Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Heck Of A Jam

When Daddy Sheep asked me today what the heck was going on with the blogging, I was forced to admit that it sort of got away from me last week. (and for several weeks prior to that, but who's counting?) First, I didn't make it to the starting gate with the Wednesday Night Bullet Post. Then I went ahead and did it on Thursday, no doubt causing any number of poor readers to think that the weekend was one day further away than it really was. I cannot even begin to imagine the despair I wrought with that one! Lastly, I totally forgot to post yesterday, in spite of the fact that I really did mean to do just that.

It's rare that I actually have anything to say these days. But yesterday, I did.  I learned three very important life lessons and I wanted to share them with you. I guess I'll just do it now.  Same stuff, different day, if you will...

The first thing I learned was this:

If you have never before in your life made jam, it is probably not a good idea to start with a no pectin recipe. In fact, I am certain that this is not a good idea. 

The second thing I learned was this:

If you turn your back on jam, it will gel without telling you.  Then it will burn. It doesn't matter if you look away for a fraction of a second, even if you do it so you can perform the gelling test like the book says you should.  It will take that moment and use it to sear itself to the bottom of your best pan.  It will do in such a fashion as to resist all standard methods of pan cleaning, as well as a few special tricks you've learned over the years.  This is just the nature of jam.  Do not trust jam.  Ever.

The third thing I learned is this:

Burnt jam smells really, really awful.  I think it's the subtle base notes of failure that do it, if you want the truth.  That and the carbonized sugar.  Just remember this and you'll be fine: Jam=Fan.  Fans are very good at wafting away the scent of your shame.

Once it was clear that I would be jamless for the weekend, it fell upon me to find other things with which to amuse myself.  I spent a little time jotting down that silly little story that has been waving at me from the back of my mind since early July.  For the record, I'm always jotting down silly little stories.  Even if they are silly, it makes me feel smart when I jot them down.

And on a day when the lingering smell of burnt jam is mocking you from the kitchen, it is rather important to do things that make you feel smart.

I also spent some time knitting away on the Situationally Necessary Octagonal Replacement Thingie. (SNORT).  That didn't make me feel nearly as smart since it is kind of a simple thing and even I know when I'm merely humoring myself.  But it's also comforting to just knit and purl and do a decrease every now and again.

I made a few grand pronouncements around how I'd be finishing the SNORT this weekend, but I think we all knew that was just me being wildly optimistic.  I am prone to that sort of thing and it almost makes me feel better in a weird sort of way.  I don't like it when life lets me down, but it's perfectly OK if I've engineered the situation.  It's like I'm in control of my own failure and that renders me all-powerful.

Don't question it.  I don't understand it myself.  Frankly, I inhaled a heck of a lot of blackened jam fumes yesterday and it's entirely possible there's some brain damage.  I'm sure I'll be fine, but please feel free to make some calls if I start mentioning the three-headed monkeys selling encyclopedias at my front door.

So that was that.  Except for the part where I forgot to blog about it, but I've taken care of that now so all is well.  I spent today scraping the bottom of the jam pan and cleaning away all traces of this experiment from my kitchen.  I'll give it another go sometime in the near future since I know for a fact where I went wrong, but there's really no time for that now.  I have to go back to work tomorrow and teach America's Future how to do things like read.  They probably won't give me the day off to go buy more sugar even if I tell them that I burned up the last of my supply.  The education train stops for no man or woman.  So I'll put all this jam business behind me and go teach the masses.

I do not teach Home Economics.  Let's all take a minute to be grateful for that fact...



Teri S. said...

Well, I'm glad to see you're alive and well, even if slightly traumatized by your jamming experience. I was a bit worried when I checked the WNBPs and they weren't there. All sorts of scenarios flashed through my head (the zombies got her; the monkey pox got her). But in the end, it was just ordinary life that got you.

twinsetellen said...

I don't know what it is about the first time with jam that makes perfectly rational and intelligent people like you (and me) believe the no pectin approach is a good way to start.

I do know what it is about the first time with jam that has made me into a pectin-every-time kind of jammer.

Mia said...

ok, but what kind of jam WAS it??

And you are right.. pecticn helps :)

PICAdrienne said...

I am sorry about the jam. I am going through AGK withdrawal. You are the only one who can help. However, I understand if you don't tell him, he doesn't need to know he has fans.

Julia G said...

Jam-making's loss is literature's gain! When you are a World Famous Author you can look back on your jam-burning days as the source of your inspiration.

If the AGK is like his Southern Connecticut cousin, he is molting up a storm of orange and white fluff.