Findings of Fall and Spicy Plum Jam





Yesterday started out as one of those total crap days. Sorry to sound like such a downer right off the bat, but I was really feelin’ the bah-humbug all morning.

Drew and I have been irritable with each other for the past couple days. Not arguing, but both in our own place. I haven’t been sleeping very well and yesterday, morning specifically, the sky was as grumpy as I was feeling. The wind was howling and the rain was pouring…. Hmmph. This was really the first blustery fall morning we’ve had since we’ve been in New Zealand. We’ve experienced some interesting weather along the road, but this particular morning I just wasn’t feelin’ it.

Honestly, I’ve really been looking forward to fall here on the South Island. Back in November of last year, when we were getting all packed up, I was so ready to leave Portland and the wet fall weather that was just getting into full swing. We were heading to the southern hemisphere where we could enjoy spring roll into summer. I couldn’t wait! And it was great. But it was also surreal experiencing the drastic change of seasons and scenery.

At first, it was so exciting. Being that we had just wrapped up a full and gorgeous summer in the northwest and were heading into another one, we were about to experience nearly SIX full months of beautiful summer weather! Yes, please, I will have another! However, I was never able to wrap my brain around the holidays that came and passed. My birthday was spent for the very first time laying in the sun and playing in the surf – in the middle of January! As great as that seemed at the time, it has become obvious to Drew and I that we’ve really missed the holiday traditions of home. Now that fall is here in Christchurch and we’re heading into an empty holiday winter season, I’m just not sure how to handle it. There are pumpkins at the market! Apple pie. Cider! But no NFL, Macy’s parades, Christmas carols, or holiday lights in our near future! It’s like a weird dream… I’m beginning to think that the anticipation of this ‘holiday-less’ winter may be contributing to my bah-humbug and keeping me from enjoying the beauty of God’s creation as it prepares itself for winters sleep so naturally and beautifully.

We have the 4th of July to look forward to, our country’s Independence Day, but there will be no fireworks. No BBQ. No camping or beers at the beach with a handful of our favorite people. …. Yep, the more I contemplated it over that second cup of coffee it became quite evident to me that the anticipation of this ‘holiday-less’ winter (and the missing out on the upcoming traditions of an American summer) is what’s really been bothering me.

So, I forced myself to bundle-up and go for a walk (luckily the rain died back at this point. Otherwise, I surely wouldn't have been brave enough to venture out). As I crankily kicked rocks through the park and sulked by myself, I realized I was really just letting this day slip away and was wasting an opportunity to enjoy something that I love doing most on crabby weather days - Cook! 

I am so blessed right now to have the opportunity to be at home while Drew goes to work everyday. Who knows how long this lifestyle will last, but for now I am absolutely loving having the chance to be home and nest…. I’ve never had the time to do this before. I felt the responsibility and demands of my last job so deeply that I barely had enough energy to make dinner when I got home let alone have any remaining energy to be creative and make our home stylish and more livable. So, I decided to stop sulking, embrace the day, and go home to be creative doing something I love with this time I’ve been given.

As I walked home, I remembered that my new friend Shannon, also a recent transplant from the northwest, had given me a lovely box of plums several months ago during the peak of their season! I had cut them up and stored them in the freezer ‘til I figured out just what I was going to make with them.  Now I know - Spiced Plum Jam! Perfect for such a blustery fall day.  



It sure didn't solve the matters of my heart right right now, but at least for the time being I’m able to embrace where I am and concentrate on these gifts instead – new friends and their generosity, the time God has given me to slow down, nest in my new home, and enjoy every moment of the day, being creative, and making sure I spend at least a little time each day doing something I absolutely love!

Drew had a colleague at work who just moved back to the UK. Before she left she gave me all the spices and baking supplies from her pantry. One of these spices was cardamom. I've always loved cardamom for it's warm, spicy aroma, but rarely use it so I never buy it. However, being that I have an abundance of it on hand right now I thought it would be a good time to experiment by adding it to a simple jam recipe along with some of my other favorite fall flavors! I think the secret to this jam however, is the cracked black pepper. You don't have to add it, but if you're feeling brave go for it!




This jam is delicious, tangy, and rich with the goodness of fall! I will definitely be making more for the cupboard and gifts!... although next time I may try orange instead of lemon for a little added sweet over tart... xo

Enjoy!

Spiced Plum Jam

  • 5 cups chopped and pitted plums
  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons fresh ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • zest and juice of half a small lemon
  • 20-25 cracks of your black pepper mill
  • a good size knob of butter

Add the plums and sugar to a medium-sized pot, stirring until the plums begin to break down and release their juices. Bring to a slow boil and let cook for about 20 minutes stirring frequently to be sure the fruit does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Then add the lemon and ginger, continuing to stir with a long handled wooden spoon, breaking up the plums against the side of the pot. Add the butter, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook down until the plum mixture is thick, about another 15 minutes. Add your spices near the end, after about another 10 minutes. After the spices are added, allow to slowly simmer for another 10-20 minutes. 

You'll know your jam is done when it passes the 'wrinkle' test. This can be achieved by placing a small dish in the freezer for a couple minutes. Once chilled, place a dollup of jam on the plate. Slide your finger through the jam. If a path remains where your finger passed through then your jam is ready.

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