Autumn is here, dear Reader. My favourite of all the seasons. I could wax lyrical about tumbling shades of orange, brown and russet reds, the earthy smell of bonfires, rotund little pumpkins swollen with the last drops of sunshine and the woolly embrace of cardigans and cosy tights. Somehow I feel so much more at home with autumn. Perhaps it’s being a redhead and being able to blend in with my surroundings or perhaps it’s simply because autumn gives me an excuse to slow down and appreciate the seasonal changes in the landscape? Maybe both or neither. Whatever it is, dear Reader, Keats’ marvellous daydreams of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ resonate with me and cling like little bits of everyday countryside magic. It’s then that I remember to slow down, take it in and appreciate my lot, a lot more.
Things are beginning to take shape on the house front, although we’ve had our fair share of renovation sagas. Dramas over the chimney, fireplaces being condemned, dodgy roof tiles, leaky guttering and don’t even get me started on the boiler situation. Two months after work started, we are still without heating. Oh and the kitchen isn’t a kitchen anymore either. Let’s just say it’s rather minimalist, shall we? Cooking on a camping stove does have some benefits though. You get to feel like you’re on a camping holiday every day of the week, dear Reader. Insert the crying emoji here. Joking aside, it is surprising how much we have managed when it’s been too wet to venture outside to cook on the barbecue. Those of you who remember the last time I was left with just a camping stove will be pleased to hear that menus have branched out since then. A little nod of appreciation to the amazing Genevieve Taylor‘s How To Eat Outside: Fabulous Al Fresco Food for BBQs, Bonfires, Camping and More which has been my bible over the last few months. I am so grateful for her fount of outdoor cookery knowledge. Who knew you could cook a calzone or make bread on the barbecue?
Still now the house has chimney pots once more after decades without and work starts on the kitchen in a week or two, we are finally moving in the right direction. The oak floor has been laid in the hallway and the plasterers have skimmed for the next phase. My very brilliant electrician has had the patience of a saint especially as he isn’t being paid (he’s my Daddy) and I take my hat off to the kitchen cabinet makers who turned up for a last measure up and ended up redesigning the whole kitchen to fit in my new fridge! I promise I’m not the renovation equivalent of Bridezilla – it’s just that this whole project managing thing is hard work and making decisions on the turn of a sixpence is starting to take its toll. Each little step forward Jerry and I take, has been about trying to faithfully preserve the past whilst bringing the farmhouse back into the 21st century. Replumbing, rewiring, rebuilding – there isn’t a ‘re’ we haven’t had to sort out. So you’ll have to forgive me, dear Reader, if I sound a teensy weensy bit of a nightmare renovator but I simply can’t wait for the woodburners to go in and for the boiler to be fired up for the first time. The house is in desperate need of drying out and we are definitely in need of something cosy on our little building site, rather than relying on vast quantities of wine and gin to warm us in the evenings when the girls are tucked up in bed with the oil filled radiators on.
With visions of cosiness in mind, I thought it was high time I was rescued from the drudgery of endless tea runs and placating of builders to try out a rather lovely bit of book post which landed on the mat – The Kilner Cookbook.
Kilner has long been synonymous with storing, pickling and preserving seasonal bounty. Around since 1842, Kilner jars have adorned pantries, larders and kitchen cupboards in almost every household I’ll be bound, dear Reader. Not just for bottling up pickles, chutneys, preserves and jams, Kilner’s classic clip top pressure sealed jars can be used to cook and store any kind of food or drink. I’ll bet that you have at least one or two of these glorious jars lurking in your own kitchen, dear Reader. Such is Kilner’s success.
Marking their 175th anniversary, I found Kilner’s new cookbook to be jam-packed (you’ll excuse the pun I’m sure dear Reader) with recipes to create, make and store so picking out one recipe to share with you was rather a difficult task. Soups and bircher muesli, cordials and cocktails, layered salads and slaws – honestly, you’d be surprised at how many different ways you can put the humble Kilner to work, dear Reader. However, misty autumn mornings require sunshine in the kitchen especially if you are cooking on a camping stove and nothing promises that more than a spot of homemade lemon curd.
The recipe in The Kilner Cookbook is simple enough even for the beginner cook and takes next to no time at all. The only thing you have to watch is the heat under the bowl, otherwise you’ll end up with lemony scrambled egg rather than unctuous lemon curd. Whisk away and you’ll witness the marvellous alchemy in the bowl as the curd thickens. Mouthwatering zinginess – perfect for hot buttered toast, scones or crumpets, spooned over Greek yoghurt with hedgerow blackberries before the birds take them all, added to a lemon meringue pie or spread generously in the middle of a Victorian sponge. The possibilities are endless and it will keep for up to 2 weeks in a Kilner jar in the fridge.
Whilst waiting for the toaster to ping, I set about perusing the book for other gems within its 100 recipes which aim to help us preserve more and reduce food waste. Imagine my delight when I realised that Kilner have added a spiralizer jar, cocktail shaker, coffee grinder and a butter churner to their vast range too. 175 years on and this Yorkshire born brand with its patented vacuum seal system is still going strong, with plenty more innovative products to boot. The thought of homemade butter whisked up in a jiffy has already sent me rushing out to add to my Kilner collection. There’s even a whole host of suggestions for using Kilner jars to make snow globes, lanterns, terrariums and much more on the Kilner website.
With autumn mornings sorted with luscious lemon curd, it was time to turn my attentions to bottling up something for colder, darker evenings. The garden awash with blackthorn trees doubling over with inky skinned sloes just begging to be picked, I couldn’t resist steeping them for a batch of sloe gin in my new measuring Kilner jar. Now with some patience, that preserved little tipple will be rather a nice accompaniment reading my book on the sofa by the fire. That’s once we have a fire, of course. Well I’ve sorted the gin bit at least, dear Reader….
A big thank you to Ebury Publishing and The Happy Foodie for the lovely book post and Kilner jar.