I had meant to spend a good chunk of today writing about 'Can You Forgive Her' but opted to make jam, shop, and catch up with a friend instead. There were also scones. And after all Trollope will wait, both he and the book demand a wholehearted and proper job to do them justice.
Beryl Wood's 'Let's Preserve It' was a Christmas present from mum which I was really enthusiastic about at the time but hadn't used at all until now, however last years jam has all but run out and although soft fruit isn't cheap (or flavourful) enough yet pineapples are looking good. The Scottish one teases me about my pineapple obsession - I love them, really love them, but haven't tried cooking them much, Wood had a jam recipe and I had a lot of pineapple (is 4 an unusual amount to have round the house?) so I thought I'd have a go.
There are a couple of really good things about this little book, I like that it's arranged as an A-Z in the manner of a mini preserving encyclopaedia (there are 579 recipes crammed in a really quite small book), I also like that some of the more exotic recipes are for quite small amounts - my jam made 3 jars which is more than enough to be going on with (and let me use my favourite copper pan rather the usual iron monster I can hardly lift). On the downside is that it's aimed squarely at people who know exactly what they're doing - let me quote the jam recipe in full:
2lb pineapple (when prepared), 1 1/2 lb sugar, 1/4 pint water. peel pineapple, remove hard core, cut in cubes; do this on a plate to catch as much juice as possible; put sugar and water in pan, simmer till dissolved and just syruping, add pineapple, cook to set.
Elegant in it's simplicity I'm sure you'll agree, but I wouldn't really mind a bit more instruction. I couldn't find any indication of how much pectin pineapples contain so I used half and half jam making sugar and added a bit of lemon juice which turned out to be a good idea because without it the jam would have been far to sweet. I should also have used a sugar thermometer, I got impatient and may have been a bit hasty about deciding I'd reached setting point. Now it's cool it's still a bit runny - I think that's okay though, the flavour is good and it's going to make a great filling in a victoria sponge. It's excellent with scones (if messy). However it's a thoroughly inspiring book and one I mean to use a lot more albeit with fingers crossed I'm doing it right.
The shopping part of the day was even more exciting - my friend L insisted (I may have encouraged her a little) that we go to a garden centre, and just when I was in the middle of a rant about searching high and low over the last couple of years for scented geraniums with absolutely no luck at all it turned out I was standing next to a table full of them. I can't begin to say how pleased I was - also they were only £1.99 each , I have lemon and rose scented ones now, my friend's choice smelt of cola (it really did). Potentially very exciting additions for all sorts of recipes and pretty too.