Chutney and the end times

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Random wifflings

Yeah. Chutney. I’ll bet you didn’t expect to see that on an ostensibly SF blog, did you? For some reason, let’s call it… age, three out of five of us brothers in my family have developed an interest in gardening. One of them (Haley 3) has, among other things,  grown a two-foot marrow and discovered a massive, forty-foot grapevine growing up the tree at the foot of his garden in London, from which he plans to make wine (I’ve been doing beer), while all of us have become interested in cooking. We even do our own bread. There’s an intersection there, and it’s called jam. Yeah, jam. Mmmm.

It was supposed to be the wife’s job, the garden, but after I built a nice herringbone brick path, three raised beds, and a new lawn, she just popped some plants in and let me get on with it.

How green my garden groweth... Toddler included for scale.

From the harvest-festival style spread of foods cultivated therein, I have made some pickled beetroot, blackberry jam and tomato chutney. I also did some runner bean chutney, but I’m not passing the beans off as mine, they came from my bi-weekly organic veg box delivery.

It’s bad enough the wife wants to paint everything in sight that antiquey aged bronze verdigris colour I have dubbed “middle-class green”. I’ve really lost it. I have become the generic “dad”, complete with awful dance moves, worse humour and bald spot.

“I can’t believe we made runner bean chutney within a week of each other,” said Haley 2 (age 35) to me at the weekend, shaking his head sadly.  Well I can pissing can, it’s called the end of youth, my brother, the end of youth! Potting not pot now, the only scattering of seed left to us is on the pumpkin patch. (Somewhere, in time, my teenage self gets a premonition and shudders).

See, I’m not going without a fight, even as I transform into one of the privately educated agrarian types from the later episodes of the original Survivors. Real ale? Check. Gardening? Check. Beard? Check. Pig? Check. I just need the cable-knit sweater and the pipe and I’ll be well on my way to becoming  a dead ringer for Chris Foss’ pencilled hippy in the Joy of Sex. (NB, don’t you dare tell me Survivors wasn’t middle class, that it was some kind of myth. Balls. I watched it again recently, there wasn’t a kitchen without an aga in it – and there were many kitchens. One character exclaims, I think it’s Lizzie “And then Father had to send the servants away”, in a cut glass accent. Come on! It’s lucky I don’t label it toff TV).

Behold! Chutney.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for the runner bean chutney, which came from my nanny’s mum. It’s in imperial, which I frankly struggle with, having gone to a progressive school in the 70s that completely underestimated the intransigence of the British greengrocer, and thus did not teach me the old system. However, I can’t be bothered to convert it.

I cannot vouch for the chutney’s tastiness, as it requires a month’s aging and I’ve yet to crack mine open, but Charlotte, who does such a grand job of looking after Haley 1.1, says it’s a treat.

Runner Bean Chutney

2lb Beans
1 1/2lb Onions
1 1/2 pints Vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Cornflour
1 1/2tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Dried mustard
1 tsp Salt
2lb Demerara sugar (or 1 3/4lb if you don’t want it quite so sweet)
Slice and cook beans as normal.
Boil the sliced onions in half of the vinegar for 10mins.
Add the cooked beans and remaining vinegar and boil for 15mins.

Add the dry ingredients and sugar, stir well, boil for 10 mins more (or until enough liquid has evaporated to make a nice consistency for a chutney).

In other news, I have acquired a malamute (just like Chewbacca!). More on that later. Yes, although it’s a cute puppy now I know it will grow to  be an unsuitably huge eskimo sled dog, but what the hell, you only (probably) live once, and I think they are awesome. I take him from the calming dug of his mother in three weeks’ time.

In with one animal, out with another – the Haley pig goes to slaughter as soon as the current batch of feed runs out.  I’ll be writing in detail about this soon, as I think the whole no meat without death thing is worth debate, so watch this space.

So come the apocalypse, I’ll be well in, with chutney, jam and pork to fill my belly, and a massive dog to lick my face. What will you be eating my friends, what will you be eating?

  1. Gav Thorpe says:

    I recently made some apple and tomato chutney. Nive with a bit o’ cheese and a cream cracker.

    The wilderness that is the far end of my garden will one day become a veg patch of sorts. One day. One day when I can be arsed.


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