I am one of four children. My mum didn’t work, my Dad was a lecturer and we lived in Kew. It all sounds impossibly affluent in today’s terms, but those were the days when families knew how to live a frugal life. We were not at all well off (the house was condemned due to a serious damp problem!) but my mum had been raised during the war years in occupied Denmark, so she knew how to make good. She used to make clothes, cushion covers, hobby horses and dolls. I was inspired to turn my old school blazer into a fashion jacket, tailoring it, dyeing it, then sewing a designer label into it to make it look more like the real article!
My mum visited me recently and awoke in me some of these ideas of making the most of what is available. My cherry tree was laden with fruit, but having tasted the bitter berries before, I had always left them for the birds. My mum soon stripped the tree, washed the fruit and stewed the cherries up with some sugar, making the most delicious cherry compote.
A favourite Danish dessert is Rød Grød (a tongue twister of an expression, meaning literally red porridge). It is a stew of red berries, including foraged blackberries and strawberries which are perhaps slightly past their best. Stewed up, thickened with corn flour and served with cream, it is a delight!
We used to gather elderberries too and made elderberry juice and wine (one lot of juice over fermented once, blowing up in the kitchen cupboard which was rather dramatic!)Chutneys, jams and preserves all make the most of seasonal ingredients of course. But how often do I go past trees in the autumn whose unwanted fruit is lying on the ground much to the delight of the wasps and slugs!
Occasionally I see a bucket of fruit outside someone’s house with a sign saying “Help Yourself”. What a wonderful idea. Let’s try more of that spirit of generosity and make the most of this bounty we have around us. I have noticed in recent years that blackberries are at their best at around the start of August. I cycle around the area, picking lots, freeze them in trays so they don’t get mushy, then use them throughout the year. So look out for shared apples, pick your blackberries and you have a healthy start to the day or end of a meal – FREE!
Remember my tip for banana ice cream? Peel very ripe (even black) bananas. Freeze, then put in a food processor and whizz them until creamy – Banana ice cream with only one ingredient – Bananas!!
Do you have any money saving tips? Share your recipes or tips below or on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/sunburymatters