Oh the single life....

Things have gotten a bit out of control over here in ole Montreal. Monday and Tuesday are my days off and I usually cook for the week to come. But these last two days were particulary spectacular in terms of production.

On Monday I woke up and immediately made granola. A very simple granola and definitely not more expensive than boxed cereal. Then I went in search of pectin because I procured some strawberries the day before. I found pectin. Now, my dear sister Katherine advertised that Pomona's universal pectin is really the stuff to use because apparently you can use 1 1/2 C sugar for 4 C of berries. The pectin I found wanted me to use 7 C of sugar for 4 C of berries. I scoffed and hee-hawed and turned to the Joy of Cooking recipe for "Red Red Strawberry jam" that calls for 4 C sugar for 4 C berries. This was still more than I wanted to use, but Katherine's perfect pectin couldn't be found anywhere. So I made strawberry syrup jam (I think the berries were too ripe - which means they have even LESS pectin in them than they normally do - and I'm still convinced there was too much sugar, but apparently rearranging the sugar to fruit ratios is NOT something you want to do; I didn't dare.) Anyways, upon returning from several grocery stores and the pectin mission, I made bread. While the dough rose I made jam. Then I baked the bread, worried my jam was syrupy (it is, but you can actually still spread it on toast and it doesn't pour down the sides; I know I know, it'll be delicious on ice cream, I can't wait!) and sat down for a little rest. To take a real break I rented two films: The Horse Whisperer and Frida - I've seen both already, but I love watching movies twice. Then I got kinda hungry so I made potato leek soup, A LOT OF IT, and used a boxed vegetable broth and milk not cream. It's good, but it's not as good as it could be, so the recipe isn't necessary cause I want to make it at least ten times more.

(The bread? Super super super delicious.)

Tuesday I made black beans from the Homesick Texan's blog. I don't have a kitchen scale, so I just eyeballed the 16 oz of dried beans and probably didn't add enough because it was soupy at the end. But I'm glad I didn't add more because now, like the soup, I have so many beans I don't know what to do with them. I'm going to freeze some, like I did with half the soup, and in the mean time I'm going to eat beans on corn tortillas with salsa and cheese every day for the rest of the week. Not SUCH a bad life. Oh and they're delicious by the way! Spicy Chipotles are a life staple!

I have no recipes and no pictures. I want to master things and then tell you about them. So for the time being, I guess a silly rambling journal of my escapades will have to suffice. And I wish I had five hungry other people around who wanted to eat my creations. So if anyone's passing through (calling all candidates!) and wants to stop for tea, good grief, knock on my door and maybe even convince me to move out of this apartment, with this person that's alright, but doesn't share food and doesn't cook. Bah.

Kelsey? Jam recipe? Now I'm determined to make a damn good jam, so I need some feed back and some help.

Upcoming food projects for the rest of the week to use up buttermilk before I go to Oregon for a week:

a mondo batch of buttermilk biscuits for this barbecue on Saturday.


  1. Here is what I have to say about jam:

    I experimented a lot last summer and my best result in terms of texture resulted from following the freezer jam recipe in the certo pectin box. Then of course you have to keep it in the freezer, but that's ok because you can leave out the searching for funtional lids to functional jars step.

    The best result we had in terms of taste was oscar's swedish "queen's jam" that had about a quarter as much sugar as berries and no pectin, but was runny. Most of our jams were runny. Esther from Chicoutimi indicated to me that you don't have to use pectin or that much sugar if you just cook the jam for a really really long time, but as I discovered, that often leads to jam with a burnt-sugar taste.

    Happy experimentation!

    PS: In Mexico they eat their beans runny - pretty much in the bean water.
    Also, the rebar recipe for baja baked beans is delicious and does not require any of the ridiculous amount of brown sugar it tells you to add.

