At the beginning of the summer I signed up to Siri's annual Farmer's Market exchange. It's always been great fun, and I love not only trawling my own farm shops, markets and deli's for inspiration, but also seeing what is on offer across the world when it arrives on my doorstep.
This year Siri couldn't have picked a better exchange partner for me, our similarities are just uncanny. A preserver, knitter, and all-round lover of local food and produce. What could be better? And in a really selfish way I knew this would mean a wonderful box of goodies, particularly in the jam department, and we all know that I'm nuts about jam!
Alas, I don't have any photos of my box before I sent it, but you can head on over the The Redhead's blog Handcrafted with Altitude and see what I sent. To my complete embarrassment, two of my jars had rather a rough trip and didn't arrive intact. But don't worry! Replacements have been sent, and hopefully they will have a better time of it.
As for my parcel. Well, I don't really know where to begin, it was packed to the brim with the most perfect (and utterly delicious) things. What's more, it arrived on the day we got back from holiday and was waiting on the porch. How perfect!
The homemade preserves got devoured first. A delicious Peach, ginger and vanilla was slathered on toast twice it was so tasty. I was supposed to save the blueberry, peach and Grand Marnier for the weekend to share with N, but I couldn't resist and had it as an afternoon snack on some crumpets. Both have been tucked into almost every day, carefully rationed, since the parcel arrived. They flavour combinations were totally new to me, and I've really enjoyed how they work together. Yum! However, the real delight for me was the Peach and Habanero sauce. Words cannot do justice to this amazing preserve. It's the perfect combination of clear sweet peach flavour, followed by the most wonderful warmth. I'm secretly hoping if I'm nice enough I might get another batch of this next year, as one small jar is not going to keep me sated!
Again, to show just how similar we are, we both put yarn in our packages, despite it being a little out of the requirements. I sent some special squishy British yarn, and when I opened my package the first thing I saw were four hanks of handspun (and award-winning, I now know!) yarn. How impressive is that?! Laceweight alpaca, heavy laceweight silk and some wonderful novelty black and white, which is screaming out to be my winter hat. Exactly what I needed to drag me away from obsessive sock knitting. I just hope I can do it justice.
Today I finally opened the other jar in the parcel. Honey from a friend with an organic farm. I love how much honey differs from area to area, and this has a lovely clear floral flavour and you can really taste the influence of the mountains and clear air of Colorado. I think this will be used pure on toast or in yoghurt. It's too special to mix with anything.
Perhaps the most unusual thing I received was some dark chocolate balsamic vinegar. Not something I've ever come across. I was intrigued, and I have to admit slightly sceptical, but over the weekend we had it straight out of the bottle drizzled over some home grown strawberries and it was divine. I can see this being a wonderful addition to late summer Eton Mess or over ice cream. Yum!
One thing that doesn't appear in any of the pictures is the mint and rosemary soap. I'm afraid it smelt so good that I opened it and used it in my shower before I could get a chance to take a picture. I don't know how the Redhead knew that I have a real weakness for rosemary, but this soap really hits the mark. It has a slight exfoliating element too, which is perfect for gently removing the dirt after being in the garden.
Hmmm...what have I missed? Oh yes, I got flowers and salad! Not literally, but little packets of seeds so I can grow my own. Isn't that a wonderful idea? I'm totally going to steal it. And I got granola (save that for when we have yoghurt so I can try it with the honey), plus a whole host of inspiring local magazines, and a farmer's market bag to put it all in, which has already had a outing into London!
I cannot thank the Redhead enough for her lovely and incredibly generous package. I hope that my second lot of jams makes it's way safely so that she finally gets to enjoy them.
And a huge thank you to Siri for matching us up so well, and hopefully providing me with another new blog friend.