Minor moments of liberty (with a raspberry and apricot jam)
A summer’s walk in woods I know well. With nothing to guide me but the sun and my nose. An afternoon spent following paths I know and some newly discovered.
Blame it on the cat who nearly made me miss my train (but don’t blame her too hard; she’s sick at the moment). I ran out of the house in a flurry, said a hurried hello to my old lady neighbours, and only at the station did I realise my backpack might contain a few apricots, purse and a rain jacket, but no phone (so no internet or GPS), no map, no train times, no camera. To not cross-check just where I might be or where I should go. To not see when the train would pass or whether a message had been answered. To not worry about composition, focus and light, but just stop and drink in the way the golden yellow and deep green bands of wheat and trees alternated before they stopped before a clear blue sky. To walk up a path I’d never followed and could only guess where it would lead. Little moments of freedom from habits a little too well engrained.
Back in my kitchen, apricots and raspberries from the Valais tumbled together in the colours of summer. I wouldn’t have thought to put them together this way, but that’s the way my nose and my eyes told me to follow. A little vanilla to help them along. A sweet, mellow taste that in a few months time will be a warm reminder of summer paths and the glint of sunlight through the trees.
Raspberry and Apricot Jam
700g apricots, chopped
juice of a lemon
2 tsp vanilla essence
Combine everything in a large bowl, mix well, cover and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.
In a large pot, bring everything to the boil and simmer until it reaches 104°C (the books tell me it should be 105, but I don’t think my cooker likes to go that far). Test the consistency by dropping a spoonful of jam on a plate, wait a few seconds, and if a teaspoon drawn through the jam leaves a clear line for a few moments, it’s ready. This quantity will make about ten small pots – one pot per month to last till next summer.
A tip, or two. Since I’ve yet to make jam without getting half of it all over the place, I put all the jars on to a baking tray before filling them. That way, the inevitable spills are at least contained and easily cleaned up.
Tip two, and this from my sister (who now inevitably pops into my head whenever I’m preparing raspberries): get rid of raspberry stains on cloth easily and quickly by pouring boiling water as soon as possible over the material. Just remember to remove yourself from said material first. That helps.