the whale wins

Taking Stalk

This morning I visited the Rose Geraniums in the garden. I read the fresh sheet from Billy's Gardens (in Tonasket, WA) with my breakfast which made me think about the preserving schedule for the next couple weeks. Quince, glorious quince, will come in from the orchard soon and then I will start dismantling the Rose Geraniums one sprig and stalk at a time to make Quince Rose Geranium Grappa Marmalade, one of my all time favorite preserves to make and eat. Amy has taken beautiful care of the two, now gigantic Geraniums that have grown all summer in preparation for quince season.

In the pots this weekend, strawberries and Pluots cooked down to make jam for my co-worker Alex's pop up brunch this coming Sunday at Vif, the adorable, go check it out now if you haven't, coffee and wine shop on Fremont Ave less than a block north of The Book Larder and Dot's. Alex and I work together at the Whale Wins and he and the sous-chef of the Walrus and the Carpenter are presenting a 3 course brunch on Sunday the 15th. There might be a few seats left...check out The Strawberry Pluot Honey Jam comes near the start of the meal, with a scone naturally.

What else?
Before heading into cook dinner at the Whale Wins tonight, I stop by Marx Foods in Lower Queen Anne. Marx is an online and local Seattle specialty food store. Marx puts the products to a panel of tasters so I'm bringing 8 jams and marmalades for them to sample.

And...I finally finished and submitted my application to the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, which connects to my final piece of news. The bike trailer. For my birthday, Amy, my sister Moira, and my brother in law Andy gifted me a honking 300 lb. hauler of a bike trailer from an Iowa company called Bikes at Work. Amy assembled the (as she calls it) "puzzle" this weekend. The finished product is a utilitarian kind of dazzling. It's pretty and useful! Now I can get the jam to the farmers market.

I'm still figuring out how to use the Squarespace app and sprinkle the pictures into the text. The last one is the nightly view I see when I emerge from the jam kitchen.


The Marm is Back

It's still autumn. I mean really we're just settling into it. We're grudgingly accepting the rains even as our soil must rejoice.Fall and winter whisper together this time of year. They have to. A winter is warmer with a busy fall behind it; stocking up on winter squash and finding the coolest place in an apartment to store it, tucking apple butter into the canned goods cupboard (or maybe just buying my apple preserves instead), cranberries stockpiled in the freezer, bargain cabbage scooped up and shredded for sauerkraut.

I willingly let winter whisper in my kitchen this week as I made marmalade. Nothing says winter like marmalade. It's not technically bound to using citrus as a medium, but I think the marmalade-equals-citrus-association is strong and winter definitely equals citrus. Marmalade is just a sticky word to define. My current working definition is fruit solids (ranging in size from shreds to chunks) cooked and suspended in jelly. The Pear and Lemon Marmalade I made with warm spices, Ceylon cinnamon (otherwise known as True Cinnamon), Cardamom, and Clove hovers in thought between the deeply autumnal feel of the University Farmers Market this weekend and resolutely wintry feel of the drenching rains of Sunday and Monday.

Usually my preserves making is a squeeze between sleeping and working. I always buy too much fruit at the market because my mouth and mind swell with all the jamming, marmalading potential housed in the vendor booths. But this week has had no squeeze. Instead I've had several very pleasant days off as I decompress from leaving my job at Theo Chocolate and wait for the paint to dry at The Whale Wins where I start working tomorrow!

This positively lazy marmalade is my honey adaptation of the Rachel Saunders' Blue Chair Fruit Cookbook recipe for Pear Lemon Marmalade. Someday soon I will pass along one of my recipes....I keep copious notes, but they are not copious enough. I get fuzzy with the cooking times and five minutes before the preserve sets and it's time to bottle and reset the timer, well, it always seems like all hell breaks loose in that time period.

Ceylon Cinnamon, Clove, and black cardamom seeds crushed in their pods all go into a tea infuser, which hangs out in the cooking marmalade until the preserve sets.

Just starting to cook.

Entering the final stage of cooking.

Look at those wrinkles! This marmalade is set.

Jarring the Marmalade and pulling it from the oven after 15 minutes have passed.