Memories of Strawberry Jam

When my friend Anna was pregnant with her gorgeous Maxime, she loved strawberry jam. Whenever I have it, I am taken back to her little home. We are sitting and talking together by the warmth of the heater, her drinking milo, mug balanced on her tummy, me drinking chamomile tea with honey, and the tree outside the window is heavy with lemons. Anna is eating strawberry jam on toast.

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With Anna in mind, I had a go making strawberry jam. I didn’t do a great job of measuring, watching the pot in case it boiled over or timing things, but the end result tastes pretty damn good with plenty of butter on toasted fresh bread.

Anna K’s Strawberry Jam

Strawberries
Brown sugar
Seeds from one vanilla pod
Juice of a lemon

If you want it to set more and be more jammy, use equal amounts of sugar and fruit. I just think that is a whole lots of sugar to be eating, plus I’m not really a sweet tooth, so I would rather have slightly sloppier jam that tastes like fruit, so I used less sugar, more fruit. Up to you with measurements.

Quarter the strawberries and put in a pot with the brown sugar. Leave for a couple of hours at room temperature. Apparently fruit likes to do this before it is made into jam, I don’t really understand why but other blogs told me so. Then put on the element with the other ingredients and bring to the boil. Be careful here, as it likes to overflow everywhere and get really sticky on the elements. I boiled mine for about half an hour and then poured it into a sterilised jar and left to set.

Enjoy this as a strawberry hit on vanilla ice cream. Or with butter, toast and tea, thinking of friends like Anna as I am.

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It’s the little things

It’s the little things that make a big difference. The girl who works at the deli where I buy most of my food producing a little scrap of paper with Anna – New Zealand written on it so she could remember my name, being hugged by an Australian girl who works in the Aesop store after talking to her for over an hour about the highs and lows of San Francisco, receiving real mail in the post from friends scattered around the globe, finding a brand new, hard back copy of Janet Frame’s short stories for $6 at a tiny bookstore, or having coffee and pastries in the sunshine with Ollie before work on his birthday.

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I have also been thinking of little things in little jars. Pickling and jamming, if that is a word. I don’t think I have quite mastered the put things and jars and leave them for winter in the cupboard like a real cook, but they look pretty good in the fridge and taste good straight away. That’s the main thing, right?

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These measurements are just for a small jar, but you can adjust the qualities according to what you have.

A Quick Pickle

1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 pinch fennel seeds
1 pinch mustard seeds
1 pinch black peppercorns

Simply bring your vinegar and water to the boil to combine the two, add everything else and pour over your finely sliced vegetables in a sterilised jar. Allow to cool and then pop in the fridge. Simple as that!

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I have done this with onion and radishes, both were delicious. I used red wine vinegar as I didn’t have any white, but I think this gives the vegetables a lovely rich colouring. These are a perfect addition to a salad, sandwich or a cheese and meat board. Then again, I would think so. Even as a toddler I loved gherkins and pickled onions and my father has been known to drink vinegar from the bottle when he thinks no one is watching. Salt and vinegar chips? Obviously the best flavour.