Two things I really like the idea of but haven’t had much success with: going to the Farmer’s Market and making jam. I experienced great improvement with both of these things over the weekend.
I love the idea of going to the Farmer’s Market. Strlling up and down the aisles in the open air, soaking in the aromas of fresh produce and flowers, and picking the week’s meals from what is in season. Instead, what I get are people. Lots and lots of people, all with the same idea, getting in my way and making it so I can’t browse, I have to plan ahead.
This week I set out with a goal. I wanted strawberries. It is summer in southern California and there is no reason I shouldn’t be constantly eating strawberries. So I went to the Farmer’s Market with my goal in mind along with the knowledge that if some flowers happen to come home with me too, all the better.
First thing I saw were the happiest teddy bear sunflowers. “Those are coming home with me”, I thought. I knew I shouldn’t get them first because they were HUGE. So I continued on the strawberry hunt. I found the smallest display with the biggest berries and they looked perfect. Sampling proved it – goal accomplished! Quickly grab the sunflowers on my way out. Oh wait…peaches? I managed to purchase an assortment of fragrant peaches without dropping my flowers (believe me that was an accomplishment. These flowers were HUGE!)
I did it! I got what I needed and some treats without getting overwhelmed by choices or the crowd.
On the way home I had an idea…jam. Realisticlly I wouldn’t be able to eat all the berries before they went bad and I love the idea of making jam. I’ve had some bad results in the past but I don’t want to give up. The first strawberry jam did not gel at all and wasn’t even thick enough to call a syrup. While wallowing in despair a friend suggested I turn it into ice cream. Brilliant! It made a delicious base for strawberry ice cream. I shared it with family and they were all very impressed. Delicious mistakes are the best mistakes.
The next attempt was marmalade. It was almost amazing until after two days of working on it, right before canning, I got distracted and it burned. Badly! That is probably my worst kitchen experience since I was very young and put vinegar in the brownie mix instead of vegetable oil.
I found a recipe from one of my favorite blogs (Honey & Jam) and set to work on Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam. It was super easy. Put it all in the pot and heat it. It filled the house with the most amazing smell.
It mostly worked. It still wasn’t quite as gelled as it should be. I think my simmering technique might need some improvement. That seems to be the time in the processes where gelling should be happening and isn’t. Most importantly, it tastes delicious and so interesting with the unexpected pepper flavor.
The sme afternoon I enjoyed the jam with fresh Baking Soda Biscuits and tea. Later it was tasty in a turkey sandwich.