Monday, 1 September 2014

Food For Free


You can keep your woolly cardis, damp mornings, dark nights, bastard massive spiders and celebrity dancing shows, for me the best thing about Autumn is free food.


Our sprawling garden and the one attached to the empty parental home (where these photos were taken) are an almost endless source of wild blackberries, pears and apples.


I'm outside most mornings, picking up the windfalls and foraging in the undergrowth.


Muffins, flapjacks, pies and crumbles have been on the menu for weeks now.


 The freezer is stuffed full with tubs of wild berries, double bagged to prevent freezer burn, whilst the coal house is almost bursting with wooden crates of apples individually wrapped in newspaper.


We had a bit of a do on Friday night and my home-made spicy blackberry chutney (the original recipe taken from the Good Food website) went down like a house on fire. So much so that I've had to make more today.


You'll need:
500g blackberries
140g caster sugar 
140g red onions, sliced 
2 tbsp Dijon mustard 
3 tbsp peeled and chopped fresh root ginger
150ml white wine vinegar

I doubled up on the ingredients, substituting the caster sugar for granulated, white onions for red and English mustard for Dijon).


1.Combine all ingredients, except the vinegar, in a large saucepan, stirring over a medium heat until the blackberries start to burst.
2.Season with salt and pepper, add the vinegar and allow the mixture to simmer uncovered.
3. The chutney is ready when thick enough to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and it remains clean for a few seconds.

(The website stated a 10 minute cooking time but it took at least 40 minutes before the chutney reached the correct consistency.)


4. Remove from the heat, cool and transfer to a sterilised jar, sealing immediately. Leave for a week before eating. Best served with cheese, crackers, lashings of booze and riotous company.


Beth, you mentioned drying herbs when you commented on my last blog post. This strange contraption in the fireplace is our solution, bought from a car boot sale for pennies ages ago. Branches of oregano, thyme and rosemary, harvested from our kitchen garden, have been cleaned, wrapped up in a brown paper bag (punched with holes) and tied up with string. In a month or so they'll be ready to add Summer flavour to our roasted veggies.

Wearing: 1970s Van Allen cotton maxi (eBay, 2008), Vintage lace shawl (Charity shop, 2011), Hush Puppies boots (Car boot sale, 2012)
As I'm in full domestic goddess mode I'd better go and crack on with some cleaning before I revert back my usual slatternly ways.

See you soon.

68 comments:

  1. Oh - i love it to ! Apples , plums , chilis in the green house . Mushroom season ....but you look much better then me while collecting the goodies !
    Xxx

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  2. Off to pick blackberries later this week ... will defintely be making some of that chutney. Sounds delicious. M x

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  3. Ooh, lovely!

    Our blackberries have grown in abundace this year, and you've just reminded me, I must go and have another forage.

    A lovely post, LOVE your outfit xx

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  4. Amazing to have something like that next to your house!

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  5. The berries look so wonderful. We live in an apartment now, but used to have a lovely orange tree for morning juice. xox

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  6. ah yes - i´m busy too this days with harvesting, drying and canning! have to try the blackberry chutney!!
    xxxxx

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  7. Jealous, jealous, jealous! Glad you are taking advantage of the free food and not just letting it rot. I always seem to be away when my apricot tree bursts forth. Timed for Christmas Hols! Need to dry more herbs this year. That recipe sounds amazing. Now, where can I find blackberries that haven't been sprayed? Major pest over here :-(
    Very domestic goddess! Looking fab as usual . Loving the lace shawl, but is it warm? Xo JJ.

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  8. You just know I love this post! You're so lucky to be able to just go outdoors and pick all that goodness. The chutney sounds delicious ... How I love them. I make one with onions and apples in the fall, but see myself adding your blackberry one to my roster. Can't have too much of a good thing.

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  9. How wonderful to have such bounty freely available in your garden, and your parents's house too. Can't beat a blackberry and apple crumble; even a dessert-refuser like yourself must like it!
    The chutney sounds delicious, and the herb drying contraption is ingenious!
    You look like some beautiful 19th Century gipsy foraging away in that fabulous maxi and lacey shawl. And a domestic goddess too - you can do it all!
    Love you! xxxx

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  10. What is it with those spiders - every autumn out they come to terrorise innocent people!

    Love the look of that blackberry chutney as we have a lot of them from a thornless bush in the garden!

    Lucky with the apples and pears. Bay leaves freeze really well.

