Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"I think of you night and day....."

I really do these days, you know. It's ODD how lately I find myself (while knitting) composing a blog entry in my head to "you guys", even though I really don't know who many/most of you are and indeed if there are any of you some days! But talk to you in my head I most certainly do....and I have to say it makes a lovely change from the normal chatting with myself that used to go on in my noggin......

So this afternoon I was home (I work at the reference desk every Tuesday night from 6-10 PM so I don't come in to the office until 2 or 3 PM) cleaning the house and making a batch of pear jam when (no suprise) I switched over to a knitting frame of mind and (!) ding!



.......Get The Camera........Take Pictures Of This For The Blog......

See what I mean?

So without further ado - voila! More ant jam put up for the winter.

This batch was pear and I have to say it's more preserves than jam. For those who aren't up on their formal condiment lingo jam is wee bits of pulp and suchlike - jelly is absolutely nothing more than juice and should be absolutely clear - while preserves are clearly visible chunks of fruit in a bath of jam. Depending on the fruit I greatly prefer one over the other. Blueberry jam - not blueberry preserves. (They squish too much.) But pear preserves over pear jam, as pear jam can quickly turn grainy if the pears aren't *just perfect* and pears are tricky fruit indeed....

The fruit in question was literally perfect - my mother in law came flying through town this past weekend to watch my nephew play in a soccer game and gifted me with three full grocery bags of fruit hand-picked from her tree. In the three bags only one pear wasn't any good - a truly amazing ratio! Rather than hem and haw over what to do with them I simply bit the bullet and peeled and diced each sticky globe and turned them into the most incredible lusciously amazing batch of preserves that I have made in years. People, I mean it's THAT good. And as Murphy's law goes, I have only 5 precious jars.

I did the basic sort of preserves recipe - dice the fruit, toss with two cups of sugar (god but jams & suchlike use an amazingly high amount of sugar, don't they?) add in some spices and a goodly shot of vanilla and let steep for an hour while the wonderful dishwasher churns away on the 'Sanitize' cycle making my jam jars cleaner than clean. Then after an hour of steeping start on high heat and work down from there, stirring constantly, until things are nice and thick and sticky and the smell is just so concentrated that it almost has a golden weight in your nostrils. Stir in the top-secret ingredient (why does nobody else ever have this listed in their recipes? It seems like such a common-sense addition yet nobody - and I mean nobody - has ever listed it anywhere I've seen. And trust me, I've looked...) then bottle and preserve just like Mom taught me to - lots lots lots of boiling water and squeaky-clean jars and jar lids and then back into the canner to be formally sealed & processed so that they can safely be kept on a shelf for several months to mellow and taste even better when opened....
Why, you might ask, is it THAT good? Secret ingredient. Seriously. One simple thing that totally makes the recipe and ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh does it make it. Think slightly warm over vanilla ice cream. Or warm on something like pound cake or vanilla cake - or drizzled over top of the thinnest slice of really good cheesecake. Or even cold spooned right out of the jar. Warmed drizzled over roasted pork would be incredible too, if savory is more interesting to you than sweet.

So - my first ever contest!
To the first person who guesses what my extra-special addition is I will gladly part with one of my precious jars of pear preserves - and I'll even pay the postage on this one - even overseas if it comes to that! Two guesses per person, please. It wouldn't be fair for someone to come along & flood the comments section with multiple guesses & get it before anyone else has a chance..... If nobody guesses correctly by Friday I'll close the contest & will instead just publish the full recipe instead. Sound fair?



On to the knitting content!

I finished S's baby poncho last night and soaked it all evening and then tried my hand at hand-dying the end product. I seriously need to get myself some real dyes that set with acid instead of heat (I've been using the perennial newbie favorite - Kool Aid & Wilton's icing gel.) I was trying for a nice deepish blue with a bottom border of a deep purple, but alas all that simmering in the pot filled with Delphinium Blue resulted in a deep rose/purple sort of shade, and when I painted the bottom with a second colour and then microwaved it to set the shade the bottom turned a hot pinkish. So it's not at all what I was aiming for, but I do like it overall - especially as I was completely undecided what colour to make it in the first place!
I was downstairs trying to let the Munchkin have a nice slow dinner (he eats way more if we give him a loooong feeding time) when I got to the part where I needed to start the decorative bottom border and for the life of me I couldn't remember what it was supposed to look like. So instead of grabbing the correct pattern book (it was upstairs) I pulled the closest knitting one on the table over to me & did a sort of feather & fan bottom instead. I actually like it better than what the pattern calls for as it mimics the wavy bit at the collar that I so liked in the first place...
That having been said it still seems like it needs a little something extra, so while rearranging/cleaning my room today in preparation for a potential visit from my dad & stepmother this weekend I stumbled across the wee-ist bit of silk ribbon that my mom gave me way back when. It's just BEAUTIFUL and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to whipstitch it along the bottom of the poncho to kind of jazz it up. If anyone else has any other ideas I'd *love* to hear them!!!!!

4 comments:

toesindesand said...

1. Cardamom? Yum!
2. Cayenne pepper? Spice it up!

If we don't get the winning jar, then your tribe is invited to dine with my tribe in mid-November or so. Oh, and bring a jar!

The whole kool-aid dye is fun! I will try it with the kids when cooler weather gets us outdoors this autumn.

Susan said...

LOL - I'll bring a jar all right, a quart-sized jar of grape jam! I've got it set aside for you, I'll be sure to send it your way Saturday/Sunday when you pick up your veggies... As for the Kool-Aid, you guys are more than welcome to have my stash of plastic bottles & Kool-Aid packets & Wilton's icing dyes as I'll be done with them before too long!!!!!

Oma Annie said...

My guess is ginger??? Crystalized...

kt said...

Ok, the possibilities for use of the preserves have me drooling into my keyboard. And I ate les than an hour ago! YUMMMM!

Ok, I'm guessing:

1. Cinnamon
2. Pear liqeur

But ginger is a FANTASTIC guess...