Why Fountain Pens are Cool

2015 May 20
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by welovejam

courtesty fountainpennetwork website

There is nothing more refreshing in this constantly wired world than to unplug with a fountain pen. Yes, I know what you are thinking – fountain pens? Who uses them and don’t they squirt ink everywhere?

Actually, fountain pens are a growing niche of collectibles that hark back to a simpler time with some pens fetching seven figures. Despite old slapstick movies of squirting fountain pens, they are actually quite safe to use, not to mention the most environmentally friendly pen. But what I love most about fountain pens is not only the joy of the hunt finding a beautiful, unusual vintage pen, but the fact that fountain pens make even the messiest handwriting look better.

My obsession actually started around when I was a kid in the 1970s. Every weekend my parents would pack my brother and I into the car and drive to either antique shows or auctions where their obsessive collecting bug could be satisfied. My brother and I would be left wandering around for hours trying to entertain ourselves. Along the way I became obsessed with the old fountain pens in the glass cases of assembled junk so many dealers seemed to have and my parents bought me a few since they were cheap. None of the pens worked since the pens were lever fillers – operated by the means of a small rubber balloon or sac inside that by moving a lever on the side of the pen could suck up ink out of an inkwell through the tip of the pen. All my pens’ sacs had crumbled into dust and were basically useless, but I liked to pretend to write with them.

Flash forward 39 years when I was recently in one of my favorite a stationary stores in San Francisco where I live and for some strange reason looked at the fountain pens they had ironically in a glass case. There was a beautiful stainless steel A.G. Spalding that caught my eye. The woman behind the counter asked if I wanted to try it out and to my surprise handed me the pen and opened an inkwell and told me I could just dip the pen into it and write. This was a huge realization that all these years I could have been using my pens I still had in a small wooden box buried deep in a closet. She explained all fountain pens work either by filling them with ink using the sac or the cartridges of ink newer pens use, or you can dip them like the old fashioned feather quills since the principal is the same. All nibs, which is the tip of the pen, are triangular in shape and have a thin slit up the middle that holds enough ink to write several sentences.

feather quill pen for sale on etsy

I bought a bottle of purple ink and for the first time in nearly 4 decades could write with the old lever pens I had. It unleashed my old passion for pens and I found myself spending hours on eBay researching different fountain pens.

Like all my obsessions they are fast, furious and end fairly quickly and hopefully with minimal financial damage. I had the sacs of my old pens replaced by a local pen store which is quick and quite cheap for $30/pen and I purchased a few additional vintage pens.

This is what I have learned about why fountain pens are so relevant today. First off they are environmentally friendly. You can buy a beautiful pen from the 1920s and use it indefinitely. Why buy disposable pens that litter landfill, when you can buy a few absolutely unique, antique pens and keep them forever – and hand them down to the next generation.

Fountain pens are a good investment and a safe collectible since they take up virtually no space. My old Sheaffer white dot Bakelite pen from 1914 that my parents probably purchased for around $5 in the mid-1970s is now worth around $200. The value of these pens will continue to increase over the years.

However, the very best part of using a fountain pen is the huge impact they make on your handwriting. The nibs of fountain pens come in many shapes and sizes. There are nibs for very fine lines which are indicated by a capital F, medium nibs, M, all the way up to triple broad or BBB nibs that give a very emphatic and expressive effect. There are stub nibs that are slightly flat and give nice line variation since the down stroke is wide, but a horizontal stroke is thin. Oblique nibs are similar to stubs, but are usually slanted left or right for left or right handed writers. There are calligraphy nibs and even music nibs – for writing music which are so cool and quite expensive.

parper pen nibs chelseafinestationary website

music nib
music nib with notes

More important than the width of the point of the nib is how flexible it is. Some are firm which means when you put pressure on the tip of the pen the two prongs do not separate. These pens were designed for writing on carbon copies where a lot of pressure was needed. A semi-flexible and flexible nib will separate giving you the ability, depending on pressure, to write a fine to a broad line giving your handwriting a very beautiful calligraphic quality.

