Make New Habits, but Keep the Old
June 5, 2008
I have what one might call a slight magazine problem. I like them. A lot. Too much, really. I suppose it’s not that surprising, seeing as though I was a journalism major in college, with a magazine concentration. The food magazine problem, in particular, has gotten a little out of hand. There are piles of them all over our place, bookmarked, dogeared, stained and all around loved. (It must run in the family: my parents have a collection of back issues of Gourmet that makes my knees go weak.) I have a kind of ritual for savoring my food magazines: I like to read them cover to cover, getting lost in menus and grocery lists and serious armchair cooking along the way.
But I’ve made an exception to this tried-and-true routine lately for Bon Appetit. For the past few months, I do not pass go, I proceed directly to the column authored by Orangette‘s Molly Wizenberg. Without fail, I’m transported by her story and convinced to make something—a savory souffle, fresh mayonnaise, homemade sausage patties—that I had never before dreamed or dared to make. Like clockwork, it happened again this month. Molly spun a story that had me determined to make jam.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
I should probably mention that I don’t even really like jam. The door of our refrigerator is jam (ha)-packed, but there is nary a jar of jam or jelly or preserves or the like. So I was a little apprehensive about making several jarfuls of jam, thinking I’d be eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead, I planned to use my jam—strawberry-rhubarb flavored—in another recipe (more on that tomorrow!). Really, I just kind of wanted to make the jam.
And the making part was so fun: the slowly macerating fruit, the frothy pink pot of stewing fruit, the play-with-your-food test to ensure the jam had gelled. It all felt a little Frontier Woman, too, like I was getting ready to stock the larder (even though I completely didn’t even attempt the whole canning business). But I expected all this. I didn’t expect to fall head over heals in love with the jam itself. Let’s just say that I had to tap into my will power reserves to make sure I saved the cup and a half of jam for its original purpose (tomorrow, tomorrow: I promise). I’m now officially a jam lover and I can’t wait to see what Molly’s got up her sleeve next month. I foresee a new jam habit accompanying my old magazine habit.
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg via Bon Appetit
1 16-ounce container strawberries, trimmed and chopped
3 to 4 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Put 2 saucers in freezer.
Transfer fruit mixture to large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Mash to thick puree with potato masher.* Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until mixture begins to thicken, stirring often, about 18 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat to test jam for gelling point. Drop 1 teaspoonful jam on chilled saucer and return to freezer 1 minute. Remove saucer and push edge of jam with fingertip. If jam has properly gelled, surface will gently wrinkle. If not, return saucepan to heat and cook jam a few minutes longer; repeat test.
Ladle the hot jam into clean jars, and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.**
* I used my immersion blender here, as the rhubarb didn’t seem to yield to the masher.
** Good luck with making it last two weeks. You’ll see.