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pickeled peppersAutumn, the period of year with so rich and beautiful colors, in the kitchen of my Gramma meant a time of preparation for winter.
At the end of summer, when all the passion of the summer sun slowly ceases, my Gramma used to pickle cucumbers in nice glass jars, jar by jar, as she brought them from the garden - fresh, small and green.
She used to pickle peppers, too – big, round, meaty yellow ones, then red pointy ones we called „horns“, she was baking  chutneys and jams and the kitchen was entvined with aroma of roasted peppers, with rich smells of  vinegar, pepper and salt.

Gramma candied apricots and baked plum jam, made apple, cherry or walnut liqueur along ... preparing her pantry for late fall and winter.

All of that was so interesting to watch, I felt a bit like a hamster, bringing together with Gramma all those jars and bottles in the pantry and putting them on shelves, organizing jars and bottles sometimes by color, sometimes by the type of vegetable and fruit and sometimes by size.

Jolly events in the yard was brought by chestnuts and beaujolais. We would all gather around the old stove in the backyard and hang together, while Granpa was cutting the chestnuts and fried them in an old pan, stirring them every few minutes and grilled them with passion.

Gramma was pouring beaujolais, which would be usually brought by someone of our neighbors since my family did not have grape-vineyard. Even I used to get a glass of that sweet, aromatic juice that is just about to become wine.

However, the most interesting events of autumn, for me, were brought by plums.
Plums, blue as the sea, were full of drums and barrels. My Granpa baked brandy, together with my dad and uncle. All three of them were smartassing about what's brandy like this year and would it be better to make double-baked brandy this year or not and whether this year's  neighbor George's brandy is better than ours. They were talking and talking, laughing and drinking and a boiler for the brandy was whiffing and fuming, brandy was pouring out bringing joy and laughter in the yard, where the neighbors gathered mainly in the evening and smartassing whose brandy was better this year.


Meanwhile, Gramma had her own "concerns" with plums. I loved, and still adore dumplings with plums. So simple dish, but so underappreciated. I was rolling, together with Gramma, dumplings, tucking the plums in soft potato dough and so impatiently waiting the first ocassion when Gramma will cook them.

plum jamAnd then, that wonderful smell of  plum jam. Cooked jam or baked jam, as Gramma decided that year. The kitchen was covered with rich, full scent of plums, cinnamon, lemon and rum. My Gramma looked a bit like a witch,  stirring constantly the plum jam, entvined with a cloud of aromatic steam.
I've had a task to put a pickled ring of lemon on top of each jar of jam, then close them all and "tuck in" in a blanket so they could gradually cooled until the morning.

Even today, the most tasty part of the plum jam is that lemon ring, infused with the aroma of plums, reminding me how cheerful and colorful fall was in the kitchen of my Gramma.

Category: Season Stories