Monday, August 22, 2011

Fraise Knock Out!

I hope you didn't spend your weekend arm wrestling a jar of strawberry jam like I did... I wasn't thrilled with last Friday's watercolor - the reds were...just too red
Off I marched to Union Square Farmers Market
Ringside the Day-neutral berries were just waiting for me to show up
Across the aisle the strawberry jams were aiming to hit hard

Mon dieu! But at $8 bucks a jar I hesitated
To the left the $8 dollar ready-to-eat lobsters were yelling out,
"Take us home and paint us!"


Do you have something for a little less?

Beth's:Not really, unless you want the jar that didn't jell for $4?

Me:I'll take it! Do you always have something on sale every week?

Beth's:Never! We've been making jam for 30 years!


I grabed the strawbs, jam AND the lobster and headed home

Time to duke it out with some pencil 'thumbnails'

Then a slugfest with the red pigments.

Second entree into the ring wasn't so bad, but the berries got the upper hand...
Parisian pastry chefs always keep the upper hand with their strawberries. You can't walk a block without bumping into one or two strawberry tartes in Paris.

I found out from Relais Desserts that strawberries are not even a fruit. Who knew? It's those little yellow seeds, the 'achenes' that are the actual fruit. Louis XIV sent Amedee Francois Frezier (is that where le fraisier got it's name?) off to South America. He brought back many new varieties. There are at least 600 kinds of berries to put in your tarte, though the Plougastel, gariguette and mara des bois are the most popular. I was chastised in Monoprix for buying berries from Spain - mechante/naughty

Et voila
Have a BERRY Good Day PBers!


  1. Anna-Maria A.11:49 AM

    Delcious Summery post...
    Love all your reds!

  2. You were very successful, in every way!
    Best of all, you got yourself a great red lobster too. ;-)

    Strawberries from Spain are all over the supermarkets here, but I prefer the local varieties which still taste like I remember them from grandmother's garden.

    Reds are also hard to capture for photographers, at least in my experience.

  3. i love your "red vocabulary" pic......

  4. Beautiful!!
    $8.00 a jar!!!
    Oh my!
    Where's the lobster?
    I thought you'd include it in this painting.

  5. Rick,
    Strawberry jam and Lobster do NOT go together!

  6. Miam miam.

    Juicy berries!

  7. Anonymous12:38 PM

    If you bought the jam that didn't jell, you need to keep it refrigerated and be sure to eat it within 2-3 weeks. There's a fine chemical balance of sugar, pectin, fruit, and acid that has to work to make a safe jell. If it didn't, 30 years experience or not, it could be a problem. But not if you keep refrigerated and then, eat quickly.

    Here's info on how to make your own preserves. I only do peach, but it's so simple (and French) you won't believe it. And, it must be eaten within 3 weeks - and kept refrigerated. So start working on yellow thumbnails.

    Boil some water in a stainless steel pot. Put 3 large ripe peaches and one slightly less ripe in the boiling water for only 30 seconds to 45 seconds. Lift out with slotted spoon, and dump into ice bath. Peel. Then, cut them around the waist and cut wedges which makes a grand mess, but do it over a stainless steel or glass bowl. Throw pits out. Add 2 T. fresh lemon juice, no pits, please. Add 1 cup white sugar. Stir gently. Put in heavy bottom pan and bring to a boil. Stir and let cook 5 minutes only. Don't run off and buy some macarons while it cooks. Watch it. Use a wooden spoon if you have one.

    Cool, and put into a large ceramic or glass bowl overnight, covered with Saran.

    Next day - early, put peaches in a strainer of stainless steel, and catch the juice. Let sit in the strainer or sieve about 15 minutes, and move the solids around carefully, but don't mush them up. Take the captured juice and put it into a heavy pan. Bring to boil, and STIR AND BOIL for a little while until you see a noticeable thickening. If you want to, you can do the "jam on a plate from the freezer test", but since you are only using this for a prop, don't worry. It will thicken. If you have a candy thermometer, cook to 212 degrees. Then, carefully dump the fruit solids in and bring up to the boil again, and gently boil for about 5 minutes.

    Do not can. This is low sugar, and you should eat it in 3 weeks.
    (To can it, you would have to have double the sugar, which I won't do.) Otherwise, pitch it. Put it in a pretty jar, put a pinked piece of cloth on it and tie with raffia. Then, paint its picture. 4 peaches should make about 2 jars (1/2 pint size). Try it. It's fun. Be sure your jars are sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes before filling. Everything must be meticulously clean and sterilized.

    This is the way Christine Ferber does it from Mes Confitures book. However, don't ever use her canning system of just turning hot jars upside down unless you want to go to heaven very soon thereafter. Don't pay $8 for jam. I don't make berry jam, so can't help you with something red, but I am going to try plums before long.