  2. I have an idea as to why the jam was runny. Did you follow the joys measurments but my instructions? Because the joy tells you to cook the jam much longer than I do and I think that would help with the runnyness.
    love love

  3. Alix - Thanks for the ideas. I think I'll try Katherine's method and using less ripe fruit. We'll see how it goes. I might just freeze strawberries and make crisps in the middle of winter. That's more my style. Jam is delicious though....but then, if other people are making enough jam (cough katherine cough) then maybe I could get by without doing it at all! It is EASY though.

    Katherine - I followed exactly the joy's instructions and threw yours to the wind. But I think you're right, maybe I did cook it too long. I really believe the fruit was a bit too ripe and that means it has even less pectin than it does right off the plant. I dunno if I'll make more. Maybe I'll try blueberry in August, which is an odd idea because I"m always claiming that I don't like blueberry things ie pie or jam etc. Maybe I'd love my own? How about blueberry lemon cinnamon jam? mmmmm....delicious.


    And GURRRRLLL, I do not concern myself with how much sugar I use (and sugar is cheaper than pectin, at least at my grocery) so the strawberry Rhubarb Jam I made this year looked a little something like this, which I hobbled together after reading Orangette, the Joy of Cooking, and a number of other recipes:

    6 cups rhubarb
    6 cups strawberries
    8 cups sugar
    1/2 cup lemon juice

    Mix everything up and let macerate for at least an hour.

    Put a saucer in the freezer.

    When everything is oozing, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes, skimming foam off (WHICH you should save in a container and freeze cause it is DELICIOUS), and stirring constantly.

    Test the jelling of the jam by placing a dab on the saucer you have frozen. Return to freezer. When dab is cool, test it with your finger to see what's up. That tells you what kind of texture you are going to get.

    Keep cooking, and stirring, until you get the texture you want. This takes awhile, but is worth it. Our jam is MARVELOUS, DELICIOUS, and DELIGHTFUL. (If you can't tell, I am totally enamored with it at the moment). We got 8 jars of it.

    Hope that adds fodder to your thinker. Love.


  5. Alright. This looks like a very promising recipe. Of course I worry about sugar! I worry about everything and anything. It makes for an unnecessary troubled existence sometimes. (hah!)

    I am inspired to try this recipe, very inspired. There's still rhubarb around and tons and tons of strawberries. Good grief I better do it soon!



  6. LAdy. I meant that maybe you should have cooked it longer! But if you followed the recipe it was probably doomed to be soupy. Perhaps I will make some of Kelsey's strawberry rhubarb. You wouldn't believe the rate at which we are consuming the strawberry. We're talking about a big jar a day. About half of what I have made is gone. (I have made about 15 big jars so far.) I don't know how I am going to keep up with the demand.

  7. I am sticking to my guns: the fruit was too ripe. Kelseys recipe looks much better anyways. And I think the strawberries are about to end. And there will be no more rhubarb. I thought of frantically trying to make some before oregon but no no no. It is impossible.

    sigh. one cannot do everything.

  8. Long time no see Judy - I'm over in Japan for a couple of months, and have been thoroughly enjoying this jam - Graham from Glasgow

    Bramley Curd

    450g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped

    Finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons (you need 100ml strained juice)

    125g unsalted butter

    450g granulated sugar

    4–5 large eggs, well beaten

    (you need 200ml beaten egg)

    Makes 5 x 225g jars

    Put the chopped apples into a pan with 100ml water and the lemon zest.

    Cook gently until soft and fluffy, then either beat to a puree with a wooden spoon or rub through a nylon sieve.

    Put the butter, sugar, lemon juice and apple puree into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
    As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture is hot and glossy, pour in the eggs through a sieve, and whisk with a balloon whisk.

    If the fruit puree is too hot when the beaten egg is added, the egg will “split”. Check the temperature with a sugar thermometer — it should be no higher than 55–60C when the egg is added.

    If your curd does split, take the pan off the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth.
    Stir the mixture over a gentle heat, scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes, until thick and creamy.

    This will take 9–10 minutes; the temperature should reach 82–84C on a sugar thermometer. Immediately pour into jars and seal.

  9. Wow graham! It looks really terrific. Really great. I'm so touched to hear from you! And that you're reading the blog!



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