It was a trogglehumper of an afternoon.
Vehicleless and bereft of suitable wet-weather attire, I watched, with increasing anxiety, as the cumulonimbus cloud front hurtled its’ way toward the afterschool pick up zone. Realising the imminence of the rain gods plan to unleash their Maidmashing fury upon my two-wheeled, post-school commute team, I quickly executed my Head-of-the-Army orders for a Whizzpopping paced cycle home.
We were making good time. By the halfway point we had managed to stay ahead of the rapidly advancing grey giants and avoid the multiple Manhugging attempts of rushing traffic to see us tattooed onto bumper bars and zebra crossings. Just when I felt it was safe to relinquish my militaristic mannerisms, a complacent lapse in concentration saw my front wheel Butcherboyed by a jaggered edge of the pavement. As the consequential, Bonecrunching sounds of my dislodged chain saw me to a grinding halt, I watched in helicopter-parent-horror as my two little human beans vanished around the bend of the bike path infamously known as “car-crash corner”.
Panicked and overcome with catastophising thoughts of my children being swallowed up by jumbo-sized semitrailers, I quickly switched into bike maintenance overdrive. Four long, chain-grease-covered minutes later and I was back on my now rain soaked pushy peddling for a miracle. Rounding the bend, I braced myself for the impending sight of inevitable carnage.
Resignedly I absorbed the panoramic scene. Strewn across the neglected nature strip, lay two hastily discarded bikes. To the left I spied the abandoned backpacks, half open and resting dejectedly at the base of a 10 foot high landscaped embankment. Slowly I scanned my way up the steep slope until my eyes rested upon two familiar forms, frozen still beneath the redoubtable limbs of a hulking Prunus. As I grievously climbed my way to the edge of the foreboding canopy, I was met with the Fleshlumpeating, blood-coloured faces of two overly sated children who had just guzzled their way through a jumbo sized, rain-soaked serving of foraged fruit. Solaced and sweetly rejuvenated, we packaged a load of plums and neighbouring crab-apples into K1’s backpack for the first of our, now annual, batch of Foraged Plum and Crab-apple Jam.
Thirsty for your very own Bloodbottling experience?
Then why not Gizzardgulp the pride, unleash your hungry kiddy troops upon the neighbourhood nature strips and have your very own Bold ‘n’ Fruitful Galavant (B.F.G)…
You never know, all your Golden Fizzwizards may come true: a bounty of jamable fruit for that fit-for-the-queen Devonshire Tea.
BFG Jam (Foraged Plum and Crab Apple Jam; a giant sized fruit-bounty will make enough jam for plenty of royal quality Tea ceremonies)
A largess of crab-apples (or regular old apples) and plums (I always aim for an approximately equal ratio of plums to apples)
Upon returning from your Bold ‘n’ Fruitful Galavant, rinse all the fruit. Place a small side plate into the freezer (used for test that your jam is set). Place the plums into a large stock pot with ½ cup water. Peel and core the apples and cut into eighths. Place half of the peelings and cores into a muslin bag (discard the other half into your compost or chook fodder bucket) and tie using jute twine. Add the apples and muslin bag to the plums. Place the lid on the pot and on a medium heat, bring the fruit to simmering point. Simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. Remove the muslin bag, squeezing as much excess liquid from the bag as is possible. Pour the cooked fruit into a mixing bowl and leave until cool enough to handle.
Pit the plums (if you haven’t already) and roughly mash all the fruit. Weigh the cooked fruit. For every 500g of fruit you will need 400g of sugar. In a large heavy based saucepan, add the cooked fruit and the required amount of sugar. Stir to mix. On a medium heat, slowly bring the fruit mixture to a steady simmer stirring regularly to ensure the sugar is dissolving. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in any froth that has accumulated. Test to see whether your jam is ready by dropping ½ tsp of the fruit mixture onto the frozen side plate. The mixture should wrinkle slightly when pressed with your finger (it should not be runny). Simmer for another 5 minutes if the jam is not set, otherwise bottle into sterilised jars.
Just in case any unsuspected, dignified guests should grace you with their presence at your next, rather illustrious, Devonshire Tea Ceremony, place atleast one ready-to-use-jar in the fridge.
Note: this post contains extracts from Roald Dahls’ The BFG.