What’s for supper? Vol. 379: Lilac jelly! It’s a thing!

Happy Friday! I hope May is as great where you are as it is here, because my May is going GREAT. It’s so pretty and it smells so good, and the air is soft and warm, and everything is growing like crazy. So many delicious smells to smell!

So many delicious bugs to eat!

Here’s what we non-ducks ate this week: 


Saturday I did part of the shopping, and then we went to a faith formation dinner. I signed up to bring fruit, and planned to make a fruit salad, but while at the store I felt a profound need not to make a fruit salad. Chopping! Who needs chopping? So I made a platter of grapes, bananas, and clementines, and it was fine. Even washed the grapes. And I even remembered to bring my platter home. 

That reminds me of the time my parents went to a potluck event, and brought a fruit salad. One of my siblings was going to a fancy, toney private school in the Old Money part of Massachusetts, and our family always felt massively out of place, real bumpkins. So when it was graduation and they were supposed to bring a dish to share, they decided that regular fruit salad was too pedestrian, and an exquisitely fragrant custard studded with summer delights would hit just the right note and impress everyone.

So they made it, and followed the recipe exactly. But as you know, custards can be finicky, and my parents weren’t exactly practiced chefs anyway. So what they ended up with was a bowl full of something that tasted fine, but looked exactly like someone had eaten a lot of fruit out of a bowl, and then been sick right back into that bowl. 

BUT FOR SOME REASON, they decided to bring it anyway. I feel like the two-hour trip in the early summer sun can’t possibly have helped the custard situation much, and neither could the extra couple of hours in the car while the graduation went on. You have to understand, my family wasn’t the kind of family that owned, like, ice packs or anything. Somehow. So when it was time to eat, they went ahead and set this bowl of pale yellow fruit puke on the table with an optimistic ladle, in among the canapés and finger sandwiches, and slunk away to mingle.

Nobody ate that fruit puke. Not even one scoop. It just sat there in vomitous shame, getting more and more thoroughly cooked in the sun. And when the ceremony and the luncheon were over and people were reclaiming their serving dishes, my parents couldn’t bring themselves to admit that she shame custard was theirs. So they just left. 

That’s it. That’s the whole story. I don’t know why this seems so funny to me. I just imagine the long tables are still set up in the charming English-style garden to this day, all the students long gone and grown, all the parents and teachers dead and half forgotten, the ragged tablecloths flapping in the wind in the tall grass, and at one end, alone in the moonlight, one Havisham fruit salad. It waits and waits, fruitlessly. Which is funny, because it’s a fruit salad. 

Anyway, people at the church ate my damn bananas.

Saturday evening, Corrie desperately wanted to get into the pool, even though it was like 51 degrees out. So she did (and turned bright red), and Benny and I kept an eye on her while plucking lilac petals.

WHY, you may ask? Because I found out (a) lilacs petals are edible and (b) you can make them into jelly! I started it Saturday evening and finished it Sunday. I’ll go ahead and go through the rest of the week first, and then we shall return to jelly. 

Chicken caprese sandwiches, cheezy weezies

Sunday I had to finish the shopping. Normally, shopping takes me three hours, but when I break it up into two days, it takes 46 hours. I don’t know why this is so, but anyway we had sandwiches. 

It was still a tiny bit nippy outside, but I was committed to eating on the patio anyway. Love it. 

Pulled pork on fries with cheese and onions

Monday, it suddenly warmed up, but menu is menu, so I started some pulled pork, and then was so delighted to finally get to meet my friend and fake sister-in-law, Elizabeth! (She is my sister’s husband’s sister.) We had a wonderful morning and we are very simpatico. Got home, ran around doing errands, and finished up dinner. 

The pulled pork was this recipe, with apple cider vinegar, cumin, jalapeños, and cloves

Jump to Recipe

and it turned out okay, but kind of tough, I forget why, but it was my fault. (If you follow the recipe, it won’t turn out tough.) But I made a bunch of french fries, put out a bottle of BBQ sauce, sliced up some red onions, and heated up some of that disgusting cheese sauce that comes in a jar, and man, it was a tasty bowl of yum.

Good stuff. 

Santa Fe Chicken Salad

Tuesday I had a bunch of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and asked myself, “What would I do if I were on TikTok?” So I sprayed them with olive oil spray and sprinkled them heavily with Taijin chili lime seasoning, and roasted them in the oven. Then I cut them up and sprinkled the pieces with even more Taijin chili lime seasoning. 

Got out a tub of mixed greens and set it out with the chicken, along with those crunchy fried onions that come in a tub, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, shredded pepper jack cheese, and chipotle ranch dressing, or something along those lines. 

I also had some kind of weird Aldi corn chips that were “street corn” flavor or something. They really tasted like corn! And this marks the day when I suddenly realized that regular corn chips don’t actually taste like corn. 

Anyway, great meal, very Sante Fe (or whatever). 

