(first things first: chloe from naturally frugal won the birthday jar of straight up greengage jam! congrats chloe – hope you enjoy!)
can i just tell you?
it’s 7:30am on a gorgeous sunday morning in october and i’ve been up for a while…
believe it or not i love early weekend mornings, especially this time of year. on most eeeeearly mornings up here in the berkshires, when the sky is still dark, i can see a gazillion stars in the sky.
i turn the heat up, or better yet, start a fire in the wood stove and listen to the wind whip around through the trees. before i can actually see the sun come over the ridge, there is a gradual, monotone lightening of the sky and the frost-covered grass. a graveyard gray sweeps over the landscape. slowly & silently.
sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of tea watching the sun come up in the fall is like,
the ultimate in coziness.
as the sun gets closer to revealing itself above the horizon of trees the sky starts to reflect wisps of pink, orange, & blue.
photoshop ain’t got nuttin’ on MN.
when the sun finally hits the leaves of the trees, it’s an explosion of autumnal colors above the still deep green of the field. and in the middle of it all the serenity of the dozen or so hay bales laying-in-waiting for the farmer to haul them away.
eventually the whole thing just becomes too ridiculously gorgeous to even contemplate.
know what i mean?
the preciousness of all of this is that much more acute because we all know
soon the graveyard gray will come earlier, and stay longer. the wind will whip harder and for us (M & me) it means that we are packing up two cats
who don’t particularly like to travel,
some cookbooks i can’t live without, 1/2 a larder full of jams, pickles, and a myriad of other preserves, a bunch of work files, 2 laptops and whatever other sundries we deem necessary for the next 6 months that we park ourselves fairly permanently in LIC.
and like those little seed garlic cloves that got pushed in the ground at just about every farm and garden plot in these parts this weekend.
my desire to be back up in the berkshires is buried, but not necessarily dormant, until spring.
adapted from well preserved
1 small pumpkin or winter squash (about 3 lbs)
2 lemons (preferably organic)
1 orange (preferably organic)
4 cups sugar (i use raw)
pint jars or smaller
yields approximately 1 1/2 pints
1. slice the orange and lemons in half lengthwise, take the pits out and save to the side. place cut side down on counter and cut off the tip of each citrus end. discard ends.
2. very thinly slice the the oranges and lemons. then cut each slice in 3 or 4 pieces. basically you want very small pieces of citrus with the skin very thin and the meat still on. i had some luck with stacking the slices once i sliced one half fruit. and then cut the stacks in 3 to 4 pieces. it can get a little sloppy and
that’s ok. just make sure the peel pieces are small and thin.
3. place the pits in a little piece of cheese cloth & tie with twine. i use a cloth reusable tea bag for this purpose. i also sometimes use a stainless tea ball which works quite well.
4. add cut & sliced citrus pieces, seeds in cloth, and 3 cups water to a non-reactive pan (no iron or aluminum) and bring to the boil. once boiled turn it down to a low simmer and cover. simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the peels get soft.
5. while the citrus is simmering peel and chop pumpkin. you want to cut the pieces into approximately 1/2 inch squares about 1/8 of an inch thick. this does not have to be exact but you do want them to be about this size and all similar in shape. you want about 8 cups/2 liters pumpkin once it is chopped.
6. when the citrus peel is soft remove the pit bag and squeeze out any excess juice into pan. keep the heat low, add the 4 cups sugar and let it dissolve slowly. this will take about 5 minutes.
7. add the pumpkin and turn up the heat to come to a rapid boil. it will take about 30 minutes to gel. after about 15 minutes you will want to turn the heat down a bit and to stir often to prevent sticking.
you can use the frozen plate method to test the set. but you will be able to see when it is thickening quite easily.
note on preserving method: this recipe comes from the 3rd and very updated edition of well preserved. mary anne dragan is a respected canadian canner. in the book she states that all of the recipes are sufficiently acidic enough to render them safe for hot water bath canning. but the usda says this and this about canning pumpkin and winter squash.
so fridge or freeze it is, it will last for weeks in the fridge, and months (and months) in the freezer. you decide.
i can tell you that it’s worth the real estate, and i know without a doubt, when i am sitting at my kitchen table one early winter morning in LIC watching the sun come up over the train tracks,
a just-warmed slice of toast slabbed with butter and pumpkin marmalade will be the next best thing to being there.