The nights are definitely drawing in now. I've scarcely closed my curtains for ages but the last two nights I've drawn them. There’s been a bit of a chill in the air sometimes and while I have every hope that we may see a bit more summer, my thoughts are beginning to turn towards autumn.
At this time of the year my Mother was always so busy. Quite apart from the fact that it was the
long summer holiday from school so I was under her feet, the garden was at its
most productive. She would already have
made the raspberry and blackcurrant jams.
Although we didn’t grow apricots she would have bought a tray of
apricots from the greengrocer and made jam as well as bottling copious quantities
ready for puddings in the winter when fruit was more expensive. She would also have bottled raspberries and
by now would be starting to bottle pears.
The runner beans would be hard to keep up with but she would have bought
several blocks of salt and would have got the big stoneware jars down so she could
salt beans, topping up the jars every day with that day’s pickings.
Father would be quite busy too. Soon
he would be digging up the main crop potatoes and making a potato pie – a heap
of potatoes covered with straw and soil to protect them from frost. Throughout the winter he would open the pie
each week and bring enough spuds to the house along with the parsnips which had been sweetened by the frost.
By the end of the autumn the onions would have been lifted and tied into
strings to hang inside, the cabbages and the dreaded Brussels sprouts would be
growing and he would have picked the Bramley apples, checked each for blemishes
and wrapped the sound ones to keep through the winter.
Many of those things are still true for me but my garden is much smaller and
I rely on the generosity of others who give me fruit and veg when there is a glut,
knowing that I will process it one way or another and use it well into the
But the biggest difference is the advent of the domestic freezer – the deep
freeze as we called them when first they came on the market. My Mother had one from the mid-sixties and surplus
fruit and veg went in there. From where
I stand I think that freezers have made one of the biggest difference in how
many of us run our homes.
This last couple of days I have been making fish pies, cauliflower cheese,
pigs in blankets and other goodies and will freeze them. (No, I didn’t go fishing and I don't keep pigs!) I’ve put some pork to cure as bacon and will
freeze that when it is ready and I have sliced it.
I like to be ready “ere the winter storms begin”. When the weather is really bad I’m stuck – or
rather I would be stuck if I didn’t follow my late Mother’s example and make
sure I have a full store of delights.