    Go out and get a ficelle, some great butter, and use the spread like French Girl does.


  8. Thanks Marie,
    an interesting thing happened - I thought the jam tasted to sweet and added a good squeeze of lemon juice.
    Voila! The next day it jelled?
    It is safe in the fridge and going fast as is.
    Perfect in Greek yogurt...

  9. Love the color mixes you did, Carol--the yellow tones look great in these! Nice touch!

  10. Carol, what a wonderful new watercolor. I love the way you did the metal lid. I Wonder if Beth makes her jam in a French copper jam pot? I wanted one for my strawberry session but at 245.
    I decided to wait until my schooner sails in.....

  11. Very interesting about the lemon juice overnight in the fridge!
    I love your reds! Although there is no accounting for screen colors!
    CULTURE has come to Kansas City: I signed up for a hands-on (and we get to take them home!) macaron class at our local Culinary Institute! September! FULL account will follow!

  12. You'd make jam and lobster go together just fine....ahem!

  13. I love the page of just color swatches!

  14. I'm doing lots of layering swatches...
    I seem to have forgotten how to do transparent layering..
    I want to fill a sketchbook full of them and then apply it to pastry painting...

  15. Anonymous4:07 PM

    I think your vendor got sidetracked and forgot her lemon juice. Yes, the sugar will overpower the taste without the lemon to cut it and help it set.
    Do try to make some peach jam sometime. I promise you good results.
    If I didn't paint myself, I would buy your cute jam jar picture for a friend who just finished remodeling a smoke house into a canning kitchen.
    But, alas, I will have to do it.

  16. Marie-
    Thanks to you I am now JAM FREE.
    After your warning that I must eat up the jam within 3 weeks I started helping myself liberally on crackers.

    Shortly thereafter I fellover comatose, knocked out and hit the mat for a full 20 minutes.

    The jam is now gone.
    Down the chute (the garbage, not my chute).
    I can't handle all that sugar.
    I know, I know.
    You're not meant to wolf down a jar of jam in two days but...I was trying to be expedient. Or so I thought.

    Bye bye Jam
    hello Greek olives :)

  17. First of all, what a colorful and juicy post, Carol. Just this a.m. I came back from S.Jersey with freshly picked and ready to eat peaches, and now with the recipe for peach jam from Anonymous,I MUST try the jam bit, and it WILL GET EATEN!
    Crossing my fingers as I head to the kitchen.

  18. It's hard to believe that that market is Union Square! They must have renovated or enlarged that area?
    I'm glad that you passed on the lobster & jam :)

  19. I loved the first painting you did of the jams and I love the second one you did too. Another fun post but also I was glad to read what Marie said about eating the jam within a two week time. As someone gave us some not jelled and said eat it soon and my husband didnt agree it had to be eaten that soon. Now two people have said that... so it will be tossed in the time period she said.

  20. Love seeing your creative process. Strawberries aren't a fruit? Who knew?

  21. .. are you selling the 2nd try? ... I loved it, and thought you did a GREAT job. Love this post. (And the comments)

  22. Anonymous9:01 PM

    Thanks to you Carol i will - enjoy yours also x

  23. Carol, I always am a bit wary of some of the prices of the Union Sq. farmers market's offerings. If the offerings look really really good, or unusual, I will given them a try.

    Glad that you found a way to make that jam gel.

    As always, your paintings are fine.

    I am still hunting for perfectly ripe tomatoes at various green markets, and, a la U2, haven't found them yet. Need to have my own garden. Could 2012 be the year?


  24. I love the mental image created by your statement that you left with a jar of jam and a lobster. I couldn't help but wonder if the lobster was tucked under your arm like a French baguette while you clutched the jar of jam in your other hand! While I'm sure that the vendors gave you a sack to carry your purchases, I kind of like the idea of someone strolling down the street with a lovely red lobster. ;-) Time for breakfast - and there will be jam!

  25. I love YOUR image Mary Kay :))
    I was trying to sound a bit like Sam Spade and Brando in ON THE WATERFRONT..

    "I coulda been a contender"


  26. I think you got the color perfect iin the 2nd's gorgeous! (and much more appealing than the fishy lobster, ahem)

  27. I read your blog each time I receive a notification of a new posting. I just love the fun, creativity and beautiful presentation. Bravo!

  28. Anonymous9:05 PM

    It's easy to make jam that can be stored in a cupboard for a year or more!!! I just spent 45 minutes entering and editing my instructions for this. I pressed 'Preview' and lost the lot, so there's no way I will repeat it, being quite a slow typist. Gwendoline Blake, Ballarat, Australia


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