The most coveted and expensive flexible nibs are called wet noodles because they flex so much and give such a broad line variation. Wet noodle nib pens usually are the most expensive and the prices are rising since they are fairly rare and newer pens usually don’t have these types of nibs. Any flexible nib pen will beautify your writing that no ballpoint pen, smart phone or computer font can ever replicate. Since everyone’s handwriting is different, flexible nibs exaggerate your style making it even more unique.

waterman wet noodle eyedropper

So what pen do you want to buy? Well you have many choices. Of course there are still fountain pens made today with the most notable companies being Montblanc, Pelikan, Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman – all old fashioned pen companies that still are in business.

In terms of vintage pens all the brands above are good picks. Old Waterman pens are famous for their flexible nibs as well as the Swan pens by now defunct company Mabie Todd – with their stunning lizard skin patterned pens commanding the highest prices.

Montblanc pens are renowned for how smoothly they write, with my favorite being the little-known line designed in the 1950s by Count Albrecht von Goertz, an industrial design legend noted for designing the BMW 503, 507 and the Datsun 240Z cars.

montblanc 24

Many of the people selling vintage pens on eBay or websites dedicated to old pens restore the pens so you will get a new sac. Or you can buy a pen and have it cleaned and a new sac added. Some pens don’t have sacs but use a piston device found on some Montblanc, Swan and Pelikan models. These are my favorite and very easy to operate since all you do is stick the pen in the ink and twist a cap on the end of the pen back and forth to suck up the ink by means of a piston that moves back and forth inside the pen creating vacuum. Early pens from the turn of the century are eyedroppers – which means you open them up and fill them with an eyedropper; these are often very orate, yet quirky pens with their own set of admirers.

Parker Luky Curve eyedropper filler fountain pen c.1899

You can see how obsessive pen collectors are by searching on any of these brands or pen styles on YouTube where you will find videos of people demonstrating and evaluating particular brands and models.

Once you have several pens, maybe with different nibs, you can immerse yourself in buying ink in a wide array of colors such as shocking pink, midnight blue, tourmaline, Indian orange, Jonathan Swift seaweed green etc. I have a different color ink in each pen and like to use them for certain things. One is for writing checks (trust me no matter how much you hate writing checks you will begin loving it with a fountain pen), writing thank you notes or for creating my grocery lists. When the ink runs out you can always change to a new color.

The best inks are made by Montblanc and Parker’s Iroshizuku, and both come in beautiful bottles.
montblanc inkfuyu gaki persimmon

And if you want to go whole hog, you can begin collecting inkwells which are a completely different category with their own obsessive collectors. My favorite are the silver capstan versions from England designed for use on ships so they don’t slide or spill.

capstan inkwell

There are also traveling inkwells that have special locks that keep the ink from leaking – perfect if you have pets or kids on the loose.

traveling inkwell william neal london 1859traveling inkwell with decorationsgeorge III traveling inkwell

Finally, as if pens, nibs, inks and inkwells are not enough, you have to get a blotter.

For sale at https://www.torquato.co.uk/

For sale at https://www.torquato.co.uk/

Depending on your pen and the paper you use (this is a whole other category I will not get into), the ink may take longer to dry than you want. This is especially true of wide nib pens that flow a lot of ink onto the page. An ink blotter is a device that at one time every person had. You write what you want, and then you rock the blotter over the wet page and it soaks up the ink so the paper is dry. These were so common place that almost all the blotter paper was printed with advertisements of companies. Even today there are millions of these floating around and, you guessed it, people collect these old advertising blotter papers.

French Bambi Jam? Who New!

French Bambi Jam? Who New!

smokey the bear blotterwrong nail blotter paperccm bicycle ink blotter 1940sbroken show windows insurance blotter

I have yet to make the plunge to find a nice blotter. First they are expensive and second I have yet to find one I want. I just wave the paper in the air. That works fine!

