A few days ago, I put up a double batch of strawberry-pineapple jam while my mind took a walk down memory lane.
My first memory of making jam goes back to when I was a very young girl, perhaps only five or six years old. The setting was my grandmother's kitchen and the cast of characters included Memere (my grandmother), my mom, my aunts Jeannette and Theresa, and myself.
The kitchen was definitely a "women's place" in my family in those days, and at last I was to be part of that special group. My job was to wash the fruit and hull the strawberries, as I was too young to be involved with the boiling water bath or the melted paraffin wax. No matter: I was now part of the "in crowd" as far as I was concerned. And it felt just fine!
Through the years, we would continue to make the delicious jam as soon as the fresh strawberries adorned the shelves at Antoinette's small fruit stand. The glasses would be washed, the strawberries prepared, sugar added, and the magic would take place. As time went on, I was trusted with more dangerous work and became more a part of the conversations. Sometimes, it would be just me and Mom making the jam at our home and that also felt just fine.
As a young mother, my family moved to Georgia and I met my best friend, Maria Elena. Before long we were putting up peach preserves at her house and making strawberry-pineapple jam at mine. Sure enough, her daughters Colleen and Maria Elena were involved, and sometimes we had the wonderful help and company of Maria Elena's mother from Chile, Abuelita.
I was all by myself this week as I made my first batch of jam in years, and probably my first solo batch ever. But, my mind and heart enjoyed the company of so many special women in my life.