Here are some lessons I’ve learned recently. Don’t try to create new recipes the week before your Dad’s memorial service. In fact, don’t try to make anything. Don’t even try writing. And certainly do not think that if you do create something great and interesting, you will actually get to canning or photographing it. Also, read and walk.
Yes, my dad was young. He passed of ALS, known as Lou Gherig’s disease.
The day before driving up to Boston for my Dad’s memorial, this past weekend (it was intense and beautiful and poignant) I actually tried making Pear Jam, I had this idea for Pear with toasted cumin seeds, fennel seeds and honey. It went awry. I’m not sure what happened, but then I was adding chopped dried apricot to it, and weeping over it, but not over IT. I’m not sure If I even considered it finished when I dumped it into a bowl with a lid and stuck it in the fridge. Still makes me teary eyed to think of the emotions involved in that ‘mess’. And wary of it, a little like the aunts in ‘Like Water For Chocolate” (if it wasn’t the aunts, I apologize, so many years since I’ve read it).
Today I pulled it out, I have 2 choices; chicken feed or cook with it. I’ll decide later, and let you know. I haven’t made anything worth writing about in a while, except the Cranberry Jam below. Yesterday morning I woke eager for scones, then forgot the egg and flax meal (necessary for my gf recipe). So I made flat scones. I’m not writing about them. They are a conduit for butter and jam.
Last night I taught a basic water bath canning class, being in a funk this past week (weeks, months) I truly could not think outside the box on what we should make. I usually can two creations to teach two lessons (Jam/ Pickle or Jam/Tomato/ Fruit) we ended up canning pears, slightly poached, in a honey vanilla syrup and making Cranberry Jam (much like cranberry sauce). Inspiration came from Liana Krissoff’s book ‘Canning for a New Generation’ , her Spiced Cranberries recipe. Cranberry and orange is a classic combo, she adds cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, the inspiration, for me, is in adding orange liquor. I chose to use her recipe as a base, I upped the cranberries, and therefor the sugar, OJ, and used a chili arbol instead of nutmeg and cloves (love this combo in gingerbread, but not anything with fruit, picky me..). When teaching a class I am conscientious of spice and alcohol use, these things are not for everyone. I will make this again, for me, and use much more hot chili in it.
I found sitting down with all my canning recipe books to be so helpful, I’m off kilter lately and certainly need some guidance. I am grateful to all ‘creative powers that be’ that we can share our knowledge freely and willingly, support one another in the spirit of community, whether through a book, a blog or sharing website. Thank you all!
Soused Cranberry Jam with Spice
8 cups cranberries, about 3- 12oz bags, washed and picked over
4 cups organic sugar
1 1/4 cups orange juice, fresh squeezed if you can
3/4 cups Orange liquor, I used Patron (it was on sale) Cointreau is perfect too
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 chili arbol (leave in the seeds for more intense heat) OR 1 plus tsp chili flakes
Put all ingredients in your stock pot, except salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently as berries pop and liquid thickens, bout 20 minutes. Test for set.
Ladle into prepared jars, use a butter knife to dispel air bubbles, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims of jars, put on prepared lids and rings and process for 10 minutes in prepared canner. Turn heat off, leave lid on and let rest 5 minutes more, this help insure a good seal.
Place jars on a dishtowel and leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then test for seal, remove rings and wipe jars down. Store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
This jam can be thick enough to unmold out of the jar, exciting for Thanks Giving!