So we’ll stoke the fire and light the lamp
Turn our backs in from the damp
Settle down beneath the starry sky
Endure the winter passing by.
Emily Smith, Winter Song.
The night sky in winter is a wonder to behold here at Little Trewern. We can see the constellations in amazing detail, for there is no artificial light to confuse the eye. And sometimes it is difficult to discern whether a pin-prick of light low on the horizon, is a planet, or the light from a neighbour’s farm, far along the valley.
I’m also trying to learn more about the constellations. At present, in the early night sky, Jupiter is king; whilst just before dawn (so Simon tells me!) Saturn is clearly visible. It would be wonderful to have a telescope here!
And the long nights and short days of January mean that it’s time to hunker down and get busy in the winter kitchen.
Much of what we collect from the hedgerows and orchards in the autumn now comes into the kitchen to be sorted, chopped, cooked, moulded and preserved, ready for future meals.
One of my favourite “preserves” is made from that most ancient of fruits, the quince, which is still common in old orchards and gardens here in Herefordshire. For out of the quince we make Membrillo, or to give it its full Spanish name, dulce de membrillo. Although nowadays very much associated with Spain and especially Latin America, Membrillo was also traditionally made in England and called Quince Jelly Cheese.
The steps involved in making membrillo you can see below.
But the best step of all is the final step: eating a slice of Membrillo with a piece of delicious goat’s cheese!