My Easter break this year was a little different from usual – and significantly quieter. I have finally managed to convince the very hard-working Husband that it is okay to take a break and enjoy some time that is just for him – no work, no kids, no me – although it wasn’t easy to start with. Last year we managed to persuade him (or bully him, depends who’s telling the story) to accept an invitation to go up to the Byron Bay Blues Festival with a group of friends.
Our family are all big music fans and have been WOMADelaide devotees (or tragics, again it depends who’s telling the story) since it began here, taking the kids in backpacks when they were small. We all knew The Husband would love Byron Bay, but it took all sorts of cajoling, nagging and manipulation to get him to agree to go away for a week without us and there were even unfortunate scenes in the car on the way to the airport, as he resisted to the bitter end. Contrary to his expectations, the world did not cease to turn, either in a domestic or commercial sense, he actually relaxed and enjoyed himself and happily set off again last week, leaving me with the assorted offspring.
Given that our eldest has moved out of the familial nest, our son is at the age where he disappears for days at a time and the youngest had an hour-long general anaesthetic to dig wisdom teeth out of her jaw on the Wednesday before the Easter break, I knew things were going to be pretty uneventful over the weekend. Glad of an excuse to do very little – and to have the remote control to myself – the four day break looked quite good from where I was sitting. (Perhaps less so for my poor, swollen and bruised baby, though.)
I happily engrossed myself in the pile of books by my bedside, the menu of murder mysteries on the television, the thorough perusal of Paula Wolfert’s book “The Food of Morocco” to select the lunch menu for a family meal on Easter Sunday (harcha, vegetable couscous and salmon poached with preserved lemon, raisins & pine nuts, followed by cheese and chocolate) and the big box of late, cooking tomatoes that I purchased on Thursday afternoon. In between the above, plus playing on the internet, tending to my daughter’s needs for nourishing, but soft, foods and administering pain relief I had a lovely time turning these bruised and over-ripe fruits in to chutney, tomato sauce (ketchup) and tomato sugo. I now have a fridge and freezer full of summer ready to brighten up the winter months.
The tomato sugo recipe I use is one that I’ve posted before here. It is a simple recipe, but oven-cooked, thus maximising the sweetness of the tomatoes, and is a rich base for soups, casseroles or pizzas. I made the tomato sauce (ketchup) in my trusty Thermomix using my modified version of a gorgeous recipe from the very clever Quirky Jo – check out her version here. The chutney was my own recipe. I like a bit of spicy flavour with chutney, but not too much heat, so I’m generous with the ginger and spices, but less so with the chilli. Chutney is simple to make, keeps for ages in the fridge, is a deliciously tasty addition to a cheese platter and, like so much else, always nicer when you make it yourself.
Spicy Tomato Chutney
- 1 & 1/2 kgs tomatoes roughly chopped (I used Romas)
- 2 chopped onions
- 3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup sultanas
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 level tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1-1 1/2 hours until thickened.
- Sterilise jars by scalding with boiling water or running through a hot cycle in a clean dishwasher. Dry by standing upside down in warm oven.
- When cooked, pour chutney into hot jars (pouring hot chutney into cold jars will make the jars crack), seal, cool and store in fridge.
That’s how I filled in my delicious four days. How about you, my lovelies – how did you enjoy the break?