Sunday, August 26, 2012

Asian Pears, a Dritz Sewing Basket & other treasures

Yesterday morning it was off to the Farmers Market.  I have to say that the Saturday morning routine is one of my favorite ones.  I was on the hunt for whatever the newest fruit was, but also planned to pick up some hot peppers to make Pepper Jelly for our friend, Mike.  I'm not sure if he puts it on cream cheese & then crackers, but I know that he loves it.  I'd make pickled vegetables the week before & used some beautiful hot, red peppers in it, so I was headed back to the same vendor.  I've developed a pleasant customer relationship with this man since he's my source for beautiful tomatoes.  From him I've purchased & canned Grenardo, San Marzano & Monica tomatoes.  This week I picked up "Joe's" & the hot peppers.  I purchased some pears from my plum farmer (Roundhill Orchard in Southampton, MA) & after buying some yummy morning scones/brioche & I went over to Hamilton Orchard.  They had raspberries, but I wasn't really too interested in them.  They had a small, crabapple-sized fruit & I had to ask.  These were local Asian Pears.  I think I'd seen larger, commercially-produced fruit in the supermarket, but wasn't sure what I could do with these gems.  My morning pal, DS, told me that they were considered a cross between an apple & a pear & I should,"go for it" ... I purchsed about 4 pounds & brought them home.  I hunted online for directions on how I could jam/jelly/conserve this fruit, but there wasn't much out there.  Finally I found a recipe that I adjusted as follows: 
Asian Pear Jelly
Quarter the fruit & place in heavy pot with about 1/4 as much water.  Start on low heat, but stir frequently so that it doesn't stick.  As the fruit starts to soften add more water.  Boil until fruit is mushy.  I probably shouldn't have, but I did use my potato masher to gently break it up.  While the fruit was cooking I took 4 layers of tea towel & wet it with boiling water.  I placed the towel inside of my colander & the colander inside of a large Tupperware cake carrier lid &  poured the mushy fruit into it.  I placed the lid from the pan over the fruit & let it drain (without squeezing) until it cooled enough to place the entire parcel in the fridge.  I let the fruit drip overnight.
This morning I measured 4 cups of juice & checked my Certo insert for what percentage of sugar to use (there's no Asian Pear Jelly on the Certo insert, so I was just looking for approximates).  I used 7 cups of white sugar & brought the juice, sugar & 1/2 tsp of butter to a boil.  I added the liquid Certo, kept stirring for 1 minute & ladeled into my jars.  I processed the jars in a water bath for 5 minutes. The yield was 8.5 half pints of jelly.  The fruit juice had looked cloudy to begin with, but with the sugar after cooking it was a clear, light amber.  
On my way back from the Farmers Market I saw that St. Francis of Assisi was having their annual church sale on the Belchertown Town Common.  Here's a disclaimer - I'm not good at flea markets, tag sales, estate sales, etc. because I have the attitude that if it's being sold, I want it & I think the price is fair I'm not going to negotiate price.  The St. Francis of Assisi sale didn't allow any haggling, but had several tents & once I figured out that the items were sorted I had quite a good time.  I picked up a beautiful teal Dritz Sewing basket in new condition.  I don't think that a spool of thread was ever put inside of it. I also bought some crocheted edging pamphlets that I think I'll send to my friend, Gill.  I found some children's books bundled into baggies for .50 that Emily can use for her classroom library.  My favorite item was a beautiful tablecloth that I'm going to use on my table if I decide to sell jam at some point.
Today we went to our youngest daughter's first soccer game.  They lost 6:0, but we saw a little more hustle than last year.  On the way back we stopped at the Hadley Flea Market.  Please remember the earlier disclaimer -- well ~ I saw a framed print that matches some of the other hand-tinted photographs that I have.  It was fairly inexpensive & I negotiated $1 less.  Not great, but a good start.  I then saw a container full of sewing items.  I mean FULL - seam bindings, threads, etc.  I was almost drooling --- I had been teased so much by my husband & daughter about my savvy negotiating skills that this time I was going to show them.  I asked how much, offered him 1/2 & then he came back up.  I told him that I didn't want the container, only the contents & he thought a bit.  I took another look at the container & reconsidered my position - I brought the price midway between what he wanted & what I had originally offered & a deal was made.  The box has a sticker on it, so I'm going to do a little research.  Wouldn't it be funny if the box was worth more than the inside bits & baubles that I'd been after?  How was your weekend?

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