travels and tomato chutney

Maybe wait until I get home and we can book it together.

His words trailed behind him as he ran out the door. I stopped, frowned, and wondered why he wouldn’t have wanted me to go ahead and book the flights.  Hmm, I’m a big girl. Surely I could do this?

It didn’t take long for me to stop frowning.

Maybe it was because the last flights I had booked for his parents, had needed a little tweaking of their itinerary. It had been the parents-in-law once every 5 years break and they had asked me to sort out a weeks holiday for them. Sure. No problem, I’d love to. Three days in and I had it well and truly covered. Itinerary researched, places of interest taken down, accommodation scrutinized and everything just needing to be booked. I started with the flights, the logical first choice. With mother- in- law’s trusty credit card in hand, I paid. Confirmation email confirmed everything, along with the fact that I had just made a huge mistake. I had just flown them into the wrong city.

Excellent. Well there’s a good start. I swore, bit my nails, ranted to a friend, and then made a crazed phone call to Mr Chocolate to tell him what I had done. He laughed and said he couldn’t talk at the moment (he was at work).

So, I had two choices. One to try to change all the flights, or two change their holiday… rather a lot. I chose two, (and just between you and me, I think I actually gave them a better itinerary the second time around.) When we met up and I gave them their holiday details. I did toy with the idea of telling them some extraordinary story of how it was all booked out due to an alien space craft having just crashed into the area and all the local spok watchers were coming in from near and far to try and take a look at the big shiny aircraft. I wasn’t sure they would buy that one, so I… a little nervously, told them the truth. I had oops-ed the flight details, BUT had a lovely replacement holiday all booked for them now. They laughed, and said it didn’t matter. I laughed too, while carefully scrutinising their faces to see if it really DID matter… (I don’t think it really did.)

So it could have been for that reason that Mr Chocolate had asked for me to wait for him to book the flights…. OR it could have been referring to the time I booked some accommodation into the wrong town for ourselves and my mum coming back from a holiday. An innocent mistake that I had luckily picked up on just a few hours before we were supposed to arrive. How we all laughed and made funny jokes at my little mistake, (right after I had sworn, bit my nails and ranted to anyone that would stand still.) Thanks to a well organised international booking system, this little problem too was again righted.

As neither (minor) incidents had happened a long time ago, Mr Chocolate was clearly thinking of one or both of them and obviously thought the booking process should be monitored by someone other than myself.

Fair call I say. So I waited.

Flicking through my CWA Preserves book I did think vaguely about waiting until I had all the ingredients to one of these recipes. However, seeing as though there wasn’t a lot riding on the chutney. No flights needed to be caught, no accommodation needed to be checked in to and the chutney wouldn’t be going anywhere except the table. I didn’t. I had a bag of tomatoes waiting to be used and I had chutney on my mind. I just couldn’t decide what flavours to play with. Which recipe would I like? Actually none of them were grabbing me. They all sounded good, but they weren’t quite the flavours I had in mind. They weren’t my flavours. So with a close of the book, a little pause and a think, I got cracking.

Tomato Chutney

5 cloves garlic

2 onions quartered

2 apples quartered

1 inch peeled fresh ginger

all in the blender and give a quick wizz. Then all into a pot, also adding

3 tps cumin

3 tps coriander

and cook off for a few minutes. Back to the blender add

1 kilo of firm ripe tomatoes

pop that in the pot as well, and bring to a simmer, then add

2 1/2 cups brown sugar (loose, not firmly packed)

2 cups white vinegar

zest of 1 lime*

Cook at a simmer for about 35 minutes or until darker in colour and thicker. Then bottle.

* Don’t forget that lime. It was definitely the clincher.

crisis of confidence in the kitchen

I like experimenting in the kitchen. Sometimes it really pays off to experiment and find out what sort of deliciousness you can cook. However. Sometimes those end results scream go back to the kitchen and it’s grilled cheese sandwiches for you my friend.

A crisis of confidence in the kitchen that’s what I had recently. I think I got carried away… Other aspects of life were being challenging and I wanted the security and comfort of making something up and it being delicious. Sure, maybe I should have held back a little and tried not to do so many new things at once…but, I didn’t.

Date and Almond Sourdough Triangles– nope. Just didn’t work for me. They tried, I gave it a red hot go, but still nope.

Sourdough Pizza– not enough time to prove, so quite a dense base. It could be worked on though…there is hope for that one.

Chocolate Tangelo Cake– sweet mama, that was disgusting. All effort, no taste. Mr Chocolate even refused to eat that one. It even ended in the bin, it was so hideous…picture? God no.

Strawberry Scones, (top picture) I still think this could work (maybe) it’s just….I really do suck at scones.

Was I doomed to be a kitchen failure for ever?! Oh the horror!…

However, after a little pause. Some time to reflect, a little recalibration with a fried egg and salad my mojo snuck back.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart here we come.

* So whats the moral of the story? Playing in the kitchen is fun. Experiment, find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be put off by burnt bread, raw biscuits, runny marmalade. Yes, they are annoying but you learn from them. Kitchen mistakes can quite often be salvageable and turned into something else. If you are running in to consecutive mistakes, just take a break and go back to the basics again.

And, above all…DO NOT make a Chocolate Tangelo Cake.