28 April 2009
JILL STONE'S WILD RIDE...
Remember Disney World's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? They shut it down a few years back, but I love to refer to my days spent with my friend as Jill Stone's Wild Ride. Jill likes to get together and do projects--usually baking, but they vary. For a couple of weeks she has been talking about making marmalade together at her house. For whatever reason we always end up in my kitchen.
We start this ride out by planning to get together at her house because she also wanted to discuss paint options for a guest room re-do and the finishing touches on another guest room. I had to cancel last Thursday as I extended my time in Michigan. So, today Jill comes to my house between a hair appointment and meeting with her mother's doctors. That's the thing with Jill--you always see her between other appointments and events as she double books and is most energized when she has 3 or 4 things to do each day.
Interestingly, Jill found her inspiration for the orange marmalade on the sale table at Williams Sonoma--a can of Seville orange marmalade base (for want of a better descriptive word) that originally retailed for over $12, but was on sale for just over $3.00. She comes in laughing as the recipe calls for 4 pounds of sugar and she is baffled about how to measure that amount. I pull at my handy-dandy culinary scale and we quickly dispatch the 4 lbs.
The instructions say to measure 3/4 pint of water and dump that and the canned orange mixture into an 8 quart sauce pan, add the sugar, and stir over a medium high heat until it boils. You continue to boil for 15 minutes, and then there is a set-up test where you put a teaspoon of marmalade onto a cool plate, refrigerate it for 2 minutes, and drag your finger across the jam. If it wrinkles, then the marmalade is ready. We get ours right the first time and it is time to decant.
Jill has gathered an assortment of baby food jars from her one-year old (yesterday) grandson, which I clean and warm while she is stirring. She begins dispensing into the jars, and I prepare some additional jam jars that CA has kindly picked up for us at Ace Hardware a few minutes prior. During the stirring I also shop in my basement and bring upstairs these adorable jam lids that I purchased many years ago and some personaliz-able labels cut in an oval shape just made to fit into the flat oval on each jam jar. We end up with 7 baby food jars, 5 1/2 pint jam jars, and a bit of overage in a French jelly jar glass for immediate consumption.
Jill has visions of decorating the lids of her baby food jars in some creative way and has brought along some baby grape hyacinth and violets, along with some elongated baby pine cones, and some decorative papers. I head downstairs again to get the assortment of papers and scrapbooking materials that RvH bequeathed to me a couple years ago after she completed a birthday project for another friend.
Jill has the best time sorting through and finds some bright pink (her favorite color) and red stripes and prints and dots that I measure and cut into large circles. I fit the circles over the top of a baby food jar and use a second jar lid to help pleat and form the decorative doily. Then, Jill glues a button on one, a silk rose on one, some pine shoots and a tiny pine cone on another. She goes a bit crazy with the adhesive paper ribbons, and we work together to tie organdy ribbons around the paper doilies to secure them.
I opt for two of the jam jars topped with the blue and yellow plaid, very French-look Ball jar lids and rings on mine. Jill goes for some grapes and one plaid lid for her three 1/2 pint jars. This recipe makes a bunch of marmalade!
In the midst of finishing up the marmalade and decorating the jars, Jill is determined to make a batch of shortbread for her meeting with her mom's doctors. Mind you, it is after 2:15 when the cookies go into the oven and the appointment is at 3:00pm. Like I said--Jill loves the frenetic energy of double booking. We quickly load up her jams and the still hot pans of shortbread into a carrying box. I include a spatula to cut the shortbread and two floral plates to serve the cookies on when she gets to her meeting.
FYI--I have a batch of Monster cookies in tins in my kitchen that were created for the re-shoot of my business card photo and offer them to Jill, but she is set on making the shortbread...
At 3:00pm I finish cleaning up the kitchen and fall into my cushy, leather recliner with a good book (still sTori Telling) and my favorite fleece blanket. And, here I sit, wallow, and sleep until after 4:30pm.
CA has a couple of soccer games tonight, so I treat myself to a grilled Bari Italian beef and Havarti sandwich grilled on Brownberry Oatnut bread (my fav) in front of junk t.v. I'm watching a combination of HGTV, Bravo Real Housewives of NY, and FoodTV. My tummy is full and I am beginning to regroup. Didn't make it out of the house again today--will have to get to Kohl's soon to finish the Europe shopping.