So if you want to enjoy a simple pleasure that is an escape from the rat race of modern technology, do yourself and the environment a big favor and make the switch to fountain pens. They are far better looking than the disposable pens you have, make a great investment you can use daily, are guaranteed to make writing anything so much more fun and transform even the worst scribble into writing more pleasing to the eye. I should know – I have the most horrible handwriting imaginable and it is somewhat more shall we say ‘artistic.’

welovejam pen

Resources for researching, buying and restoring pens:
Fountain Pen Network
Vintage Flex
Vintage Pen
Peyton Street Pens
Vintage Pens
Vintage Fountain Pens

Goodbye Paper

2015 May 19
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by welovejam

fav ws

As admitted magazine addicts, we get way too many. First I feel bad about all the paper. We do recycle so that eases my conscious a little. Then it is the time it takes to read them.

While some people have made the transition to reading on the computer and tablets we both hate it. Face it, there is something about a paper publication, whether it is a book, magazine or newspaper that is vastly superior as a tactile and sensory experience. There are the different types of paper used, inserts added, the layout can be much more sophisticated, and you can cut out articles and line your bathroom walls with them. Just kidding. Well you get my point.

Fleur Cowles could never have done a digital version of her famous magazine Flair.

Nor could could have Joseph Holtzman ever done Nest magazine on a tablet or computer.

nest cover

But the days of paper publications are fading fast. I admit that someday I will just have to accept that they no longer exist and I will have to do all my reading on a screen. It will be a very sad day.

On the bright side, I still have my simple reading pleasures that are all on paper. My first fave is Vanity Fair. I don’t care about the celebrities on the cover since they all bore me; what I like are the profiles from the past – say the Duke of Windsor or Sigfried and Roy.

But what I really wanted to write about is a publication that few in the general public know about: Women’s Wear Daily or WWD.

Founded in 1910, it is considered the fashion bible. Now, I am nowhere near a fashion person by any means. I found out about WWD because it also used to publish W magazine which we have gotten for years and is required reading in our house. I especially love the arts coverage, and the annual arts issue they do. It was only with a little research I realized WWD was a daily newspaper about fashion. I got a subscription over a year ago when I had a fleeting fancy to start up a company making silk dressing gowns. You see here in San Francisco where it is perpetually cold and miserable, and given our house is mostly glass windows, I discovered a silk dressing gown was a very elegant way to stay warm.

Soon I became obsessed with all the manufacturers and learned Sulka, a long extinct super high-end shop, made the very best silk robes.

Sulka Robe advertisement courtesy of The Advertising Archives

Sulka Robe advertisement courtesy of The Advertising Archives

The playing field in the silk dressing gown world today is quite small with Charvet making the very best today.

Charvet Dressing Gown

Charvet Dressing Gown

I dreamed up the idea of designing my own fabric patterns, having them printed on silk, hiring some girls I know to sew them and sell online. I needed a subscription to WWD to get more familiar with the fashion industry.

It was love at first sight. The first issue I got in the mail was about 10 pages, the kind of skimpy newspaper high schools print out, or used to. It was so cute, but it was the quality of the writing and wide range of stories that captivated me, not to mention I got 5 issues a week. It was like Christmas every day of the week. I long ago put the silk dressing gown business idea on the back burner, but I continue to get WWD.

The sad news is they stopped printing the paper edition a few weeks ago and it is only online and that really depressed me. I mean I liked WWD so much, the first thing I did when I got home was slip on my dressing gown, pour a glass of champagne, recline on the couch and read it cover to cover. That was my ritual until the paper stopped being delivered. But… the good news is they now print a few times a week a thick glossy magazine as a substitute which is less news (that is for online) and more features which I think I like even more than the daily newspaper of old.

Now, I originally got WWD because each Thursday was focused on menswear. I could care less about women’s fashions. The downside is the new magazines don’t have the menswear edition which contained The Man of the Week – an often hilarious down dressing of male celebrities fashion sense that just seems to be online.

tim tebow wwd

All I can say is do yourself a favor and get a subscription to WWD.