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  11. You are such a homely person, you wouldn't think it though with all your glamorous clothes.
    50% Margot and 50% Barbara.

    Cxx

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  12. You are so cute! Some days ago I see a book about vintage style where there were some pics about you! Just fab.

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  13. You have been busy! I tried chutney last year but mine was too sharp/tangy should have done more sugar, yours looks a beautiful colour -. Have been picking sloe berries and froze them as they are early - for sloe gin/vodka - was wondering about a blackberry liquor? ever tried making? Elderberries by the way are very distinctive, they hang from their trees like spiders holding tons of tiny black berries, they taste awful/bitter until cooked with sugar - hope you might find some as they are too good to miss... you have got me all fired up for a blackberry and apple crumble now!

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  14. the photos are supe amazing, oh my how I love love a mossy tree,
    you look 'other worldly' in your beautiful clothing in the garden picking your bounty, such a beautiful picture you make, I will try this recipe for sure, thats a wonderful way to dry herbs, I never thought to put them in a bag, my just hung and probably we eat a peck of dust with them, I must remember this!!!

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  15. Mmmmm!!! Oh how I miss my fruit trees from my old house! Mind you, my Mum forrages over in her local park- we got these lovely golden miniature plums as well as tons of blackberries!x

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  16. so fabulous that you're harvesting berries and fruits, and looking so gorgeous in your colorful maxi!, you're inspiring!
    I'm ready to make something with a box of peaches which is now in my kitchen: they're really cheap when you buy them from the producer, as we do!. No berries here for free, but it's figs and pears and still peaches season. And we should enjoy very soon the Grape Harvest Festivals (wine is key in any social activity!) Lovely Autumn is coming!
    besos & fruits

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  17. I have a crumble in the fridge made from next doors windfall apples. Sadly our greengage tree is sick so no jam this year :-(

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  18. Even though I live in a house, we have no fruit bearing plants. But we used to go apple picking at an orchard nearby. It wasn't free, but it was still fun! :)

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  19. Well, this post sure offers up a bushel of inspiration! We're headed across a ferry today to a blackberry festival and now it looks like I've got a scrumptious recipe for chutney. One of my most favorite foods on the planet! Berries and chutney. Thanks Vix!

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  20. Lots of blackberries here, no access to apples though. I have put the word out among friends I would be happy with bruised fruit as I make crock pot apple sauce with it anyway. Love the way you dry your herbs - ingenious!

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  21. Hi Vix, I do love a good crumble and chutney. Back home we had a huge mango tree and made everything under the sun we could think of including mango chutney - my favorite!

    xo, Bonnie

    PS - loved the post you did on patchwork. It reminds me of sunflowers, you can't help but smile when you see one.

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  22. I've had few bastard massive spiders brazenly enter the premises already this year, I've seen 'em off too.
    Your chutters looks delish, I have a similar recipe yet to try and you can't beat a crumble can you...especially when made with foraged food.
    You've reminded me I need to put the hoover over also, needless to say I won't be looking as glam as you. xxxxx

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  23. We had a massive spider in our house last night, I think the whole street heard my screams! Bloody hate the things.

    How lovely to be able to get your own fruit from the garden. They taste so much better than shop bought ones x

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  24. You look like a gypsy roaming free in the woods. Who would think it was the grounds of a house. Loving the homemade fabric jar covers too xx

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  25. I don't mind the spiders too much, they keep all the other nasty pests down...

    I scratched myself to bits picking blackberries on Hampstead Heath cover my legs better! Worth it for the deluvverly blackberry (and whisky) cake I made last night. I made blackberry vinegar earlier this summer, that's worth a go if you're not so into cakes etc. Tastes like a lot like balsamic!

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  26. Such gorgeous pictures and they've made me wanna go blackberry picking again. Unfortunately there are no apple or pear tress near me so my foraging is pretty limited! The chutney sounds delicious and definitely a tad more adventurous good old blackberry jam :)

    On a completely unrelated note your nail polish is lovely!

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  27. You love the life you live and live the life you love! Bravo! Nothing beats making and enjoying things you have grown or foraged.

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  28. Oooh...you have such fresh access to so many of my favorite fruits!! It's at times like this that I wish I lived in the countryside! *sigh*

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  29. I'll be Blackberry picking soon, we gets tons around the village - and some in my garden too = crumbles = yummmy! x

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  30. Hello Vix,

    How marvellous to have such a gourmet treasure trove right on your very doorstep.

