Strengthening my resolve?

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I’m not a great one for New Year Resolutions. I have All Year Round Resolutions instead…little goals that keep me motivated and on my toes…writing a blog was one of them!  Apparently the tradition has roots that are old and deep in the Christian world. The ancient Babylonians made promises to their Gods, as did the Romans and the others that followed. It also links strongly to a tradition of Lenten fasting and sacrifice. A new year is a time to reflect, to cleanse, and work on the inner self (and often on the outer one as well…sigh)

`Statistics’ shows that 88% of New Year Resolutions fail – so I’m not taking any chances. Instead of the ever-popular `lose weight’ I decided to start my new year with an indulgent treat, something I’ve only ever seen in Italy and have never tried before – an ice cream sandwich.

Brings to mind a vanilla rectangle encased in 2 biscuits does it? Aha – in Sicily it does not! It is exactly what it says on the tin – a brioche con gelato IS a sandwich filled with gelato. Italians love to indulge their sweet tooth at breakfast and this really takes the cake..er..sandwich. A bun filled with generous dollops of gelato – eaten at breakfast, or any time of the day. What a mad idea! Wow. Only in the land of the dolce vita.

Typically, this is what it would look like (Pic: http://www.newyork.seriouseats.com)

I tried a hoity toity version of the same – this is Milan remember? We Milanese need to be stylish about everything we do. So a simple brioche con gelato becomes a pannetone con gelato – a mini-pannetone gelato sandwich. You remember my blog about Pannetone, the Italian Christmas bread? No? Ok – here it is.

So – here it was. A mini-pannetone, with a cone artfully scooped out of it, and filled with two flavours of your choice of gelato. In Italy they `look’ at you if you order just one flavour…honest! I am an out-and-out  dark chocolate girl but was in a mood to pander to L&M’s whims that day, so we chose  two fruity-nutty  flavours – clementine and sweet almond gelatos as the filling.

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Divine? Right.

How did it taste? Just absolutely completely divine. Really, a cone does not even come close. It was all about texture and mouthfeel. Cold gelato, room temp pannetone. Melting gelato countered by chewy bread. I have to admit, I’m totally craving it. I don’t know how I’m going to keep myself away from that gelateria the next time I pass by…hmm…now THAT is a New Year’s Resolution worth making and keeping.

From Russia with love

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I was walking along the supermarket aisle a couple of weeks ago when I saw it. I stopped dead in my tracks, looked at it, read the label carefully, looked again, and burst out laughing. I did draw quite a few stares, I can tell you! `Pazzo’ I heard someone whisper. So what did I see?

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Russian salad! That staple of dinner parties of the 70’s! I don’t think I’ve seen it in over 2 decades (or maybe I’m living in a cave). Why was I astonished and why did I laugh? Because it brought back a whole lot of memories, and a big fat realization (yes-pun intended) of how our lives and eating habits have changed.

When I was a child, Russian salad was very much `party food’ – mom and the cook spent hours dicing and boiling vegetables and whipping up a rich mayonnaise dressing. The veggies and mayo were then combined, chunks of tinned pineapple added, chilled for a couple of hours and voila! Magic! An accompanying dish might be hot dogs – 70’s style, with the sausage and the buns deep fried, wrapped in a napkin and dunked in ketchup! Oh heaven would taste like this.

Russian salad brings back all this and more – two little girls in cool cotton nightdresses peeping from behind the curtains as Abba and Status Quo play at full blast, while the adults dance and drink and eat, the air thick with fragrant cigarette smoke. One raised eyebrow from mom sends the girls scurrying off into their room, collapsing on the bed in peals of  giggles. The little girls yearn to grow up quickly and be a part of this glamorous adult world …that they did, but times changed. A lot of information came their way. They danced and drank and had many friends, but lived in horror of fat and cholesterol and smoking in the house … was it good? Or did they miss out on the innocent and decadent pleasure of eating without having to think? Don’t know.

Snap back to 2011. Girl becomes woman, defines herself as wife and mother, and makes lunch sandwiches for L&M (for those who came in late – that’s Lord and Master). Thinks about how she could make it healthier and hey – why not home made mayonnaise? No preservatives, healthy ingredients and loads of flavor! And so starts a journey of experimentation, which results in a formula that works perfectly – each time. For her. And that, for a delicate food product like mayonnaise, is good.

