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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Concords Are Conquered!

So yes, I did ask our guests to harvest our grape crop and work.
And, after a salad-and-pizza lunch on Saturday, harvest they did:

The little grape arbor has lived at That Old House for generations; we inherited it when we bought the property.
It is behind the house, on the slope above, at the end of our driveway.
This year we decided to try and do something with the grapes other than give them to our neighbor to turn into delicious jelly.

In Friday's blog post I asked, Is it OK to ask guests to work?
And you all said, "Yes!" 
So, I did.
 That's my 90-year old Dad, supervising and snitching grapes; he loves them right off the vine.
And these are very sweet grapes. 

My brothers and their wives, my sister and her husband, all got into the field hand mode.
Howard said he was going to get a horse and a rifle and be the overseer.
Instead, he clipped and picked along with the visiting peasants.

I missed the grape picking; I was in the kitchen getting the beef stew for dinner into the oven
and only popped out to take some pictures.

 They did a good job of getting almost all the grapes off.
We got two huge bowls of grapes, which considering you always compete
with birds in this harvest, was a pretty good haul.

 Just a few raisins left.

Then our field hands did all the sorting and stemming and washing,
and then into the house for the metamorphosis of raw fruit, to jam!

 I never claimed to be a neat jam maker.

The scent of the grapes -- raw and cooking -- was intoxicating.
This jam was made without added pectin; today I am using the second half of
the grapes, and making jelly using some pectin.

The jam was put through a Foley food mill to get rid of seeds and skins,
so it's made of the juice and the pulp of the grapes, and is thick and soft.
The jelly will just be the juice, so it will be clearer and the added pectin will make it firmer.


You have to feed the help after all their work.

A real  meal -- no Tablescape here! -- a pot of stew right from the oven, hearty veggies, bottles of wine, apple pie for dessert,
and good appetites after a day outside!

The other end of the table, with Dad at the head:

And he wastes no time tucking into his plate!

Anyway, our first family effort at grape jam making was a success.
Everyone went home with a jar, still hot.
And it was delicious at breakfast in the conservatory the next morning!

Kirby and Doris stayed overnight with us, as they live in Virginia.
They almost did not survive their night in That Old House, but that's a tale for tomorrow's post.

Coarse whole wheat toast, cream cheese and the new jam.
As you can see, it was so good I almost forgot to take a picture!

Those are my grandmother's old luncheon plates; she had grapevines
and always made jelly -- one of the reasons my Dad got such a kick out of Saturday's project.

Happy Anniversary to Howard's parents, Milt and Irene -- thanks for the good son you raised! 
And ...
Thank You to Howard's sister Phyllis for her word play that inspired the title of this post. :-)  It cracked me up!  -- Cass


  1. Grape jam is just the best! I haven't every heard of anyone else making it except my family! So it is wonderful to see your pics and read your story of the grape picking and jam making - hope you managed to get most of the seeds our or are they a seedless grape? I wish mine was! Enjoy!

  2. Hi Cass, I have my concord grapes washed and now need to run to the store and get pectin and jars, yours looks great!

  3. Hi Cass,
    That was a really fun post! And I think it's pretty clever of you to get your family members and put them to work! hehe. Your dining room is so cozy and pretty and your Dad looks great for 90!

  4. WOW, your dad looks fantastic for 90! Good genes!.. and the jam looks divine..what did you use for a recipe? Selling any? :-)

  5. I loved this post! I'll bet your guests enjoyed picking (and nibbling on) those grapes.

    I hope you don't mind. I linked your post to my PORCH AND GARDEN PARTY at

  6. How fun! Great way to get everyone involved and the jelly treat, how wonderful.

  7. What a lovely way to enjoy the harvest!


  8. Congratulations Cass, it looks positively yummy! Will you indulge one of your readers and post a pic of a row of freshly canned jars? Nothing is quite as pretty a sight in the kitchen as that!

