Monday, January 5, 2009

Heidi's makes the world's best jam

Got a jar of Heidi's Organic Raspberry Red Chile Ginger jam for Christmas and it's already empty. I'm all about balance when it comes to food, and this exotic combo hit the mark beautifully.

The chiles provided a kick, but nothing too hot. The ginger was subtle. And the raspberries tasted like a summer afternoon. KA-Pow! Take that lousy winter weather.

I just went online (Heidi's Raspberry and ordered three more jars, but if anybody has spotted this New Mexico-made gem around Seattle, please holler. I'm not sure I can face getting out of bed on a dark drizzly morning knowing my cupboard is Heidi-less.

Is there another contender for world's best jam? Let's hear about it.

1 comment:

Fred Deaton said...

Speaking of Jam, here is an interesting article from your second home, Memphis:

Padre's Kitchen a Big Hit at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish

The rectory kitchen is a busy place at Our Lady of Sorrows. Father Bryan Timby uses the kitchen to help the small and financially challenged parish make ends meet, including when its air-conditioning system failed after 30 years of use in late June and a replacement could not be installed until the end of August.

When parishioners learned that their pastor enjoys the art of preserving and jelly-making, Father Timby soon found himself with an abundance of vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh figs, cucumbers, strawberries, peaches, cherries, tomatoes, pears, and apples brought from their farms and gardens. Parishioner Sylvia Viglietti even solicited two people she knows with apple trees to contribute sizeable amounts of apples Father Timby used to make apple jelly, spiced apple jelly, and apple butter.

It began in the summer of 2007, when Bob Bustos, an OLS parishioner, offered Father Timby some plums from his tree to make jelly. Little did Father Timby know that there would be plums enough to make more than three dozen half-pints of plum jelly. He kept a few jars for himself and put the rest in the vestibule of the church for a nominal donation to cover the cost of the jars and sugar used in making the jelly. The supply was gone in just one weekend.

This year, Father Timby dubbed his efforts Padre's Kitchen and was able to add more than $3,500 to the Air-Conditioning Fund at OLS through sales of jams, jellies and fruit butters made from fruits brought to the rectory. He also made brandied figs, pickled figs, bread and butter pickles, chow chow, corn relish, three types of salsa, which got good reviews from the Latino population of the parish, and prairie sweet pickles.

Many of the recipes which Father Timby uses come from a cookbook he purchased some years ago that details cooking in the colonial and western expansion periods of our nation's history. He uses natural sugar whenever possible, using refined sugar only when absolutely necessary. Any herbs that he uses to add flavor are from the rectory garden.

One recipe Father Timby uses for a cherry cordial fermented and aged for six months called "Cherry Bounce" comes from the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, home of Memphis Bishop J. Terry Steib. Each Christmas Season, Father Timby invites friends to a Cherry Bounce Party in the tradition of celebrating "Twelfth Night" on the plantations of Louisiana, where guests are warned that if a serving of Cherry Bounce is more than three fingers it is a signal that the guest is no longer welcome in that home and they best move along before they are thrown out.

Padre's Kitchen is also the source of some wonderful meals auctioned at the annual May Mania for the benefit of the OLS parish school. Six-course meals prepared and served by Father Timby for six adults have sold for as much $750 and are served on a Friday night in the rectory dining room. Menus have included Chicken Kilkenny, Shredded Savoy Cabbage with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette, and individual Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes with Mango and Macadamia nuts. Mike and Linda Heitzman of Holy Spirit Parish, who purchased one of the dinners last May, will enjoy a festive five-course dinner built around the main dish of cornish hen and root vegetables to celebrate the Feast of the Three Kings in early January with four of their friends.

Bake sales sponsored by the various church groups are a priority with Father Timby. As a diabetic, he cannot eat sweets but he can certainly bake them. Sometimes he even will make something sugar-free. It doesn't matter what the cause is. As long as it is church-related, Father Timby is happy to whip up a batch of his almost famous Rocky Road Brownies or Italian Amaretto Sour Cream Cake. June Payne of Holy Rosary Parish claims his Spiked Egg Nog Pound Cake is "simply divine."

Father Timby does most of his cooking and baking after nine o'clock in the evening, early in the morning or on his "day off" to avoid conflicts with his parish responsibilities. "I get calls from people that I do not even know who tasted something I made at a friend's home and want to place orders for this kind of jelly, a cheesecake for a party, or a gift basket of pickles and jams, and I have to tell them that I am not a business and that I do not take orders for anything, but they are welcome to choose from what is in the rectory pantry." He added. "The one request I will honor is from students at OLS who want brownies for class projects or celebrations, especially when the proceeds will be used for charitable purposes."

Padre's Kitchen is still available with more than a 100 jars of jellies, jams, butters, pickles and preserves from which to choose. Call the OLS parish office at 901-353-1530 for more information about upcoming events.