Then there is the Wall Street Journal.

wsj may 23 2015

As a former journalist I can assure you kids graduating from the top journalism programs in the U.S. all aspired to getting a job in the top two papers: The NY Times and WSJ. I think the WSJ is vastly superior. First their business reporting is the best in the world. Period. But my very favorite part of the WSJ is the feature and lifestyle stories they have really put a focus on since Rupert Murdoch bought the paper a few years back. These are featured in the Personal Journal segment on weekdays, and then on Fridays is the Mansion section all about houses. Then there is the Weekend Edition, which comes on Saturday and is relatively new. You can even get a subscription just for the weekend section if you want. I could tell Murdoch wanted to compete more with the NY Times with this new direction toward lifestyle stories, and while the WSJ is still very much a business paper, I think it caters to a much more intelligent and discerning crowd than the NY Times. The weekend edition also contains great recipes! We have many cut outs of fantastic recipes that we have made time and time again thanks to the WSJ. Get a subscription to the WSJ paper edition, or just the weekend edition and you will come around to my point of view. Trust me.

Book review of The Secret History of Wonder Woman 10/25-26/2014

Book review of The Secret History of Wonder Woman 10/25-26/2014

Delicious Scents

2015 May 19
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by welovejam

pf candle co

I have always had a very sensitive nose. Sometimes it has benefited me, such as the time the back seat of my car caught fire, and I smelled the smoke before anyone else in the car (yes even those in the back seat!)

I hate to say it, but this was when I was 19 and it was actually a joint someone threw out the front window that blew into the open back window and miraculously lodged into a tiny opening no thicker than a pencil between the back seat. That chance of that happening must have been on in a billion. Given it was a 1964 Buick Rivera, and the seats actually were stuffed with some dried natural grass substance, the entire thing erupted into flames. But, due to my amazing nose, I pulled quickly into a 7-Eleven just before the car burst into flames. Given the state my friends were in, when I yelled for them to get water, as I tried to beat the flames with the shirt I tore off, after an unusually long wait, they all returned with big gulps! Needless to say, the fire took about 10 big gulps to finally die, and the sticky aftermath took hours of cleaning. Why none of them told the cashier they needed water to put out a flaming Buick, and paid for all that soda, is beyond me.

Other times my nose can be a problem, such as when I am trapped in a small space with someone wearing too much fragrance or who doesn’t like to bathe. I will never forget being trapped in an elevator that got stuck for over an hour with a very sweaty man who obviously did not use deodorant. Words cannot express how difficult it was to be civil – and yet I was!

So when it comes to fragrances I am very picky. And candles – they really bother me. The scents used are so powerful and unpleasant. I never met a candle that I liked until happened upon a cute little brown glass jar with a gold lid – that looked sort of like the jars we put our jam in.

It is called Amber and Moss. The manufacturer is P.F. Candle Co.. It is supposed to evoke the woods, and has a wonderfully complex scent I just cannot analyze. If they made a soap that had the same scent I would be in heaven. I even emailed them a few years ago and they said there were no plans on soap. They seemed mystified I would want to smell like a damp forest floor. I guess I am crazy. Who knows. But they make many other candles, so go on their website to see where you can visit shops and smell for yourself, or just take a chance and buy straight from their site.

Could this be the best cola?

2015 May 19
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by welovejam

q kola

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I really do not like soda of any kind. This probably has to do with the fact as a kid, my brother and I were banned from drinking it. We were only allowed to have soda in the house twice a year when we had our birthday parties. Pizza, soda and an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins (all strictly taboo food items in the Haeberli household) was definitely a big birthday deal and the forbidden nature of this junk food got the two of us so excited.

Not growing up drinking soda means I never really developed a taste for it. I also knew it was full of sugar and bad for you. This was reinforced about 16 years ago when I purchased my first house and ran into an electrical problem during its restoration. There was a long 15 foot pipe embedded in the concrete foundation of my living room that carried the wire for a floor outlet that wasn’t working. Somehow the wire was bad and was corroded so my electrician couldn’t pull it out. However, the electrician didn’t seem concerned at all.

“I will tell you an old electrician’s trick,” he told me. “Buy a can of coke, pour it into the pipe and let it sit a week. When I come back, the wire will pull right out and I can run a new wire in its place.”

Skeptical, I followed his directions, and a week later when he showed up, I was simply amazed when he pulled the wire out as if the pipe were lined with butter.

“That’s incredible!” I exclaimed as he held the rusted wire.

“Makes you think twice about drinking coke,” he laughed.

