I have a new food enemy. Pears. Well, I've got to be really honest here -- its not the pears -- they're really good for us... its what my grandmother does with the pears that makes me crazy.
Growing up do you remember any food at your family table that caused a complete rukus? There were a few at mine, blueberries for one and the second was pear preserves.
I know you're probably rolling your eyes and saying "Pear preserves! What the heck is so great about some boiled sugar laden pears."
I'm not really sure what makes these preserves that my grandmother makes so good. In fact, I've spent much of my time in the South trying to deconstruct and improve on this yummy sweet amber treat and I think I've found a way to continue this tradition.
Liquor. I think the only thing that can improve on my Nana's recipe is an infusion of Grand Marnier. I'll let you know how that goes but a few days ago I made a pear preserve martini and let me just say the smooth taste made everything right with the world.
Now back to the preserves. I can't ever remember a time in my history where I didn't have pear preserves. It wasn't until I actually began writing about food that I dared think that I could improve upon my 91-year old grandmother's signature dish. When I voiced my idea -- my Nana nearly had a fit. "Improve?" she said critically. "How is it that you think you can make my pear preserve better?" she said with disdain.
Hmph! I'll show her. But in the meantime we set aside our differences the other day and went to her longtime neighbor's backyard and picked pears. We both had so many bags full we could hardly carry them.
When we returned home my grandmother immediately began peeling and chopping her pear jewels. I looked at my sac and said maybe later and continued with a writing assignment that had a deadline looming.
In no time, my grandmother had prepped her pears and began the process, by mid-morning she had brunch ready with fresh biscuits, salmon pear preserves and creamy sour cream grits.
I ask you how in the world am I supposed to stick to an eating plan when sabotage is all around? I certainly am not going to miss any preserves however what I am doing is making different choices... instead of downing a few biscuits, I take my preserves and put them on a fresh crunchy pear.
In my free time (hardly ever with deadlines) I plug away and try to figure out a way to make the preserves healthier with less sugar so that when I pass the recipe down in the future -- these family pear preserves will not only be potentially yummier but healthier as well.
As for the pear preserves flavored with liquor well, they may not be healthier but everyone deserves a little guilty pleasure now and then -- especially with a family like my own.
Published On: August 18, 2010