Beef teriyaki stir fry, rice, berry lassi

Wednesday, people had been agitating for a stir fry, so I got a hunk of beef for a treat, and sliced it as thinly as I could (it was half-frozen, which helped) and let it marinate in soy sauce and a little sugar and mirin. I also defrosted a couple of bags of frozen mixed vegetables (I guess broccoli, carrots, maybe some pea pods, and water chestnuts).

I looked at a bunch of teriyaki sauce recipes, and for some reason they all looked annoying, so I just made something up. 

I heated up some oil and sautéed about five cloves of garlic, minced. We were out of fresh ginger and also brown sugar, so I mixed it about a cup of white sugar and whisked that over the heat until it bubbled and turned dark. I threw in about 1/4 cup of mirin and whisked that for another minute. Then I made a little roux with a little soy sauce and quite a bit of corn starch, and whisked that in until it was smooth, along with a bunch of powdered ginger. Then I dumped in a ton of soy sauce and brought it to a light boil. It got nice and thick, which is what I was going for.

I started some rice cooking in the Instant Pot. When it was almost time to eat, I sautéed the meat until it was slightly underdone, added in the vegetables to heat it all up, and then stirred in the sauce. 


When I was poking around in the fridge that morning, I found some fruit I had bought on the weekend and didn’t use, and it was about to go off. I had cherries, strawberries, and blueberries. So I sliced them all up and put them in the freezer in the morning. 

While supper was finishing up, I dumped them in the blender

and then added in a bunch of plain Greek yogurt, some lime juice, and I think sugar, and a few ice cubes. 

Is this a lassi, or just a smoothie? I’m not sure. But it was a very hot, humid day and the drink was not as thick as I was hoping, but still sweet, berryful, and very refreshing

if a slightly weird accompaniment for beef teriyaki stir fry.

Anyway, we liked it.

Mussakhan and taboon

Thursday was still super hot and humid, but I only had one meal left on the menu, so I forged ahead and made this mussakhan (Palestinian roast chicken with sumac and onions) from Saveur. I started the chicken marinating in the morning, but discovered I was very low on sumac, which is sad. 

A couple of hours before dinner, I started some taboon dough. Last time, it turned out incredibly fluffy and lovely, but for some reason I had a bad feeling about this dough. But menu is menu, so I forged ahead. Gotta forge ahead. 

When it was about an hour before dinner, I started the chicken roasting in one big pan, and then about twenty minutes before dinner, I got the dough in the other big pan and put that in the oven.

I crowded the chicken a bit, so it wasn’t crispy golden, but still quite delicious. And the taboon was, as I feared, a tiny bit dense and tough. But lookit: Two pans of wonderful savory meat and fresh bread for all, coming out of the oven at the same time

Can’t beat that. I toasted up some pine nuts in oil and chopped up some parsley, and then I put the chicken on the bread and the pine nuts and parsley on the chicken, and the family started grabbing for it before I could even get a picture

So that’s a good sign! Especially since I had to drag everyone out of the pool to come eat. 

If you are thinking of getting a pool, which I heartily recommend, the thing you should know is that the kids will always mad at you for making them come out of the pool, but yet never happy with you for getting them a pool.

But like I said, the chicken and taboon helped a lot. 

Gotta get my hands on some more sumac, though. 

That reminds me, the sumac tree I cut down about five years ago (because it was overshadowing my rock garden) has come roaring back, and now I need to look up if some sumac is poisonous or what, and how to tell, and how hard it is to get sumac from a sumac tree, if it’s not poisonous. 

But gosh, those pine nuts are nice. Did you know they are actually from pine trees? For some reason I assumed they weren’t, but they are. I have no intention of harvesting my own pine nuts, though. I will continue to pay 30 cents a nut, or whatever it is, and then be late with the electric bill. Worth it. 


I just realized I said I would get ravioli, but I forgot. I forgot a lot of stuff. On Thursday, we were talking over the logistics of Friday. It was one of those cat-fox-basket of corn situations, except the cat needs new tires and her husband has to be in Newport to talk to the county attorney or something, and the upshot was that I decided: School? School?? A sweet, warm Friday in May is no time to send kids to school. So we stayed home. Fight me. In lieu of bedtime Thursday night, I made a fire and the kids roasted marshmallows. No ragrets.

I do have to get some ravioli, though. 

So, now, here is how I made the lilac jelly!

I was following the recipe from Lord Byron’s Kitchen, but I fiddled with it a little bit, for no reason whatsoever. And in fact Lord Byron, if that is indeed his name, says you will need to add blueberries or blackberries to it if you want it to turn pink, but that turned out not to be the case — either because of the aforementioned fiddling, or maybe I just have pinker lilacs, I dunno. 

I picked enough bunches of blossoms to fill up my biggest stock pot, and then we plucked off the petals, trying to get as little of the green in there as possible. 

It took QUITE SOME TIME. But Benny is very pleasant to chat with.