Trust me, once you have made your own mayonnaise you will not enjoy the store-bought one.Commercial brands of mayo are great, make no mistake, but it’s not the same. I do not dare make or eat Russian salad, but mayo is quite often my choice of sandwich spread. It often (unfairly) gets the rap for being unhealthy and fattening.  I will just say 2 things in it’s defence –

1. As with all good things, portion control is essential. If you spread a thin layer (about 1 Tbsp) on your bread and then load up with veggies/chicken/whatever,it should be okay. Coddle your fillings in it, and you’re getting more than you should eat.

2. With  home made mayo, you know what you are putting in. In this recipe, it is olive oil. Not saturated fats like in commercial products. Not saturated fats as in butter. And loads of flavor so a little bit goes a long way. And if you think home made sandwiches are better than commercial ones anyway, we’re speaking the same language!

So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

SHRUTI’S HOMEY MAYO (Prep time 5 mins, cooking time 10 mins + some patience and a steady pair of hands)

* Egg yolks – 2 (I use an egg separator but it’s also easy to do if you just crack open the eggs and transfer the yolk from one half of the shell to the other a few times. I use the whites for a delicious and healthy omelette). It is absolutely essential that the eggs be at room temperature. As anyone who bakes knows, eggs that are cold tend to curdle as soon as they are beaten.

* Olive oil – 200 ml (Just good quality olive oil, NOT extra virgin. It tends to be bitter and your mayo will not taste good)

* Vinegar/white wine vinegar – 1.5 tbsps (if your vinegar is really strong maybe 1 tbsp would be enough. Mine is pretty mild)

* Mustard powder – 2 tsps (This is optional – I like strong mustardy mayo. But if you don’t just leave it out or reduce the quantity)

* Salt – 1/2 tsp

* A very tiny pinch of sugar (to balance the tartness of the vinegar)

* An electric whisk / egg beater. I suspect a blender would also work, but I’ve never tried it. In the old days they used a manual egg whisk – respect to all those cooks! What strong arms, what oodles of patience and what a love of the craft they must have had.

* A jug or a small teapot – basically a utensil that would allow you to control the flow of oil and you could pour it out drop by drop

So what’s next?

– Put egg yolks into a deep bowl and add the salt. Using the electric whisk , best the egg yolks for about 2 mins. This is going to form the base of your mayonnaise.

– Now comes the critical part – while running the electric whisk, pour in the oil DROP by DROP into the egg yolk. In scientific terms, what you are doing is emulsifying the mixture. i.e., breaking up the oil into microscopic droplets and integrating it into the yolk. You will see a rich yellow mixture in the bowl now.

Sorry people - there's now way to make this look appetizing and non-gooey

Sorry people – there’s no way to make this look appetizing and non-gooey

– At this stage it’s really tempting to let go and start pouring the oil in. Don’t !! The mayo will curdle, leaving you with long oily streaks instead of a homogenous mixture. If you are using a hand held beater (as I do) and are getting tired, stop and rest … nothing drastic will happen to the mayo.

– Continue pouring it drop by drop until the gets to a stage when it starts looking like scrambled eggs. Normally you should be through with about 1/4th of your oil by now.

Better now? Like scrambled eggs

Better now? Like scrambled eggs

– This is when you can start pouring it out in a thin stream.

– You will see that it starts thickening and coming together. When you have just 2-3 tbsps of oil left, add in the vinegar and mustard and sugar (you can just dump it in all at once) and beat well.

– Add in the remaining oil …and voila!! Your mayonnaise is ready. Taste it, spoon it into a glass jar and pop it into the fridge. It will last for about 2 weeks…but I can promise you it will be polished off before that!

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OK – I have recently got an AMAZING tip and it works. If your mayo curdles, just keep going with it. Once you are done, take a clean bowl, add in a tbsp of water, add the curdled mayo bit by bit, beating all the while – and like magic, it comes together again! Bless the cook who discovered this and thought to share.

Oh  – and a little nugget of information. Russian salad was originally called (and still is) Olivier Salad. It was invented in the 1860s by a Belgian chef called Lucien Olivier who was the chief chef at the grand Hermitage restaurant in Moscow. It quickly became very popular and was the restaurant’s signature dish. Then of course an underling got hold of the jealously guarded recipe and started his own restaurant…and the rest as they say …you know what they say. How food travels! From Russia to Britain to a far away colony called India. Good taste truly knows no boundaries.