    We absolutely love blackberries and your chutney sounds delicious. How wonderful it looks in all its crimson deliciousness in the jars with their retro hats. Chutney is so versatile, accompanies nearly everything and always adds something to the taste of a fish. Perfect!

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  31. I'm hoping the blackberries will still be in full swing by the time I get back from honeymoon in a few weeks. I live in a city and apple trees are sadly lacking..but .I've always wanted one...even when people i know protest that they are work and the windfalls are a pain...seriously....? Free food!

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  32. You rock! I'm a big fan of foraging as well and have gleaned tons of apples, pears and plums this last week plus a couple bowls full of blackberries. In another month or so the hawthorn berries and rose hips will come on. Love your dress!

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  33. Amazing! I wouldn't mind having some of those blackberries.
    You look marvellouse of course!
    xx/Madison

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  34. I always know when it's blackberry picking time, you get purple bird shit all over yer car!! lol You've reminded me I need to get some cutting from Sues blackberry bush! It's thornless I think, got enough prickly things around here. :D Like the sound of the berry chutney.

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  35. You truly are a modern day hippie.

    Next I'll expect you to be churning some of your own butter.

    Scratch that.

    Brewing some of your own bootleg maybe.

    I don't like blackberries but I'm thinking I could use the same recipe with blueberries.

    Must try.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  36. Be careful the Domestic Goddess vibe doesn't see you ironing and vacuuming next!!! Have enough pints and it might actually seem like a good idea!
    Feck yeah, free fruit and berries! There's lots of free feijoas in our neighbourhood each year, and I'm not above raiding other peoples gardens for lemons (I wish my little tree would bloody GROW!) and various herbs. One just has to take advantage! Cheese and a good chutney rocks my world!
    I'm sniggering over Suzannes comment. I'd rather like to see you battering away making butter with a drunken grin on your face!
    Love Helga XXX

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  37. That fireplace rack seems ideal for drying herbs. Sage and catmint are the big drying crops here, for home use and sale at the holiday gift shows.

    You do appear as some vision out of an old country print, gathering berries... Alas, I favor sturdy boots and slacks, long sleeves and gloves, when berrying: you have bastard big spiders, we have Big Black Snakes.

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  38. I'll bet you, your brother and your friends had loads of adventures in the beautiful, wild, forest-garden when you were kids. It shows, coz you're back foraging or yummy blackberries and looking a billion bucks to boot! I love your beautiful shawl, so lovely against your healthy, tanned skin and oh I love it when you get grubby in the kitchen (and the garden!) Such a great idea for winter herbs, go hard girl, go you good thing!! xoxoxooxx

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  39. I've got lots of blackberries from over the road so I might make some chutney. It sounds lovely. I wish I had some apples nearby though so I could make a crumble.

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  40. Domestic goddess indeed! Lucky you to be able to forage for some gorgeous fruit, and I can only imagine how yummy that chutney is. XXX

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  41. I have a freezer full to of blackberries, gooseberries, red currents, stewed cooking apples from the ground and last night my friend dropped round a loads of French beans which I will blanch today and put in there to. I love the recipe for blackberry chutney I may be trying that next week :-) dee xx

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  42. Perfect ensemble for harvesting fruit; the lace shawl makes this ritual appear enchanting. Which is also true of your garden photos.

    Blackberry chutney sounds scrumptious! I see that your talents and creativity are endless!

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  43. Squeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

    I'll be planting some pear trees soon.

    And excellent idea re: punching holes in the bags for drying herbs.

    xox

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  44. What a genius herb drying technique! I just picked a bunch of pears from my grandma's tree when we visited and we were picking roadside raspberries and blackberries this summer, our berry season is about over now. On the hunt for apple trees now!

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  45. I love picking wild blackberries by our house too but man I have to fight all the others look at that bounty all to yourself! I'm curious how long do apples keep? That berry chutney recipe looks delicious and easy to make, better be trying that one soon.
    Hope you had a lovely weekend darling!
    XXOO
    LOVE YOU!!!!!

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  46. Admiring you all the way from over here!! We have blackberries in our yard, I loved eating them when they were hot from the sun. I don't think I've ever heard of blackberry chutney before, sounds exotic. You are a true domestic goddess, dear Vix, and for those of us who don't feel inspired in the domestic department right now, well, we can only admire your inventions and enthusiasm and get back to our store bought produce. :) Much love xxx

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  47. Iam definitely a big fan of autumn food. The chance to spend some weekends at home cooking up crumbles and other yummy stuff makes up for the colder weather!

