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Friday, September 17, 2010

In A Jam -- I Need Your Foodie Help!

Is it rude to ask guests to do some work?

I don't mean asking them to put the napkins around the table,
or even to peel the potatoes.
I mean asking them to work as farmhands and kitchen grunts.

Would that be rude?

My siblings, their spouses, and my Dad are gathering at That Old House on Saturday for lunch and dinner,
with a lot of chit-chat and visiting sandwiched in between the noontime pizza, and the dinnertime beef stew and apple pie.
And I'm thinking, hey . . . that's about 18 hands that I could put to good use pulling these babies off their vines.

(About 18 hands? I think I mean exactly 18 hands, at last count.)

Our grapes, which have lived at That Old House for many generations and continue to
produce heavily despite absolutely no care on our part, are ready for the picking.
And this year, I'm going to try my hand at making this:
Grape jam. Grape jam that is ambrosial, and denies any relationship to the stuff we buy in the supermarket.
This grape jam was made last year by our neighbor, Ellen, from our grapes. We were in California when the grapes were fully ripened.
Here's the thing: last time I made jam, it was peach, it was almost 20 years ago, it was in Seattle,
and it was in my sister-in-law Phyllis' kitchen on Mercer Island, and we collaborated.

So, I think that sets up precedent for jam-making being a family effort, don't you?

 Mmmm...  a nice slice of good bread, some natural peanut butter, and fabulous grape jam for breakfast.  

However. . .
I don't have a jam recipe.
I am hoping one of you Foodies out there can help me out with a recipe 
that isn't too scary and -- if possible -- is also foolproof.
Meaning, a fool like me can successfully do it.

I'm going to buy those cute little canning jars at the hardware store today.
I think they work better than Zip-loc bags for jam.


Ripe grapes,  

pink Sedum,

fresh apples from the local orchard,

and a bit of Autumn decor creeping into That Old House, next to the TV . . . . it's goodbye to summer.

I'm linking to 3 parties today:

I'm hoping someone at Michael Lee West's Foodie Friday party can steer me to a good jam recipe that doesn't require a degree in chemistry and lots of scary procedures involving hot jam and boiling water. Designs By Gollum ... click here!

One of the things I always find beauty in, is our crazy happy overgrown grapevine.
I'm joining Claudia at Dipity Road for Finding Beauty Friday. Here!

And it's Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie's gorgeous flower-filled blog.
You know how the Moon is made of Green Cheese?
Well, this lady's made of Green Thumb! Here!

Have a lovely weekend! -- Cass


  1. Yum! Can't help you with a recipe, but can't wait to hear more about how this venture (adventure?) turned out. And yea, I say it's cool to put 'em to work. I'm sure they'll have no problem reaping the benefits.

  2. Beautiful images...good luck with the jam. I think it's grand that you put everyone to work.....perhaps you could save some and have a grape stomping. :o) That could be crazy fun.

  3. Cass..
    Yes.. ask them to join the FUN of harvesting the grapes..they can also join in the FUN of making the jam.. and take some back home with them as a reward for their hard work!..
    as for the recipe which worked best for me..
    I used the one which came with the Sure Jell or Certo.. made excellent jam!!
    or .. if you liked the sample from the neighbor, invite her to help pick adding two more hands, ask for her recipe with an opportunity to SHOW you her technique for making the tasty stuff..
    plus give her some grapes for her efforts!!
    I'd love a jar myself as I no longer have grapevines of my own..
    warm sandy hugs..

  4. Sorry - I am of no help on making jam, but homemade grape jam sounds so good. I watched and helped my Mother and relatives can all kinds of things when growing up, but have never canned myself. I have done a lot of freezing tho. Looking forward to hearing how you grape picking, jam making party turns out. :-D
    Have a great weekend.

  5. When I was growing up we had a concord grape vine -- a huge old one -- and my mother made grape jam but it was unlike any I've ever eaten -- because it still had some skin in it. I asked her about it and she said something about the Kerr booklet. So I'm not sure but I do remember it was THE BEST!

  6. Your party sounds like it is going to be fun! I think if a few people help you out with the grapes, more will join in. Promise them a jar of jam!! I don't have a recipe, but I'll be happy to taste taste yours!! ;-D


  7. Making your own jam from your very own grapes....I know someone will share a great recipe. It won't, however, be me! I can just barely manage to open the jar I buy at the store! Make my own? HAAHAHAHAHA!

