I found this post today in my drafts. Being autumn in the other regions, I thought it would be good to post it now. Enjoy the read and the quinces.
A Lost Post:
Such an late autumn day today. The light is like twilight even at noon. And so the birds are confused and their chorus continues all day. I think also it is celebrating the rain after a week of quite unseasonally warm weather. Yesterday, 27C. Today 19C. Splendid! I love the warm weather but I also like to feel and experience the seasons. My body needs it.
Some time ago, in fact January of 2009, I set myself a task. To go through every nook and cranny of my life and tidy, eliminate, structure and generally sort out every cupboard, store room, desk, hard disk, email storage, music files, photos …. you get the picture … that I have.
Little did I know how long this would take and how it would bring changes to my life. I moved my office out of the spare room at home into a real office about 10 minutes walk away. I’ve changed how I think about food and food shopping. I can find things in my cupboards again. My paperwork is now so orderly. In fact, Order prevails. I like to think that anyone could walk into my home and find what they are looking for (my PA, my parents, daughter, etc etc). For someone who still runs many many projects from home, this is a real achievement.
I am no where near finished. In the 18 months since I pledged this task, such progress, such change, such lifestyle adjustments. But I would say I am about half or even a third of the way through. Probably about half way through the big stuff and then there will be some time on accumulated photographic work from many years that will take time, thinking and sorting. I need to declutter in some areas. I need to really strongly radically rearrange the storeroom. I need to chuck, throw, hurl, remove a whole lot of stuff. Organise the rest. And some other changes needed where things and habits remain from a previous part of my life where I now need to let go and move on.
I have always said that moving house is like spring cleaning your life. This is more. Much more. Although you may not bring everything with you when you change location, you can and often do, still bring the clutter and disorganisation from one location to another. Well, I can. My aim is to have around me those things that are needed right now (including those things that are loved), the other things that will be needed at different times will be in the store room (easily retrievable) and the remainder will be gone.
Luckily I don’t have a lot of remainder. Most of it is already in the storeroom. This room will be a challenge, but luckily it is some time yet until I need to tackle it. More work to do in other locations first.
Autumn of course is a time of change. It takes me a while to get into the swing of Autumn but beautiful foods like pomegranates and quinces help. I get a few buckets of quinces from a friend’s farm each year. Not a great lover of quince tarts, pies, etc, I generally bake them all and use the beautiful results for jams, fresh chutneys, syrups, sauces and to feed my freezer (so that I can continue to have jams, chutneys, syrups, sauces throughout the year).
The Mindfulness of Quinces
Funny fruits, quinces are hard, gritty, greeny-yellow and sour when they are uncooked. Cooked properly – a long and slow cooking – they turn bright crimson and perhaps into a melty goodness. In this way they reveal a hidden beauty, no longer an inhospitable inedible fruit.
When you find a good supply of quinces, stick with it. Different varieties will either retain a graininess when cooked or it will be eliminated by the cooking. Although the graininess is not unpleasant, I prefer the less grainy varieties. You may need to experiment with your suppliers.
This is a good recipe for a cool Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Or cook them overnight, and awaken to a freshly baked quinces for breakfast, sort of a day.
Source : inspired by Spice by Chris Manfield
Prep time: 15 – 20 mins
Cooking time: 7 – 8 hours
Serves: depends how many you cook and how you intend to use them
6 or more quinces
1kg – 2 kg sugar (Note: I use less sugar because eventually the quinces will be used for other purposes. Use more if you want to keep the quinces in their spiced state for longer periods of time.)
3 l water
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 – 2 chillies
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 lemon, thickly sliced
2 juniper berries (optional, if you have them)
Preheat your oven to 150C.
Bring all ingredients except the quinces to a boil in a wide, heavy based, oven proof pan, then reduce heat to a mere simmer.
Peel the quinces then cut them into halves lengthwise (halve again if large), but leave their cores and seeds in tact.
Put the quinces into the simmering liquid, then press a sheet of baking paper over the fruit and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and poach gently for 7 – 8 hours until the fruit is soft and red.
Now they are ready to be used in pies, tarts, and desserts of all sorts. For sheer simplicity, simply serve over icecream. You will of course need to cut away the core and seeds before serving. Enjoy!
Left over syrup can be made into jam.
If you want to bottle them
Carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to hot sterilised jars. Strain syrup, then pour over fruit until covered. Seal the jars and refrigerate for 4 – 6 months. As you need to use the fruit, remove it from the syrup and cut away the core and seeds. Reduce the syrup over heat until thick and syrupy and serve it as a sauce.
If you want to freeze them
Cool the fruit and then carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to freezer-proof containers or bags. Strain syrup, then pour over fruit. Seal the containers and refrigerate. As you need to use the fruit, defrost, remove from the syrup and cut away the core and seeds. The fruit is particularly good for “mash” type recipes – mixed with yoghurt, made into a fresh chutney, blended with the syrup for icecream topping etc. Particularly good whole over cereal or muesli. You can reduce the syrup over heat until thick and syrupy and serve it as a sauce.