1 Peter 4:10
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
Yesterday my wonderful husband came home a bit early. I was sitting on the far side of the living room on my computer and talking to daughter #2 and enjoying grand-daughter #1 as he came in and went through the entry hall into the kitchen. He came back and greeted us and Emily ran to see him. It then occurred to me that I need to pick up grand-son #1 at his friends house and get him back to our house before his mother came to collect them. It was finally decided that Riley and Emily and I would go get him. When we returned Heidi was just behind us, and she collected her kids on the spot, though I ran back into the house to retrieve Emily's shoes and socks. At that I went back into the living room, where Annie was watching a black and white movie staring Carol Baker. It took a while, but it was finally decided that she should just record the moving for later viewing, as it was a B movie. I finished whatever I was going and got up to go into the kitchen to see about dinner. As I walked into the kitchen I began talking to Riley about the jam I had made in the morning, and I'm telling him about the French process I had used, and then I looked up and oh my gosh!!! There on my French stove was sitting an absolutely gorgeous jam pan!!! And there was Riley, grinning. What a fantastic surprise. And for no occasion. I then mentioned that I had spotted a really great looking jam book at Powells, and after dinner he said "Let's go to Powells". The book is as amazing as my jam pan. So I had now better produce really great jam. My absolute favorite thing to eat at a French bakery is bread and jam - petit pain et confiture et beurre. I later got on the internet to see what people have to say about the book and jam of Christine Ferber and it was nothing but rave reviews, except by the typical overly germ conscious Americans.
So now I need to be making some jam. On Monday or Tuesday I bought a flat of Oregon strawberries. They were absolutely fabulous. Some of the best strawberries in the world grow in Oregon. It's an real travesty that our wonderful berry fields are being paved over and turned into industrial parks. We used to always go strawberry picking each year. It took about 20 minutes to get to a field, and the berries were small and incredibly sweet and cost about 45 cents per pound. We always had kids with us. I told them that if they didn't pick the berries they couldn't eat them. We also picked raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, marion berries, and blackberries. Now I don't know where to find good u-pick berries.
So for starters I have begun two jam recipes from Chirstine Ferber's book - Gariguette Strawberry and Rhubarb with Whole Strawberries.
Gariguette Strawberry Jam
>Following Ms Ferber's directions, the first thing you do is weigh and prep the fruit. For the strawberry jam you have about 1 + kilo to start with, then you wash, drain, and hull the berries. The recipe calls for small berries and you don't cut them up. Then I placed the berries in a medium sized melamine bowl. The recipe called for a ceramic bowl, but I know she just didn't want you to put the berries into something that could react with the berries, and my ceramic bowls had gone missing. (This is a mystery at this time, but with four daughters, someone knows about the bowls.) You reweigh the berries to make sure you have a kilo. I had to add a few, as a daughter came by and ate some. Then you weigh out the sugar - 850 grams, and add to the berries. And finally you add the juice of a lemon. I did this, but my lemons seems a bit small, so I hope it all works. It seems that the lemons are a pectin. Then you give it all a wee stir and cover with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator overnight.
The next day heat up the jam pan. I am really fortunate to have a French stove with a French plate in the middle. The jam pan is very large and it sat ever so nicely on the French plate. Then pour in the berries and bring to a simmer. Then pour the berries back into their original bowl, cover the bowl, and put back into the refrigerator for another day.
Next day: Get things ready for putting the jam into jars, because you will want them ready right away when the jam is done. Make sure you have sterilized jars, I do this by washing them in the dishwasher and leaving them there until I need them. I also put the rings into the dishwasher. Then I put the lids into a small pan and bring them to a boil. This is done right before starting the jam.
Pour the berries through a sieve and put the syrup into the jam pan and set the berries aside for later. It will take the berries a while to drain as the syrup is a bit thick. Bring the syrup to a boil over just under high heat and bring to 221 degrees. Then add the berries and bring to a boil, boiling for about 5 minutes. At this point you are supposed to check for a good set, but I'm not sure about the details for that. Pour the jam back into the bowl it came from before you put the jam into the sterilized jam jars. This is to prevent the jam from overcooking in the hot jam pan.
In a good workspace near to the stove I set up a doubled over tea towel, and them I put the rings and jars there. Then I get a fresh tea towel ready to use. Ladle the jam into the jars right up to the top. How you do this depends on the size of you jars. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean tea towel edge that has been dipped into the boiling water that contains the lids and wring the towel just a bit to make sure it doesn't drip. Put the lid on, and then the ring, screwing it on tightly. I find that when the jars are fill right close to the top they will seal with just putting on the lid. When you've done with the jam let the jams sit for a while and then come back and tap the top of each jar with you finger and see if they've seal. It will go thud and the lid won't budge.
"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."