An Autumn Ritual

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The kids are off school for the long weekend and I have a few quiet minutes to write. A contemplative, thankful few minutes. It’s Thanksgiving today and I don’t have to be American or live in America to appreciate the thought behind it. As one of my yoga teachers used to say “Be thankful for all you have, and love yourself – even that little roll of fat on your tummy. You have borne children, you have enough to eat….give thanks for that. Don’t obsess with your body, just love it”. Works for me. I LOVE the perspective!!

In many cultures across the world, autumn is the traditional time for thankfulness for a good harvest, remembrance of those who have lived before us and renewal and rejuvenation for the earth and those on it. In China, Vietnam and Myanmar they have the Moon Festival/Lantern Festival (the moon is a traditional symbol of fertility and continuity), in India in a space of 8 or so weeks we observe Shradh, and celebrate Dussehra and Diwali – each of which is heavy with the symbolism of thanks, rejuvenation and remembrance. Moving Westwards we have All Souls Day in Europe and the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It’s amazing that the Ancients were not connected the way we are, but they related to the seasons and the cycles of the earth so similarly.

In Italy I have been following an autumn ritual of my own – for the last 3 years have religiously made a `pilgrimage’ to that temple of flavor – Alba, which is in the Piemonte region of North Italy. And the presiding deity of which is the Alba White Truffle. Truffles of course are essentially, basically `mushrooms’ – but that’s where the resemblance ends. They grow below the earth, in the autumn, and hold within themselves, a deep and mysterious fragrance that belies definition (atleast in my limited vocabulary). Shaved onto simple dishes like fried eggs or boiled spaghetti, they transform the simple into the gourmet.

White and black truffles. This producer was obviously the playful sort and decided to make his products more friendly and accessible by decorating his display with the animals that typically dig up truffles – dogs in Italy and pigs in France

There are black truffles and white truffles and the most prized of all in the world is the Alba White. Gram for gram it is more expensive than gold and the larger specimens are globally auctioned off with much fanfare (apparently the best are bought by secret consortiums of Hollywood bigwigs). Whatever!

This is what plebs like me buy

…and this is what you buy if you’re a little higher up in the pecking order

Every autumn Alba plays host to the Fiera del Tartufo, the International White Truffle Fair. Truffle `producers’ from all over the region gather to display and sell their wares – not just truffles but also truffle-infused products – rice, polenta, oil, honey, pate and chocolate! The fair also showcases the other fabulous local products – the wonderful wines of the Piemonte region (including the famed Barolo and my favourite Moscato d’Asti), grappa, cheese, cured meats, dark chocolate and pasta. Even the local artisans get into the mood of things and display their wares – I bought a hand-crafted and customized walnut wood bread board 3 years ago and I love it to bits! It will make a guest appearance on this blog at some point.

A wineglass `necklace’ that comes with the ticket is the perfect accessory

So what do you do at the fair? Walk around and inhale the heady aromas, sample the wine, the cheese, the chocolate and the salami, chat with growers and artisans, buy some of the products on offer, drink some more wine, eat spaghetti with truffles, eat some chocolate, drink still more wine…you get the drift…

So what contributes to the hype around truffles? Is it the mysterious flavor? Is is the limited supply (truffles are sniffed out by specially trained dogs, and are dug up , but cannot be cultivated)? Is it the legendary aphrodasiac properties it has? Or is it just superb marketing and branding? I don’t know. What I do know is its unique aroma and the comfort of an annual ritual make it special for me. And for the opportunity to experience something so special, I give thanks.

Good taste and good fun – in so many languages

Faith, family and fursat

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Heigh ho and I’m back! After 4 months…4 whole months of vacations, distractions and (it has to be said) a loss of creative energies, C&K is back! Those who reminded me, those who asked about my blog, those who wrote in and those who told me they miss it – I humbly give thanks. You kept the Faith and I’m grateful you did.

Summer happened a lifetime ago, but its experiences sustain us through the year. A large part of the summer holidays were spent in India – as always it was a full on experience of sights, sounds and smells, with a great deal of eating, meeting and talking happening. This year a bereavement brought the whole family together. And when I say `brought together’ it literally means that. For many days, close relatives literally camp out at the home of the bereaved, offering love, support, food and togetherness. Being the inveterate observer of people that I am, I would often sit in a quiet corner and marvel at the Great Indian Family. I would watch various relatives bustling about, and think about how the connections of blood and marriage bring disparate people together and bind us in an unspoken bond.

