In honor of this incredible planet, this post celebrates gardens and gardeners.
Salads are actually quite a lot of fun to create – the components are limited only by the season, one’s preferences, and the size of the bowl. Any memory of salad as iceberg lettuce with pale tomato quarters drenched in heavy dressing is nothing more than a fading gastronomic nightmare.
Fresh greens are just the beginning.
Add some fruit, a splash of fresh lemon juice …
Homemade dressing, beans, shredded veggies and cheese …
Hard boiled eggs, raw cauliflower, a sprinkle of seaweed …
With sun and rain and fish emulsion (yuck), bright and happy gardens will flourish and soon fill farmers’ markets and our kitchens with dew-fresh veggies and fragrant fruits. Splurge, indulge and delight in the bounty that is spring and summer!
Although the berries are ripening a little slower this year than last, I still intend to stock up on some mouth watering South Carolina strawberries in a few weeks. In my experience, there is simply no comparison to other berry sources; when it comes to sun warmed deliciousness – it is well worth an eight-plus hour drive for the best fruit – for the best jam, ideally!
Rather than provide the step-by-step directions for making jam, I am going to suggest only three key points:
- Preparation is 89.5% of the work – completely clear your work area, super-clean your jars, rings, lids, tools, everything. Read the recipe at least three times – every year, every time.
- Get the freshest fruit possible. Picked-that-morning-fresh, if you can manage it. Your fruit is the flavor, but also the consistency and the safety of the finished product – fruit even in the early stages of decay can result in ruined jam and wasted effort – and very ill humans!
- And finally – Ball. Yup – the pectin, the Blue Book, the jars, the brand new rings and lids every single year (no skimping here!). I am not usually loyal to any one brand, but after canning for more years than I had realized until right this minute, I trust Ball.
So, begin by opening just one box of fresh pectin at least a few days before you intend to can anything, and pull out that folded up wad of paper inside. Read and read and make a list and head to the farm or the orchard or the grocery store – and have SO MUCH FUN!