One of the things going on at Grand Designs Live was something that is very close to our hearts - a straw bale build. For some years we have had a hankering to build a place out of straw bales - unlikely to happen. However, at the end of this month we shall be constructing a new Palais de Poulet - out of straw, for The Chix. Will they appreciate it? I doubt it. I spent time today in this rough weather weeding the brick path. I say no more.
Part of my jam making session yesterday, for Barnsdale, was a Gooseberry Jam. It is a standard recipe of equal fruit to sugar but as I was using gooseberries from my freezer I had to make sure that they were thoroughly cooked before adding the sugar, or the skins would stay tough. I thought it would be a lovely twist to add a touch of orange to the mix so I grated the zest from 1 orange per 450g/1lb of gooseberries and squeezed the juice. I put the fruit into my jam pan and added the juice at this stage, saving the zest for later. I gently poached the gooseberries in the orange juice until tender, then added the sugar off of the heat, stirring to dissolve as much as possible. Once placed back on the heat, I stirred until all sugar was incorporated, then increased the heat to achieve the rolling boil. It takes around 10-15 mins to reach setting point and once you have removed the pan from the heat, stir in the orange zest. Jar up as normal.
The taste is stunning.