Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cut and Paste

Very productive past few days. The Damsons have had a bumper year. This is only my second crop and what you see is the product of my second day of jam making. I had more fruit than I knew what to do with- I tried my hand at making fruit pastes( also called fruit comfits or pastilles). We love our cheese platter and usually buy in the fruit pastes, so why not?
I cooked the plums and a little lemon juice and water, cooled and pureed in a blender. I put it through a sieve and into a pan over a low heat gradually adding equal amount of sugar. Stirred for 45minutes. Then turned out into lined slice pan to cool. It turns from a glorious pink to dark purple. Then cut with a hot knife into diamond shapes. Roll shapes in caster sugar or place a blanched almond in the centre of each. They need to be stored for 2 months before using although going by our tasting last night it will not last that long. In days gone by the paste was poured into large shallow plates to mature for several days in a cool, dark cupboard. Then turned out stacked one on top of the other, interleaved with bay leaves, and covered in muslin. It was brought out for special occasions like Christmas and served with a little port wine poured over. Again yum!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nothing like a Dame

By now you are aware I was not named on the New Years' Honours List. Not a dame then but this is the view from my Throne. The big red one is the Pohutukawa (the New Zealand Christmas tree).To its right is the Grandiflora Magnolia( flowering creamy- white waxy flowers larger than a dinner plate) and right again is the mighty Kauri(ours is a baby about 30years old). With that to greet me every morning I consider myself very, very lucky. The Pohutukawa is part of a memorial stand that lines our street. Each is numbered and protected. Now that the rain and wind has stripped the trees, the crimson stamens carpet the road and pavement. I get the royal treatment every time I walk out my gate. Damehood who needs it. I am a Contessa!