The summer my husband and I married we were working at a Inn and restaurant on Martha's Vineyard. With Craig in the kitchen and myself behind the front desk we had a clear line of sight to one another. Kisses were blown and eyes were made all summer long. All the while, the maid thought we were brother and sister. It was the stuff of which romantic comedies are made. One day I found the owner riffling through her recipes and muttering under her breath. "No. No. Maybe? This one could work..?" She had been invited to a bridal shower that requested a recipe from all of the invitees' kitchens, along with a short snippet of wedded bliss advice. And after seeing me play around with calligraphy all summer she asked if I could pen the recipe. When I was finished carefully copying teaspoons and such I asked what little wisdom I should put on the back of the card for the new wife. And in all seriousness she replied, "Never say f*** you!"
At this point I've been married just shy of three years so I don't yet have such sage advice in my arsenal. So to you, McKenzie and Jamie, I pass on the great wisdom of a woman who fell madly in love in her teens and has managed to hold on to it clear into her fifties. Congratulations to you both for finding someone to hold for the rest of your lives! It is by far the best thing on this great, green earth.
And now from my kitchen to yours a jam recipe to sweeten up the crass advice above. I love making jam. It was the first thing I ever canned and it holds a real special place in my heart. And when the jars seal themselves with a pop, pop, pop! I'm the closest I'll ever be to my dear Mama Joyce. My grandma canned everything and I like to think all those nights spent in her little Alabama kitchen are what made me the jam loving lady I am today. All that being said, I'm not a jam purist. Perhaps what I make would be more accurately called a shmear instead of a jam? You see, sugar is what releases fruit's natural pectin. Pectin is what gives your jam that nice gel. But I get a little bit sick putting a mountain of sugar on fresh fruit. It just seems wrong. So, I always reduce my sugar and that means my jam is a little looser. But damn does it taste fine!
-Julie from Life with a Cinnamon Girl
Strawberry Basil Jam
yields 5-6 half pint jars
yields 5-6 half pint jars
2 quarts fresh strawberries, washed & hulled
large bunch of basil, stems & all
4 c sugar
Put your washed and hulled strawberries in pot with high sides. Jam is a woman scorned when in the late stages of cooking and you don't want to be on the receiving end of that. Mash your strawberries to release their juices. It's fine to have some chunks but overall you don't want to leave too many pieces bigger than your thumbnail.
Add your basil and sugar. Combine thoroughly with a large spoon. While stirring bruise the basil with the back of your spoon. Try to avoid breaking the basil up too much. Allow your mix to rest for an hour and a half to two hours.
Remove the basil, scraping off chunks of strawberry and juice. Bring your strawberry mix to a slow boil until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved bring your mix to a rolling boil. In the beginning you can stir every 5 or so minutes but once your mix starts to thicken you need to stir it regularly to avoid scorching. Cook until the jam sheets* off a metal spoon, about 40 minutes to an hour.
Process your jars in a water bath for 10 minutes if you plan to can. Otherwise allow them to cool completely in their jars and then refrigerate, using within two weeks.
*Dip a cool metal spoon into your mix. At the beginning of the cooking process the drops will be light and syrupy. As the mix thickens so will the drops, coming down thick and heavy two drops at a time. Once your jam has reached has reached its jellying point the drops will come together and "sheet" off the spoon. Again, I used less sugar so if you begin to feel the jam is done but it isn't quite sheeting test its temperature. It should be 220 degrees when it's done.