Fri, 2016-05-20 05:00 News Staff
-- Coffee Talk --
We are now in season two of Survivor: City Girl in the Country edition. So far we’ve dealt with chickens, ducks, rabid squirrels, snakes, a garden, and dozens of unmarked dirt roads. And much to the chagrin of under-the-table gamblers across the county, I’m still kickin’.
Just barely, but if you look closely, my big toe is wiggling a little. That counts.
This week, I made jelly for the first time ever. With wild plums, plucked fresh from bushes growing on my fence. And I scored big time on this one, because that jelly is some of the best I’ve ever tasted, if I do say so myself.
Not bad for a rookie.
Actually, I tried to make may haw jelly in 2001, but it turned into more of a may haw syrup, so it doesn’t actually count.
To make plum jelly, I had to pick hundreds of tiny wild plums. These aren’t like the big fat purple plums you buy in the store. They look more like miniature cherry tomatoes. And they have big seeds in the middle, so each “plum” doesn’t have very much fruit at all. Which is why I needed hundreds of them.
Two enormous baskets and two bleeding, scratchedup arms later, I was ready to make jelly. My mother-in-law brought a juicer that belonged to her mother—a cone-shaped holey metal device that props over a bowl, and a long, rounded-on-the-end wooden stick thingie. First I had to boil the plums until the skins cracked. Then, a few at a time, I had to put the boiled plums into the cone and squish all the juice out with the stick. The juice ran out of the tiny holes and into the bowl.
Five and a half cups of juice later, my arms were aching from all that squishing and squashing. Then I had to transfer the juice to a pot, add the Sure-gel, and bring it back to a boil, stirring it constantly.
After it boiled, I had to add A WHOLE STINKIN’ LOT OF SUGAR. Like, more sugar than juice. Ever wonder why jelly is so sweet? Now you know.
Then I had to bring it to a boil again, still stirring constantly. By this time, my arms felt like jelly.
While I was doing all that stirring, I also had to heat the canning jars and lids, so the lids would seal tightly when I put them on. I had one pot with boiling jelly and another pot with heating jars, plus dead plum carcasses and sugar everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. My kitchen looked like a plombie apocalypse.
Finally, it was time to pour the jelly into the jars. But first I had to skim the top off. I don’t even know what that stuff is called, but there was a little layer of skin or plum cream or something that had to be taken off. Then, cup by cup, into the jars it went.
And I ended up with four jars of jelly.
All that work, for four jars.
Yes, they were big jars, but still. Four. As in, one less than five.
So there you have it. My first experience making jelly. Except I must add, if taste were currency, those jars would be worth their weight in gold.
I know I could go to the store and buy a dozen jars of jelly for just a few bucks. But more likely than not, they’d be filled with all sorts of ingredients I can’t pronounce. They wouldn’t taste nearly as good as mine. And I wouldn’t have anything to write about this week.
The truth is, my life is kind of like plum jelly. If I could do life the easy way, I probably would. If I could rewind my years and spend my hours with sun-kissed joy and rainbow-sprinkled happiness, I would. I absolutely would.
But if everything in my life had been easy, I wouldn’t have the flavor I have now. I might be shallow and false; my heart might be filled with difficult-to-pronounce, fabricated fillers and preservatives that offer little nutrition and carry harmful results.
Sure, I’ve had some scratches and bruises along the way. I feel like I’ve been boiled ‘til my skin split, then pounded and pummeled and run through a juicer. Then I’ve been boiled, cooled, and boiled some more, then poured into a hot jar.
But when I look at my life, at all I’ve been through and how far I’ve come, I’m pretty happy with the results. And I have to hand it to God. Though at times I’ve questioned Him, doubted Him, and wondered if he was trying to destroy me, I can say now without a shadow of doubt, He knew what He was doing.
I’ll try to remember that, next time He turns up the heat.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us,” Romans 8:18.