“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanksgiving is over. The turkeys have all been gobbled up- pun intended. Most folks are going to be eating turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce for another few days, at least. And Christmas is rapidly coming, as evidenced by all the colored & white twinkling lights that are popping up everywhere. I guess- for most people- that means this month, same as last month, is filled with a plethora of recipes & cooking. Or at least, plans to do so.
I should probably say that this post is about a recipe, and cooking, but also about a kind of combination of baker’s block and writer’s block. And “cook’s block,” or whatever. Because I genuinely felt, a while back, as if my well of never-ending ideas had dried up. Just a few weeks ago I’d been feeling majorly uninspired. Not just kitchen-wise, although that was a major part of it. In life, too. Completely uninspired & boring. And it wasn’t fun, especially when you’re a blogger whose blog is dependent on your ideas. Usually, I’m fairly prolific… even when I make something & it’s a failure, I still have tons of shit to say about it. At the very least I usually have other ideas bouncing around in my head. I know exactly what to make for dinner, what to bake, what to say about it all.
But nope. Not a few weeks ago.
Other than writing about my writing/baking/cooking block, I had nothing else to say. And I guess in five years of blogging it’s bound to happen at least once, so I can’t complain. But all I could think of to make were boring things that I’ve already done. Or not so boring things that I’ve already done. Either way, I’ve already done them. And you don’t come here to read the same damn thing over & over again. I was stuck in such a rut, you have no idea. Even when it was dinner time. I’d open my cabinets, stare at the contents, then let them slam shut without one spark of inspiration. Thankfully, I had some things to post that I had made already or else the blog would’ve been blank.
Have I done everything? No. Have I created every single baked good or cupcake or meal there is to make? Not at all. My inspiration meter was just on zero. I just couldn’t come up with anything to do. Or rather, that I felt like doing. It was a drag. A major freakin’ drag. I had absolutely no kitchen-mojo. But then I had a breakthrough:
Pears and I don’t really get along. I’m not a fan of pears at all, really. Apples, yes. Pears, no.
But sometimes we’re pushed into making things by necessity… like the bowl of pears sitting on the table that are getting too soft (ahem- remember these?), and the coincidental small-batch brown sugar & cardamom pear jam blog post you find at a favorite blog. Taking some cues from Marisa, I decided on making an applesauce-type thing, but with pears. And cardamom, ’cause it sounded good. I don’t like pears, mind you, but sauces/jams/jellies make great hostess or holiday gifts. And at the time, this being a few weeks ago, Thanksgiving was coming up (and then the Christmas holiday season), and I figured I’d be going to a few people’s houses for dinners or perhaps hosting my own. Therefore I could use a few spare jars of things I don’t use for that very reason. Giving your hostess a jar of something homemade is always a nice touch. Besides, it’s nice to offer people a variety of homemade yummies with dinner/dessert this time of year. And I had, actually, been toying with the idea of making some pear-sauce, but in my mind I had imagined a pear/apple combination, maybe with cinnamon.
So granted, my uninspired period didn’t last very long. But the end result of it made the brief time of “blah” much more worth it! Not only was it something I personally had never made before, but it would use up those bruised & soft pears!
After seeing the post at Food in Jars, I used all the pears I had that were getting soft, of which there were about four or five. I had mostly Bartlett, but there were one or two teeny Seckel pears in there (if you’re making this now, you can use either Seckel or Anjou, both should be available). I cored them, chopped them up (without peeling them), and added ’em to a saucepan with a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice (I ended up with a little over 2 3/4 cups of chopped pears). I then let it cook. I occasionally used a fork to mash the larger chopped up bits. I let it cook until it “came together”, and then I raised the heat up. I let it go again until it splattered and sputtered and got thick, stirring it occasionally. Then I added a teaspoon of cardamom and lowered the heat a bit to let the cardamom cook into it. At this point, it seemed to have the consistency of a slightly chunky applesauce, but I thought it might turn out to be slightly thicker than that when cooled (And it was, but not by much).
I added it to the hot, sterilized jars (I ended up with 16 ounces of it total; one half-pint jar and two 4-oz. jars) and sealed them. Processed them for 10 minutes in a water bath canner and that was that.
Easiest thing ever.
And of course, as she said, it makes a great oatmeal addition. Just swirl it in there. Or, use it however you’d use applesauce. And if you don’t want to “can” it, I’m fairly sure it’d be fine to just pop it in a clean jar and refrigerate it for use right away. Or… can it, make the jars look all spiffy, and use it as part of your holiday gifts. Before anyone asks: I spray painted those bands black myself- not safe to use for the water bath, but I put them on in place of regular ones once the jars are cooled. Yet another “inspired” moment, this time thanks to Well Preserved.
All it took to get me back in the game was three little jars of pear-sauce with black-painted rings? Not bad. Not bad at all.