  9. Looks like you had a great day! I'm sure everyone had fun and is enjoying their jam!

  10. What a wonderful time is looks like Everyone had and to end up with some great jam.


  11. Now that seems like a wondeful family outing to me, and in your own front yard to boot! I love how you even made them jelly to take home. Awesome!

  12. What a fun way to make jam! Glad you got the deed accomplished and you'll have a pantry full of jam and jelly for the winter!

  13. What a great way to make jam and visit with the family at the same time. They did a wonderful job. Thank you sharing them with us. Take care.

  14. What fun...I can't believe you didn't use that gorgeous tureen to serve the stew in!

  15. What a lovely weekend, Cass. Family helping with the harvest and enjoying a beautiful meal together makes it perfect.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, what fun you all had! The grape jam looks divine and all the warm memories of the day will make it even more delicious.

  17. It's good to see your Dad looking well and enjoying himself. This looks like such a nice family bonding experience. I am sure it is something you will all remember always, so sometimes it is good to ask people to work. The jam looks delicious, too. I have never tried grapes, just peaches and strawberries and figs.

  18. Thanks for the tip about the food mill for getting out the grapes seeds, I might have to give it a go this summer! and thankyou for looking and commenting on my blog.

  19. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing your day with your family - good food and good company. Your Father looks great to be 90.
    Have a great week.

  20. First time to visit your blog and WOW.... What an amazing love story (you and your old house) Beautiful!!!!!! How wise of you to put your guests / family to work!!!! and may I say that your Dad certainly does NOT look 90 years old!!!! How handsome he is!!! Thank you for sharing your lovely "old House" with us!!! Terri in Fla.

  21. Hi Cass,
    I am so glad you shared the rest of the story with us! Looks like everyone had fun with the project and at the end of the day were filled and happy. Great post!

  22. Delightful! What a beautiful day. Your daddy looks great for his age. What a blessing. I am glad you had a great time and shared with us too.

  23. Cass, Your dad is a handsome man!
    We had a grape arbor 2 houses back - and boy did it produce! I made all our jelly, grape juice. It was wonderful. The next owners of the house cut down the arbor. :(
    And thank you for your comment about the white stain on the deck railings, turning Deck to Porch. Mister and I have talked about your comment ever since. It was right on - and thanks!

  24. Wow! What a wonderful day y'all had! Your Dad looks great! I know you feel truly blessed to have had your family there...and the jam looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.
    P.S. I can't wait until tomorrow's post

  25. YUMMMMM ! Looks like a fun, productive weekend was had by all !
    thanks for sharing,

  26. Did all your helpers get a jar of jam to go home? Well they were sure fed well.

  27. sounds like ya'll had a great time together. The meal looks good and it is too bad I can not smell the jam and jelly a-cookin! Hope I remember to come back to see what happened to your over night guests!

  28. A productive day indeed.Looks like everyone had fun.


  29. What a fun time you all had together, with your dear Dad supervising his kids and checking the grapes for flavour (he is a very fine looking man).

    The jam and jelly will taste all the sweeterafter such a happy family effort to make it.

  30. is there enough jam to save some for a girl in California? :)

    love, your West-coast defector daughter

  31. Thank you for sharing your family day with all of us! It looks like so much fun! This is my first visit to your blog -- I read "A lover of books & old houses & all that go with them -- also of fabrics, yarns, cut flowers, tart juicy apples, fresh empty notebooks (oh the possibilities!), salt water, and dogs" and I wondered if I was reading my own description! LOL! So nice to "meet" you! I will be back to read more soon :-)

  32. I can almost smell the jelly, I have not made grape jelly in a long time but still remember the wonderful smell. Looks like a good time was had by all.

  33. Obviously, your 'help' had a grand time harvesting. I can 'smell' that jam now ... looks so inviting.

    Have a beautiful day ~
    TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

  34. Friends and family after a day of work and play - THE BEST tablescape there is!

  35. What fun! And that's your 90-year-old dad? He looks terrific!!


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