Thursday, May 23, 2013

Look what just arrived on my doorstep.

I'm smiling.

I remember when they gave out the first RITA finalist pins — it was at the 2000 (I think) conference in Washington, and it was my first RWA conference, and my first book was a RITA finalist.

The pins were new and it was a surprise for everyone when, as we registered they gave them out. They gave pins retrospectively as well, and some people were pinning on three, four, twelve or more and everyone was grinning and exclaiming over them with delight.  It was SUCH a buzz, and all through the conference it looked like little silver ladies were dancing across people's chests.

This is my fourth RITA finalist pin and the buzz doesn't get any less. It's a thrill every time, and the arrival of this beautiful little silver lady on my doorstep just made my day/week/month.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dried Fig Jam Experiment

I used to make fig jam every year, until my friends with fig trees sold up and moved — people can be so thoughtless. :)

I don't eat a lot of jam, but when the weather starts to get cold, I do like to have some tasty jam for the occasional piece of toast. And lately I've really been missing my favorite fig, lemon and ginger jam, so when I saw dried figs on sale, I bought some and am now making up the recipe... and hoping it works. Dried figs, oranges, lemons and grated ginger. 

So, the ingredients: (sorry, the quantities are vague because I'm making it up) 

2 packets of dried figs (2 x 375g) finely chopped.
Zest and juice of a couple of lemons, also finely chopped.
Flesh of a couple more oranges (because I had them and I figured more citrus wouldn't hurt.) 
a grated knob of ginger

1) Mix chopped figs, zest of lemons and ginger, and pour over sufficient boiling water to not quite cover.

2) Leave overnight. (As it happened I was a bit busy, so it sat in the fridge for several nights. The idea was to let the dried figs absorb the water.) 

3) If mix is dry, add a bit more boiling water. The next day it shouldn't have any visible liquid, just moist mush of figs.

4) Measure fig mix, and add not quite the same quantity of sugar. (I like it not too sweet)

5) Cook for 45 minutes, stirring regularly.

6) Test to see if it gels on a cold saucer, as jam should. My plan was: —
    a)  If it sets in a jammy way, cheer and bottle as usual.
    b)  If it doesn't, add more lemon juice and hope.
    c)  If it's still not setting try adding commercial pectin. (I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do this, because it would involve a trip to the supermarket.)
   d)  Otherwise, treat it as yummy syrup for ice cream, bottle and give to friends who eat lots of ice cream.

As it happened, version a) was the one that happened. Yay. That's my jam up the top. My mix made 7 medium jars and a bit left over. And here's how I plan to test it.
Do you make jam or is it too much mess and bother? What's your favorite jam?