The book tour is also all-encompassing. We're planning events in Sacramento, Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, New York, and possibly Birmingham and Charlotte. There are stores and restaurants to contact, marketing schedules, book stores need to be talked to; it's a logistical nightmare that only Clive Barker or an overeager public relations manager could conceive of.
Still, it's exciting and so many talented people are helping make this all happen. I'm quite blessed.
So then I ended up making jam from a sack of pluots a friend gave me.
I added vanilla bean because that's something I always do, and immediately into cooking down the molten gel I was smitten with the process all over again as I always am with jams involving vanilla.
The electric magenta color, the heavy creamy aroma of the Mexican vanilla bean, the way pluot skins melt into tart liquor but the flesh stays whole and tight. It's a jammer's jam. The kind that you strive to get the perfect texture, color, and flavor. That elusive perfect jar that only occurs when the fruit is just right, your mandala is whole, and the planets have aligned like a string of pearls. A tiny tab of butter helps with the foaming, too.
And so I made jam today in with the damp, weighted air coming in through the kitchen window and made my kitchen smell like home and with it made my Sunday feel like everything was right with the world.
Makes 8-10 8-ounce jars
6 pounds pluots, pits discarded, diced
2 pounds, 8 ounces sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, seeded
pinch of butter
1 packet of pectin
Place all the ingredients but the pectin in a large non-reactive pot and let sit for 4 hours or overnight so that the sugar melts and the whole mess gets nice and saucy. Place it all over medium-high heat. The mixture will start giving up a large, sticky foam. Use a wide spoon and skim it all off as the foam make for murky, unclean looking jam. (It tastes awesome though. Reserve it and scoop it over yogurt for a happy, jam-maker's treat.)
Continue to cook and monitor the heat closely, stirring often to prevent the bottom from scorching, which will lead to icky flavors in your otherwise perfect jam. At about 25-40 minutes when you can run a spoon through the pot and see the bottom before the molten fruit slowly rushed in to cover the space add the pectin and boil hard for 1 minute.
Place in sterilized jars and place in a hot water bath for 10 minutes as you would any other canning project. Discard the vanilla bean, or wash it out, dry it, and place in a small container with sugar for vanilla sugar for future baking projects.