Instant Jam: The Horrifying Gateway to Canning

Please, please, to those of you who are deeply considering the thought of making instant jam, I beg of you to proceed with the utmost caution as this could potentially lead to a far more serious addiction such as canning. I know my admission comes with the price of public humiliation, but my hope is that it may benefit others who might unknowingly be predisposed to a canning addiction. It all started a few weeks ago when I bought these vibrantly colorful and deliciously juicy strawberries from Dickey Farms at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market. We had run out of our local Paw, Paw’s Jelly one Saturday morning, and in effort to allay the effects of a severe jelly withdrawal, I took the remaining half pint of strawberries that were in the fridge to make my very first batch of instant jam. One fix of this delicious, homemade instant jam was all it took before I became a full-fledged, instant jamming addict. Now,  instant jamming just strawberries isn’t enough as I can’t seem to stop obsessing about different ways I can fill those cute 8oz. jars with sweet, summery goodness. The uncertainty of my future is frightening as I continue to seek harder, more complicated kitchen activities such as making non-instant jam, and sadly, as humiliating as it may be to admit, extreme CANNING.

Here’s how it all happened. All I needed were fresh strawberries (or other fruit), sugar, and pectin.

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I combined the strawberries, sugar, and pectin using the recipe on the back of this package (I later returned to the store for purchasing of a large bottle).

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I Stirred for the recommended few minutes and let it set in the jars.

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Then, it’s ready to be either eaten or put in the fridge or freezer!

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See how this can easily turn into an addiction? I’m now trying to use any and every excuse to eat jam!

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A Meal for a Little Ukrainian Soul: Borsch/борщ

Today, surprisingly marks 3 months since we brought our sweet, little boy home from Ukraine. It seems like an eternity ago. Roman is all things wonderful and, most certainly, all things boy.  He loves the outdoors and has an energy that is irreplaceable (in multiple ways – haha!) – although I’m bound and determined to keep up with him despite my ratchety knees. Even when we’ve spent the afternoon saying, “quiet hands, Roman,” he has a way of immediately melting your heart with his sweet disposition. Little Roman is assimilating nicely into a world of Friday night pizza, frequent outings to Three Crazy Berries (of which we affectionately tease our oldest by calling it Three Lazy Harries) for frozen yogurt, and trips to see both the Murphy and Welch sides of the Family.

While I want to create new and beautiful memories here at home, I also want to preserve important pieces of his Ukrainian culture that might have brought him comfort. He loved borsch while in Ukraine, and last week was the first time he’s had it since we’ve been home. Borsch is a Ukrainian soup that’s main ingredient is beetroot.  I was excited to finally make this for him now that beets have become readily available here locally. When I sat that bowl down in front of him, it was like the rekindling of an old flame. There was a lot of slurping goin’ on and “mmmm, mama, good soup.”  It was soooooo precious to watch that red-colored soup drip-drop all over his cute, little face! He was one happy boy!

Not being a native Ukrainian, I obviously don’t have the recipe memorized by heart. So, I searched and searched for the recipe that seemed to most closely resemble those I tried while over there. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com. I did, however, use veggie grounds in place of the pork sausage. It turned out to be pretty accurate.  I’m sure there are several slight variations as during my long stay, I had tried a few vegetarian variations as well as some with fish. Most everything in this dish was able to be sourced locally!! The bowl below is topped with a hefty serving of dill – a staple ingredient in Ukraine. Dill is a must!! So, get you a little taste of Ukraine  and try out some Borsch! It’s great for a lazy, Harry….I mean a lazy, rainy day.

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