Don’t you love weekends? 

Yeah, I know it’s a daft question – who doesn’t love weekends?  But, I mean, the whole philosophy of it all – that you work hard (or study hard) 5 days a week, then get a couple of days to spend time with family or friends, or do stuff that you like to do, or, heck, do nothing at all.  Basically, it’s a chance to remember what you work or study FOR.

For me, it’s usually full of what I fondly refer to as “life maintenance” – bathrooms that need cleaning, carpet that needs vacuuming.  In fact, as I write this, I hear the washing machine kicking into the rinse cycle.  But, I always try to make time to do something that I want to do in the kitchen – something that isn’t my everyday stuff.  It could be trying a new dessert or bread recipe or taking advantage of whatever is in season at my favorite green grocer.  Whatever, it’s nice just to be able to spend some time do something a little different from the everyday – and at a leisurely pace.

This year, I decided to jump into jams anding charge headlong into chutneys – they’re something that I absolutely love to eat, and, frankly, they are ludicrously easy to make.  As we go through the growing season in 2011, I’ll post jam and chutney recipes so that you can make the most of whatever is either growing in your garden or fresh at the farmers’ market!

In the meantime, here is a great, hearty chutney from Pam Corbin — perfect for settling down with a cheese sammich and chips.

English Ale Chutney

  • 1 lb onions, diced
  • 1/2 lb rutabaga, small dice
  • 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1/2 lb apples, peeled, cored and small dice
  • 1/3 lb cauliflower, just the tiny florets
  • 2-3 fat garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 lb dates, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups demerera sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 heaping Tbsp English mustard powder
  • 2 heaping tsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaping tsp mace
  • 1 heaping tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups ale or stout (NOT lager)

Put all of the ingredients except the ale or stout in a large pot and add 2 cups of water.  Bring to a rapid boil, then lower to a simmer, cooking for a good 90 minutes.  Add half the ale and cook for another hour.  Add the other half and cook for a final hour.  It should be reddish-brown and thick and the vegetables should still hold their shape but be tender.  Spoon into sterilized jars and make sure there are no air pockets.  Let sit for 3-6 weeks.

it's just begging for some strong cheddar and crusty bread