Monday, September 17, 2012

We're jammin'

North Carolina figs
I can neither confirm nor deny whether my glasses have been cleaned since this picture was taken.
Yesterday these figs became jam with a little sugar, a little honey bourbon, and a little orange cognac liqueur.

I don't can often enough to remember what needs to be done: most importantly, to calm down. Part of it's the heat (stirring ten boiling pints of fruit pulp next to a vat of boiling water), part of it's the uncertainty (Why Will It Not Thicken?!), part of it's the frustration that I never wrote down how I did it last year. All of it is taken out on Abe. Poor Abe.

So this year while I tore out my hair with one hand (um, not the same hand I was stirring with) and yelled at Abe to sterilize the jars, I scribbled some messy notes on how to make fig jam:

I Wanna Jam It With Figs
makes 10 pints
5 lb. 4 oz. of figs (cleaned, with stems removed)
1/2 c. Grand Marnier/La Belle Orange
1/3 c. honey bourbon (obviously)
3 c. sugar
1 lemon
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the yellow zest from the lemon in strips, then dice. Chop or smash the figs, then let them mascerate with all the other ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot for at least an hour. Use this time to sterilize your jars and lids and sample the honey bourbon (if anyone asks, you're doing quality control). Bring the fig mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Wait for it to thicken. (This takes forever, at least an hour, or possibly not - but I can say that because these are messy notes, not an official "recipe.") Once it thickens to a jammy consistency, it's ready to go into jars. I leave about 1/4" of head space before capping. I use a hot water bath canning method and leave the jars in for 10 minutes.

And I always freak out over the ones that don't instantly seal when they come out of the water. But unless you did it all wrong, they just need time (up to 24 hours), and if I've never managed to mess it all up, your jams will be okay too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I feel like I've been caught in a whirlwind the past few weeks - finishing up at two jobs, hosting a (wonderful!) new friend during the DNC and starting in my new position. Abe and I are figuring out how to do life from what feels like the beginning. New hours mean new bedtimes and setting new alarms, new work locations mean new traffic jams and new routines for everything: when and where to grocery shop, who starts supper and who feeds the animals. (Cash suggests having Watson for dinner.)

duckling and dog

I'm still in the middle of my first week at my new position, so I'm really just ducking in. I don't think I'm quite ready to come back to a regular or frequent blog posting schedule.

This afternoon we're starting the fall garden, so I will try to get back soon with pictures and at least a brief update.