June 18, 2012

Home and Blackberry Jam

As I mentioned in my last post, Bo and I visited my old stomping grounds in Alabama this past weekend.  Since Bo had to work on Friday, we ended up arriving relatively late to my mom's house that evening.  A little worse for wear from our 8+ hour drive (OK - confession time - the reality is that I just sat in the passenger's side seat while Bo drove the whole way, but hey - that can be draining too!  Give me a break!), we arrived tired and starving!

When I walked into my old room to set down my suitcase, whaddya know but my mom had already made the room feel like "home."  Freshly cut from her front garden, my mom decorated the room with my all-time-favorite flower, blue hydrangeas.  I don't know what it is about these flowers, but I simply adore them.  From their plushness, to their indigo hue, I just can't get enough.  Needless to say, right away I was able to relax and enjoy being "home sweet home."

Mom also had a whole dinner ready and waiting for us to devour!  

We ate:

  • butter beans (fresh from her garden);
  • sauteed crooked neck squash (fresh from the garden) and onions;
  • steamed Spanish rice;
  • homemade white cornbread; and
  • roasted chicken (for the meat-eaters).

Hm...mmmm...all that garden fresh food does a tummy good!

The next morning my mom told me that she had a whole bucket full of freshly picked, local blackberries ready and waiting to be turned into jam!

She wasn't kidding either...just LOOK!

I was in charge of mushing (and yes, that is an official term) the blackberries!

I think I did a good job...don't you?!

I was NOT aware that this picture was taken...apparently Bo found the camera and sneaked one past me!

Jam-making is 100% worth it, but it does sort of make a mess.

(Note: I could have used the flash in this picture, but honestly I kind of like the sepia tone that it had without it.  It looks sort of rustic to me...the way jam-making activities should look.  What do you think?)


I was surprised to learn that jam-making doesn't really take that much time, effort, or ingredients.  In fact, other than the blackberries, I think that the only other things we added were lemon juice, all-fruit pectin, and a small amount of sugar.  Not bad at all...and definitely cheaper than buying jam at the store!

We ended up making ten small jars of jam, enough to give away half to friends and family and still have a couple of jars each for ourselves ("ourselves" meaning my mom and I).  In fact, I ended up giving a jar to my dad for Father's Day.  Other than peaches, blackberries are his favorite fruit, so it worked out perfectly!

Side-note: There is something incredibly powerful and meaningful about cooking from scratch, in the kitchen, with your mother.  We - meaning the vast majority of my generation living in the United States - don't do things like this.  Instead, we buy jam/jelly in the condiment aisle of our local Piggly Wiggly, Publix, or Whole Foods.  Most of us, including me until this past Saturday, don't even know HOW to make jam/jelly (or for that matter, many of the other foods that we eat on a regular basis).  For me, returning to the cooking heritage that gave us these ingredients was a really moving thing.  In the future, I want to do more things like this. In fact, I WILL learn to:

  • garden;
  • dehydrate; and
  • can
just to name a few.  Until then, Bo and I should probably work on buying a house.  After all, we will need some land to grow all that food on. ;)

Later that day my Mom and Step-dad hosted a Bar-B-Que lunch in honor of Father's Day.  My biological brother and both step-brothers were able to make it.  So, with all four of the kids together (which is a rare event), we spent the weekend sipping on sweet tea, eating hot dogs and hamburgers (or an amazing salad for me!), and relaxing on the porch.

Mom and I snapped a few pictures together.  

Isn't she lovely?! 
(Which, by the way, reminds me of a "My Fair Lady" song...but I digress...)

Handsome hubby.

Happy couple.

And yes, I know that I already mentioned this at the beginning of the post; but seriously, aren't these hydrangeas G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S.?! 

Next up - all about my 10-year high school reunion! WHO-HOOO!

Question of the Day:

What is the coolest thing (in your opinion) that you have ever made from scratch?!

Ally and Bo


  1. Well...the coolest thing so far that I have learned to do is 'make bread from scratch'...this includes the grinding of the grain into fresh whole grain flour...so healthy....and just like the jam not really hard to do or learn...just another one of those arts that we have seemed to lost...but I am determined to learn. It is such FUN and so empowering. I had such a wonderful time! hope we can do it again soon...Love

    1. Yes, Mom, your bread making definitely falls into the "from scratch" category and it is SO. GOOD.! I love to eat a piece (or two, or three) right when you take it out of the oven. Man, there is just nothin' like homemade bread. Not to mention, it makes the whole house smell great!

      I hope we live closer together one day so that we can do these kinds of kitchen adventures more regularly!

  2. nice posting. thanks for sharing

    1. You are very welcome! Thank you for stopping by...come back soon. :)