Actual Manor House
Blackberries: from bramble to bread
I went blackberry picking this morning, which I’ve been feeling torn up about having had no time to do. (I genuinely feel better for having gone.) I’d found a good run of them a couple weeks ago and went to check it out, to great success:
That’s over a kilo of berries picked in about 45 minutes, which I felt was a pretty good haul. While I was picking, one woman walking by said, “Good day for picking!” and another one who had been out picking yesterday actually stopped to talk to me (Her: I always feel SO GUILTY when I drive by these berries! Me: YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!!!), and that was really nice because almost everybody who’s spoken to me about picking at all thinks I’m bonkers.
So I came home and washed the berries
and got them into the pot
and made jam
and three hours after I started picking blackberries, I had homemade blackberry jam on fresh homemade bread.
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. :)
I then made PEAR JAM because we have STUPID NUMBERS of pears on our pear trees (there are by far more pears fallen to the ground than we have had at all, in previous years at this house), and it is wonderful. I had no idea if it’d be any good because I’ve never had it, much less made it, but it’s pretty splendid. It starts out sweet and kind of apple-y and then suddenly it’s like NO WAIT THIS IS *PEAR* JAM!!! and it’s really good! And Ted, who likes pears (or at least processed pears) thought it was wonderful, so I’m very pleased with myself.
Tomorrow I have ambitions of making pear jelly, because I have An Awful Lot Of Pears here, and I bet that’ll be really nice too. And I gotta start doing something with the crabapples and the appleapples and…*despair*
(I mean, I gather other people can just walk on by fruits of the trees and whatnot without even flinching, but me and that lady from this morning, WE JUST CAN’T DO IT.)
(We’re gonna get a pressure cooker. That way I can make applesauce and canned (or at least jarred) pears and…other stuff…that will last if pressure-cooked but won’t otherwise.)
I have Ambitions about the garden. My Ambitions probably require a wood chipper, a chainsaw, a tiller, whatever one uses to pull (reasonably small, because I wouldn’t try to deal with the big trees) stumps/roots out, and as many willing bodies as is feasible, to accomplish.
See, half of it garden is gone to wild, and was before we moved in here. I don’t even necessarily mind that it’s wild. It’s that it’s murderous, full of brambles (which at least produce blackberries) and nettles (which don’t). I’d like to reduce it to non-murderousness. I don’t have any PLANS for it beyond non-murderousness, not really
(except the blackberry bramble patch would probably make a good area for a small vegetable garden)
it’s just that I want it to not leap out and attack random passers-by. But if that’s going to be done it might as well be done right, and if it’s going to be done right it’d probably be silly to not at least put grass down, or something.
There’s far too much of it to be done, realistically. It’s…well.
That’s probably…I don’t know. I mean, from that angle, it’s 60 feet deep, but that’s looking toward the corner from where I was standing. Facing straight back it’s at least 20, maybe 30 feet deep from where I’m standing to the fence blocking the creek. And it’s at least a hundred feet long, so it’s just…a lot of ground. Too much. Except, y’know, if you’re gonna do it at all… #sigh
Even so, just dealing with the first…15 feet of depth?
There’s a fence running along the left of this picture, more or less (more or less) where the earth stops. Taking that out and clearing even just the five or so feet in front of it and the ten behind it would get rid of MOST of the brambles and nettles and it’d…just be a lot better. *sigh*
The whole mess is made worse by the fact that when pieces of the apple tree fell off last year, the gardener just threw them right over the edge of the fence in the clearest patch (which had been my blackberry patch, god damn it):
so what was bad the year before is much worse now because it’s got an entire extra dead tree lying on top of it. #sigh
And of course the longer it goes on the worse it’ll get, so I would LIKE to deal with it, but…agh. :/ And it should be done NOW, before spring really kicks into gear, and…agh!
apples apples everywhere
We picked apples on Sunday. This warped panorama does not do justice to the numbers of apples currently residing in our entryway:
The bag in the back corner, and the white box, which is like 2×3′ or something, are also full of apples. There are So Many Apples. There’s a fairly large bag already missing, too, as I sent one home with my sister.
A friend just dropped by and took away the small box next to the plant pots and the black bag at the foot of the photo, which made a small but visible dent. Ted said, “I can fix that. Want me to go pick more apples?”
I gave him the look he deserved. :)
I’ve been making apple jelly and jam almost daily. Now that we have ALL OF THESE off the trees I need to start apple butter, but it requires peeling so many apples I have to get started early or I’ll be doing apple butter at midnight.
Here are the jams I’ve made so far. Soon they’ll be available on Etsy. Soon!
