We Made Some Jam And It Got Me Daydreaming

In my last post I mentioned a chilli eating challenge and I promised to write more on the subject soon.

I think that I might have made things sound more exciting than they actually were, because we took absolutely no part in the challenge! Sorry about that!

Let me explain – There was a person pushing super hot chilli peppers onto poor unsuspecting innocents when we stayed with our friends in Cornwall. Our friends, have a friend who grows extra hot specialist chilli’s as a hobby/side business. A few fools people did take up his challenge and we all laughed at them gurning and crying in pain and then we made unfunny jokes about how they were going to suffer yet again the next morning! Fortunately, Rob and I are now old enough and wise enough to say no to doing stupid things like that just because someone dared us to. Well, most of the time we are sober that is!

Anyway, somehow a tupperware box full of these chilli’s ended up coming home with us as a thank you for the donation we made for the fundraiser.

They look so pretty and innocent. Do not be fooled, these are some mean mofo's!

They look so pretty and innocent. Do not be fooled, these are some mean mofo’s!

That was a very kind gesture from our friends chilli growing friend, but Rob and I cannot handle anything much spicier than a balti. So what were we going to do with this big box full of super duper hot chilli’s?

Well, just for shits and giggles (literally) Rob gave away some to his VW friends down the pub. They were drunk enough to agree to the challenge it seems, but not daft enough to eat them there and then! They promised to film themselves eating them later then upload it to Facebook, as you do. We are still waiting for the videos to appear BTW!

As for the rest of the chilli’s, I was too scared to even handle them without protective gloves! Once upon a time, when I first moved in with Rob, I cooked a meal involving fresh chilli’s and I naively scraped the seeds inside the peppers out with my fingernails and then could not understand why later that night why the tips of my fingers were stinging so bad and my eyes were sore! That was a rookie error that I never made again! (My mum did not cook with chilli’s when I was a kid, nor did I pay any attention to the important bits on Jamie and Nigella’s TV shows, so I was clueless!)

In the end we decided to make some chilli jam with them.

Rob took it upon himself to be my official food stylist and photographer. I kept saying to him 'food photography is so hard' etc and dammit, on his first attempt he is much better than me!

Rob took it upon himself to be my official food stylist and photographer. I kept saying to him ‘food photography is so hard’ etc and dammit, on his first attempt he is much better than me!

Around seven years ago, I tried to make chilli jam (funnily enough, with a recipe from Nigella’s Xmas book) and it was a total disaster. It was messy, it took forever, the jam never set, it tasted really disgusting (far too vinegary), it was a waste of ingredients and it all ended up in the bin. Basically, the experience put me off jam making for life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like cooking and I like making things from scratch, but I think there are certain things that are just far easier and cheaper to buy readymade in the supermarkets. Like ketchup, Nutella and yogurt for instance (yep, the yogurt maker was donated unused to the charity shop). Ive made my peace with the wasteful packaging and preservatives by pretending they don’t exist. La, la la…whats that you say….Nutella contains palm oil? Plastic doesn’t get recycled it gets shipped to India and then burnt polluting the atmosphere with lovely chemicals?? La, la, la….fluffy bunnies and kittens….think happy thoughts Helen!!!

This time I used a different recipe. I used a top rated recipe from Good Food and I read some of the comments for advice and googled how to sterilise jam jars etc.

This was a project that Rob and I undertook together. It was stressful, sticky, time consuming and for the most part, I hated it. The recipe said that it would take 50 minutes to thicken. It took 2.5 hours. I do not have the patience to spend all evening standing over the stove stirring jam waiting for it to thicken!

But then after pouring it into tiny jars with a huge ladle (fiddly as f**k) and being unsure when to put the lids on (when its hot or after its cooled? They never tell you this kind of useful stuff in the recipe! We did it when the jam was hot BTW. I was to tired to care and I wanted to go to bed!) The next day we excitedly tasted it the fruits of our labour, and boy was it good if I do say so myself! Really tasty and flavoursome, not too hot but with a definite spicy kick to it.

A hot mess.

A hot mess.

The thing that shocked me the most from this project, over than it actually setting and turning out ok, was the feeling of pride that I got from making it!

Call me a smug bastard, but I love knowing that the chutney in my lunchtime sandwich was made from scratch by yours truly! And that it includes homegrown vegetables from a friend of a friend non the less!

Which brings me nicely to the daydreaming part of my post title (well done if you are still reading this post BTW! I do go on a bit, don’t I!) Back in the early days of my blog I talked a little about how I wanted to grow my own veg and keep some chickens etc. Well in the last few years, I have come down to earth and reasoned to myself that its a lot of work, its not the cheapest way to do things and whats the point really when I live a short walk away from a supermarket?

So of course this chilli jam making has now re-triggered the Tom and Barbara Good in me! Also influenced by the fact that we have been eating and enjoying lots of beetroot, sweetcorn, carrots, runner beans (5 days in a row – we have so many bloody runner beans!), spinach and curly kale all grown by my parents on their allotment. And it does taste fresher and better than the veg from the supermarket. It has made me think again that it is worth all the agro and effort after all, cos you cannot beat the feeling of knowing that you grew/made that with your own fair hand.

Rob designed me a special label, bless him!

Rob designed me a special label, bless him!

Plus as an extra bonus I can become a future Instgram bore sharing square (or rectangle!) photos of my homegrown tucker!

Watch this space!chilli jam 3chill jam 4

By space I mean at least five years! Our garden is still a state work in progress!

4 Thoughts on “We Made Some Jam And It Got Me Daydreaming

  1. Ruth on 13/09/2015 at 7:09 PM said:

    That looks delish!

    I think you should totally go for it! I’d love to grow my own but I have a back complaint so can only manage flower pot gardening.
    We used to have chickens but didn’t replace them when they toddled off to the chicken coop in the sky, I found them quite noisy (especially in the morning when they wanted to be let out!) and I think my neighbours weren’t impressed! They were fun while it lasted though, the kids on the estate all loved them

    Looking forward to more arty food shots in time 🙂

    • Helen on 13/09/2015 at 8:12 PM said:

      Thank you! Some runner bean chutney is next on the cards to use them up. I cannot keep up with the carrier bags full of runners that the parents keep sending round!

      My next door neighbours have 4 chickens and I quite like hearing them cluck away when Im sitting on the toilet (sorry TMI, we can only really hear them in the bathroom!) it makes me feel like I live in the countryside almost! Maybe one day I will have some chooks of my own. For now I will stick to buying free range in the supermarket.

      Its always been a hope of ours to grow our own veg. Maybe next year we finally will build our veg boxes and finish landscaping the garden!!! Fingers crossed! When we first moved here I managed to grow some courgettes and aubergines in a grow bag, but I gave up with it all the following summer as due to work rubbish weighing me down I couldn’t give it the attention that it needed (i.e remembering to water it at least) and then the bloody slugs ate all my crops! But now I feel motivated enough to give it a go.

      You might be waiting a long time! x

  2. I used the Nigella recipe to make chilli jam and nearly boaked at the smell of vinegar – I detest it at the best of times, so having it wafting through my house… urgh. But the finished jam was actually pretty nice, my step-mum almost fought Thomas for the last jar recently!

    • Helen on 17/09/2015 at 9:40 PM said:

      It probably is a good solid recipe that I somehow managed to balls up! I have a habit of following recipes to the letter rather than trusting my own judgement and using my common sense. I guess I didn’t boil it for long enough or something…!

      Once I get a few more sucsessful chutneys under my belt, I might give it another go. We have nearly finished all our chilli jam already! (Although we did give a lot away) Just for taste comparison reasons of course! x

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