About a month ago someone gave me as a present a bottle of natural ginger soda made by Q Drinks.. I was a little apprehensive because I had purchased their tonic water, their first product, and was very disappointed. I absolutely love gin and tonics. It is the quintessential summer drink, and here in San Francisco when it is normally cold and foggy, on the rare days when it is almost summer temperatures, I naturally crave a G&T. The Q tonic was billed as less sweet and more natural. However, the flavor was way off from what I was used to. My G&T was so bad I tossed it down the drain and had to run out and get my Schweppes tonic water. It was a near traumatic experience.

The ginger soda sat in the fridge for months until my boyfriend drank it and said it was amazing. Fortified by this, we purchased a four pack of their kola and wow it blew our minds. The flavor is perfectly balanced, it tastes clean as it should be since it is completely natural and uses real kola nut. The second best thing is it only has 80 calories per bottle, but you would never know it. Could this possibly be the best cola out there? For now I think it is until I find something better. Heck, I might even drink more than one bottle a year.

Real Capers from Salina

2015 May 19
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by welovejam

salina capers

Capers are a daily staple in our kitchen which we use for salad dressings, in sauces, a companion to fish and are terrific chopped up and sprinkled on fried eggs with wilted arugula and a little vinaigrette. What I love about capers is you can use them in lieu of salt because the flavor of a good caper is simply one of a kind, and far superior to plain salt. What is a caper exactly? It is an unopened flower bud that has been salted and preserved so it does not need refrigeration.

Capparis spinosa

The caper shrub has the most beautiful flowers. I saw one for the first time at a local farmer friend’s garden in Gilroy, Calif. Apparently his mother smuggled a cutting back from Eastern Europe many years ago. The plant was about 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall, and was blooming the July day I visited. After seeing this amazing plant I desperately wanted one, but we have no room. You can buy shrubs online at Amazon.

Flash forward many years when a dear friend asked me a huge favor. Her 13-year-old son wanted to go to a science camp in Monterey, Calif. and since they lived in Washington, DC she asked if I could pick him up from the airport, let him sleep overnight, drive him two hours to the camp and then a week later pick him up and make sure he caught his flight out of SFO. Secretly I was a little worried because this was in July when we are in the midst of making apricot jam, but I simply replied, “well he might have to help make apricot jam!”

She was very apprehensive since this was the very first time he had ever traveled alone. He turned out to be a charming kid who fell in love with San Francisco and the short time we spent together was a blast. Luckily he wasn’t forced to make any apricot jam either. When he arrived home, she asked me what she could do to repay me for doing such a huge favor. “Just send me a huge bag of capers from Salina,” I replied.

Her family has a house in Salina, a tiny island near Sicily, and I had heard stories of how wonderful the capers were. Apparently until you have a Salina caper you haven’t really had a caper.

“You will have to wait until they come down from the mountain after harvest,” she told me.

“How long will that be?” I asked hoping it would be in a few weeks.

“Probably in November!”

Well the wait was agony, but one day, without any warning, a small box arrived in the mail. When I opened it up, there was a clear, unmarked plastic bag stuffed with about 2 lbs of capers. There were absolutely no salt crystals at all. “Were they even cured?” I thought to myself. Then the second thought that struck me was how humongous they were! Some were the size of a big blueberry!

Like most agricultural products, there are different grades based on size. The capers we get here in the U.S. are the smallest capers. They come in jars of brine which is a terrible crime because the brine robs them of their flavor. If you have a jar of brined capers immediately throw it away! The ones packed in salt crystals are much better, but again, they are tiny and very salty.

This is what surprised me about the Salina capers. Not only are they the highest grade with the most mind boggling flavor but they are not that salty. The old fashioned curing process in Salina from the small producers is different than the commercial process that packs them in salt. I don’t know if this is some government requirement for added preservation, but all I can say is the capers we have left which we keep in a jar in the refrigerator are perfectly fine. The salt crystals seems overkill.

Since they are not as salty you do not need to rinse them and the delicate flavor isn’t masked by over salting.

Go straight to the source and contact the producers themselves at this Italian Slow Food page.

Here is the closest I can find to what we have that you can buy online.

Still want to know more? Check out this video on Salina and the caper harvest process.

