Monday, August 25, 2008


I'm dallying.
Or dilly/dallying, as some would say. And I'm unsure if there should be a slash or a dash there. When in doubt, I go slash for a little added flair...although it's obvious it's not the slash. I'm going with it.
When I was young, my grandmother used to send me home with a case of jelly every year. Not just any jelly, but Elderberry jelly. She was the only person in the world who could create this concoction of tangy bitter jelly, and I was impressed. She made all kinds of things, sweating over boiling pots...I remember her making 'Apple Butter' hanging the boiled apples in a table cloth over a washtub, tied to a leaning chair. She churned her own butter and grew her own corn. I used to wonder how she'd got to cussing the way she did; she seemed hard and tired. A couple years ago, she moved on to the next world and was forever gone to me, along with all her Godly food offerings.
Here I found myself missing her jellies & jams, and decided I was going to try to make them myself. Part of it was the buying of a place with a massive fig tree, spilling over...looming 16-20 feet tall. Learning about figs was my mission, and I soon learned they don't keep. I've learned how to make fig jam! I alternate between pickled fig jam & the old standard jam, and I've made over 50 jars in the last few days.
Could I try Elderberry? Elderberries grow wild, and are free if you don't mind ticks and chiggars. I do mind those things, but Steven and Naomi were up to spending a Sunday out picking berries. The first batch they picked was definitely a learning experience.Granny, if you're out there ~ not so easy!
Elderberries are like teeny tiny grapes, but bitter. First, you have to pick them off the stems with a fork, washing them. Then you boil the berries down. Then you stick a big bowl out there, and put a strainer over it. On top of the strainer, a piece of cloth. You then spoon the boiling stuff onto the cloth. Some say squeeze, some don't. (I have been.)So you jar this purple stuff as your juice. You have to sterilize your jars & keep them hot. You have to boil a giant pot of water. You make you jelly, take out the steaming jars, fill them, stick them in the big boiler, then time them & take them out. The tricky part is you can do all this & it may still not set. (In that case, you reboil it all...)
There's that part of me that says, "Well, I really like the Dickensons Blackberry jelly, and it's $4 at the gro." Then there's this other part. The part where you are working for your food. The part where you know what went into it, and if the Earth is putting it out there, it should be used. I know, I'm boring as hell today!
So Steven & Naomi go berry picking last night. They come back with 4 trashbags full of berries...30 gallons...which have to be processed today. Yikes. Steven said they went a little overboard!
I'm sitting with you instead. I'm dallying. I'm playing here, looking up Littlest Pet Shop toys for the girlies (they lost their tupperware container with the little pets they had in the move! They had over 100!!!) They tell me they need the deer & the giraffe. The zebra. So I am trying to find these things. But it's not what I should be doing.

But where do I begin?
Then the little voice in my head says,
You begin at the beginning.

Sorry I haven't kept up better~Much love & have a cool cool day!!!Kat Lee