Pretty much every time I go home, I come back to Melbourne with more than I left with. My mum insists on giving me food to bring home: something she found on special at the supermarket, vegetarian pasta, jam, preserved plums, fruit. Or something that will be useful to me, like the Breville Kitchen Wizz, a sewing machine, an extra towel. Or just something she saw and thought of me.
My mum’s pretty awesome, to put it another way. Even though I’ve left the nest, flown the coop, moved out of home, whatever you want to call it, she’s always looking out for me.
In honour of Mother’s Day, which I’m spending with my mum at the moment, I’m therefore posting this recipe.
My mum got these from a friend of our family’s at church, who they’ve gotten to know better through Family Group. Their family has an orchard and we got apples, pears and quinces, a whole bunch of which I brought back to Melbourne after Easter at home. I made apple sauce with the apples, I roasted the pears in vanilla, and I made quince paste with the quinces.
When I got them home, I had not much idea as to what to use them for. I’d had quince paste before but I always assumed that, like jam, only cool people and hippies (my mum being one of the cool people, who makes jam and preserves plums) could make it. But after looking around and deciding that I probably wouldn’t eat them all if I poached them and a tarte tatin would be too much work (hey, it’s been hectic around here lately), I figured maybe I could try the quince paste thing. After all, one thing my family in general and my mum in particular love to do is eat, and something we all love to eat is cheese. A cheese platter is always a part of a celebratory occasion, complete with some sort of washed rind cheese like Brie, (popular with the kids) a cheddar and a blue cheese, my mum’s (and her mum’s) favourite.
Quince paste goes very well with a cheese platter. Stella pontificates on cheese platters here, if you really want the low down on a great cheese plate, but we always just go with what we like. Which means crackers, cheese and wine to complement.
And quince paste, if we can get it.
4 quinces (which is apparently about 1.4 kg. I didn’t weigh mine) peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup water (125ml)
Bring the quinces and water to boil in a large saucepan, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about half an hour or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Place the quinces in the bowl of a food processor and whizz until smooth. Place back in a clean heavy based large saucepan with the sugar, and stir frequently over low heat until it is ruby red and comes away from the sides of the pan*.
Divide the paste among six ramekins lined with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until set, then serve with cheese, dry biscuits and wine.
*mine didn’t really come away from the pan, it just turned ruby red and delicious looking, so I figured that it’d set in the fridge. Which it did.
I was talking about how I’m becoming a hippie, and my sister laughed and said “Becoming a hippie? Becoming more of a hippie, you mean.”
Woohoo! my sister thinks I’m already a hippie!
Well, I did preserve plums yesterday. I was home for a few days and my mum had acquired a vintage preserving vat.
So, because we have a plum tree that gives and gives and gives, and because I want to become a producer, not a consumer, because I love food and love to give, because the vat is amazing and vintage and I wanted to be able to say that I’d preserved something;
all of these reasons culminated in me and my sister and my mum preserving plums yesterday morning. Even Dad helped. (he stones the plums for us.:)
So, I’m becoming a hippie, and I’m also becoming very domesticated. I think it helps that I’m living with people now. I have people to domesticate for. I’m very happy.