Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Ken's backyard whimsical village

Ken called two weeks ago Monday as he prepared for an extended trip. “I’ll get Mike,” I said. (The two of them visit frequently.)

“No,” said Ken, “I called to talk to you.” The raspberries in his back yard were ripening quickly, he said, and should be picked while he was away. Was I interested?

So I agreed that I would pick the berries whenever I could. He would also invite a neighbor to pick, he said.

The Kingdom of McKim
Ken left Wednesday. Thursday my phone rang. (Yes, I actually heard it and answered.) It was Ken, calling from New York, about to leave for Vermont. “I picked three quarts of raspberries Tuesday night,” he said, “so they should be ready again tomorrow.”

“What about the neighbor?” I asked. Efforts to contact the neighbor were unsuccessful, he said. The berries were all mine. “WooHoo! Yes!” I thought. Aloud I said, “Sure, I’ll pick. Don’t worry about it.”

Of course, I feel badly for the efforts Ken has put into this patch only to miss berry season. I’ve consistently picked two to three pints every other day or so, putting most of the berries in the freezer. But at the last picking, many of the berries were over-ripe, so today I decided to make raspberry jam.

Both my parents were jelly makers. Mother was particular and stressed that the recipe must be followed to a “t” to ensure success. I guess my dad thought that rules were made to be broken because he took liberties and success was not quite so certain. Okay, to be frank, I’m more sloppy with my measuring than Mother would like, but more obedient to the rules than my dad. I’ve had some failures, but only when I tried to cook jelly without pectin. In other words, I know where I went wrong.

So, here I am in town making raspberry jam on a hot day. I would have eliminated the seeds and made jelly, but my food mill and canning kettle are on the farm, so freezer jam it is, complete with seeds. I didn’t like the idea of not cooking the berries and the sugar, as per the instructions for freezer jam, so I retrieved my new stockpot from the storage shed and cooked it. In the years when I didn’t have a canning kettle, Mother would always say, “Just put it in the freezer,” so that’s what I did. KW

[Monday evening (June 27), I opened the slider for Bess and observed an eerie scene -- a thunderstorm in the making, the setting sun reflected on the clouds.]


Chris said...

We saw those clouds, too. Had to go to Orofino to pick up Mom and take her to the eye doc in Lewiston. The bridge on the Juliaetta side of the Cherry Lane route is being redone so we drove to Lewiston, to Orofino, to Lewiston, back to Orofino, to Lewiston and back home. Is your head spinning? Mine was!! Anyway, we stopped in Lewiston to get gas and I noticed those clouds building up over the Waha area and told Dan they looked like thunder boomers. Sure enough, after we got home, the thunder rolled!

Good for you for making jam!

Hallie said...

Ken's tree village is adorable! I endorse the decision to make jam. Raspberry seeds are small--maybe not worth the effort to turn it into jelly. Do you not have a stock pot? We only got a proper canning pot since we've been in the house. We always just used our stock pot--I think I used a steamer on the bottom to prevent the glass from clanging on the bottom. The water just barely covered the top, but they still sealed. Ting! Pop!

Kathy said...

So good to hear from Hallie who is out of the country right now. Perhaps she had jet lag and couldn't sleep so came to visit at the blog.

I could have made raspberry jelly, but I hoard raspberries -- not for the seeds but for the flavor. Seems like a waste of berries just to make the juice. (BTW, the sweet aroma of simmering service berries wafts through the house, but I'll post about that later.)

And you're right that I could have used my nice new stockpot to process the jam, but it was a hot day and cooking the berries was enough -- both for me and the house. That's the thing with preserving. It's great on a cool autumn day but not good in the summer. It must be done, though, if we are to enjoy summer's fruits in winter -- without buying at the grocery store, of course.

And Chris -- here you are nearby and sharing the same experience -- seeing the reflection of the setting sun on those beautiful clouds. Yes, your regional travel did make my head spin.