Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Lazin' on a sunny the summer time..."
thats what I've been doing today; whenever I hear this song by the Kinks the years roll away and I am a teenager again.

Sometimes I can't make up my mind what to read next. I have a monster pile of books TBR* but somehow don't fancy any of them. It's a bit like being hungry, going into a restaurant and there isn't a thing you want to eat on the menu. Fortunately for me a few websites have sprung up which help focus the book reader's mind, these are just two that I have used Bookslut and Meet the Author . Bookslut is rather US-centric and Meet the Author has a preponderence of light reading but both provide me with another way of making my mind up.

London's Burning, London's Burning....well it will be if and when the latest daft decree from those wonderful folk at the Health and Safety Executive is implemented, as it is being in Devon. Apparently it is far too dangerous for firemen to slide down the poles which take them from their quarters down to the engines, "they might suffer ankle injuries". So now they are to run down flights of stairs instead!! MUCH safer don't you think? Of course, this new system will add up to a minute or more to getting a fire-fighting team assembled, but what the hell, the fire can wait, time is not of the essence here, safety is the priority. Has anybody suggested to the HSE that fighting fires is very dangerous and speaking from a Health & Safety perspective should be banned completely. My advice to you dear reader is to hide the matches from the kids, and never, never pour petrol on a braai (BBQ) to get it going, lets be careful out there.

BTW just in case anyone thinks that this is a photo of me sliding down a firemens pole, it isn't, its Briget Jones.


Lazin' on a sunny afternoon came to an abrupt end a few hours ago when my dear friend J arrived with a humungous bag of plums from the tree on her allotment . Nearly 6 I decided I'd better tackle them asap, but only had enough sugar in the house to deal with 1½ kgs. So today's recipe is for easy-peasy, foolproof plum jam.


1½ kgs (3 lbs)plums, washed, stoned and cut into quarters
1½ kgs (3 lbs) sugar,
Juice of one large lemon,
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
250ml (½ pint) water

Before you begin, put one or two saucers in the fridge to chill, get your jam jars, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse, dry and leave them in a very low oven to keep hot.

Put all the ingredients into a large jam pan (the pan must be large as the mixture boils up and you don't want it to boil over). Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then turn the heat up and let it boil until it darkens and thickens. After about 15 minutes turn the heat down or off, take a teaspoon of the mixture, put it onto one of the chilled saucers and put back in the fridge for five minutes. Then test whether it has reached setting point by pushing the jam on the saucer with your finger. If it wrinkles up it is ready, if it is still liquid it needs to boil for a few more minutes. Then test again. You will eventually reach setting point! There maybe a whitish foam on top of the jam. Disperse this by taking a very small knob of butter - the size of a fingernail - and stirring it lightly through the foam. Fish out the cinnamon stick with a fork.
Fill the hot jam jars with the jam. Seal with waxed discs whilst hot, allow to cool before putting lids on the jars.
This quantity made 6½ jars of jam. Store in a cool dark place.

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