Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sloes and Sunsets.

Golly, I'm blogging again. I miss it when I don't and having renewed my love of photography I also seem to have renewed my need to garble on here. It makes some sense of my days when I can look back and see what the weather was doing or,come to that, what I have been doing. I had quite a gap toward the end of last year and now I wonder where on earth I was; what was taking place in my life that made it so easy to fall away from this diary of mine and ignore it. Anyhow, yesterday the sun shone and I hurried out to snap this pot of very advanced tulips sitting on the courtyard.

Despite the amazingly cold morn I lingered and listened to the birdsong in the hedges, breathed deep of that icy air and noticed what was going on: little signs of life creeping out of the wintery chill to bring the delicate purple blooms of Arabis to my eye.

I soon had to seek the warmth of the house once more and set to preparing the evening's dinner. I had an idea for a meal consisting of a rich combination of flavours based around some delicious pork chops and for once jotted it down as I went along in the hope that it would be worth repeating sometime. This was to be a comforting meal full of rich flavours and mouthwateringly sticky juices mopped up with buttery mash, a meal to keep the cold at bay.

So, having finally managed to prise the lid off one of the jars of plum jam made last year from some of our enormous harvest of fruit, I poured the contents into a roasting dish and added three tablespoons (roughly) of our homemade sloe gin.

I then fished out the berries which, as usual, I haven't bothered to strain off and added two large chopped garlic cloves, two tablespoons of Worcesterchire Sauce and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar - you could use white wine or even cider vinegar here but I wanted to try this out. Next I added one tablespoon mustard - something with a little heat but any is fine.

Strew (I love that word as it makes me think of wonderful flavours and beautiful scents or an old English cookery book) some rosemary sprigs. About three or four will do as they can be a little over-powering if not careful.

Place your pork chops into the dish and work the mix into the meat well. Cover and leave to marinade for as long as you can manage - I only had about three hours by the time I got to this stage but it was still lovely. When you are ready place the covered dish into a low oven (gas 4) for about two hours before lowering to gas 3 for as long as you want - mine was in for three and a half hours all told.

Partake of a goodly slurp of aforementioned sloe gin to ensure you are equally well marinated.

Then take yourself out into your garden to take notice of the beautiful twilight fast descending. My favourite time of day when I am able to revel in the moment. There is a hush and expectancy in the air at this time where the birds settle and sing a softer song, and far-distant sounds seem muted by the unfolding blanket of night.

It is peaceful, calm in a way that I seem drawn to and watching the purples darken to mulberry black, the fading pinks blurring the edges of deepening clouds, seems to hold time still for just a moment before the hustle of a family dinner intrudes once more.

And so back indoors to warmth and the rich smells of sloe roasted pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli and red cabbage. The sauce was so gorgeous with a lightly Chinese taste to it but different if you know what I mean? Very, very sticky juices and the fat just melted...Mmmm. Did I ever tell you I love fat? A lot! Of course, a meal like this needs another glass of sloe gin to bring out the flavours.

Bottoms up!

By the way, I have been thinking of changing the blog to have different headings for garden, food, etc - any thoughts?

Bye for now x


  1. I find the dark grey days of the year difficult for blogging - the light is bad for photos, and without photos I don't feel very inspired. Lucky you to have some sun - still very grey here, which somehow makes the cold seem worse. I need some sunshine - even of the chilly sort! You cooking looks very warming - almost to enough to make me eschew vegetarianism!!

    Pomona x

  2. Beautiful post as always. Your picture of twilight through the trees makes me want to have a go at painting it! xx

  3. What a cosy comforting post. Just right for this time of year. Although I dont each pork you marinade and the way you described making it sounded yummy. I am weird because i eat ham and bacon??? go figure. Youngest is the same will only eat ham and hates bacon. We are weird in our tastes arent we.

    Loving the twilight through the trees pics too. Oh I feel very happy and cosy after reading this. Thanks Pip.

    MBB x

  4. My husband and son would love that dinner! Me being a vegetarian would like to sticky sauce, maybe over a couple of veggie sausages. My son, who is now at Uni, eats better than we do! He loves his food and isn't someone who will just make do. The highlight of his week is the Sunday shopping trip they all do at Tesco!
    Not long now till the new Gift Guide when all dinners here cease and takeaways take over! No time for cooking! Good luck and I hope its as successful as the others x

  5. What a wonderful and homey post! I did something similar on Tuesday night - spicy Bourbon Pot Roast (lots of fat because you put bacon into slits on the top of the roast.;)) The part where I braise it smells surprisingly comforting and happy but the smell of it cooking....mmmmm! My men were really happy. Warmth and sustenance, indeed! =]

    I've never had sloe gin, though. So many of my friends from the UK talk about it....

    and I missed a whole year, almost of blogging opportunities. One post a month was all. I don't know why I was stuck (well, maybe, life was hard for a moment, there) but I feel so open and happy, again. and it's always a pleasure to share your joys and blahs, too, when they come! =]


    Katy xo

  6. Hmmm, that part about 'the blahs' didn't come out right but, you know what I mean, I think. Blog friends are just the best when we have a 'sniffle', aren't they? ;) =]

  7. truly lovely post...the skies are amazing in devon and cornwall- i love the sunsets and pink skies ;0)
    ...i have just made dinner and ready to dish up- seeing your post has made my mouth water ;0)x think im ready for din dins now as my daughter calls it ;0)x

  8. Yummy, might have to try this at the weekend. Just the thing for these bitterly cold days. I love your blog just as it is so have no helpful comments to make! Karen X

  9. I'm a veggie, but even I can imagine how good the scent of that little lot must have been as it floated through your kitchen.

    I have to agree with Pomona, dark days that are so camera unfriendly can leave me struggling for material for posts. Winter certainly isn't the easiest season for bloggy inspiration.

    Re. the blog ... personally I love the eclectic mix that you offer. knitsofacto has a 'find posts on' in the sidebar for those wishing to only read about knitting or flowers or whatever, maybe try that approach first? Just a thought.

  10. Looks very yummy, thank you for sharing. I loved all of the pictures, I'm hoping to take some pictures at the weekend.
    Have a lovely weekend X

  11. That's making my mouth water! I may have to dig out the sloe gin and get cooking! XX

  12. The chops look so delicious but I can't eat fat at the moment more's the pity.
    Beautiful post and pics.

  13. Would there be another place at your table, pleeeeease? Food looks very, very yummy! Cx

  14. Oh those chops look delicious!

    I've been away from blogging myself lately Pip - just didn't have the inspiration and the light here has not been conducive to taking photos, and what is a post without photos!!

    I love your blog just as it is!


  15. Mmmmmm gorgeous recipe thanks and beautiful photos as usual Pipany!
    London is sunny today so im going to close my eyes and imagine i'm by the sea ahhhh x

  16. Now THAT is what I will do with my pork chops - looks so yummy. And any excuse to have a spot of sloe gin!

    As for the blog, I quite like it as it is, a mix of cooking, craft, gardens, hens, ducks, photos.

    And yes, photos, I was asked why I don't take the camera outside as often these days, I don't know, I suppose you get out of the habit, but it's another I hope to catch up on soon!

  17. That pork dish looks/sounds amazing. Will def need to try something similar. Thank you for the inspiration.