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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Making Of Jelly 1-2-3, And Late Night Terrors At That Old House


It may be a leftover fear from when we were children -- when we believed there might be monsters under the bed or in the closet at night, waiting to pounce! -- but even as grownups we fear things that go BUMP in the night.

And something certainly went BUMP on Saturday night in our guest room.

Curious?  Good!  But before I tell you what happened,
I'm going to finish the story of The Great Grape Caper.

On Saturday, we had company, and they graciously agreed to cut the grapes from our vine,
and prepare them for jam.  Story here.  Story over?  Not yet.

Saturday's jam session only used half of the harvest, so on Sunday I began the alchemy that would turn those grapes into old fashioned grape jelly.  I cooked the fruit, crushed it, and strained it through cheesecloth to extract just the juice.  Then on Monday . . . well, let's let pictures tell the story:

The clear juice is boiled, and you dump in pectin to aid in thickening.

You measure out 5 cups of the strained grape juice.
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. . . .
 The juice and pectin need to come to a full rolling boil -- meaning a boil you can't discourage with stirring.
And that's the point you dump in 7 cups of sugar and begin stirring.  And stirring.  And watch what happens!

Once the sugar is in, and the mix is back to boiling its little self silly, you time it for one minute.

And you get slightly panicky as the roiling, foaming concoction approaches boil-over stage.  Boil-over stage doesn't seem like a good place to be with ultra hot liquid.  But at that point, you have hit that magic minute mark, the heat gets turned off, the stuff settles back, and you breathe again.
You fill your hot, clean jars with hot, clean jelly.
And top them with boiled caps.
 And then you step back and admire your handiwork. 

And wonder why you bought such itty-bitty jars. 
Because there is more jelly than jars, which results in this:

An enormous Dollar Tree beer stein full of jelly.  
And how many people can boast of that?

Mmmm . . . this is good stuff, if I do say so myself.
However, now we have more jelly and jam than Howard and I will ever be able to use.
I think we need to share; more on that another day.

The difference between the jam we made Saturday, and yesterday's jelly, is
that the jam includes not just the juice, but the pulp from the grapes.  It is thicker, softer, and I made that batch without added pectin.  I love both the jam and the jelly, but if I were going to be shipwrecked on a desert island, I'd take along the jam.   Pure grape heaven.
Now. . . back to things that go BUMP in the night!

My brother Kirby and his wife Doris now live in Virginia, so they stayed overnight with us after our family gathering
on Saturday.  They've stayed before the Pink Room, and settled in for a nice long snooze.

Please excuse Naked Bed.
 This big four-poster bed is a good place for a nice long snooze.

Most nights.

Not Saturday night.

On Saturday night, in the wee small hours, the bed frame parted ways with one of its rails,
and down crashed the mattress and box spring . . . and Kirby and Doris.

Howard and I were awakened by a knocking on our door.
(Yes, the deafening crash itself didn't wake us!)
Doris stood outside, in the hall.  "Umm. . . the bed fell down," she calmly announced.  

The bed fell down?  The bed fell down?

Thank goodness we have another guest room. So my brother and his wife grabbed their pillows,
and toddled down the hallway like two Wee Willie Winkies, settling into another vintage bed. 

Much older than the one that fell down.

Another naked bed, sorry!
I remembered to warn them that the old bed in the yellow room creaks.  A lot.
But it won't fall down.
And it didn't.

What went wrong with the other bed?
Well, for some reason the manufacturer thought that little metal pins would hold the side rails
in the metal hangers that hook into the posts.
And they did.
Until they didn't.
The little pins had been wiggling their way to freedom for 2-plus years, and Saturday night they made a break for it.

On Sunday, Howard bought bolts, and now the corners of the bed sport these:

Not gorgeous, but this bed is not going walkabout in the middle of the night ever again.
This bed was a fabulous Craigslist bargain, bought 2 years ago.
Sometimes when you are a fan of vintage furniture, it takes a little tweaking to get it right!

Safe again for a  nice long snooze.
Once I put the linens and blankets back on.

One more thing to share.
When I went into the Yellow Room to take a picture of that bed, I couldn't resist taking
a shot out one of its windows, to the stairs, driveway, and grape arbor below:

Okay, so not so spectacular, but then I cropped the picture to show you this:
That's the grape vine out there but that's not the fun part.
The fun part is the glass in this pane.
Do you see how it sags?  It's old glass, and old glass -- which is made of sand -- can bubble and sag over the years,
and this pane is one of my favorites here.  It's hard to photograph the wavy glass;
I hope you can see the swoops and wiggles.  I just love them.
Clicking on the picture enlarges it -- click again to enlarge it more -- and you can see the wiggles pretty well..

I wouldn't want a windshield made of that glass for my car but in my house. . . it's lovely.

Ack!  It's nearly 8pm and I'm just putting this post up.  Procrastination -- my besetting sin.  -- Cass


  1. I love the wavey glass.. I love the old beds, even naked! I WANT SOME OF THAT JAM!!! :-)

  2. Cass, you and I feel the same way about glass; I have some stained glass pieces I cannot bear to cut for projects because of their character! What a great storyteller you are, kept me on the edge of my seat. And any time you have extra jam or jelly left, you can send it my way, looks delicious!

  3. Thank you so much for visiting me and for being a follower. I am now a follower of you because I love your house and love your stories. I have a sampler in one of my guest rooms about "things that go bump in the night" and love it!
    Also, we moved from Morris Plains, NJ to the shore 12 years ago, so we are Morris County people, too! Love it there and still go all the time-I'm going on thurs. this week to visit my friend! There's nothing like the old houses up there!

  4. I love the look of old wavy glass! I love the Nake Bed too; even if it did decide to fall apart in the middle of the night! LOL!

    The jelly looks yummy-yummy...and I'm with you about preferring jam to jelly, if I had to choose!

  5. It is very pretty glass panes Cass! It's full of character and charm.

    The bed story was great and made me smile. I'm glad your had another room for them.

    Yummy jam! Mmmmm...I like jam better too.
    Happy Fall! ~Melissa :)

  6. I had a feeling you were going to say the bed fell! :D I have had it to happen twice - same bed. Love the old glass window. I also agree about the jam.

  7. Doris and Kirby had a real adventure at The Old House--your description of Doris telling you about the bed just cracked me up.
    Glad everyone is ok.


  8. We had a bed that did that as well -- just goes to prove that they don't make them like they used to!!!! Your jam making reminds me of my childhood -- I grew up on grape jam and jelly -- we had an old old concord grape vine where we lived and that was the only jam/jelly we ever had -- why buy it when you had such a supply on hand!

  9. Love the glass in the pane - the swoop is perfect. Oh, that bed story had my laughing! Thank goodness it was family...and that all is okay.

    I admire you for making jam. I've never tried that before, do you believe it?


  10. Whoops - should be 'had me laughing.'

  11. Cass, I am SO jealous of the grape vines- I have to buy them to make jelly which ends up costing 29 times the cost of the supermarket kind (but there's no fun in that, is there?). I think we had the cousin to your bed. Our crash actually happened in the middle of the day while my pooch was snoozing on it (he wasn't supposed to be, so the fright he got was sort of deserved). We did the matching bolts :)
    xoxo Pattie

  12. I love YOUR HOUSE!!! When was it built and is the style Victorian, Mission, Craftsman????
    I am your new follower. I do not have a blog, I enjoy reading.

  13. Your jelly looks wonderful and the story about the bed falling is pretty hilarious. That's one to be repeated at future family gatherings, I'm sure.



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