For my mother and to my grandmother for paving the path that I now follow.
Feeding a picky eight year old can be hard. Feeding a picky eight year old visiting her potato-growing grandma is a whole other story. A Tex-Mex and Chinese guzzling eight year old just cannot understand her grandma’s cuisine philosophy. Especially if they are as follows:
And so after many days of sitting potty-mouthed at the table, and then secretly stealing lefse after every meal. We reached a compromise. My sister and I would eat three things: 1.Mashed potatoes and sausage 2. Meat balls and 3. Fleskepannekaker (Norwgian pancakes cooked in bacon fat)
At 17, I was a bonafide Norwegian fish monger. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite the fishmonger my ancestors would be proud of. There was no hawking of my wares from a gently swaying boat along the harbor to hungry housewives. Instead, I mostly sold to tourists who mostly bought small opened faced sandwiches, and sometimes gave me a hard time for selling whale.
In my booth, there were no foul-mouthed sailors staring out to sea to ensure their safe voyage back home. I sold fish with Santiago from Uruguay, always drinking mate, Eduardo from Barcelona, always smoking and sometimes singing “Singing in the Rain” with me when the weather was really terrible — which was most of the time. Out of 15 employees, there was one other Norwegian.
So why should you bother to spend an entire day over a hot stove waiting as the fruit slowly turns into mush? Jam is cheap and it can seem silly to can your own jams and sauces when you can buy it for $2 at the store. Well I do it mostly for the following reason: it’s the only way you can control how much sugar goes into your food.
Of course, jams are supposed to be sweet, in fact every recipe I read in my canning book asked for at least 500-700g of sugar (that’s 2-3 cups of sugar.) Yes, dear sir, that’s the as much as you would add in a cake. This goes for jams we buy in the stores as well, Smucker’s Strawberry Jam’s Nutrition Facts has 12g of sugar for every 20g (one teaspoon) of jam. In other words, 60% of the jam is sugar.
With the coming of fall colors, my cooking has changed. No longer does my palette crave the juicy tomatoes of summer or the fresh basil that I would sprinkle over nearly everything. Fall calls for cinnamon, apples, pumpkins and preparing for the winter. Which for me (for the first time ever), also means canning and of course, a book on canning from the 1950s.