Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crab apple jelly

This year I left collecting crab apples for making jelly rather late. They have long fallen and the cold nights and hungry animals are taking their toll.
But I managed to collect 3 lbs - enough for a small batch of crab apple jelly.

What I like about making crab apple jelly, is that not much measuring and weighing is involved and it's not a precise science.

To make crab apple jelly, you will need:
  • a large sauce pan
  • a muslin bag
  • a measuring jug
  • a ladle
  • jam jars
  • sugar
  • lemon juice
and, of course
Here is how:

Wash the crab apples, remove bruises and slice/quarter.

Put the apples into a large sauce pan and just about cover with water.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the apples are soft and pulp. It helps to mash the apples with a potato masher or rolling pin.  
Leave to cool, then ladle the pulpy mixture into a muslin bag and hang over a bowl to let strain over night. Do NOT squeeze the bag, unless you don't mind your jelly cloudy.

Measure the liquid. Add 1 lb of sugar per pint of liquid, add some lemon juice and boil rapidly for about 15 minutes, stirring as you go.

Remove any scum with a spoon as it forms.  

Now you should test if the jelly is ready to set. My husband likes to take the scientific approach and uses the methylated spirit method.
Me, I prefer the 'wrinkle test', by dropping a small amount of jelly onto a chilled plate and leaving it in the fridge for a minute. Then push your finger gently across the plate. If the jelly surface forms wrinkles, the jelly is ready.

If you are using a sugar thermometer, the setting point for jelly is usually between 104 and 106C.
(To be honest, crab apples contain a lot of pectin and I have never had problems getting it to set, as along as you haven't made it too watery)

Remove the saucepan from the heat and ladle the hot and runny jelly into sterilised jars. Use sterile lids or cellophane covers to cover your jars.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

We shall remember them

Today is Remembrance Sunday and as every year a time for serious soul-searching for me.

I am forced to consider the stark truth of war and conflict, our (and my) part in it and what should be done about it.

I wear the poppy in remembrance of those who have died in wars across the ages, as well as to support the Royal British Legion, the charity supports serving members of the Armed Forces, ex-Service men and women (veterans), their families and dependants all year-round.

However, I fear the patriotism which so easily slips into this time of year. There seems a fine line between honouring those who have died in service to humanity and glorifying their terrible and untimely deaths.

Then of course  there are the questions and doubts about how right it is to be involved in conflict and war. Is there such a things as a Just War?
Whilst I am able to look at WWII and feel a sense of certainty that this was a right cause and perhaps as just as war as  I can think of, and even feel deep gratitude to those who fought against Nazi Germany, with virtually all conflict since then I cannot muster the same kind of feelings ...

Then there is the knowledge that not only soldiers die in modern wars, but countless innocent civilians too. Who remembers them?

So, as every year I wear the red poppy.
I wear it to remember those young men and women who have given their lives in service to their country and for all mankind.
I wear it as a challenge against all war and conflict and to pose the questions whether it is right to be involved, whether it is a just cause or whether there are other motivations at play.
I wear it to remember ALL who have died in wars and conflict - soldiers and civilians, people from all nations and religions.
I wear it in the hope that one day we will not need to wear red poppies any more ...

Perhaps I should wear a white poppy as well next year??

Sunday, November 4, 2012

There's a wideness in God's mercy

I am often surprised (and shocked) by the judgmental attitudes I come across in those who claim to believe in God. Only in the last week or so have I come across a number of explanations, which attributed the hurricane Sandy to God's punishment on mankind ... for (in no particular order) 1) proposed changes in US law on same sex marriage, 2) the anti-Islam film, which was recently made public and 3) not caring for our environment ...
So take your pick which one you think is most likely - but bear in mind that there might be many, many more of these theories out there ...

What strikes me about these theories is the zeal with which people are assured that God is on 'their side' and fighting for 'their causes'.

So it soothed my heart to sing this hymn in church this morning. "There's a wideness in God's mercy" is a hymn, which was written by Frederick Faber in 1854.

I loved these two verses especially:
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind. 
But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

Here it is sung by the Choir of St Paul's Cathedral, London:

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Souls Day

Today is the day when many Christians remember those loved ones who have died.

It was humbling to take part in the evening service, a quiet and solemn occasion, which gave people the opportunity to remember and grieve in their own way.

Support us, O Lord, all the day long,
until the shadows lengthen, the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over and our work is done.
Then, in your mercy, grant us safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at last;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(Methodist Worship Book)

For all who grieve for loved ones, may you find peace and rest. My thoughts and prayers are with you.