Saturday, August 8, 2009

the barefoot contessa's strawberry jam



my attempts at running have been thwarted by this muggy heat. there's no way in hell i'm going back out into that for a run after i get home from work in the afternoons - no way. this saddens me as i know it'll hurt when i do get back into running later this year.

i did take a few weeks off after running in the Peachtree Road Race, but being idle does not suit me. i get lazy and then hate the fact that i'm lazy, then beat myself up over it. what's the use of that? so i started using my elliptical machine again, which is inside the air-conditioned house. the boy has named it Sven, so that he can joke about me having a hot date with Sven later on. (side note: Sven??? seriously. what kind of name is that? the tall Nordic boys were never my type. not that i have a type. anyway).

so i'm back to watching a lot of crappy TV while on a hot date with Sven. we recently upped our cable package and now have Showtime, Encore, etc..., but let me tell you, there is usually not a damn thing on anyway. except for one day, while flipping around, i watched Ina Garten make strawberry jam. and as soon as i hopped off Sven (heh), i ran off to get the ingredients for this.

my mom is a good cook, although she tends to never follow recipes at all. she owns a lot of cookbooks but i doubt she's even glanced through a good portion of them. most of them are from places like the Zuni Cafe or Stars, places she's eaten where the food was lovely, so she felt compelled to buy the cookbook. she has handwritten recipes on index cards and the margins of ripped out magazine articles scattered around her kitchen, but when it comes down to following a recipe, she will go with her gut (with more or less success). this is why it's so hard for me to get a recipe out of her. if i've had a good dish at her house and ask for the recipe, she gets flustered and says, "Mais, i don't know, i don't measure, you just pour it in. Tu m'ennuies".

she has never been much into canning or preserving; although having said that i remember one summer weekend spending the day with her and my brother in the forest of St Germain en Laye gathering raspberries which grew wild all along the park lanes. we took every pot and deep bowl in the house we could find, and filled them all up. i remember the sweet smell of raspberries and sugar boiling away on the stove, and the jam she made from them. she never made jam again, preferring to buy it ready-made. but i wonder if that raspberry memory of mine is what prompts me to attempt jam every few years. i had very little success with preserving until i came across Ms Garten's recipe (see here for a ridiculous failed attempt a while back). because the strawberries that are available now are marvelously sweet, i've cut back the amount of sugar in the original recipe to 2 cups (3 cups just seemed like a whole hell of a lot). the end result makes two mason jar pints. Ms Garten says it will keep refrigerated for at least 2 weeks, but mine never does because the elves eat it up before it ever comes near going bad.


strawberry jam, adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics

3 pints strawberries
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and small-diced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries


1. Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut the larger berries in half or quarters and leave the small berries whole. Place the strawberries in a Dutch oven and toss them with the sugar and orange-flavored liqueur.

2. Bring the berry mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Add the apple and blueberries and continue to keep the mixture at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, until the jam reaches 220 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. This should take 25 to 35 minutes. Skim and discard any foam that rises to the top. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then store covered in the refrigerator.

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