2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Tres Cosmopolitan


So yesterday, I brought a map of the world to the Bellevue Farmers Market. When I had a customer with an accent, I asked them to sign my map. The results, in 5 hours of market, 2 from China, one from Turkey, 2 from India, one each from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and several from Canada. This doesn’t count the Cambodian and Vietnamese flower vendors, the Croatian who sells pastry and the Italian pasta guy.

Tres  comospolitan.

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Short cake for grownups

When I was a kid, my mom always ruined strawberries by getting them home, slicing them up and then adding sugar. Only when I was an adult did I learn that the fancy french word for this is ‘macerating’ and it draws the juice out of the berries. At any event, I had some strawberries in my icebox that looked a little tired, I was hungry for sweets, and I ended up with a shortcake-like wonderful desert.

First, I macerated the strawberries, not in sugar, but with a couple of spoonfuls of Strawberry Jam with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar. Second, I heated up a buttermilk biscuit I got from Honest Biscuits at the Queen Anne Farmers Market. I spread that biscuit with some goat cheese from Little Brown Farm, and draped the berries over the top. Wonderful, wonderful.

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How to use your jam — a short illustrated lesson

So last weekend at the Market I seemed to have a lot of conversations that started with “how would you use that?” as bewildered customers looked at a jar of chutney. A large number of questions centered around the pomegranate jelly. So I got home and decided to make a jam oriented dinner.

First I made a nice salad  dressing with Red Pepper Jelly. My Red Pepper Jelly is not very spicy, so I used a spoonful in some olive oil, added some Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and sherry vinegar. You could use red wine vinegar for a better color. The result — a nice salad to start off my diner.

For the main course, I had a great boneless lamb chop. Grilled up nice and pink in the middle and served with Crabapple Jelly with Mint and Black Pepper. Not to be proud, but this is an excellent mint jelly, with no artificial green color.

And to use the pomegranate jelly, I made first a fruit tart, which I glazed with a the jelly. The fruit tart had a pate brisee base, pastry cream, and some out of season berries.

To glaze the tart, I first put some jelly in the microwave for a few seconds and then brushed it on.

Second, I made a pound cake, and glazed the top with the Pomegranate Jelly.

I found this didn’t have enough pomegranate flavor, so I toasted a piece of the pound cake and spread it with the jelly.

All very delicious.

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Marmalade Cocktail?

A recent blog entry on ways to use your marmlade includes a referrence to a recipe for a marmalade cocktail. It’s just whisky, water and sweetened with a tad of marmalade. It reminds me of a Manhatten and if I drank I’d try it.

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Kumquat Chutney and a shout-out.

Well, Tigress, whom I greatly admire, posted about a chutney made of kumquats. I was intrigued for a few different reasons — the spicing was different than I usually use, it used kumquats, and it introduced the sichuan pepper. The sichuan pepper turns out not to be a real pepper, but one of the many things humans apparently eat to give themselves a thrill. I had never tried it so I went and got some.

These little suckers have a numbing effect on your mouth, which is really quite pleasant. The saleslady at the store stated they lose their tingle when cooked but I didn’t find that.

I chopped up some kumquats —

and made up the chutney. I had a leftover pork chop which I served with it and it was terrific.

I got the peppercorns from World Spice Merchants, a local spice shop. This shop has everything. You can lookat and smell each spice, and I bought those peppers and some true cinnamon for less than $5.

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How do I get my ideas?


I’m often asked at the market “where do you get your ideas?’.  I’m going to try to ‘splain’ it to you, as this week was typical.

Let’s start with the fact that late winter isn’t a great time to be making jam. The only local fresh fruit available is apples and pears, and I’m pretty well stocked up on those items. Wintertime fruit that I like include tangerines and Meyer lemons, and I just made a lot of tangerine marmalade, and the lemon, while excellent, is expensive and time-consuming.  So two weeks ago, I was out of ideas.

I first decided to make some more Meyer lemon, as some customers had asked for it. (Those pesky customers).  But then I was talking to Jaime of Los Agaves Mexican food  and he went on about how I should make something with tequila. Now I haven’t taken a drink in a generation, but I remember that I disliked tequila, but I started thinking about rum. Pineapple is available, and so my first idea was pineapple with rum. More thinking, and I added vanilla. Looking in a couple of cookbooks, there was a recipe for pina colada jelly, and I’ve got another good idea. So I went and bought a small bottle of Meyer’s Rum. While I was shopping for the pineapple, there was a sale on organic red peppers, so I got a bunch of those as well.  Now I’m also making red pepper jelly.

Finally, I’m putting the peppers away and I notice that I have a quart of pomegranate juice that I got in trade for some jam. I don’t drink much juice, so it’s going to be jelly as well.

The results of my thinking: Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Red Pepper Jelly, Pineapple with Rum and Vanilla Bean, Pina Colada Jelly, Pomegranate Jelly.  And now you know too much about how my mind works.  Next week, chutney from a recipe I stole from Tigress’s blog – kumquat, date and 5 spices.

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Meyer Lemon Wonderful

So this morning I was making Meyer Lemon Marmalade, and I had a small moment and reminder of why I like this business. There is no activity as olfactory enjoyable as zesting ripe, fragrant Meyer Lemons.  It’s right up there with fooling around in boats.



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The year in review —

This is a nice picture I found on the web, entitled ‘Taking Stock’ and I’m just doing that for the year 2011. I thought I might share a few facts and factoids. First, the production numbers — I made a little more than 3500 jars of jam in 2011, and in more than 90 different varieties. I sold in four different markets and in a number of private sales.

I don’t have good records but the most popular jams were the pie cherry, strawberry rhubarb, strawberry with basil and balsamic vinegar and the red pepper jelly. I particularly liked the nectarine with basil and lemon, the apple, lemon and honey, the meyer lemon and Murcott Tangerine marmalades — oh hell, I liked them all. I enjoyed working with fruits new to me — quince and crabapple were both great. My best invention was the fig with date, lemon and espresso.

I enjoyed working with my Farmer’s Market pals — Craig from Tandoozi, Susan the Ebelskiver gal, Heather from Skagit Sun, Dave from Island Apiaries, the guys from Hand Farm, Jennifer, Icel and Geza from Crown S. Ranch.  Don’t forget those hard working and lovely market managers — Edie and Lori.

I’m looking forward to a new year. If you really like me, you’ll look for a source of reasonably priced wild huckleberries, tayberries, local figs and local quince. See you in 2012.

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My competition from Tel Aviv

So my daughter the rabbi sent me a picture from shuk haikkarim, the farmers market in Tel Aviv, with my Israeli competition. The flavors are mango, plum, orange with coffee, apricot, fig, cherry, guava …..


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