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

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.
CurryLeaf 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.
Unknown 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

Healthy Spinach Rice for Microwave Potluck Party

Is it really two years that Srivalli has been running her innovative microwave cooking event. She's prompted me to try my microwave for more than just heating several times. Just like last year, Srivalli celebrates the event anniversary with a potluck party. I took a dessert to the party last time around, but this time I was rooting for something healthier. I turned to last year's roundup, and there was this spinach rice. Valli, hope you don't mind getting the same dish on the menu again.

To make spinach rice, wash and soak 1/2 cup rice. In a microwave safe dish, heat a tsp of ghee for 30 seconds. Add 5-6 peppercorns and heat for another 10 seconds. Now add a small onion, chopped finely and microwave for another 30 seconds. Add a cup of finely chopped spinach, 1/2 a tsp of garam masala and another 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Add rice to the bowl, and a cup of water then pop it back in the microwave for 5 minutes. Bring it out and…

The Bread Whisperer

What do an electrical engineer, a monk and an IT trainer have in common? These are all the things Abhilash was before he turned his attention to bread baking. Not the one to pick an easy path, Abhilash started with the most temperamental of breads - the sourdough - as his baking adventure. At first, he was baking these loaves for himself. Accolades from friends and family quickly followed and much to the delight of this writer, he turned his passion into a full time career six months back.

For the uninitiated, a sourdough bread is made by fermenting the dough with naturally occurring yeast, making it harder to perfect than the bread made with commercial yeast. The bread's signature tang and the open crumb, with lots of holes, is only made better with a high hydration dough that is super tricky to master. While extremely popular around the world, good sourdough is an elusive commodity in Mumbai and there are only a handful of bakers I would trust when I am looking for bread.

Thoro…

Mystery Fruit

This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old.

That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit.

Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fruit. It…