I'm so excited, I could crush a grape. My friends, the Malkinsons and the Theakstons, are coming to visit from London this Friday. In tow will be their one year-old sons, Stanley and Oliver. I'm currently busy preparing for their arrival performing what I like to call "Operation Show Home." This really involves lots of cleaning and making things pretty and Martin telling me over and over again that the Queen isn't coming to visit.
I'm planning on several barbecues to make the most of this beautiful Labor Day weekend and September weather before we head north to our place in Michigan. In the mean time, I just made a big pot of home made jam for the weekend's breakfast. Breakfast with six adults and two babies should be interesting. I'm will be filling the center of my large table with pots of tea, cereal boxes, piles of toast and proper English breakfast accompaniments- Marmite, butter and my home made plum and cherry jam.
I bought these tiny, gorgeous Italian plums to make a fruit tart, one that was my Mother's favorite. It's still in the back of my mind, but it will have to wait. In a moment of madness I pitted them, halved them and threw them into a pot with half a bag of dried bing cherries that I had in the pantry (that I just organized or I wouldn't know they were there.)
The result is that I now have two lovely little pots of jam that can be scooped onto toast, pancakes, or even served with pork.
As you may imagine, I will have my hands full over the next two weeks. I'll be busy cuddling little boys, making sure they don't fall down my stairs or hurt themselves on anything else in my non-child-friendly apartment, catching up with my girls, drinking lots of wine and cocktails, going to baseball games, showing everyone around Chicago, building bonfires on the beach of Lake Michigan and of course, cooking.... so stay tuned.
Plum and Dried Bing Cherry Jam
Makes 2 pots
1 1/2 pounds plums
1 cup of dried bing cherries
1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp allspice and a touch of cinnamon
Remove the pit from the plums and halve them if they are a small variety, quarter them if they are large. Put a pot on the stove over low heat and add the plums, cherries, sugar and spices and stir to let the sugar dissolve. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, then turn it up to medium and stir occasionally for another 25 minutes until the plums have mostly broken up and the liquid is halved- you should have about 2 cups left.
Let it cool completely before putting them into sterilized jars (I just put mine through the dishwasher without any soap.)
Seal them tight and keep them in the fridge or pantry if you're not using them straight away.