Skip to main content

Vino Extraordinaire

If I make a list of my favorite authors, Joanne Harris will feature in the top 5. I have read everything she has written, and with two exceptions, liked them all. Blackberry Wine, our book club's pick for this month and the second book of her food trilogy, is my favorite.

The book flips back and forth in time. Between three summers in mid-seventies that a teenaged Jay Mackintosh spent with Jackapple Joe, ex-miner and amateur gardener/winemaker who brings a little of everyday magic to Jay's life. And a time in Jay's life some 20 years later as a has-been writer who is struggling to find himself. A time when Joe enters his life again, in form of six bottles of Joe's fruit wines. Bottled memories, he calls them.

This is the happiest book Joanne has written. No, everyone in the book isn't happy all the time. But you will close the book with a very good feeling. Layman's alchemy, Joe calls it and I agree.

I cannot make wine. But the book inspired me to bottle memories. In my case, the last strawberries of the year. I made strawberry preserve.



I made this preserve not from a recipe, but inspired from my favorite brand of sugar free jams. They claim that they sweeten everything with grape juice so I thought I'd give it a shot. Zipped a cup of black seedless grapes in a blender for a few seconds, then sieved them to extract the juice. Washed a cup of strawberries and halved them. Then heated the grape juice in a pan until it came to a boil and added the strawberries. Let it cook, covered and at a low heat, until the juice almost dried and strawberries had cooked but still retained their shaped. This isn't your regular jam and we aren't looking for pulp here. I like my preserves to be chunky and not overly sweet and this is what it was. No pectin, and no preservatives. But that's because I made such a small quantity that none was required.

And other members of "This Book Makes Me Cook"?
Siri took the French route and made Savory French Breakfast Muffins.
Sweatha followed Jackapple Joe and made Crushed Potatoes.

Now on to the author who started it all. Jane Austen, with her Victorian settings and elaborate tea time rituals, was the inspiration behind This Book Makes Me Cook. And April is Jane Austen Special. You pick your favorite Austen, read it, cook from it and post your recipe on last sunday of April. If you want to join us and want to know more about the club, do leave a comment here and I will get back to you.

Comments

Aparna said…
Strawberry preserve is some inspiration, looks very nice.
True, you do have a good feeling when you're through with this book.
Grape juice as a sweetner sounds good. I shall try that.
I froze my last lot of strawberries!
Laura said…
What a great idea--the grape juice I mean. Very cool. I like my jam/preserves chunky too.

I love Jane Austen. I think my April is too busy to join you (I really must stop committing to cooking various dishes) but I will be excited to see what you make.
notyet100 said…
lovely click..:-)nd ya jane austen is one my fav author.will be waitin for the recipe,..
Vibaas said…
looks yummy. love the spoon ;-)
Bharti said…
Fresh home made jam? I can imagine how it must've tasted out of this world.
Curry Leaf said…
Preserve with a difference.Love it Simran.I was not here and could not post yesterday.If possible I will be posting today by evening.So of my scheduled posts are yet to be posted as well.
rekhas kitchen said…
beautiful color and looks delicious
workhard said…
I always wanted to try out jams, but dont know how long it would last without going bad if you dont add any preservative...

Haiku poetry

Popular posts from this blog

A Bowlful of Comfort

I have a friend who is quite the globetrotter. Lunches at her place, often right after her trips, are a treasure trove of global flavours. But the last time we met, she was just back from Tamil Nadu and out she brought a bowl of curd rice. I love curd rice and have eaten a lot of it over the years but my friend's version was so full of flavours and textures, it was a revelation. Obviously, I asked for the recipe.

The genius of this curd rice lies in adding the tempering or the tadka twice, once to mix in the rice so it absorbs all the flavours. Then you make a second batch to top the rice with just before you serve, so it adds crunch to the usually mushy dish. The recipe also has a few other elements added in for texture, freshness and flavour.

I over-ate at lunch at my friend's and I over-ate again when I made this for myself for lunch. Plus, all the ingredients you need are likely in your kitchen already so you may as well go make it now.

Ingredients
1/2 cup rice
1 cup plain…

Fruits of the Forest

I know there hasn't been a new recipe on these pages for a while. But worry not, I'm back with a real zinger. Earthy, creamy, crunchy - this is an appetizer that ticks all the right boxes. And if you happen to be a mushroom lover like me, this is the best way to eat mushrooms I've found so far. I present to you, for all your year end parties and appetizer cravings - creamy mushroom pate on toast.

Its mushroom pate two way - just on its own and panko-crumbed and fried. Both go on a crisp garlic baguette with watercress and some kewpie mayonnaise. Here's the recipe.

Ingredients
Crunchy garlic butter toasts (I buy them as is, but you can also slice and toast baguettes)
200 grams button mushrooms
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
kewpie mayonnaise (or regular mayonnaise)
watercress or micro herbs
salt and black pepper to taste
oil for deep frying

First, make mushroom pate. Y…

The Living Roots Trek

I met Wesley at noon on a sunny day in May at the entrance to Tyrna village. The meeting had been three months in the making. Back in February, I had seen the pictures a friend posted from a trekking trip to Meghalaya. I'd been so taken in by the double decker living roots bridge that I immediately called Chalohoppo, the travel company she had gone with, and booked a trip for myself.

I'm not a trekker which means that instead of the rugged trip my friend had taken, I had arrived at a compromise. We will start the trip with the trek and then spend the rest of our stay in Meghalaya at a nice lakeside resort just outside Shillong. Which means that the day before I met Wesley, I'd landed in Guwahati and been met at the airport by a friendly Chalohoppo driver for a four hour drive to Cherrapunjee.

On arriving at the Sai Mika resort, nestled in the middle of mountains, I called the number I'd been given and was greeted by a friendly, enthusiastic voice of our guide for the tre…