Category Archives: Preserves

Berry Crumble Bars (Preserving the best of summer)

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I have an old photo of me and my sister taken at the Jersey shore. We are two small children in the surf, holding onto something that looks like a tow rope at a ski slope, and the waves are swirling around our calves. We are lightly browned with shockingly blonde hair, and we are both squinting into the sun with huge smiles of delight.

I don’t remember the particular day that photo was taken, but I do recall other particulars of those summers. I remember my mom driving the three of us to the beach, with my sister and me sweating in the sweltering and sticky back seat of the Karmann Ghia, even with the windows rolled all the way down. I remember also how delicious a picnic tasted at the shore; peanut butter and jelly – despite the inevitable addition of sand – was so sweet and satisfying, potato chips seemed to be made deliciously saltier by the sea air, and fruit always seemed juicer when eaten on the beach blanket within the sound of the crashing waves. I remember reading on the beach, and then when I got too hot, bouncing around in the waves for hours, so that when I finally lay in my bed later that night, my body still seemed to sway with the power of the surf.

I like to believe that entire summers were made up of these moments, but I know that there were also days of idle boredom while Continue reading

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Pickled Rose Petals (Or, Saying yes to allergies and beauty)

organic, old species fragrant roses

Saying Yes is often uncomfortable. But I’ve learned that things that intimidate me often end up being my greatest pleasure. I’ve found how much more in life there is to enjoy if I open myself up to a little bit of unease and discomfort.  (Hey, I didn’t like my first taste of gin, but like a good trouper, I kept at it …)

Right now I’m sitting next to a vase of the most fragrant, beautiful Old English roses. I love the smell, I love the look, I love the romance of roses. Roses make me feel elegant just looking at them.

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Even so, because of the roses, my nose is sniffling and my eyes are itching. But roses are something I always want to say yes to. So I have to say yes to hay fever as well.

I’ve heard that, when you have hay fever, you can rid yourself of it homoeopathically by eating a teaspoon of local honey every day for a year, kind of like a vaccine. So I’m hoping that pickling rose petals and having them throughout the winter will do something similar for me.   Continue reading

Elderflower Cordial

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The taste of summer.

When I was 7 years old, we moved to Vermont and lived on a lake that was mostly populated with holiday homes for the neighbouring towns. After Labor Day – the first Monday in September and unofficially the last day of summer – our friends and neighbours all disappeared for the next 9 months, and our family and Lucy, the lovely old lady down the road from us, were the only ones left for the winter.

On those misty autumn mornings, waiting for the school bus to take us to the three-room schoolhouse in our nearby town, my sister and I would stand at the end of our road, Scooby-do and Partridge Family lunch boxes abandoned on the ground, and eat the elderberries that were abundant on the verge. Continue reading