Sunday, June 04, 2006

Burnt Jam

Thumbprint Cookies with Burnt Jam in the Center...

OK. I finished all the posts I wanted to upload before the end of May, and now I can finally write about my last weekend. Yes, I stayed at my parents’ house, as I mentioned in my previous post, but my mom and I did not go to the beach. The weather wasn't good. If it was just the rain, we wouldn’t have minded. But it was almost like a storm, with strong winds and waves as high as typhoon waves. So, no abalone picking. No way.

Instead, we (dad, mom and I) went to the orchard and picked konatsu oranges.

At the dinner table at night, I was busy eating the dishes both mom and dad offered to me. Yep. Dad often cooks, too. It's not that he is into cooking; he is into health food. He loves growing “highly nutritious” veggies introduced in health magazines and trying out salads and veg. juice recipes he finds there. Mom offered me the pickles and simmered food she likes. Obviously, they are harvesting and cooking more than enough for just two of them.

It’s not only vegetables that they need to consume. Dad grows many kinds of oranges -- maybe 6 to 7 kinds -- and even after dad sold them to several shops in town, plenty of not-good-enough-for-sale oranges are usually left on the trees or in the storage. So, what should we do with them? Juice? Jelly? Jam? Marmalade? Use them for baking? Mom and I always feel the pressure of having to do something about those leftover oranges.

Mom is into making jam and sugared orange peels(?) these days. Last weekend, when I first went into the kitchen with mom, she looked at me with a big grin on her face and said, “Oh, here’s something for you.”

Orange Jam – burnt.

She said that she burnt a big potful (the biggest pot in house!) of orange jam about a week ago. I forgot what kind of oranges she said she used, but at least they were not konatsu. She insisted that the taste of the jam was not totally intolerable and I should be able to eat it with yoghurt. Another suggestion she made was using it for thumbprint cookies. So I came back to my apartment with this jar full of brown orange jam, and these are the thumbprint cookies I made today.

Yeah, mom, they are OK. The jam tastes only slightly bitter, but it’s not too terrible. But…I can’t help wishing that the jam on top of these cookies was store-bought cherry jam or raspberry jam …
Am I a cold-hearted daughter? ;P



Anonymous said...

They look fabulous, Obachan! You're really firing up my baking spirit!

Anonymous said...

They do look good but what's the point of having something sweet which you don't enjoy as much as possible? Since there is only pleasure in sweets (and rarely much nutritional value), having burnt jam which you don't particularly like on them seems illogical.

I don't think you're a cold-hearted daughter. In fact, I don't think your mother should not have given you something she burnt and expect you to use it. She should have given you something which turned out well. I would have thrown the jam away.

Anonymous said...


obachan said...

Go for it! Follow where the baking spirit leads. ;)

anonymous commenter
The point is not wasting the terrible amount of sugar and oranges used for the jam, and saving a family member from emotional distress, knowing how much time and efforts she made for making the jam and also knowing how much efforts it takes to grow/harvest the oranges. Perhaps we do not fit in your sense of “logically correct” world, but among our family members and friends, we accept something imperfect, too, and often try to help each other and save someone’s failure. For us, there’s something more important in life than being always logically correct. Besides, there are such things as sweets/desserts with good nutritional value. :)

anonymous commenter
Actually I’m thinking that this jam might give a nice kick when baked into a pound cake or something …

Anonymous said...

The moment the jam was burned and ruined, the oranges, sugar (and her mother's time) were wasted. It seems Obachan's mother was trying to make her daughter compensate for the waste her mistake created.

For me, there is something more important than being logically correct and that's respecting others enough not to make them pay the price for your mistakes. Kindness goes both ways. You don't give someone something you broke and hope they make use of it so you don't have to feel bad about breaking it. It's a kindness not to place that burden on them.

Crazy Gaijin said...

I'm with you Obachan! I don't agree with the Anonymous poster. I think that your mother probably know you better than the poster (I hope so ;-) ) and that she knows you well enough to know you will find a creative use for something that isn't spoiled completely. I think I would enjoy this burnt jam, as I like bitter things more than sweet things.

BTW - I visited Shikoku the other day, but didn't get to Kochi. Just a day trip to Takamatsu and Kotohira for udon eating. We made udon at the Nakano Udon School and then went on a mission to eat sanuki udon!!! Delicious, and I hope to post about it soon!

Anonymous said...


obachan said...

anonymous commenter
My parents experienced extreme hunger in their childhood after the WW II, and the majority of residents in my hometown are elderly people who believe, being brought up in a small fishing and farming village, that wasting food is a sin. Being in such environment, when someone in my family ends up making a not-so-successful dish, we try to find a way to consume it somehow, as long as it is not helplessly terrible. And it is natural for us to help each other to do so.

Sometimes, someone in my family makes “mistakes” in cooking. Sometimes omelet is burned a little, or a little too much salt is sprinkled on grilled fish, but as far as they are not too terrible, we eat them, and none of our family members feel disrespected. When mom and I made a vinegared dish too sour, my aunt who was happened to be there and who loves sour food took it home and ate it all at once. When my sushi turned out miserably, my mom made it into a different kind of sushi. When it comes to baking, it’s me or my sister who finds use for mom’s not-so-successful work. (Mom does have occasional success, though.) Sometimes it leads to an unexpected discovery, and other times it just adds to our family bloopers and we have good laughs talking about it over and over. I assume that we’re not the only family on the face of the earth with anecdotes like these.

If your family members throw away any food with a “mistake,” and that makes all family members feel respected and happy, it’s wonderful. And here we have a different way of life. Kindness takes many different ways and different families in different cultures have different background and financial situations. What I don’t understand is why it is necessary to determine what “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”are for those who live a different way of life about an issue like this. No matter how my family would look to you, we cannot live up to your criteria.

Yeah, our relationship is as mentioned above.
I’m glad you had a good time in takamatsu and even tried making udon! So you stepped on the udon dough? :D That’s something I’ve got to try in the near future.

anonymous commenter who writes in uppercase
Yep, exactly. ;)