Two Festive Jams.

Cranberries and sugar in the pan

Things are busy, crazy busy this Christmas, and I’m not sure why. (OK it might be the fact that I have a six month old baby and two small boys). Despite having started my shopping in early November I’m not yet finished. The only presents that have been wrapped are the ones that have had to be posted. The cards were posted yesterday, and written in the early hours of the day before. It feels like I’m more organised when I’m in work, I guess in one sense I have more “quiet time” to think things out.

I don’t seem to have a dinner plan any day lately so there are a lot of pasta pesto dinners (no complaints from the boys).  I wistfully think of my Christmas baking plans, and wonder what we will have for Christmas Day dinner (the turkey’s ordered, it’s the sides I have to think about) but I know that none of this is really important.  I chuckle at the “ideal edible gift” tagline on recipes and wonder who has the time (and patience) to make edible gifts. Not me this year anyway.

My mind is in a “festive jam” so to speak, figuring out the day to day stuff, lunchboxes; weaning Little Miss and introducing her to solids; playschool; homework, bedtime stories. This, I try to remember, is the important stuff.

Whether there was homemade Christmas cake or a gingerbread house when they were “5, 3 and zero” is less so, or not at all. Or so I keep telling myself.

There will be presents, and selection boxes, and Christmas movies all together on the couch. We’ll go to Christmas Day Mass in our good clothes, we’ll hang out together, make jigsaws, play boardgames, go for walks, the five of us.
The boys will declare it “the best Christmas ever” like they do every year. Can’t wait 🙂

There will also be this one Christmas treat that I made last year and promised myself that it would feature every Christmas in our house. The filling for the recipe is cranberry jam (festive jam, geddit?) which, if you were so inclined, is a perfect festive edible gift. The festive jam itself is delicious on your Christmas toast, or with a bit of cheese on a cracker. It’s also very simple and uses only three ingredients and no setting agents or sugar thermometers.

I’ll post the rest of the recipe in the next few days, it uses the entire jam quantity here. (If you’re off to the supermarket stock up on ground almonds).

Cranberry jam
(recipe from Nigella Lawson “Feast”)
Makes one standard (300ml) jar of jam.
12oz fresh cranberries (coincidentally, that’s exactly the size of the usual supermarket pack)
12oz caster sugar
A little water
Sterilised jars if you are making as an edible gift, you won’t need them if it’s just for the filling for the dessert as it will be consumed soon.

Place a very small amount of cold water (enough to cover the bottom) in heavy based saucepan. Then add the cranberries and caster sugar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves completely.

It takes ages. (Enough time to go upstairs to find a blankie, get distracted and then start cleaning a window and only remember that you’d put the pan on when you get back downstairs and you stir frantically then and curse a little).

Next, turn up the heat and let it boil for about 5-7 minutes, until it well looks like hot jam. Then pour into your sterilised jar.

How easy was that ?

The finished product

8 thoughts on “Two Festive Jams.

  1. I always overestimated how much I would get done during my maternity leave Christmasses – I really don’t think it’s any easier than being in work! And you are right – your kids will definitely not remember this as the Christmas they didn’t have a homemade gingerbread house 😉
    I’m with you on the important stuff – it’s all about doing family stuff – the movies and the jigsaws and the board games, and eating chocolate

    1. Did you read my post about gingerbread chaos last year? They will have to be old enough to do the house themselves! I have a few things in mind of course if we do get the time…we’ll see. P’s is off from tomorrow so I’ve backup 🙂 Ciarán has asked about Christmas cookies for Santa a few times so I might relent if there’s someone here to watch the small girl.

      1. Christmas cookies for Santa and a birthday cake for my baby(ish) are the only two things I’m planning to make. We shall see… the birthday cake might be a hedgehog (this could be a terrible idea)

      2. Well good luck, remember to keep it simple with the cake- for 2nd birthdays here I did a Zoo (cake, plastic animals) and a Gruffalo (wayyy too hard). Happy birthday to your small boy.

  2. Sounds nice and busy, Sinéad! I made a similar jam last night. I left it on a very low heat and went upstairs to get something, got distracted and forgot all about it until my husband shouted up the stairs that there was a smell of burnt sugar. Oops! It was ruined. It’s still in the pot (soaking!) and the house still smells of burnt sugar – not quite the effect I was after! Must give it another try. Enjoy your Christmas! June.

  3. I too overestimate the amount of time/ things I will get done while on maternity leave. I made a sticky toffee (Christmas) pudding for the in laws yesterday but my daughter will have to go without a homemade birthday cake tomorrow. I am taking her to see the snowman in the concert hall today instead of baking. I am sure she will love Colin the caterpillar and remember the day out together a lot more.

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