Eight Perfect Peaches and a Spicy Indian Chutney…..

I have spent the morning in the surf which abides as a constant.  I have always found in the surf a serene peacefulness.  The waves today were strong and rolling and battling them made my heart race like that of small deer, but it is that weightless elation and my immense love for the ocean which always holds me there for much longer than anticipated.  There were few who braved the conditions early this morning so the isolation in only having the die-hard body surfers, three older men who invited me to join them, made it so much more enjoyable.

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We are also experiencing the tail end of a blisteringly hot summer. Mother Natures little mood swing and one of the hottest on record.  Although it is Autumn in Australia, it should be a milder and kinder weather pattern, the furnace like heat is still unrelenting.  Global warming really is impacting our beautiful world.

And my life, well that is unfurling at a gentle pace and even the rocketing temperatures cannot lessen my mood.  My sadness still overwhelms at times and that can be a difficult one to shake.  I can easily retreat into sorrow for that is the acknowledgement of things being lost to me forever.  My guess is that comes from the odd dislocation of what has been, of what could have been (perhaps) and of where life’s unforeseen journey will take me.  Maybe I still find inadequacy in traversing life’s odious little snags but then, something will remind me how beautiful my new ‘home’ is and the nakedness of loss and yearning is somewhat diminished.

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It should be no surprise there is trepidation of interaction with others given past treachery, which still haunts like a savage ghost.  Perhaps there is nothing like a Judas kiss to make you appreciate it is not when we move on my friends, but how well we do so.  I have caught up with some family too which has been a lovely and welcome addition to my usual quiet existence. I haven’t seen them for about a hundred years (exaggeration on my part!!), but perhaps well over sixteen long years have passed.   I do tend to drop off the face of the earth at times and of course my tendency to not stay in touch with people plays a part in that but the connect of family can be an important and cherished one.  And my dear Great Aunty will also be happy to know I phoned my Mum xx.

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Anyway, once home from the surf and I had a thought to making a hot and spicy Indian peach chutney. I had sand, lots of it in my togs and salt upon my skin but I began the meticulous process of chopping eight perfect peaches regardless.

I have varying degrees in my levels of cooking confidence and for me, baking or making chutneys, jams or preserves is a restorative process.  I have a love affair with baking and I will bake when I am happy and even when overwhelmed and distracted as I find the gentle rhythm of the baking process lustral and kind to my soul.   When baking, I will generally always use a recipe except when making pancakes or pikelets.  When I make chutneys, preserves or jams I don’t use a recipe although I probably should.  I tend to rely on my own instincts and taste but at times, this trust has shown that I am an infallible human with glaring imperfection due to a couple of small failures.  Regardless, I soldier on with intuitive contentment.

Summers bounty of stone-fruit here in Australia is slowly coming to end. The sweet and juicy Victorian peaches however, are still in abundance. With my favorite cast pot on heat I popped the mustard seeds then sweated my diced onions down until translucent before adding the garlic, fresh ginger and spices.  The smell of ginger and spice on heat beautifully scented the apartment and the aroma of yielding is one of comfort.

I love mangos as they signal the ultimate taste of summer so after washing my preserving jars in hot soapy water I sliced into a fat Queensland mango.  I kept one of the cheeks aside and this, I have to say, required the greatest of will power on my part as I can eat two mangoes just as snack.  I chopped the set aside cheek and slid it into the bubbling mix.

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Gentle stirring stopped the chutney from sticking to the bottom of the heavy pan while it slowly darkened and became jammy with sticky caramelization.  I knew from its taste I had been heavy handed with the mustard seeds but all was not lost as I hit the mix with a good drizzle of local bush honey.  Don’t you think the dear little bee has an awful burden to bear.  The weight of humanity riding on its tiny shoulders for without bees humans would not be able to exist…..food for thought!

I will store these jars in the pantry for when the cooler months come and this chutney alone will warm us with its spicy heat from the fresh Thai chillies I added.  This really needs a few months to truly develop its flavor and we will use this as an accompaniment to curries but also liberally slathered on corn meat sandwiches made from the freshest of oven baked loaves.

What  a lovely way to end the day after a perfect start to it and with satisfaction, I will plan my next assault on the peach world.  Perhaps a row of preserved peaches in vanilla bean and ginger syrup would look fab on the pantry shelves……. xx

Note:   One jar barely lasted the day as FB enjoyed it on a platter and I had it with hand torn chunks of fresh baked bread and ripe French cheese.

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Hot and Spicy Indian Peach Chutney Recipe:

Ingredients:   Olive oil, 8 diced peaches, 1 large diced onion, 4 crushed cloves of garlic, apple cider vinegar, dash of water, white pepper, diced fresh Thai chillies, a shake of dry chilli flakes, a generous hand of local honey (I used honey as I didn’t have any brown sugar or palm sugar in the panty….yet), mustard seeds, Keens curry powder, fresh ginger finely sliced into match sticks, a sprinkle of ground ginger, currents, all spice, ground nutmeg, a pinch of sea salt and the cheek of a fresh lovely mango.

Method:   I placed the mustard seeds on the heat until they popped then I sweated off the onions before adding the garlic, fresh ginger, chilli and spices.  Once cooked off I added all the remaining ingredients and bought the mix to the boil then lowered the heat to a gentle simmer for a couple of hours.  While cooking, I sliced up a mango and added one cheek.

This mix made exactly enough to fill two jars.  How ideal was that!  The washed mason jars were placed in a hot oven to sterilize and once off the heat the hot chutney was added to the still hot jars.  The jars were sealed then left to cool.