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Saturday, 3 October 2009

Back to work!

First of all to all those who have been worrying about my arm being amputated, it's still attached, complete with bit of bamboo inside! I don't know what they were thinking. Maybe they thought they only had to pull out a wee splinter or something! The conversation with the surgeon went something like this:
"Well what have we got here then?"
"A bit of bamboo inside my arm."
"Are you sure?"
"Yep, pretty sure."
"But how did it get in there?"
"Entered from the other side, when I hit a bamboo stick supporting some tomatoes."
"But that's impossible! How deep did it go in?"
"Dunno, but evidently deep enough. I pulled 1 1/2 cm of if back out and your A&E department couldn't find anything else at the time."
"How long has it been in there?"
"Oh about 6 weeks."

At that stage the assistant puts in: "Shall I put 'urgent' on the form?"

So he had evidently not sharpened his skalpels yet, also he wanted to know how big the actual thing is. So after filling in various forms and signing my life away to the responsibility of those medicals, I now have to return, stick in me arm and all, on the 8th, to have it all scanned and than have it removed in the hopefully not too distant future.

This is my arm now. Note the wee blob just to the right of the scar (old war wound still giving me the gipes occasionally), it's not an insect bite!

Sorry about that, hope I didn't upset you all too much. Here's a nicer picture for you to look at

Anyway, I can't hang around waiting for those doctors to fix my arm, there's work to be done, and I'm already behind, because of this episode. Today it was time to lift the rest of the spuds. It wasn't a good year for potatoes, with the dry summer again. But it'll keep us going for a wee bit.

We also sowed out our some broad beans and peas for spring harvesting on the terrace where we had just dug up the potatoes. Having been delayed we have also bought some ready plants, leeks and broccoli, to plant out. We had to prepare the beds for them too, so it's been a pretty busy day, and the arm was quite sore by the end.

Yesterday I made some elderberry chutney. I know it's not exactly elderberry time any more, at least not around here, but as matter of routine, whenever I pick elderberries I stick them straight into the freezer, because they are so much easier to strip off their stalks when frozen. But it also means I can use them as and when I feel like it and have a spare half hour or two.

I've already made elderberry jam and liqueur, now I've made a chutney with the rest. Would you like to know the recipe? Well here it goes. Too late if you said 'no'.

for pickling spice:
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 1 tsp dill seeds
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds

for the chutney:

  • 2 kg elderberries
  • 500g onions, chopped
  • 200g raisins, chopped
  • 1 l white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tsp of above pickling spice tied into a muslin bag
  • 1/2 tsp chilli
  • 1 tsp mustard powder


  1. Simmer onions in half the vinegar until soft.
  2. Strip elderberries off the stalks & add to the onions together with the raisins, salt, ginger, chilli, mustard & pickling spice.
  3. Simmer until the mixture has softened. Add the sugar, stir well & boil until the chutney is thick.
  4. Remove the pickling spice, leave to cool and pot into clean jars.
  5. Serve with meats such as venison, turkey or rabbit or spicy mature cheeses.

Put the rest of the pickling spice into a jar and use for you next chutney or pickle. I shall use mine for some green tomato chutney as soon as I have gathered enough jars together again.

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