Christmas Pickles and Chutney 2015
My cottage kitchen is now a hive of activity as I have a tradition of doing something or making one Christmas thing per day leading up to Christmas.
Last night I bottled the pickled onions and placed them next to my jars of home made Christmas Chutney which had been made earlier. I have sent away for Christmas fabric and beautiful ribbons which I will now decorate each jar with, so they look tempting and they can now act as decorations in my cottage kitchen until we eat them over the Christmas period.
Why do I do all this instead of simply buying everything from a store? I don't know really because each year the TV adverts seem to be selling us even more delicious new treats. But I strongly believe nothing tastes the same as something that has been especially made for you with love by your Mum or a friend. I take home made gifts with me when we visit friends in December and the small home made gifts are always welcomed.
When I was little I remember my Stepmum making pickled onions and chutneys every year. She would source chutney recipes annually but her recipe for pickled onions was always the same. I used it until I married my husband whose Stepmum, Jose, was from Belgium. Jose loved adding spices to her recipes and I must confess, her pickles did taste more exciting so now my pickled onions are a combination of both Mums!
I start by peeling the small shallots and I hate this part! I listen to music or watch a film whilst doing the boring task. Years ago my Dad used to peel the onions for my Stepmum. I loved how they worked together. When she passed away I took the role of being "chief pickled onion and chutney maker" over and made some for my Dad each year. His face would light up far more than any expensive gift I could give him. I knew he loved his home made pickles and chutneys and nothing shop bought would please him in the same way. It was the love that was missing in the jars on display in the supermarket, aimed at anyone who would buy them.
My jars represented my time and the thought I had put into making each gift. Knowing how much I loved him that feeling flowed with each minute spent on creating the variety of home made food gifts.
So now I find myself making the pickled onions that his now grandsons enjoy and I like to think of my Dad smiling down when my sons see what I have made for them to enjoy. My father was a gentle man. Very quiet and very kind. He hardly ever lost his temper and it would only ever be then if he had good reason to. He was painfully shy in many ways. And he worked so hard. I look back and realise my roots have made me who I am. And each Christmas I can feel my family and friends around me , those here and those who are looking down on me .
So I have Christmas Chutney made from the Delia Smith cook book.
My pickled onions are so easy to do, apart from the peeling!
Simply peel the onions and place in a large bowl , sprinkle with a handful of salt and cover with water. Leave overnight. The next day drain them and pat them dry before placing tightly in jars. Now heat vinegar with a small amount of sugar and some spices for pickling. I use mustard seed, coriander seed, black and white pepper and chili flakes. Just a half teaspoon of each. When the sugar has dissolved pour the vinegar mix over the onions in the jars and seal with the lids. The hardest part is leaving these for at least four weeks. I serve them with cheese, salads, cold cuts.
But my Dad would sneak into the larder and eat them on their own when he thought no one was looking, but we could always tell he had been sneaking treats!
I will probably make pickled pears next before moving on to making my home made liqueurs!
Christmas is a time to celebrate the love you feel for your family and friends. This year, I'm making it a special one as its' the last year before one of my sons is married. We are moving into a new era, and welcoming a daughter in law into our lives. We have so much to look forward to.