During those long days together, after lunch, as is necessitated by the tropical heat, it would be nap time. That was typically the time people would break off into groups by age and gender and find a room each to occupy and find some quiet time. My 4 sisters-in-law and I would all huddle together on one bed, chatting, gossiping, sharing our grief and occasionally catching 40 winks.

And of course when people are together for extended periods of time, there has to be food – even during a time of sorrow, food nourishes and sustains the body and the mind and reminds us of the essence of being alive. So there was food and there was Fursat food. Literally, fursat is an Urdu word that means leisure. But like many words, it has a meaning beyond the literal. It evokes a mood – languor, relaxation and a feeling of revelling in the quietude of the moment.

There are some foods that you can eat only when you `have the time’ – little munchies that do not really satisfy hunger pangs but are what you can call `time pass’. Jamuns are one such.

The jamun is a lovely little fruit that grows mostly in the Indian subcontinent – vividly purple-black, with a large seed at the centre, and a sweet-sour-astringent taste, the jamun is definitely a fruit to be eaten to `time-pass’. Because the berries are small, they are not particularly filling, and because the fruit stains your tongue and fingers purple, it cannot be eaten in a very `civilized’ setting or when wearing really nice clothes!

Purple n plump!

I have wonderful memories of a childhood spent with a large jamun tree in the backyard of our house. My sister and I would whack at the branches with a long bamboo stick and then scuttle around to pick up all the fruit that would fall to the ground. A good wash, and the fun part would begin. The jamuns are dumped in a steel bowl, sprinkled with salt, covered with a lid, and …shake, rattle and roll!! The whacking would bruise the skins, the purple juice would ooze out, blend with the salt…and make magic. Grabbing the bowl and arguing about `my turn now!’ was part of the ritual.

Some salt, a steel bowl, a lid and a good whacking is all it takes

It still works the same way. There’s something so unchanging about the way jamuns are sold and eaten – the jamunwala (jamun seller) balances a basket on the back of his cycle and rides slowly along the street, yelling `Jamuuunnnn walllllaaaaa’. All you have to do is run out into the verandah and yell for him. He cycles right up to your doorstep while you organise the money.  How’s that for service? Interestingly Italy also retains some elements of it’s older, more traditional society. On Thursdays we have a fish seller that visits my village. He parks his van on the main square and yells out `Pesche!!’ at regular intervals…I did a double take when I first saw him. So much like it is back home!

Back to the jamun then. Unchanging but much changed. Just like my country, the ancient Hindu name of which is Jambudwipa (the land where jamuns grow). The winds of market forces blow. From a humble wild fruit it is now an exotic and pricey one sold in the best fruit shops, not just by the jamunwala. Is it because it is now recognized for its fantastic antioxidant properties (like all purple fruit and veg)? Or is it because it is in demand for the therapeutic effect it has on diabetes? Or is it just that the large backyards have disappeared and so have the trees, exposing this homey little fruit to the vagaries of consumer demand?

Whatever be the reason, it still reminds me of childhood, of change and also of changelessness – like love, like food and like fursat.

Lotus Eaters

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School’s out! And with the summer holiday comes the slowing down of the days, the blurring of our  year-long schedules, and the sheer joy of hanging out and doing nothing. It is the kids who are off school but nothing to stop mom from enjoying the perks of the sumer hols as well! Only one phrase comes to mind – lotus eaters. In Greek mythology the Lotus Eaters were a tribe that lived on an island where the primary food was the lotus plant  – being narcotic in nature, it kept the islanders in a perpetual state of relaxation and drowsiness…therefore the phrase, referring to a life of indolence.

While in the mood of flower eating I must share with you my fresh Italian discovery  – zucchini fiori. A vivid orange and red with lacy petals, these flowers are a delight for the eyes and certainly for the palate. Every week I find myself irresistibly drawn to them at the market, and come home with a big bagful.

Interestingly, there are male flowers  and female flowers; the female of the species is showy and  robust – it has a small zucchini attached.

The male flower by contrast, is delicate and more subtle in it appeal.

Zucchini fiori  are as delicate as they look – so they  need to be handled with care. Essentially that means – don’t squash them in the shopping bag, use them the day they are bought,  rinse them gently in water, and use a light touch when cooking them.