We finally got them all done and we ended up with more than the eight cups the recipe called for. I rinsed them in a colander and then the next step is to steep them. I used the proportions of the rest of ingredients called for, even though I had extra petals. So I ended up with 11 cups of petals and eight cups of water, and I boiled that.

And I was like, ooh, he’s right, this is not gonna be pink or purple or anything nice, oh well.

It said to let it steep for four hours, but I put it in the fridge and went to bed. So it steeped for probably twenty hours. Next day I poured the liquid into a pot, straining it through a double layer of cheesecloth to keep the petals out. 

and it did not look terribly promising. I was pretty resigned to having tannish-yellowish-greenish jelly. 

Then I added eight cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. I think it was at this point that the color started to perk up. 

Then I brought it to a boil again. This is the point where you’re supposed to add the pectin. It calls for 114 grams of pectin. What I had in my cabinet (no, it would not have been possible to check this ahead of time, because I had to go outside and look at flowers) was some pouches of liquid pectin, which is measured in fluid ounces, not grams. They were six fluid ounces each. So I thought about it for a while, and asked my smart speaker, which was not exceedingly helpful. What to do?

Well, if my math is correct, and you want to convert fluid ounces to grams, and six times two is twelve, then that means two pouches is twelve fluid ounces, which is the equivalent of . . . some grams. So that’s what I did. Dumped those grams right in, both pouches of grams.

Then I started to bring it to a boil again.

I don’t even like jelly that much, but I sure do like watching pots of color swirl around. 

As it heated up, a sort of taffy-like foam started to collect on the top, and this is the first time I tasted it to see what was going on in there. 

You’re not gonna believe this, but it tasted like lilacs. I don’t know how else to describe it. Definitely sweet, and of course I could taste a tiny bit of lemon, but mostly it was just . . . floral. Not like rosewater, which I don’t really like, but like lilac. I guess maybe a bit like blueberry or possibly plum, but it was really a new taste for me. Amazing! 

So I boiled it and whisked it for another minute or so, and then let it cool down a bit before pouring it into jars. 

LOOK at this color. 

The recipe has you doing the whole canning water bath thing, but I’m not cut out for that, and I just planned to make refrigerator jelly. 

Lovely, lovely. 

It was the consistency of thick syrup when I poured it into the jars, but either this or another recipe said it could take up to a week to thicken up properly, so I wasn’t worried. 

I gave away a few jars and we have plenty left in the fridge. So far I’ve eaten it on leftover taboon and on Saltines, and I’m absolutely sold. Clara is talking about making shortbread thumbprint cookies (which have a little scoop of jelly on each one). It has thickened up, and is almost the consistency of jelly you’d find at the store, but just slightly looser. 

Oh, and here is the leftover lilac petals, after the liquid was drained off. Poor things! All used up. 

So that’s-a my lilac jelly story. We had SO many lilacs this year, and they seem to be sticking around for an unusually long time; or maybe it’s just that I have more leisure time this year than I usually have, and I’m taking more time to enjoy the lilacs. Or maybe I don’t have more time, and I’m just recklessly choosing to use what I have with messing around with flowers! Either way, I’m very grateful. And I have jelly! And it is pink!

Clovey pulled pork


  • fatty hunk of pork
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for browning
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup apple juice
  • 3 jalapeños with tops removed, seeds and membranes intact
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp ground cloves


  1. Cut pork into hunks. Season heavily with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat oil in heavy pot and brown pork on all sides.

  3. Move browned pork into Instant Pot or slow cooker or dutch oven. Add all the other ingredients. Cover and cook slowly for at least six hours.

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

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6 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 379: Lilac jelly! It’s a thing!”

  1. I love the jelly! I really love lilacs–something I tried out a few years ago with them was enfleurage. You put flower petals on some kind of fat, and it absorbs the scent. You end up with something like a body butter, depending on what kind of fat you use. If you ever try your hand at body products, it’s kind of fun to see what kind of scents you could make.

  2. I thought of you when I happened upon the latest episode of the podcast Stories from the Village of Nothing Much. It’s about a lilac lady! Love the jelly – so pretty!

  3. I always seem to have trouble figuring out if the words go with the picture above or below. So I saw the picture of your daughter leaning into the garden and read the caption “so many delicious bugs to eat.” 🤣

  4. – What a great idea — make jelly out of your million lilacs.
    How fun that it did turn pink! It sounds delicious.

    – The picture after you talked about having a campfire, that’s your backyard? That’s what you get to look out on every day? HWOW!

    – Hey, you made up a teriyaki sauce and it turned out! Congrats!

  5. Well, that was a great story about the salad, and I think I would have left it there, too – another bowl is easily gotten! I didn’t know lilac blossoms are edible – very interesting, and the jelly is so pretty but not sure I want to eat something that sounds like perfume – guess you have to try it. I know violets can be candied and used as edible decor and marigold and nasturtium petals are good in salads, too. I forgot to post last week and say your wetland/swamp bridge was looking fantastic! Your yard looks idyllic in the photo today! I was always looking for a reason for my kids to stay home from school and they graduated anyway.

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