I have something to tell you about him....
He lights up my life. :)
Where else would I want to be yesterday but in my kitchen? Working under the warm glow of my new light? I decided to make some jam and jelly. It was an impulse decision, really. Those are the best kinds. I was pushing Emma through "The Walmarts" and I saw Ball canning jars on an end cap. I've always wanted to own a case of Ball canning jars. I didn't grow up with a garden, and although my Mom is an excellent cook, I don't have any memories of her canning anything. Canning in Ball mason jars is the tip of the homemaking iceberg in my mind, and right there in the isle of The Walmarts I decided to climb that mountain.
Marci suggested I use the freezer jam recipe from the Sure Gel box. I was slightly disappointed to know that you don't actually seal the jars or cook the jam with that method. It's kind of like cheating your way to the top of the iceberg. But, the recipe looked super simple (which is a plus in my life) and Marci promised it is delicious. So, I was convinced.
I was also slightly disappointed, incidentally, to know that the recipe for jam consists of a little bit of fruit and a whole lotta lotta sugar. That's it! I'm not sure why I thought jelly was a tad more healthy? Or complicated? It's candy in a jar. In a Ball mason jar.
The final blow to my homemaking ego came when it clicked with me that freezer jam is appropriately named because you actually keep it in the freezer. Hmmm, I bet it wasn't too hard for the Sure Gel people to come up with that one. I figured since I was going to save all this time by not cooking my jams and jellies I could at the very least craft the adorable little covers to secure on the lids with pretty ribbons. I mean, half the fun of owning Ball jars after all is dressing them up, just like half the fun of birthing a girl is sticking hair bows in her hair that are three and a half times the size of her ears. But cute covers on jellies really only look cute when the jellies sit on pantry shelves, or in a honest to goodness fruit cellar. Jellies with cute covers wedged between a side of beef and some frozen corn in the freezer are just awkward, the same way Emma is when balancing a ginormous bow on top of her head.
So, non-cooked jam in naked jars it was. The actual practice of homemaking doesn't always resemble the dream you think it will be. :)
There were plenty of bright sides to the process however. I non-cooked it under my adorable new lamp that sheds a super warm amber-tinted glow over everything, even my very own, brand new, genuine Ball jars. They honestly thrill me.
Perhaps I didn't cook it, but I stirred it for a solid three minutes. That counts for something, right??
I made strawberry jam and learned the hard way that once the jam is all mixed up in your super cute antique mixing bowl, it is a challenge to get it into your super cute brand new Ball jars. I wised up on the grape jelly, and I stirred that together in a large pitcher. Then, I could just pour it into my jars. Much better.
This is kind of a proud moment for me. :)
While I had my camera handy in the kitchen I thought I'd share a recipe for one of the boys' favorite dinners. I got this recipe from Family Fun magazine several years ago, and we call it a Ham Roll. First, you let a loaf of Rhodes frozen bread dough rise on the counter all day. I was feeding extra kids last night so I made two loaves. (There are three loaves to a bag, so I'll have to bake the third one tomorrow to eat with JAM!)
In one bowl, chop ham in tiny pieces. I use boiled ham lunch meat. In another bowl, mix 1/4 cup miracle whip with a cup of cheese.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the bread dough into a rectangle. The dough is very elastic, so you have to work with it a bit. Spread the cheese mixture to within an inch of the edges of the dough, then sprinkle the ham on top.
Fold the short ends of the dough in slightly. Then, fold the long end over about 1/3 of the way. Wet the edges of the dough with a little water, then fold the last side over and squish the dough the seal the seams well. Place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet or a piece of parchment paper.
Whisk an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush that over the top of the loaf. Then, using a serrated knife, cut several diagonal slits and sprinkle parmesean cheese on top. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.
I got so busy admiring my jelly jars that I completely forgot I had four little boys to get to a baseball game. I yanked that golden brown, puffy, delicious ham loaf from the oven and hacked it to chunks which I shoved at half dressed boys and ordered them to eat! quickly! now! because we're late!!! And in all the excitement, I completely forgot to take a picture of that part. It's a bummer too, because a photo of the edible art that is a fully baked and perfectly browned ham loaf would probably entice you to try it way more than the picture of raw, pasty dough slathered with slimy raw egg.
Today was just a wealth of opportunities to learn about adjusting expectations, and shedding light on the fact that it's hard to climb this homemaker mountain when you're running late to baseball and wearing flip flops. :)