Today we welcome the divinely talented Linda Cardillo! Linda is the author of several novels and also the co-founder, with Ann DeFee, of Bellastoria Press. Linda and I met almost a decade ago when we both were winners of Harlequin’s Everlasting Love contest, which resulted in the first sale for both of us. It’s a unique bond and I’ve treasured our friendship as it’s grown.
What do you make, bake, create or buy for the holidays, Linda?
When I was a girl, the end of summer was always marked by two events—the week-long feast of the Madonna del’Arco and the canning of the bounty of my grandmother’s garden. My mother and my aunts sat at an oilcloth-covered table under the pergola that supported my grandfather’s grapevines, peeling, slicing and preserving bushels of eggplants and tomatoes that during the winter would become the basis for antipasto and Neapolitan marinara.
It was the memory of my Aunt Susie’s grape jelly that spurred my own initiation into the mysteries of turning ripe produce into preserves. When my husband and I lived in Germany, one of my husband’s colleagues with an orchard had a bumper crop of plums and shared them with us. I have a wonderful plum tart recipe from my mother-in-law, and made it that night. But I had far too many plums and had to figure out what to do with them before they turned to mush. That is when I remembered Aunt Susie’s paraffin-covered mason jars filled with Grandpa’s grapes and decided one purple fruit was as good as another.
Since that summer twenty-five years ago I’ve put up plums almost every year, sometimes sharing the weekend-long labor with friends, as my mother and aunts did. My fingers turn purple, my kitchen is sticky and fragrant, and at the end of the day my counter is covered with rows of glistening jars filled with luscious fruit. Those preserves have become my signature gift at the holidays, a special treat to sweeten winter days for friends and family.
30 lbs Italian prune plums
12-15 lbs sugar
Rinse and slice plums into quarters.
Layer plums with sugar in a crock or large plastic container, in the proportion of ½ cup sugar for every cup of plums.
Cover and allow to rest for 12-24 hours.
Bring the sugar-fruit mixture slowly to a boil and simmer until the fruit is a deep purple and translucent. It’s important to cook the fruit in small batches of 4-6 cups at a time to preserve the best flavor.
Ladle fruit into hot sterile jars.
Stir the fruit to remove air pockets.
Wipe the rim, seal and store in a dark, cool place.
Yield: approximately 24 pounds of preserves (48 8-ounce jars)
Bellastoria Press Information: Linda Cardillo is the co-founder with award-winning author Ann DeFee. Inspired by the Italian words for beautiful history, Bellastoria Press books explore women’s lives and relationships in stories told with compassion and humor. Get more info here.
You will find LInda at the usual places:
Linda’s Latest, The Boat House Cafe: http://lindacardillo.com/on-the-bookshelf/the-boat-house-cafe/
Remember that you can do your part to support our military during the holidays. Harlequin is donating 1 book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter/Loyal Reader Program. Sign up for my newsletter here.