The Common Creative

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Autumn Pear + Ginger Jam with Cinnamon

I've finally embraced all things autumn just in time for everything to change to holiday mode...but our house has been filled with spicy scents and warm food. And I may be a bit late on the preserve season, but I've been making big batches of anything and everything lately. I don't generally can things (yet), but when I do have a bigger-than-a-postage-stamp kitchen, I plan to. Until then, I'm ok to stick to freezer preserves and this is a great jam to can or throw into the freezer for later.
Now, I don't know if this was all that much cheaper than buying a jar of jam in the store, but I'm sure it could be if you put effort into finding a good price on pears. I happen to live down the road from a Safeway and don't often have a car to drive elsewhere, so sometimes buying expensive is my only choice! I'm ok with that, though, because this was tastier than any pre-canned item I could have bought. In fact, I may have eaten a little by the spoonful. So warm, so spicy, so sweet, so delicious. 
Autumn Pear + Ginger Jam
with Cinnamon
adapted slightly from A Baker's House

3 lbs pears, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 8-10)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup brown or golden sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large pot or crockpot combine the pears, ginger, sugar lemon juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the jam for 15-20 minutes until thickened (If using a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours). Mash with potato masher or puree with immersion blender for a smoother texture. If the mixture looks thin, keep in mind that it will thicken upon cooling. 

Using a ladle, spoon into 3 small jars leaving 1/4"head room, cover and place in the freezer. (Or eat a jar by the spoonful!)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Imaginary House: Strolling Through Connecticut

Do you ever imagine living somewhere else? I've been known to imagine a lot and my most vivid imaginations begin with looking at a house. Houses have so much character. I feel that each one has a story to tell, especially if it's had years worth of history. So when I go on walks, I like to walk through neighbourhoods. I like to see the places where people have lived or are living and imagine what life inside them must be like. The mysterious going-on's inside a place intrigue me and entice me to dream. 

This house is not one I've seen on any of my walks, but I was intrigued nonetheless, especially with the surrounding fall colours. I imagine this to be on the east coast where the beauty of autumn must overwhelm. If I lived here, I would stroll through these grounds, maybe jump in a pile of leaves when no one is watching. And this is how I would live in my home: 
1. I'd invite the ladies over and we'd drink tea and chat on my plush lavender couch. 2. For larger social gatherings, we'd make sure to set the table with our finest gold silverware. 3. Our home would be adorned with the loveliest of paintings to look at. This one would go well with my purple settee. And of course, I'd have a whole collection of art, because that's what I would do- collect art. 4. My wardrobe would be filled with fine and dainty pieces of clothing including this perfectly pressed bow shirt.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A New Gardener

I wouldn't saw I'm an avid gardener. But if my mom passed on one thing to me (or twenty), it would be the love for growing things. 
This year, I did a little 'apartment' gardening. I grew one pot of various herbs, a giant pot of cherry tomatoes, and a few flower pots. 

It's a little bittersweet to rip out all these plants at the end of the year. The ones I've struggled to keep from dying for the four and a half months that growing season is. But, I got a tiny little harvest, and I'm here to share my successes! And a few of the failures too. 

I tried to keep all the tags in the pots when I planted them, because that's way more helpful to remember my favourites at the end of the season. Of course, I lost all the flower tags, but the herb pot tags stayed put! Here's how growing went:

1. Lemon Cherry Tomatoes: If you want a super sweet and delicious fast growing tomato, go for this one! They turn a beautiful golden colour, and literally taste like candy. I was a little lenient in my watering diligence, but overall, it was a healthy plant, and got me about 20-30 tiny, sweet tomatoes.

2. Mint and Basil: Both grew really well beside each other in a pot! I used the basil the most, picking it as I needed for pesto, seasoning, and baking. Both of these grew back really quickly after being picked. 

3. Dill and Cilantro: I love both of these herbs, and they grew super quickly. And super tall! I first used these herbs early in the year, and they died shortly after. But were nice while they lasted! 

4. Rosemary: My lovely little rosemary plant also didn't really grow, but it was sparingly used. And stayed alive! 

 5. Lavender: I saw this at the greenhouse and decided to try and grow it, inspired by Jenni (It was one of her wedding flowers! So pretty). I'm sorry to report that it didn't really all. But it stayed alive!

As much as I don't remember which blooms I half-kept alive this year, I do know that my dusty miller leafy green flourished! I had it in two different pots, and it always looked healthy. This pretty leaf was in my wedding bouquet last year, so I was happy to see it grow well. Jenni, maybe lavender will grow for you instead?

My favourite bloom was this little guy. Name that flower? Mom?

How does your garden grow?
 Hope you all are having a wonderful thanksgiving weekend!