August is drawing near its end and September is preading its cloaks across the lands. A scent of autumn rain and falling leaves is heavy in the air, the mist thick between the stem of far away trees in the early morning. The eight month has always been considered as one of summer, but this year begs to differ.

Though the summer skies have been clouded over and grey has taken the place of blazing blue, its end is one of abundance. The treasuries of nature are well-stocked; the rubies of the apple trees are shimmering in between matte leaves, the amethyst plums are blushing with a faint haze, and the fruit-bearing bushes have all adorned themselves with the most elaborate riches they could aquire. The garnet of the mountain ashes are the first of fall’s colours to appear, the deep forests mines where the gold of chanterelles is to be retrieved. – It is almost as if nature is silently apologising for the summer sun’s persistant absence.

Aquarel Plums

Aquarel Plums

For the first time the many fruit trees of the garden show their true potential, and I am determined to allow little to go to waste. With many future delicacies in mind I have spent a couple of hours in the garden, picking the sweet plums kindly offered to me by branches struggling not to break below the weight of their riches.

A Quartet of Sweet Plums

When a soft rain started to fall, I retreated inside, already having collected more than enough. Two large bowls were filled to the brim with juicy fruits, gathered only from the lowest branches which were the easiest to reach. Their quantity amounted to near 3 kilograms (7.5 pounds) and though it was tempting to save them in their untreated state, I knew it never would be possible as the even the finest of silever tarnishes with time.

Therefore I decided to turn them into the kind of preserve my family became very fond of the last time – many years ago – nature was as generous to us. As the recipe is breathtakingly simple and the resulting jam is most pleasing to one’s senses, I have decided to share it with all who may be interested.

Gifts Supplied by a Generous Garden

Gifts Supplied by a Generous Garden

The Recipe:

This preserve is delicious either frozen or hot, and especially so together with vanilla ice-cream. It may, however, be used together with all dishes whose flavour is enhanced by jam’s sweet savour; such as with pancakes, on toast, on and in pie, and in muffins – only to mention a few examples where this versatile jam may be put to good use.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour.
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Ingredients: 3 kg (7.5 pounds) plums (~500 cherry-sized plums) and 2 kg (5 pounds) ordinary, white sugar.

Preparations:

  • If you have picked the plums yourself, you may wish to pick-over clean them: remove leaves, stems and damaged parts, as well as washing them with clean water.
  • If you have purchased the plums, be sure to wash them with clean water to remove potentially present pesticides, pollutants and pathogens.
  • Make sure to count the plums, as it will make your job removing the stones much easier later on.
  • Add the plums to a large saucepan (not aluminium) and make sure the rim is not reached as it means the jam is to boil over – and that will be insanely sticky.
  • Add the sugar.
  • Add just a little bit of water (one cup will be too much) in a circling motion above the pan to make sure it is well-distributed.
  • Allow the pan to stand for 10-15 minutes to make sure the water (both from the plums and added) settles at the bottom.
Sweet Plums and Sugar

Sweet Plums and Sugar

Cooking:

  • Heat the plum and sugar-mixture on medium heat while ocassionally stirring thoroughout the whole process to keep the heat evenly distibuted, while making sure that it does not boil over.
The Heat Works Wonders

The Heat Works Wonders

  • Once the plums and sugar have been turned into something resembling jam you will notice that a foam is collecting on the surface. Remove it as it contains wax from the plums’ skin and pollutants. (You may need to repeat this a few times before the surface is completely clean.)
The soon-to-be jam is boiling, the plums are cooking, and foam is collecting on the surface.

The soon-to-be jam is boiling, the plums are cooking, and foam is collecting on the surface.

