Yesterday’s jam class went well. I didn’t teach the class, just assisted; it’s always a pleasure to see how someone else handles the pedagogy. We covered making all manner of jellies and jams with frozen fruit, and the class was delightful. It was small, but quite frankly, I’m not sure we could have handled more people without a significant redesign and much more help. The biggest hits were the long-cooked gooseberry preserves, which cook up dark pink even though the berry is green, and the strawberry freezer jam. I’ll definitely be adding gooseberries to my 2009 jam catalog at Cannery Eugenius. And I learned a couple of new tricks: placing the lids in the simmering pan back-to-front so they don’t stick together, drying one’s rings in the oven at a low temp to inhibit rusting, and making reuben sandwiches in a crock pot.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…and I’m speaking as a bargain-hunter and an educator here, not a cheerleader for the Master Food Preserver Program. If you have any desire to learn food preservation, you’ll take one of these MFP classes. The prices are way too cheap for the quality of education, resources, and product you get. The jam course cost $25, provided 5 hours of instruction, lunch of entirely homemade ingredients from the mustard to the bread, a packet of researched recipes and tips on different techniques, and six half-pints of jam/jelly. The jam alone would have cost you $30 at the store.
You can download a registration form for upcoming MFP classes here. I’m particularly interested in the three-part bread series in February, but the soup class and gluten-free cookery seem great, too.
After the class, I had to hustle to prepare the yellow-eye bean and tuna salad I had promised for the evening gathering. A recipe will follow, since this week is bean week here at Culinaria Eugenius.
I paused a moment to flip through a book I’ve been wanting for years, The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware by Suzanne von Drachenfels, that had just arrived from a remainder sale at Daedalus Books. The pictures of forks alone made me drool.
But there is no rest for the forkéd. On the road, I stopped by a friend’s house to pick up some errant grapefruits, and I arrived just in time for an apéritif of vin de noix, a fortified wine steeped with green walnuts. Delicious. We examined beans, discussed important Italian seed matters and range venting, and ate gloriously yummy nibbles. N.b.: Celeriac is in season — I saw some amazing specimens at Sundance this week, and the salad we ate confirmed the time is now. I somehow managed to leave the gathering with my pockets stuffed full of borlotto lamon beans and home-cured pancetta. Am I lucky to have such friends, or what?
Came home, reintroduced myself to my husband, was set-upon by cats, and caught up on email. Some time around 11 p.m., I woke up eating pizza in bed. I’m not sure how that happened.
And then the world went black.