In my dreams, I am the kind of person who makes homemade jam.  Fresh berries turned into unctuous compotes in adorable glass jars, with classy looking labels I designed myself and had printed at the local letterpress….in my free time.  Jams are just the tip of the iceburg.  I take all sorts of nature’s bounty and turn it into a veritable pantry of yearlong goodies for my family and loved ones.  Pickled ramps I foraged myself.  Organic beets I grew in my garden.  I am a domestic goddess.  In my dreams…..In real life, not so much.  In reality, I am just trying to hold. it. all. together.  Making preserves is never going to happen for the real me.  I certainly don’t have the kind of kitchen something could actually be sterilized in.  Boiling jars?  Whaat?  I know my limitations – and there are many.  Like knitting.  The dream me is amazing at it, the real me – hopeless.  But good at buying beautiful yarn.  We all have our strengths.

(There are loads of people in real life who actually do this sort of stuff.  Who are you?  And would you like to be my friend?  I will make you pies, cookies, muffins, heck, baguettes till the cows come home if you share your homestead-ness with me and let me pass it off as my own.)

The real me, aspiring to be a little more like the dream me, decides at 10:00 at night to put her rose drinking friends to work making strawberry freezer ‘jam’ without a recipe.  ‘How hard can it be?’ real me thinks.  Dream me shudders.  She knows there’s no pectin in sight and jars will not be boiled; vacuums will not be pulled.  She feels sorry for the strawberries.

Jam session in progress
Jam session in progress

Here’s the thing.  The serious side of me – the product developer- is all about recipes, formulas and process, but the actual-at-home-in-my-own-kitchen-me could give two hoots.

We got berries?

We got cute weck jars?

We got another bottle of wine, good friends and a strong desire for a really amazing weekday cottage breakfast?

Yessir we do.

Late night ‘jam’ session… with no recipe!!!!  Woot woot!

Chopped berries.  Fresh lemon juice and zest.  Sugar.  Arguments over how much sugar is necessary ensue.  OK…more sugar.  We are making ‘jam’ – we are real AND invincible!

Ruby red berries are brought to a boil, simmered, packed up and placed into the fridge.  Real me goes to sleep just one step closer to dream me.  Incredibly satisfying, I must say.  Maybe there’s hope yet.

Aren't we clever
Aren’t we clever

The next day I hop out of bed, pulling together the ingredients for buttermilk biscuits with familiarity and excitement.  Coffee is pressed, tray assembled and a single jar of our ‘jam’ pulled from the fridge.

Out on the deck overlooking the lake I crack open the jar.  Real me takes a small step away from dream me.  I realize that there is a reason there are so many recipes for jam.  Our beloved jam is really a sauce.  Spectacularly delicious and sweet and fresh and dribbly down your chin strawberry sauce.  Read crumbles up a fresh biscuit into a bowl and pours the sauce over it and eats it like cereal.  The real him is such a 15 year old boy.

Was I a little crushed that I am not a smidge closer to the dream me?  Yeah.  I was.  But, I have a fridge full of amazing strawberry ‘jam’, and FYI it makes the best strawberry milkshake on earth.  The real me is going to make one right now.  For breakfast.  Take that dream me – go knit yourself a sweater.

If you want a recipe for real jam or freezer jam – clearly you are on the wrong blog.  Sorry about that.  Real me should have told you sooner.  Dream me was holding out hope for a little more success.

Jam fail - sauce success
Jam fail – sauce success