As a mom of 8 beautiful kids I am excited to share some of the recipes that we've enjoyed at family mealtime and the stories that go behind them. "Food is so pleasureful and powerful that it plays an essential role in creating a home that works. For your home to feel solid, meaningful, dignified and warm, you must have the means and skills to produce good, nutritious food, to dream up pleasant menus, and to set the table and serve the food in an attractive manner that is familiar and comfortable to guests. " Cheryl Mendelson Home Comforts : The Art and Science of Keeping House

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grandma and Plum Jam

   I think I was born in the wrong era.  I think I would have thrived in my Grandmother's era where she lived a simple life as a coal miners wife in a little town in West Virginia where she raised 8 kids (6 daughters and 2 sons. Hey! That sounds very familiar)  Life wasn't easy for her as she raised her young family in a small 3 bedroom home on a coal miners meager budget.  Life back then consisted of sustaining the basics in life and her life was devoted to her family.  
My beautiful Grandmother Beatrice Smith Moore

   Her picture sits on my dresser and as I look at her beautiful blue eyes and dark black, curly hair, I see her as a strong woman with a soft smile who has left a legacy for her posterity and somehow I feel a deep connection to her even though she passed away when I was young girl. What does this have to do with making plum jam you may wonder?  Well, as I thought about where in the world I may have grown to love homemaking, ie:  wearing kitchen aprons, making jam, baking bread and taking care of a large family, I think I may have inherited some of those passions and traits from her through my Mom.  There are stories of her mother (Grandma Smith), who lived  close by and often my Mom and her siblings would pick vegetables and fruits from her garden and then enjoy the delicious harvest of her grandmas garden by eating them on the spot with Grandpas cornbread and pinto beans. Grandma would also can what they didn't eat or made jam.  I know back then gardening, canning and preserving food was more of a necessity as well as making homemade bread, but I love to do these things out of pure enjoyment!
 I had the privilege a few years ago of visiting the home where my Grandma raised her 8 children in a small town of West Virginia.  It was such an honor to be invited to tour the house by my Grandma's dear friend who bought the house from Grandma and still lives there.  She had many stories to tell and it was amazing to see the small quarters my Mom and her 7 siblings were raised in.  We then got to drive by the "remodeled version" of my Great Grandma Smiths house not too far away from Grandma's house. There were some chairs on the front porch and  I could see in my minds eye  my Grandma and my Great Grandma rocking in their rockers,  quilting, crocheting and thoroughly enjoying family dinners and eating, talking and laughing until their  hearts were content as our family enjoys doing generations later!.

Therefore, my blog post about plum jam/compote has become an ode to Grandma!

Grandma's house in Omar, West Virginia
 Grandma's backyard where I can see a vegetable garden in full bloom

 Great Grandma Smith's Home

   I like to think this attempt of me trying to learn to crochet while rocking in a "Cracker  Barrel Restaurant" rocking chair next to my mom would make my Grandma proud!  :)

Finally! Plum Jam/Compote Recipe!
 Our church had a "Share the Harvest" last week and there was an "over abundance" of yellow plums! I hadn't planned on making any jam this summer as we've been gone for the past 2 months and we're gearing up to start school next week, but I couldn't resist taking advantage of the beautiful harvest!

The plums were quite soft so I needed to do something with them fast!  I knew my family couldn't eat through that many right away so I went online and found a no peel/ pectin jam recipe. It was a flexible recipe that could take over a few days to make at my leisure.  I washed them and tried to cut them with a knife, but they were too juicy, so I used an apple corer and stuck it right through the plum.  It worked perfectly and I pitted 100 plums in 15 min. (It's all about speed, right?)

There was a lot of flesh left so I used my hands to get what I could off the remaining plum and added them to the pot.
I added 4 cups sugar
then stirred and turned on the burner until the plums came to a boil.  I let it simmer for 10 minutes and turned it off and went to bed. 
The next morning I brought it to another boil and simmered again for 10 min.  It's supposed to sit until the plums cool and then  repeat the boil and simmer process.  You can do this 4- 6 times  until it thickens to desired consistency. I had a little mishap and thought I turned it off after 10 minutes, but I left it on much longer and my hubby had to ask me how long was I going to boil these plums for my "plum reduction"!!!! Oops!  No fear, this recipe is foolproof and it was just fine!!!!
Because I knew I would be freezing this jam for a plum sauce that I make with my pork roasts, I filled canning jars and stuck them in the freezer until I'm ready to use them in the fall.  (Well, except for the jar that Lucy wanted to eat right away and we're enjoying that as we speak!) 

This particular yellow plum has an apricot sweetness to it and is delicious!  Thank you to my sweet neighbors from church for sharing their overabundance of plums!!!!

Thank you to Natasha's kitchen for sharing this recipe with me and for giving me the opportunity to remember my Grandma Moore!

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