I have so much to say but so little time. I thought that by now I would have motherhood under control, be back to regular blog posts and up and running again on my market stall but I see from the leaves changing colour outside that it’s November and I don’t know what is happening to the year. My baby boy is five months old today and seems to be growing before my very eyes, every day I am relegating more of his clothes to the too-small pile. He is suddenly becoming separate from me, an individual member of our family with his personality shining through his smile and his effervescent gurgling of ba-ba-ba which is the comforting soundtrack to my life.
This week we started weaning and as you can imagine it’s something I have been looking forward to so much. I am convinced I am raising a mini baker or chef since food is the backbone to mine and Luke’s life. Cole is being incredibly gung-ho about it after his unsure beginnings with a first taste of mashed sweet potato. Now he has also tried banana, apple and cauliflower but last night he had his favourite meal yet – carrot and swede mash which is also one of my most favourite things to eat and for the first time in his life, we ate the same dinner together.
Still I am just about pulling myself together at the moment. The seasons have come and gone taking my recipe inspiration with them but it has suddenly arrived at my favourite time of year and I have some definite ingredients that I am longing to play with. Now the baby has agreed to go to sleep at 7pm most nights, providing I am not too zombie-like after a day of singing Wind The Bobbin Up and Wheels on The Bus I may even utilise this time to my blog’s benefit.
Until now I have been spending my evenings preparing for my annual preserve stall at the Stroud Green WInter Fair at the end of this month. I had high hopes of hitting a few Christmas markets this year but I have had to be realistic and have just made a select few of my favourite jams and chutneys to sell at this particular fair which is the most dear to me. Of course it’s the one I help to organise on behalf of Stroud Green WI so of course I couldn’t not have a stall at this most prestigious of events.
Alongside my usual homemade christmas puddings, mincemeats and chutneys I am also including this divine Pear and Cobnut Jam. Last year I didn’t make nearly enough jams for my Christmas markets but this year I hadn’t got my act together in time to make the most of the summer fruits so I was stuck with autumn’s offerings. I remembered reading recently about a delicately flavoured pear jam and when I saw these juicy numbers sat alongside the cobnuts at our farmers’ market in Ally Pally a couple of weeks ago it seemed obvious that was the route to go down.
The jam has turned out so well so I really wanted to share the recipe here. Pears have a tendency to go watery and mushy once cooked so in order to keep their structure in the jam I macerated them for a couple of days in the sugar with some apples and lemons for pectin and a fragrant hit of vanilla bean and mixed spice. The crunch of cobnuts which are added at the end of cooking are such a surprise in a jam and well worth hunting down at your local farmers’ market.
This gentle amber coloured nectar tastes of wellies splashing in puddles, warm cosy evenings by the fire and Downton Abbey on a Sunday Night.
I hope it’s not too long before my next post…
Pear and Cobnut Jam
Makes about 10 x 190ml jars
1600g jam sugar
1 vanilla bean
3/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon butter
- Peel and core the apples and pears then dice into small pieces.
- Place the fruit in a large dish and toss with the sugar, the juice of both lemons but the zest of only 1, the vanilla bean seeds, the pod of the vanilla bean and the mixed spice.
- Cover with clingfilm pressed to the surface of the fruit then refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.
- Meanwhile de-husk and shell the cobnuts and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 10 minutes to toast. Leave to cool then chop roughly.
- Just before bringing the jam together place four or five saucers in your freezer ready to test the set of your jam when the time comes. Also sterilise some clean jars and lids by placing in a very hot oven for at least 10 minutes.
- Place the pears and apples into a large preserving pan and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 30 minutes and then test for set by dropping half a teaspoon of jam onto one of the frozen saucers and placing in the fridge for a minute. After that time if the jam wrinkles when pushed with your finger then it is the right consistency, if the jam runs together after you have pushed your finger through then give it another few minutes and test again.
- Once the jam has set then stir in the chopped cobnuts and butter to disperse all the foam on the top and cook for a further minute before removing from the heat and decanting into the sterilised jars.