Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pear Preserve recipe

I've had a comment to my 2006 post about making pear preserves and a request for the recipe.

Here it is:

Peel, slice, and weigh pears. An approximately equal poundage of sugar will be needed to cover the pears, so if you have a big sack of pears, you'll need an appropriate amount of sugar. With this last batch, a full grocery sack of pears, it took 10 pounds of sugar to cover them. Add 1-3 thinly sliced lemons. Cover the kettle and let sit overnight. In the morning, there'll be a lot of syrup. Stir.

Start cooking over low heat and stir. The pears will "cook down" and there'll be more syrup. I like my pears slightly brown, but not chewy. I had two containers of pears going and over the course of the morning was able to siphon off sufficient syrup to combine the pears into one container. This means I probably squandered close to a gallon of liquid. I didn't know what else to do since I didn't want pear syrup. Stir. And stir. You don't want them sticking.

When they're the consistency you want, spoon into jars, seal, water-bath, 5 minutes for half-pints, 10 for pints. I got 13 half-pint jars and they are delicious!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On a clear day...

When we moved into this house 31 years ago, I gave little thought to the clear-ness of the windows. There were a lot of windows--37 plus two doors and two transoms. For the most part, they were original to the house, circa 1918. Lots of panes and wavy glass. They weren't airtight, however, and after a couple years watching the drapes blow in the winter when the windows were closed, we had storm windows attached.

At that point, all semblance of cleaning the windows--what semblance there had been was slight--went literally, out the window. We would rinse them off with a high power washer every so often, but other than that, the years built up, I'm sorry to say.

Until this summer when I got some sort of strange bee in my bonnet and decided they needed to be professionally cleaned. I got references and started the hunt. Found out that because the windows are so large (54 inches by 6 feet), it would require a two-man crew and scaffolding for the north, or street side. Our most earnest window cleaner didn't have that equipment. He tried to find someone who did, even calling into the Metroplex. Someone is bound to exist who does this sort of thing, but we didn't stumble upon them.

So I decided on a compromise: those windows he could reach via ladder, all of the downstairs and those over the two porches, he would do. And so began a light-revelation in our house.

Last Saturday, he and his crew cleaned the front windows, upstairs and down. I had no idea they were so dirty until I saw them so clean. Amazing. Thursday, he'll finish the job and light will shoot from front to back.

Should have done it years ago--and now I've no excuse not to do it at least annually.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Alas, no cherries

I bought the newest member of the Kay Sisk Cherry Pitter Collection, only to find that cherries have disappeared from the grocery bins. They were there two weeks ago. Of course, before all the fruit importing from South America started, cherries were a June-only item. Now they're a May to (obviously) a-week-before-I-wanted-them-again item.

So, I have placed my newest gadget with the rest of them and will now have to wait until May.



Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cherry Pitter Strike

I have a love of cherry pitters, probably because I love the dark sweet cherries we're blessed with every summer. I make a great sweet cherry pie. Alas, the pits have to be gone first, so I've bought and discarded (figuratively, not literally) at least half a dozen cherry pitters. I thought I'd bought my final one, the Oxo cherry/olive pitter, when I saw this in a catalog.

What a dilemma. It's only $14.99 plus s/h, of course. It's not a matter of money, it's a matter of too good to be true. It pits four at once? Really? I'd love to see it in person so I suppose I'll start haunting the kitchen gadget sections of stores again.

And then, like by magic, I'm searching the Bed, Bath and Beyond site for the Oxo and there's the Progressive Cherry-It Pitter!

I am so there! And you can be too. Watch the demo video. I do think she overdoes the traditional pitter's mess, or maybe I've just pitted so many, I've become accomplished at it (roll your eyes), but the idea of not having to have cherry-black fingertips is grand.

So, I'll buy the pitter, then I'll have to buy some cherries. New toy. Have to check it out.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Changes in a lifetime

We all know things change, but sometimes I don't think we realize how quickly.

When our children were young, we had an RV and through the mid-1980s, we took several 3-week long vacations. We wouldn't trade for them, and I hope the boys wouldn't either. But 'you play, you pay' and catching up afterwards was a chore.

I was reminded of this this week when our younger son had returned from a one week trip to Alaska. He was enthralled and they had had a fantastic time, but the catching up with his work was near-overwhelming. He had taken a cell phone, laptop, and iPad on this trip. While he wasn't always within range to communicate with the rest of us and his world, he wasn't totally incommunicado. How had Dad caught up with his work after three weeks? he asked me.

Oh, I answered, before cell phones? Before laptops? Before email and the internet? You mean, son, when in order to call home, we had to find a pay phone and either call collect or punch in numbers from a calling card? Any of this ring a bell?

On second thought, how did we catch up? Very slowly. No wonder I've put the catching-up out of my mind and just remembered the trips.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Alas, poor hornworms... I knew you too well

Hornworms, it would seem, are not very good housekeepers. Despite dumping the contents of their jars and replacing stems with fresh tomato leaves at least twice a day, their jars became nastier and nastier. I didn't wash them because that had led to the quick demise of the first one.

My "crop" of 14 had died down to 9, the hardier ones becoming sluggish also. Then, this morning, I saw no more hope. All they were doing was eating, pooping, growing, and turning (more) sickly shades of green. It was time for this season's Great Experiment to be over and they and their jars went out with the garbage.