Friday, August 10, 2012


The Dutch are not hagglers.  You go to a store, and the price you see is the price you pay.  Maybe, maybe, if you know the owner and have been best buds with him since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, you might get a freebie thrown in, but you'll never end up paying less than the advertised price. About the only place haggling might work is at flea markets, and even then you have to have a reason to start knocking the price down.

That being said, every now and then you get lucky, and lucky, in this case, was almost 2 kg of squishy, over-ripe apricots.  I'd given up on finding apricots--bike riding is out now, much less a ride with a load of easily-bruised fruit precariously balanced on the rack--this summer, but in one small shop in the middle of the city, a shop that I usually avoid because everything is expensive, I saw the sorry collection of squishy apricots in a crate.  The owner said that they were too ripe, but if I wanted them, I could have the lot for €2.50. "Perfect for jam," he said, when I told him what I wanted to do with them.

Well, ok, not me, per se.  Karel is the jammer, and in the summers there is nothing he'd rather be doing than standing over a hot pot of boiling sugar-and-fruit, with the oven going full force, stirring occasionally, and cackling evilly.  And this is the same man who whines and turns into a wilting flower if the weather so much as dares go above 20°C.  It's my job to find questionable fruit at rock-bottom prices, and time my purchases to fit his schedule. Jamming isn't that hard, but's still at least a few hours to put together a few pots.

The picture above is not of the apricot jam, but instead of the strawberry jam-attempt that Karel made with el-cheapo bargain-basket strawberries that I'd found later that week in the market.  "Attempt", because it turned out to be a divine syrup, but alas it didn't set.  Oh well, you win a few, you lose a few...and in any case, syrups make a divine dressing for chocolate fondant cakes.

There's probably a lesson in this post, dealing with patience and being thrifty and how tasty homemade stuff can be.  But I'll leave that up to you to divine.  Me, I'm going to look up a recipe for scones.   

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