Like A Sugar In A Plum

I have quite a few nice colleagues who I’m also friends with.  We meet in the coffee corner at work twice a day, morning and afternoon.  We talk about everything, serious stuff, funny stuff, things that would raise high alert with our compliance officer, and more often than not, we talk about music.  But here’s the thing – music usually does not come up just like that in a conversation, but it starts in the head, more specifically in my head.
Someone would say something – anything – and one single word would trigger a song.  It’s like a side conversation going on in your head while you’re listening to other people talking.  You concentrate on the conversation, and there you go again, another word, another song.  It can be annoying, because often it’s a song you don’t like at all, and it’s usually just a single line from that song.  And then I look at my one friend, who I swear knows the lyrics to everything you have ever heard, and I just know he has a song in his head, too!  Very often it’s the same one, other times it’s a completely different one because our tastes in music differ greatly, and it’s interesting to see what popped into his head.  We ask ourselves every once in a while if that’s normal, if we are normal.  But then we just say  – what the heck!  Who cares?
Today at home Boney M’s Brown Girl In The Ring popped into my head – just the one line She looks like a sugar in a plum.  And this is one of the songs I don’t like at all.  But I was standing in the kitchen preparing plums for making plum chutney.  When I made lemon vanilla marmelade earlier this week, I had It’s just a yellow lemon tree in my head.  I hope other recipes will trigger better songs.
Like many of the recipes I’ve been trying out lately, the plum chutney one is from Living at Home magazine.
Plum Chutney
1 kg plums
30 g ginger
100 g cane sugar
1 red chilli
100 ml cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp hot curry powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp peppercorns, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
70 g dried cranberries
Wash and halve plums, remove stones, and roughly dice plums.  Peel and finely dice ginger.
In a large pan, caramelize sugar until light brown, then add vinegar and let reduce almost completely.
Add plums to pan, and fry in caramel at high temperature.  Add remaining ingredients and stew until liquid from plums is completely reduced.  Lower temperature and let the plums stew for another 5 minutes.
Fill chutney into warm, clean jars and close immediately.  Chutney needs to mature for 1 week, and is supposed to keep for approximately 3 months.
My observations:
I chopped the plums a bit finer, as I prefer smaller pieces.
I didn’t have hot curry powder, so I used garam masala.
The recipe didn’t say whether to put the chilli in it whole, or whether to cut it up.  I assumed that cutting it up would make the chutney too hot, so just sliced it open, deseeded it (wearing rubber gloves!) and put the whole thing in.
I had two kinds of dried cranberries, one bag was the unsulphurized variety that looked a bit more wrinkled, and the other didn’t say whether it was sulphurized or not, and the berries looked more plump.  I chose the unsulphurized, wrinkled ones because the plumper ones seemed to big.
Before filling the chutney into jars, I removed the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and the chilli.
When the jars were filled, I had a teaspoonful left in the pan, and I couldn’t resist and just had to try it – I can’t wait for the week that it needs to mature to be over and have it on a cheese sandwich!

Blood Orange Panna Cotta with Caramelised Oranges

1 cup / 250 ml cream
½ cup / 125 ml freshly pressed blood orange juice
½ vanilla bean
2 gelatine leaves
25 g sugar (optional)
2 blood oranges, filleted
2 – 3 tbsp brown sugar