Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Post: A Little Fire

I've got a great guest post for you today! It's from Aiden FitzGerald, a freelance writer and the voice behind A Little Fire. Aiden, her husband Charlie Barmonde (a ceramicist and an old friend of Hubs' from his days of hijinks and shenanigans in Sarasota, Florida) and their adorable young son Felix live in the tiny coastal Rhode Island town of Little Compton. She recently wrote a guide to the area, an absolutely dreamy region referred to as the "Farm Coast," in Design Sponge. Next time I'm up that way, I'm definitely getting my Farm Coast tour on, no doubt.

Aiden recently enjoyed the fruits of her labors, after ravaging her raspberry bushes and rendering the ruby orbs into raspberry jam. I know a number of you are firing up your canners and turning out all manner of jams these days, so her post is especially timely. Here, she shares her experience with us.

Raspberries
By Aiden FitzGerald

"Aside from being jabbed in my eye by a branch as I reached for a raspberry, dark and plump and begging to be plucked, my first canning experience was delightful and delicious – and eye opening.

With my fourteen-month-old son slung on my hip, I picked berries from the bushes in our backyard. Just like Sal in McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, he grabbed them from the bowl, gobbling them faster than I could pick. Eventually I moved him to my back and fed him at a slower place.

With a bowl (and bellies) full of raspberries and our fingers stained fuchsia, we headed inside to have a go at uncovering the mystery of canning jam. While most readers of Ashley’s small measure are probably avid food preservers, canning isn’t part of my culinary background. I had never wielded a jar lifter and hadn’t a clue what a water bath had to do with the process. But the idea of enjoying on a cold winter day something fresh from our summer garden appeals to me, and I’d like my son to grow up with such experiences.

So I sanitized jars and scrutinized the recipe, resisting my tendency to stray from its directions. I measured carefully—2 cups of berries, 2 cups of sugar. It took everything in me not to reduce the amount of sugar and add a little zest, maybe some mint, or ginger.

As the heavenly scent of sweet boiling berries filled my kitchen, I wondered why I hadn’t done this sooner. Sometimes, I was reminded, we just have to leap. And soon enough we’re rewarded – in this case, by the satisfaction of smearing my own homemade jam (tasty, but too sweet) on toast.

Next time I’ll embrace my urge to experiment. (Add some rum? Ashley’s recipe for blueberry raspberry jam with allspice and rum sounds delicious.) First, though, I think I’ll try something savory. Our cucumbers are calling and I’m craving some pickles."

Thank you so much, Aiden, for your guest post. That jam looks phenomenal!

What about you? Got a hot topic you think will appeal to small measure readers? Shoot me an e-mail at: ashleyadamsenglish(at)gmail(dot)com and let's see what we can work out.



2 comments:

elisa rathje said...

i took the leap a year ago and i loved it too. wouldn't it be nice if it were just in everyone's vocabularies, and you'd make jam without a thought? hopefully our children will feel this way. i too find the sugar content too high - have you tried pomona pectin? it's a calcium set and i've made blueberry jam with just apple juice and a touch of stevia to sweeten - gorgeous!

x elisa

Amber said...

What a sweet little post...so glad to see someone else jumping into food preservation with both feet!