Autumn begins every year with an après festival trip to visit the in-laws. Every year we come home with carrier bags full of apples and damsons from their fruit trees and laden down with jars of homemade jam. Every year I promise faithfully to do home maker type things with them. Every year I start off enthusiastically by making apple compote and then forget about them until one day Richard wonders where the rancid smell is coming from and unearths a bag of rotting wild plums and some brown apples. I fail at being a housewife.
This year will be different though. MIL has passed on her damson jam recipe for me to cock up and I am determined to use everything up in true domestic goddess style. This is partly because my in-laws hate waste of any kind and I don't want to incur their wrath, but mainly because of my secret desire to recreate the CBeebies picnic from their autumn song complete with rustic bread, check tablecloth and home made preserves.
So, here are the damsons and eating apples:
See how I emptied them all into a basket and put that 1960s tint and a vignette on the photo? That is a blog writer trick to make you think that I live in a glorious, smug, aspirational world in a perfect shabby chic house with roses around the door and the whole family seated around a scrubbed pine farmhouse table every meal time, sharing happy banter as we pull chunks off of the home made bread and spread it with freshly churned butter from the farm next door.
Here are the cooking apples. I think the technical term for the amount is 'a bitch load'.
See how I couldn't be arsed with tipping them into a basket and making the photograph look pretty? That's my real life, right there.
Today I decided to make damson and apple chutney. For those of you who fancy having a cook along, I used this recipe as a starting point, but attacked it with my usual slapdash attitude (don't weigh or measure anything, chuck it all in a pan and ignore anything that claims to require mincing). I also had a secret ingredient, but you'll need to wait to find out what that was.
So, I started by using my MIL's tip for getting the stones out of the damsons - simmer them with a little water in a pan for a bit, put the lot through a colander and pick all the stones out of the mush. Wasn't prepared for it to look quite as much like innards as it did, nor for my fingers to turn pink, and neither did I expect it to take half an hour, but I got there in the end. Tricky bit done, I threw the rest of the ingredients in and gave it a prod every 10 minutes or so.
Here it is, simmering nicely, bits of chutney and damson all over the kitchen. Look at the state of that, that's going to take ages to scrub off the tiles and the hob. Sorry, I mean that's going to take Richard ages to scrub off the tiles and the hob.
All was smelling good, I had my jars in the oven to sterilize and I was twiddling my thumbs for a bit, so I started to clear up the mess from the mass damson de-stoning exercise.
It was at that point that I noticed the maggot.
Yes, there in the colander was a very tiny, almost so small that it didn't exist but very definitely there maggot.
Now, the pre-medication Lisa is having a meltdown and jumping up and down and waving her hands about in that dance you do when something is disgusting, but the Sertraline Queen is thinking "hmmm, protein" and pondering that it can't be that bad seeing as the mixture boiled for 2 hours, so surely all maggot related bacteria will have been destroyed. Plus, they eat maggots in some countries, right?
I will put it to the public vote. if more of you think it's disgusting than think it's acceptable, I will throw away my domestic goddess batch of chutney. If you think it's OK, I will cheerfully eat it. It's not like I'm giving it to anyone for Christmas or anything. (Although....). You decide.
Note that I couldn't even be bothered to soak the old labels off the jars or wipe the smears off from where I stuffed chutney into them and missed. Ladies and gentlemen, that's just the way I roll.