Brian's upset, angry, even. I can understand completely, and so will you, dear reader, if you read the introduction to Haiku Saturday.
I love my daughters dearly and would only ask someone to look after them if I trusted that person implicitly. If that person then went and handed them over to a third party without asking me, even if that person thought the third party might be better equipped for looking after dogs, I would not be amused.
When I'm overtly anxious, depressed, sorrowful, angry or generally feeling pathetic, I like to immerse myself in something, some methodical task where I have to do two things:
a) Concentrate on what I'm doing
b) Become an automaton
I know these things don't exactly sit well together, like claiming to be a gas and a liquid at the same time... But, hey, think of The Trinity. If God/Jesus/Holy Ghost can do it - why can't I?
So, ok, making jams, jellies and marmalade is perfect for times like these. I have to concentrate on getting amounts correct and following the recipe, I have to think, but I don't have to think for myself. I follow the same recipe every time and hardly ever veer from it.
My jam-making exercise, today, was not to cure a depressive state or to proverbially dry my tears. I just happened to have some frozen raspberries in the freezer. A good way to make space in my icy TARDIS is, surprise, surprise, to use things up. A kilo of raspberries do take up quite a bit of space. I now have room for more frozen chips and Quorn products. And ice cream. I'm not a health freak you know, dear reader. I'll now not have to wander the aisles of Tesco on Monday night wondering if this, that or the other will fit in the freezer.
The recipe is quite straightforward. Most, if not all soft fruit jame recipes are the same in that the ingredients are simply an equal measure of sugar to fruit and a wee drop of lemon juice. My Mum's recipe, the one I've always followed, has one simple addition or quirk. Two apples passed through a mouli. Mum got the recipe from an old friend and neighbour, Mrs Annie Hargreaves, from deepest Dorset. People from Dorset, especially the older ones, are obsessed with apples. Everything has an apple in it. Not sure why, perhaps only because they were once so terribly plentiful in the west country. The addition of the apple means an increaded amount of pectin in the jam, resulting in a shorter boiling time and a brighter, fresher jam. You'll love it, my little maid. If you don't want to go to the bother of mincing apples, though, simply use jam sugar with added pectin or buy neat pectin and add that, following the manufacturer's instructions.
You will need:
- 1 kilo raspberries
- 1 kilo granulated cane sugar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 small cooking apples
- Take a very small knob of butter and grease the bottom of a very large heavy based pan.
- Peel the apples, quarter and removed the cores.
- Pass the apples through a mouli.
- Into the pan, add the apple, raspberries, sugar, lemon juice and a further very small knob of butter.
- Warm on a low light until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- DO NOT boil the ingredients at this point.
- Once all the sugar has dissolved, crank up the heat and bring to a rolling boil.*
- Continue to boil for four to five minutes.
- When setting pointº is achieved, turn out the heat and bottle your delicious jam.
ºSetting point for jam is usually 105˚c. A good way to tell if jam is set or not without a thermometer is to let a wee drop hang off of a wooden spoon. If it does hang, it's set, if the drip falls like water, it's not. Another good way is to pop a saucer in the freezer before you begin making the jam. When you think you've got a set, pop a teaspoon of jam on the saucer and return it to the freezer for a couple of minutes. The jam is set if it wrinkles when you push it gently with your finger.