Vino Visciola

2015 May 4
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by welovejam

Recently we stopped into a new Italian wine shop here in San Francisco called Enoteca Vino Nostro and had a delightful visit with the owner Amanzio Tamanti who also owns a wine importing company and has been in the busienss 37 years. This means he buys directly from vineyards and imports the wine to his warehouse where he sells most of the wine to local restaurants. He is a great guy to chat with! He also did a trade for our jam for wine. What a guy!

There are so many varieties of grapes there are out there and since we are in the business of fruit, wine is dear to our hearts and learning about new varieties and methods of production is important. In fact, some of our jam-making is based on some obscure types of wine production.

First was the vineyard Tenuta Roveglia from the Lugana DOC region that was a popular Roman wine growing area and was celebrated by the Roman poet Catullus. The Vigne di Catullo Lugana 2010 is made from Trebbiano di Lugana grapes from 55 year old vines near Lake Garda which is the largest lake in Italy. To quote from a website about production:

“Vintage takes place in the first week of October. Firstly, grapes are roughly selected. Unsuitable grapes are eliminated, then the real harvest is carried out by hand in small plastic boxes before soft pressing with 60% maximum extraction of must. White vinification with fermentation in steel barrels for 10-12 months. Once the fermentation is complete, the wine rests in the barrels on its own sediment until the end of October, when it is cleaned and decanted. It is then bottled according to various traditional stages, from February to December of the subsequent year. It is put on the market after having rested in the bottles for 2-3 months.”

All we can say is delicious and powerful.

Then Amanzio, upon hearing about the cherry jams we make, directed us to several bottles of viscola wine which is a red wine made with several types of grapes such as the Lacraima di Morro d’Alba or Vernaccia di Pergola and wild visciola cherries produced in the Le Marche region which is the same as the white we mentioned just above. This is a fortified wine, since a small addition of sugar is added. Apparently, in the old days women drank this stuff since the cherries and fortification made harsh wine more drinkable and the men would drink the gappa.

Le Cantine del Cardinale

Some producers are:
Terra Cruda
Le Cantine del Cardinale
This is an article about them and this type of wine.
Villa Ligi

Who knows maybe we will do a wine and wild cherry jam someday!

Crazy for Herbcraft

2012 April 6
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by welovejam

We fell in love with all things Taylor & Ng many years ago after discovering their wonderful animal mugs. We started scouring Ebay for their other items no longer made such as trivets, pans, bacon presses etc. The mugs you can buy at their site above.

Spaulding Taylor and Win Ng were two San Francisco artists who founded the company in 1965 and it evolved into a store selling all types of products they designed or imported. We are trying to get more information on this seminal San Francisco company that still is in business selling a few products online, but the store closed in the 1980s.

They produced a series of books in the mid 1970s. Herbcraft, our favorite, is illustrated by Ng and written by Violet Schafer.


Other books they did include Wokcraft, Teacraft, Breadcraft and Coffee. Herbcraft has the most amazing illustrations by Ng and Schafer digs up the most fascinating history on the 26 herbs they highlight. The book includes recipes for a number of breads and crackers we have yet to try, but the cottage cheese herb bread sounds yummy. Schafer did a number of books with a Charles Schafter. We would love to know more about them; there is absolutely no information about them online.

Grab yourself a copy at any online used bookseller. They are pretty cheap and totally worth having in your library. We are excited to start growing borage just because of this book. The idea of candying the flowers sounds fantastic!

Biodegradable Clean

2012 April 6
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by welovejam

Who knows how long these wood scrubbing brushes will still be made. Lola is the company and it started back in 1968 selling wood-handled, natural bristle cleaning brushes made in Germany. The company has expanded to plastic products which we don’t like. Most plastic cleaning products are not stamped with what material they are made out of so it is impossible to know if they can be recycled. However, it seems a lot might be made out of the 5 Plastics
PP (polypropylene),
but why they are not stamped is a mystery.

Anyhow, we like to use these for cleaning up pots and dishes since you can just toss them when they are worn out in the compost. They are just wood and tampico bristle which is made from a plant grown in Mexico.

Pääsiäisleipä – You cannot pronounce it but you can eat it!

