Friday, August 17, 2012

At Grandma's Table

Our air conditioner conked out on Wednesday. Thankfully, Thursday was a much cooler day, so I threw open the windows and cranked up the fans while we waited for the repairman.

But even in my downstairs office, I could hear the angel windchimes dancing in my kitchen window. Every twinkling note reminded me of  my Grandma Neelly. I gave her the windchimes for a long-ago birthday. She hung them between the living room and dining room, and they often tinkled as they swayed in the breeze of people walking the heavily-trafficked path in my grandparents' house. The chimes moved to my kitchen window when my grandparents' home was torn down last year.
Four generations: My mom, Janis Neelly Moore, my grandma Lela Johnson Neelly holding Jill Renee Fritzemeier, and me, a much younger version, on Jill's Baptism Day - December 1985
I was already thinking about my Neelly grandparents because I have several pears sitting on my counter. Along with a big garden, Grandma and Grandpa grew pears and apples. Last week, I picked pears from our trees just south of our house, and I probably picked them a little too soon. They are hard as little rocks. But, two years ago, I evidently waited too long, and they mysteriously disappeared.

I stuck some in a brown paper bag, and those are finally starting to ripen. I had some on a salad yesterday. But Grandma often made Pear Honey with their bountiful harvests, a sweet combination of pears, pineapple and sugar. It was one of my favorites on Grandma's table.
Lisa and me at a long ago birthday celebrated at Grandma's table with her homemade angel food cake
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not someone who cans food. I probably don't have enough pears to make this jam. And neither Randy or I need it anyway. But as the windchimes chimed, I had to dig out Grandma's Pear Honey recipe that I have stuck in my ancient 4-H recipe box. Not to make it, mind you. Just to see it and remember.
Not the actual recipe, but it shows my lovely recipe box!
Use the recipe at your own discretion. As it was given to me, it is pretty vague. It used the ingredients listed in recipe form below and said:

Follow directions on Sure Jell box. Cook a little longer with added pineapple. Doesn't sheet too thick off the spoon.

Well, that may have been all Grandma needed to make her pear honey, but most of us need a little more direction. Since I don't have any Sure Jell in my pantry, I Googled it and expanded the directions using that information. So who knows how accurately this reflects how Grandma made her Pear Honey? Just in case you don't want to chance it, click the link for a recipe from Paula Deen. It doesn't use any pectin.

As for me, I'll probably just keep dreaming about Grandma's Pear Honey and remembering the times I sat at Grandma's table. The memories are just as sweet as that tasty jam.

Pear Honey
4 cups peeled and chopped pears
1 box Sure Jell
2 tbsp. lemon juice
5 cups sugar
1/2 of a 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple 

Open the box of Sure Jell and add it to the pears in a stockpot. Add lemon juice. Stir together well with the spoon. Turn the burner on high to boil the pears and pectin, stirring constantly. Add the sugar, continuing to stir. Bring to a boil again and then stir for 1 minute. Add the pineapple and bring back to boil, stirring constantly. Remove the stockpot from the stove, and remove any foam from the top of the fruit. Pour into sterilized jars or containers. Process in water bath canner.


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