Wednesday, July 10, 2013

MBAs cannot pass up low-hanging fruit. We just can't.

I recently came into possession of slightly more than a pound and a half of fresh, wild blackberries.

This is because I picked them. On, essentially, the side of the road in Sonoma County. With my friend C.C.

It was actually C.C.'s idea to pick the berries. She's the smart one. "Do you know how much these would be at Whole Foods?!"

Exactly, C.C.  Exactly.

We both came home with bags filled with hard-won blackberries. I say "hard-won" because have you ever picked blackberries? Those brambles are NOT a JOKE.

This is about what the two of us sounded like while picking berries:

"Ooh, these look great!"
"OW! Motherf---!!"
"There are so many berries over here!"
"Damn it! OW!"
"My fingers are covered in prickly things."
"Can you imagine having this job? This job would really suck."
"Could you wear gloves?"
"I don't think so."
 "I am picking a lot of low-hanging fruit. Ahahahahaha."
"This. Berry. Is. SO. Sweet!"

Anyhow, then I got home and was like, "Hey, Kate, one and a half pounds of blackberries is kind of a lot to eat fresh. I mean, these aren't strawberries!"

So I got to cooking.

First I made Blackberry Jam.

I used a pretty basic jam starting point - fruit plus sugar and citrus peel/juice for pectin but I added a little of my own pizzazz. That means I put some Grand Marnier in it. When I add pizzazz, that's what I add. Now you know.

Actually, I didn't put "some" Grand Marnier in it. I put "a lot" of Grand Marnier in it because I tipped the bottle over a bit too far. No harm, no foul. I cooked the booze off a bit and you can't even really tell it's in there. I swear.

Very Sketchy Blackberry Jam Recipe I Just Made Up 
That You Should Probably Not Ever Try To Make Yourself

I took the pound and a half of (cleaned) blackberries, combined them with a long strip of lemon peel, a teaspoon of lemon juice, a bay leaf (thanks, Martha Stewart, for the ingredient suggestion!), two cups of sugar, and a pinch of salt in a 4 quart pot. I cooked it for about 10-15 minutes, then added the pizzazz. Did the whole jam-freezer-plate test, and filled a pint jar. (No processing here, just keeping this stuff in the fridge.) My wooden spoon seems to have suffered permanent staining as a result of this endeavor.

That's what I did. What I should have done was mash and strain the seeds out of the berries first, before I started cooking. Instead I strained some of the seeds out partway through - about half of them. Half, it turns out, isn't enough. Trust me when I tell you there is a reason you can only buy seedless blackberry jam at the grocery store. Unless you really like to chew. If your jaw needs a workout, and you're tired of gum and Grape Nuts, by all means leave the seeds in.

It does look prettier with the seeds in, so there's that...

I let that cool and then made some blackberry cookie bars. After straining the seeds out of a large portion of the jam. Which took me half an hour. Because I am an idiot.

In case you're not paying attention, let me be clear: Strain first! Better yet, don't make blackberry jam without a food mill. Just buy a jar and save your jam efforts for wins like Tomato Jam.

After all that, I am not going to post the blackberry cookie bar recipe for you.

Mean, right? Not really. Actually, I am doing you a favor.

Here's why: They came out delicious but SUPER buttery. Too buttery, really. Eat-one-and-wonder-if-you're-going-to-be-ok-buttery. I would hate for you, dear reader, to make these and be all like: "Kate, if I wanted to lick a stick of butter, I would have just done that.  No need to gussy it up with your homemade jam."

Which is probably what my co-workers will say when I bring these cookies into work. 

Sorry in advance guys! Thanks for being my guinea pigs!
By the way, that milk isn't just food styling. You really will want some milk with these.
Consider yourselves warned.

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