Like most of us, the memories of my childhood, especially the ones surrounding food, have more to do with smell, feeling and nostalgia than clear flavors or precise recipes.
In this season of apples and pears, I am reminded of making preserves with my grandmother in her giant copper pots at her house in rural Western France. Truth be told, most of those preserves were red currant jellies, made from the bright red berries in her garden, but every so often, a friendly neighbor would drop off a basket of pears on the doorstep (why they didn't ring the bell and give them in person, I never really understood.)
Grand-mere was a fiercely independent woman who refused to follow recipes, and so in the memories I have of our preserve making afternoons, grand-mere is more akin to Fantasia's the sorcerer's apprentice than Julia Child, pouring immeasurable amounts of sugar into giant boiling cauldrons.
One recipe that even the most timid and unwizard-like of us can follow, however, is the one for Pear Sauce (which I use as jam) found in the latest issue of Edible Memphis. So here is, in grand-mere's honor, and in honor of one of my absolute favorite seasonal fruits, Melissa Petersen's Pear Sauce recipe:
3 lbs of pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
In large saucepan over medium heat. cover pears with just enough water to prevent sticking. Simmer until tender. Using a food processor (or potato masher if you like it chunky), puree pears. Return pear puree to saucepan and add 1/4 cup of sugar per pound of fruit. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and desired consistency is reached. Cool and refrigerate. covered, for up to one week.
Optional spices: You can add ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom or ginger to the sauce during the last few minutes of cooking.