Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

BOOK: Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone

One thing I love to do is make preserves. I don't really need to. I don't have anywhere to grow anything at my apartment and the gardeners do not take kindly to outside plants anyway. SO it's not like I have extra fruits and vegetables laying around that I need to do stuff with. I live in a large metropolitan area and can easily purchase whatever I need for myself, so it's not like I need to put up a whole bunch of food for the winter. Nor do I have a large pantry where I can store it.

Nonetheless, I like the process of making preserves and I like having a little jar of something in the fridge to use as accents for my meals. Also, one of my good memories is from one summer in my teenage/college years where my family friend Karen invited me to help her make jam from the berries that grew on her property. It was a fun day and there was a nice sense of accomplishment from picking all of the berries ourselves and then making them into many jars of jam. I was pretty proud of getting through this process that quite frankly would have freaked me out had I tried it on my own.

So every once in a while, I'll make a jar or a few of something, just to enjoy the process again and to make something delicious. Knowing this, my husband bought me this book, Well-Preserved.

Well-Preserved is a really nice and easy book to use. The author provides very simple and clear instructions for both making and processing the preserves. Her voice is engaging and sometimes little tidbits are thrown in that make me giggle (for example in the pie recipe below she suggests eating the pie with ice cream if you like and then throws in "and who the hell wouldn't?!"). The format is to give a recipe for making a type of preserve, and then follow up with several recipes for using that preserve. This is invaluable since often something sounds good, but then you don't really know what to do with it.

I've already made a couple of things with the book and both turned out as a success:

The above is a grape conserve with walnuts. It is basically the same as a jelly, but the conerve has nuts in it. I made it with some really nice Concord grapes when they were in season at the market, so it had that really traditional grape jelly flavor. The nuts were toasted and added a nice crunch to the texture and savory flavor to contrast with the sweet of the jelly.

And this here is a spiced apple pie. After making some canned spiced apples, someone in the house kept mentioning how much they would like pie, and the spiced apples conveniently came with a pie recipe, so here it is, the spiced apple pie. Please do not give me crap about the lack of uniformity of my lattices, I get enough of that from certain left-brained people that I live with, My pie is rustic! It is supposed to not be perfect!

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