Thursday, August 23, 2012

Friendship -- Another Reason To Join A Club

Me (foreground) and Sheryl working
side by side makiig jam, i-photo taken
blind by my missing arm..
Gosh, golly, it's good to be home from the Hattiesburg trial where life is safe and easy, close friends and strong walls on a sturdy base surround me, with fenced yards the dogs can run around in, my own bed, and space and supplies aplenty.

The week before the trial I had picked 24 lbs of muscadine grapes and 50 cooking pears from a fellow clubmate's vinyard, and they were all in the fridge calling my name to make jellies and jams.  Sheryl (another clubmate who also picked the fruit) and I got together on Tuesday and Wednesday after the trial to process and make 74 jars of jam (thanks Georgie for providing the cooking pears and muscadines).   We scrounged up, washed and sterilized every jar we could find around our houses, bought all the Sure-Jell we could find from 3 different stores, and had a blast in my kitchen doing our sweet bubbly alchemy together, making 4 different recipes on 2 different days.

  1. Muscadine Jelly 
  2. Elderberry/Muscadine Jelly
  3. Pear/Muscadine Preserves
  4. Pear Sauce
We also re-boiled 6 jars of loquat jam that hadn't set from our Spring jelly making session.  One thing I love about making my own jams and jellies is I use a lot less sugar than the Sure-Jell recipes call for and less than store-bought brands, AND I only make up exotic recipes you can't really find in stores -- like the Loquat Jams we made last spring.  It's way too much trouble and too costly to make jelly and jams at home if you can buy the same thing at the store.  I've posted some jelly making tips below.

Sheryl and I both enjoy picking fruit and making jelly.  We like recycling jars rather than going out to buy new ones every time.  It makes us feel rich, plus we get to discuss other subjects besides dogs.  I sorely needed the side-by-side with a pleasant friend to get over my stormy Hattiesburg weekend, and it was a fulfilling way to celebrate Sheryl's birthday.

A recycled Smuckers Jelly jar,
Smuckers label removed.
For finishing touches, I used my PTouch 2700 desktop labeler (a gift last year from my husband) to make laminated water-proof labels for our jars . . . . . which added about 25 cents to the cost of each jar but made them look pretty and . . . . . our Christmas gifts are ready! Man, Brothers is making a killing on their label casettes! When I visited their website today I learned I can hook this unit up to my computer. I didn't know that, so it's one more thing I will have to try and learn.

This friendly experience made me remember a revelation about clubs I had years ago.  Growing up, my parents always seemed to be going to banquets, balls and parties, my mother was always sewing a new coctail dress for this or that event, their house a turnstile of visitors, secret friends, gift swapping, etc.  Perplexed that my adult social life hadn't unfolded so richly, I once asked my mother why I never got invited to balls and banquets and didn't have a bunch of friends.  She set me straight immediately with a simple question:

What clubs do you belong to?

"None", I replied.  "Well", she said, "Where do you think we meet people, and who do you think puts on these events?  They are mostly fundraisers for various causes, and you purchase tickets to them and/or work as a volunteer."  This blew me away.  It became obvious (once it was pointed out), that my parents friends and acquaintances, the ones who showed up at the door with casseroles, soup and pies when tragedy struck, were almost entirely from their neighborhood association, church, Optimist Club, Dad's WWII Bomb Group, the Kiwanees Club, their sailing club, Mom's craft club, bridge club, and so forth.  They had no more intimate friends than I did, just a richer social life.

So, in my later years I've joined a few clubs and gotten invites to a fair number of parties and events, and I've also found a few compadres with whom I have more in common than the club's purpose.  We help each other in lots of different ways, and it's enriched my life quite a bit.  Once you're out of school, turns out clubs are one of the best ways to meet people.

Upwards and onward!
  • To use 25% less sugar, use 50% more Sure-Jell.
  • Add a dash of salt per recipe.  "A little bit of salt makes sweet taste sweeter."
  • Mixing two or more fruits together makes for more exotic tastes.
  • Glass jars with rubber gaskets built into the lids can be re-sealed over and over.  Examples:  Jelly, Bean Dips, Grey Poupon Mustard, Pickles, Salsa, Classico Spaghetti Sauce.  Now that a 1 cup mason jar costs $1 and larger ones even more, and since you rarely ever again see the jars you give away, saving your glass jars can save you a lot of money.

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