I don't get to Whole Foods very often; it means a hike, spending too much (they know how to hook me over there,especially when my CSA farm has gone winter-dormant), and then carrying my excess baggage home on the bus. I did stop by on Friday night, with a friend and a car, so I was able to pick up some Mediterra Mt. Athos firebread, which I love. I also succumbed to the lure of the Rosemary Christmas Tree you see above. This 18" cutie was reduced, along with its numerous healthy looking fellows , to $9.99. I could not be expected to resist.
I am very fond of the piney flavor of rosemary. I always grow some in the summer, but have never been able to bring it through the winter-it's too cold outside in Pittsburgh, and the dry heat, low light and cats in my apartment are death to growing things. This fall, I took my little summer rosemary plant to the Magic Windowsill at work, where my lemon tree is blooming again its second winter, after bearing an actual full size fruit. The window ledge there is wide and well lit, and they turn the heat off in the building every night.
This provides a nonfreezing, but cool night temperature, which is perfect for a lot of plants. There's a small palm tree, a Kaffir Lime-with blossoms and fruit, some jade plants and a good sized thyme plant. If my rosemary christmas tree survives the holiday, I will take it in to join the smaller rosemary plant there, and see if I can pull them through. Meanwhile, I have been keeping an eye on my little rosemary tree in a sheltered corner of the porch, planning to drag it indoors if it gets super cold, and to set it on my dining room table for my holiday party.
The root ball of my new rosemary plant, on examination, does have the the look of having been hacked mercilessly from a larger bush. It certainly is not some carefully grown standard, nurtured and gently urged into its shape by subtle pruning over the years. But hey, it cost $9.99. Even if it doesn't last long, it will be well worth the money. For less than it would cost to buy a few undistinguished supermarket cut flowers, it is a bargain. In addition to being seasonal and extremely cute, it should provide quite a bit of fresh rosemary. I see some rosemary ciabotta, roasted veg, rosemary pound cake, slow roasted lamb shoulder, and more in my future.
I've started with something I have not made before, because it sounds intriguing, and because I cannot stay away from preserving for very long. I am now aware that this jelly could been seen as a somewhat peculiar concoction. I liked the idea of it, and assumed that it would be universally appealing. When I told my elderly mother what I was making, she said, with the frankness of the slightly unglued, "What would you want that for?" I reported this to a friend as an eccentric remark, and was brought up a bit short when he raised an eyebrow and said, "Well, what would you want it for?"
It is a garlic and rosemary jelly, a condiment recommended as a substitute for mint jelly with roast lamb- also supposedly complimenting roast pork or chicken. It can be stirred into gravies and the like as well. Personally, I think it sounds great, but I haven't had any yet, so I can't swear to it.
The green apple pectin jelly, I made this summer is nearly gone, so I used the store-bought liquid pectin called for in the recipe- which is adapted from the newest Gourmet Cookbook. Speaking of stirring, the jelly must be stirred up a bit before using; the garlic tends to migrate to one corner of the jar. The recipe makes about 4 cups of jelly.
If you would like to make some too, you will need:
dry white wine 1 1/4 cups
white wine vinegar 1/8 cup
balsamic vinegar 1/8 cup
garlic, finely chopped 15 large cloves
fresh rosemary sprigs 4 four inch sprigs
sugar 3 1/2 cups
liquid pectin one 3 oz pouch
Sterilize four 8 oz canning jars. Put everything but the pectin into a large nonreactive pot, and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in pectin, bring back to a boil, and boil for one minute. Pour jelly through a sieve into a large glass measuring cup. Distribute garlic and rosemary among the jars, and pour jelly over. Leave 1/4 space at top of each. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool and check seals. Do not open for at least 24 hours, to allow flavors to develop. After that you can serve it to anyone who doesn't think you're off your head to want to make it, with their roast lamb.
And with that, my friends, I wish you, in the words of a gifted chef of my acquantaince who is presently the overqualified, yet incredibly helpful cheese guy at Whole Foods, a very "Happy Hollandaise".