Keeping

It’s been observed that these posts read like love letters, and I suppose they are.

I don’t write as often as I used to. There’s a mood to achieve–quiet, still, sad–and these days are unforgiving of moods, unforgiving of all but hard work and frantic play. But these can so weary the soul and I hope I’m forgiven for fleeing from them from time to time, for holing up in my tiny home and laying in bed and looking out at branches, out at nothing at all, and feeling for that quiet again. I have been at it for a day and it’s nearly here. This is who I am. I’m beginning to remember.

Certain mornings it’s easier. Like on Saturdays I flee to the market. I sweat and eat a breakfast of berries and bread and shelling peas. Everything is caked with dirt and sun-drunk and worthy of devotion. And I forget myself a little bit. I take home too many needle-thin carrots and smutty radishes and swollen berries and must, right away, get down to the work of keeping them.

It is not unlike the work I do here, the preserving, the keeping. It’s not unlike the work of a letter. And for me for now it has taken the place of art. You reap all the rewards less the doubt, the difficulty. It’s good, redemptive, to make something purely delightful. Preserving berries makes me remember it. A perfect lunch makes me remember it. Cooking is the easiest art–it’s true–but the loveliest letter.

Strawberry Conserves

Adapted from from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:
– 2 quarts (4 cups) farmers market berries, hulled and halved
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– Peel (with pith) of one lemon
– 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Combine ingredients in a heavy pot. Let sit for one hour, stirring occasionally. Juices will leak. This is desirable.

Place pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for two minutes, and remove strawberries into mason jars.

Continue simmering remaining juices for 3 minutes, or until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Pour over strawberries. Cover and chill.

Serve with butter or soft French cheese on toast. Or combine with softened vanilla ice cream and chill for something that tastes homemade. Or make this.

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