My first ever piece of jewelry was given by my grandmother in the first grade. It was tradition in our family that a golden medallion with a religious carving was given to each grandchild celebrating their first Holy Communion. As like many good young Catholic girls, this occasion was one of the most eagerly anticipated events in our school. I was so excited to be wearing a beautiful white dress (I thought I looked like an angel – YIKES!), to finally feel “grown up” and receive Holy Communion and of course I also knew I would be receiving that gold medal like all my siblings and cousins before me.
For most of my childhood I thought that it was probably the most important family heirloom that my Mama (how we all called her) could ever give me. I remember being at school one day realizing I had lost it. I was in tears and was frantic searching my classrooms, the bathrooms and the school cafeteria for it. A few hours later I remembered I had removed it and placed it in my gym bag (yes, even then I was already misplacing things!). What a relief!
While I still treasure my little medallion, I know now that there are greater things my Mama (how we always called her), left me.
Take for instance the importance of family. Nothing can be more telling than how she managed to get all her children, grandchildren and occasionally other close family and friends, to gather at her house every Sunday lunch. If you asked me what was on for the weekend – the first thing I would always say was, “we have Sunday lunch at Mama’s house”. I think she got the formula right when she made sure each meal was so delicious that it made these gatherings worth dropping everything for.
Did I tell you that my Mama’s house was also a summer camp and concert ground? Yup, that’s right. Every summer all the cousins would be dropped of at her house and we’d spend the entire day eating, swimming, and concocting silly games to keep ourselves occupied. I remember one summer when all the girls discovered Duran Duran. Oh my… We’d start the day watching one of their videos (in those days we would watch it on the “betamax”!) and then proceed to have our own concert. The older cousins got to pick first who they wanted to “be”. I thought it extremely unfair that my older sister got to be Simon Le Bon when I thought I looked more like him (yes, I don’t know where I got the idea that I looked like him when he looks nothing like a little Asian girl). However, I was lucky enough not to be the youngest who was always stuck being Andy Taylor!
Whether it be Sunday lunch, summer camp or one of the holiday gatherings – Mama always kept us together. In my own home, this tradition continues on until today. It might not exactly be on Sunday, but at least once a week, we will gather together for a family meal.
Then of course there’s my love for cooking which I am 100% sure I got from her. When people tell me “you would make your Mama proud” or “you’re just like your Mama”. Well, it just makes me want to sing and I can’t stop smiling!
Family and food – these are the jewels my Mama left me.
These little Pate de Fruit remind me very much of little gems and well, truth be told they taste amazing. The recipe is adapted from Cannelle et Vanille. I used her ratios to make strawberry, grape and orange pate de fruit. The recipe it seems can be doubled and tripled with the same successful results.
- 120 grams fruit puree, strained
- 3 grams yellow pectin – I used citrus pectin
- 15 grams sugar
- 150 grams sugar
- 30 grams glucose
- 4 grams lemon juice
For the strawberry, I pureed 200 grams in a food processor and strained this to yield the 120 grams.
For the grape, I pureed 385 grams to yield 240 grams (strained) – this recipe I doubled.
For the orange, I first boiled two oranges (seedless) for ten minutes, cut the tops and bottoms and pureed the flesh and juice in a food processor – I did not strain the mixture but used the pulp and juice for the mix. I measured out 360 grams and tripled the rest of the recipe above.
For the instructions below, this assumes you are going to only make one quantity.
- Spray a pan with some flavourless oil (I used grapeseed) and line with plastic wrap, making sure to remove the air from the edges.
- Mix the pectin with the 15 grams of sugar.
- Place the fruit puree in a saucepan and bring to a light boil.
- Add the pectin and sugar mixture and mix with a wooden spoon.
- When it comes to a boil, add the rest of the sugar.
- After 3 minutes add the glucose.
- Continue to mix and cook to 106C. This took me around 10 to 15 minutes depending on whether I was making a single or double or triple quantity.
- Stir often so that the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom.
- Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat and quickly pour into the container.
- Allow to harden for a few hours and then cut into desired shapes.
- Coat with granulated sugar.