2012 March 31
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by welovejam

Pääsiäisleipä is a Finnish triple risen sweet bread made this time of year to celebrate the birth of calves and the abundance of dairy products. As a kid my mom used to make this and it is simply delicious. The dough is similar to panettone and is studded with golden raisins, almond slivers, citrus and best and most surprising of all – ground cardamom. This takes a few hours of risings, but you will be justly rewarded with one of the most delicious breads ever. The recipe is from the Sunset Cook Book of Breads 1973.

The recipe makes a big loaf the size of panettone, but you can also cook the dough in muffin tins, adding the dough so it fills half of the tin and rising so it comes to the lip. There is enough dough to fill about three muffin tins. The cooking times will be shorter for the muffins. The most important thing is not to open the oven door until the dough has risen and the top is golden brown. If you open it too early it can fall. Even if it does fall as just happened to me because I opened the oven door too early (yes I forgot) it is still addictively delicious – just not as airy but denser in crumb.

And speaking of baking, if you like to bake we suggest you join the Baker’s Dozen. Membership is cheap and they have all kinds of fun classes, field trips and guest speakers with a catered lunch. They are known for their wonderful cookbook The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook.

Now back to the Pääsiäisleipä!


1 package of yeast
¼ cup warm water (105-115 F)
¾ cup light cream
1 cup all purpose unsifted flour
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ (1/2 lb) cup melted and cooled butter
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 ts of lemon zest
1 TB of orange zest
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup milk scalded and cooled
1 cup rye flour
2 cups unsifted all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a mixer or food processor with a dough kneading attachment

Stir in the cream and 1 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Turn out into a bowl or keep in the mixing bowl, cover and let rise until it doubles in size about 40 minutes. Mix in the egg, sugar, butter, salt cardamom, lemon and orange zests, raisins, almonds and beat until combined. Stir in the milk and rye flour and the 2 cups of all purpose flour and mix or knead for 5 minutes with a machine or 10 minutes by hand.

Butter a bowl and place dough in it and turn around to grease the top of it. Let it rise covered with a cloth until it has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and work into a smooth ball. Place the dough in a well buttered 2 quart straight sided pot and let it rise until it is just about as high as the lip of the pot.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for around 40 minutes. Do not open the oven door until after it has risen and the top is a golden brown or it might fall. If it browns too much, put some foil over it and cook until a chopstick or knife comes out clean. Be careful not to overcook.

Allow to cook 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

Moonshine and Marmalade

2012 March 30
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by welovejam

Long before Michael Pollan wrote the The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Raymond A. Sokolov penned Fading Feast: A Compendium of Disappearing American Regional Foods in 1983. The book is a collection of articles he wrote as a columnist for the Natural History magazine starting in 1979 that stemmed from his concern for the disappearance of regional foods across the U.S.

The book has been reprinted and updated, but the original gist was groundbreaking – commercialization of foods was destroying regional foods and practices. This is the tune Slow Food and Slow Food USA have played along with a chorus of concerned people across the country who have embraced and tried to hold onto local agriculture and food production.

We recommend you get yourself a copy because you will learn a lot. For example we had no idea Indiana is home to some amazing local persimmons, or that wild rice in Minnesota used to be collected in a canoe with two sticks (now most wild rice is machine harvested) or that Michigan is famous for their morel mushrooms.

To keep this brief and to explain the title, we are in the midst of reading about the moonshine tradition in Virgina. Each chapter ends with recipes so as marmalade makers we just had to share with you the recipe for the Plantation Special cocktail.

Of course you are supposed to use illegal home-made hooch from corn cooked up in the deep woods, but bourbon, the sophisticated younger brother of white lightening will do. You can also buy legal moonshine from Ole Smokey or Troy and Sons. Keeping in mind nutmeg is a hallucinogen, we don’t recommend you knock too many of these back unless you feel like tripping.

1 serving

1/2 heaping teaspoon of marmalade
2 oz of white lightening
cracked ice

1. Dissolve the marmalade and a dash of nutmeg in a little water
2. Add the booze, more nutmeg and ice and shake well
3 Serve in an old fashioned glass with another dash of nutmeg on top