What does the Gearhead’s wife do when race season is over? Builds grudges.
Bridge first. There is a second floor door at the east side of our house. Until recently the door opened out onto nothing besides a twelve foot drop off. I frequently quipped the door was for people I don’t like, the ones who have pissed me off, the ones who need to leave immediately. But really, no one has used the door [wife edits: though sometimes I wish they had]. The Gearhead has always said he would build a bridge from the door to the barn. You know the barn, that great big outbuilding fashioned to be a multi layered car garage? But I didn’t really believe him. Besides, the gap over which a bridge would need to connect is not insignificant – it’s a good 13 feet and it’s where the cherry picker is parked. Click here is you don’t know what a cherry picker is. Anyway, I came home from work recently to find construction of a bridge well underway. Don’t worry, the design has accounted for the cherry picker…it goes up and over and there are two odd shaped decks, one for the house and one for the barn, and then the bridge between. I grudgingly admit the bridge is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Grudge. Why do I grudge? I don’t know. Probably it’s slipped into my genetic make-up. That’s right, blame biology. Maybe it’s lack of sleep. The whole schedule
of work and kids and all has been punishing. But then I also signed myself up for a creative writing class on top of that. For fun. And it is fun. But I’m tired. Always tired. So tired that I almost didn’t notice some of the new cars the Gearhead slipped onto the car farm. I can’t tell which one of us is crazier anymore.
A friend dropped some grapes off. They’re Concord grapes but I find the ones that grow around here are always a little foxy tasting, a little wild. So, instead of jelly I made them into a savoury sauce/jam. I used star anise
and cloves and because I didn’t have any juniper berries I topped it up with straight gin. For some reason I think this will go well with hard cheeses. The recipe was adapted from Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler.
Savoury Concord Grape Sauce
41/2 pounds (2 kg) Concord grapes, stemmed
1 small shallot, sliced into rounds
½ cup (120g) sugar
5 whole cloves
1 star anise pod
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons gin
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Place all ingredients up to gin in a large pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the grapes are completely broken down, anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. In small batches, use a rubber spatula to push the mixture through a strainer into a smaller pot, making sure to pass everything through except the skins of the grapes and the spices (I used a food mill for this). Discard the grape skins and the spices.
Return the strained mixture to the pot and bring back to the boil. Depending on the water content of the grapes, you might want to cook it down a bit more, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Stir in the gin and the balsamic vinegar.
Ladle into sterilized jars. Process for 10 minutes, adjusting for elevation. Makes about 4 cups.