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09 November 2008 @ 09:29 pm
Les Semaines November 9: We Be Jamming  
Saturday was the annual ritual of making our spiced apricot-raspberry jam. After a few years long ago trying different jams, this is what we've settled on making (our pear jam never set, our blackberry jam just become flavourless sweetness, etc.) Despite one spat between Jim and I, all went well: the jam set, and for the first time in many years, all my jars sealed (I use paraffin, and the seals haven't set--this year I waited until the next day to do the wax, and voila. I am very happy--resealing failed in about half the cases and it became a frustrating experience. Last year was the worst when our frig filled up with unsealed jars that we had to foist and our friends and tell them to keep it in the fridge the whole time.

We have our settled roles in the cooking: I wash the jars, skim the foam, pour the jam, then later seal the jars (when I can!). Jim brings the fruit out from the freezer (raspberries from our yard and apricots we buy and chop up in the summer), lets it thaw, mashes it, puts everything together, and stirs. We both get out the ingredients and measuring things.

This year we made four batches of the apricot-raspberry. We have enough blackcurrants to make blackcurrant jelly, but this is enough jamming for one weekend.

The week also included the election of course and the amazing sense of hope and possibility of change that followed. May those feelings last long and spark a movement to bring us out the short-term profit-for-me-thinking world. I confess to getting teary as the results came in. Sad about California's Prop 8 and its nasty relatives in other states, but for the first time feel like it's only a matter of time before this kind of archaic thinking is a thing of the past. It's going to be so hard, though, with so damn many things just *wrong* right now for so many people. I won't go on about this because so many other have so much more eloquently, but at last there's a feeling that there may be some way out.

Hope. We be jamming.

For what I'm listening to, reading, writing, and (finally!) the end of our June 1994 trip to Scotland, check out Les Semaines.
Amy Sissonamysisson on November 10th, 2008 06:10 am (UTC)
1) I ditto (CW lingo!) your feelings on the election exactly.

2) I'm mightily impressed by your jam-making. The most ambitious thing I've attempted in the kitchen was when I recently made pumpkin bread out of our Halloween pumpkin. I decided it really wasn't worth the effort, because the result was fairly mediocre. I think I'll stick to banana bread from now on, but I still have the problem that to get it done in the middle of the loaf leaves the ends a bit dry.... A natural baker I'm not.
Neile Grahamneile on November 10th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Jam is surprisingly easy to make, especially once someone shows you how (I began by watching my mother). With Certo, etc., you rarely have to worry about it not setting and all.

The done in the middle leaving the ends a bit dry is your oven and not your baking skills. You might be able to fix that by putting tin foil on the sides that get overdone and taking it off partway through. It might take a bit of experimentation to get it perfect, but it should be an improvement, no matter what.

I have a gas oven, and while I love the gas stove top, gas oven notoriously have uneven heat, so I *always* have the underdone/overdone problem. Scones on the worst unless they're the kind you take apart before baking. When they're supposed to stay in a round the center will be goopy while the edges are getting scarily brown.
morgan_x on November 10th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
Some day I aspire to make jam.

Neile Grahamneile on November 10th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)

When you move to Seattle, we will jam!
jordonturek on December 9th, 2008 05:54 am (UTC)
I aspire to be better at it some day. These designs are so charming, and your quilt is beautiful.
Steve Faggnightwol on November 11th, 2008 10:37 am (UTC)
Brooke Waggoner
I followed up your mention of Brooke Waggoner in Les Semaines and downloaded the EP. On first listen, only just completed, it's really good. Maybe a little lightweight but refreshing and inventive; the piano sound is quite quirky and the band sound good but I could have done without some of the sugary "string" arrangements (presumably synthesised - who can tell these days?). Thanks for the tip, I'll keep listening!

Talking of ovens, ours died a few days ago so we're in the process of getting a new stove. Because, like you, we love a gas hob but get better baking results from an electric oven we're going to splash out and get a dual-fuel stove and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Much relief, joy and hope for the future in our house following the the election, as you can imagine!
Neile Grahamneile on November 11th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Brooke Waggoner
Yes, I agree with your comments about her exactly, though I am less sensitive to the strings (unless they're way overboard, like with some of the later Sandy Danny solo albums).

I'm so jealous of your new stove! I was sure they existed, but was afraid to look, because what if I fell in love? Our stove is fairly new, and there are so many things we need before a new stove. It does sound like heaven, though.

I'm still a little astonished about how much this election has changed my view of the possibilities here. I don't expect all my dreams to come true, but it seems like there will be (and has been just by the results) movement toward better things. I'm shocked at how emotional I feel about this, when in most of my bios I say "Canadian by birth and inclination".