Tomato, you say?!

Earlier this week, my best and oldest friend Ruth came over for a very special cookery lesson (for both of us!) We were going to attempt Christine's Tomato Jam recipe, with a twist; on my colleague Debs's excellent suggestion, we added a helping of chilli to the mix.

We had all the necessary ingredients: sugar, TOMATOES, balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes, butter (not shown are the cumin, chilli powder, cayenne pepper and lemon juice we later decided to chuck in... it was a very organic progress, dreadful pun very much intended.)


These photos may make me look like something of a task master, but I was having a bad hair/face/everything day, and so decided to focus largely on Ruth! She was most obliging.




Ah, there I am finally getting stuck in, transferring fruit to pan.




Just so you know, this isn't even approaching the amount of sugar recommended in the recipe...



The mixture needed a brisk stir from time to time (I did some as well as Ruth, honest!



See!


Ruth could hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of tomato chilli jam:



The resulting tomato-y, chilli-y goodness:


 Very necessary jam-tasting post-jar filling:



Ruth had created a beautiful (and humorous!) message for her jar: "Don't be greedy, feed the needy", complete with ingredients and GROW information bright pink label and fish shaped beads! A crafty lady indeed!



Ruth was very happy with the very tasty result. All that remains is for her to decide who to pass the jam on to, to spread the GROW message further. Any ideas?


The Brentwood Belles get down to some serious Craftivism.

Last night I had to run to catch a succession of trains, so that I could lend the Craftivist Collective a hand at a very special Craftivist Jam event.

Sarah (of the Craftivist Collective), Sarah (of Oxfam London and South East), and I (of Significant Seams/Poesie Grenadine "fame") travelled to Shenfield in Essex to attend a meeting of the Brentwood Belles W.I. This isn't the Women's Institute as you may know it; in recent years women of all ages have been joining the organisation. There's a contingent in Shoreditch - the Shoreditch  Sisters - composed of young, hip, crafty East Londoners.

The women of Brentwood cover a greater age range than their East End counterparts, but lack none of the same enthusiasm! Soon after we arrived a hundred or so women poured into the hall where we were setting up; Sarah Pelham, a W.I. helper, and I, had to make a mad rush to get the tomato jam sandwiches ready in time.


Sarah Corbett gave a moving and informative talk introducing the Belles to Craftivism, and before the tea break the ladies had some time to consider Christine's story (and their reactions and thoughts about it), the world food crisis, and the message they might choose to stitch on their jam jar cover.


After the essential tea and cake break, we reconvened and got down to sketching and stitching. I had the pleasure of lending a couple of first-time embroiderers a hand, and was tweeting away on behalf of the Craftivist Collective throughout proceedings.


As is to be expected at any large W.I. gathering, there was a bit of a mother's meeting, but despite all the chattering, much stitching was done. We were presented with several finished jam jar covers at the end of the night, which the Belles promised to fill with tomato jam. There was also some (spirited!) discussion about the politics and quandaries of shopping and eating ethically. The ladies really did themselves proud, and gave us a very warm welcome - we were even presented with some gift-wrapped embroidery hoops at the end of the night! Thank you, Brentwood Belles!


Jammin'

Just got back from Significant Seams' first "Awesomestow" Christine's Tomato Jam Stitch-In with Oxfam and the Craftivist Collective. It was, if not a roaring, then certainly a contentedly purring success.


The stitch-ins are inspired by the story of Christine, a Kenyan woman who makes and sells tomato jam to support her local community. Tomatoes are a fairly drought-resistant fruit, and thus easily grown in Christine's home town near Nairobi. 

In this spirit, craftivists all over the country (and the world!) are coming together to stitch messages about the food crisis on to jam jar labels. These jars will then be filled with tomato jam following Christine's own recipe, and passed on to people in positions of power, or businesses which are able to call (or shout) for change.


Sarah Corbett, founder and leader of the UK's Craftivist Collective, was on hand to guide us in our stitching, and lead discussion on the issues surrounding the world food crisis. It was fascinating and often deeply unsettling food for thought (pun intended). It's certainly inspired me to educate myself so that I can make more informed choices about how and where I eat.

It wasn't a sombre evening in the slightest, though; there was plenty of tea, and a few tomato jam sandwiches for each of us!


Yes, you read right; tomato jam sandwiches. They were surprisingly moreish. The general consensus was that the jam was closest to plum than any other fruit.

We were hosted by Walthamstow's gorgeous Arts & Crusts café, who provided us with a wonderfully DIY outdoor space, which was festooned with Craftivist Collective and Significant Seams quilts and bunting.

 

My role for the evening was to Tweet (via Sarah's iPhone... I've yet to invest in one myself) all the happenings, and I think I did a pretty good job! Got some nice "soundbites", for example:



Sarah Pelham, Oxfam London/South East's current intern, was on hand to snap and film us throughout proceedings, and took this rather nice shot for me to Tweet:



Well, after those sandwiches I was still feeling a little peckish, so I've just tucked in to a big bowl of pasta infused with, you guessed it... tomato jam! And now I'm off to bed. Good night, everyone!

K x