Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jammin' . . . and a new Recipe Card Divider

Hey Peeps . . . I'm officially on summer vacay. Whoo ha! I mean, WHOO HA!!!!!!

Yes, I am quite excited about it. The first few months back in the classroom kicked my butt, I think I told you, but I did get into the groove and I had a great year. I absolutely adored my class, and I don't think I would have made it without such a great bunch of kids.

The last day of school is always such a surprise. It's like you come out of this fog and you realize, "Jiminy Cricket, I made it! I'm at the light. The one at the end of that looooooooong tunnel." Whoo. HA!

It's the best.

I'm so tired.

Anyway, to celebrate I decided I was going to learn how to make jam. I know. Everyone wants to celebrate by making jam. Let me just remind you that you don't come here for original, you come here for crazy.

The Renaissance Woman was going to teach me how to make jam last summer, but then she got into a tragic fight with an Adirondack chair and she was out of commission until Christmas. I'd like to tell you about that riveting WWF match, but she forbade me to talk about it. I don't think casually mentioning it on the internet really counts.

I should shut up now.

Anyway, since I'm very new to this whole food preservation business, I turned to that scary book to get the 411 on jam.

I'm going to tell you a little about my experiment in just a sec, but first I want to calm you with some pretty pictures. You know, before I bring on the gore.

Aren't these berries pretty? They made me want to make jam.

And isn't this little jar so pretty?

And this little jar . . . isn't it just the cutest?


Is just a small glimpse of what it did to my kitchen. I made blackberry-raspberry jam, blueberry jam, and strawberry jam, and this was the result every ding dang time.

And I was the bonehead who cleaned up between batches. Doy.

Sorry, I just can't stand it when my feet are sticking to the floor. It was EVERY. WHERE. I had jam splatters ten feet away from the scene.

That's not even the bad part though. The jam I made was without added pectin, so to get it to the gel stage I had to heat it to 220 degrees fahrenheit. At about 210 degrees it started spitting at me like it was a little Vesuvius or something. It splattered everywhere.

I have napalm-like burns all over my hands and arms from stirring the jam. I was trying everything I could think of to protect myself. What I really needed were some potholder mitts that went up to my elbows.

Sadly we don't have any of those left in the house because of our glory days playing Potholder Monster with Hank.

I dug up this little picture for you. That's me on the left, wearing the highwaters, and Hank is on the right. He was the best cat. Whenever we were in the mood for some rasslin' we'd fetch the potholder mitts and stalk him with them. We turned him into an animal, as you can see by his flattened ears. . . so nicely juxtaposed against his happy face ID tag. I picked it out special, just for him. He was one scary kitty cat.

Yeah. So. No potholder mitts in this house anymore. They retired with Hank.

Since I couldn't protect myself with potholder mitts, I was wrapping my hands and arms with wet dishtowels and pretending like I had to fight my way through a burning building to save my babies.

Didn't work.

Then, doy, I started using my noodle. Right before my last batch I went and put on a long-sleeved shirt. How brilliant is that? Wait, it gets better. Then I rifled through my winter accessories and found a pair of wooly gloves. Perfect!

And you know what, it worked. Except in one tinsy, tiny little spot where one wooly glove fused to my skin.

Did you know that the largest organ in the human body is skin? I know. Creepy little bit of trivia, but my point is that I have lots of skin, and in the whole scheme of things, one tinsy little square centimeter is no big deal.

More calming berries.

And pretty jam. Pretty, pretty jam.

You know, I really don't even like jam. What am I going to do with all this stuff?

I couldn't decide whether or not to make a recipe card for these recipes. I thought I shouldn't because the only ingredients are the fruit and sugar. Not really worth a recipe card, right? But then I decided I needed to put something in my new "Canning" section of my recipe box, so I just went ahead and did it.

And here's that new divider for the new section.

And just in case you didn't like my Slow Cooking recipe divider, like maybe you'd prefer a Crock Pot divider instead, here's that.

And the new divider tabs.

And every single time I start a sentence with the word and, I see and hear my third grade teacher, waggling her finger at me and scolding, "Never start a sentence with and."

And I do it anyway because I'm so naughty.


  1. OH you were soooo busy!
    Unbelievable amount of work.
    I only do freezer jam because of the burns I received a million years ago from attack-jam.

    The jars are beautiful. I love full jars.

    Now, start your summer vacation and stop making jam!!!

  2. I make freezer jam... no cooking involved. But I still want to learn how to do canning. Still kicking myself for not buying the canning pot I saw at a yardsale a couple years ago....

  3. p.s. I thought of you earlier when I saw a blog post that said "modge podge" several times. :)

  4. I've been making freezer jam lately too, because of the time involved in the canner. I'm lazy. heh. plus all the pre-sterilization... takes soooo much time!

    but, I do like to make "real" jelly with pectin because I can cut the sugar right down and give my Grampa jelly he and his diabetes can eat. It's a nice feeling. Jelly is even messier than jam, BTW.

    I remember my first jam making experience. My whole house was covered in sugary sauce. there were tracks everywhere. in the end I had this nice little countertop full of jam and jelly. then we got broken into. So, I now equate jam making with robbery. sigh.

    I but I enjoy the end result.

    maybe I'll post my canned peaches recipe one day soon and you can make a recipe card for it and share with the world! :-P

    Your jam looks yummy.

  5. OH mercy! I have a hard enough time with the mess I make when cake decorating. I just don't think I could survive Jam making. I will say that I LOATHE my mom's flat surface cook top, but from your photos I see one obvious advantage. I could not imagine having to pull out each burner and clean that! Your Jam looks wonderful as always thanks for sharing!

  6. Oh you always make me laugh...

  7. Those are really cool jars!! Where does one purchase something like that?

  8. Congrats on having survived your first year back at school -- and the jam mess!

  9. i love jam! i've never made it before so thank you for the recipe cards!

  10. I remember Potholder Monster with Hank!

    Aw, Hanky Panky. I miss him.

    Madam does too. He had quite the crush on her.

  11. cute,cute,cute, those cards are greatand look better than an ugly white card,this make me want to revamp my recipe book and make one for my daughter whose is getting married. I decided to make small jam like yours to give away as a wedding favor for her wedding,yes lots and lots of time for such a small product to brag about, anyways I love it, now how do I print the cards, do I just click on the picture or what and will you make other cards for other foods, like main meals etc... anyways, thanks

  12. You are a teacher and have time for jam? What is your secret, do tell!!!!

  13. So at the beginning of your post I was getting excited about making jam and was even flipping the idea in my head to try something I've never tried before and then I saw the pictures of your kitchen. The happy thought quickly vanished. Can you send me some that you made instead???? LOL.

  14. I can't seem to walk away from your site. There is so much to see and learn. I have saved your site to my favorites. I just love everything you make. You are so extremely talented. I hope your cute girls take after you and one day have their own website. I do have a question. Where can you buy the mini clipboards and also the regular size ones. I am having a time finding them anywhere. I want to try my hand in making some. Probably cheaper to buy in bulk, but where? Thank you so much. Mary

  15. Mary, You didn't leave your e-mail address, so I hope you come back and check this

    I got my mini clipboards through Stampin' Up, but I've seen them at Wal Mart, in their office supply section, and at Staples. Sometimes you can get them at the craft stores as well. I buy my full-size clipboards at Wal Mart for $.97, and sometimes at Sam's Club in packs of six for less than $5. I hope you can find them.