Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nectarine Butter

Ellie over at Kitchen Wench posted this recipe nearly a month ago, and when I saw it I thought "oh yeah, I gotta try that". Last weekend at work I saw boxes of nectarines going for the princely sum of just $5. Yes, that's right $5. I have no idea how many kilo's were in there, but I gave a big bag to dad's lady, another bag to Mel, and still had plenty left over to do up a batch of this butter (with still more!!!! Arg!!!)

Now, I've never made a preserve in my life. Ever. So this was going to be one hell of an experience.

I don't have a food mill, so I was reduced to pummeling the fruit through a sieve. After a ladle-full or two I got VERY tired of this, so instead cheated a little and put the chunks of fruit through my (manual) food processor for a short burst first, then pushed them through the sieve. MUCH better.

You'll notice my mix is rather more pink than Ellie's - this is because I was using white-flesh nectarines instead of yellow. Also, in my experience, the white flesh nectarines are much sweeter than their yellow cousins, so I reduced the amount of sugar to only 1.5 cups, and could probably still have used less.

The warning on how much the mix spits was one I was thankful to get, and speedy to heed once the mix got bubbling.

The final product. I almost had the French worked out for the label, but just couldn't quite stretch the old memory that far. Gee I love Babelfish :-)

Of course I was taste-testing throughout the process, but wasn't too sure if the final product was really any good. Thankfully Mel reported it was good on toast!

Next preserve I'm gonna try making is Banana Jam...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Why Don't People Think of the Furry Ones?

I was reading this morning about the number of little furry people (ie. pets) surrendered to the RSPCA over Christmas. I followed the link in the article to the Society's Adopt A Pet page.

It hurts my heart to read about the many animals that are left homeless, especially at this time of year. I mean, I literally get a pain in my chest when I think about it. Why do people do it? Why do people take on the responsibility of another life if they are not ready for it? And why do people buy another life as a surprise gift for someone else? The choice to have a pet is a very personal one, as is the choice of the pet itself.

Growing up we always had at least one dog around, and usually a cat. Actually, there were usually several dogs - the benefits of a country upbringing. We loved the animals, and they were as much a part of our family as we were. I really REALLY miss having the company. I would love a dog. And a cat. Or even two dogs and a cat. But I won't do it, at least not in the foreseeable future. Why not? Because I'm away from home 12-14 hours every week day, and weekends aren't much better. Sure, a dog would be a handy addition to deadbolts and alarms as home security, but it's not fair on the animal. Some people say "Oh, but a cat would cope with that much better". Whether that is true or not, I wouldn't feel happy about leaving the animal alone for that length of time.

That's my 2c-worth, anyway.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Baking: Jam Drops

Visiting home for Christmas and helping (hindering?) Mum in the kitchen brought back to me all the times when I was a kid and she'd let me help (hinder?!?!!) her with various steps of the baking. I remember when she used to make jam drops, and I'd have the very serious and important job of putting the little dollop of jam in the middle... not too much, or it'll go everywhere, but not too little or you may as well not have bothered sticking it on in the first place.

After reading the Kitchen Wench's post on her pre-Christmas baking marathon I was inspired to try making these little gems again. You'll find the recipe I used here.

Now, mine don't look as good as the picture on, nor as good as Kitchen Wench's - personally I blame the jam I was using, it wasn't the best. But they still taste good! Perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea... although what I'm doing baking with no air conditioning when it's 40 degrees outside is quite a mystery to me.