A stormy afternoon with chutney, muffins and Dave

Green Tomato Chutney
Green Tomato Chutney

On dark autumn mornings when the wind is thumping along the roof and the rain is hammering against the window I know that it is going to be an “inside day”. Resolutely delusional and optimistic, I still believe that if I tackle the mountain of paperwork on my desk or discipline myself to doing some do some of the ironing, without getting too grumpy, that after lunch the weather will improve and I can get as far as far as the polytunnel without having to alert the Coast Guard. All morning I watch the squalls hurtling along the horizon and the waves pounding the reef and try not to be a sulky child.

It is tempting to seek refuge by the fire with tea, cake and a good book, but I have a guilty secret – there is a big bag of green tomatoes from last year lurking in the freezer. There is no excuse, it has to be turned into chutney before I start this years batch!
My chutney recipe is a closely guarded secret, mainly because it varies from year to year depending on what’s available on the day. On this particular afternoon there were some small and very hot Apache chillies, Hungarian hot wax peppers (small, yellow and a funny shape), an assortment of rainbow coloured sweet peppers, desert apples from the supermarket (variety unknown, past the “sell-by” date but only 25p for a big bag), onions (a supermarket bargain again as they were a “non-standard” ? size), a vast array of spices, sugar of various hues from dark brown molasses to soft light brown, and some ancient cider vinegar. Oh yes don’t forget the garlic (lots), especially at this time of year.

Making chutney appeals to my frugal instincts, it not only uses the occasional fruit and vegetable gluts from the garden but it can be supplemented with the periodic eccentricities of our local supermarket – one week apples are £2 a bag and the next 25p. It is also pretty fool-proof, although beware of the chillies of unknown strength!

I like making chutney, but I find that I get distracted by repetitious chopping and if I’m not careful I am prone to lose parts of digits. My knife skills are not be envied. This is when Dave arrives, aka Mr Brubeck and his trio, with some very cool jazz. Rock ‘n’ roll, blue grass, Celtic fiddles or some thumping Beethoven would probably result in the loss of whole fingers!

Finally it is all in the preserving pan and gently simmering and the jars are ? In the shed. I’d forgotten to bring the jars into the kitchen, so on with the waterproofs and wellies, a dash to the shed, wrestle with the barn sized door in the wind and an unsteady lurch back to the house clutching a large box. At this point I’m ready for some calming Mozart and a cup of tea.

Whilst rootling around looking for potential chutney ingredients, I’d discovered a half-full jar of pesto in the fridge. Not suitable for chutney but a candidate for savoury muffins. Not too demanding on the baking skills thus giving me time to stir the bubbling brew in the pan from time to time. By the end of the afternoon, the sun had come out, the chutney was cooling in the jars and the muffins were on the table.  Maybe not a perfect day, but not a bad way to spend a stormy afternoon.

I do not have a chutney recipe to share, but you might like the Pesto Muffins.

13 thoughts on “A stormy afternoon with chutney, muffins and Dave

  1. Secret recipes now – does it include frog? I am of the same general philosophy when it comes to wet mornings, although I am still out come rain or shine every weekday morning for either a swim or one of my other physical activities. Then I will persuade myself to get on with inside jobs that get put off when it’s good gardening weather, so at least the apple pile is dwindling a bit. Rarely think to have music though…. Well done for your productive day, Christine, and tell me – what was the Head Gardener producing while you were making your chutney?

    • You are a paragon of virtue, I bet your morning routine includes a cold shower too.
      Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog essential ingredients, but I’m not giving any more hints.
      Himself was locked in the study, safest place to be when I’m in the kitchen, but yesterday he made the first batch of blackcurrant jam. Today its still raining.

      • I’ll pass on the cold shower if you don’t mind, except after using the steam room when it is in fact thoroughly recommended 😉 I wonder what rain-driven pursuits you got up to today…? Will you be off on a countrywide jaunt again soon, by the way, stocking up your cupboards?

        • The sun has got his hat on….. In the garden today, dodging the squalls!
          Nothing too ambitious, but may be a raiding party north to Stornoway if the weather improves and the ferry is running.

  2. Glad the sun came out for you – I had to laugh at the thought of you dashing out to the shed while the chutney simmered. 😉 I love the sound of chutney, but rarely eat it as I’m allergic to peppers, but I have some wild garlic pesto in my freezer that is begging to be put in those muffins very soon. 😀

    • I always need something from the shed when it is wet and windy, so I’m perfecting my shed dashing techniques.
      The great thing about chutney is that you can use what you like, peppers are not essential.

  3. Great looking chutney!

    • Thank you. Won’t know what it tastes like for a while, 6 weeks minimum hibernation in the shed!

      • Typical. It’s always a bit of a guessing game with chutney. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  4. Ha ha! your chutney recipe is a closely guarded secret because it varies from year to year – I know that recipe too 🙂

    • At last, someone understood the joke! Thank you.

  5. Time by the fire with hot herbal tea from the garden and a book…When you described that I do not think I was able to get much further with the exception that I added a rocker and a lamp, and maybe several small stacks of books.

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