Home Cooking and Concocting

Before I left Ireland, I had a lot of home-grown onions and garlic to deal with and I made three different varieties of preserved garlic.

The first one was simply garlic placed in a sterilised jar and covered with olive oil.  This turned out to have a blow your head off, hot garlicky taste.  It was ok for cooking in small doses, and the oil was also useful in even smaller doses to add a garlicky ‘hit’ to dips and salad dressings.

The second one was a recipe for French pickled garlic, from Epicurious.  It was a bit complex in the making, and it didn’t taste at all like the pickled garlic you buy here in Provence, but it was tasty.

The third one was made to shut the LSH up.  He kept wittering on about using Balsamic Vinegar to pickle garlic, which is not The French Way at all.  Eventually, I found and used a recipe, Pickled garlic in Balsamic vinegar.  OMG, this was just delicious… the LSH was right!

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There is loads of fresh garlic around now, and it’s cheap.  I bought some and pickled it in Balsamic vinegar a couple of weeks ago.  But, being my usual disorganised self, I forgot what recipe I used last time and went looking for one.  I found this on Twice Cooked Half Baked and thought it looked interesting and easy.  The only thing is, now that I compare the two, this is going to take a good deal longer to cure because the garlic is not cooked.  I’ll have to wait another two months to find out what it’s like.

Anyway, here’s what went into my version :

3 large heads of garlic, very fresh

750ml Balsamic vinegar, the cheapest I could find

50g sugar

2 tsps salt

A good handful of rosemary and thyme, fresh from the garden

I sterilised the jars in the oven while I boiled up everything except the garlic.  Then I packed the garlic into the jars, covered them with the vinegar mixture and sealed the jars.  I was using the Kilner jars with the rubber seals, so I didn’t go through the ‘processing in a bath’ step.  Here’s hoping they’re properly preserved…

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Once I had finished pickling, I had half a bottle of cheap Balsamic sitting looking at me.  I’m one of those fussy people who only like good quality stuff on my salad.  This stuff was only fit to be poured over a plate of chips!

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What to do… Well, why not make a Balsamic reduction?  And I had most of a punnet of overripe strawberries in the fridge – why not make a Strawberry Balsamic reduction?

So I boiled up the strawberries and the Balsamic with a good dose of sugar…

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…and ended up with half a bottle of syrupy, strawberry-y goodness.  Not bad at all!

Last year, I posted about making a homemade fly spray for the horses.  I can’t remember where I got this recipe – if it was from you, sing out and I’ll credit you and link to your blog!  Anyway, I’ve just mixed up a batch for the start of the fly season.  For those who are interested, this is the final recipe for today :

2 mugs of very strong tea.

nettle tea – but I have tansy growing in the garden and it’s supposed to be a great fly repellent, so I picked a good bunch and stewed it for a while to make tansy tea

500ml cider vinegar

Half a bottle of lysterine mouth wash (original flavour)

About 2 tbl Dettol or TCP (I have TCP).

1 tsp each Tea Tree oil, Citronella and Lavender oil.  Neem oil if you can get it.

A couple of squeezes of washing up liquid to emulsify all the oils.

Put everything except the tea and tansy/nettle tea into a 2 litre bottle.  Add the tea and then top up the bottle with the tansy/nettle tea.

This is cheap and works just as well as most of the expensive sprays you buy in tack shops, i.e. it keeps the flies at bay for about half an hour or until the horse has sweated up.

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Happy spraying.

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