  • When the foam has been completely removed, it is the start of the fun part!- collecting the stones. This is when you appreciate having taken the time to count the plums before cooking them. Allow the jam to simmer while you collect the stones as it will help the jam to attain the right consistency once cool (the longer it boils the thicker will it be). But be sure not to burn yourself as it is very hot even when simmering.
Stone-Riddled Jam

Stone-Riddled Jam

  • Once the last stone has been collected and you have sighed in relief having found it, you may lower the heat and boil a few jars to sterilise them.
  • While the jars are boiling, taste the jam with a clean spoon! Sometimes it may be a little bit sour depending on the sweetness of the plums. If it needs more sugar, add some and then up the heat a little more and stir until the sugar has diffused into the jam. And if the jam is very viscous you may want to allow it to boil for a few more minutes, allowing the excess water to evaporate.
  • Once the jars have boiled for a few minutes, remove them carefully from the water – while not burning yourself – then pour the jam into them and seal immediatly afterwards. (If you have the opportunity to seal them with wax it is preferable, but it will work well without it.)
  • When the jars have cooled down you may put them into the freezer if you are not immediately going to use the jam. The preserve will remain just as delicious, in addition to staying that way for longer.
  • Enjoy!
Blushing Plum-Jam Enjoyed on Toast with Tea and Fruit

Blushing Plum-Jam Enjoyed on Toast with Tea and Fruit

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For the Sake of It

August 21, 2008

When I started this blog I had the intention to share some of my artwork in the posts, as well as posting works-in-progress and sketches I never show anywhere else. Though, as the weeks and months have passed, I never found the motivation to do this, thinking that my blog perhaps was more philosophical than artistic.

Well, I should not take myself so seriously, no one should. There are not too many people who ever come by this blog, and the regular readers amount to … none, as far as I know. So, I told myself, if I upload a sketch or a work-in-progress, or perhaps even a finished piece, every once in a while it will not matter. It will not take away from the overall feel of the blog or my entries.

I mean, it is not like I am a person one takes seriously in any matter, so why start now?

And lo and behold, a work in progress!

One of my latest beaded dolls half-an-hour before it was finished.

These beaded dolls are truly a pleasure to make, even if they take a week or so of on-off attention. When finished these dolls are about 10 centimeters (4 inches) in height and wrigh quite a lot for their petité size because of the some 5.000 glass beads and dozen pearls they have been embroidered with. Because of my fascination with anthropology and human pre-history the shape of the doll is inspired by the Venus of Willendorf. Finally, I may add, that this little beauty is number 5 of the six dolls I have created this far.

The Living Fossil

June 13, 2008

When browsing the Pharyngula blog author PZ Myers’ most recent posts I came across one featuring a picture of a Nautilus pompilius. The picture was reposted by the blog from an online article in Nature magazine. (The picture has been re-reposted by me, below.)

Natilus pompilius

What I enjoyed about the picture was its striking resemblance to a picture which I created back in 2006, and subsequently gave the creative name of “Nautilus pompilius.” The picture has been inserted below:

Nautilus pompilius © Miss Josephine

Comparing the two images, one can easily see that I employed some artistic freedom when it comes to the tentacles. A bit of trivia is that the above pictured Nautilus’ shell actually is a photograph and not part of the digital painting. The shell belongs to me and has done so for a while (at least since 2006). One day it struck me that my shell needed a resident, and hence, this picture was born.

My passions are many and as I at times am the host of a limited consciousness, I have to allow an equal amount of passions to pass me by whenever I adopt another.

I have not beaded for a while, proof of the above statement. This does however not imply that I never will bead again, no, not at all. All it suggests is that I for the moment have found other passions to which my attention is dedicated to. So, instead of beading, sewing has taken its place.

I have already created a pattern for a teddy bear, one which I as soon as I created it, also modified. Hence, I have three patterns – one for a teddy bear, one for a pig and one for an Angelic Giraffe-style giraffe.

Though, when it comes to sewing I have realized that I am the most passionate about dresses. Not that I ever have sewn a dress during the course of my entire life, but I am very eager to try creating one out.

Of course, as whenever I am concerned, I wish to go overboard immediately. if not now, in just a few minutes. Patience is a virtue I should benefit from aquiring.

The dresses that I wish to try sewing are vintage dresses, especially from the 1950’s. For some reason I find the fashion of that era highly appealing, and as the term “vintage” implies that the dresses are not availiable in stores I will have to try and sew some.

Words in all honour, but pictures say more than a thousand words each, so I will share some of my favourite styles with you:

Lovely Dress

Misses' Dress

Big Collar Dress

All the above images are courtesy of SoVintagePatterns.com, a site which I think I may visit more frequently once I have managed to improve my sewing skills. For now, I will have to practice with less expensive (and less visually appealing) patterns.