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  48. Such lushness! And the food is nice too. ;) We're enjoying the bounty here too with more tomatoes and plums than I know what to do with. The apples are coming soon. I like the cool mornings and wool sweaters but I'm with you on the giant spiders. Yikes!

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  49. Oh gawd, I hate September spiders, hope I don't see any tonight, Q's away and I don't like to get too close. What an amazing estate you have, land everywhere! :) you must be the most glamorous bramble picker ever. I end up scratched to bits when I do it, that lace shawl would be history. Having said that, you have inspired me. I need a bit of that free fruit action. I absolutely adore blackberry and apple crumble and this chutney recipe is really rather intriguing. I WILL forage! Xxxxxxx

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  50. Delicious! You are living my dream life, harvesting food from the land. Thank you for another brilliant post. You look effortlessly wonderful as usual.

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  51. Oooh, the chutney sounds so yummy! I'm a big fan of fruit crumble, so if I lived near you I'd be popping over for a dish of the stuff.

    The herb-drying mechanism is genius! I just used to hang them upside down in my kitchen til they dried out, but that makes much more sense. I learn so many cool things from your blog ;)

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  52. Wow … you're not just a goddess … you're a domestic goddess too ;0)
    xx

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  53. I can only imagine the wonderful aromas drifting from your windows when you're stirring up something in the kitchen. I'm surprised you don't have lines forming outside your door.
    These pics of you gathering food are story-book beautiful. Jon's drying rack is genius and I was reminded of it seeing your herb hanger. I didn't think you had time for slatternly ways!

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  54. Looks like so much fun foraging for free fruits. I just love your whole area where you live, looks so cozy. Wish I was there. :-)

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  55. I love gathering free food and herbs, can't wait to get gardening now that it'll soon be "cool" enough here in tropical Florida :D

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  56. Oh Vix what a wonderful post of splendid autumn gathering.........you look like a beautiful woodland fairy in the trees..........all just perfect.
    I have been in the orchard today picking spring flowers.......it's wonderful seeing the other side of the world getting ready for winter as we move towards Summer.
    I make the most yummy spicy plum chutney.......I might have to try some blackberries.
    Sending much happiness to you and Jon.
    Vanessa

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  57. Definitely the best thing about September! Who doesn't like blackberry crumble? Along with your cooking I am also drooling over the fabric in your dress. Gorgeous!

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  58. How fantastic! I've had my own phases of growing things, but not on this scale! Will you be selling the apples at the market along side the vintage? Haha. The only reliable wild food I can ever find is Chokos and their not my favourite, but their very popular with Mediterranean cooks. I think their native Australian and grow like weeds!

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  59. FAB! How great is a good old forage? I've been inthe blackberyy patches to but I must say I didn't look have as gorgeous as you whilst battling the brambles! You,bloody domestic goddess you.
    See you soon.
    Loves ya.
    xxxxxx

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  60. FAB! How great is a good old forage? I've been inthe blackberyy patches to but I must say I didn't look have as gorgeous as you whilst battling the brambles! You,bloody domestic goddess you.
    See you soon.
    Loves ya.
    xxxxxx

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  61. Your vintage lace shawl is gorgeous! Your garden gathering based cuisine and home cooking looks and sounds delicious and very healthy. Your home looks very tidy too. I can't imagine you being slatternly at all - and I would know as I'm very well practised in being slatternly.

    http://www.full-brief-panties.blogspot.com/

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  62. That dress is pretty, I love how you make picking berries look so elegant lol...I always come off second best when I pick berries from my mum's tree, mess everywhere!

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  63. You can't beat a bit of foraging, and food for free! I'm going to have a go at the chutney using my surplus of blackcurrants. Love your dress and shawl.

    Annie xxx

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  64. I'm salivating over here. That recipe looks amazing. I love all kinds of chutneys and will have to try this or a variation. You look beautiful, as does the setting for all of nature's abundance. XXOO

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  65. This is all so delightfully autumnal! We used to have some blackberries that grew on the farm when I was a kid - but nothing as wonderful as this. That chutney looks incredible and I love the cute cloth coverings :)

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  66. I'm going on a blackberry mission later today!! I've had lots of apples and pears from my parent's garden too, and always look out for the odd stray plum fallen over the wall from someone's tree as I'm roaming the streets. I agree, free food is a wonderful thing! That chuntney looks great, I might have to try it out x

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Love from Vix
xxx