I’ve tried many different recipes with them – friend in tempura batter (yum!), steamed and added to a salad (nice!), in an omlette or stir fry (loses all its special appeal), but my favourite really has to be sautéed flowers – lightly cooked in olive oil with an onion and a small amount of  crushed garlic, and topped with bit of lemon juice and salt. As a light appetizer or a side dish /salad, it’s perfect for the summers. Enjoy your holidays!

And if you’re up to it, read this little extract from Tennyson’s poem Lotus Eaters which describes how some mariners are put into an altered state when they eat the lotus.

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each, but whoso did receive of them
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make

The Ides of summer

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It’s only now, after living in Europe for over five years that I can truly appreciate the Europeans’ love of the sun and summer. After the dark wet days of winter and the moody greys of spring and autumn, summer in Europe is a delight for the soul and the senses.

Summer  in the plains of North India where I come from, is loooong, HOT, dusty and brutish. Wake up and the sun is high in the sky already;  at its zenith, it forces you to stay indoors, shades drawn, houses dark and cool. Even after sundown, when you step out for a late night  ice lolly, the summer wind, the infamous Loo still blows hot, bringing with it particles of fine desert sand that layer the surface of just-shined furniture in a few hours.

But we humans are ingenious and  resilient creatures, and we’ve evolved various mechanisms to cope with our climate. Cool white chikan cottons, khus-perfumed air coolers, tall glasses of Rooh Afza (rose sherbet), bamboo chiks (blinds)…all of which carry for me, the nostalgia of summers past.

Mother Nature is also generous in offering us compensation for our sufferings – watermelons, musk melons, and litchis flood the markets and the taste buds. But the king of all fruits, undisputedly, is the mango.  In my culture, its  not just a fruit – it’s a fruit laden with significance and meaning. A symbol of abundance and fertility, garlands of mango leaves are strung across doorways in welcome and celebration. The mango blossom is symbol of beauty and innocence, and is celebrated in the famous Paisley design, our contribution to the world of fashion. (Just check out the design on the masthead of this blog – are you surprised that it is what it is?!)

And the fruit itself?  Well what can I say? Just that there is nothing like the sweet, juicy mango-ey taste of Indian mangoes. Once you’ve tasted Indian (and I concede, Pakistani) mangoes you will never eat any other (Here I will beg the indulgence of my South American friends with whom I have a long running debate on the topic …). The months of May-Aug are marked by the arrivals of different varieties of mangoes, each distinct from the other, and each with its band of ardent followers, many of whom would happily challenge you to a duel to prove the superiority of their favourite mangoes over yours!

Here in Italy we do get imported mangoes in the supermarket – I’m sure you’d have understood by now that in my eyes they are well…how do I say this? Yes they are mangoes but…

But hey! I’m not one to give up so easily! If I see it, I figure out a use for it! It’s not so great to eat, but with its sweet-sour taste and firm texture, it works fantastically well as a salad ingredient. That’s what I use it for when I get nostalgic around this time of year  – the flavors and senses transport me back to an Indian  summer, and it  is a delicious, healthy and refreshing addition to a meal or a barbecue.

COOL SUMMERY  MANGO SALAD

* Mango (firm, not fully ripe)  – 1

* Cucumber – 1 or 2

* Fresh mint leaves – a few

* Juice of 1 lemon or lime

* Peanut oil (or any vegetable oil)

* Sesame seeds (optional)

* Red chili flakes – 1 pinch (optional)

* Crushed salted peanuts – 1 tbsp (optional)

* Sugar – 1 big pinch

* Salt to taste

– Peel the mango, Slice and cut into thin slivers

– Peel and de-seed the cucumber. I’ve worked out an easy method here. Cut the cucumber into cylinders, then use an apple corer to deseed. Slice into slivers like the mango. Shredding or grating it would make it too watery, which would give you a soggy, not crunchy salad

– Toss in all of the remaining ingredients (except the mint and peanuts), and chill well (if its going to be many hours before you eat, it might be better to leave out the salt at this point and add it just before serving)

– Before serving, mix again, scatter over the peanuts and the mint and serve

Enjoy the summer holidays!

Getting fresh !