    Isn't Kerr the name of the company that makes Mason jars? I don't know why I would know that though, so it may not be so.

    Hmmmm....not much help, am I???

  8. Have always wanted to make jam. I have a friend who makes it to PERFECTION. I took a picture almost exactly like yours this morning during breakfast which I hope to share soon. I made my old favorite, banana bread, and had some for breakfast with coffee. As I did, I thought it would make a great picture and now I see yours and see I'm not alone. Enjoy your time with family tomorrow.

  9. A grape pickin' party-sounds like fun! I've made it a few times, I used the BHG cook book and no pectin method, great results and not so great results! (Grape syrup anyone?) So, if you want fool-proof, I suggest getting a couple boxes of Sure-Jell or something similar and following those directions. If you're up to experimenting without it I hope you have a good thermometer! But above all else-have fun:@)

  10. Great idea....I don't make that kind of jam....just apple butter. Hope you find a nice recipe.

  11. I have never made grape jam, but I would gladdly help if I was visiting. In fact when I was a t a friend's a saw a bushel of apples in her kitchen and asked her what she was going to make. She said applesauce (which I know how to make) and I asked if she wanted to continue our chat while working. She was surprised at my offer, but readily took me up on it. :-) I hope you have a lovely visit!

  12. Cass, I'm sorry I'm not help to you. Last time I made jam it was orange marmalade and it didn't firm up. It was a runny mess. I don't think you want any advice from me. ;-)
    Good luck! I know you'll have lots of help. Have fun.~ Sarah

  13. Hhmm I can just imagine how delicious that homemade jam would taste, especially on a scone.
    Beautiful pictures of those Sedum and apples, the colors are awesome.
    Good luck with your venture !

  14. How blessed are you! I can't help you with a recipe but they are abundant online so you should make out just fine!

  15. I don't have a jam recipe, but I googled and there are many out there!... Cass, I'de love to buy two jars of what you finally create!!!... but I'm sure you and your guests will want to savor your work over the months ahead. What a great idea, a great day to spend together!....

    I'm serious about the jars :-)

  16. I have never made jam, but home made it always the best. Good-luck.

  17. Dear Cass, I am a day late and a $1.00 short as usual, lol some of the best recipes are on the net... I have made jam/jelly before and it has always turned out well, in fact my neighbor down the block just told me to come and pick all the grapes I could handle, so you gave me a great idea about making the jam. I have been a little negligent as of late as I had a face lift! lol really I did. OMG! I seriously look 20 years younger, now I am only 200 years old.

  18. Hi Cass!

    Well I can help, I will be the official taster. It is a God given talent I have, eating! I think putting everyone to work ill be a fun day for all. And create some great memories!

  19. I say put them to work and promise them some jam! No recipe from me but someone will have one! Gorgeous grapes! Ya'll have fun now!

  20. Get 'em in there working!
    Maybe if you have enough they can have
    a jar too.
    Have fun--can't wait to see how everything goes.


  21. Wow! I would love to help you and have some of that yummy stuff, Cass. Beautiful photos!...Christine

  22. Anyone who is lucky enough to come to your house for dinner should be happy to help! Because I'm betting that not only will dinner be wonderful, but that you would naturally share the "fruit" of your labor!
    I dont have any recipes...have only made blackberry jam because it doesnt have to be strained. Have fun, I bet it will be lovely and delicious!

  23. Oh I think this is such a cool post and idea.

    Here's what I would do... I can imagine everyone is soooo happy to be together that I would say... "ok for todays fun and festivities, we are all going to take these baskets (or bowls or sacks...what ever could hold these yummy things) and have a bit of a contest. who could fill the most!

    Then the winner will get 2 jars of your wonderful bounty. (or what ever you might think would be a fun reward)

    I bet they will have a blast and you will have it complete in no time flat. (guys are always up for a contest!)

    I am so tickled you joined with us and shared. Let us know what you did ...ok?


  24. Hi Cass,
    I have no idea how to make grape jam, sorry. I think you should just go with the whole grape party theme though and tell your guests to make sure to bring their favorite recipe to be entered for a door prize, which could be a jar of jam after you get done! Hope you have a "grape" time! Ha, I sooo amuse myself!

  25. No grape recipes here, but I'll be watching the responses as we've just planted vines this year.
    Of course you should put that many family members to work! I maintain that people LIKE to be needed!


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