Winter chills and Autumn Chutneys

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winter is here. This weekend, the temperature dropped to a chilly 3'C. I spent most of the weekend faffing about in the lounge, picking up sewing bits, rearranging piles of fabrics, and trying not to let my winter sniffles develop into 'flu.

I also took a pattern from my favourite bag and sewed all the pieces together; it worked like a dream. I discovered that pattern-making isn't so bad, and that using the wrong fabric can be terrible for the final product. I used thick canvas-like cotton that I bought at the market. After cutting the edges, it frayed horribly and all the pieces were just slightly smaller than I wanted them to be. Ah well, I shall have to buy a little spot of oh-so-nice fabrics for more testing, won't I? At least the pattern turned out well.

There are some nice things about winter. I like being warm, inside, while it's cold outside. I like drinking hot tea and warming up from the inside. I like warm colours and snuggly blankets and snow. This will be my fourth snowy winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and I'm looking forward to snow balls, snow men, and that crunchy snowy underfoot noise you get as you traipse around in piles of soft white fluff. In Cape Town, this time of year is all about cocktails on the beach, swimming in the summer sun and enjoying braais outside with friends. I have snow. I'm not jealous. Not much, anyway.

The other thing I like about winter is warming up with hearty loaves of breads, homemade soups, and chutneys.

I suppose chutney is an all-year-round conserve, but I rather like the warmth of a good spoon of chilli chutney on a good hunk of steaming hot bread in the dead of winter. So, after realising that winter had hit, I gathered my fruits and vegetables, chopped them up into decent-sized chunks, and cooked them all into a thick, treacle-coloured chutney which managed to fill up four jam jars. With red spotted lids, I kid you not.

I love the hearty colours and eclectic ingredients that went into my delicious weekend chutney: oranges, chillies, apples, the hugest onion ever seen by man (a 600g whopper), dates, walnuts and a handful of chopped tomato cubes. Not to mention malt vinegar and muscovado sugar. It's funny how all of the Autumn colours melted down together to form a rich treacle brown - like a secret supply of autumn that's just a spoonful away when you're feeling glum in the white coldness of winter.

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