This weekend I’m going to be bringing some to Octocon. If you happen to be going and see this post, there’s a poll here to ‘pre-order’ the jams you’d like, just to try to give myself a sense of how many I should bring. (Don’t fill it out if you’re not going to Octocon but want jam. The Etsy store will be up soon!)
There are still so many apples on the trees, omg. Oh, the crabapples:
13 pounds picked in half an hour, and that was literally only the low-hanging fruit on the tree. There’s got to be at least twice this again. I’m thinking of making crabapple butter, which I’ve never tried. I bet it’ll be an amazing color.
Anyway there’s still hundreds of apples on the main tree and we DISCOVERED a random fifth apple tree in the front corner of our garden a couple of weeks ago and there’s the one tree that fell half down and IDK if it’s worth trying to shake the apples out of it because most of them are growing over a hedge, and there’s the other tree that hasn’t fallen down and we haven’t even made a *stab* at it yet.
I’ve got so many apple recipes, but we can’t EAT this much!
When we moved into this house we bought a new Samsung stereo, one which we could theoretically dock our Samsung phones right into and play music on them from. It has backup CD/DVD/USB/JPG/whatthefuckall options as well, but in theory one could download an app and stick the phone on and voila.
Apparently it works really well if you have an iPhone or iPod, but it works for shit with an actual Samsung, which makes no freaking sense at all, but there you have it. I’ve tried in a desultuory fashion for the past several months to Make It Go, but mostly we’ve been putting the occasional CD in it and mostly not using it at all. Part of the reason I rearranged the TBR shelf was so I would also have somewhere to put the stereo in the living room, because there was really nowhere, and this morning I gave Making It Go another shot.
I succeeded this time, although I ended up using a bluetooth connection instead of the hard dock I was going for. However, since it 1. WORKS, and 2. has SO MUCH BETTER SOUND QUALITY than the CDs did, I’m almost totally satisfied with the solution. (Not totally because it’s fucking stupid that the hard dock doesn’t freaking work. But almost totally.)
And in not unrelated news, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack is still wonderful. :)
a fruit problem
We discovered we have a crabapple tree in the front garden. Chaos immediately ensued, resulting in this:
I may have a fruit problem.
Today I washed and chopped and boiled and strained all EIGHT POUNDS of those, and by the time I was done I was too tired to make jelly even if all I had to do was pour it all into a pot and boil it with sugar for fifteen minutes. And actually jar it. That was the part that seemed too hard. But the juice is an amazing shade of red and it’ll be interesting to see what color (and flavour) the resulting jam is. I hope it’s nice, because chopping all those up was a real you-know-what in the ass, as a teenage friend of mine once said to her mother. (“Honey,” her mother replied, “it’s all right to say ‘pain’.” :))
Yesterday I made more wild blackberry jam and apple jelly with cinnamon. The cinnamon apple jelly is a completely different color than the other two batches, and I don’t know if that’s because I boiled the others longer or if the cinnamon had some kind of dramatic effect on its gelling (because it seemed to gel a little faster) and color or if the two or three not-Bramley-apples that are more yellow-skinned than the Bramleys affected it or what, but it’s very pretty:
It’s got a faint pinkish tint I can’t get the phone’s sensor to register, but it’s very pretty, anyway. :)
The other day I found an apple dessert recipe that I thought looked good, and then I made it and it wasn’t so much good as “I think you could probably get out of a prison sentence with this stuff” delicious, so I made a second batch and yep, it’s that good.
I’ll post the recipe in a couple days. I’m too lazy to do it tonight. :)
I’m down to the last half basket of apples to process. I have about 12 pounds of frozen apples, four pounds of frozen apple pulp to turn into jam (because after overhearing me mumbling to myself about whether it was worth saving to make into more apple jam, which is what gave me the napalm-style burns, Ted got a spoon and tried the apple jam that was in the fridge, then left the room eating it straight from the jar, implying to me that it was worth saving…!), currently about 8 cups of crabapple juice and probably four pounds of crabapple pulp to turn into jelly and jam, another batch’s worth of wild blackberries, and half a batch of strawberries that I need to get rhubarb for so I can make one more batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.
The weather is supposed to remain unseasonably nice for the next few days, so on Friday I’ll probably go out for a last foray into the blackberries because
EVEN THOUGH THE LANDLORD AND HIS TREE SURVEYOR FUCKING CUT DOWN HALF MY BLACKBERRY PATCH
there are still some ripening out there, and a lot down in the park where I got a couple of other big hauls. And then I’ll be done with the berries, I think, but we’ll have another apple-picking party soon and I’m going to have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them then. Like find out if there’s a local cider-maker or something…
Oh, I also got a new Old Races short story finished for the Patreon patrons, and should get that posted tomorrow. :)