Friday, 7 November 2008

Why no Food?

Considering this blog is called 'Photography and Food' I occasionally feel a pang of, not quite guilt, more confusion as to why there is almost no mention of food on here at all. Food is my main passion in life, more than taking snaps, more than going to the gym and even more than Grey's Anatomy. So I have poked myself with a few small sharp sticks in an effort to put some of my lengthy conversations, ponderings and cooking in type right here. It's a non new year resolution. I can't fill my whole endless blog with endless Treasury screencaps however much I appreciate being in every single one and how lovely I think they all are. So there you go. A new slant.

From tomorrow.

But for now:

Here's an old favourite foodie post from more or less a year ago to get me in the mood:

Sloe Gin

I was given a bin liner full of prickly sloes by a generous friend whose larder is already groaning under the weight of home made goodies.

She said “it’s really easy, but takes a while”. No kidding.

So this is what you need.
Sloe berries
Small, sharp poking implement
Caster sugar
Gin – lots of gin
Kilner jars, or other large containers, sterilized

Settle down at a large table, empty out your bin liner of spiky fruits; put the radio on because you’re going to be here for a while.

Pluck the sloes from the branches, trying no to puncture yourself in the process, they are very sharp. I didn’t bother with any which were obviously mouldy or squishy, but I did include them if they were split.

Discarding the branches once the berries are off makes the whole thing a bit neater and it’s encouraging to see the massive heap grow smaller.

Once all the sloes are in a bowl together looking lovely, clear your table of spiders, leaves and other creepy crawlies which will be looking to make a home for themselves in yours.

Leave the sloes in some cold water and wait for all the leaves, twigs and corpses to rise to the surface and remove.

Try to scrape the welded on purple sloe stickyness from your hands and under your fingernails (mine stayed put for about two days).

Drain the berries and when you can face it, sit back at the table, with more entertainment and ideally a darning needle, although I can’t think of one single person I know who would actually possess such an object. I used a cocktail stick.

Laboriously remove each sloe, one by one, individually, by itself, from the glistening purple pile and poke with your little wooden stick, lovingly place in a clean bowl. Repeat about 20,000 times until your back aches, your fingers are stiff and sticky and you consider breaking into the three bottles of gin luring you to their shelf.

Take a deep breath, have a walk, have some chocolate, watch CSI.

Finish stabbing the sloes.

Now the science bit – you need 1-2oz of castor sugar for each pint of gin, more if you like it sweeter and less if you like it dryer. I have no idea how I like it so I used about 1.75 oz if I did the calculations right. These quantities are from the BBC website, blame them not me if it’s horrible. It’s my first time and I trust them…..

Sterilize the containers by putting through the dishwasher, heating in the oven or pouring in boiling water.

Drive down the road to replace the jar you have just cracked by pouring boiling water into it and repeat the process with slightly less than boiling water and placing a long metal spoon in the jar, just as your mother always told you to do.


With great satisfaction, carefully pour the sloes into your first container, watch out for them rolling all over the floor as they make a terrible mess when you tread on them and walk them around the rest of the room on the bottom of your shoe.

Measure and pour one pint of gin onto the berries and then add however much sugar you’ve decided to use in too. Give it all a bit of a mix around and continue adding gin and sugar to the berries until all are covered in all of your containers. Leaving a little space at the top of the container makes mixing easier.

Seal the containers and hope that the seals work better than mine did. If they don’t, mop up the gin which will squirt out from under the ‘waterproof’ seals and top up again.

Keep in a dark, cool cupboard for three months, turning every couple of days initially and then less frequently later on so that the sugar is evenly distributed. Don’t wait for longer than six months to decant, it won’t benefit from longer.

If you haven’t forgotten about them in three months time, strain the berries from the sweet, pungent, purple gin and rebottle into sterilized bottles (don’t forget the spoon if using the hot water method), add a few sloes to the bottle for artistic effect and keep some for adding to casseroles. Wrap prettily as gifts or hide at the back of the cupboard and keep for yourself.

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