First and foremost I am an artist. By trade, I have been in the animation industry for many years as a background designer, painter and, at present art director. Before that I was a professional musician, touring and occasionally stepping into the studio to record. But throughout my adult life I've always had an interest in the culinary arts.
I think it all started when my mother took me to Germany to visit her family. I was just six years old. My grandmother, Oma, lived in Schlichenweiler, a farm village in the southern part of Germany. This offered a vastly different experience to my otherwise homogenized, suburban lifestyle back in Northern California. Everything enlivened my senses. One morning I recall Oma opening up a bag of still warm 'Brezeln' (pretzel rolls) fresh from the bakery. Served with REAL butter, strawberry preserves and fresh, raw cow's milk from the farmer down the road. We ambled into the Black Forest foraging for mushrooms. I watched as my aunt cooked them up into a rich sauce with parsley and cream.
Back home my mother baked fairly often and made the most delicious european tarts and cakes. Never too sweet like most American desserts and always served with fresh whipped cream. No Cool Whip ever touched my lips! The recipes were passed down to her from her mother and eventually down to me. The delicate sweetness and the subtle aroma of pure vanilla was always balanced with a touch of lemon zest.
These experiences and flavors helped define my palatte.
My mother also made apricot jam and canned cherries. The jam was a staple in our house and loved by us all but there was one item I tended to leave alone. Orange marmalade. It was my father's favorite since childhood. But I could never get past the bitter taste. For me this was his territory, end of story. That is until I began to dabble in jam making. Knowing this was my father’s favorite I was determined to make something even the most staunch marmalade hater love. This planted the seed of my marmalade making mission. Thus, Hearth & Larder was born.
I became obsessed with making the most flavorful and least bitter marmalade I could. After a few attempts I believe I have. I use a two-stage cooking process and don't rely on commercial pectin. The ingredients are fresh, simple and pure. Oranges, lemon juice, sugar and water. Always 100% handmade. As for my father, he loves it and vows never to go back to that old store bought stuff again. It's Hearth & Larder or nothin'!
My father grew up in Tuscon Arizona the 30s and 40s experiencing WW2 food rations. Sugar was on the list as was bacon, butter, meat, milk and even jam. Here’s a colorful childhood recollection from his memoirs.
“Once sugar became available again, Mom had success with our sour oranges, which came from a tree shielding our bathroom window. Tucson had streets lined with these bitter but ornamental oranges, providing great ammunition for noontime fruit fights at the high school. Every year the canning jars would come down from the shelves in the storage cabinet by the back door. She would cut the oranges into thin slices, leaving a portion of the rind and boil them in a slurry of as much sugar as she could round up, fill a collection of saved jars and place them in a large aluminum canning pot over a low heat. There were four equally spaced toggle clamps to secure the lid and a little round vent button that rattled gently while the mixture simmered. The resultant marmalade was much anticipated, particularly if the right amount of pectin were present and it jelled to the proper consistency, not spilling from the bread when applied. It was then that the small bits of rind added a pleasant chewy component to the spread. What marmalade that wasn’t given away to family and a few close friends, we ate all year long, on toast, biscuits and waffles.”