
1.2 litres water
6-8 dried red chillies pounded to tiny shreds, include the seeds


Slowly cook the apples in a pan with the water until the fruit is soft and mushy. Arrange your jelly stand and very carefully tip the hot fruit mush into the bag.

Leave to drip, into a container, overnight.

Measure the liquid, for every 500ml use 450g of brown sugar. Pour into pan - add your chilli, more or less to your taste. Bring to the boil, stirring the contents - when the sugar has melted bring to a rolling boil for a good ten minutes.

When the jelly has hit setting point - use the wrinkle test - immediately decant into hot sterilised jars - leave to cool.

Enjoy this beautiful, delicate but piquant jelly with your cheese board - baby.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To mesh or not to mesh?

Getting hitched in the 21st century is not a straightforward affair. Many modern girls who've got a ring on their finger have taken the new high-road; kept hold of their surname and attached their new husbands name to it - creating a double-barrelled extravaganza. Actor Aaron Johnson, for example, changed his name to Aaron Taylor Johnson after he married Sam Taylor Wood - who is herself now Sam Taylor Johnson.

However, others, more forward-thinking than this, mix theirs up and mesh the two surnames to create an entirely new one. TV presenter Dawn Porter and her actor husband Chris O'Dowd have together become O'Porter, and they are not the only ones, plenty more youngsters are meshing it up.

Myself; I went old school, took on the new name, as did our children, but only, I thought, in a minimal way, I would not relinquish my soul entirely and continued in my family name with work and with friends. However, as time has crept along - five years of marriage no less - in most paperwork and official detail I am a not of my own origin but of my husbands - and it does grate I am shamed to say as I do not feel like that person at all. 

In BathLife, last month, I was named: Hannah Newton in public, by jimminy - is that moi? I literally do not associate myself with that name - yet that is actually my name in many parts of my life. But, and I apologise to my out-laws at this point, I do not feel I am she. My heart and soul and very being is very much a Sturgeon and always will be, won't it? Or will it be that as the years roll on, and they appear to super quick, I will eventually morph into that person and become her proper? 

But what about those double-barrel folks and their off-spring; exactly what happens when their son or a daughter get married? Will they add another name onto the barrel or will they whip one off? And who's will be the one to go?

In Spain, traditionally a child will take on their fathers family name and their mothers family name - yet when they marry often the mothers family name is the one that is eventually lost.

So should you take on your husbands name and conform to a possibly outmoded and traditional form of identity or perhaps mesh your names to make a new one like Newgeon or Sturton, or double-barrell it up for some fun linguistic flippery?