I remember the time shortly after Joseph was born when he was curled up on my chest, snoozing away, and I dreamt of the time when he will be old enough to take part in things we do. To be fair, his ability to actually DO things is still quite questionable (unlike his cunning talent for producing chaos), yet he is a part of everything I do most days.
I am willing to let him try doing stuff, even if it ends up taking forever, even if to me pouring water from one cup into another doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun. He wants to HELP and I believe that this desire should be encouraged.
This is one of many reasons I am starting these series. Project Of The Week is here to present something outstanding we do every week, something beyond doing dishes or watering back yard (although that could be a subject for a whole different series of posts). It is also a means of remembering all the fun things we are doing together, no matter how mundane they might seem to someone else, no matter how seemingly insignificant my toddler's help is at times.
We begin with a sweet project that is especially dear to my heart. Raspberry Jam. Not just any raspberry jam, but THE raspberry jam, the one I remember from my childhood, the one I hoped one day I would be making for my own family.
When I was little, we lived in a house with a garden, and we had a raspberry patch in the back. It wasn't terribly big, neither did it produce a significant amount, but many a summer afternoon was spent elbowing my way through the overgrown raspberry stalks, scratching the hell out of my arms and legs for a bowlful of the delicious berry.
Most years, the crop was supplemented with extra raspberries we purchased from the local market so that we could make JAM.
This may not be the jam in the strict sense of this word. it does not involve a specific brand of pectin or "12 easy steps", but its simplicity and wonderful taste always win me over.
It was also said that this delicious concoction had many medicinal benefits, the most significant of them being cold relief. I am not sure if there is any scientific back up to this theory, but it sure made me feel a lot better when I came down with sore throat. Hot tea with a lemon wedge and a few spoonfuls (read - a jar) of raspberry jam, and the cold didn't seem to be that bad after all.
Raspberries for this project were picked at The Salmon Ranch which made for a great day trip / project of its own (for which I would have had pictures to show had somebody not forgotten to put memory card back into the camera, ahem).
I would like to note that we didn't wash our berries. In fact, the ranch's brochure advises against it. Raspberries are so fragile, washing them will bruise them unnecessarily, unless you are confident they were treated with some sort of pesticide in which case they should be washed very gently.
Equal parts of raspberries and cane sugar (for example, 1 lbs of raspberries and 1 lbs of sugar).
In a pot, layer sugar and raspberries making sure raspberries are well coated.
Cover the pot and put it in the fridge for at least 8 hrs or overnight so that berries could start excreting juice.
8 hours later, or the following day, pour as much of the raspberry / sugar juice from the pot into a different pot and bring to boil. Add the rest of the raspberries and cook on high (the rumor has it that if you cook it on low, raspberries will lose their distinct red color). You will know when the berries are ready, because the mixture starts behaving sort of like boiling milk: it doesn't necessarily bubble, it just starts rising (so make sure you are watching your pot). Turn the heat off. Let the jam cool. Divide among jars, or simply enjoy!
This jam is more liquid-y and still has whole berries in it, and will make for a wonderful topping for ice-creams, and other desserts in need of a companion.
note the sugar-dabbed face
And yes, my faithful toddler stood next to me in his learning tower the entire time (at a safe distance from the open flames, may I note). His role included helping me layer raspberries and sugar, which he did remarkably well. So what, if an occasional berry escaped the pot straight into his mouth. Let's count it as a pay for having a pair of (absolutely adorable) helping hands around here.
Keep your eye open for the following projects:
- plant your own herb garden;
- toddler yoga;
- DIY laundry supplies.
Have a great week everyone!