Thursday 17 July 2008

I drew the line at the redcurrant jelly but now I have to go back and get the gooseberries

Driving to a hospital appointment yesterday through the south Herefordshire countryside washed by mellow sunshine, filled me with the kind of well being normally associated with uber chic spas and treatments. My hospital visit was unusually efficient and good humoured and I was back on the road, still cheerful and with half an hour to spare before the next stage of my day.
Over the past week or so it has dawned on me that I have not seen two lovely friends for the best part of a year and luck would have it that I was about to pass their farm gate. Sarah is from Tasmania originally and has a wonderful sunny disposition much of which I am convinced is rubbed off onto her excellent produce. She and her husband George run Treberva farm. George conducts the serious business of a modern farm in a competitive market all be it in idyllic surroundings. Sarah lovingly tends the human resources that oil the wheels of the business, the local post offices and corner shops that pass on the fresh seasonal produce around the district, and her farm gate shop and customers.
Luck would have it that Sarah is in the shop bobbing around between produce, paperwork and customers. Tender lush broad beans, peas, baby carrots, beets and new potatoes, waxy young courgettes, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, red currants, black currants, black and green gooseberries and seriously fresh free-range eggs are picked daily. She insists everything is picked young, dew fresh, tender and flavoursome.
My problem is, knowing where to draw the line. This time of the year I make big bowls of leaf and herb salads mixed with the prime of the season’s veg cooked al dente and dressed while still warm to give them extra flavour. These make good starters especially if there is some roasted beetroot in them too. They also make lively accompaniments to simply cooked fish and meat dishes so suited to summer. I load up the back of my car which now looks like a harvest festival and drive on to work full of the joys of spring.
Now the jelly bag is dripping with the clear claret colour of redcurrant juice and later, on will go the preserving pan and soon there will be rows of little pots of crystal clear jellies.
................I must go back at the weekend and pick a basket of those gooseberries I drew the line at. I want to smoke some duck breasts and I just can’t get the thought of smoked duck and gooseberry jelly out of my mind………
Let me know if you would like the recipe!