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I’m quite a gadget gal. Give me a job and I’ll look for the perfect tool for it. Give me a tool and I’ll find myself seeking out a job for it. In the kitchen of course gadgets and tools are very handy dandy. Everything from slicing to crushing to peeling, I’ve  got to get a tool or a  gadget for it. I scour shops for THAT perfect peeler, or THAT perfect strainer. Even come home with things that I use only in my Martha Stewart fantasies (Bundt tin) or at best once in 3 or 4 years (turkey carving set). Sometimes, I just have to bin them because they don’t work (perfect hamburger mould). I’ll admit there’s gotta be a name for this condition. But I have a logic – which is? Even if it gets used only once in a while, the job gets done perfectly!!  So then – apple slicer? Check. Cucumber corer? Check. Bottle top pressure releaser? Check. Icing spreader? Check. Olive pitter? Check.

Oh yes my olive pitter. Last used 2 years ago when I first arrived in Italy, picked up some gorgeous olives for an aperitivo and discovered they had seeds..not what I wanted to serve. My limited Italian did not let me read the label and check if they were `senza semi’. So voila – off I go and buy an olive pitter!  My guests enjoyed the olives, I learned some Italian and the pitter stayed where it was – at the bottom of a basket full of kitchen geegaws.

Until today – when the kids and I harvested our cherry tree for the second time this season, and landed up again with about 4 kgs of cherries. We’ve been enjoying the  plump sweet-sour cherries – not as perfectly unblemished and shiny as the supermarket stuff, but still delicious and so very fresh! The thought of it is as much fun as eating the fruit  – fresh, natural, pesticide-free cherries from your own garden.

But there’s only so many cherries you can eat – after all it is summer and there’s a lot of fruit eating to get done! So today I decided to do something mad – make cherry jam. Me? Jamming? Good Lord. When did I get to be this domesticated?! But if life hands you cherries….you get creative! So I thought back to Mom’s occasional jamming sessions, added on my logic and concepts of what a process for jam might be like, and finally, checked out Google (which, along with time zone differences, is rapidly putting mothers and aunties out of business in the recipe sharing department).

Long story short, I loved every bit of the process. It was pretty easy, very creative and wonderfully satisfying. At the end of this post. I’ll share with you my net-net take on it. For the moment, let me share with you the process. I did not follow a recipe, just read up a few of them and followed my instinct. Turned out well, so here it is.

FRESH AS FRESH GETS CHERRY JAM (Prep time 30 mins, cooking time 25 mins)

* Cherries – about 1/2 kg (Pitted ! This is where my olive pitter came in handy. Would have been a crazy job without it). Once pitted, chop roughly – I did this directly in the pan, slashing away with a pair of kitchen scissors.

* White sugar – approx 3/4th of volume of cherries (I just eyeballed it, no measurements). Yes – that’s a lot of sugar, and yes, that’s why regrettably, for me, jam has to be a weekend treat only!

* Juice and zest of 1 lemon. To set, jam needs a gelling agent (otherwise cooked fruit would stay as juice or pulp). Typically they use a substance called pectin which is found in the rind of citrus fruits. I wanted to make a simple jam without getting into the hassle of buying pectin (don’t ever remember Mom using any) so using lemons would give me the gelling quality I sought

In the pan! Meet Mr. Zester…one of my successful tools, used at least once a week for various jobs, not just zesting

– In a deep pan, put in cherries, lemon juice and rind and cook over medium heat for about 10 mins until the fruit has softened.

– Add the sugar and cook on medium-high heat until the mixtures boils and then reduces.It is important to stir frequently at this stage.  Once the foam settles and the bubbles disappear, the mixture will come together and  start to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat and let it cool even though it does not look very jammy at this stage – it tends to thicken as it cools. If it is already jammy when you take it off  the heat , it will become plasticky, like gummy bear candies!

The surface of Mars? Naah – just the just-complete jam in the pan

– If you can resist, wait for it to cool before enjoying it on bread or toast.

– Once it is cool, scoop it into a clean and dry glass jar with a tight lid, and it should last for a couple of weeks.

Would I do it again? Yep – if there was something special enough (like a glut of fruit) that would justify it. It is not much effort but it is easy to think about how much easier it is to jump out and buy a jar of top quality jam. It’s a recreational thing – and was fun for me because I was feeling creative. My kids loved it – again, the concept plays an important part here. Tiny sweet-sour cherry jam sandwiches made for  a fabulous summer dessert!

A spoonful of summer